Creepy releases are just right for Halloween

Friday, October 6th 2000, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

Scooby-Doo's alien adventure is full of weird and wild surprises

Jack-o'-lanterns are popping up in windows. Graveyard headstones are sprouting on suburban lawns. The Exorcist is back in movie theaters. And video shelves are filling up with scary new releases. Halloween is on its way.

Three of this week's most notable video releases are creepy enterprises, led by Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders (Warner, $19.96 cassette; $24.98 DVD).

While the animation for the latest entry in the popular Scooby-Doo series is characteristically bare bones, the plot for this science-fiction desert adventure is one of the stronger ones in the series.

The "talking" big dog and his human companions get stuck in a desert hamlet when their vehicle breaks down. The town is the site of a heavily guarded, sophisticated listening post where technicians search for radio signals from other worlds. Scooby and Shaggy discover the possibilities of intergalatic visitors all too well when they're abducted into a flying saucer by green, big-headed alien creatures that look a little like the monsters of the '50s sci-fi film This Island Earth.

Hardly anyone will believe Shaggy and Scooby after they're returned to Earth, although they win the attentions of a pretty young woman in a Jeep and her cute dog. Will love blossom for Shaggy and Scooby? Or will those green aliens return and scoop them up first?

Things get weirder when the gang stumbles upon an abandoned mine and finds a treasure beyond their wildest dreams. But fortune is not in the cards in a finale that will bring surprises to young viewers.

The DVD version of Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders has lots of extras, including a piece on the making of the film and the creation of a Scooby-Doo video game.

Lots of extras on 'Rocky Horror' DVD

The DVD release of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Fox, $29.98) also has lots of bells and whistles not available on the cassette version ($14.98), although this 25th anniversary cassette release restores the song Superheroes, which had been deleted from U.S. theatrical versions.

Two disks make up the DVD set. The first contains both the U.S. and United Kingdom versions of the film, commentary by creator Richard O'Brien and actress Patricia Quinn, who plays Magenta, a viewing option that presents crowd reactions to the Rocky Horror players during a theater performance, even a full-length audience participation track with prompts as to what to scream at the screen and when. The second disk features outtakes, including 11 alternate takes on key scenes such as The Time Warp, two theaterical trailers, the half-hour documentary Rocky Horror Double Feature Video Show, interviews with the stars and much more.

'Rosemary's Baby' still haunts

With 1973's The Exorcist scaring new audiences, Paramount figured this was a good time to take a new look at director Roman Polanski's 1968 chiller, Rosemary's Baby ($14.95 cassette; $29.99 DVD).

I hadn't seen the film, which explores both paranoia and the reality of evil, since its original release and found it both unnervingly scary and surprisingly fresh . . . save for the auto and clothing styles.

Farrow is the vulnerable young wife in the creepy old apartment house (New York's Dakota) who begins to fear that the too-friendly elderly couple next door (brassy Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer) are really witches who plan to do something terrible to her baby. They're always bringing over elixirs that make her pale and gaunt and give her pains.

A nightmarish rape scene at the center of the film is more explicit than what Stanley Kubrick conjured up in last year's controversial Eyes Wide Shut. But is it real or a product of Rosemary's overactive imagination? Shuddery moments abound in a movie where strange coincidences are always more than coincidences.

Both the cassette commemorative edition and the DVD feature recent interviews with Polanski, producer Robert Evans and production designer Richard Sylbert. It's full of interesting trivia, such as that Polanski started out to make the ski movie Downhill Racer instead. The disk has the widescreen version of the movie and also includes a 23-minute featurette about the making of the movie that was done for its original release.

Daring undersea adventures

U-571 (Universal, no suggested price cassette; $26.98 DVD) has terrors of a different sort.

This rousing undersea adventure is wildly fabricated fiction, but it's based on several real incidents during the Battle of the Atlantic during World War II when American sailors were trying to capture the Enigma coding device carried on Nazi subs.

In the spring of 1942, a U.S. crew grabs Enigma in a daring raid on a German sub. But when their own sub is destroyed during the operation, they take refuge aboard the creaky Nazi craft and try to bring the limping sub to safety.

The film sparks an underwater cat and mouse game, with the always-lurking Nazis trying to stop the commandeered sub which has weak batteries and many leaks. The Americans' hope for survival rests on a lone torpedo that won't fire.

It's a classic wartime adventure with lots of battle footage and Matthew McConaughey as a reluctant hero who takes on a daredevil mission.

New on DVD

Anticipating next month's release of the big screen version of Charlie's Angels starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu, Columbia TriStar has put two episodes of the original '70s series on disk. In Charlie's Angels -- Angels Under Cover ($24.95), Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson are seen in the episodes To Kill an Angel and Night of the Strangler.

A pair of popular stop-motion animation films from Disney -- Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach -- are available with lots of new bonus features on both disk ($29.99) and cassette ($22.99).

Traditional Disney animation can be found in The Black Cauldron and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad at $29.99 each.

Two horror films starring Jack Palance -- Dracula and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde -- have been released by MPI as a double feature at $24.98. MPI also has four episodes of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, starring Jeremy Brett, for $19.98.

Three films by writer-director-actor Edward Burns -- The Brothers McMullen, She's the One, No Looking Back -- have been released by Fox in a boxed set. Stories from Long Island -- Three Films by Edward Burns sell for $69.98 or individually for $29.98 each.

In 1948 Orson Welles wrote the thriller Lady from Shanghai for then-wife Rita Hayworth, casting the red-haired screen siren as a villainous blonde. The film, directed by and co-starring Welles, is from Columbia TriStar at $24.95.

Two Jim Henson fantasies -- The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, featuring David Bowie -- have been put together in a gift pack from Columbia TriStar at $44.95.

Also from Columbia TriStar is the Jeff Goldblum thriller Hideaway at $24.95.

Wellspring Media has brought some of its most popular wellness titles to disk, including three Deepak Chopra collections -- The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success & The Crystal Cave ($24.98), The Way of the Wizard & Alchemy ($24.98) and Deepak Chopra: The Essential DVD Collection ($39.98). Other titles include Stephanie Foster: Beginners and Intermediate Yoga ($29.98), Tai Chi 6 Forms ($24.98), Feng Shui ($24.98), motivational speaker Dr. Wayne Dyer ($29.98) and nutritionist Dr. Andrew Weil ($34.98).

More 'Avengers'

More black-and-white episodes from the 1963 season of the hit British spy series, The Avengers, have been made available by A&E. Starring Patrick MacNee and Honor Blackman (before Diana Rigg came along), a dozen episodes are sold as a DVD disk set for $44.95, or on two cassette tapes selling for $29.95 each.

Movie guide

The latest edition of Mick Martin and Marsha Porter's well-respected and thoroughly readable video film guide -- Video Movie Guide 2001 -- is out from Ballantine Books. Besides summaries and ratings of each film, the 16th annual edition includes a new section on DVD listings, Academy Award listings and a section on where to buy hard-to-find videos. The 1,600-page book is available in a trade paperback edition selling for $19.95 and as a regular paperback for $7.99.

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