Magic, Monsters and Predacons: A Halloween DVD Viewing Guide

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dvd round-up

Like any good nerd, what is a single night of revelry for regular folks — Halloween — is a month-long event for me. In addition to a slow roll-out of decorations and the laborious task of cobbling together the perfect costumes for me and my brood, the seasonal merrymaking also includes weekly viewing of especially spooky programming. Of course, now that my kids are old enough to want to participate I’ve had to dial back the gore.

This means that the lion’s share of our viewing is cartoons. And I’m fine with that. There are classics like It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and The Halloween Tree, but this year I’ve been fortunate enough to snatch up a trio of more modern selections.

Adventure Time is already a core component of our media diet, but the latest DVD release has just enough dark mysticism to qualify as proper Halloween fare. Containing a solid 16-episode selection including the sinister dungeon crawl of “Vault of Bones,” the apocalyptic drama of “I Remember You” and the titular tale of supernatural child-rearing that is “Jake the Dad,” it’s a solid ride that, sadly, still skimps on the DVD extras.

Though admittedly its meager (and by now obligatory) “Little Did You Know” bonus is ably supplemented by the inclusion of a wicked-awesome Jake hat. It’s the perfect companion piece for that Finn hat you scored in the Jake vs. Me-Mow collection — great for a little impromptu father/geeklet cosplay or as the bedrock upon which to build some truly epic trick-or-treating duds. Oh, and you get all this for under $20.

If you’re more interested in reliving Nickelodeon’s gloriously weird 90s, the upcoming Aaahh!!! Real Monsters box set from Shout Factory is an ideal candidate for festive viewing. Ickis, Oblina and Krumm first hit the airwaves on the day before Halloween in 1994. The three young monsters spent four solid seasons attempting to master the fine art of scaring under tutelage of monstrous headmaster The Gromble, while simultaneously attempting to avoid Simon the Monster Hunter.

The trio weren’t particularly adept at doing their homework — read: frightening hapless human victims — but their misadventures made for some quality children’s programming. And you can get it all here for less than 30 bones!

Fifty-two episodes spread across eight full DVDs is a lot of ‘toons to digest, so it doesn’t rightly need any extra material. It doesn’t offer any, which isn’t exactly a big deal, but be forewarned that some of this Emmy-nominated animation didn’t survive the transition to DVD unscathed. Even in standard definition there can be some artifacting, and it only gets worse when you pull in for widescreen. Still, it’s the entirety of what was easily one of Nick’s very best animation efforts to date in a single package, and it’s not one to be missed when it drops on October 8th.

Our last selection was a reintroduction of sorts. While the kids and I got in on the ground floor of the Transformers Prime mini-series, we lost track well before the third season transition to Beast Hunters. For those, like us, that are looking for a good entry point to the new Transformers canon, the Predacons Rising feature-length is for you.

Taking place on Cybertron, Predacons Rising sees planet-eater Unicron employ damaged Decepticon leader Megatron as his own instrument of divine destruction — a callback which Generation 1 fans will definitely notice parallels a major plot point of 1986 classic Transformers: The Movie. The action comes fast and frantic as the Autobots and Decepticons battle for the very fate of their homeworld, but the best element is easily the introduction of the Predacons, contemporary clones of ancient Cybertronian creatures, as their own independent faction. The character design and CG animation is exquisite, and the mighty Predaking definitely makes an impression on fans young and old alike.

You can check out the world premiere of Transformers: Prime – Predacons Rising this Friday on the Hub, but those without cable can and should scoop up the home video release on October 8th from Shout Factory. The Blu-Ray + DVD combo pack is a great deal at just under $25 (though Amazon has it for $20), and it even boasts a cool behind-the-scenes featurette.

And there you have it: hours of additional animated entertainment for the Halloween season. Are you and your geeklings enjoying similar seasonal fare? If so, let us know in the comments.

Review materials provided by: Cartoon Network and Shout Factory

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