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Chris Hicks: The latest take on ‘Dracula’ released on Blu-ray, DVD this week

Luke Evans is the latest actor to take on the iconic role of the bloodsucking vampire Count Dracula in "Dracula Untold," now on Blu-ray and DVD.
Luke Evans is the latest actor to take on the iconic role of the bloodsucking vampire Count Dracula in "Dracula Untold," now on Blu-ray and DVD.
Legendary/Universal

“Dracula” receives yet another update, this one with piled-high computer animation, and it was a surprise hit in theaters last October.

“Dracula Untold” (Legendary/Universal/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2014, PG-13, deleted scenes/alternate opening, audio commentary, featurettes). Bram Stoker’s original “Dracula” story is apparently too tame for modern audiences, hence this “reinterpretation” invoking the real-life Vlad the Impaler, a historical figure that was Stoker’s inspiration.

But it’s just another dark (in every sense of the word), frenzied Middle Ages fantasy with a variation on the current superhero craze: a character that can take down dozens — or hundreds — of villains with one swipe. This one belongs in the same dollar bin with “I, Frankenstein,” but it made money and is considered a worldwide hit.

“Dear White People” (Lionsgate/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2014, R for language and sex, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes, outtakes). Tessa Thompson stars in this edgy racial satire as an outspoken film student with a biting radio program and a self-published book who calls out her upscale, mostly-white college for what she sees as racially biased treatment. A white campus club responds by organizing a blackface party.

“Starred Up” (Cinedigm/DVD, 2014, not rated, featurette). Jack O’Connell (star of Angelina Jolie’s current “Unbroken”) has the lead role in this British prison melodrama as a violent 19-year-old sent to an adult facility where his long-estranged father is also incarcerated. Dad tries to help his son overcome his self-destructive tendencies to get some help. Based on real-life experiences encountered by screenwriter Jonathan Asser as a voluntary therapist at a prison. Not rated but considerable R-level language and violence.

“Ouija” (Universal/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2014, PG-13, featurettes). After a teenage girl dies, a recording is found of her playing with an ancient Ouija Board, so her friends decide to use the board to investigate her death. Bad idea. This is the toy company Hasbro’s first horror film.

“Starry Eyes” (DarkSky/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2014, not rated, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, music video, trailer). Young waitress (Alex Essoe) is also a struggling actress who auditions for a film that causes her to sell her soul for the lure of fame. And in this horror movie, that may not be simply metaphorical. Not rated but R-level gore, nudity and language.

“Exists” (Lionsgate/DVD/Digital, 2014; R for language, violence, sex, drugs; deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes). Five friends on a summer getaway at a remote cabin in the Texas Big Thicket run into Bigfoot, and he’s not happy about it in this by-the-numbers monster flick.

“The Demon’s Rook” (Cinedigm/DVD, 2013, not rated, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurette, bloopers, short film: “Goat Witch”). A young boy is tutored by a demon after being taken through a portal to another world, but as an adult the young man returns to his own world, with three bloodthirsty demons that follow him. Another on-the-cheap horror gorefest.

“ABCs of Death 2” (Magnet/Blu-ray/DVD, not rated, featurettes). I’m betting you didn’t know there was an “ABCs of Death 1.” This film is comprised of 26 short films — one for each letter of the alphabet, each directed by different filmmakers from around the world — about people dying in various ways. Loaded with R-level gore, sex, nudity, language.

Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." He also writes at www.hicksflicks.com and can be contacted at hicks@deseretnews.com.