For your consideration, the following horror titles are out on DVD today:

Last House on the Left
Surprise! Wes Craven's original 1972 shocker doesn't hold up. The most notorious scenes -- a rape in the woods and an attack in a house -- are more disgusting than horrifying nowadays, perhaps a reflection of society's increasing depravity. (Though I don't think anyone would argue that the hick sheriff and his idiot sidekick are anything more than major, embarrassing missteps, complete with jangly banjo accompaniment.) That makes the idea of a remake a bit more appealing, and director Dennis Iliadis fills the bill quite nicely.

The tone is consistently downbeat, with Garret Dillahunt as a restrained, though still nasty-hearted, leader of a small wild bunch of criminals and deviants. The rape is more horrific, perhaps because Sara Paxton is a stronger-willed victim, which makes the crime more unsettling. Tony Goldwyn and Monica Potter are well-cast as the victim's loving, determined parents.

While there are definite missteps -- I'm thinking of the outcome of the rape scene and the scenes toward the end, which veer away from the ultra-serious demeanor of the film, this is the rare remake that, dare I say it, actually improves upon the original. Both the DVD and Blu-ray releases include the theatrical and unrated versions -- the latter adds four minutes of footage. Also included are deleted scenes, and a "making of" feature.

Dexter: Season 3
Even though Horror Squad is resolutely a movie site, we can't ignore entirely one of the more intriguing television shows of recent years. Dexter traffics too much in smug self-satisfaction, a narcisissistic view that the handsome serial killer is somehow deserving of sympathy even while he carries out a series of grimly-terrible murders. Still, Michaal C. Hall is outstanding, and Season 3 added Jimmy Smits as an assistant district attorney with murky motivations and a yearning for a best friend. Despite the occasional frustrations, Dexter has worn down my defenses.

The Strangeness
From 1985, and uncovered by Code Red, this sounds intriguing: "It is 1980, the price of gold is soaring. Old timers warn would be prospectors to stay away from the Gold Spike Mine. It has stood as a ghastly reminder of the horrors of a century before when the earth violently shook and over twenty miners were killed, their bodies stripped of flesh. The residents of Basin City talked of the grizzly murders only in whispers from which legends of The Strangeness grew. A small group of explorers innocently make their way to the Gold Spike. Only one knows the incredible secret of the mine, and here the nightmare begins.....! "

The latest entry in the "Maneater Series," Wyvern promises a lovely time for fans of the sub-genre. From the synopsis: "Floating toward Beaver Mills, Alaska, is a glacier-an icy tomb for a prehistoric winged creature. Once released, it turns the small community into a feeding ground sending helpless residents into a fight for their lives. With time running out, trucker Jake Suttner sees only one option: steal the creature's egg from its nest and use it as bait in a trap. But beware - the Wyvern is one angry mother." I'm afraid of angry mothers, myself, but at least you know what you're letting yourself in for.

categories Dvds, Horror