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 26th, 2021!
This week’s home video selection includes Dario Argento’s best film new to 4K Ultra HD, some classic horror gems from the UK, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Deep Red [4K UHD, Arrow Video]
What is it? A man witnesses a murder.
Why see it? My favorite Dario Argento film will always be the batshit beauty that is Phenomena, but the director’s *best* movie is undoubtedly Deep Red. A musician witnesses a murder in an apartment window, but while he just misses catching the killer he feels confident that he saw something important — a clue that could identify the murderer. It’s a giallo! Argento infuses the film with beauty, suspense, and engaging set-pieces, and he sets it all to on of Goblin’s best scores. It’s just a fantastic thriller, and the end reveal will leave you certain that Argento has bent the rules even though he absolutely hasn’t. What he has done, though, is craft a smartly entertaining tale that engrosses even on rewatches. Arrow’s new 4K restoration makes a gorgeous film even more stunning, and you’ll want to watch on the biggest, loudest screen you can.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, Italian cut and international cut, booklet, poster, lobby cards, commentaries, interviews, featurette]
Blades [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? A Jaws riff that’s actually fun!
Why see it? Jaws is one of those movies that becomes a big hit and is immediately followed by numerous knockoffs. Most are rushed and garbage, but sometimes a gem slips through. Grizzly is the best of the ones playing it (relatively) straight, but when it comes to comedies you’d be hard-pressed to find a better one than Blades. The action moves off the ocean and onto a golf course, and a sharp script delivers plenty of fun nods, both blatant and otherwise, while the characters and execution bring even more fun. God bless Vinegar Syndrome for bringing this one home.
[Extras: New 2K restoration, commentary, documentary]
Children of the Damned [Warner Archive]
What is it? Six weird children come together in the UK.
Why see it? While Village of the Damned deserves the acclaim it still gets half a century after its release, this follow-up has largely been ignore — and it’s a shame as the movie is damn good! More of a philosophical sci-fi tale than pure horror, the film follows a handful of characters as they try to figure out what’s the deal with the strange little kids. It builds to a pretty powerful commentary on the Cold War and nuclear arsenals, and strong acting and minor action beats help ensure it’s an engaging ride.
Eye of the Devil [Warner Archive]
What is it? A woman worries that her husband’s family might rub off on their children.
Why see it? You’d think Deborah Kerr would have learned her lesson from The Innocents, but no, she once again heads to a country estate to find weird behaviors, kids in trouble, and danger. It’s a bit different this time around as the threats are far less supernatural in origin and far more human. Her husband’s family responsibilities involve some twisted history, and it doesn’t bode well for a nosy wife. Kerr is joined by David Niven, Donald Pleasance, David Hemmings, and Sharon tate in her feature debut. It’s a smart, good-looking black & white thriller that should appeal to fans of cult shenanigans.
The Guest [4K UHD, Second Sight]
What is it? A mysterious visitor turns a family’s lives upside down.
Why see it? Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett take a step or two away from their usual horrors to deliver this action film with a dark tinge, and the result is a good, violent time. Dan Stevens breaks away from Downton Abbey to play a sexy weirdo who has your back until he feels the need to stab you in it. It’s a simple tale, one familiar to genre fans, but Wingard delivers a stylish thriller with strong visuals and score aiding the fun. Second Sight’s gorgeous new 4K UHD release brings those colors popping, includes some terrific new interviews, and is highly recommended for fans.
[Extras: Commentaries, interviews, gag reel, deleted scenes]
The Last Matinee
What is it? A killer stalks a movie theater on a rainy afternoon.
Why see it? I’m not the biggest fan of a third act beat in this slasher, but that aside it’s a stylish, suspenseful, and attractively shot feature. The movie theater setting, time frame in the early 90s, and pounding rain outside all add to an appealing atmosphere. The killings bring their own charms as the film never shies away from the red stuff. Add in sharp cinematography and an effective score, and this becomes a terrific slice of horror. Darkstar’s Blu-ray adds in a ton of extras including two more movies, tons of shorts, and more.
[Extras: Commentary, deleted scenes, two additional feature films, featurettes, short films]
Nothing Underneath/Too Beautiful to Die [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? Fashion models and murder collide.
Why see it? A quick glance at either one of these movies — Too Beautiful to Die is a pseudo sequel to Nothing Underneath — and you might mistake them for forgettable sleaze that’s only good for late night rotations on Cinemax, but you would be mistaken. I mean, they’re definitely sleaze blending sex and violence in ways that gave the channel the nickname Skinemax, but they’re also very well made, appealing to the eyes, and entertainingly slick. Both films deliver some 80s Italian goodness, and Vinegar Syndrome includes some additional extras to add to the fun.
[Extras: New 4K restorations, commentaries, interviews]
Resurrection [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? A cool cop chases a crazy killer.
Why see it? The 90s gifted genre fans with plenty of memorable serial killer films, from Seven to Copycat, but Resurrection deserves to be in the same conversation. It’s absolutely not up to their snuff, obviously, but there’s a good, stylish time awaiting fans of the decade and genre. Christopher Lambert stars as the least convincing American cop in film history, and he’s joined by some wonderfully grisly practical gore effects and moody cinematography. New disc from Vinegar Syndrome looks fantastic too.
[Extras: New 2K scan, interviews]
Retribution [Severin Films]
What is it? A suicide attempt results in possession instead.
Why see it? This late 80s genre effort is an oddball, but it’s also never less than entertaining. A gangster possesses the body of a man who just attempted suicide, and he uses his new host to get revenge on the villains who offed him. The horror elements ramp up with some solid practical fx work, and there’s an abundance of personality in the characters and beats. Severin’s new Blu-ray looks sharp — it’s a colorful film, and it looks great with this transfer — and includes plenty of interviews with those who worked on the film.
[Extras: New 2K scan, commentary, interviews, short film, CD soundtrack]
The Suicide Squad [4K UHD]
What is it? A band of super villains save the world.
Why see it? James Gunn’s take on the Suicide Squad is an obvious improvement on the earlier film in almost every way, and it’s an absolute blast. Big laughs, lots of bloody violence, highly entertaining visuals, and some legitimately emotional beats as it all builds to a final confrontation — it all combines for a terrific time and arguably the year’s best comic book movie. CG and practical effects combine to add to the grisly but fun demises, and it’s also rewatchable as hell.
[Extras: Gag reel, deleted scenes, featurettes, commentary]
Underworld – Limited Edition 5-Movie Collection [4K UHD]
What is it? Vamps vs mongrels!
Why see it? The first Underworld film offered a stylish breath of fresh air with a new idea presented in an original way. The remaining four deliver a mixed bag of excitement, fun, and redundancy. The mythology across the franchise is nonsense, but the gunplay, swordplay, and action sequences find plenty of thrills while Kate Beckinsale and others flip around in tight leather and gnarly fur. The films benefit from UHD as the shadows and slow-mo find fresh life in 4K, and the box set comes loaded with extra features too.
[Extras: Commentaries, featurettes, outtakes, bloopers]
An Angel for Satan [Severin Films]
What is it? A cursed statue leads to depravity and terror.
Why see it? Barbara Steele headlines meaning this is automatically worth a watch, and she does great work as a woman who manipulates and deceives a town full of people deserving of it. There are some good story turns here, and the black & white photography finds beauty, eroticism, and terror in equal measure. Severin’s new Blu-ray offers up a sharp picture and some solid extras too.
[Extras: New 2K scan, commentaries, interview, short film]
Beyond Darkness [Severin Films]
What is it? An executed child murderer continues to haunt her own house.
Why see it? A priest moves his family (?) into a house unaware of the dark spirit roaming its halls, and soon it sets its sights on the man’s children. Ghostly appearances, possession, and more sees the family losing their grip on sanity and possibly their lives. The film comes from the writer/director of Troll 2, and while the story basics are less cheesy here the quality of the filmmaking remains the same. If that works for you, great, this is a strong release from Severin that looks good, features some informative interviews, and includes the film’s score on compact disc.
[Extras: Interviews, soundtrack CD]
What is it? Who knows, really.
Why see it? This early 80s oddity is a micro budget nightmare that sets up a traditional slasher before going sideways fast. It doesn’t all work, but good gravy is there a lot to digest. If you can get past the cheap nature of it all, there’s fun to be found in the gore, sex, and utter weirdness. There’s even more in the extras gathered by AGFA here including a longer cut for those who have time to kill.
[Extras: New 2K preservation of theatrical cut, commentaries, alternate cut, Sally & Jess feature preserved in 2K]
Devil Story [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? A couple finds terror in an old castle.
Why see it? This French film is an odd one in that the pieces sound amazing out of context — Nazi zombies, an undead mummy, a nutty horse, general weirdness. And yet, the finished product, even with a short running time, is an absolute drag. Coherency isn’t even on the table, so the best you can hope is to be a fan of arthouse horror that’s more interested in being a meandering mishmash than in telling anything resembling a story. On the plus side, Vinegar Syndrome’s new Blu-ray is the expected delight.
[Extras: New 4K scan, featurette, interview, commentary]
Don’t Breathe 2 [4K UHD]
What is it? The murderous pervert from the first film is the hero now, apparently.
Why see it? Regardless of where you land on the original Don’t Breathe, you can’t deny that Stephen Lang’s character is a twisted fuck in need of either prison or a body bag. The idea of a sequel that turns the character into the hero seems odd at the very least and somewhat offensive at worst, but that’s what they’ve done. Your mileage may vary as to whether or not it works, but at least Lang gets some solid action beats down in the service of “protecting” a young girl. The fact that he’s a rapist hangs over it all, but no one ever said exploitation films needed to be nice and clean.
[Extras: Alternate ending, featurettes, commentary]
For Love or Money [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A young man with a dream tries to make it come true.
Why see it? Michael J. Fox comedies are always worth a watch as the guy is just damn talented, and this one is a solid enough comedy. Fox plays a concierge with plans to build his own hotel someday, but those plans are interrupted by an unscrupulous businessman and a woman who captures his heart. Gabrielle Anwar, an early 90s favorite, plays his love interest, and the film manages some mild laughs and pleasant beats.
The Laughing Dead [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? A tour group finds death in Aztec ruins.
Why see it? What Devil Story above promises, The Laughing Dead delivers. It’s dumb fun that follows the expected narrative path as numerous characters are picked off one by one, but the key difference here is that there’s creativity and energy to the proceedings. Sure, it’s also poorly acted at times and questionably written and incomprehensibly directed, but the creativity on display in the kills and practical effects are highly entertaining.
[Extras: New 4K scan, commentary, documentary]
The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? The true-ish story of the mystery man.
Why see it? D.B. Cooper robbed a plane, mid-air, and parachuted out to freedom. He was never caught or found, but we get a glimpse here of what could have been in the days and weeks after. Treat Williams stars as the infamous thief, and he’s a constant source of charm and personality. Robert Duvall is the cop on his trail, and both deliver charismatic characters in a tale of a playful antihero.
Shallow Grave [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? Four friends witness a murder and end up on the run.
Why see it? This 80s suspense flick follows a pretty familiar setup as the friends on a road trip witness a murder in a small town, but it finds suspense in the execution as the killer’s profession adds an extra wrinkle. That’s right, he’s the local sheriff. One or two of the deaths might surprise you, and that’s always a good thing as films like these can sometimes feel too familiar. Vinegar Syndrome’s new Blu-ray offers their usual quality effort.
[Extras: New 2K scan and restoration, commentaries, interviews]
Steel Dawn [Vestron Video]
What is it? Nobody puts an post-apocalyptic warrior in the corner.
Why see it? Not all post-apocalyptic action/adventures are created equal, but in the wake of Mad Max’s films they all seem to pale in comparison. That goes for this effort too, and while Patrick Swayze gives it a sincere go the budget and script fail to support his efforts. The fights are mediocre, albeit elevated slightly by Swayze’s balletic style, and the stunts are mostly unimpressive. It’s an odd one for the Vestron line, but no complaints here as I’m happy to see it still going.
[Extras: Commentary, interviews, featurette]
What is it? A father tries to help his incarcerated daughter.
Why see it? As a very thinly veiled riff on the Amanda Knox case, this movie is a piece of exploitation that wants also to be a sincere, feel-good drama. Separate from the real-world connections, though, it’s a solid enough tale about a man learning to move outside his own preconceived notions. Matt Damon plays the man and does good work dealing with his own beliefs and notions when faced with spending so much time in a European country.
Summer of 84
What is it? A group of friends suspect their neighbor is a serial killer.
Why see it? The makers of Turbo Kid return with what amounts to less entertaining Amblin film, and while it has some solid beats the overall effect is something of a meh. (It gets props for killing a kid, but it’s a kid who looks like an adult so…) The score is aces, so that’s something, but the intended vibe just doesn’t work as it tries to blend a kids adventure with a murderer. That said, I think I’m in the minority, so check it out.
[Extras: Commentary, bloopers, interviews, short film]
Also out this week:
The Cheat [KL Studio Classics], Death Whistles the Blues/Rififi in the City [Severin Films], Devil and the Deep [KL Studio Classics], Dinner at Eight [Warner Archive], Fritz the Cat [Scorpion Releasing], Hot Saturday [KL Studio Classics], The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat [Scorpion Releasing], Shit & Champagne, Superman: The Complete Animated Series, Torch Singer [KL Studio Classics]