Summer is slipping away, and it's time to anticipate longer nights to absorb our favorite sci-fi, horror and fantasy movies in the comfort of our hallowed homes. For this latest edition of the Blu-Ray Roundup, we've plucked a prize array of Hollywoodland's brightest new and future Blu-ray releases to get a jump on the spooky season looming right around the corner. From the 40th-anniversary box set of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a sensational Hiyao Miyazaki collection, Star Wars Steelboxes, Adrian Lyne's disturbing Jacob's Ladder and the classic Robinson Crusoe on Mars to Vampire Hunter D and Alan Parker's nightmarish Angel Heart, we've got something old, something new ... and a little bit of both.
Take a look and tell us what you crave most in this month's geeky gathering.
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW 40TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION (1975)
Hard to believe it's been 40 years since unsuspecting fans were treated to this decadent sci-fi musical and its later cult status as the ultimate midnight movie. This lavish Blu-ray release is stuffed with multiple featurettes centered on past celebrations and midnight screenings, deleted musical scenes, 11 outtakes, alternate endings, commentaries by Richard O’Brien and Patricia Quinn (Magenta), a Rocky-oke: Sing It! feature with 18 musical numbers from the immortal soundtrack,. Mick Rock's Picture Show photo gallery and a sweet pair of pink surgical gloves. Do the Time-Warp again and beam this crazy classic into your life on Sept. 22, 2015.
VAMPIRE HUNTER D (1985)
Sentai Filmworks is delivering an early Halloween treat with this refreshed edition of director Toyoo Ashida's (Fist of the North Star) horror anime feature following the exploits of the mysterious vampire hunter known only as "D." This dark, post-apocalyptic nightmare was part of the initial wave of Japanese anime movies that paved the way for future genre classics like Akira, Ghost inthe Shell and Ninja Scroll. Comes remastered in high-definition from the original elements and includes upgraded audio tracks and a new English dub. Available now.
JACOB'S LADDER (1990)
I have a real sweet tooth for this unsettling supernatural flick directed by Adrian Lyne (Fatal Attraction), with a killer performance by Tim Robbins. It was part of that early '90s existential paranormal period in Hollywood that also included Ghost and Flatliners. I met Jacob's Ladder's writer, Bruce Joel Rubin, who also wrote Ghost, at a UCLA seminar, and he loved this eerie, disturbing version of his screenplay. This newly remastered edition comes with making-of featurettes, director commentary, deleted scenes and theatrical trailers. Available now.
ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS (1964)
With Matt Damon about to be marooned on the Red Planet in Ridley Scott's upcoming The Martian, let's head back to one of the classic adaptations of Daniel Defoe's original novel. Directed by Byron Haskin (The War of the Worlds), this serious sci-fi version plopped an astronaut and his monkey on barren Mars instead of a deserted island. Filmed in glorious Techniscope, it's been fully remastered in 1080p and is packed with its original theatrical trailer, improved audio mix and a 24-page booklet featuring an essay on the film and rare archival imagery. Available Nov. 23, 2015.
THE COLLECTED WORKS OF HIYAO MIYAZAKI
A masterful anime director dubbed "The Walt Disney of Japan," the venerable Hiyao Miyazaki has advanced the art of animation more than anyone in the last four decades. Sorry, Pixar! This spiffy new 12-disc collection includes his Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo and The Wind Rises. A bonus disc containing a wealth of extra features, including Miyazaki's retirement conference and a 1972 TV pilot of Yuki's Sun and a retrospective book exploring the themes and techniques of the legendary Japanese filmmaker also adorn this awesome box set. Available for pre-order for Nov. 17, 2015 release.
STAR WARS SAGA STEELBOX COLLECTION
Spruce up your dreary old Star Wars Blu-ray collection before The Force Awakens opens with yet another upgraded release from Lucasfilm. This time, the six Star Wars films are housed in some sleek individual commemorative steel cases with new cover artwork emblazoned on the front. In addition to the cool collectible steelbook packaging, each single-disc Blu-ray includes existing audio commentary with George Lucas and the film crew as well as audio commentary from archival cast and crew interviews. Pre-order now for a November 10. 2015 release.
BURN, WITCH, BURN! (1962)
A true American International horror gem, Burn, Witch, Burn gets a new deluxe HD treatment in time for Halloween. Telling the tale of a skeptical college professor whose wife has been dabbling in the dark arts, it's a psychological trip into the occult world that makes for an excellent atmospheric afternoon of genre film watching. Directed by Sidney Hayers, this Blu-ray release by Kino Lorber Studio Classics also includes an audio commentary from its esteemed co-writer, Richard Matheson and a new interview from star Peter Wyngarde. Availiable now.
Nomads features ex-Bond Pierce Brosnan in one of his less notorious roles as a French anthropologist haunted by nomadic spirits, but one worthy of a crisp new Blu-ray experience for the first time, at least for nostalgic purposes, and to see director John McTiernan's (Diehard, Predator) feature film debut. Scream Factory's HD release coomes loaded with new interviews with actress Lesley-Anne Down and composer Bill Conti, theatrical trailers, radio spot and a still gallery. Available now.
ANGEL HEART (1987)
I remember the first time I saw this supernatural flick with Mickey Rourke as a rumpled detective searching for a missing crooner named Johnny Favorite and Robert De Niro as the diabolical, hard-boiled egg-eating Louis Cyphere, and it still haunts me to this day. I officially call for a remake of this under-rated period horror film from director Alan Parker (Mississippi Burning). This package contains not much in the way of new extras, but it comes with a new widescreen presentation with English DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio and a bonus digital copy. Available now.
THE HOBBIT: BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES EXTENDED EDITION
There's been a lot of controversy lately about Peter Jackson's heavy-handed, cartoonish Hobbit Trilogy and this new R-rated version headed to Blu-ray on November 17, 2015, supposedly injected with more goblin blood and guts. This stretched-out edition is ocrammed with 20 extra minutes and contains nine hours of bonus material, including a new commentary with director/producer/writer Peter Jackson and co-producer/writer Philippa Boyens, and The Appendices Parts XI and XII, showcasing a chronological history of the filming of The Battle of the Five Armies. Are you Middle-earthers going to grab this extra-violent version of the Hobbit finale when it emerges into stores?
THE SENDER (1982)
Here's a forgotten psychological horror film - a mainstay in the early days of HBO's sparse programming in the '80s - about a suicidal amnesiac who sends rats, flames and othe nasty nightmares to his psychiatrist via telepathy This is one of the early feature films of maligned Battlefield Earth director Roger Christian, who also was instrumental in the set design of Star Wars and Alien. Definitely worth a watch for its interesting paranormal examination of a disturbed brain. Available now.
NIGHTMARE CASTLE (1965)
Scream queen Barbara Steele (Black Sunday) stars in this wicked black-and-white classic about witchcraft and torture in a 15th century castle. This vintage horror jewel was one of the first theatrical scores for the legendary Spaghetti Western composer Ennio Morricone. Bonus features and extra content include an audio commentary with Barbara Steele and Horror Historian David Del Valle, Barbara Steele In Conversation Featurette and an interview with director Mario Caiano, deleted scenes and trailer. Also includes two other horror classics, Castle of Blood and Terror Creatures From The Grave for a terrifying fright film trifecta! Available now.