Skip or Double Dip? That is the Question for 'Ben-Hur,' 'Dumbo,' 'Citizen Kane' and 'Children of the Corn'

Skip or Double Dip? That is the Question for 'Ben-Hur,' 'Dumbo,' 'Citizen Kane' and 'Children of the Corn'

Sep 30, 2011

There is a chain of buzzwords—collector's edition, anniversary set, director's cut, unrated cut, extended version, digitally remastered, Digibook, etc.—that studios slap on DVD and Blu-ray cases to tempt you to buy the same movies over and over again. Some are worth the upgrade—especially if it is a first-time purchase of a movie you like—but many of those double dips are just the studio returning to the well one too many times. Read on and decide if you want to skip or double dip this month.

Ben-Hur: 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition

If you own an HDTV and are a fan of epic movies, why would you watch something as legendary in scope as 1959's Ben-Hur on DVD? Director William Wyler's biblical classic starring Charlton Heston as the titular character who takes part in the most memorable chariot race in film history won 11 Oscars and remains one of the most beloved blockbusters of all time. This 50th Anniversary Edition is available on DVD and makes its Blu-ray debut at last in a separate version.

What's New?: Ben-Hur has been released on DVD several times over the years, most recently in a 2005 Collector's Edition that was stuffed with documentaries, making-of featurettes, vintage newsreels, screen tests, highlights from the 1960 Academy Awards as well as the 1925 silent movie of the same name. Both the DVD and Blu-ray 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Editions contain all of these extras plus the new 78-minute documentary "Charlton Heston and Ben-Hur: A Personal Journey." The sets also come packaged with two hardcover books: one filled with beautiful production pictures and the other an exact replica of Heston's diary about the experience. Yeah, try to stream that.

Skip or Double Dip?: Even though the majority of the extras are the same as the 2005 DVD edition, the new documentary and two handsome books make this a worthwhile double dip, especially if you are upgrading to the Blu-ray version.


Dumbo: 70th Anniversary Edition

It is an event anytime Disney releases one of its animated classics from the vault. This time it's the 70th anniversary of 1941's Dumbo, which is about everyone's favorite circus elephant with the big ears who—with the encouragement of his mouse pal—rises above ridicule and learns to spread those ears and fly. Dumbo has been released on DVD twice before: once in 2001 for the 60th anniversary and then again in a Big Top Edition in 2006. This 70th Anniversary Edition is available on DVD and makes its Blu-ray debut in a DVD/BD combo pack.

What's New?: Although both previous DVD editions of Dumbo had their share of bells and whistles, this new edition blows them away with making-of featurettes, a deleted scene, a deleted song and the original Disney television introduction. The Blu-ray version also contains two interactive games, the "Celebrating Dumbo" featurette and two animated shorts.

Skip or Double Dip?: Even though the new extras are an improvement over the previous editions, you'll only want to dip into your wallet again if you are trading up for the new Blu-ray edition.


Citizen Kane: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition

We have lost count of how many times 1941's Citizen Kane, which is currently sitting atop AFI's list of the best movies ever made, has been released on DVD either alone or packaged with other classics. Orson Welles famously plays Charles Foster Kane—the fictional newspaper baron with an insatiable appetite for everything but who, in the end, just wanted to find love. This mystery of "Rosebud" makes its Blu-ray debut with this new edition but is also available in a DVD version.

What's New?: All of the extras from the 2001 two-disc DVD are ported over here, including a feature-length documentary, commentaries, interviews, production and post-production featurettes, and the 1999 HBO movie RKO 281 about the making of Citizen Kane. What's new is a 48-page book with pictures, storyboards and behind-the-scenes information and paper reproductions of studio memos, five one-sheet posters and a 20-page souvenir program from the film's opening night.

Skip or Double Dip?: If you're going to gun for Rosebud, do it in style. This edition is a class act and is worth a double dip, especially if you want this black-and-white classic on Blu.


Children of the Corn

This 1984 adaptation of Stephen King's story about a killer-kid cult in Nebraska stars Linda Hamilton and has been released more times on DVD than there are ears of corn in a field. Although the creepy story about children in a rural town who have killed all the adults and taken over was initially panned upon its release, the movie has a devoted cult following and has spawned one theatrical sequel, six straight-to-video sequels and a remake that aired on TV in 2009. The original Children of the Corn also made its Blu-ray debut that year from Starz/Anchor Bay, and now Image Entertainment is releasing the Blu-ray double dip this month.

What's New?: The outstanding 2009 Starz/Anchor Bay Blu-ray release contained three all-new featurettes not found on any of the DVD versions as well as audio commentaries, fast-film facts, interviews, a documentary and other artwork and storyboards. This new edition from Image contains none of those bonuses—only a theatrical trailer.

Skip or Double Dip?: If you already own the 2009 Starz/Anchor Bay version, you deserve to be sacrificed to the corn god if you buy this anemic new Blu-ray edition with no extras of note. Skip it.

Categories: Features, At Home
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