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 January 12th, 2021!
This week’s home video selection includes an under-appreciated Joe Carnahan film, some horror/exploitation classics, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Stretch [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A limo driver has one crazy night.
Why see it? Martin Scorsese’s After Hours (1985) remains the pinnacle for movies about characters plagued by bad luck leading to a single night of wild and weird antics, so it’s unsurprising that Joe Carnahan took inspiration from that film for his own take on the subject. Stretch stars Patrick Wilson as a down on his luck driver in Los Angeles who gets caught up with violent bookies, eccentric millionaires, angry actors, and the FBI, and the result is laughs, action, and tons of personality.
Rituals [Code Red]
What is it? Five friends, all doctors, head into the wilderness, but not all of them return.
Why see it? Dismissed by some as a cheap Deliverance knockoff, this is actually a solid little survival thriller in its own right. Rather than see the antagonist threatening our characters, the killer exists off screen and in the shadows until the end. Is he real? Sure, but he’s also the manifestation of the men’s collective guilt over past deeds. Hal Holbrook leads some solid performances, and unlike many films in the genre this one actually puts its cast through the ringer making it seem like these guys are truly in the shit. Code Red’s disc features an HD scan, and while it has issues it’s the best the film has looked in years.
[Extras: Commentary, interviews]
Buried Alive [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A cheating wife tries to murder her husband but does a poor job of it.
Why see it? Frank Darabont directed this made for TV movie (Showtime I think) that’s fairly old-fashioned across the board. That’s not a bad thing, but the result is a simplistic tale with little in the way of surprises. Darabont directs with style, though, and the film’s carried in part by a cast that includes Tim Matheson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and William Atherton. It’s an odd choice for a 2K remaster, but fans will be happy to have it on Blu with a slipcase and slick new artwork.
[Extras: New 2K master, interview]
The Devil’s Wedding Night [Code Red]
What is it? Dracula’s ex works hard to bring him back to life.
Why see it? The familiar story of a countess who bathes in blood to stay young is twisted to include the Count Dracula legend in this piece of Italian horror. Nudity and bloodletting follow, but there are just as many shots of our protagonist riding his horse with real determination. He rides it here, he rides it there, and sometimes it’s his twin brother! Fans of Euro-horror will enjoy its gothic atmosphere and costumes.
Just Before Dawn [Code Red]
What is it? A camping trip turns to terror!
Why see it? Five friends head into the woods despite George Kennedy’s warnings, but soon they’re in a fight for their lives as a deranged killer starts stalking them one by one. Gregg Henry is one of the friends, but even he’s unable to save the film’s first hour from dull boredom. Yes, I’m in the minority on this one, but while things pick up towards the end it hardly makes up for the nothing that comes before. Code Red’s Blu is a fine release, though.
[Extras: Uncut version and extended international, interviews]
What is it? A Bela Tarr film.
Why see it? The themes at play in this 1994 epic should appeal to fans of nihilism and commentary on the indifferent failure of government, but Tarr’s style is to drag out every single moment into an hour. Many love it, but it just sucks the life out of its characters and story with its ten-minute shots. Like I said, there’s an audience for this and for Tarr’s other films, but it’s not me. This new Blu-ray celebrates the 25th anniversary and includes some insightful interviews and essays.
[Extras: Interviews, essay]
What is it? A man’s return to his rural childhood hometown lands him in a nightmare.
Why see it? You don’t see a lot of voodoo-related horror movies these days, but this little spooker is a good reminder that there’s still thrills to be found in the topic. The mystery builds with some interesting reveals and engaging turns, and while it feels almost like an extended Twilight Zone episode it’s still worth a watch.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, featurette]
Thursday [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A retired criminal living a regular life is drawn back into sin.
Why see it? The late 90s were filled with movies trying to ape Pulp Fiction‘s style and success. Very few succeeded, though, including this desperate stab at the “funny criminal” sub-genre. The cast is stacked — Thomas Jane, Aaron Eckhart, Mickey Rourke, James Le Gros, Michael Jeter, and more — but Skip Woods’ directorial debut is just a mess of forced laughs and unlikely turns. The disc is still worth checking out for Jane’s new interview as he cuts loose and offers up some hilarious anecdotes, most of which have nothing to do with the film itself.
[Extras: Commentary, interview]
Also out this week:
Ammonite, Blind Fury, Crossroads, The Freshman, Jungleland, Minding the Gap [Criterion], Once Upon a River, Satantango, Skylines
Related Topics: Home Video