‘Death Squad’ Makes for a Viciously Entertaining Pick of the Week

Plus 6 more new releases to watch at home this week on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD!
Death Squad

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 April 9th, 2024! This week’s home video selection includes Death Squad, Night Swim, Lisa Frankenstein, The Roundup: No Way Out, and more. Check out our picks below.

Pick of the Week

Death Squad [Mondo Macabro]

What is it? A cop goes outside the law in search of justice.

Why see it? While some film fans only know the tough cop movie exploits of Dirty Harry and his ilk, others have long been fans of 70s/80s cinema from countries like Italy and Hong Kong that delivers hard-hitting action and gritty takes on law enforcement. This effort from 1985 makes a strong case that French filmmakers deserve a seat at the table as it’s a mean, violent, and thrilling ride. A porn director’s only non-sex film effort, there’s still plenty of sex here, but Max Pecas also fills the screen with action beats, twisted character choices, sharp acts of brutality, and a tense energy. The film teases some progressive themes before smashing it all to bits with offensive takes on everything and everyone as our hard-ass hero takes on the vicious villains. It’s not a film for all tastes, and I really can’t overstate how mean it gets at times, but if you’re up for some hard-hitting, tough as nails battle between cops and bad guys, this is a Blu worth owning.

[Extras: New 4K transfer, interviews]

The Best


What is it? A mother suspects her son is being abused.

Why see it? Kore-eda Hirokazu’s latest unfolds in three parts as the same story comes at us from three different perspectives. First the mother, then the teacher she suspects of bad behavior, and finally of her son at the heart of it all. The story grows with new details reminding viewers about perspective, truth, and the weight of our collective experience. There’s suspense, drama, and heartache, but there’s also beauty as the people and the pieces fall into place. It’s no thriller, though, despite the title, so prepare for an engaging slowburn about the best and worst instincts of humanity.

[Extras: None]

Picnic at Hanging Rock [4K UHD, Criterion]

What is it? A haunting tale of a disappearance.

Why see it? Peter Weir’s filmography is filled with absolute bangers, and this masterpiece of quiet horror and mystery is the earliest. The story follows a group of female students in early 20th century Australia who go out for a day trip and never return. There’s a sense of dread hanging over the characters as they explore their surrounding and one rocky area in particular, and Weir executes their disappearance with an eye for beauty and fear. It’s the kind of film that stays with you, in part because of the mystery, but also because the atmosphere it creates unfolds as a rare daytime nightmare. Criterion’s new 4K release captures the film’s gorgeous, hazy visuals while still retaining grain, but it might not be an actual upgrade of the included Blu-ray. Some areas look stronger than others, a result of restoration work that arguably went too far, but it’s far from disastrous. The extras also offer plenty more reasons to find yourself caught up in the story.

[Extras: New 4K restoration, featurettes, interviews, short film]

The Rundown: No Way Out

What is it? The third entry in a fantastically fun action franchise from South Korea.

Why see it? The secret ingredient across all three films (and the recently announced fourth entry slated for 2024) is the presence of the terrifically charismatic Ma Dong-seok (aka Don Lee) as the lead detective. All of the films feature gun play, but the highlight is always Ma busting loose and busting bones with his big, meaty paws. He’s a brawler — you won’t see him breaking out fancy martial arts moves — and the pummeling he unleashes is never less than entertaining and satisfying. To that point, his “boxing” feels improved this time out as his hit choices and defensive bobbing are more varied which keeps the fights from ever growing stale, and the end result is a fun, uncomplicated tale of bad guys being served justice in the form of knuckle sandwiches.

[Extras: None]

The Rest

Lisa Frankenstein

What is it? A lonely teen finds love beyond the grave.

Why see it? Diablo Cody writes and Zelda Williams directs this nod to 80s comedies like Teen Wolf, and if that combination of talents appeals then you’ll want to give this one a spin. For the rest of us, though, the film is a comedy that can’t quite balance its humor with its genre elements. The laughs are broad at times, perhaps too broad, and while Kathryn Newton and Cole Sprouse do good work in general the pieces just don’t come together when they need to. Laughs fall flat, heartfelt moments falter, and it just feels a bit too silly.

[Extras: Deleted scenes, gag reel, featurettes, commentary]

Night Swim

What is it? A family’s new home comes with a creepy pool.

Why see it? Blumhouse’s latest horror film takes a simple premise and stretches it to 100 minutes with some repetitive beats and a backstory that doesn’t hold water. The horror within the pool — basically an ancient evil in the water itself — even knows how to turn lights on and off to up the scare factor (for characters, not viewers). It’s silly but played completely straight, and the minor nod to The Shining as the dad (a wasted Wyatt Russell) tips towards a loss of control doesn’t work as well as you’d hope. The film manages a couple effective jump scares, but the atmosphere and narrative just don’t take hold.

[Extras: Featurettes]


What is it? A man is haunted by the woman who loved him.

Why see it? Bert I. Gordon is best known for his Food of the Gods films, but his genre dabblings also include this ghostly tale of love, deceit, and supernatural revenge. Richard Carlson plays a guy whose ex “accidentally” dies, but when she returns in ghostly form it forces his hand in some uncomfortable ways. The jazzy score and iffy protagonist help keep things just silly enough to be a little bit fun, and while numerous aspects can’t help but feel dated, the new restoration gives it a clean look. It’s a trifle of a film, but Film Masters has packed the disc with extras making it a film well worth picking up for fans.

[Extras: New 4K restoration, Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, interview, documentary, featurettes, TV pilot, commentary]

Also out this week:

It’s a Wonderful Knife, King Kong [4K UHD], Special Silencers, Winnie the Pooh: Blood & Honey

Rob Hunter: Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.