Plus 22 More New Releases to Watch This Week on Blu-ray/DVD!

Welcome to this week in home video! Click the title to buy a Blu-ray/DVD from Amazon and help support FSR in the process!


Pick of the Week

Tom of Finland

Tom Of FinlandWhat is it? A Finnish WWII vet channels his artistic and sexual interests in directions deemed perverse by law.

Why see it? Touko Laoksonen is something of a groundbreaking hero, although he’s best known under his pseudonym, Tom of Finland. A gay man living in a repressive place and time finds an outlet in artwork that slowly comes to symbolize liberation and freedom of spirit for the gay community. The film captures his journey from fighting Nazis to fighting backwards laws and attitudes, and Pekka Strang (looking a lot like David Thewlis) grounds his fears, desires, and pride with a beautiful lead performance. It’s an aspect of this particular civil rights battle most of us haven’t seen before, and it’s a welcome reminder that in addition to coming in all shapes and sizes love also sometimes comes clad in leather.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes, interview, TV special]


The Best

Accident Man

Accident ManWhat is it? An assassin goes rogue when his ex is killed by his own crew.

Why see it? Scott Adkins is the main reason to see it as his direct to home video features are more often than not well worth a watch for action fans. He gets into numerous fights here with the likes of Michael Jai White, Ray Park, Amy Johnston, and others, and they’re all well-choreographed brawls. The fun continues with a script that delivers real laughs (alongside some excessive narration) as the story unfolds, and by the time it ends you’ll most likely be hoping it spawns a franchise.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentary]

The Diabolical Dr. Z

The Diabolical Dr ZWhat is it? When a mad scientist dies his deranged daughter carries on in his name.

Why see it? Jess Franco’s mid 60s thriller mashes up mad science with murderous revenge into a concoction that’s easily among his best (that I’ve seen). I’m admittedly not his biggest fan as previous titles of his have left me unmoved with sloppy filmmaking, poor acting, and a lack of wonder. Here, though, the story is straightforward and twisted both with the scientist’s daughter moving methodically through her plans for revenge. There are intriguing visuals and ideas at play here, and the included commentary is a must listen for fans as the always knowledgeable Tim Lucas explores its production.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary]

The Gruesome Twosome [Arrow Video]

The Gruesome TwosomeWhat is it? A woman and her equally mad son are stocking their wig shop with previously-owned hair.

Why see it? Like with Jess Franco above, I’ve never quite found the film to get me on board the HG Lewis train. I appreciate his role in genre film history, but their amateur nature — from the acting to the direction to the production design itself — leave me cold. That said there’s some sloppy fun to be had here if you’re open to it. More important, though, and the reason why this release lands in the “Best” section, is that Arrow’s packed the disc and made it a must-own for Lewis fans. In addition to the usual extras like commentaries and interviews they’ve also included a second Lewis feature, A Taste of Blood. Both films get an HD presentation too.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Bonus feature, introductions, commentaries, featurettes]

Kill Order

Kill OrderWhat is it? A high-schooler is targeted by armed gunman but proves to be capable of adult-sized ass-kickery.

Why see it? Great action movies don’t typically appear from nowhere as the stars and/or filmmakers are usually known quantities, but writer/director James Mark’s feature debut is a pretty kick-ass little film that blends martial arts and sci-fi in fun ways. Things get a bit dodgy at times in the script department, but there’s enough to the story to latch onto. More importantly, the fight scenes and action set-pieces are all aces as lead Chris Mark unleashes hell on those who get in his way both through his own abilities and some super-powered kicks that send bad guys flying through the air. It’s a fast, fun watch that action junkies should enjoy.

[DVD extras: None]

The Way West [KL Studio Classics]

The Way WestWhat is it? An epic tale of settlers heading west and finding life and death along the way.

Why see it? This two-hour film packs a lot in as the wagon train encounters wildlife, Native Americans, battles for control, a surprising amount of sexual shenanigans, and the great unknown that is trying to survive in the 19th century. The cast is solid throughout with Kirk Douglas, Robert Mitchum, and Richard Widmark sharing lead duties (and Sally Field popping in as something of a horndog) and each taking part in the action. It’s a serious film that takes time for fun, romance, and a sexual predator, and Kino’s new Blu-ray captures it all beautifully.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

The Wilby Conspiracy [KL Studio Classics]

The Wilby ConspiracyWhat is it? Two men find themselves on the run in a racially divided and violent South Africa.

Why see it? Sidney Poitier and Michael Caine are the two near strangers on the run from authorities honest and otherwise in the Apartheid-torn country, and their adventure sees them crossing paths with corrupt cops, angry locals, and a mildly perturbed Rutger Hauer. The film offers up a pointed commentary on the country’s racial inequalities but never shortchanges the action, thrills, and terrific chemistry between its leads in the process.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]


The Rest

24 Hours to Live

Hours To LiveWhat is it? A mercenary is given a death sentence, a second chance, and one last mission.

Why see it? Ethan Hawke’s most at home in playful dramas about musicians and wobbly love stories, but when he does step into an action movie the results are typically pretty good. This one lacks the cache of The Magnificent Seven, but it brings the goods with some strong gun play, fight scenes, and vehicular shenanigans. It has a little bit of heart to it too making for a fun ride through to the end.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None?]

The Aviator [KL Studio Classics]

The AviatorWhat is it? A pilot and his spoiled cargo crash in the remote mountains.

Why see it? It may ultimately be a slight tale of survival and adventure, but the collision of talents here make it one worth enjoying. George Miller directs and delivers some solid 1920s-set drama involving old-school airplanes (pre CG!), wolf attacks, and even an old coot with a gun. His two leads, meanwhile, are the eclectic pairing of Christopher Reeve and Rosanna Arquette. The pair banter and rag each other until their lives depend on working together, and a fun time is had by all.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

A Bad Moms Christmas

Bad Moms ChristmasWhat is it? A trio of “bad” moms celebrate Christmas.

Why see it? This is a tough one as the cast is so damn likable — Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Cheryl Hines, Christine Baranski, and others — but so much of the comedy is forced, obvious gags built on artificial frustrations. The element that worked best in the first film was its wacky embrace of foul and “bad” behavior, and this sequel doubles down to the point where it mutes itself. We even get two slow-motion montages of their behavior, and the effect is a loss of charm. Still, the cast is great, and they go a long way towards making this mild fun.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Gag reel, deleted scenes, music video]

Batman: Gotham By Gaslight

Batman Gotham By GaslightWhat is it? Batman fights a serial killer in turn of the century Gotham.

Why see it? DC’s Elseworld stories — familiar characters dropped into unfamiliar and anachronistic settings — are great fun for fans of these characters as they get to experience new challenges and worlds beyond their own. This pairing of Batman with (what amounts to) Jack the Ripper gives the caped crusader a bloodier, more intimate enemy than he’s often used to, and the animated film delivers some attractively crafted thrills throughout. Bruce Greenwood’s voicing of Batman is just icing on the cake.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentary, bonus cartoons]

Boys [KL Studio Classics]

BoysWhat is it? A troubled young woman is taken in by an ambitious teen at a boys school.

Why see it? The big draw here is mid 90s Winona Ryder as she’s as appealing and engaging as ever, and the rest of the recognizable cast (John C. Reilly, James Le Gros, Skeet Ulrich, Lukas Haas) is just trying to keep up. The mystery at play here isn’t all that interesting, but the film does offer an insightful look into male behaviors in the presence of a woman. It unfortunately goes the romantic drama route over one offering up a commentary on the sexes, but it’s an entertaining diversion all the same.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, audition tapes, featurette, music video]

Day of the Dead: Bloodline

Day Of The Dead BloodlineWhat is it? Zombies attack a military bunker.

Why see it? Forget for a moment that this film is trying to milk money off of George Romero’s creations by recycling the title, and instead just focus on it not being very good. In addition to the bunker setting the film also introduces a “smart” zombie meant to remind viewers of Bub, but instead of endearing himself he attempts to rape our heroine. We get some okay gore effects, but the thrills are flat as they’re either familiar or idiotic seeing as just about everyone who dies here does so because of some stupid decision/action made by the lead character. Again and again she makes a choice and people get eaten. Again and again.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]

House of Demons

House Of DemonsWhat is it? Four old friends reunite in a remote cabin, and seriously, who thought that would be a good idea? 

Why see it? This indie horror thriller fills its tale with a handful of genre threads from past guilt to creepy cults to demonic presences, but while some of the ideas at work here are interesting the execution is most definitely not. Rough acting and dodgy effects make it difficult to engage with the characters and story, and the overly energetic editing style just makes things worse.

[DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes, commentary]

Inferno [Arrow Academy]

InfernoWhat is it? A documentary about the aborted making of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno.

Why see it? Most making-of docs are understandably focused on finished films — unless you’re Terry Gilliam of course — but this one looks at a high-profile title that collapsed three weeks into production. Clouzot may not have finished this movie, but his filmography includes classics like The Wages of Fear and Les Diaboliques meaning anything that held his interest will be of interest to film fans. The doc uses rescued footage, costume tests with its stars (including Romy Schneider), and new interviews to explore what Clouzot intended to achieve. Fans of the filmmaker will devour this one.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, introduction, interview]

Inoperable

InoperableWhat is it? A young woman is trapped in a time loop in a creepy hospital.

Why see it? This flick pairs something of a surreal nightmare with the Groundhog Day gimmick of waking up in the hospital, waking up elsewhere, then waking up in the hospital at the same time again. There are some fun beats as the story comes into focus, but that resulting picture remains more than a little fractured as the pieces don’t really amount to much. It’s like a Twilight Zone ep that fails to land the ending, but at least there’s Danielle Harris and some solid gore to entertain.

[DVD extras: Commentary]

LBJ

LbjWhat is it? The president’s assassination leaves his Vice President in the lurch.

Why see it? It’s no mistake that the film’s tag line includes the phrase “darkest hour” as it tries to steal some of the dramatic cache of the recent Winston Churchill Oscar-contender. Woody Harrelson is fine here, but his performance lacks punch, and the film itself follows suit. It’s fine? But it should be compelling and is instead a somewhat flat look at familiar events.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Only the Brave

Only The BraveWhat is it? The true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots and the fires that dictated their lives.

Why see it? Tragedies often make for unavoidably compelling films based on their subjects alone, and this most definitely is a tragedy. It’s hard to argue with the cast of actors bringing these real heroes to life including Josh Brolin, James Badge Dale, Taylor Kitsch, and more — Jennifer Connelly and Jeff Bridges pop up too — and their talents drive the drama home. Director Joseph Kosinski focuses on the humanity of it all but backs it up with alternately gorgeous and harrowing visuals. Of course, Miles Teller is also in it.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, commentary, featurettes, music video]

Reset

ResetWhat is it? Time travel can be a real pain in the ass.

Why see it? This Jackie Chan-produced sci-fi thriller lacks his carefree charisma, but it delivers where it counts with an engaging plot, solid effects work, and some strong action set-pieces. Yang Mi does a convincing job as the scientist/mother caught between what’s demanded of her and what she has to do. The action is really where it shines as chases and gun play dance across the screen, and while its story is ultimately simpler than the surface shine would suggest it works as well as it needs to.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Stratton

StrattonWhat is it? A team of UK/US commandos track down a terrorist.

Why see it? Director Simon West has delivered more than a few action blockbusters in his days including Con Air and The Expendables 2, but his last four films have pretty much gone the direct to DVD/VOD route anyway. They’ve been a mixed bag, but his latest manages a solid, low-budget degree of entertainment as Dominic Cooper headlines the fight against the bad guys. The opening sequence is its strongest as the team infiltrates a factory, but the remainder is pleasantly watchable.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None?]

Suburbicon

SuburbiconWhat is it? A woman’s murder in an idyllic suburban community is the least of the neighborhood’s concerns.

Why see it? There are some engaging ideas at play in George Clooney’s latest directorial effort, but rather than mesh into a singular tale they continually clash against each other. The main thread follows a man whose wife is murdered by home invaders, but things aren’t as simple as they seem. Secondary is the plight of a new black family to this otherwise all-white 50s neighborhood and the racist chaos and violence that follows. Hanging over both dramatic tales is an attempt by the Coen brother-originated script to turn it all into a comedy. It doesn’t work.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurettes]

Victor Crowley

Victor CrowleyWhat is it? Louisiana’s most notorious and violent swamp-bound killer returns.

Why see it? The Hatchet series has its ups and downs with the first film remaining the best of the bunch, but even with the lesser films there’s always joy to be found in the gleefully gory shenanigans at play. Creator Adam Green stepped away from the third film but returns for the fourth, and it lands somewhere in the middle of the franchise. The bloody antics are in full force, but while fun none of the gags are immediately memorable. Humor and character are also sketchy leaving the film feeling like a one-note, single-location slasher with repetitive tendencies. Fans will lap it up, but it won’t earn the series any new ones.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, interview, featurette]

Walking Out

Walking OutWhat is it? A father and son are forced to survive in a harsh and wintry mountain landscape.

Why see it? There’s no denying the beauty of the landscape here, and as tales of survival go you could hardly pick a more attractive yet dangerous locale than a Montana mountain winter. The cast also shines with Matt Bomer, Bill Pullman, and Lily Gladstone all doing good work in variously-sized roles. Less effective, though, is the survival drama itself as characters and choices underwhelm in the area of engagement.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]


Also out this week:

All I See Is You, Angie [KL Studio Classics], Elevator to the Gallows [Criterion Collection], Welcome to Willits [Scream Factory]

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