More Shriek Than Shrek

Guillermo Del Toro Pan's Labyrinth The War Tapes Iraq War Documentaries M*A*S*H The Siege Denzel Washington Terrorism

Pan's Labyrinth: Parents, tuck the kids in first.
Pan's Labyrinth: Parents, tuck the kids in first.
Pan's Labyrinth (New Line)
Guillermo Del Toro has made a career of mixing slam-bang special effects (Hellboy, Blade II) with creepy atmospheres (Cronos, The Devil's Backbone). But with Pan's Labyrinth, he's used his entire palette for what will likely be remembered as his masterpiece. Mixing Franco's Spain with fairy tales, Labyrinth is brutal, bloody, and magical -- a children's tale that's not fit for kids. (One of the awkward pleasures of experiencing it in theaters was sitting near families who foolishly brought their children, treating them to pulverized faces, amputations, and faceless baby-eating monsters.) The best film of 2006 gets a worthy DVD treatment: These two discs include fine docs on the mythic inspiration and special effects, as well as sketchbook samples, music tracks, and more. -- Jordan Harper

The War Tapes (Docurama)
There have been only a handful of necessary Iraq War films, and all of them tell their story from the perspective of soldiers raised on combat movies who're at once thrilled to be in the midst of the big-screen shit, terrified at the prospect of being blown to bits, and furious at being hauled away from their wives and kids. In this documentary, three National Guardsmen armed with cameras initially view their gadgets as toys with which they can pester and amuse their comrades; they come to treat them as confidants to whom they're reading last wills and testaments for loved ones they're desperate to see again. One thing these men all have in common, no matter what their backgrounds and beliefs: They've seen Full Metal Jacket one too many times, as they're all doing their best Matthew Modine talking-to-the-camera impersonations. Not like they mean to. -- Robert Wilonsky

M*A*S*H: Goodbye, Farewell and Amen (Fox)
You've seen this, of course -- you and the rest of the planet, though likely just the single time it aired on February 28, 1983, which, yeah, seems like forever ago. It's still a little too maudlin, but it's a worthwhile slog down Amnesia Lane. Or skip the first of the three discs here and revel in the extras sprawled across the rest of the boxed set, wherein the cast and creators reminisce over a few reunion specials. Better yet, jump ahead by leaping back to the blooper reel (there's something marvelous about hearing clean-cut B.J. Hunnicut spout a "Holy shit!") and an unproduced script from the first season, in which Hawkeye is less the sitcom's gold-hearted Groucho than the lecherous lout of Robert Altman's film. -- Wilonsky

The Siege: Martial Law Edition (Fox)
"London, Belfast, Beirut -- we're not the first city to have to deal with terrorism," says Anthony Hubbard. "This is New York City. We can take it." Of course, Hubbard's a fictional character, played by Denzel Washington in Ed Zwick's 1998 action pic about terrorists who destroy parts of Manhattan, prompting the roundup of folks with tenuous ties to terrorism. In the days after September 11, this became America's favorite horror-film rental, and entertainment journalists sought deep background from The Siege's screenwriter, Lawrence Wright (recent Pulitzer winner for his book about "the road to 9/11"). This multi-doc edition plays up the movie's tragic foresight -- which it has to, lest viewers have too much fun with a movie that's more thrilling than it ought to be, especially with that bit about bending the law and shredding the Constitution. Gasp redux. -- Wilonsky

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