The Ring Collection

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released from Arrow and the films on them.

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Ribs
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Re: The Ring Collection

#51 Post by Ribs » Tue Apr 02, 2019 9:24 am

Not confirmed or dated, but will absolutely happen.

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Adam Grikepelis
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Re: The Ring Collection

#52 Post by Adam Grikepelis » Wed Apr 03, 2019 2:02 am

The first film is already available on its own.

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Re: The Ring Collection

#53 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Apr 03, 2019 4:58 pm

Having made my way through the first disc, i.e. Ring and its extra features, it does seem well designed to be a standalone disc. All of the extra features on that disc are tackling what the series meant to the culture in general, perhaps more than being about the first film specifically. I quite liked Kat Ellinger's discussion on Hideo Nakata's career (and it does remind me that it would be exciting to see at some point more of the recent Roman Porno anniversary series comprised of five films, one of which, White Lily, is directed by Nakata. So far only Sion Sono's Antiporno from that series has been released in the UK), but I was really impressed by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas's piece on the whole series, which includes brief clips from the 1995 TV version of the material and lots of quick shots of book covers. Who knew that Koji Suzuki's original Ring novel had so many different editions?

By the way, I see that Nakata has directed another Ring film due for release in Japan in May, called Sadako (which might cause confusion with Sadako 3D and Sadako 3D 2!) based on Koji Suzuki's sixth novel in the series, Tide (which according to the wiki is apparently still all set within the virtual world introduced in Loop).
Last edited by colinr0380 on Thu Jun 06, 2019 4:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: The Ring Collection

#54 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Apr 06, 2019 6:21 am

Watching Ring 2 again it might be interesting to think of it as "Ring Squared", as the much more tightly limited and contained events from Sadako's curse expand out exponentially through the rest of the cast of characters. Though interestingly the 'exponential virus-like replication' does not play out at all in the way that one might expect from the stinger climax of the first film. Similarly to Spiral in fact, Ring 2 almost drops the cursed tape angle entirely (or rather relegates it to an ironically echoing subplot). Whilst Spiral takes as its theme the idea of rebellion from within, Ring 2 drops the chain letter-style viral video for much more difficult ideas about how anger can be built up and released in violent outbursts. The cursed videotape was just Sadako's method of transmission and especially in that excellent mid-section when newly orphaned Yoichi is threatening to unleash his rage, immediately followed by the scene with the death of the schoolgirl after the reporter's willful negligence now becoming her own vengeful hovering spirit (literalising a troubled conscience?), we are seeing people following in Sadako's footsteps in the present time rather than focusing on some past long ago murder mystery safely contained within flashbacks. In fact the flashback here is less explanatory and more melancholic and a fatal distraction from current dangers!

Its quite a different film from Ring but it is one that grows better to me every time that I watch it. The initial disappointment I remember feeling that we don't see more to do with the video (and really we don't need to as the first film entirely explains Sadako's backstory, and also that understanding it doesn't really mean anything for the current threat), is replaced now by an appreciation of the interesting direction that Ring 2 goes in, keeping the central themes of externalised projections of deadly rage and making it all about a central absence that all of our 'supporting' characters are reacting to. In a sense this film is a celebration of the role that supporting actors have in films by making it all about their plights instead, as the leads disappear and almost abandon everyone else, leaving those who remain wondering about the mystery of where they could have gone to as the film, like life itself, continues onwards unabated.

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Re: The Ring Collection

#55 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Apr 08, 2019 4:10 am

"You look very depressed. Why don't you take some of your jellyfish DNA and 'brighten up'?"

Major spoilers for Spiral:

I think I have had a bit of a breakthrough in my thinking about Spiral after watching it for the first time since the old Artsmagic DVD over a decade ago. On those first couple of viewings I was left with a rather vague feeling of dissatisfaction with the way that events played out. Now I think that I understand why: I kind of hate the main character of this film! For reasons related both to the character of Mitsuo himself and the way that the film treats him as important almost only because it is constantly focused on him and his journey of discovery, if not really enlightenment. It is a very strange film, especially seen now in an era in which there is much more focus on, and criticism of, uninteresting male characters headlining films for the sake of having a male lead when really the female characters are much more interesting and would be much more fruitful to focus on. But that makes Spiral fascinating (if frustrating) to watch now, as it seems all about that aspect. Or at least provides interesting material to talk about that issue in more detail.

The way that the film treats the main character first: Mitsuo is already in a difficult position filmically in being a newly introduced character never mentioned before following on from a highly successful first film (and one with a teasingly evocative twist ending at that!). It is always going to be difficult for an audience to get invested in somebody new, even worse when we get the protagonist of the first film and her son casually killed offscreen (even if pretty much the same thing happens in Ring 2, it happens halfway through after a couple of reunion scenes!), and much of this film involves Mitsuo getting up to speed on the curse, talking to traumatised Mai, and watching the tape himself, which is re-covering territory that we saw done much more effectively in the original Ring.

It is potentially rather gender-politics charged watching it today as Spiral also privileges a male perspective throughout to almost a frustrating degree. If the film adaptation of Ring was all about mothers and their bond with their children, Spiral is about fathers and their estrangement from children they may have killed! The connecting theme between both films is really the question of what you would sacrifice to keep your child. Your parents? Your lover? The world in general? Set against the past where parents killed to protect themselves and their wider communities from the potential threat posed by their offspring.

But back to the main protagonist and male-centric worldview of Spiral. Mitsuo here is pretty awful throughout in the sense that its generally about solving the mystery but really its all "me, me, me"! Its about how losing his distant friend/ex-mentor affects him. It is about Mitsuo explaining the situation over and over again to both himself and all the other characters, including Mai. It is his guilt about losing his son in a drowning accident. And once he watches the tape it is all about his feelings of approaching threat and fear of death. Lots of scenes start off about the mystery in general and then sure enough Mitsuo somehow makes it all about him, as if he is the one who has all of the answers, or is feeling all of the pain, rather than being a newly introduced 'interloper' (perhaps even usurper?) into the narrative that never even mentioned him before this film!

When Mitsuo sits to watch the tape even that goes a bit 'gender politics' with instead of the telephone just ringing afterwards he is instead sexually assaulted by a manifestation of Sadako. A sexual fantasy and scary nightmare of an extremely forward woman climbing all over you combined? And there are lots of scenes post-video of Mitsuo trying to be the macho pro-active lead of the film by smashing up tapes, threatening journalists, and breaking into apartments all of which play rather unconvincingly from the perspective of actually dealing with a threat and feel a bit more like petulant lashing out more than anything else. It also seems that Mitsuo manages to cut his hand two separate times by all of the video tape smashing he gets up to!

The slowly developing relationship with Mai, the girlfriend of Ryuji from the previous film, is probably central to this. It perhaps does not help that the character of Mai is far, far more interesting than that of Mitsuo and is firmly relegated to a supporting role here. Though despite that Miki Nakatani, with the minimal amount of characterisation afforded her (though characterisation that features elements that would later be enormously expanded on when she became the centre of attention in Ring 2: the psychic powers and her sympathy for Ryuji's son) kind of blows the lead actor playing Mitsuo away in terms of acting and nuance, though to be fair the actor for Mitsuo has a rather annoying character to have to portray!

Mitsuo performs the autopsy on Ryuji, his friend and Mai's lover, then lets the unsympathetic police inspector (another aspect that would get expanded on for Ring 2) rough Mai up a bit in the hospital before belatedly intervening. Then he pretty much dismisses her by patiently explaining about the nonsense of cursed videotapes (which only serves the function of letting him discover the curse for himself, to confirm what Mai instinctively realised). Then after being cursed he apologises for not believing Mai's story, but again it is all about his fears of impending death rather than any particular sympathy or understanding, or even the slightest notice of what Mai is going through herself. All whilst Mai is patiently comforting him over the loss of his son, eventually even sleeping with him (perhaps just because she feels sorry for him?). Mitsuo remains solipsistic and self-obsessed throughout. Ryuji simply had to have been leaving a message hidden within his body (anticipating Saw IV) that he, and only he, could truly decipher the meaning of.
SpoilerShow
This reaches its culmination in the 'Prometheus avant la lettre' scene of the one night stand with Mai having impregnated her with Sadako's curse, saving Mitsuo as he passed it on through his DNA, but killing Mai instead and re-birthing Sadako!

That is bad enough in itself but the first thing that Mitsuo does when confronted with the re-born Sadako is to make out with her in the same manner as he did just after watching the video! This is after Mai has disappeared seemingly without trace and immediately before the scene in which Mai is found dead. Presumably at the very least it still counts as cheating on Mai!
But I think the film eventually wants his character to seem rather grating in that way, like the ultimate flawed protagonist. Especially in the way that we have the much more sympathetic, muted figure of Mai pushed into the background but still present throughout. And the way that even when Mitsuo realises what he has done to pass on the curse in a later scene, he refuses to acknowledge his part in it. Then he goes even further into selfish hypocrisy and enters into a pact with Sadako to have her give birth to his dead son using DNA from strands of the dead boy's hair (anticipating the end of Spielberg's A.I. perhaps!).

Mitsuo even talks rather self-aggrandisingly after making a dramatic gesture of smashing his second videotape in a moonlit plaza that his act has saved "a couple of people, maybe a dozen, maybe hundreds", and contrasts it against his coroner day job, cutting up the already dead to confirm how they died. He seems to want to be the saviour figure (the "White Knight" if you wish!) but ironically his subsequent actions only kill more people, both abstractly and closer to home!

The final beach scene is the one in which the audience is supposed to shockingly realise the consequences of Mitsuo's selfish, solipsistic actions, as he petulantly blames Sadako and Ryuji for 'masterminding' events without ever really acknowledging his central role in many of the worst actions of the film. Mitsuo does feel like an empty vessel of a character, his single-minded suicidal grief at the loss of his son making him susceptible to all sorts of manipulations by smarter characters who 'somehow' had it all impossibly planned out from the beginning.
___

It has take a while for me to really figure out this film, and I can certainly understand all of the negative reactions to it over the years. An entirely new protagonist re-learning all of the information we as the audience had already known from seeing the first film, and who is also self-centred to a fault is something that is extremely difficult to overcome.

Add to that the difficult attempted shift back to privileging a male character's perspective on events after a very female-focused adaptation of Ring, and one that in doing so both sidelines important female characters and brings up notions of sex in terms of men being 'used' by predatory women (Sadako) whilst never acknowledging their own use of others (Mai). It is also strange that Mitsuo's dead son is given such prominence whilst the existence of the mother, and presumably Mitsuo's partner (wife?, girlfriend?) is never really acknowledged at all outside of briefly appearing in a dream sequence.

But despite all of these criticisms I think Spiral is much more interesting than I had previously given it credit for. I think that we are pretty obviously meant to find the main character dull and irritating from the very beginning, though really the main flaw of the film (apart from the way that it treats Mai!) is that it so privileges Mitsuo's perspective that the audience is always a couple of steps ahead of him throughout, waiting for him to belatedly catch up to the conclusions we reached a couple of scenes before! However I have to admit to liking the irony of the beach ending much more now, as Mitsuo gets everything he wanted, but at what cost and for how long? (It also has that brilliantly blunt and brutal response by Ryuji to Mitsuo telling him that he could potentially bring Yoichi back to life as well, which is really worth the entire film in itself!)

There is also an interesting (if also rather unsatisfying when coming off of the original Ring film) theme of literature being given primacy over visual imagery. The video tape here is important to Mitsuo's journey of encountering Sadako directly, but Reiko Asakawa's journal (the primary protagonist of the first film perhaps suggesting, at least in the alternate universe of Spiral, that the date stamps throughout Ring were inspired by Reiko writing her experiences down in her diary?) proves to be even more important in the grand scheme of things. Reiko's journal has the viral power to cause smallpox-style tumours and kill anyone who reads it, and whilst Sadako and Ryuji have completed their task to be re-born by the end of Spiral, Reiko's journal is about to be published all over the world to entice and infect new readers with Sadako's story, much in the vein of a certain Koji Suzuki novel!

I had been wondering for a while if the theme of Spiral was of the womb being the ultimate male fear, but also source of salvation. It brings Mitsuo a child, but that also allows for the child to die, devastating him. He has sex with Mai to comfort himself, but ends up killing her and inadvertently birthing another being. He uses Sadako's womb to re-create his dead son at the age he was when he died, but it is a selfish pact at the cost of the wider world (and he even warns Sadako off from coming any closer to 'her' child, which seems rather rude, all things considered! But it allows Mitsuo to be back to being a single parent again, with potentially no further female influence on his son's development, I suppose!)

But in conjunction with the womb being the biological fear, maybe with the introduction of Reiko's journal being published and spreading the curse wider another fear is about the idea of the power of a woman potentially writing and publishing her own narrative? Another internal process getting externalised and taking on a life of its own that might be impossible for any man to stop, hard as he tries?
Last edited by colinr0380 on Sat Apr 13, 2019 8:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Ring Collection

#56 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Apr 11, 2019 3:43 am

Still on Spiral for the moment, there is a quite nice visually striking moment of Mistuo being forced to witness a flashback at the moment of watching the tape and before Sadako manifests herself directly to him. The flashback involves seeing the well, then Sadako’s father running to push Sadako in before she plunges to the bottom. The camera then floats in an Enter The Void anticipating manner from Sadako’s face in the water up and out of the well with the rather apologetic father kneeling next to it, before Sadako’s spirit seemingly has second thoughts about leaving and the camera plunges back down the well and into Sadako’s face again, then Mituso gets thrown back into the present.

It is an interesting moment and I find it particularly interesting that neither Ring or Ring 2 really showed that moment in their own flashbacks (Ring focuses on the fateful psychic powers demonstration; whilst Ring 2 involves Sadako tangentially), leaving it for Spiral to visualise it first and then for Ring 0: Birthday to elaborate on it as its central moment. However again Spiral suggests a very ‘flawed male protagonist’ perspective on the situation, where Mitsuo gets far more information about Sadako than Reiko and Ryuji ever had to inform their investigation but does precisely nothing with it in terms of trying to investigate Sadako’s back story at all! There’s an interesting lack of sympathy there for any tragic backstory that inspired the cursed videotape on Mitsuo’s part, just an almost self-satisfied desire to channel his suicidal tendencies into destroying any remaining tapes to prevent any others from seeing her story.
___

"Even Mr Shigemori has gone weird. Everything says this has something to do with Sadako!"

That contrasts against Ring 0: Birthday even more strongly, as aside from an extremely brief present day sequence at the opening (which introduces mobile phones into the series for the first time! And suggests that you don’t need to watch a videotape any more when proximity to those who have can almost ‘implant’ images into the minds of others. Either that or Sadako is well on her way to becoming a collective nightmare shared by all teenagers, as the new Freddy Kreuger) the whole film is a period piece trying to empathise with Sadako above anyone else. In a way it is a layered period piece in that whilst the action is set around the mid 1960s there is a period play occurring within the action (I’m afraid that my knowledge of literature is not too strong, so I am unsure if it is based on anything or created for the film), and also another intrepid reporter trying to uncover the mystery around that initial psychic demonstration and what happened to Sadako after that.

The investigator aspect is probably what ties Ring 0 most strongly to Ring and Ring 2 with the reporter here being a mix of Reiko’s attempt to understand the mystery in Ring, but also eventually being rather unsympathetic to Sadako’s plight and actively trying to create a monster similar to the callous journalist in Ring 2 (though she is arguably much closer to the journalist killed in the flashback sequence of the first Ring, not least because she has some connection to them!). She also even provides the recording of the psychic demonstration to play over the speakers during the play Hamlet-style, which is the act that kicks off the tragic climax of the film! Anyway, intrusive reporters, photographers and journalism in general come across rather badly in this entire series of films!

After Spiral almost consciously sidelining the female characters (or using them as incubators), Ring 0 is really interesting for having pretty much all of its action pushed forward by the female characters. Though that does not really result in a much better outcome for anyone involved! We have the female reporter (who reveals that she is not investigating for a story around the mid-way point); Sadako's teacher as a child revealing a key bit of doubling information (providing this film's equivalent of the trip back to 'the island'); there is the star of the play who Sadako is soon going to replace after she has an unfortunately inexplicable 'mishap'; the older actress in the play who heads up the torch wielding (or rather hammer wielding) mob; and most interestingly the love triangle that occurs as the tentative relationship between Sadako and audio-lighting technician Toyama is watched with a bit of jealousy by another girl, Etsuko. Were they in a relationship before Sadako intervened, or was it all Etsuko's longings going unrequited? She has a couple of friends say that Sadako is stealing Toyama away from her if she is not careful, but is that just backstage gossip? After all nobody particularly talks to or even likes Sadako other than Toyama. This is all complicated by that love triangle feeling very much in the vein of Carrie, only with the twist here that the potential(?) boyfriend is much more the active one in starting up a relationship with the 'strange, lonely' girl, whilst the 'cute, normal' girl is the one feeling pangs of jealousy and outbursts of rage.

Most interestingly all these female figures are the ones who are actively pursuing Sadako, blaming her for all of the trials facing the play, and often committing the worst acts (shouting at Sadako, taking over the audio of the play to pipe in a recording of the psychic demonstration, striking the first blow with the hammer). Whilst there is some suggestion, or assumption, that everyone is being plagued by dreams of the well (as with the girl in the brief contemporary scene at the very start) because of their proximity to Sadako, perhaps the other female characters are the ones feeling it the most strongly? Or maybe, to vaguely connect it to the themes of Spiral, perhaps the male characters get more seduced instead? (Something which thematically is pushing Spiral and Ring 0 slightly closer to the territory of the Tomie films based on Junji Ito's manga) For example the play's director Mr Shigemori suspiciously quickly passes the dead lead girl's role across to Sadako and then in a #MeToo move visits her at her home that evening, which the film cuts away from (or rather fades out after pointedly holding on a shot of the corridor) and Sadako later cannot recall the events of to Toyama. Then Shigemori becomes somewhat disenchanted with her as he finds out more of her backstory.

Anyway this is all to lead up to one of the most relentlessly bleak endings of the series, as after having subdued (via hammer) Sadako's decent side, the evil doppleganger that actually has been responsible for all of the oppressive visions appears and reunites with her and starts striking everyone down like an avenging angel, one after the other. Its quite an amazing ending for how inescapable slowly oncoming death is made to seem, a bit different from the ticking clock of the first Ring but just as terrifying in its methodical tracking down of all the supporting cast (it probably helps that they all gathered together into an angry mob, so as to be easier to locate!).

It is very like the cathartically horrible climax of Carrie too, but it seems that just as important a reference would be to all of the 1970s religious horror films - this is where the distorted photographs marking someone as cursed for death seem at their closest to The Omen. And in the split between abused innocent and evil devil-child, there is arguably a bit of The Exorcist in there too, though in this case the parent is not particularly going to do all they can to save their child!

The main flaw of the film is really just the standard one for any prequel: we already know that this has to end with Sadako in the well (though that final shot is so devastating that it is perfect way to cap off this original series of films, as arguably the 'wrong' Sadako is left to pay the price for her provoked evil side's actions), and that none of the rest of the cast of characters can have had any particular impact or survived as otherwise we might have heard about them in the earlier, later set, films! But in that climax of mercilessly killing everyone off, Ring 0 kind of turns that problem with prequels into a dark virtue. We remain as detached from all the supporting cast of cruel, suspicious characters as Sadako is (people desperate to understand, investigate and confront Sadako but eventually powerless once they have pushed things to extremes), because they all have to die to reach the world as we now know it. But of course one, Toyama, gets through all that and his passing is most distressing of all because he was the only one not to 'deserve' it.

(Also that final sequence basically does in fifteen minutes what it took the later Isn't Anyone Alive? two excruciatingly drawn out hours to accomplish!)
Last edited by colinr0380 on Mon Apr 15, 2019 4:37 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: The Ring Collection

#57 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Apr 13, 2019 7:12 am

I want to highly praise Alexandra Heller-Nicholas's commentary track on Ring 0, not least because she identifies the play that is being rehearsed within the film as a version of Eyes Without A Face, which I had completely missed over multiple viewings! Using Eyes Without A Face for the play makes a lot of sense, as that is also about a rather ambivalent central female figure both the most sympathetic figure and also the one somewhat responsible for the horror occurring around her, and carried out on her behalf! It is also about replacement of one person with another (with the same face) and the relationship between fathers and daughters, though the father in Ring 0 is a lot less driven by his daughter's well-being! If he is the father at all (is that to suggest that Sadako is a demon child, or about a father trying to absolve himself from responsibility for the dangerous powers contained within his daughter?)

I also like, knowing the Eyes Without A Face connection now, that the scene of the play's director Mr Shigemori invading Sadako's apartment and saying "I can make you a star" fades out from that to the rehearsal of the scene in the play where the first girl is being drugged unconscious, as ulterior motives beneath surface civility are revealed both in reality and on stage!

The commentary also makes a really nice contrast to David Kalat's commentary over Ring, which is more about background details and biographies than so much focused on interpreting the film playing underneath specifically, whilst Heller-Nicholas gets across a lot of what the emotional impact of the scenes has on the viewer and It certainly made me think much more highly of Ring 0 than I previously had. I previously liked it, but remember being a little disappointed at the time that the story was not being pushed forward in contemporary times for a en vogue prequel film instead. Similar perhaps to the adjustment that had to be made from the countdown structure and videotape being central to the first Ring and then peripheral to Ring 2. That is perhaps the reason why neither the sequel or the prequel made quite as much impact as Ring itself did, despite being great films on their own individual merits.

One thing that is not noted during the commentary but might be pertinent in the history of 'prequels' was that Ring 0 came out in Japan just a year after the first Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace, but that there was such a delay in it getting to the West that it only got a home video release in the US in 2005, the year of the third prequel, Revenge of the Sith! Which was a very different time for prequel films by comparison! (I saw Ring 0 around 2003, so Attack of the Clones time, which perhaps was why I was a little exhausted and underwhelmed by the notion of prequels in general but not actively wanting the trend to stop at that stage!) And of course both the Star Wars prequels (with their own tragically doomed romance) and Rogue One follow the general trend towards a dark pre-ordained ending of everyone dying or turning into a monster!

I also really like the comment that Heller-Nicholas makes about the tape marked out theatre floor for the rehearsals being rather anticipatory of Dogville, also about a good person being viewed with suspicion by people unable to acknowledge their own duplicitous behaviours, and eventually being abused until the tables get turned there as well!
___

I have also been reading through the essays in the booklet and was really excited to find out from Jasper Sharp's essay that the actress playing the more, let's say forward, version of Sadako in Spiral, Hinako Saeki, also turned up a couple of years later in a great supporting role in the film adaptation of Junji Ito's manga Uzumaki, as the rather vain head schoolgirl whose hair goes all spirally! (Though because the film is only adapting around the first half of the manga her character's subplot, like that of the journalist, gets unfortunately reduced to the eerie final pans over still images (spoilers) rather than the all out hair battle for dominance in the school playground that occurs on the page!)

By the way, various contemporary video games relating to the Ring series get mentioned (the pair of commentators in that video appear to be rather thrown by the whole virtual world aspect, suggesting that at least that particular game is requiring a knowledge of Koji Suzuki's Loop novel for context), but the more interesting allusion to the series came more recently in one of Yakuza 2's side quests!

Anyway this is a fantastic set all around and really does thorough justice to the central core of the Ring series, as well as finally giving Spiral its due also. I really hope this is successful as it would be amazing if there could be follow ups to this set going further into previously uncharted territory, maybe one with the more recent films and an 'early Ring' set of the TV movie adaptations.

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Re: The Ring Collection

#58 Post by domino harvey » Sat Jul 27, 2019 1:32 am

mfunk9786 wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 5:15 pm
Drat. Not enough to get me to buy another region free player, but it's a shame it's not coming out here!
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US release for the box set: October 29

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Re: The Ring Collection

#59 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Jul 30, 2019 5:08 pm

I just noticed and came here to post! Sold. I moved the long OOP Paramount DVD set for around $30 when I moved, so that'll cover most of the cost of this handsome upgrade

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