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Doogan's Views at The Digital Bits!
page added: 10/10/01



So here goes...

I guess we're going to try this once again. So here goes. Welcome, one and all, to the newly revamped and this time weekly (I promise) Doogan's Views column starring me, Todd Doogan. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is a place where we will discuss DVD issues and developments, movies, porn, my life and anything else that catches my fancy. This is also a place where I will discuss assorted issues and letters sent to me about DVDs we've reviewed, not reviewed and might have no intention of ever reviewing - so there. You know, all the stuff like that. Who knows, you may even find your very own letters printed in these pages - questioning me, saluting me or condemning me to hell.

But what does all of that mean for you? Well, I'm glad you asked. The most important meaning you can pull from this is you'll have a regular voice that sounds a lot like mine joining Bill's on this DVD web site collectively known as The Digital Bits.

But guess what? That's not all, not by a long shot. I'll also be taking the time to look at smaller DVD releases that wouldn't regularly get reviewed on the site. In my column each and every week, you'll find a handful of reviews that will give you a better idea of whether or not you should pick up a disc. There may or may not be a rhyme or reason to the selection of discs I pick each week. It could be themed, it could be by a director I like or dislike or it could be a gaggle of stuff I just watched over the weekend. It could even be stuff I watched last year and never got around to talking about. Any way you slice it, you'll be getting some reviews in here. And that's a good thing, I promise.

One more feature of the new and slightly improved Doogan's Views, is that each and every Friday I'll let you know about ten DVDs coming out the following week. Must-haves, stay-away-froms and wow-didn't-see-that-comings all included. It'll be fun, it'll let you know what to expect and it'll let you know what to get your money lined up for.

So let's get to it. Below, I'm looking at five horror type movies to get you ready for the Halloween season. I'll be looking at horror movies all month, so this is just a taste. And just F.Y.I., all Doogan's Views Reviews (they're coming right at you - you know, like the New Zoo Revue... oh, forget it) will be indexed like always in the Reviews section of the site, just with a small DV denoting them as a Doogan's View. Not too confusing I hope.

Anyway... ready, steady and go with the first of the weekly Doogan's Views!

Terrorism sucks, huh? I was pretty glad I subscribe to the DVD format after a while. Everything on TV was news, footage and tears for a while. And now we're in a rah-rah stage, and I'm still glad for DVD. I think I spun more platters in the last three weeks than I did for the entire year before that. And I looked at some good stuff, including The Godfather box which I reviewed separately this week. But since I'm in a Halloween mood, I also watched some really great horror titles. What do you say we get rid of this stupid column and move on to some DVDs I watched this past weekend?


Friday the 13th: A New Beginning

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Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
1985 (2001) - Paramount

Film Rating: C-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/B+/C-

Specs and Features:

92 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, single-layered, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (14 chapters), languages: English & French (DD mono), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned


With a smacked TV on his head, Jason (not to rhyme) is d-e-a-d dead. Or is he? Pause, and cue mysterious music. Yes, he is. I'm not going to fool you. Young Tommy, who defeated Jason in the previous film, is now a bit off in the noggin' and is sent to a halfway house for unbalanced youth. He doesn't say much and has a hard time fitting in, but so what? We got some killing to do. When a chocolate bar munching man child bothers a psychopathic teenager with an axe, said man child gets lopped up real good... and this only starts things off in a wild direction as assorted townspeople and crazy teens start falling victim to a watcher in the woods clad in the trademark work clothes and hockey mask. But who is it? Is it really Jason, or Tommy or the weird loner guy who shows up to "fix" things of the local wackjob crazy lady and her son? Find out in this lame ass sequel that should never have been.

This marks the second time Jason wasn't the killer in a Friday film and that's nothing more than a bit of trivia because the film sucks. I think there are plenty of people out there who love the Friday films and who will avoid this film like an anthrax plague. And it's Paramount's fault, really. The price on this thing is close to 25 bucks and it's got nothing but a trailer on it. Paramount really has to rethink their pricing and soon. A lot of small town distributors won't even pick up their product anymore because of the price. That's not a good thing for DVD fans because that forces you to hunt stuff down.

Other than the price, New Beginning is a great DVD in terms of video and audio. The picture is nice and colorful with hard blacks and stiff solid lines. The anamorphic presentation is better than I've ever seen this film on video or laserdisc. It's a very nice looking. The sound is a standard Dolby Digital mono in English and French, which gets the job done with nice play and clear dialogue. The ch-ch-ch-ch-ch's all sound great. As I said before, the only extra is a trailer. That's a shame because Paramount really should have worked something out with Fangoria to put some of the articles they had in back issues on the Friday films on here. Because of those articles, I remember these film being more horrific than they actually are. I was actually shocked at how tame these films are when viewed in this day and age.

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
Buy this DVD now at DVD Planet!


Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives

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Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives
1986 (2001) - Paramount

Film Rating: C+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/B+/C-

Specs and Features:

87 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, single-layered, theatrical teaser trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (16 chapters), languages: English and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned


The schmuck going around posed as Jason is killed, and somehow that's not enough for Tommy. No. He wants to go to Jason's grave and make sure the clichéd killer is dead for good. So, grabbing his buddy Horseshack, he digs up Jason and slams a cast iron fence post into Jason's chest. But at that exact moment a lightning bolt shoots out of the sky and reanimates Jason's maggot-filled body with electric Evil. Jason kills Horseshack and heads back to town to kill everybody he finds once again. Cut to credits. The rest of the film is the usual: no-one-will-believe-Tommy and camp counselors charged with bringing Crystal Lake back to full use are hunted and killed in new and interesting ways, all with an Alice Cooper soundtrack. It's not a bad Jason film, but that's not saying much is it?

I always enjoyed Jason Lives because it's fun and stupid and makes no bones about what's going on. Jason kills people, plain and simple. That's all this film is about. The acting is bad and the dialogue is dumb but the murders are inspired. Skip Friday the 13th: A New Beginning. But if you're a Friday fan, this is a good flick to own.

This DVD is as good as the other, with a very nice anamorphic presentation featuring nice color representation and artifact free blacks. The sound, again in Dolby Digital 2.0 English and French, is as good as you'd want or expect. Extras are light with only a trailer. Jason Lives doesn't deserve the hefty price tag, so shop for a bargain if you can.

Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives
Buy this DVD now at DVD Planet!


The Forsaken

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The Forsaken
2001 (2001) - Screen Gems (Columbia TriStar)

Film Rating: C+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/B-

Specs and Features:

90 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, full frame (1.33:1), dual-sided, single-layered, audio commentary with writer/director J.S. Cardone, 3 deleted scenes, Hard-Body Co-Stars featurette, Actor Profile: Brendan Fehr featurette, theatrical trailers (for The Forsaken, Bram Stoker's Dracula, John Carpenter's Vampires, Hollow Man and John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars), cast and crew filmographies, film-themed menu screens, scene access (28 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & DD 2.0) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, French, Chinese, Korean and Thai, Closed Captioned


Sure, the film starts off great with former Coyote Ugly bartender Izabella Miko washing blood off her lovely breasts. But that sort of pace wasn't meant to be kept up. A guy's vampire flick through and through, The Forsaken stumbles and falls often enough to be put into a geriatric community. Thinking back on it, it's hard to even say what the film is about really. A young man who obviously works at Troma in LA wants to go to his brother's wedding or something on the East Coast, so he agrees to drive a car. Along the way, he picks up a vampire hunter who gets him involved in a vampire hunt. Everyone basically gets infected, but the vampire hunter has a serum to slow the vamp-out factor down. Now they're running against the clock to save their souls and kill the head vampire. It sounds better on paper than it actually is, believe me.

Director J.S. Cardone wanted to make the first vampire road movie, but I guess he never saw Near Dark. Actually he cites that as a predecessor to this, but it's not a road movie because the action takes place in one town. Still, there are a lot of cars, open roads and gritty deserts in that film. Plus, that one is actually worth seeing. The Forsaken is as lame as the WB stars that litter it's wasteland landscape. The best moment is the opening shot, and even that has a limited audience.

The Forsaken is here in both full frame and anamorphic widescreen on a flipper disc. The picture is very good and quite colorful. It could have benefited from using a dual-layer disc. As compressed as it is, we're left with a few artifacted blacks. But for the most part it's a good clean picture. The sound, in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0, is also clean. Both tracks are pretty forward-friendly with play, but the 5.1 track is more aggressive and fuller obviously. Surprisingly, this little disc is packed with supplements. First off is a boring commentary track with writer/director J.S. Cardone - it's not very worthwhile. You'll also find three deleted scenes and a couple of featurettes: Hard-Body Co-Stars (all about the cars in the film which is pretty lame considering the cars are pretty lame) and Actor Profile: Brendan Fehr (which is even more lame than the cars). Rounding out the disc are theatrical trailers for The Forsaken, Bram Stoker's Dracula, John Carpenter's Vampires, Hollow Man and John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars and some cast and crew filmographies. Not thrilling, but pretty packed, huh? I wouldn't run out and pick it up, but it certainly won't hurt if it's the only thing left at Blockbuster one Friday night.

The Forsaken
Buy this DVD now at DVD Planet!


13 Ghosts

13 Ghosts
1960 (2001) - Columbia Pictures (Columbia TriStar)

Film Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/B+/A-

Specs and Features:

84 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), dual-sided, single-layered, The Making of Illusion-O featurette, theatrical trailers (for 13 Ghosts, Ghostbusters and The Tingler), Ghost Viewer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (28 chapters), languages: English and French (DD mono), subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and Thai, Closed Captioned


No, I didn't get my hands on an advance copy of the new upcoming horror film (that, in the trailer, actually looks like it could be quite creepy). This is the original version done up in high carnival style by William Castle. So don't expect spooky or thrilling. Instead, expect fun and entertaining. Because Castle was behind the film, you can also expect a gimmick. And what's the gimmick? Well, the film was done up in a process not unlike 3-D, but in this case the film was processed (or more specifically color tinted) so that the normal eye couldn't see any of the ghost action scenes in the film. The process, called "Illusion-O", necessitated a special "Ghost Viewer" that filtered the film so you could see the ghostly horror unfold on your screen. Of course, even back then you could see the action whether or not you used the Viewer, but it was a neat gimmick nonetheless. The story is about a lower middle class family that inherits a house from an eccentric uncle who collected ghosts. 12 in all. But why, then, is the title 13 Ghosts? Well, that's a mystery to be unfolded as you watch the film. Mooooohahahahahahahaha (choke, cough) hahahaha.

The film is cheesy. But it's incredibly fun cheese, and that's fun with a capital F. Columbia sent this DVD out as a dual-sided flipper that lets you watch the film in either "Ghost Mode" (with the color gels fully intact) or plain black and white on the other side. The Ghost Mode version has a neat little intro by producer/director and gimmick king William Castle, showing you how to use the Viewer. Both sides are full frame and look very nice even for their age, which is to be expected from Columbia. The prints have seen better days in spots, but they're pretty well off considering. The audio is standard in English and Spanish Dolby Digital mono and sounds better than you'd expect.

The extras on the disc include a nice little documentary on the film, entitled The Making of Illusion-O, with a running time of around 8 minutes. It covers the process and also sheds some light on Castle and his gimmicks. You'll also get your very own Viewer, made in the likeness of the original viewer handed out in the 60s, and a coupon is included in the notes insert so you can buy more to share with friends and family. 13 Ghosts is worth checking out.

13 Ghosts
Buy this DVD now at DVD Planet!


The Vanishing

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The Vanishing
1988 (2001) - Cine International (Criterion)

Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/B/C

Specs and Features:

106 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (1.66:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 52:45, in chapter 12), theatrical trailers, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (24 chapters), languages: French and Dutch (DD mono), subtitles: English


Although not a standard horror film, The Vanishing will scare the pants off of any responsible male. I'm being slightly sexist here, because as a male, we have a protective instinct built into us either by family, society or genetically. The idea that one moment you're standing with your loved one and the next they are gone without a trace is crippling. I myself won't let my wife go to the bathroom in a mall unless I'm standing outside, and if I leave her in a car, I have her lock the door. She could probably kick the ass of anyone that would chance to bother her, but still. It makes me feel better.

The Vanishing follows a young man whose girlfriend disappeared from a rest stop in France. He's Dutch and on a road trip with her for his birthday. When she goes in to grab a beer and a coke, she never comes back. Years later, he's still looking for her when a man approaches him and tells him that he can show him what happened to her if he comes with him. Got that? The rest is for you to see.

Told in a neat back and forth way, we see the methodology of the "bad guy" and the psychology of the film. The Vanishing is a really well created flick and blows the American remake (done by the same director, George Sluizer) out of the water. This is the scariest flick in this column, no ifs ands or buts.

Criterion, of course, gives us a grand presentation with an anamorphic transfer. Letterboxed at 1.66:1, the detail is very nice with bold colors, clean blacks and a beautiful print. The sound is Dolby Digital mono, as originally created, and is also pretty clean and free of problems. The only extra on the disc is a trailer, which sort of sucks, because this is a DVD that could really have some great extras on it. A commentary from anyone or some insight on the original source would have been nice. But alas, what are you going to do? For a movie-only disc, The Vanishing is still very nice and it's a creepy-as-shit flick.

The Vanishing
Buy this DVD now at DVD Planet!


And that's it for my first weekly column. Felt good to get it off my chest. We'll do this each and every Wednesday for the rest of my DVD career here at The Bits. And check back on Friday for an upcoming list of DVDs coming out next week.

Thanks for reading, and keep spinnin' those discs!

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com


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