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Scary Halloween high-def movies

Paramount Pictures

Who needs another “Paranormal Activity” to give them their Halloween fright fix when “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968), debuting on Blu-ray this week, still conjures up such feelings of dread? Roman Polanski made his Hollywood debut with his genre-defining adaptation of novelist Ira Levin’s bestseller, while Mia Farrow similarly broke out as the Manhattan apartment-dweller increasingly fearful that she and her unborn child are targets of a satanic plot. (Polanski earned an Oscar nod for his screenplay, and Ruth Gordon won best supporting actress as Farrow’s suspiciously overfriendly neighbor.) Extras: A new retrospective interviews Polanski, Farrow, and larger-than-life production exec Robert Evans. Farrow laughs remembering then-husband Frank Sinatra’s early skepticism: “The person who knew me best couldn’t see me in the role.” Polanski recalls that he originally met with Evans about a ski flick ultimately made by another director, and that “Rosemary’s Baby” was a toss-in idea. (The segment doesn’t highlight Polanski’s Catherine Deneuve freakfest “Repulsion” as part of the discussion, but you’d guess Evans had it on the brain.) And looking back at what a naturalistic flair John Cassavetes brought to the film as Farrow’s husband, you might lament that we didn’t see him harness his maverick streak more often. One explanation: Cassavetes’s struggles with the exactness of a director like Polanski. “When an actor struggles, he becomes a pain in the [butt],” says Polanski. But that’s a different dread-filled scenario. (Criterion, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95)

FilmDistrict and Big Beach



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Aubrey Plaza (“Parks and Recreation”) stretches her alt-ennui persona as a mopey magazine intern investigating crackpot (or genius?) Mark Duplass’s classified ad seeking a time travel wingman. The movie is all about exploring its characters (including Jake Johnson of “New Girl” as the jerk writer Plaza is assisting), yet somehow still leaves them feeling dissatisfyingly underexamined at the finish. Extras: In a featurette, director Colin Trevorrow aptly notes his interest in chewing over the emotional need that the notion of time travel fulfills, rather than techie stuff. Another segment on a real classified that inspired the story is vague. (Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $35.99)

Warner Bros., Patti Perret via AP

Will Ferrell as Cam Brady in a scene from "The Campaign."



Just in time to piggyback that other historically momentous campaign, Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis square off as the philandering incumbent and goofy challenger in a North Carolina congressional race. No surprises here, save for a riff on politicians kissing babies — it’s Ferrell playing cluelessly blustery, and Galifianakis playing ditzy-fey, as usual. (The biggest laughs come from the kids playing Galifianakis’s boys, who’ve got a surprising amount to fess up at pre-election disclosure time.) Directed by Jay Roach (“Austin Powers,” “Meet the Parents”). Extras: Extended cut, plus the customary assortment of deleted improv snippets. (Warner, $28.98; Blu-ray, $35.99)

Tom Russo can be reached at
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