The most enjoyable part of the DVD of the Rock's sword-and-sandal epic "The Scorpion King" (Universal, $20) is its animal outtakes.
Although the Rock and his white camel seem to have a strong bond on screen, off screen the dromedary was a bit persnickety. There are several funny scenes in which the camel throws off the Rock and co-star Kelly Hu and stubbornly refuses to obey his trainer. There's also a very amusing scene in which hulking Michael Clarke Duncan has a difficult time trying to mount his horse during the film's finale.
Available in both wide-screen and pan-and-scan, the digital edition of the box-office hit features decent commentary from director Chuck Russell, rather ho-hum commentary from the Rock (he also appears on screen during his commentary), an extended version of the action adventure in an enhanced viewing mode that allows one to watch alternate scenes, a look at how a fight sequence was choreographed and documentaries on special effects and production design. The DVD-ROM offers a plethora of additional behind-the-scenes footage, more commentaries, deleted scenes, storyboards and games.
In connection with "The Scorpion King," Universal is also releasing the animated "The Mummy: Quest for the Lost Scrolls" ($10 for VHS; $20 for DVD), a feature-length version of the Kids' WB! Saturday-morning series.
If your tastes run to the more esoteric than wrestlers wielding swords in ancient Egypt, then the "Beckett on Film" DVD gift set (Ambrose Video, $150) is a must. This terrific compilation includes all 19 of Samuel Beckett's plays, including "Waiting for Godot," "Endgame" and "Krapp's Last Tape."
Among the highlights are John Gielgud, Harold Pinter and Rebecca Pidgeon in "Catastrophe," directed by David Mamet; Jeremy Irons in a dual role in the haunting "Ohio Impromptu"; Julianne Moore--or rather, a close-up of her mouth--in "Not I," directed by Neil Jordan; the wonderful Irish actors David Kelly and Milo O'Shea in "Rough for Theater I"; and Alan Rickman, Kristin Scott Thomas and Juliet Stevenson in "Play," directed by Anthony Minghella.
Featured on the discs are information about each play and interviews with several of the directors. There's also a documentary on the making of the films.
Alfred Hitchcock's delectable, sexy psychological thriller "Spellbound" (1945) enters the digital world thanks to Criterion ($40). Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck star in this romance about mistaken identities and psychoanalysis. The film is known for its evocative Oscar-winning score by Miklos Rozsa and a bizarre dream sequence designed by Salvador Dali.
The DVD features a gorgeous new digital transfer with film and sound restoration (including the theater entrance and exit music cues), rather kinky commentary by Hitchcock scholar Marian Keane that is too steeped in Freudianism, an essay on the Dali sequences by James Bigwood, the 1948 Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the movie with Joseph Cotten and Alida Valli, excerpts from a 1973 audio interview with Rozsa, the trailer, essays by several Hitchcock scholars and hundreds of photos and documents regarding the production.
New from Kino is the frightfully good "German Horror Classics" collection ($24 each on either VHS or DVD; $90 for the DVD boxed set). It features four of the spookiest silent horror films from Germany: "Nosferatu," "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," "The Golem" and "Waxworks." Each film has been mastered from the best archival material, and each DVD has extras.
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Tuesday: "Enough," "Big Trouble," "The Son's Room," "Lucky Break" and "Jason X."
Oct. 11: "Scooby-Doo: The Movie."
Oct. 15: "Insomnia" and "Windtalkers."
Oct. 22: "Mr. Deeds," "Y Tu Mama Tambien" and "Gangster No. 1."