For the first time together on one DVD, Mill Creek assembles the “Merlin” film trilogy, which chronicles the epic beginnings and legacy of the iconic wizard who helped King Arthur in his battles against evil. “Merlin” is one of my all time favorite miniseries and appeared during a time where miniseries on basic network television was still a thing that was used to grab big ratings, and I fondly recall visiting this miniseries again and again. I enjoyed “Merlin” so much, in fact, that I bought the oversized black clamshell VHS from Blockbuster video back in late 1998 and watched it almost every weekend.
Nickelodeon’s “Hey Arnold!” was one of the banner animated series from the heyday of the 1990’s. It was a subtle, sweet, and often funny coming of age show with a lot of heart and some brilliantly memorable moments that evoked pure emotion from its audience. Despite ending in 2004, Nickelodeon gave the series a final send off in 2002 with a flimsy and absolutely wretched big screen film that did nothing to close the world we’d come to love. Most of all, it did nothing for the story arc of main character Arnold, who spent a majority of the series under the care of his elderly eccentric grandparents.
Mid-way through the series, we learned that Arnold’s parents were explorers who spent their days traveling, and the last they ever saw of him was before they left for one last adventure to help a village suffering from a mysterious illness.
For the respective Three Stooges buff looking for a good holiday gift, or for someone just seeking some good old fashioned laughs and gaffs, Mill Creek offers up a forty hour compendium of some of the more interesting three stooges entertainment. While it’s branded the “Complete” collection, I doubt that we’ll ever have a complete collection considering rights issues, but “Big Box of Nyuks” is still a very impressive addition to anyone who adores these knuckleheads and their antics that have managed to garner a new fan base for every generation. It’s an exhaustive look behind the Stooges legacy and also celebrates their comedy when they were at their peak and at their unfortunate worst, but it’s a great collector’s item.
It’s Halloween and Daffy Duck’s Nephew encounters Witch Hazel while trick or treating. Terrified he runs away screaming and insisting to Daffy that he saw a witch. Determined to prove him wrong he takes him to her house. Meanwhile Bugs turns up in the same costume Daffy’s nephew is wearing and has his own adventure with Witch Hazel. As always with these Looney Tunes “movies,” they’re really just bare boned one page premises serving as frames for craftily edited montages that count as big movies. If you hadn’t seen these Looney Tunes shorts a million times like yours truly, you’d never really be able to tell much a difference.
Although I absolutely love “Thriller,” I’ve never been one to associate Michael Jackson with Halloween, but apparently someone does. “Michael Jackson’s Halloween” isn’t just an animated special for the whole family, but it’s classic Michael Jackson. It has his music, it inspires individuality, and it further emphasizes Michael Jackson as something of a mythical figure that centered his life on defending children against sinister forces lurking in the shadows. Suffice to say “Michael Jackson’s Halloween” is a weird animated special, but it’s an oddly entertaining one that will work if you’re a Jackson buff.
“Blood & Iron” is a stellar sequel to the entertaining and raucous “Sword of Storms,” and it’s a yet another faithful adaptation that emphasizes the lore and world of the BPRD. The animated follow ups to the movie, set somewhere between the movies, have been worthy of the time spent with excellent animation, and a compelling narrative, overall. The idea bout the audience watching outcasts defend our Earth and realm is continuously fascinating, and the cast bring their A game.
For folks that appreciated the subversive artistic style that launched Mike Mignola into stardom, “Sword of Storms” practices a lot of the grit and indie flavor, along with much of what made Del Toro’s films so stellar. There’s even voice work from the original films’ stars including Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, John Hurt, and Doug Jones, all of whom are about as fun as ever. Directors Phil Weinstein and Tad Stones’ animated movie is set between the live action installments, channeling creator Mike Mignola with dark and often grim animation, with the back drop of an exciting narrative that never trails from its original source material.
Ray Bradbury’s “The Halloween Tree” is easily one of the greatest Halloween movies ever made. It’s not just a movie about the holiday, but it’s a celebration of what the holiday stands for. For years Halloween has been incorrectly identified as a holiday that celebrates Satanism and evil, when in reality, Halloween is about observing death and celebrating life. Even the famous colors black and orange represent the ideas of death and life. The fantastic adventure we witness in “The Halloween Tree” is absolutely compelling while also helping to destroy the stigmas that often come with the ancient holiday. Mostly though, Bradbury’s story is about how we should learn to accept that there is a certain beauty in the concept of death as well as the concept of life.