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Psycho: Special Edition

Universal
Movie A
Special Features A-
DVD Geek Factor 9 (out of 10)

When I was a kid, I thought the ending of Psycho was totally stupid. My dad built it up as this big surprise that would knock me on my ass, and I was ready to be blown away. When that chair swung around with the corpse in it, and Anthony Perkins showed up looking all nutty in his wig, I laughed hard. My dad was pissed.

I now understand why my dad was pissed: I was not appreciating a classic horror film, one that broke through uncountable barriers. It was filmed with astonishing skill by Alfred Hitchcock: The infamous shower scene, the nuanced madness of Perkins as Norman Bates and Bernard Hermann's stabbing score are just the start. Every frame of this film feels planned and perfect.

This is one of those films that is better to watch a second time. Knowing for sure that Bates is a psychopathic killer changes the experience entirely. A moment when Perkins is walking upstairs in his house, his steps becoming more feminine as he nears the top, is brilliance. My favorite scene comes when Bates watches a car sink in a swamp; his reaction when the sinking stops before the car has disappeared is classic.

Even though the big reveal still strikes me as a little funny, I do like that final contorted face Perkins is making when the wig comes off. He truly held the title of Most Insane Movie Character Ever in 1960, and is still a major contender for that title today.

Special Features: I'd always known that Martin Scorsese used Hitchcock as an inspiration, but I never realized the famous fight scene between Jake La Motta and Sugar Ray Robinson in Raging Bull was a near, intentional copy of the Psycho shower scene. The Making of Psycho, through interviews with Scorsese and shot-by-shot comparisons, reveals how similar the sequences are, from the staccato editing to the final moment when Sugar Ray's suspended, swinging arm parallels with Leigh's arm slowly reaching for the shower curtain.

Interesting factoids about the shower scene: Three women were used during the scene, to create some of the more provocative nude angles and shots of Marion Crane fending off the knife. And it was Hitchcock who was holding the knife.

The double-disc set also includes a feature commentary from Stephen Rebello, author of Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho. He's a bit stiff in his opening moments, but he loosens up as things go on. The aforementioned The Making of Psycho is a feature-length documentary that is priceless, with participation from many legendary filmmakers. Tons of featurettes, archive materials and a digitally remastered film make this the best Psycho on DVD yet. Now let's get going with a Blu-Ray version.


The Incredible Hulk: Three-Disc Special Edition

Universal
Movie B-
Special Features A-
DVD Geek Factor 7.5 (out of 10)

I still prefer Ang Lee's Hulk (despite its oddball ending) to this franchise reboot. I'm not saying this movie isn't decent, because it is. I just liked the idea of a superhero art film, and that's basically what Lee delivered. And I still think the CGI Hulk in the first one looked cool.

Edward Norton brought his acting chops--and notorious production fussiness--to the Hulk, and he's a great Bruce Banner. It's a lot of fun watching guys like Norton and Robert Downey Jr. (who has a brief cameo here as his Iron Man alter ego, Tony Stark) letting loose on superhero roles. They're bringing a lot of class to the genre.

The transformation scenes are well-done, as are the battles between Hulk and his enemy Blonsky (Tim Roth, who becomes the Abomination in the film's finale). It's all serviceable stuff--but nothing really blows the mind. This is a pretty standard comic-book movie, with plenty of funny nods to the original television series, including the sad piano music and appearances by original Hulk Lou Ferrigno and, on a TV set, the late Bill Bixby.

It appears that Norton is, not surprisingly, apprehensive about continuing the saga. If we see another Hulk film, and I doubt we will anytime soon, it's a longshot that Norton will participate.

Special Features: Director Louis Leterrier and Tim Roth give an entertaining commentary--and Norton's absence is conspicuous. Fans will enjoy deleted scenes, including an alternative opening, and many making-of featurettes. There's even a digital-copy disc so you can put Hulk on your iPod.


The Cult of Cartman: Revelations

Paramount
Shows A
Special Features C+
DVD Geek Factor 6 (out of 10)

This offers a sampling of some of Eric Cartman's nastier moments, including an episode in which he made his enemy eat his own parents. Given the Cartman Cult theme, I'm shocked they didn't include "Christian Rock Hard," the episode in which Cartman formed his own Christian-rock group. That would seem like a perfect fit.

Special Features: They're pretty sparse, but I did like the little Cartman menu intros and my official Eric Theodore Cartman Society membership card.

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