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 August 29th, 2023! This week’s home video selection includes Guest House Paradiso, Jennifer Lawrence headlining a raunchy comedy, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Guest House Paradiso [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? Two friends run a terrible hotel.
Why see it? The British comedy show The Young Ones only ran for a couple years in the early 80s, but its impact on a generation of budding funny people can’t be denied. Two of the show’s regulars joined forces for this late 90s feature, and it is as wildly absurd as you should expect from Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson. The laughs are extremely broad, frequently fast-moving, and mildly racy, and it comes with a heavy dose of Looney Tunes-inspired violence. Not for nothing, but the film also delivers one of the screen’s great vomit scenes with projectile expulsions and a fantastic Vincent Cassel cameo.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, interview, featurette, outtakes]
The Complete Story of Film
What is it? Two documentaries about the movies!
Why see it? Two documentaries, four Blu-rays, over 1100 minutes of love and history when it comes to cinema. Mark Cousins narrates a look at the history of film from its physical origins to its technological innovations, and as precise as it gets at times there’s a clear affection and awe for the art form and those who help create it. This is no fast watch — the first doc runs fifteen hours — but as something you can visit one bite at a time it’s a spectacular look at movies.
No Hard Feelings
What is it? A woman in her thirties dates an eighteen-year-old in exchange for a car.
Why see it? Studio comedies these days have seen something of a tonal decline as they’ve been avoiding sexy, controversial topics to make society happy. Add in the recent rise in arguments against sex scenes in movies, and the time is right for a film to find the fun in naughty shenanigans again. This is that movie, and there’s a plus in that Jennifer Lawrence headlines going full steam ahead on that front. She fully embraces the sexy and the silly, and the film follows suit. We do get some unfortunately rough fx work involving face-mapping on a naked body, but it’s still an entertaining time.
[Extras: Outtakes, featurettes]
Vengeance Is Mine
What is it? A woman runs from drama only to find more drama.
Why see it? This 1984 feature disappeared almost immediately after its television debut, but a recent rediscovery has revealed a solid tale anchored by a mesmerizing performance from Brooke Adams. She plays a woman wanting to distance herself from a disjointed adopted family, but the decision to inject herself into the neighbors’ lives proves near disastrous. The premise could be played for laughs, but here it’s drama (near melodrama at times) and character beats used to create a familiar world for anyone who grew up in coastal parts of America’s Northeast.
[Extras: Q&A, booklet]
Amazon Jail 1 & 2 [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? Two “women in prison” flicks.
Why see it? The women in prison subgenre has its charms, particularly for fans of mindless, skin-filled exploitation. the best find interesting characters, entertaining tones, and more to make it more than just sex and violence. (Not that there’s anything wrong with “just” sex and violence.) Here tho there’s no attempt at worthwhile action or laughs, and the T&A feels more desperate than arousing. That said, the second film does at least find a little absurdity along the way. They’re not all that good, but you get what you’re expecting, and not for nothing but they look pretty darn great.
[Extras: New 4K scan, commentary, interviews, video essay]
Bloodfeast! The Adventures of Sgt. Lunch
What is it? A good man must face a mechanical man to defeat a bad man.
Why see it? Shot on video films (SOV) typically lean towards genre fare as a selling point, and this barely feature length effort is no different. Action with a sci-fi twist are the calling cards while dry humor and visual gags are the payoff. Is any of it any good? Eh, it is what it is. The budget precludes anything impressive on the action front, and the laughs are a mixed bag. It’s engaging enough, though, and you can do far less entertaining things for an hour than watch this.
[Extras: New transfer, commentary, featurette, deleted scenes, short films]
The Catechism Cataclysm
What is it? Am awkward priest kicks off an adventure by accidentally dropping his bible in the toilet.
Why see it? Steve Little headlines this wacky indie comedy, and if you think his shtick is maybe too much to endure for a feature length run I get it — and yet the guy is a delight throughout. The story can’t quite keep up despite some odd turns, but there’s more than enough here to enjoy as Little and the always great Robert Longstreet pair up to deliver the good word to viewers. The running time is wisely kept short, so if you’re a fan of Little’s work in Vice Principals or Eastbound and Down it’s a recommended watch.
[Extras: Outtakes, short films, music video, essays, commentary, booklet]
Death in Brunswick [Umbrella Entertainment]
What is it? An ex-con has a run of bad luck.
Why see it? Sam Neill has been a treasure of the screen for decades as evidenced by this dark comedy from the late 80s. Neill plays a guy who lands a job cooking at a sketchy club only to get caught up in an illicit romance and dead body. It’s a fun enough ride, and Neill’s turn as the nice but gullible ex-con makes for an endearing chaperone. The comedy is light for the most part, but a cemetery scene finds some real laughs.
[Extras: Q&A, featurette, commentaries, deleted scenes]
Don’t Fall in Love with Yourself
What is it? A documentary on musician Justin Pearson.
Why see it? Justin Pearson’s music and stage persona exist far from my own tastes, but he’s an interesting talent with a highly engaging and charismatic personality offstage. The doc uses interviews and footage captured over the past thirty years to explore his life and the events that shaped both his attitudes and his music. Fans of The Locust will eat it up, but everyone else will have to settle for enjoying some minor interest.
[Extras: Commentary, interviews, live performances]
Dream Life [Canadian International Pictures]
What is it? Two young women find each other and themselves while living in Montreal.
Why see it? This 1972 film was recently rediscovered and given new life via a new restoration, and the big point of interest is it being the first feature film to be directed by a woman in Canada. That’s interesting enough, but its real strength comes from the simple honesty of these two women. There’s a dreamlike quality to much of the film despite its real locales, but the core of it all is two women who meet and bond over similar goals only to realize maybe their goals are something entirely different. Interesting as a historical footnote, engaging as a character piece, this new Blu-ray also includes a new interview with director Mireille Dansereau that’s worth a watch.
[Extras: New 2K restoration, interviews, short films, booklet]
Give Me Pity!
What is it? A 70s TV special descends into trouble.
Why see it? Amanda Kramer’s light look at the dark side of Hollywood and television stardom is an odd bird that doesn’t entirely work, but there’s such a delightfully kitsch element at play here that it’s hard to look away. Sissy St. Claire, played by Bette Midler’s daughter Sophie Von Haselberg, is a star celebrating her first live TV special, but both her own mind and a masked man just out of view are making it difficult. There’s fun here in the form of musical numbers and a smart recapturing of 70s style television
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes]
Heroic Times [Deaf Crocodile Films]
What is it? A bloody tale of medieval times.
Why see it? An epic 19th century poem comes to life through beautiful paintings and animation telling the tale of knights, betrayals, battles, and kings. The story itself wavers between simplistic and unclear — unclear for those unfamiliar with the poem and the history — leaving the visuals to do the heavy lifting, and happily they succeed more often than not with a style that feels alien to so much of the animated movies we get today. While there are electric battle sequences, much of the film takes a more relaxed pace. That probably hurts it as a viewing experience, but again, it’s all about the art.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, commentary, essay, short films, interviews]
Killer Condom [4K UHD, Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? A killer condom goes on a murderous rampage.
Why see it? The title makes it pretty clear what this Troma effort is all about, and yes, it’s extremely silly as a result. A detective, himself a now one-nutted victim of the condom, is on the case. The premise here is to absurd to miss, but while the director’s cut is a curiosity, two hours of this is way too much. Watch the theatrical cut instead which keeps the gags and cuts a lot of the chatter. Vinegar Syndrome has gone above and beyond here with a 4K release, and the extras are equally solid.
[Extras: New restoration, theatrical and director’s cuts, commentary, interviews, featurettes, short film]
New Fist of Fury [Arrow Video]
What is it? A martial arts headmaster demands respect.
Why see it? Jackie Chan remains one of the greats in action cinema, but that doesn’t mean his every film is a gem. Basically, his very early stuff and his later stuff are the mixed bags while his 80s and 90s films are where it’s at. This one was Chan’s first lead role, and while director Lo Wei is a respected name in the genre their collaboration is merely okay. The action underwhelms, and it’s instead the drama that arguably works best.
[Extras: Theatrical and re-release versions, commentaries, essays]
Also out this week:
The Flash, Name Above Title and Other Tales of Woe by Carlos Conceição, Smiling Friends – Season 1, The Spanish Dancer, Terminal Degeneration: The Films of Jon Moritsugu [AGFA], Three Days of the Condor [4K UHD, KL Studio Classics]
Related Topics: Home Video