Blu-ray Buyer’s Guide: September 4



It seems that the Halloween season starts earlier and earlier every year, and the same can be said for Blu-ray releases. This week, Disney drops two special editions of classic Halloween movies – both released in 1993, no less! We also have one other notable release, which is definitely in my top ten favorites for this year.

Here are my picks for September 4, 2018.

207750_frontTim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas
(Sing-Along Edition)
Walt Disney Pictures / Touchstone

Written by Caroline Thompson
Based on a story by Michael McDowell
and characters and concepts created
by Tim Burton
Directed by Henry Selick

What began as a concept dreamed up by Tim Burton when he was still working as an animator at the Walt Disney Studio in the early 1980s has grown into a classic film that is nothing short of magical. The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of those few movies produced in the modern era that can truly be called timeless. I still watch it at least once a year and it still hasn’t lost any of its wonder and delight.

More than anything, The Nightmare Before Christmas brought the art of stop-motion animation back into the cultural consciousness. Stop-motion was the perfect medium for this story because of its use in previous classic Christmas specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – bringing a layer to the film’s subversive flip on those stories. This film took stop-motion itself to new heights of excellence with such firsts to the medium as the use of complex camera moves, which was accomplished through a revolutionary computer system.

For its 25th anniversary, Disney has released a special “sing-along” edition of The Nightmare Before Christmas. Since I already have this film on a previous Blu-ray edition, and none of the new bonus features particularly interest me, I will personally pass on this release. But if you’ve never owned this film, I would highly recommend it.


Best Buy: Glow-in-the-dark SteelBook


Disney Movie Club: Includes DVD version


F.Y.E.: Glow-in-the-dark postcards


Target: 40-page gallery book

My Pick: Again, I have no skin in the game (or bones, as the case may be) when it comes to this release. But if you do not yet own the film, I would go with the Target edition. Since The Nightmare Before Christmas is so visually rich, I would suspect (and hope) that any gallery book filled with pictures and concepts from the film would be an absolute treasure.

207307_frontHocus Pocus (Anniversary Edition)
Walt Disney Pictures
Written by Neil Cuthbert and Mick Garris
Based on a story by Mick Garris and David Kirschner
Directed by Kenny Ortega

When I was younger, this film annoyed me. But that probably because my sister would watch it incessantly – even during the non-Halloween times of the year. However, as the years have gone by (two-and-a-half decades, to be more accurate), I have developed a real appreciation for Hocus Pocus as being the kind of “Disney” movie that Walt Disney himself would have probably been enthusiastic and proud to make. It reminds me of the films that Walt made in the 1950s and 1960s – fun, lighthearted, entertaining, with just the right amount of heart to keep us engaged in the story.

Hocus Pocus is anchored by the gloriously over-the-top performances of its three antagonists, the Sanderson Sisters (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy). Each one has a character with a distinct personality that plays beautifully off the other two comedically – like a female version of the Three Stooges, but a little less slapstick. They make the film fun to watch and are really missed whenever they aren’t on screen (the rest of the performances, with a few exceptions, are rather bland).

Like the above mentioned The Nightmare Before Christmas, I also already own an edition of Hocus Pocus on Blu-ray. However, it’s a bare-bones version with no bonus features of any kind. This new edition does have some bonus material and might be worthy of purchase. I haven’t completely decided yet, but it’s still a possibility.


Best Buy: SteelBook


Disney Movie Club: Includes DVD


F.Y.E.: Glow-in-the-dark postcards


Target: 40-page gallery book

My Pick: I don’t usually go for physical bonuses like gallery books, but I’m probably going to have to go with the Target edition. The exclusive book looks interesting and may provide some more fun facts about the making of the film. The real attractive feature about this edition is the cover art. Featuring the art from the original movie poster created by the legendary and brilliant Drew Struzan, it’s much more appealing than the standard edition.

Other Notable Releases:

209211_frontWon’t You Be My Neighbor?
Focus Features
Directed by Morgan Neville

I was one of those kids who watched Fred Rogers every day, and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood had a tremendous influence on me and my outlook on life. Rogers’ affable, avuncular, and sincere attitude was infectious and I wanted to have just as much integrity. Mister Rogers was also probably my first real exposure to genuine Christian ethics.

What Fred Rogers did exceptionally well was teach kids about feelings and emotions – helping kids work through them, understand them, and reassuring those growing human beings that it’s okay to feel. He also told us that we were unique, special, loveable, and (though never said explicitly on the air) fashioned by a loving God for a purpose. While I think that PBS has outlived its usefulness today (at least as a government-funded entity), Mister Rogers definitely did a lot of good for the children of America.

This new documentary about the life and work of Fred Rogers has all the great qualities of its subject matter: wonderful, heartfelt, and sincere. It’s thoroughly enjoyable all the way through and very informative about the history and development of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. And if you have fond personal memories of Mister Rogers, it may bring more than a few tears to your eyes. Actually, it will probably bring tears to your eyes regardless of your feelings on Rogers.

This film is definitely in the running for my top ten favorite films of 2018!

Happy Watching!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s