THE PROMISE: THE DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN STORY | $119.98 DVD; $139.98 BLU-RAY | Bad news, everyone; you missed Christmas. It came early — on November 16, to be exact — when Bruce Springsteen’s The Promise was released. Available on DVD and Blu-ray, The Promise is an exhaustive collection of everything you ever wanted to know but were too depressed to ask about Darkness on the Edge of Town, the Boss’s dark follow-up to Born to Run. Included here: the HBO documentary on the album’s recording; a full-length concert from the seminal Darkness tour; a live video of the modern-day Springsteen and the E Street Band playing the album in its entirety; a re-mastered version of Darkness, and two full CDs of songs that never made it onto the original record. The Promise is so complete the only thing it doesn’t come with is a soul-crushing dead-end factory job.
APOCALYPSE NOW: FULL DISCLOSURE EDITION | $59.99 BLU-RAY | The Vietnam War happened during a more innocent time in America. Tweeting was something birds did, vague foreign battles were stalemated in a tidy nine years, and when a member of the Sheen family went batshit insane, it was only in the movies. To revisit that simpler era, pick up Apocalypse Now: Full Disclosure Edition on Blu-ray. Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 Vietnam war epic is the closest any filmmaker has come to the brink of madness while managing to return with a masterpiece in his grasp. The set includes the theatrical film and Coppola’s 2001 re-edited, far longer Redux cut, along with Hearts of Darkness, the essential documentary about the film’s creation. With a crisp new transfer for Blu-ray, the image is so clear you’ll practically be able to smell that morning napalm in your living room.
TOY STORY TRILOGY | $100 DVD/BLU-RAY COMBO | The creative elves at Pixar thread the needle of great filmmaking more consistently than just about any studio working today. From Finding Nemo to Up to Toy Story 3, they invent worlds that are whimsical and entertaining enough for children, yet full of the meaty, depressing existential subtext that adults crave. For proof, pick up the 10-disc, extra feature-packed Toy Story Trilogy box set, which includes all three films on both Blu-ray and DVD in, appropriately enough, a toy box. The exponential improvement in CGI from part one to part three is actually one of the less striking developments. The real revelation is the expanding ambitions of Pixar itself, a company that has managed to elevate kids’ movies to real art, capable of making grown men cry at the drop of a single Randy Newman lyric.
ROGER CORMAN BLU-RAY BUNDLE | $99.99 BLU-RAY | Available exclusively from Shout! Factory as part of a marketing campaign that seems to be aimed directly at the hearts of cult-film nerds, the Roger Corman Blu-ray Bundle packages together seven of the thrifty mogul’s best and most subversive works, including Death Race 2000, Galaxy of Terror, Piranha, Rock ’n’ Roll High School, and Starcrash. Collectively, these movies feature performances by David Carradine, Christopher Plummer, and the Ramones, and behind-the-camera work from James Cameron, Joe Dante, and John Sayles. Fun, campy, and shockingly decent considering their non-existent budgets, the films are a testament to Corman’s great eye for talent, as well as to just how desperately that talent must have needed money at the time.