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 24th, 2021!
This week’s home video selection includes two Argentos in 4K, an 80s comedy classic, a prescient tale of the plague, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
The Cat O’Nine Tails [4K UltraHD; Arrow Video]
What is it? A blind man and a reporter uncover a murder mystery.
Why see it? Dario Argento’s follow-up to The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is less beloved but every bit as stylish and thrilling. Karl Malden and James Franciscus headline, but it’s Argento’s masterful control that hangs over it all. Add in a smart little conspiracy and mystery alongside an Ennio Morricone score, and you have a giallo that takes a more traditional approach that while some find dry others will appreciate. Arrow’s extras are ported over from their previous Blu-ray release, but the 4K upgrade is the star here — deep blacks and sharp strikes of colors make for a stunning rediscovery.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, commentary, interviews, script pages, booklet, art cards]
The Clockmaker of St. Paul
What is it? A man learns his son is being sought on a murder charge.
Why see it? As movies about manhunts go this is as meditative and calm as you’ll find. A father and an understanding police inspector work together to find the young man, but the revelations reveal secrets the dad was unaware of. It’s less about suspense or action and more about the relationship drama and realizations that we can never really know someone. Walter Hill provides an introduction for the film, and his appreciation for its nuance and tone is clear even if they ones that rarely match his own filmography. The film is ultimately a slowburn, but one that hits with quiet certainty.
[Extras: introduction, commentary, booklet, interview]
One Dark Night
What is it? An overnight stay in a crypt leads to terror.
Why see it? A young Meg Tilly headlines as a college student undergoing an initiation of sorts in a crypt, but while her friends plan some pranks an undead mentalist has some hijinks of his own in store. Director Tom McLoughlin delivers a PG-rated horror film that has real fun on a budget. The scares and supernatural antics have a low-fi feeling at times, but they’re entertaining as hell and create a “haunted house” atmosphere with thrills and chills a plenty. This new disc, essentially a reissue of Code Red’s Blu, features some solid extras and a good-looking HD picture. It’s spooky stuff that’s also family friendly, and that’s a rarity.
[Extras: Commentaries, interviews, alternate director’s cut, featurettes]
Prince of the City [Warner Archive]
What is it? A corrupt cop tries to go good.
Why see it? Sidney Lumet was a master filmmaker, and one of his finest hours — well, finest two hours and forty-seven minutes — is 1981’s Prince of the City. Treat Williams stars and gives an electric performance as a dirty cop whose conscience leads him to the district attorney’s office hoping to turn in some big bad apples. The price just might be his life, though, as his efforts make him an enemy of cops and thugs alike. It’s a dense, detailed look at both his own fall and the troubles faced by the district attorneys in deciding his own culpability. The only extra here is an old featurette with the real cop the film is based on, but the film itself is a must-see and an important reminder as to why there are no good cops these days willing to stand up to take down their dirty brothers and sisters in blue.
What’s So Bad About Feeling Good? [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A virus hits NYC that makes people happy.
Why see it? This late 60s comedy is as prescient as they come with its tale of a virus that hits the populace and leaves people divided on how to handle its symptoms. The fun here is that rather than a virus that kills people, this one makes them happier, kinder, and more open to life’s opportunities. It’s a satire, obviously, but there’s a mix of both cynicism and optimism in its narrative as the government steps in to stop the vaccine, mask mandates are put in place, and some refuse medical assistance as they prefer the virus’ effects. Mary Tyler Moore and George Peppard headline, and it’s a funny, sweet, ridiculous ride.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary]
The Blind Beast [Arrow Video]
What is it? A blind artist abducts a woman to make her his muse.
Why see it? Edogawa Rampo is a famed writer of dark imaginings, but not all of his fiction translates well to cinema. This film, based on one of his stories, delivers some highly memorable visuals as the artist’s creations include walls of body parts and enormous nude women in recline. The latter is where most of the film’s “action” unfolds as the artist chases the woman down, holds her prisoner, wins her over, and seduces her through his touch. The relationship becomes mutually twisted leading to the expected denouement, and it’s something of a slowburn journey of victimization and mental illness getting there. Still, Arrow’s new disc is a fantastic release for fans as it offers up numerous extras alongside its HD presentation.
[Extras: Commentary, introduction, visual essay]
Cannibal Man [Severin Films]
What is it? An unintended murder leads a man towards madness.
Why see it? While this early 70s tale of terror is marketed (both at the time of release and now) as a slasher of sorts, it’s actually more aligned with something like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. The first death is accidental, but soon the lead finds himself murdering people to quickly solve a problem, and his method of disposal is where the title comes from — he works at a slaughterhouse and simply starts bringing his own ingredients from home. The film feels appropriately sweaty and mean, but it never really finds suspense or thrills. The arrival of a new character in the third act does give things an interesting wrinkle, though. Severin’s new Blu-ray offers two versions of the film and sports an attractive new scan.
[Extras: International and Spanish versions, new scan, featurette, interview, deleted scenes]
The Fatal Raid
What is it? A special police unit fights baddies in skintight outfits.
Why see it? Hong Kong cinema is home to the best action films in the world, but they’ve seen their fair share of stinkers too. Exhibit A? This dud. From a terrible script to weak action to ugly CG, this is a movie that fails to deliver on any level. It seems to understand that its action bonfides are nonexistent and instead tries to win viewers over with scantily clad lady officers. These female cops go on raids in tight shorts even as the guys are all dressed appropriately. It’s dumb.
Guyana: Cult of the Damned [Code Red]
What is it? A thinly veiled retelling of the Jim Jones massacre.
Why see it? Cults are endlessly fascinating in part because no one thinks they’d ever fall prey to one, and yet many, many people do. Real-world ones have faded some in popularity, unless you rightfully consider organized religion to be a cult, but one of the biggest and most deadly from back in their heyday involved the “reverend” Jim Jones. This exploitation picture explores most of what happened up through the massacre, and while it’s not overly explicit we do see three young boys tortured in various ways. It’s appropriately messy and mean.
[Extras: New 2K master]
No One Heard the Scream [Severin Films]
What is it? A murder witness becomes a collaborator.
Why see it? This Spanish tale opens with a thriller premise — a woman spies her neighbor disposing of his wife’s body and is then targeted by him — but it quickly becomes something darker and more dramatic (and by extension, less thrilling) story of loneliness, obsession, and poor choices. It’s a good film touching on other elements of Spanish society, but it ultimately works best as a character piece.
Overboard [Severin Films]
What is it? An 80s comedy classic!
Why see it? This is an admittedly odd title for a label like Severin to release, but whatever the reason it’s good to see it respected with a new 2K scan. America’s favorite celebrity couple, Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, star in a romantic comedy with dubious origins. Does he take advantage of her amnesia? Sure does! But the duo along with director Garry Marshall play it for sweetness and laughs that overcome the ickiness. Fans should give it a pickup, but while they’ll wish it featured more extras — there’s only an interview with the screenwriter — it’s a title worth having on the shelf.
Quinqui Collection [Severin Films]
What is it? A wholly depressing trilogy.
Why see it? Sometimes life is depressing, and this trilogy of films following a teenager’s dips in and out of trouble in 70s/80s Spain delivers a compelling drama on that front. Post-Franco society was a rough time as the people figured out their boundaries and responsibilities, and the highs and lows here run the gamut for stealing and sex to drug addiction and overdose. It’s a well-acted and at times upsetting film as underage characters get involved in some adult areas, but while it has its power I’d be hard-pressed to imagine watching the films again. Still, Severin’s release offers an important document of Eloy de la Iglesia’s work.
Thoroughly Modern Millie [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A young woman has wacky adventures of the heart in 1920s America.
Why see it? Director George Roy Hill brings this comedy from the stage to the screen, and along with a stellar cast he delivers a memorable musical. Julie Andrews takes the lead — she’s joined by Mary Tyler Moore, James Fox, Carol Channing, and more — and is a bright beacon of light throughout. It’s a lightweight film, a blend of comedy, romance, and general silliness, and it works well to entertain.
[Extras:4 K restoration of roadshow edition, commentary]
Two Evil Eyes [4K UltraHD; Blue Underground]
What is it? Two tales from Edgar Allan Poe.
Why see it? Two legends tackle this two-story anthology as George Romero tackles “The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar” and Dario Argento handles “The Black Cat.” Blue Underground’s new 4K transfer is once again fantastic — seriously, they’ve been killing it with their 4K upgrades — meaning fans should make this an automatic buy. The downside for the rest of us, though, is that it’s never been a great film. Both tales go on too long, and while we get some fun performances and minor effects fun, there’s far too much downtime. A third story segment would have lifted this up, but as it stands it’s merely okay.
[Extras: New 4K scan, commentary, interviews, featurettes]
Also out this week:
Ashes + Diamonds [Criterion Collection], Beginning, The Conjuring 3, Evil Dead Trap, Habit, Moment by Moment [KL Studio Classics], Peek-a-Boo & B Girl Rhapsody, Peter Rabbit 2, Viva
Related Topics: Home Video