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 November 2nd, 2021!
This week’s home video selection includes a pair of lesser known Charlton Heston films, Hacksaw Ridge in 4K, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Homebodies [KL Studio Classics[
What is it? A group of low income elderly neighbors fight back when developers try to force them out.
Why see it? The 70s were undeniably the best decade for movies. It’s true, don’t bother trying to deny it. Anyway, this little seen gem casts a bunch of older character actors as a punchy group of neighbors who are sick and tired of being pushed around by wealthy assholes and do-gooders. It’s a deliciously dark comedy that sees them move quite easily towards murder in an effort to maintain their status quo, and while audible laughs are in short supply you’ll be grinning along with their terrible behaviors.
[Extras: Commentary, interview]
The Guns of Navarone [4K UHD]
What is it? The Allies plan an impossible mission.
Why see it? J. Lee Thompson’s World War II classic gets a UHD facelift with this new release, and while it’s not necessarily a showstopper of an upgrade fans should be pleased with the results. Gregory Peck heads up the challenging mission alongside David Niven and Anthony Quinn, and it’s the kind of big, epic wartime tale that’s rarely made these days — you can even watch the film with an intermission — and it delivers rich characters, suspense pieces, and thrills. There’s a classiness to its roster and production too, and it’s great having the film in the best possible format.
[Extras: Commentaries, documentaries, featurettes]
Hacksaw Ridge [4K UHD]
What is it? A conscientious objector becomes a war hero.
Why see it? Desmond Doss is one of the many war heroes whose stories never gained the attention it deserved, but that changed with Hacksaw Ridge. A Seventh Day Adventist, Doss joined the army to do his part during World War II, but his beliefs meant he couldn’t touch or use weapons. Faith plays a large role here, but the film is a fascinating look at the conflicted moralities of both its story and its writer/director. Mel Gibson is a complicated guy, a prick by most accounts, but he crafts a damn fine film here with thrilling and gory war sequences, strong character moments, and a terrific lead performance by Andrew Garfield.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]
What is it? A man’s pig is abducted and he seeks a reunion.
Why see it? Early news of this Nicolas Cage film teased the possibility that it would essentially be a remake of a Tony Jaa film that sees a man head into the big city in search of his beloved pet. This is not that film, but it is a compelling, engrossing drama and character study of a man whose past has left his present disconnected from the world at large. Cage is fantastic, his love for the pig is undeniable, and Alex Wolff gives a fine supporting performance. The film makes good use of Portland, OR and its surrounding areas, and it’s just a wonderfully gentle watch.
[Extras: Featurette, deleted scenes]
The Randolph Scott Collection
What is it? Twelve westerns starring Randolph Scott.
Why see it? Randolph Scott was a recurring talent as a western star through the 40s and 50s, and this set brings twelve of his films home. The bulk are from the 50s, but all of them highlight his stoic nature and screen charisma as a man who simply belongs in the old west. Highlights include classics like The Tall T, Ride Lonesome, and Hangman’s Knot, but nearly all of the films are memorable in one way or another. The films come spread across six Blu-rays, and a handful of nex extras are included including four new commentary tracks.
[Extras: Featurettes, commentaries]
The Secret of the Blue Room [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A mystery surrounds a cursed bedroom.
Why see it? This tight little thriller from the early 30s remains a good time as it sets up and delivers on its locked room mystery. Three suitors are visiting a young woman and her father — this alone is an odd as hell setup, especially seeing as they all stay over a few nights — and one mentions a locked door and the unused bedroom behind it. Deaths have occurred in there, unexplained ones at that, and the three men decide to each spend a night in there to prove their bravery. They won’t all live through to the morning. It’s a fun one.
Sirens [Umbrella Entertainment]
What is it? Two prudes are drawn into a looser existence by Sam Neill.
Why see it? This comedic tale about morales and art pits a priest played by Hugh Grant against the debaucheries of Sam Neill, and that alone is enough to give this one a watch. Add in some gentle sauciness, a fine sense of humor, and an engaging commentary on the lines we draw for ourselves. Grant and Neill are both terrific as are Tara Fitzgerald, Elle MacPherson, and others, and the film as a whole is a lush, romantic romp extolling the ideals of human beauty.
[Extras: Commentary, interviews]
Counterpoint [Scorpion Releasing]
What is it? A symphony orchestra is abducted by Nazis.
Why see it? Charlton Heston is the conductor of a USO orchestra, and he’s furious when German soldiers interrupt their tour to take them prisoner. Lucky for all of them, though, the officer in charge enjoys classical music and decides to keep them alive. Maximilian Schell plays the German with an ear for music, and the film finds contrasts and shared ideals in their characters. Heston’s conductor is a bit of a dick, but this being a Heston film he’s also allowed to be the hero. Does it work? Some of it.
The Mad Doctor [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A physician seduces then slaughters wealthy women.
Why see it? Basil Rathbone is best known to movie lovers as Sherlock Holmes, but beyond that he’s played more than a few characters who live and skulk on the dark side of the screen. This 1940 effort is one of the latter examples as Rathbone plays the smooth, debonair murderer with a delightful glint in his eye and a devious hitch in his step. It’s a somewhat standard thriller in many ways, but it’s worth it for Rathbone’s performance and persona.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A man’s disappearance is only the beginning.
Why see it? Charles Dickens wrote a few popular novels, maybe you’ve heard of them? He also left behind an unfinished novel, though, and in 1935 it was turned into this pretty solid little thriller about a bad man, his oddball nephew, and the woman they both loved. The great Claude Rains plays the older man whose designs on the young woman are all kinds of icky, and along with some atmospheric sets and production design he helps make this one worth your time.
Night of the Bloody Apes
What is it? An apeman does bad things.
Why see it? There’s really no way around the obvious which is that this Mexican horror film is an ugly mess more often than not. That said, it has its ridiculous Z-movie charms as a doctor gives his sick son a heart transplant from a gorilla only to turn his boy into a rampaging rapist with distorted features. It’s as silly as it is mean, and in no world does it deserve a 4K restoration, but it’s here now and fans will want to snap it up.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, commentary, video essay, Doctor Doom feature film]
What is it? The afterlife is for contemplation and debate.
Why see it? Writer/director Edson Oda shifts from music videos to his first narrative feature with an eye for beauty and an ear for existential thoughts, and the result is a film that’s as engaging as it is unsure. The ideas it presents hit some contradictory, unsatisfying bumps, but the journey is alongside talents like Winston Duke, Zazie Beetz, Bill Skarsgard, and Benedict Wong so it’s a charismatic and well-acted one.
Number One [Scorpion Films]
What is it? A former football pro finds the real world challenging.
Why see it? Charlton Heston suffering a midlife crisis suggests a good time at the movies, but while he’s better than you’re expecting the film itself is still a bit of a dry drama. His character is too old and too injured to carry on with the NFL, but that loss pushes him towards open bottles and loose women. As sports films go it’s uncharacteristically bleak, and that alone makes it worth a watch. The character work isn’t nearly as engaging, but there’s enough here to warrant time spent.
The Spider Woman Strikes Back [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A spinoff from a Sherlock Holmes adventure!
Why see it? The Spider Woman was an adversary to the legendary Sherlock Holmes, but as devious as she was before she’s even more of a handful in her own film. There’s no real connection to Holmes here, but she’s still a mysterious, devious, and deadly adversary for all who cross her path. Villains abound alongside a plucky heroine, plants with an odd appetite, and plenty of atmosphere.
[Extras: Commentary, featurette]
Undead [Umbrella Entertainment]
What is it? A zombie outbreak occurs after meteorites hit the planet.
Why see it? The filmmakers behind bangers like Daybreakers and Predestination got their start with this little indie horror/comedy, and it remains good fun. The gore is creative, and the tone lends itself towards the likes of Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive. It can’t touch that film’s overwhelming genius, of course, but there’s plenty of fun to be had as the undead wreak havoc across a small rural town. Fans of the Spierig Brothers and of horror/comedies in general should give it a spin.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes]
Also out this week:
Chernobyl 1986, The Crown – Season Four, Ema, La Strada [Criterion Collection], Who You Think I Am
Related Topics: Home Video