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 January 4th, 2022!
This week’s home video selection includes new genre thrills from overseas including Detention, some older gems, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
What is it? Horror from Taiwan!
Why see it? Popular video games adapted into movies don’t always result in quality cinema — it’s actually something of a rarity — but this effort from Taiwan is one of the good ones. The film understands both the material and the differing needs held by a movie (over a video game), and we get a visually thrilling and compelling tale as a result. Taiwan’s martial law/militaristic government of the 60s play a role here adding weight to what could otherwise have been a simple tale of monsters and mayhem. There’s a definite tinge of Silent Hill here, both in the story and visuals, but while they rely too heavily on CG they still bring some cool beats and chilling moments.
Double Door [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A crotchety old woman terrifies her relatives.
Why see it? A young man’s intention to marry a woman well below his class sets his aunt’s wheels a turning, and soon kidnapping, deception, and attempted murder are on the table. This is a fun little thriller, and Mary Morris’ performance as the family’s greedy and devious matriarch makes her one of the great screen villains. She’s a mean one! Add in some valuable pearls, a secret, sound-proofed room, and a missing bride, and you have a solid pre-code thriller.
What is it? A monster stalks a small Oregon town.
Why see it? And that monster is recession. Okay, there’s actually a real monster too, and it’s a visually impressive creation that director Scott Cooper keeps in the shadows until it’s time to strike. The film’s issue, though, is that attempts to tie the creature to depression, misery, unemployment, increased drug use, and dire times land a bit cluttered. Keri Russell and Jesse Plemons headline, and both do good work, but for a wendigo film to feature a single Native character — he appears to define wendigo, and then disappears — is pretty damn weak. Unless, of course, there’s something to the idea, but the film feels as if its been gutted of additional context, dialogue, and background.
What is it? A couple of assholes find love or something like it.
Why see it? The premise and promise of Peter Vack’s film is right there in the title, and it succeeds in delivering on that setup. The couple at the heart of the film come together via the passing of herpes and go on to be a pair of irredeemably foul jerks who also revel in the gross and disgusting. It’s never as offensive as it wants to be, but a few laughs do sneak through. Fans will want to watch the included interview with Vack’s parents who play supporting characters in the film.
[Extras: Commentaries, interview, short film]
What is it? Retail employees face off against alien monsters on the busiest night of the year.
Why see it? There’s fun to be had here with a cast that includes Devon Sawa, Bruce Campbell, and Michael Jai White, but it’s definitely a creature feature comedy that suffers from its low budget. The premise suggests lots of people, but they’re just not here, and while the creature effects come from the ever reliable Robert Kurtzman they’s from his budget line. Some laughs and entertaining gags squeak through, but you can’t help but wonder what a couple of million dollars could have done here.
The Crime of the Century [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A man confesses to a murder he hasn’t committed yet.
Why see it? Director William Beaudine delivers a nifty enough little tale with an engaging mystery at its heart. The man making the confession is a doctor, and it seems he has some skills that he thinks will come into play. The cops don’t know what to do with him, but the heat turns up soon after the bodies do, and soon a journalist looking for a story might be the only one capable of understanding the truth. It’s a fun one.
What is it? A musician has a difficult time.
Why see it? Alex Ross Perry has yet to equal the combination of wit and self-hating destructiveness that is Listen Up, Phillip, but Her Smell still succeeds as a tale of an unlikable person dealing with their own desires and limitations. Elisabeth Moss is terrific (surprise!) as the lead singer in a punk rock band whose struggles with addiction and creativity push her ever downward until there’s nowhere else to go. It’s never quite as interesting as Moss’ performance, though, but at least the music interludes add some energy to the proceedings.
[Extras: Commentaries, interviews, featurettes]
Moments Like This Never Last
What is it? A look into the life of a young artist.
Why see it? Dash Snow died of a heroin overdose at the age of twenty-seven in 2009, and while it feels at times like it was inevitable the joy and tragedy of this doc is in the moments where that looked less likely. Dash was a charismatic young man, and the footage here — from his early days as a teen graffiti artist to his turn as a celebrated artist in New York City — reveals a troubled man who knew love. It’s an engaging watch.
[Extras: Q&A, deleted scenes]
The Naked Jungle [Imprint Films]
What is it? An army of killer ants marches through the jungle.
Why see it? This mid 50s tale sees its first hour focus on the melodrama surrounding Charlton Heston and his mail-order bride. He’s a thirty-one year-old virgin who lives in the jungle, and she’s excited for her second marriage. They hate each other, obviously, and their dramatic back and forth shares the screen with sexism, racism, and plenty of whining. The third act is where the action lands with the ants finally rearing their tiny heads and forcing the hands of everyone involved. It’s no Phase IV! It is, however, a worldwide blu-ray debut, so plan accordingly.
[Extras: Commentaries, documentary, radio adaptations]
What is it? A Greek vampire finds trouble on the dance floor.
Why see it? This weird little flick played the festival circuit back in 2014 and is only now hitting North American shores with an actual release. It’s an odd, artsy tale of a vampire from the country who comes into town to blow off some steam — it’s the 80s, so that means hitting a dance club, obviously — but what starts as a fun night takes a turn when he meets a mysterious woman with a simple request. A back half reveal stirs things up in interesting ways, but even at seventy-three minutes it maybe feels a little too long? Maybe. To its credit, the film doesn’t quite feel like anything else, and that’s no small thing.
[Extras: Interview, commentary, featurette]
Rich and Strange [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A young couple on a cruise encounter some waves.
Why see it? Alfred Hitchcock’s early career — the films that don’t sit among his most beloved and discussed — has revealed some winners, but there are also understandably forgotten titles like this one. It opens in appealing fashion as Hitchcock brings London’s vibrancy to life, but things wind down fairly quickly leading to issues that arise mostly due to a poor script. Kino’s new Blu-ray features the BFI’s restoration, so fans will want to pick it up, but the rest of you might consider a rental first.
[Extras: 4K restoration, commentary, interview]
Zeroes and Ones
What is it? A soldier tries to stop a terrorist attack.
Why see it? Abel Ferrara and Ethan Hawke came together during a pandemic to make this tiny thriller, but while the results are interesting they’re never really all that thrilling. Hawke plays a soldier tasked with stopping a bombing, and he needs info from his twin brother who unfortunately is currently in the custody of enemies. Lots of chatter and shoddy camerawork follow. To be fair, there are those who love this for many of the same reasons I’m unmoved, so consider watching it if you’re a fan of Hawke or Ferrara.
Also out this week:
All My Sons [KL Studio Classics], China [KL Studio Classics], The Djinn, Golden Earrings [KL Studio Classics], The Naked Ape [Code Red], Only the Animals, Shake Hands With the Devil [KL Studio Classics], The Superdeep, Together
Related Topics: Home Video