Out on DVD and Blu-Ray this week: Craziness about advertising gone crazy, a new line-up in the vampire-werewolf-ghost housemates setup, Arthur and Merlin come closer to the destiny of Albion, and the latest spoof targets horror movies, found footasge, and reality TV.
It's fashionable lately to use saturation-level extrapolkations of modern corporate advertising as a conduit for dark social satire, and Branded would seem to be the bad-trip peyote dream version of that particular artistic conceit.
Formats: Blu-Ray, DVD.
The story: Set in a dystopian future where corporate brands have created a disillusioned population, one man's effort to unlock the truth behind the conspiracy will lead to an epic battle with hidden forces that control the world.
Starring: Anna Abonisimova, Ingeborga Dapkunaite (Dubcek), Mariya Ignatova (Host), Andrei Kaikov (Pavel), John Laskowski (Fast Food Executive), Leelee Sobieski (Abby Gibbons), Atanas Srebrev (Jon), Emma Stickgold (TV Correspondent), Ed Stoppard (Misha Galkin), Jeffrey Tambor (Bob Gibbons), Max von Sydow.
Directed by: Jamie Bradshaw and Alexander Doulerain.
Features: Commentary with Writers, Directors and Producers Jamie Bradshaw and Alexander Doulerain; Theatrical Trailer 1 (HD; 2:31); Theatrical Trailer 2 (HD; 2:32).
The success of the North American version has diluted the heresy value of continuing the UK Being Human without its two most riveting original cast members: season 4 extends the concept beyond the characters just as the leap across the water did. It's still strongly written and evocatively atmospheric, but fans of Aidan Turner and Russell Tovey will inevitably see this run of the program as a transition away, and the real test will be the forthcoming season 5.
Formats: Blu-Ray and DVD.
The story: In an old hotel, in a sleepy seaside town, a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost try their best to live normal human lives. Yet despite their efforts to be left in peace, there are members of their own kind determined to rid the world of humanity. With the vampires still wanting to strike and The Old Ones on their way, Annie and her two new housemates—Tom and Hal—find themselves in the middle of the struggle. But now, not only are there vampires to keep at bay, there's also a wicked ghost on the loose, and someone's trying to expose the existence of werewolves. Being human has never been tougher.
Starring: Lenora Crichlow, Russell Tovey, Michael Socha, Gina Bramhill, Damien Molony, James Lance.
Directed by: Philip John, Daniel O'Hara.
Features: Trailer, Prequels, Sequel, Deleted Scenes, Interviews with Cast and Crew, Behind the Scenes.
Season 4 of Merlin, too, is a transitional one, but part of a deliberate process of shifting more weight onto Arthur and Merlin, separately and in dynamic with each other, over the course of each season. Here, out from under the harsh rule of Anthony Head's Uther Pendragon, both Arthur and Bradley James come into their own.
Formats: Blu-Ray (3 discs); DVD (4 discs).
The story: The young wizard struggles to protect Arthur in the perilous world of Camelot. While battling deadly assassins, mystical monsters and the most powerful sorcerers Camelot has ever seen, Merlin now has to face his toughest challenge yet when Morgana's blind determination puts at risk Arthur's future as well as the very balance of the world.
Starring: Colin Morgan, Bradley James, Angel Coulby, Santiago Cabrera, Eoin Macken, Tom Hopper, Emilia Fox, John Hurt, Katie McGrath.
Directed by: Alice Troughton, Alex Pillai, Justin Molotnikov, Jeremy Webb.
Features: Audio Commentaries, Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, Storyboards, Fan Photos.
Like the Seltzerberg so-called spoofs that it's aping, 30 Nights isn't so much a satire of a genre as a yearbook that allows us to say, "Oh yeah, 2012, I remember seeing that trailer" and "Hey, yeah, Storage Wars, is that a crazy concept for an hour of TV or what?"
Formats: Blu-Ray and DVD.
The story: Scare yourself silly and scream with laughter at this hilarious spoof of Hollywood's hottest horror movies. When a young family, who can't seem to stop filming themselves, moves into a house that turns out to be haunted, they meet up with a host of creepy characters—including a horny vampire-hunting president who wants to emancipate their dragon-tattooed daughter. With help from the high-energy "Ghost Brothers" the family sets out to solve the mystery of the haunted house.
Starring: Kathryn Fiore, Flip Schultz, Olivia Alexander, Arturo del Puerto, Rebecca Ann Johnson, French Stewart, Danny Woodburn, Peter Gilroy.
Directed by: Craig Moss.
Features: Behind the Scenes.