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 April 13th, 2021!
This week’s home video selection includes two Mel Brooks classics, a surfer flick, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
The Producers [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A plan to produce a flop backfires, hilariously.
Why see it? Mel Brooks’ classic tale of disastrous ambition and a desire for failure remains a comedic all-timer, whether it’s enjoyed on the stage, with the remake, or with this late 60s classic. Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder headline as the producers with a foolproof plan to make money off a flop, but their world is upended in hilarious ways when their Hitler-focused musical instead strikes gold. It’s a witty, fast-moving romp that never feels out of date or dull and instead hits your funny bone fresh each and every time.
[Extras: Commentary, making of, outtake]
History is Made at Night [Criterion Collection]
What is it? A romantic adventure!
Why see it? What starts as a simple romantic tale with both heart and humor shifts again and again to include mystery, heartache, screwball laughs, and spectacular set-pieces. Director Frank Borzage and his two leads, Charles Boyer and Jean Arthur, keep things lively and engaging throughout its too short running time, and more than that they keep viewers on edge wondering which emotional high they’ll feel next. It’s a love story that pulls viewers in quickly leaving them invested in every turn and utterance, and it’s ultimately something truly special.
[Extras: New 4K transfer, interviews, radio adaptation]
Spaceballs [4K UltraHD, KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Like Star Wars, but not at all.
Why see it? Mel Brooks is at his best in films like Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and The Producers, but there’s still plenty of fun to be found in his Star Wars riff, Spaceballs. Many of the gags are spot on and particular, but he also takes swipes at space epics, merchandising, and more with this ridiculous romp. The cast is also on point with Rick Moranis, John Candy, Bill Pullman, Brooks, and others bringing the funny and a real commitment to the bit. Kino’s 4K upgrade looks great and captures all of the fun.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes, documentary, flubs]
Dynasty [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A man goes on the run in 3D.
Why see it? There may not be anything special about this late 70s martial arts brawl of a movie when it comes to story, performances, or the fighting itself, but as a 3D spectacle it’s quite something. The film goes big and throws nearly everything that’s not bolted down towards the camera, and it makes for an entertaining blast of nonsense. Again, the story is forgettable, but the film’s commitment to the 3D bit is absolutely deserving of both eyeballs and begrudging respect. The disc includes versions compatible with both 3D players/sets and the old school glasses (one pair is included here).
[Extras: New restoration, 3D and 2D versions, music video, featurette]
Ironmaster [Code Red]
What is it? Sexy humans discover metal!
Why see it? Umberto Lenzi was at his best in the horror and thriller genres, but sometimes to pay the bills you gotta make a movie about warring cavemen. George Eastman takes villain duties here as a murdering tribesman who discovers how to forge metal and takes that skill into the battlefield against the charisma-free but glistening Sam Pasco. The film never really manages any thrills, but it does throw several attractive people in fur in front of the camera, so there’s that. A brief contact with more prehistoric humanoids offers promise, but there’s not enough time spent with the monsters.
North Shore [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A white dude heads to Hawaii to tame the waves.
Why see it? There’s a little bit of Karate Kid in this surfing tale about a newcomer who takes on the locals in a sport where he doesn’t quite fit. Sure, Rick is Arizona’s champion surfer (not kidding), but that means nothing against the big waves of Hawaii as he soon learns. Gregory Harrison steps in as a wise guru, Nia Peeples is the local girl who catches his eye, and Hawaii is never unappealing to the eye.
[Extras: Commentary, interviews, deleted scenes]
September 30th, 1955 [Scorpion Releasing]
What is it? A young man’s life crumbles after James Dean dies.
Why see it? We don’t really have a contemporary equivalent these days, but the world used to stop when certain high profile people died. Kennedy, Elvis, and others left the populace in disarray, and for some young people, the same happened with the passing of James Dean. Richard Thomas is the teen most affected by the actor’s crash, but his friends are along for the ride complete with melodrama, poor choices, and death.
The Wild Life [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A group of teens have a good time.
Why see it? Cameron Crowe’s filmography began with his work as writer only, and along with the highs of Fast Times at Ridgemont High we also get the more middling antics of The Wild Life. The cast is near aces, though, with Lea Thompson, Jenny Wright, Eric Stoltz, Rick Moranis, and Hart Bochner all delivering the goods. Casting a young Chris Penn in what amounts to the lead isn’t quite as successful, though, as he was always at his best as a sketchy character actor. Here he’s just obnoxious and trying too hard to copy his brother’s path to stardom.
[Extras: Commentary, interview]
What is it? A mysterious man fights animatronic beasts.
Why see it? This should have been a no-lose premise — Nicolas Cage trapped in a restaurant with Chuck E. Cheese-like animatronic creatures out for blood — but somehow it turned out pretty damn dull. Cage playing a character who never speaks is certainly just one of many poor choices, but even the action is a misfire as it’s a series of rinse/repeat fights that never feel distinguished from the next. Crazy.
Also out this week:
The Basher Box, Dynasty 3D, Hercules and the Captive Women, I Blame Society, My Little Sister, Sensation Seekers
Related Topics: Home Video, The Producers