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 10th, 2020, including our pick of the week, Spontaneous!
This week’s home video selection includes a handful of Clint Eastwood classics, a couple 80s comedies, the bloody joys of Spontaneous, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
What is it? Heathers for a new generation.
Why see it? That’s a hefty claim I’ve just made, but hear me out here. YA movies often fall into a couple different categories — they’re either serious romances, usually with illness of some kind, or they’re a fantasy of some kind. Spontaneous is a rarity in that it manages to combine both into something beautiful. There’s no magic or vampires here, but we do get an unexplained phenomena involving high school seniors blowing up. As a memorable image it’s undeniable seeing as they burst into splashes of blood, but as a metaphor it works beautifully for both the uncertainty facing teens these days, and more specifically, the ever present threat of a school shooting. It’s powerful stuff kept afloat with big laughs, real wit, and a terrific lead performance by Katherine Langford and Charlie plummer.
The Beguiled [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A wounded Union soldier takes refuge with some females.
Why see it? Clint Eastwood and director Don Siegel deliver a tense, dangerously sensual character study here, and while morals seem clear at first they’re anything but. There are few innocents here, and Eastwood’s character is far from the hero as he’s someone most of today’s leading men wouldn’t touch. The house becomes home to all kinds of manipulation and misdirection, and it builds to a suitably tragic conclusion. Kat Ellinger’s commentary track is the icing on the cake of this new 2K release.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary, interview, featurette]
The Brides of Dracula [Scream Factory]
What is it? A vampire is released to cause havoc.
Why see it? Scream Factory continues to do good work releasing Hammer films complete with new scans and worthwhile extras, and their latest is another winner. A young woman foolishly helps a vampire escape his bonds, and soon death is in the air — followed quickly by the great Peter Cushing back in Van Helsing’s shoes. The production design is lavish and colorful, and the story’s a nice change of pace from the usual Dracula fare. This is a pretty great release, and here’s hoping Scream continues their Hammer love.
[Extras: New 2K scan, commentary, making of]
Schitt$ Creek – The Complete Series
What is it? A wonderfully funny and sweet show from Canada!
Why see it? This terrific series might start off its first season on shaky ground, but the show finds its footing just as its family of four spoiled and newly poor characters do. Eugene Levy and Catharine O’Hara are expectedly superb, but it’s Dan Levy, Annie Murphy, and Emily Hampshire (as the motel owner they befriend once they’re forced to live there) who introduce viewers to new comedic talents. From line delivery to endearing mannerisms, they quickly grow on you not just as funny people but as characters we get to see truly grow. Most sitcoms don’t offer that — details of a character’s life change, but they typically remain the same — and it makes for a refreshing look at people who feel more real than their comedic trappings would suggest. It’s a very rewatchable show as well making this complete series release worth a pick up for fans.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, bloopers]
Amazon Women on the Moon [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A comic anthology of late-night channel surfing.
Why see it? The comedic through-line here involves the kinds of antics you used to see on late-night television, from the shows to the commercials, and the talent roster is impressive — Joe Dante, John Landis, Phil Hartman, Michelle Pfeiffer, Griffin Dunne, Joe Pantoliano, Sybil Danning, David Alan Grier, Rosanna Arquette, Kelly Preston, Howard Hesseman, and more. But oh boy, it’s about 80% miss when it comes to the laughs.A few segments show ingenuity and a sense of humor, but too much of it drags on.
[Extras: Commentary, documentary, outtakes, deleted scenes]
Bill & Ted Face the Music
What is it? Bill and Ted search for the song that will unite the world.
Why see it? The Bill & Ted films have always been most interested in delivering gentle comedy that skews silly, and the third film in the franchise manages more of the same while also being incredibly kind-hearted. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter slips pretty easily into their old skins, even if the former does feel a bit stiff at times, and they’re joined by fun turns from Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine as their daughters. It’s a sweet film with harmless laughs and a warm sense of family and friendship.
Burst City [Arrow Video]
What is it? A glimpse into the Japanese punk scene of the early 80s.
Why see it? Sogo Ishii’s early 80s overdose of punk and metal is as memorable and accurate a look into that subculture as you’re likely to find. It’s constantly in motion as the sound of screams and revving engines and more fills the air. There’s only a slim narrative hanging across the antics as much of the film features music performances, pulsating crowds, and living gatherings celebrating the music and protesting societal norms. At two hours it’s a bit too long, but punk fans should quickly find themselves lost in its energy.
[Extras: Commentary, interviews]
Bustin’ Loose [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A criminally minded man finds love and more on a school bus.
Why see it? Richard Pryor’s 80s filmography isn’t great, but there are some highlights here and there. This lightweight tale isn’t among them, unfortunately, but it has its charms as Pryor plays a conman who finds himself in the service of a nice woman (Cicely Tyson) and a group of troublemaking kids. All manner of zaniness follows before the film finds some heart for a soft ending. It’s fine.
Death Laid an Egg
What is it? A married man contemplates infidelity and murder.
Why see it? When is a giallo film not a giallo? I don’t know, but I do know that this really isn’t one. It is a sometimes engaging film, though, thanks to a strong cast (Jean-Louis Trintignant, Gina Lollobrigida) and some energetic style. The editing is frenetic at times, and while it feels at odds with the fairly sedate story it holds the attention. Ultimately, the film is more of an observational drama than a thriller, but it remains a memorable late 60s oddity.
[Extras: Director’s cut and Italian version, commentary, featurette, interview, short film]
The Eiger Sanction [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? An ex-assassin comes out of retirement.
Why see it? This early directorial effort from Clint Eastwood is an oddly challenging watch. On the upside, there is some interesting world-building at play here with the assassin agency, and the scenery is gorgeous — mountain climbing scenes in both the American West and Switzerland are fairly stunning and feature Eastwood engaging in much of the action. The problem is some ridiculously offensive portrayals when it comes to gays, women, Native Americans, and more. The film maintains a playful seriousness, but some of the scenes/dialogue are *not good.*
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary, interviews]
What is it? Aliens begin a low-key body snatch.
Why see it? There are some cool beats and bloody as hell sequences in this indie tale of invasion and terror, and they’re probably enough to make it worth a watch for genre fans. A bit where a hammer meets a human head is especially juicy. The characters, though, leave something to be desired, as an entire family falls prey to a couple despite numerous opportunities to do something. Anything. It’s frustrating because of their lack of action for so long.
[Extras: Featurette, interviews]
I Spit on Your Grave [Ronin Flix]
What is it? An exploitation “classic,” its sequel, and a doc!
Why see it? I Spit on Your Grave is a notorious rape/revenge film that leaves viewers with strong thoughts, whether pro or con, and its core premise is a simple but effective one. A woman is assaulted, survives, and then takes brutal revenge on her rapists. It’s a rough film for obvious reasons, but lacking in style or surprises it’s unable to transcend the pure exploitation. Ronin Flix’s new restoration, though, is absolutely stunning meaning fans of the film will need to pick this release up immediately. No matter where you land on the original, you’d be hard-pressed to defend the sequel. A nightmarish two and half hours long, the film is a drag from beginning to end. The rape is thankfully only a small portion of that running time, but that leaves an abundance of dialogue scenes that go on forever without reason. If you somehow have time in your day for a second viewing, the commentary with Joe Bob Briggs offers more entertainment than the movie itself. At the end of the day, this is a gorgeously produced box set for some very ugly films. If you’re already a fan this is a set for you.
[Extras: New 4K scan of original, commentaries, featurettes, interviews, deleted scenes, booklet]
What is it? A young man’s burgeoning powers causes problems in Norway.
Why see it? Nat Wolff headlines this fairly sedate origin tale of a man discovering dangerous powers at his fingertips that he can’t yet control. The film delivers some solidly compelling visuals, but even during “action” sequences it all feels a bit subdued and minimized. The third act steps things up considerably, albeit a little too late maybe, with a pretty crazy reveal. It unfortunately ends on a note of “wait for the sequel” which probably won’t ever arrive, but it’s still engaging enough due to that reveal.
Play Misty for Me [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A radio DJ is stalked by a psychotic fan.
Why see it? Clint Eastwood delivers a template for later films like The Seduction and Fatal Attraction with a movie that’s closer to the former than the latter. That’s not a knock as there are some solid thrills here, but it just shifts so quickly into “crazy female jealousy” that there’s no room for nuance. Eastwood finds room for some canoodling with Donna Mills though!
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary, interview, essay, documentary, featurette]
Tennessee Johnson [Warner Archive]
What is it? The life of Andrew Johnson hits the screen.
Why see it? Andrew Johnson isn’t the showiest of American presidents, but he’s remembered as a good enough man and politician. Back in the 40s, though, biopics of good enough men were all the rage. Van Heflin takes the lead role here and delivers a solid performance as a man who faced real struggles but persevered all the way up through the presidency. It’s Oscar-bait, despite not winning any (or even being nominated), but there’s a place for that in our movie diet.
[Extras: Featurette, cartoon, short]
Also out this week:
Guest House, Maybe Next Year, Secret Zoo
Related Topics: Home Video