Streaming might be the future, but physical media is still the present. It’s also awesome, depending on the title, the label, and the release, so each week we take a look at the new Blu-rays and DVDs making their way into the world. Welcome to this week in Home Video for October 12th, 2021!
This week’s home video selection includes Quentin Tarantino’s best film in 4K, some older horrors and westerns, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Columbia Classics: 4K Ultra HD Collection – Volume 2
What is it? New 4K releases of six classics.
Why see it? Volume two of Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD debuts is another must-own for fans even though it’s once again an odd mix of titles. Anatomy of Murder is a terrific black & white courtroom thriller, Oliver! is a popular musical, Taxi Driver is a stone-cold classic from Martin Scorsese, Stripes is a still hilarious comedy with Bill Murray and Harold Ramis, Sense and Sensibility is a fresh and delightful literary adaptation, and The Social Network sees David Fincher make Facebook fascinating. All six look fantastic, but only the first five really show off their new 4K transfers as being visible upgrades. Taxi Driver is particularly stunning. All the films include numerous special features — over thirty hours worth — meaning this set is absolutely loaded with greatness and beauty. Each film comes in its own case and slipcover with three titles each sliding into the two doors that open from the front of the case. Here’s hoping Sony keeps these collections coming especially as the wait for standalone 4K releases can sometimes be quite long.
[Extras: Commentaries, interviews, featurettes, documentary, deleted scenes]
The Green Knight [4K Ultra HD]
What is it? Sir Gawain goes on an epic quest.
Why see it? David Lowery’s adaptation of part of the classic King Arthur legend is as gorgeous a medieval fantasy as you could hope for. Its visuals offer darkness and splendor, wonder and thrills, and Dev Patel does great work as a knight not quite worth the knighthood. It’s far from an action spectacle and instead delivers its awe and splendor through imagery and condemnation. This isn’t a tale of heroes, but it is a story of a very human man challenged quite possibly beyond his reach, and that makes for an engaging journey.
Inglourious Basterds [4K Ultra HD]
What is it? Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece.
Why see it? Everyone has their favorite, but for me, Tarantino’s best film remains this pure slice of wartime brilliance that repurposes both an old movie and true historical facts into an appreciation of cinema and storytelling. Brad Pitt headlines, but it’s a true ensemble with terrific turns by Christoph Waltz, Melanie Laurent, and others. Action scenes thrill, suspenseful beats grip your attention, and the dialogue is absolute aces throughout. The film is beautiful, smart, funny, and endlessly rewatchable, and when a character refers to a recently carved swastika in a Nazi’s forehead as “my masterpiece,” we all know who’s actually saying it. And he ain’t wrong. The film shines in 4K Ultra HD, and the disc’s extras include some good stuff including the original feature film.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes, Nation’s Pride full feature, Inglorious Bastards full feature]
Kolchak: The Night Stalker – The Complete Series [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? All twenty episodes of a cult classic television show.
Why see it? Darren McGavin’s Carl Kolchak walked so Fox Mulder could run, and fans of smart, funny genre fare should be thrilled to revisit this short-lived series about monsters, murders, and unnatural shenanigans. It’s highly entertaining, and McGavin’s performance is never less than good stuff. Kino’s new disc, following their releases of the two Kolchak TV movies, is fantastic and comes packed with extras including new commentary tracks on each episode. Pick this one up people, you won’t be disappointed.
[Extras: Interviews, commentaries, booklet]
Legend [Arrow Video]
What is it? A hero saves a princess from the devil.
Why see it? Ridley Scott’s a busy director, and while he’s delivered some real bangers he’s also turned in some stinkers. This may be a divisive stance, but Legend belongs in that latter group. It’s a stinker! From the artificiality to the stiff acting, it’s just a most unnatural fantasy film. Still, there are three things that make it worthwhile — Tim Curry as the devil (in Rob Bottin’s phenomenal makeup), Mia Sara as the goth princess, and Tangerine Dream’s score. (Sorry Tom Cruise.) The film has plenty of fans, though, and for them this new release from Arrow is going to be a real delight. It’s one of their terrific limited edition releases and comes packed in a slick slipcover.
[Extras: Theatrical and director’s cut, booklet, poster, lobby cards, new 2K restorations, commentaries, featurettes, documentary, music video, interviews]
Misery [4K Ultra HD, KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A writer meets his biggest fan.
Why see it? Stephen King’s novels don’t always get sterling adaptations, but in at least two circumstances they got just that thanks to director Rob Reiner. This tale about a romance author who finds himself held prisoner by an obsessed fan after an accident, and it’s a terrifically claustrophobic tale as we’re trapped with the man in bed and in this house. James Caan is good as the writer while Kathy Bates is exceptional as the cuckoo for cocoa puffs woman holding all the cards. Kino’s recent move into 4K Ultra HD releases continues to be a success with another beautiful upgrade, and with commentaries from both Reiner and screenwriter William Goldman it’s a terrific release.
[Extras: Commentaries, featurettes]
Possession [Umbrella Entertainment]
What is it? A marriage crumbles beside the Berlin Wall.
Why see it? Andrzej Zulawski’s only English-language film remains an absolute enigma — stressful, disorienting, strange, monstrous, mesmerizing — that demands repeat viewings. Sam Neill is good and intense as the spy who retires to spend more time at home only to discover his wife is leaving him, but it’s Isabelle Adjani who steals the film (and your breath) with her brilliantly exhaustive performance as the wife. Politics, relationships, suspicions, and more rear their head here with a film that defies expectations at every turn all the way up through its hauntingly weird ending. Just a gorgeous and unique piece of cinema.
[Extras: Commentaries, interviews, featurettes, US cut]
Vera Cruz [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Two mercenaries find trouble in Mexico.
Why see it? Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster headline this terrific little western about two rogues — one rough around the edges, the other a legit bad guy — who find themselves in cahoots in pursuit of a cash reward. Cooper is a respectable guy who leans more honorable while Lancaster is a grinning bastard from beginning to end. Some good action hits with shootouts and fights, and Lancaster puts his own acrobat skills to good use. Director Robert Aldrich crafts a solid, attractive western (no surprise there), and along with his leads delivers a good time with excitement, thrills, and engaging characters.
Deadly Friend [Scream Factory]
What is it? A teen Frankenstein turns his dead girlfriend into a monster.
Why see it? Wes Craven’s a legend, but he made some iffy movies. This little sci-fi chiller is far from his strongest as some questionable writing and performances mar an otherwise simple premise. It’s goofy as all get out, and the actors aren’t able to sell the uneven mix of terror and silliness. Still, some highlights emerge including an unforgettable head smash via a basketball. Scream Factory’s new Blu is a strong release complete with a new scan and new interviews including a surprisingly good one with Kristy “MAGA Putz” Swanson.
[Extras: New 2K scan, interviews]
What is it? A video game character fights for his life.
Why see it? Shawn Levy’s latest is a big hit, so what the hell do I know, but this action/comedy just doesn’t work for me. Ryan Reynolds plays Ryan Reynolds, again, in a poor man’s CG-filled riff on The Truman Show as the character discovers he’s in someone else’s world at their whim and then decides to leave it. It’s fast-moving and some jokes land, but it feels like an opportunity for Disney to remind you that they own everything — leaving you the viewer feeling as if you’re in someone else’s IP world and yearning to escape it. Huh, maybe it’s a meta classic?
[Extras: Deleted scenes, gag reel, featurettes]
The Ghost Ship / Bedlam [Scream Factory]
What is it? Two films from producer Val Lewton.
Why see it? The Ghost Ship (1943) follows a young seaman who begins to suspect that the ship’s captain is actually nutters and bent on murdering them all. There may not be any ghosts on this ship, but the film manages some suspense and terror as a life at sea is revealed to be a very difficult life at best. Paranoia plays a major role here, and it’s a solid watch. Bedlam (1946) sees Boris Karloff as the head of an asylum, and while the crazies have issues his cruelties and bad behaviors are more of a threat. Again, less horror than suspenseful drama, this is a fine role for Karloff who’s tasked with playing a more human character this time around. Both films are restored from their original nitrate negatives and look quite good for their age and scarcity.
[Extras: New restorations, commentary on Bedlam]
The Hound of the Baskervilles [Code Red]
What is it? A silly take on Sherlock and Watson.
Why see it? Comedic riffs on Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are nothing new, and there are both glorious gems (Without a Clue) and absolute stinkers (Holmes & Watson). This one from director Paul Morrissey unfortunately falls into the latter camp. Peter Cook and Dudley Moore star as the detective and doctor, respectively, and while the pair are a respectable pair of comedians this collaboration is absolute clutter. Yelling and unfunny dialogue mess with a perfectly solid and well-known story, and the result is a struggle to sit through.
The Last Sunset [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? An outlaw and a sheriff must work together.
Why see it? Kirk Douglas and Rock Hudson star as the outlaw and sheriff, respectively, and both men are at the top of their game. They’re antagonists, but a third party posing a bigger threat forces them to work together. It’s a basic enough story, but Douglas and Hudson both find depth in their characters and make the begrudging friendship both believable and affecting. The western elements and action are equally standard fare, but you can’t complain about a solid western.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary]
Also out this week:
Carlito’s Way [4K Ultra HD], Casanova Last Love, Flash – The Complete Seventh Season, The Haunting of Bly Manor, He Came From the Swamp [Arrow Video], High Sierra [Criterion Collection], Survive the Game, Sweet Thing
Related Topics: Home Video