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Chris Hicks: New DVDs get Halloween rolling

SHARE Chris Hicks: New DVDs get Halloween rolling

It's still September, but as far as DVDs are concerned, it's Halloween. Or so it would seem from the many titles being released on home video specifically as an All Hallows Eve promotion.

Halloween films

"The Lost World" (Fox, 1960/1925, two discs, color and b/w, $19.98). The selling point here is the 1960 adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's novel about explorers finding a remote plateau in the Amazon inhabited by prehistoric beasts, in color and CinemaScope, with Michael Rennie, Jill St. John and scene-stealer Claude Rains. (With dopey monsters: lizards, etc., blown up to king-size.)

But the hidden treasure is the 1925 black-and-white silent version of "The Lost World," which has much superior effects, using clay animation for the dinosaurs. This restored print also has a more engaging story, and the bonus features include deleted scenes. (Willis O'Brien's special effects foreshadow his later "King Kong.")

Extras: Widescreen/full frame, featurettes, newsreel, trailer, comic book, photo gallery; four-page booklet

"Manhunter" (MGM, 1986; R for violence, sex, language; $14.98). This is the real anomaly of the MGM/Fox Halloween collection, as it's not a horror movie at all, but this thriller does mark the first screen appearance of Hannibal Lecter (well-played by Brian Cox).

It's also gorgeously filmed by Michael Mann and, thankfully, pulls back on the gore and sex. William Petersen ("CSI") is very good as the troubled detective tracking a serial killer and consulting with Lecter in this first adaptation of "Red Dragon," and very young Joan Allen shows up as a blind woman. (Although why this edition is full frame is a mystery; look for the previously released widescreen edition.)

Extras: Full-frame, trailer

"Sometimes They Come Back" (MGM, 1991; R for violence; $14.98). Not bad adaptation of the Stephen King story, with Tim Matheson returning to his hometown to teach high school when his students start dropping like flies. Is it a coincidence that his brother was murdered there nearly 30 years earlier by thugs who were then killed by a train? Spooky stuff.

Extras: Widescreen

"The Burning" (MGM, 1981; R for violence, nudity, sex, language; $14.98). This is a cheesy "Friday the 13th" ripoff — a serial killer knocks off teens at a summer camp — with future stars Holly Hunter, Jason Alexander and Fisher Stevens among the youngsters in the cast.

Extras: Widescreen, audio commentary, featurette

"Food of the Gods" (MGM, 1976, PG, $14.98). Silly adaptation of H.G. Wells novel about giant insects and animals, with Marjoe Gortner, Pamela Franklin and Ida Lupino.

Extras: Widescreen

"From Beyond: Unrated Director's Cut" (MGM, 1986; not rated, but R-level violence, nudity, sex, language; $19.98). Wild and weird stuff from the folks who gave us "Re-Animator," this one also based on H.P. Lovecraft, as a machine that taps into the sixth sense drives a psychiatrist, her patient and a bodyguard toward deviant behavior and encounters with gooey monsters.

Extras: Widescreen, audio commentary, featurettes, photo montage, storyboards

"Scarecrows" (MGM, 1988; not rated, but R-level violence, language; $14.98). A kidnapped pilot and his daughter must contend with the group of thieves who took them, as well as killer scarecrows, when their plane goes down in a cornfield maze at night. Pretty dumb.

Extras: Widescreen

"The Return of the Living Dead" (MGM, 1984; R for violence, nudity, sex, language; $19.98). A sort of sequel to "Night of the Living Dead" that also spoofs the genre and spawned several sequels of its own. Amusing but way over the top.

Extras: Widescreen, audio commentaries, featurettes, zombie subtitles; glow-in-the-dark packaging, four-page booklet

E-mail: hicks@desnews.com