Plus 8 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
Doberman Cop [Arrow Video]
What is it? A hick cop arrives in the city and shows the local detectives how shit gets done in the country.
Why see it? “Sonny” Chiba plays the yokel who arrives in the big city, squealing pig in hand, to investigate the murder of a girl from his home town, and as is the case with most of his filmography he’s a damn delight. He gets to prove himself several times as both a good cop to the city boys and an action/comedy savvy performer to the rest of us. Fight scenes are a fun mess of flailing limbs and repeated pummeling, and while the film can’t compare to Arrow’s recent release of Wolf Guy (also starring Chiba) it’s still a solid release for fans of the Japanese star. As I had hoped after watching that earlier release this new one features another fantastic interview segment with Chiba.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Appreciation, interviews, reversible sleeve, booklet]
Awakening the Zodiac
What is it? A couple in financial straits discovers film reels belonging to the Zodiac and set out to identify him in the hopes of cashing in.
Why see it? The film spends two-thirds of its running time as a solidly-crafted thriller with a strong set of characters before shooting itself in the foot in the third act. Those later issues don’t completely derail the film, but they lessen what until that point had been a surprisingly effective indie chiller. Characters suddenly grow stupid where previously they had been surprisingly smart, and it’s annoying. The end result is a lopsided affair, but it’s still well worth a watch for some good performances (from Leslie Bibb, Matt Craven, and Shane West) and a stellar job of juggling suspects.
[DVD extras: None?]
What is it? After an attempted bust involving mobsters and bitcoins goes sideways the agent assigned to the case is forced to think outside the box.
Why see it? This Vietnamese action/thriller borrows some aesthetics from the likes of Now You See Me and Oceans Eleven as the agent on the case sets an elaborate plan in place. It doesn’t have the budget of those films of course, and it’s evident in the CG quality. The action is solid enough though as gun play and other antics work to keep things lively. The film’s bigger issue is tone as it aims for more playfulness than the deaths can bear. Still, the set-pieces are fun, and it’s about time we had a thriller where the prize was bitcoins.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
What is it? An American drone pilot is visited at home by a man who lost his own family to one of the strikes.
Why see it? The film milks the core conflict between the two men for a bit too long and instead spends too much time — any is too much here based on the flat effect of the subplot — on the subject of the pilot’s relationship with his recently deceased father. We’re taken off track, and while it could work as deception in a different story here we know it’s acting as filler while we wait for the clash. The film is well-acted throughout with Patrick Sabongui standing out in particular as the lost man, but there’s no room for surprise. It’s ultimately a mildly interesting take on a well-worn subject.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None?]
What is it? A woman struggles to survive after a zombie apocalypse.
Why see it? The title is something of a misnomer in the literal sense as this isn’t a tale of one survivor staving off an undead onslaught. There are other living humans, but our lead finds herself unable and unwilling to survive with them. It makes for an interesting character piece at times, but the outer action suffers somewhat from pacing and a script more interested in her inner struggle. It’s not that zombie movies can’t take this route — The Battery handles it well — but here we’re never able to get a real grip on her. Worse, we never come to identify with her, and that lack of disconnect hurts our overall engagement with the film.
[DVD extras: None?]
Little Devils: The Birth
What is it? A misguided scientist creates little monsters out of magical mud, and soon the bastards are terrorizing his neighbors.
Why see it? Director George Pavlou made a name for himself as the man behind Clive Barker’s Underworld and Rawhead Rex, but this follow-up avoided similar exposure since its initial release in 1993. The lack of a Barker connection probably explains the hold up as quality-wise it falls somewhere between those two earlier films. The pacing is better than Underworld‘s, but its unimpressive little creatures can’t hold a bloody candle to Rex. It’s somewhat unique to see them armed with flame throwers and dart guns, but their stiffness just reminds you that they’re puppets every second they’re onscreen.
[DVD extras: Audio interview]
What is it? Strip club patrons infected with an ancient virus paint the stage red with blood.
Why see it? Strippers and zombies are a more common horror film pairing than you might expect, and this latest example is a study in highs and lows. The script is the standout as it gives characters and story room to breathe before unleashing the bloody assault, and it’s those early scenes that shine brightest. Once the action starts though the goods become more of a mixed bag as a handful of great gags — a pregnant woman’s water breaking-scene is a keeper — fight with a wobbly tone and poorly-lit action. We miss out on half the bloodletting as its shrouded in darkness, and mere moments after seeing their friends disemboweled characters are still prone to wisecracks and smirks. It’s no Big Tits Zombie, but it’s a fun enough watch for fans of strippers and the undead.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, gag reel, featurettes, commentaries]
What is it? A documentary look at the best home computers available in the mid 80s.
Why see it? Commodore moved from the Vic-20 to the Commodore 64 to the Amiga, and my family was along for the ride. They were the only computers I knew growing up, and when I compared the graphics and possibilities to friends’ more popular brands I was continually shocked to see what they were lacking. Of course like BetaMax vs VHS, the winner isn’t always the better. This doc explores the Amiga’s creation, its life in homes across the country, and its rebirth as a fan favorite. Computer junkies in general and Commodore lovers in particular with have fun with the nostalgia bump.
[DVD extras: Extended interviews]
The Zookeeper’s Wife
What is it? Poland’s Warsaw Zoo is a wonderland for wildlife before World War II devastates it all.
Why see it? This Jessica Chastain-led drama is based on a true story, and while the animal carnage is dramatic and devastating enough the main thread of the tale is the family’s efforts to hide and save Jewish locals from Nazi filth. There are some tense beats, and the real story is an impressive one, but the animal deaths stand out as the most affecting and brutal.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, making of, featurette]
Also out this week:
A Shock to the System [Shout Select], Song to Song, Windows [Scream Factory]