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DVD Pick of the Week: The Abandoned

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This week brings a mix of new titles, old titles, repackaged titles, and television titles. Which title is right for you, only you can say, but hopefully I can help you down the treacherous path which leads to the rack of new releases at your local chain store or rental locale. This week offers up a nice list of titles to choose from, a list so nice that actually picking this week's top choice was difficult. The choice came down to two titles that could not be more different, yet they are both movies that are so good that it was almost like choosing between your children. Ultimately, I decided to go with the film that was going to need more publicity to help get the word out, not to take anything away from the runner up.

If you read the title you already know that the winner is called The Abandoned, but I guess you may also be interested in the runner up. So, before continuing, the runner up for Pick of the Week was Bridge to Terabithia. Yes, you read that right, the final competition came down to a horror film and a family film. The Disney produced film was one of the big surprises to come out of the cineplex this year, a lovingly made, emotionally driven family movie that is a must see.

I am sure that many of you are wondering just what The Abandoned is. The movie had a little taste of the big time earlier this year, but disappeared rather quickly. It began its big screen life as a weekender last October, part of After Dark Pictures 8 Films to Die For promotion. I have not seen any of those other films, but this one came out of left field and floored me by how good it was.

The Abandoned is a haunted house story at its heart, and it wastes no time getting down to telling its tale of a lifelong fate that is about to be set right. This is one creepy movie. The rundown house, where much of the action takes place, is a living, breathing entity, intent on playing its role in keeping our heroes there. It may be an empty structure, but it has not been alone all these years, as the grounds are being roamed by ghostly entities, one bearing a striking resemblance to Marie (one of the central characters), and you know what they say — when you see yourself, death is right around the corner. Will Marie be able to fend off what may be coming?

I went into The Abandoned with zero expectations. It arrived in theaters with little fanfare, very little advertising, and ended up delivering the goods in impressive fashion. It has its share of jumps, but doesn't lean too heavily on them; it is devoid of the pretty teenagers which always seem to litter these movies; and it creates an atmosphere of fear that slowly reveals its tale of fate. This is a movie that caught me off guard and impressed me much more than I thought it would.

If you are a fan of horror films, or are looking for something with a little more real suspense, The Abandoned may be for you. It is dripping with dread and is just a very well made film that can now be disseminated to the masses of home movie watchers.

Also out this week:

  • Bridge to Terabithia. Like I mentioned earlier, this is a fantastic film that deserves whatever accolades it may get. While it is marketed as a CGI driven fantasy, do not be fooled, this is no Narnia clone. The effects are minimal and the characters are given center stage.
  • Miss Potter. Renee Zellweger stars in this biopic about Beatrix Potter, the mind behind Peter Cottontail.
  • Picket Fences: Season 1. Never did watch this, not sure why, as it seems like an odd series that may be right up my alley.
  • Reno 911! Miami. If you like the series, you will like the movie. It is big, dumb, vulgar, and downright funny. This is available in both R and Unrated flavors.
  • Animaniacs: Vol. 3. Yakko, Wakko, and Dot in their third volume of comedies. This series is a bright spot from the 1990's era of after school television.
  • Pinky and the Brain: Vol. 3. See above.
  • Silver Spoons: The Complete First Season. I remember watching this and liking it, though I cannot recall any of the details, aside from a young Ricky Schroeder.
  • The 36th Chamber of Shaolin. Also known as Shaolin Master Killer, this is a must for any martial arts fan, starring the legendary Gordon Liu.
  • The One-Armed Swordsman. Jimmy Wang Yu stars in this classic of martial arts cinema.
  • King Boxer (Five Fingers of Death). I have not yet seen this one, but I am very much looking forward to this.
  • My Young Auntie. I have only recently heard of this title, and have no doubt that I am going to like it.
  • Die Hard Collection. A repackaging of the classic action series with a bonus fourth disk looking inside the upcoming fourth film.
  • The Secret of NIMH: 2 Disk Family Fun Edition. I have heard that the second disk is pretty much worthless, but there is no denying how good this film is. Fine family entertainment.
  • The Secret of Nikola Tesla: The Movie (UFO TV Special Edition). Made back in the 1970s, this is a look inside the controversial figure. A driving force in the world of technology, his contributions cannot be denied. I am just curious if this is any good.

So, anything capture your eye this week?

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