October sees the 4K restoration release of an American classic on its 60th anniversary: To Kill a Mockingbird. It's also, of course, the month of Halloween, and it wouldn't be October without the release of some beloved horror films. Whether you love drama or horror or both, this month delivers several newly restored cinematic treats for your collection.
Army of Darkness
Director Sam Raimi's Evil Dead film series is a staple in the horror genre thanks to its unique humor, beautifully crafted effects, and the series' charismatic lead actor Bruce Campbell. Following the critical and commercial success of Evil Dead (1981) and Evil Dead II (1987), Raimi and his production team take the series back in time to the Middle Ages, where Ash Williams (Campbell), the sardonic, chainsaw wielding, hardware store clerk must battle the undead once again as the Book of the Dead is unleashed upon humanity. Can Ash save his girlfriend, get back to his own time and save the living from the dead? Army of Darkness is a groovy and shamelessly entertaining horror comedy.
For its 30th Anniversary, Shout Factory! is presenting Army of Darkness with a new 4K restoration from the original camera negative approved by director Raimi, director of photography Bill Pope and editor Bob Murawski. This new transfer is complemented with both HDR, Dolby Vision and a DTS 5.1 HD audio track. The release also includes the film’s Director’s Cut on a separate Blu-Ray Disc and a vast array of supplements including the new feature-length documentary Medieval Times: The Making of Army of Darkness, deleted scenes, trailers, the film’s original ending and, for the die-hard fans, a limited edition SteelBook is also available.
Available: On 4K UHD Blu-Ray on Oct. 4.
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Bram Stoker's Dracula remains to this day the most accurate book to screen adaptation of the legendary vampire novel. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Gary Oldman in the titular role of Dracula, the film is both a horror story of vampirism and a passionate romance. Co-starring Anthony Hopkins, Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves, Bram Stoker's Dracula also triumphs in showcasing visuals that harken back to the birth of cinema itself. Coppola's choice to only utilize "in-camera" visual effects throughout the film - even though films being made in the early '90s were already making the leap to computer-generated effects - is yet another standout feature. The bold creative choices paid off, and, along with Oldman's captivating performance, the film has earned its place as a horror classic with timeless visuals that continue to stun and enthrall audiences. The film won three Oscars: Best Costume Design, Best Sound Effects Editing, and Best Makeup.
Celebrating its 30th Anniversary, Bram Stoker's Dracula is being re-released in the 4K UHD format by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Unlike its previous release, the film now adds Dolby Vision which brings even more depth and clarity to the film's incredible visuals. Composer Wojciech Kilar's score and the Oscar-winning sound effects are even more dazzling thanks to the Dolby Atmos audio track which provides viewers with a completely immersive experience. Supplements include an Introduction by Francis Ford Coppola, documentary featurettes including, Blood Lines – Dracula: The Man, The Myth, The Movies, Reflections in Blood, In Camera: Naïve Visual Effects, The Costumes Are the Sets, audio commentaries from Coppola and some of the film’s key crew, Annie Lennox’s music video Love Song For A Vampire and much more. Finally, Sony’s release is presented in a limited collector’s SteelBook.
Available: On 4K UHD Blu-Ray Oct. 4.
Director Tom Holland's cult classic Fright Night has deservedly received a new 4K UHD restoration from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Released in 1985, the film was a hit with both audiences and critics who relished the film’s balance of horror, lively performances, and satirical comedy as die-hard horror fan Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) becomes convinced that his new neighbor, Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) is a ferocious blood-sucking vampire. Dandridge is charming, charismatic, and yes, is a vampire. But, with no one believing Charley's story, to whom can he turn? The only place anyone would in his situation: Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), a former "vampire hunter" from the movies, and the star of Charlie's all-time favorite television show, Fright Night.
The new 4K release of Fright Night was derived from the film’s original camera negative and is presented with both HDR and Dolby Vision. Sony has also created a brand new Dolby Atmos audio track of the film and offers fans loads of new supplemental material to sink their teeth into including new Deleted Scene Storyboards presented by writer-director Holland, a never before released spec trailer cut by the film's editor Kent Beyda, a Fright Night 35th Anniversary Script Read by the cast, along with documentaries, The Queer Lens: Bryan Fuller in Conversation with Amanda Bearse, A Novel Approach: The Splatterpunk Story of the Fright Night Novelization, You're So Cool Brewster! The Story of Fright Night and much more.
Available: On 4K UHD Blu-Ray Oct. 4.
The Halloween 4K Collection (1995 - 2002)
Twelve Halloween films currently exist and the thirteenth, Halloween Ends, will hit theaters and be available to stream on Peacock Premium and Peacock Premium Plus Oct. 14.
In 2021, the first five Halloween films, 1978's Halloween, 1981's Halloween II, 1982's Halloween III: Season of the Witch, 1988's Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, and 1989's Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers were all released on 4K. This month, three more Halloween films, 1995's Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, 1998's Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, and 2002's Halloween: Resurrection are being released on 4K.
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers is the 6th and final film in the original iteration of the franchise, while Halloween H20: 20 Years Later and Halloween: Resurrection were made as direct sequels to the first two Halloween films. In other words, once these three films are released on 4K this month, all of the films from the original hexology and all of the films from the first reboot of the franchise will be available on 4K.
All three films arrive with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Stereo, along with a long list of bonus features each, including audio commentary and behind-the-scenes footage. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers comes with the Theatrical Cut and the Producer's Cut, both on 4K.
Available: On 4K UHD Blu-Ray Oct. 4.
Night of the Living Dead
When it comes to independent filmmaking, director George A. Romero's revolutionary 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead is one of cinema’s greatest success stories. Produced on a budget of less than $115,000, the film became a runaway success, grossing $12 million at the domestic box office and another $18 million dollars internationally. Night of the Living Dead remains a cultural touchstone within the horror genre, particularly among zombie movies. It is, after all, the first official zombie movie ever made. The premise is simple: Set in western Pennsylvania, seven strangers find themselves trapped in an old farmhouse fighting for their lives against a horde of flesh-eating undead ghouls.
Romero's film cleverly melds its gory visuals with a claustrophobic setting. Over the last few decades, the cult status of Night of the Living Dead has grown, with retrospective scholars and analysts giving praise to the film’s commentary on the social changes happening in America during the '60s, along with Romero's casting of a Black actor, Duane Jones, in the film's lead role. In 1999, the film was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant."
Night of the Living Dead rises from the grave with a 4K Ultra HD restoration courtesy of The Criterion Collection. The film was restored by the Museum of Modern Art and The Film Foundation with funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation and the Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation. The 4K transfer was supervised by director Romero before his passing in 2017 for the 4K restoration of the film by Janus Films. Co-screenwriter John A. Russo, sound designer Gary Streiner and producer Russell Streiner were also involved in the restoration. Criterion’s release is complemented by an official Program featuring filmmakers Frank Darabont, Guillermo del Toro, and Robert Rodriguez. The release also features audio commentaries from Romero and key members of the crew, archival interviews, newsreels, original trailers, a 16mm dailies reel, and an essay by critic Stuart Klawans.
Available: On 4K UHD Blu-Ray Oct. 4.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Celebrating its 60th Anniversary, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is bringing the 1962 seminal American classic To Kill a Mockingbird to the 4K UHD format as a Limited-Edition release. Nominated for eight Oscars and the winner of three (Best Actor for Gregory Peck, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Art Direction), this remarkable cinematic achievement was directed by Robert Mulligan. Based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, To Kill a Mockingbird takes place in Alabama during The Great Depression. Gregory Peck stars as Atticus Finch, a widower and highly principled lawyer who is defending Tom Robinson (Brock Peters), a Black man who has been wrongly accused of sexually assaulting a white woman. But Finch's desire to defend and absolve Robinson also has unexpected consequences on his two children within the realms of their small town.
Peck's Oscar-winning performance as Finch has been lauded as the Greatest Movie Hero of All Time by the American Film Institute, and the film beautifully empowers its audience with its themes of conviction, integrity, and strength. To Kill a Mockingbird was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry in 1995 for being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant."
Universal's new 4K restoration of To Kill a Mockingbird brings a superior level of color and depth to this cinematic milestone. A DTS-HD 5.1 audio track is available on the release along with the film's original 2.0 mono track. A essential film for any collection, this release is loaded with hours of supplemental material, including the new documentary To Kill A Mockingbird: All Points of View, along with Fearful Symmetry, A Conversation with Gregory Pieck, 100 Years of Universal: Restoring the Classics providing an in-depth look at the film restoration process, Peck’s Best Actor Oscar Acceptance Speech, a 44-page collector’s booklet and more.
Available: On 4K UHD Blu-Ray Oct. 11.
By Adam J. Yeend