Rounding Up Halloween's Pop-culture Treats

Culture Jamming: Fright Night 

Rounding Up Halloween's Pop-culture Treats

TOP PICK

Alfred Hitchcock Special Edition DVDs

(Universal)

Three of the director's best movies - Psycho, Vertigo and Rear Window - get first-class treatment on these two-disc sets, part of the Universal Legacy Series. Tons of bonus features - including commentaries, documentaries and episodes of Hitchcock's 1950s TV show - bolster the nerve-rattling films. We're obsessed with Vertigo and Rear Window; Psycho is the reason we shower only once a week.

DVD

Beetlejuice 20th Anniversary

Deluxe Edition

(Warner)

Tim Burton's spooky comedy celebrates its 20th anniversary with a special-edition disc that includes three episodes of the Beetlejuice cartoon show, which manages to retain some of the movie's surreal spirit. Michael Keaton's performance as an undead exorcist is almost as lively as Burton's direction - which swings from stop-motion scares to ghostly gags involving stars Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis. Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!

DVD

Fox Horror Classics Volume Two

(Fox)

"Classics" might be stretching it a bit, but the three movies included in this set contain some undeniable old-school chills. Best is Dragonwyck, a 1946 gothic thriller about a shady family starring Vincent Price. Chandu the Magician, from 1932, features Dracula's Bela Lugosi as an inventor who wants to take over the world; Dr. Renault's Secret (1942) is about an unfortunate dude who turns into a monkey. Bananas!

DVD

Icons of Horror 3

(Sony)

This two-disc collection gathers four movies from England's Hammer Studios, which released some of the bloody best horror movies of the '60s. These DVD debuts are short on extras (just trailers), but big on shocks. The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb and The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll tweak familiar horror staples; the morbid Scream of Fear revolves around a disappearing corpse. Best is The Gorgon, about a monster that turns people to stone.

VIDEOGAME

Fracture

(LucasArts)

It's 150 years in the future and the United States has split into two warring factions. It's up to you, an ass-kicking soldier by the name of Jet Brody, to restore order. Fracture - for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 - plays a lot like other post-apocalyptic shooters (complete with expansive multiplayer maps). But there's a pretty impressive arsenal of weapons at your disposal. We're particularly fond of the Pacifican Rhino, which hurls ginormous electric boulders at enemies.

DVD

Ray Harryhausen Collectible DVD Gift Set

(Sony)

Harryhausen was the guy whose stop-motion creations influenced generations of giant-monster filmmakers. The colossal, one-horned cyclops? His. Swashbuckling skeletons? His too. This six-disc box includes three of Harryhausen's early movies: It Came From Beneath the Sea (about a gigantic octopus), Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (pretty self-explanatory) and 20 Million Miles to Earth (about a reptile-looking alien that terrorizes Rome). Best of all, it comes with an eight-inch figurine of 20 Million Miles' terrifying Ymir.

DVD

Peanuts Holiday Collection

(Warner)

This three-disc box includes a trio of cartoon treasures. In "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving," Snoopy serves popcorn and toast to an ungrateful Peppermint Patty. In "A Charlie Brown Christmas," the baldheaded star buys the world's most pathetic Christmas tree, and his friends bust some totally awesome moves. And in "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," Linus spends Halloween waiting for a gift-bearing squash, while Charlie Brown goes trick-or-treating and comes home with a bag full of rocks. Classics.

DVD

Ghost House Underground

(Lionsgate)

Sam Raimi, the guy who directed the Evil Dead and Spider-Man movies, handpicked the eight super-low-budget horror flicks in this box (they're also available separately). They star folks who've been in Veronica Mars, The Devil's Rejects and Pizza King. They have titles like Dance of the Dead, Last House in the Woods and Brotherhood of Blood. And they're about cannibals, haunted houses and alien teachers. In other words, a perfect way to spend Halloween.

VIDEOGAME

Silent Hill: Homecoming

(Konami)

In the latest outing of this creepy videogame series (for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3), a war vet searching for his missing brother instead discovers a bunch of hellish creatures and ends up fighting for his life. There are some genuinely scary moments in the game - you can bet something is waiting around all those dark corners - as well as some psychologically unsettling set pieces. The tricky puzzles make this winning entry more than just another blood-soaked shooter.

BOOK

Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide

(Chicago Review)

Some of our favorite movies of the new millennium are zombie movies: 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead. This encyclopedia of the undead goes all the way back to 1932's White Zombie and chronicles 75 years' worth of flesh-eating ghouls. Writer Glenn Kay doesn't just run down stats; he also offers critical assessment to such genre faves as Night of the Living Dead and Re-Animator.

mgallucci@clevescene.com

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