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Mindwarp | Fangoria Films’ 1990’s post-apocalyptic sci-fi starring Bruce Campbell and Angus Scrimm on Blu-ray

Throughout the 1980s, Fangoria was my go-to fantasy, sci-fi and horror mag, remaining a subscriber for many years. Such was its success with genre fans, the company went on to host conventions and awards shows before trying its hand at producing its own films. Only three ended up being made before they switched tactics to become a film distributor. The first one produced by Fangoria Films was Mindwarp (AKA Brain Slasher), which is now being brought out of the vaults for a UK Blu-ray release from Eureka Entertainment.

Set in a post-apocalyptic 2037, it centres on Judy (Marta Alicia), an Inworlder who lives entirely plugged into a computer running virtual reality fantasies. When she gets the chance to be released by its System Operator, she ends up in radioactive wasteland populated by Crawlers, cannibalistic underground dwellers who mine garbage dumps for their overlord, the Seer (Angus Scrimm). But her troubles really start when she’s captured along with Stover (Bruce Campbell) one of the last human Outworlders.

With Evil Dead‘s Bruce Campbell and Phantasm‘s Tall Man Angus Scrimm on board, Fangoria had high hopes for some box-office gold. Strangely, it slipped under my radar when it was originally released in 1992, and having watched it now, I can see why. It’s a bit pants really, and what I call ‘a running film’ where not much happens except people run around – a lot.

It’s also ludicrously staged around the gore set-pieces – which are actually the film’s main highlight (aside from Campbell and Scrimm of course!). I sum it up as a bargain-bin Alice in Post-Apocalypse-Land.

But one reason you should consider adding this to your collection is for the 1990 convention footage included in the extras. Scrimm is terrific and does his ‘BOY!’ act to much acclaim (while also reciting some poetry), while Campbell really works the room once he turns the questions onto the audience about the difficulties involved in the independent film-making process.

SPECIAL FEATURES
• 1080p presentation on Blu-ray
• LPCM 2.0 audio and optional English SDH
• Feature-length audio interview with Tony Timpone, former editor of Fangoria Magazine
• Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors 1990: Footage from the horror convention, with Bruce Campbell and Angus Scrimm
• Reversible sleeve artwork featuring original poster artwork for both the original US release and the international ‘Brain Slasher‘ artwork
• Collector’s booklet featuring a new essay by film scholar Craig Ian Mann; and a reprinted article from Gorezone

This Gun for Hire | The stylish 1942 film noir out on Blu-ray

From Eureka Entertainment comes the 1942 film-noir This Gun for Hire starring Veronica Lake, Robert Preston, Laird Cregar and Alan Ladd, presented on Blu-ray from a 4K scan.

Lake plays nightclub chanteuse Ellen, and her detective beau Michael (Preston) is on the hunt for assassin-for-hire Philip Raven (Ladd), who has just scored a hit on a chemist with a secret formula. When Raven’s employer Gates (Cregar) double-crosses him, Raven seeks revenge – but dangerous forces are waiting in the shadows…

Adapted from Graham Greene’s 1936 novel (titled A Gun for Sale in the UK), This Gun for Hire is a stylish crime noir that became Ladd’s breakout role and featured Lake giving one of her most iconic performances. Such was the success of their onscreen chemistry, they would team up for the same year’s adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s The Glass Key before this one was even released. A winning combination of genuine suspense, taut storytelling and standout performances.

SPECIAL FEATURES
• 1080p presentation on Blu-ray from a 4K scan of the original film elements
• Uncompressed LPCM 2.0 audio
• Audio commentary by film scholar Adrian Martin
This Gun for Hire: Lux Radio Theater adaptation starring Alan Ladd and Joan Blondell
This Gun for Hire: The Screen Guild Theater radio adaptation starring Alan Ladd Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake
• Theatrical trailer
• Collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Barry Forshaw, and Craig Ian Mann

 

Mr Vampire | The 1980s Hong Kong horror comedy gets the 2K treatment

From Eureka Entertainment comes Mr Vampire, presented from a brand new 2K restoration and making its worldwide debut on Blu-ray as part of the Eureka Classics range.

A huge hit in its native Hong Kong in the 1980s, this horror-comedy from producer Sammo Hung and director Ricky Lau spawned at least four sequels and countless spin-offs and triggered a wave of jiangshi (‘hopping vampire’) imitations.

Lam Ching-ying stars as supernatural expert Master Kau. When he and his two bumbling students, Man Choi (Ricky Hui) and Chou (Chin Siu-ho), exhume a corpse for reburial, things go hilariously awry when the cadaver is revealed to be a vampire. Blamed for the chaos that ensures, Kau must put the spirits to rest before the vampire’s own granddaughter (Moon Lee) gets bitten. Fighting the undead with everything from sticky rice to filing down the bloodsucker’s fangs, the trio must defeat an increasing number of ghoulish dangers…

SPECIAL FEATURES
• 1080p presentation from a brand new 2K restoration
• Original Cantonese audio (original mono presentations)
• English dub track produced for the film’s original European home video release
• English dub track produced for the film’s original American home video release
• Newly translated English subtitles
• New audio commentary by Asian film expert Frank Djeng
• Alternate end credits
• Archival interview with Chin Siu-hou [40 mins]
• Archival interview with Moon Lee [15 mins]
• Archival interview with Ricky Lau [12 mins]
• Original Hong Kong Trailer
• Limited Edition O-CARD Slipcase with new artwork by Darren Wheeling
• Collector’s Booklet featuring new writing on the film

The Night of the Generals | The World War Two whodunnit on Blu-ray

From Eureka Entertainment comes the World War Two thriller, The Night of the Generals, on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK, taken from a brand new 4K restoration, as part of the Eureka Classics range.

In 1942 Warsaw, a prostitute is found brutally murdered. Normally, the crime would attract little attention in war, but evidence points to one of three top Nazi generals as the killer. Thanks to German Military Intelligence officer, Major Grau, an epic man-hunt begins, through to Nazi-occupied Paris where, in 1944, an almost exact replica of the crime is committed…

This epic 1967 film, adapted from Joseph Kessel’s novel and directed by Anatole Litvak (making his penultimate picture), has a cast to die for! Not only do you have Peter O’Toole, Donald Pleasence and Charles Gray playing the prime suspects, you’ve got Omar Sharif (as Grau), Tom Courtenay, Christopher Plummer, Gordon Jackson, Coral Browne and many more. Even Juliette Greco gets in a little song.

More whodunnit than full-on war drama (with a Hitler assassination subplot that, frankly, seems a bit of an add-on), it also features a magnificent score from Maurice Jarre and evocative film location camerawork, alongside Litvak’s carefully calculated direction.

The highlight for me, however, was seeing Gray and Browne sparring as the devoted von Seidlitz-Gabler couple – as they would play similar roles on the London stage in 1975 in Jean Anouilh’s Ardèle alongside Browne’s hubby, Vincent Price. But O’Toole really is also totally captivating – even though he looks rather pale, sweaty and ill throughout most of the proceedings.

SPECIAL FEATURES
• 1080p presentation on Blu-ray, taken from a stunning 4K restoration
• Uncompressed LPCM audio (original mono presentation)
• Optional English subtitles
• Brand new and exclusive Audio Commentary by author Scott Harrison
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• Collector’s booklet featuring new writing by author Scott Harrison

 

Cujo | The 1980s rabid dog horror from the pen of Stephen King gets a limited edition UK Blu-ray release

Evil bites when a drooling rabid dog lays siege to the frightened occupants of a broken-down car in this 1983 horror from director Lewis Teague (Alligator, The Jewel of the Nile), based on Stephen King’s best-selling novel of the same name.

While Donna (Dee Wallace) and Vic Trenton (Daniel Hugh-Kelly) struggle to save their rocky marriage, their son Tad (Danny Pintauro) befriends the St Bernard who belongs to their mechanic. But what they don’t realise is that a bat bite is transforming Cujo into a vicious killer. With Vic away on business, Donna and Tad’s car trouble pushes them into a living nightmare…

Alongside Maximum Overdrive and Cat’s Eye, this is one of the weakest Stephen King adaptations, but it did do modest business at the box-office back in 1983 when hit became the fourth-highest grossing horror of the year. The simple premise is of a car breaking down, but in order to flesh out the film’s running time, it does so several times.

Dee Wallace and Who’s the Boss’ Danny Pintauro handle their roles pretty well, and Lewis does his best in the director’s chair which was originally occupied by Peter Medak (who left the project two days into filming). But Moe, the St Bernard, who plays Cujo is just too darn loveable looking, even with all that slobber coated over him, to make a convincing hell hound. And valiantly trying to generate suspense with his mobile camera is cinematographer Jan de Bont, who went on to direct Speed.

Eureka Classics’ Limited Edition 2-disc Blu-ray edition is available to order from Amazon

Check out the full specs below.

SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION [4000 UNITS] CONTAINS
• Hardbound Slipcase, featuring newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
• Reversible sleeve featuring artwork by Justin Osbourn and original poster artwork
• 60-page Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Lee Gambin, author Scott Harrison, and Craig Ian Mann; illustrated with archival imagery from the film’s production.

DISC ONE
• 1080p presentation of the film, on Blu-ray for the first time ever in the UK
• Uncompressed LPCM mono soundtrack
• Optional English SDH subtitles
• Audio commentary by Lee Gambin, author of Nope, Nothing Wrong Here: The Making of Cujo
• New interviews with Dee Wallace [40 mins], composer Charles Bernstein [35 mins], stunt people Gary Morgan [25 mins] and Jean Coulter [21 mins], casting director Marcia Ross. [20 mins], visual effects artist Kathie Lawrence [13 mins], special effects designer Robert Clark [12 mins] and dog trainer Teresa Miller [28 mins]
Dog Days: The Making of Cujo – archival documentary on the film’s production [42 mins]

DISC TWO [Limited Edition Only]
• Q&A with Dee Wallace from Cinemaniacs & Monster Fest 2015 [96 mins]
• New interview with critic and author Kim Newman [25 mins]

Troll: The Complete Collection | The 1980s fantasy franchise gets a Eureka Classics Limited Edition Blu-ray release

Troll (1986)

Long before a certain young wizard called Harry Potter waged a magical war against the dreaded Lord Voldemort, another youngster, also called Harry Potter, found himself battling a pint-sized dark wizard in the 1986 fantasy comedy Troll.

Troll (1986)

While critically-panned at the time, Troll has become something of a cult curiosity ever since it scored big on the home video business, where it even overtook The Goonies in rentals. Noah Hathaway from Never Ending Story fame plays the spunky hero, Harry Potter Jr, who comes under the tutelage of a white witch called Eunice St. Clair (June Lockhart of Lost in Space fame) when his sister Wendy is possessed by Torok (Phil Fondacaro) – a powerful fairy (and Eunice’s former lover) who was turned into a troll after starting a war between fairies and humans.

Troll (1986)

Small, smart, dripping with saliva, and with teeth that would keep a dentist in bridgework for life, Torok wants to transform the human world back into the grand, magical kingdom that existed many centuries ago… With just 72 hours to complete his mission, Torok creates his fairy world inside a San Francisco apartment block and starts turning its tenants, including Sonny Bono, a pre-Seinfield Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Phil Fondacaro (who also plays a friendly neighbour), into goblins, nymphs and elves. Armed with Eunice’s magical staff, Harry then heads into the alternate world to save the day…

Troll (1986)

Troll was the brainchild of two protégés from Roger Corman’s New World quickies, screenwriter and former Fangoria-editor Ed Naha and director/sfx artist John Carl Buechler. It was originally planned to be a blood-drenched R-rated horror flick set in a sleazy motel called Goblin for Corman, but got transformed into a PG-13 fantasy in the Ghoulies and Gremlins mold when it was greenlit by Charles Band’s Empire Pictures.

While it has its faults, Troll boasts some neat practical effects, but is also packed with some delightfully odd moments, including a bizarre elfin-led musical number, June Lockhart turning into her real-life daughter Anne – not to mention Moriarty’s hyperactive turn as Harry’s 1960’s music-jiving dad (also called Harry Potter) and the film within the film called Pod People from the Planet Mars which plays on a TV set during all the mischief and mayhem.

Troll 2 (1990)

In the unrelated 1990 sequel, Troll 2, produced by prolific Italian film-maker Joe D’Amato, young Joshua (Michael Stephenson) makes a connection between the local residents of a town called Nilbog (try writing it backwards?) and a fairytale he was told by his grandfather (Robert Ormsby). Realising that the townsfolk are all goblins, he tries to prevent his family from eating any food before they are turned into vegetable matter…

My word, this is really bad – and not in a good way! In fact, its downright painful to sit through such bad acting, dialogue and makeup effects. This is only for cult film masochists or Joe D’Amato completists. In 2009, Stephenson, directed a documentary about the film’s production and subsequent popularity, humorously titled Best Worst Movie, which is also included in the Blu-ray box-set, as part of the Eureka Classics series, along with the following special features…

The Making of Troll: featuring director John Carl Buechler, producer Charles Band, Writer Ed Naha, composer Richard Band and more
• Audio commentary on Troll 2 with actors George Hardy and Deborah Reed
Best Worst Movie: deleted scenes and interview footage
• Interview with Deborah Reed
• Screenwriting Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith, Michael Stephenson and George Hardy
• Fan contributions
• Monstrous – Music Video by ECOMOG
• Booklet featuring rare archival material
• Limited Edition O Card slipcase featuring artwork by Devon Whitehead

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Night of the Creeps (1986) | The cult sci-fi zom-com gets a dual format release

Night of the Creeps

From Eureka Entertainment comes director Fred Dekker’s jokey 1980s sci-fi comedy Night of the Creeps, in a Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD) edition as part of the Eureka Classics range.

When an alien experiment goes awry, it crashes to Earth in 1959 and infects a college student. 27 years later, his freeze-dried body is unwittingly revived by nerds Chris (Jason Lively) and JC (Steve Marshall), which releases alien slugs that turn their fellow campus students into brain-hungry zombies. Chris, CJ and Chris’ new girlfriend Cynthia (Jill Whitlow) must then team up with a troubled detective (Tom Atkins) to find a way to defeat the zombie horde…

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Presented for the first time on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK, this deluxe edition of Night of the Creeps features the original director’s cut and the following special features…

DUAL FORMAT SPECIAL FEATURES
• High-definition remaster of the director’s cut
• Original stereo soundtrack and 5.1 surround audio options, presented in PCM and DTS-HD MA respectively on the Blu-ray
• Audio commentary by writer/director Fred Dekker
• Audio commentary by actors Jason Lively, Tom Atkins, Steve Marshall and Jill Whitlow
Thrill Me: Making Night of the Creeps: an hour-long series of video pieces on the making of the film featuring new interviews with cast and crew
Tom Atkins: Man of Action featurette
• Video Interview with Fred Dekker
• Deleted Scenes
• Original theatrical ending (which I rather prefer)
• Trivia track subtitles
• Theatrical trailer
• Limited-edition booklet featuring a new essay by critic Craig Ian Mann
• Limited Edition O-Card slipcase

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Monkey Shines (1988) | George A Romero’s twisted Experiment in Fear is a cunning little beast indeed!

Monkey Shines

Drug-addled research scientist Geoffrey Fisher (John Pankow) is injecting human brain serum into monkeys, but goes too far with Ella, one Capuchin that he gives as helper to quadriplegic law student Allan (Jason Beghe), who has been left paralysed from the neck down after a road accident.

Monkey Shines

All goes well at first, as Allan and Ella bond with the help of animal trainer Melanie (Kate McNeil). But when the scientist steps up the dosage, Ella begins responding to Allan’s subconscious rages, including wanting to dispose of the girlfriend (Janine Turner) who dumped him for the surgeon (Stanley Tucci) who operated on Allan after the accident. Murder and mayhem follow as the twisted thriller builds towards a nail-biting climax. Can Allan stop the cunning critter before she fully takes over his mind?

Monkey Shines

George A Romero’s Monkey Shines is presented on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK in a Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD) edition as part of the Eureka Classics range with the following special features…

• Limited Edition O Card slipcase
• 1080p presentation of the film on Blu-ray
• DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 audio options
• Optional English SDH subtitles
• New and exclusive audio commentary by Travis Crawford
• Audio Commentary with director George A Romero
• An Experiment in Fear – The Making of Monkey Shines: a lengthy retrospective with George A Romero, stars Jason Beghe and Kate McNeil, executive producer Peter Grunwald, and special effects legends Tom Savini, Greg Nicotero and Everett Burrell.
• Alternate Ending and Deleted Scenes
• Behind-the-scenes footage, original EPK featurette, vintage interviews and news reports
• Trailers and TV spots
• Limited edition collector’s booklet featuring a new essay by Craig Ian Mann; highlights from the film’s production notes: and rare archival material

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Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959) | The Jules Verne adventure classic starring James Mason thrills again in 4k

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)

A landmark in Hollywood adventure film-making, 20th Century Fox’s 1959 adaptation of Jules Verne’s 1864 sci-fi novel, Journey to the Center of the Earth, thrills again following a glorious 4k restoration.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)

Five years after playing Captain Nemo in Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, James Mason stepped into the shoes of another classic Verne character – geologist Otto Lidenbrok (renamed Professor Sir Oliver Lindenbrook), who leads a daring mission into the bowels of the Earth after discovering a hidden message from Icelandic pioneeer Arne Saknussemm.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)

Tagging along is dedicated ‘Scottish’ geology student Alec McEwan (Pat Boone), the widow of Lindenbrook’s late partner, Carla (Arlene Dahl), and local Icelander Hans (Pétur Ronson) and his pet duck Gertrude. Heading down a fissure inside the Snæfellsjökull volcano, the amateur explorers soon find themselves in a world within a world populated by prehistoric creatures and strange natural phenomena. But following close behind is Saknussemm’s murderous descendent (Thayer David), who wants to claim the centre of the Earth for his own…

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)

No matter how many times I have watched this film, I never tire of it. It’s a masterclass in adventure film-making and a big influence on Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark (check out the rolling boulder) and Jurassic Park. The colourful subterranean sets are spectacular and work seamlessly with the gorgeously lit scenes shot in New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns, while composer Bernard Hermann fills the colourful cavernous landscape with a tremendous music score that makes everything seem ominous and outer wordly.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)

Of the 11 prehistoric animals that appeared in Verne’s novel, only a couple end up on screen – a family of dimetrodons and a giant megalosaurus. And although they are just magnified rhinoceros iguanas with glued-on fins and a painted Tegu lizard, they’re still pretty effective and way better than the ones in Irwin Allen’s The Lost World.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)

James Mason is a joy to watch playing the ever curious scientist. But he wasn’t the producers original choice. That went to Clifton Webb, who had to drop out after suffering a double hernia. Mason, however, does make a great sparring partner for Arlene Dahl’s plucky widow, and it’s a nice change to see a middle-age romance blossoming before our eyes (you don’t see much of that today on the big screen).

Journey to tJourney to the Center of the Earth (1959)he Center of the Earth (1959)

Christian pin-up, singer Pat Boone may not convince as a Scot, but he does make for a fun hero – and also a bit of eye candy as we get to swoon over his lithe surfer bod and deep Californian tan (how very un-Scottish) when he loses his shirt and most of his tartan trousers.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)

The film’s other star is, of course, Hans’ pet and best friend – Gertrude the Duck. She has so much character (and I love her painted eyes), and provides the film with one of its most memorable (and tearful) scenes. Along with Captain Nemo’s pet sea lion Esmeralda in Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Gertrude established the tradition of having a loveable critter join its human cast in daring adventures (remember Herbert the Rooster in 1965’s Wargods of the Deep? or Heidi the Dalmatian in 1975’s The Hindenburg?)

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)

Eureka Classics’ 4K restoration really showcases the much-loved adventure’s fantastic production design and sound, making this a must-have in any film collection and one to watch over and over.

SPECIAL FEATURES

  • 1080p presentation from a definitive 4K restoration
  • Optional stereo PCM soundtrack and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio options
  • Isolated music and effects track (not included on my screener)
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Audio commentary with actress Diane Baker and film historians Steven C Smith and Nick Redman (not included on my screener so I can’t comment)
  • Interview with author Kim Newman (very informative)
  • A short clip featuring film’s restoration over the years
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Booklet featuring Bosley Crowther’s 1959 New York Times review, archival images and poster gallery, and viewing notes.

Available to purchase here http://amzn.to/2tir1l6

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Fright Night (1985) | This 4k HD release of the cult horror comedy is ‘So cool!’

Fright Night (1985)

The iconic 1980s horror Fright Night is out in a dual-format special edition from Eureka Classics in the UK featuring a 4k digital restoration of the film and a coffin load of bonus material (check them out below). And the best news? It’s currently available on Amazon for just 8 quid (while the Limited Edition Steelbook is fetching £69.99).

Fright Night (1985)

This 1985 vampire movie certainly has plenty of bite – but also strikes the perfect balance of blood and guts horror and darkly comic humour. And alongside the same year’s, The Return of the Living Dead, it remains one of my personal favourites that I return to time and again.

If you love being scared, it’ll be the night of your life…
No-one will believe teenager Charley (William Ragsdale) when he tells them that a vampire called Jerry (Chris Sarandon) has moved into the house next door and is seducing and murdering young maidens there. He then turns to TV horror host Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) for help. Lured by a $500 incentive by Charley’s girlfriend (Amanda Bearse), who happens to look like Jerry’s long-lost love, the one-time Great Vampire Killer discovers that Jerry is indeed a vampire as he casts no reflection in a glass – and so the deadly games begin…

Sarandon is every inch the smoothie-savage bloodsucker, while Stephen Geoffreys steals every scene he’s in as Charley’s bestie turned beastie ‘Evil Ed’. But the real star of this late night horror show is Roddy McDowall, whose character name is made up of two iconic horror actors – Peter Cushing and Vincent Price. Alongside his turns in the Planet of the Apes films, this must rank as one of his career-best turns.

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Fright Night SteelbookSPECIAL FEATURES:
• 4K digital restoration, with original stereo PCM soundtrack and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio options, plus English subtitles
You’re So Cool, Brewster! Exclusive to this release, a two-hour version of the 2016 documentary on the making of Fright Night.
What is Fright Night? 2016 video piece featuring cast and crew interviews (BLU-RAY ONLY)
Tom Holland: Writing Horror, a 2016 video piece featuring interviews with Holland and his collaborators (BLU-RAY ONLY)
Rowdy McDowall: From Apes to Bats, a 2016 video piece featuring archival footage of McDowall and cast and crew interviews (BLU-RAY ONLY)
• Fear Fest 2 2008 reunion panel featuring Tom Holland, Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Stephen Geoffreys, Amanda Bearse, Jonathan Stark and moderated by Rob Galluzzo (BLU-RAY ONLY)
• Shock Till You Drop Present Choice Cuts with Tom Holland and Ryan Turek, a three-part video interview on the film (BLU-RAY ONLY)
• The full electronic press kit, featuring extensive on-set interviews and behind-the-scenes footage (BLU-RAY ONLY)
• Stills and memorabilia from Tom Holland’s personal collection (BLU-RAY ONLY)
• G-rated and R-rated theatrical trailers (BLU-RAY ONLY)
• Collector’s booklet (STEELBOOK EXCLUSIVE)

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