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 July 5th, 2022! This week’s home video selection includes Everything Everywhere All at Once, a TV horror gem from the 70s, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Everything Everywhere All at Once [4K UHD]
What is it? We’re all heroes somewhere.
Why see it? The Daniels have finally followed up their wildly inventive Swiss Army Man with an even more creative, affecting, and entertaining tale. Michelle Yeoh stars as a married immigrant running a laundry with her husband (a terrific Ke Huy Quan) and daughter (an incredible Stephanie Hsu), but her drab life is interrupted by a visit from another reality. To know more going in is unnecessary as there’s joy in the discovery. The film is very funny, visually amazing, filled with action and heart, and a wonderful gut punch in its back half. Its emotional effect shouldn’t be understated — I’ve watched three times now and cried all three times. Am I a softie? Maybe, but its observations on family relationships are sharp, sweet, and raw, and pairing them with dildo fights is just an extraordinary flex. The extras are all worth exploring too with the behind the scenes featurettes and outtakes delivering both laughs and answers.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes, outtakes]
What is it? A slice of late 70s TV horror!
Why see it? It’s long been clear that I am in the bag for 70s television horror, and when you add in my love of animal/eco-horror it’s a foregone conclusion that I’m a fan of Ants (aka It Happened at Lakewood Manor). The film sees construction at a resort excavate an enormous ant colony with a poisonous bite, and soon the guests are under attack. It becomes a survival film, and not everyone makes it out alive. TV limitations are clear, but it manages some creepy, unsettling set-pieces as the ants cover walls and go crawling over everyone’s skin. Lee Gambin’s commentary is filled with engaging details, but it feels like he mistimed his notes as he says goodbye a full three minutes before the movie even ends.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary, interviews]
Hero [88 Films]
What is it? A quest for a better life lands two men in violent trouble.
Why see it? Fans of Hong Kong genre cinema continue to live in blessed times thanks to the likes of 88 Films, Arrow Video, and others, and this late 90s feature getting a new life on Blu-ray is a fine example of that. Corey Yuen’s film is a fun period piece — fun in the sense that the action is terrific even as the tone is dark and violent. Takeshi Kaneshiro and Yuen Biao are standouts here unleashing some blistering action chops accentuated with Corey Yuen’s eye for set-piece shenanigans. The HD remaster looks solid, and the film is good time all around.
[Extras: Booklet, commentary]
The Long Ships [Imprint Films]
What is it? A group of vikings find adventure and capture while looking for a golden bell.
Why see it? I won’t pretend this mid 60s adventure is a great film, but the damn thing is entertaining — and sometimes that’s more than enough. Richard Widmark plays the lead viking (sure, why not) whose search for the legendary object lands them in the hands of the Moors, led by Sidney Poitier (sure, why not). Tone is iffy, and historical accuracy is never a priority. That said, it’s a fun movie featuring some entertaining action sequences, surprisingly grim beats (a Moorish torture device is particularly wicked) and picturesque locales. Phillipa Berry’s commentary touches on some of the production’s many troubles making for an interesting listen.
[Extras: Commentary, interviews, featurettes]
The Nelson Affair [Imprint Films]
What is it? An admiral has an affair during the Napoleonic wars.
Why see it? Imprint’s other releases this month may be a touch more action oriented, but this drama (still with its own action beats) finds its strength in its characters, dialogue, and interactions. Peter Finch plays Lord Horatio Nelson against Glenda Jackson’s Lady Hamilton, and both actors are at the top of their game here in moments both calm and explosive. Their banter is sharp and occasionally barbed, and that relationship, with its ups and downs, makes for a compelling narrative against the backdrop of history. The disc lacks a commentary track, but there are some solid interview/essay extras.
[Extras: Interview, featurettes, video essay]
Barabbas [Imprint Films]
What is it? The prisoner released while Christ is crucified goes on a personal journey.
Why see it? Barabbas was something of a prick, but when he’s released from Roman prison instead of Jesus Christ his life takes a turn. The journey is a difficult one, the joy of his early years sapped away by the knowledge of Christ’s demise and rise, and it’s maybe a bit belabored. Anthony Quinn is an engaging actor, obviously, but his two hour plus “woe is me” journey can’t quite keep up. Still, there’s fun in some minor action beats and familiar faces like Jack Palance and Ernest Borgnine. The commentary with Kim Newman and Barry Forshaw adds some interesting detail to the production. (This is a region-free release from Australia.)
[Extras: Commentary, interview, featurette]
Damn the Defiant! [Imprint Films]
What is it? A ship’s crew heads toward mutiny.
Why see it? Alec Guinness and Dirk Bogarde star as an understanding captain and his brutally sadistic first mate, and the drama that erupts between the two spills over onto their crew. The film delivers some sea battle action, but the main focus here is the dramatic interplay at sea between men of differing ranks and mentalities. Anthony Quayle does good work as the crewman riling up the rest, and it all bubbles up in dramatic fashion. As with Barabbas above, the disc includes a solid commentary track with Barry Forshaw and Kim Newman. (This is a region-free release from Australia.)
[Extras: Commentary, interviews, featurette]
Downton Abbey: A New Era
What is it? A movie crew invades Downton and a French mystery unfolds.
Why see it? The Downton Abbey movies are content feeling like longer episodes of the show, and that’s not a bad thing. This entry splits its narrative into two threads — a silent movie crew descends on the homestead to use it as a film setting, and some of the family heads to the south of France to investigate why the Dowager Countess has inherited a villa. We get some laughs and warmth, minor drama and a main character death, and fans should be satisfied.
[Extras: Featurettes, commentary]
What is it? A mother must protect her son from the unknown.
Why see it? Maybe don’t expect good horror from Chicken Soup for the Soul? Anyway, Christina Ricci does what she can as a mother trying to protect her son from the monstrous reality of an abusive ex. A solid, if unoriginal premise to be sure, but the film does nothing all that satisfying with it. The movie looks flat and artificial, partly by design, and it just never moves with that much energy. The big reveal is visible an hour beforehand, and the attempts at horror scenes fare no better.
Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A shipment of South American coffee beans includes lots of hidden spiders.
Why see it? That’s bad enough, of course, but things only get worse when the plane crashes near a small town setting the creepy crawlies loose. This television movie finds some fun thrills with its spider-focused riff on Jaws complete with a mayor concerned about an impending orange crop. The spiders move slow, these aren’t their Arachnophobia cousins, but it’s good fun. Earns extra points too for killing off a kid so his older sister can live happily ever after with a boyfriend who doesn’t want children.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary]
Terror Out of the Sky [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A sequel to The Savage Bees.
Why see it? Dan Haggerty headlines this tale of scientists fighting back against killer bees, and if that sounds exciting, well, enjoy! As made for television disaster movies go it’s pretty dry, but there are minor beats of eco-horror to be found. The film spends a bit too much time on uninteresting character drama and romance and not enough time getting busy with the bees.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary]
What is it? Technology was a bad idea.
Why see it? Anthony Hopkins heads up this Zoom-based thriller as the head of a high-tech company whose death triggers an A.I. meeting with five key members of his team. Lots of technical jargon, some real and some imagined, and chatter is eventually followed by mysterious figures stalking the five. It’s never interesting, though, no matter how serious (or silly) the conversation gets, and any thrills it thinks its conjuring up are anything but.
Also out this week:
20000 Days on Earth, A Banquet, Edge of Tomorrow [4K UHD], Memory, Okja [Criterion Collection], The Virgin Suicides [Criterion Collection]