Gothic Blu-Ray Review (Vestron Video Collector's Series)

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Gothic arrives on Blu-ray as the 13th entry in Lionsgate's Vestron Video Collector's Series, "a line of classic genre films newly remastered and with a wealth of supplementary features." I have reviewed several other titles in the series.

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Radio City Christmas Spectacular Blu-Ray & DVD Comparison Review

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Today I'll be doing something a little different from my usual type of review. This will be a "comparison review", which will be a short and sweet comparison between TimeLife's Blu-ray and DVD releases of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular (2007). The DVD, which was released on November 4, 2008, has a runtime of 1:21:01. The Blu-ray, which was released four years later on November 6, 2012, has a runtime of 1:24:08. You'll notice that the Blu-ray is three minutes longer. I'll explain why in a little bit.

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Pardon Our Appearance

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Since switching to a new server a few weeks ago, Spook Central and subsite The Corner Penthouse had been having severe issues with the blog software. The blog provides Spook Central with its main page, and runs the entirety of The Corner Penthouse. After a few days of having to disable the blog while we worked on the problem, we have managed to restore it, while at the same time upgrading it to the latest version. Unfortunately, that created a new set of problems because all of the skins and plugins from the old version were not compatible with the new version.

Right now, we have managed to get both sites back to 95% visual accuracy with (near) 100% functionality. Raffaele and I... well, mostly Raffaele, will continue to work on getting things back to 100% all around. Meanwhile, everything functions well enough that I will be able to write the reviews and articles that I have had to put off since all of this started.

We used this upgrade as an opportunity to make the site fully HTTPS-compliant, so you'll have a secure connection here. Not that we're providing any sort of sensitive information, but it seems like everyone loves secure this and secure that, so why not provide that as well.

Thanks to everyone for their patience.

-- Paul

Sabrina Down Under DVD Review

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Sabrina Down Under was one of two television movies spun off from the ABC series starring Melissa Joan Hart, which itself was spawned from a television movie of the same name that aired in 1996 on Showtime. Premiering on September 26, 1999 on ABC's "The Wonderful World of Disney", Sabrina Down Under found Sabrina Spellman (Hart) and witchy gal pal Gwen (Tara Charendoff) on holiday in Australia dealing with a literal "fish out of water" merman and an unscrupulous marine biologist. I won't detail the plot any further since I've already covered the movie in far more detail on Spook Central.

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The Sabrina Down Under DVD contains the movie and nothing else with stereo audio and English subtitles (for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing), presented in the original 4:3 aspect ratio, with seven chapter marks. There is some weird interlacing going on as the beginning and end credits text, as well as some people's eyes and lips and edges of things, have a slight ghosting on them. I thought it was an issue with the transfer until I noticed the interlacing when frame advancing between shots. I don't know why my player shows these interlacing artifacts with this DVD, but not with the Sabrina Christmas Episodes DVD or any other DVDs that have interlaced content.

• Edits - None.

• Music Replacements - 3 songs, as detailed below.

1. At 0:00, Madonna's "Beautiful Stranger" is replaced with an unknown pop song during the opening credits. At least the new song feels like a late '90s pop song, so it's not out-of-place.

2. At 12:26, Melissa Joan Hart's electropop cover version of "Octopus's Garden" by The Beatles is replaced with some unknown song about being lost at sea while Sabrina and Gwen are scuba diving underwater. This one is very sad because she's the star of the show and the song has never been released on CD. At least the replacement is thematically correct.

3. At 38:15, a female cover version of "Livin' La Vida Loca" by Ricky Martin is replaced with some unknown pop song (likely called "Feel Good") during the montage of Sabrina & Barnaby having fun while Gwen learns to windsurf. The new song isn't even in the same style as the original. One is a latin-flavored fast-tempo party tune, the other is a sweet little ditty with a slower beat that almost sounds like a modern version of a '50s girl group song. The only thing the songs have in common is that they're both sung by women. At least the replacement isn't too bad and, in some ways, is more appropriate for the montage than "Livin' La Vida Loca".

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I can't say that these changes are completely surprising as the back of the DVD case carries Paramount's standard "may be edited from original network version" disclaimer, though that's not entirely accurate as there are no edits, just music replacements. Normally this disclaimer is also accompanied by one that says, "music has been changed for this home entertainment version", which would have been the more appropriate one to use for this DVD. I just wish Paramount would have used songs I could identify online as I hate to keep writing "unknown pop song". Thankfully, all other music is left alone.

It's really a shame, though, because as far as I can tell, all pop songs (including a Madonna song) were retained in Sabrina Goes To Rome (the first of these spin-off TV movies) when it was released on both the The Christmas Episodes DVD (reviewed here) and The Final/7th Season DVD set (reviewed here).

While I can't say that I'm happy about the music replacements, I am happy that the movie is otherwise unedited. So with that in mind, I can Recommend the Sabrina Down Under DVD to any fans of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Melissa Joan Hart, or Tara Charendoff (now Tara Strong). It's not exactly a movie that will dazzle you with incredible writing or acting (except for Tara, who steals both movies), but if you're looking for a fun little movie, it's a welcome diversion from a time when movies were still meant to be fun.

Lego Dimensions Beetlejuice Fun Pack Review

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The Lego Dimensions Beetlejuice Fun Pack includes one figure and one vehicle. The figure, as if you couldn't guess, is Betelgeuse, and he is accompanied by Saturn's Sandworm.

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