Plus 17 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
What is it? Florida lighthouse develops a weird presence that changes the very nature of everything it touches.
Why see it? Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Dredd) continues to be a dominating voice in science fiction films, and his latest once again succeeds in creating a visceral world that fascinates and terrifies with its ideas and beauty. Identity, depression, and the actions that make us human sit at the center of it all, and it’s brought to life with stunning visuals, a memorable score, and terrific performances by Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. (Quick note for 4K UltraHD fans… a 4K release can be found exclusively at Best Buy for a limited time.)
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
What is it? An entire town agrees to quit smoking for a month in exchange for $25 million.
Why see it? Norman Lear (All In the Family) didn’t make many forays into theatrical films, but of the five he wrote this was the only one he directed. The film pairs his expectedly smart social commentary with a manic sense of humor, and it’s all brought home with a spectacular cast. Dick Van Dyke headlines, and the supporting cast includes Bob Newhart, Tom Poston, Jean Stapleton, Barnard Hughes, M. Emmet Walsh, and several more familiar faces. Olive Films’ new Blu-ray is devoid of extras, but it’s a movie that comedy fans will watch more than once.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
What is it? Teen siblings pay the price for sins of the past.
Why see it? Gothic chillers used to be the norm with genre films, but they went out of favor decades ago. One comes along periodically, though, and this year we’ve already had two. (Marrowbone is also worth seeking out.) This Irish tale of dark family secrets and the supernatural tells a visually inventive, creepy, and sexy tale about guilt, ghosts, and a gross brother wanting to boink his admittedly hot sister. And not for nothing, but it’s also the best movie that could have been called The Shape of Water.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, deleted scenes]
The Reincarnation of Peter Proud [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A man begins experiencing dreams suggesting he’s lived before.
Why see it? This is a rare supernatural thriller that takes itself seriously to the point that it’s actually more of a drama, and that’s not a bad thing. Michael Sarrazin gives a compelling lead performance as the man who slowly realizes he not only had a past life but that he was murdered. It’s no mystery and instead finds drama in the choices made around that discovery, and while the ending feels somewhat inevitable it speaks to ideas of fate and our inability to escape it. It’s also loaded with nudity, something that surprised me (for a supernatural drama) until I realized it’s from director J. Lee Thompson.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]
Zombi 3 [Severin Films]
What is it? Zombies attack!
Why see it? Lucio Fulci’s name is all over this, but his fingerprints are a bit less so as he left the production early due to illness. Instead it’s Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso who take the help, and the result is a goofy and gory blast. Action and stunts add to the fun, and I haven’t even mentioned the zombie baby scene yet. Okay, I just mentioned it, but it’s a doozy I really couldn’t not mention. The bloodletting is plentiful, and the mash-up of horror and action offers a solid precursor to films that came two decades later. Severin’s new Blu-ray looks sharp, has some informative extras, and includes a soundtrack CD as well.
[Blu-ray extras: New 2K scan, interviews, commentary]
Bloodsuckers from Outer Space [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? A demonic wind from above blows into people’s hearts turning them into monsters.
Why see it? The only thing less consistent than horror comedies are low-budget horror comedies, and while Vinegar Syndrome’s release of Blood Hook last month works this regional title just falls flat. The jokes don’t work, performances are rough, and the visual effects are all a bit too basic to stand apart from the pack. As with all comedies, of course, the humor is subjective so your mileage may vary. Fans of the film will love what the label has done with it, though, including a cleaned up picture and some fun, informative extras.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 2K restoration, commentary, making-of documentary, featurettes]
A Bucket of Blood
What is it? An artist finds murder is his muse.
Why see it? Roger Corman’s 1959 horror/comedy is a fun romp mashing together beatnik comedies with a man’s descent into murderous madness. There are some entertaining lines and gags, but the film’s biggest strength is the rare presence of Dick Miller in a lead role. He brings his usual charms, and it works to start viewers immediately in his corner — Miller is highly likable — before forcing us to accept his character as a bad guy. It walks a fine line between the comedy and more horrific beats to deliver a solidly memorable little thriller.
[DVD extras: None]
Haunted [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A near-death experience leaves a man with the ability to communicate with ghosts.
Why see it? Matthew Fox headlines so you should already know if this short-lived series is up your alley, but for me it works as he always does a good job balancing the physical with the emotional in his performances. That’s the case here too, and the procedural turned supernatural setup around him works equally well. If there’s an issue, beyond it only running for seven episodes is that it never really stands apart from the crowd. It’s more focused than something like Medium, but it never gets off the ground beyond its premise. A complete first season might have changed that, but we’ll never know.
[Blu-ray extras: Four unaired episodes]
Her Name Was Lisa [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? A dead woman triggers memories in those who knew her and diddled her.
Why see it? Director Roger Watkins is better known on the genre front for Last House on Dead End Street, but after that grim debut he moved almost exclusively into adult films. This entry fits the bill and delivers plenty of up close and personal shenanigans, but what marks it as being somewhat unusual in its own right is an ultimately grim and downbeat tone. The lead character is dead, and flashbacks reveal the people who led her down a dangerous and eventually deadly path of sex and drugs. Porn is typically meant to stimulate, but as explicit as the sex is here the film’s portrayal of these characters feels like a real downer.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 2K restoration, interview]
I’m Dying Up Here
What is it? LA’s comedy scene in the 1970s comes to life.
Why see it? Showtime’s new series comes from executive producer Jim Carrey, and there’s a definite authenticity evident in the atmosphere and environments because of it. The cast is equally convincing with strong turns from Michael Angarano, Melissa Leo, Ari Graynor, and more. Less effective though — and this is an issue with just about every show or movie featuring stand up comic characters — is that the stand up isn’t funny. Like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel the show’s still worth your time, but also like that series the on-stage comedy is the least entertaining part.
[DVD extras: None]
It Came From the Desert
What is it? Giant ants attack partygoers in the desert.
Why see it? It’s been a while since we’ve gotten a big bug movie, so it’s always a good-ish thing when one comes along. The latest is minor fun on its own merits as the characters and dialogue are likable enough, and the ants look okay, but the bigger draw here is for those of us who played computer games in the late 80s. The film is loosely based on a Cinemaware title from 1989, and yes, now I want a Defender of the Crown adaptation too.
Jackass: Complete Movie and TV Collection
What is it? A bunch of white guys act like fools.
Why see it? There’s no denying that Jackass was something of a cultural phenomenon in the early 2000s, but for me the show and films were always a mixed bag of fun and obnoxiousness. The highpoints involved actual “stunts” involving rockets, races, and other activities that threatened their well-being, but roughly half the show (and movies) involves bits with shit, vomit, or (what amounts to) animal abuse. There’s real fun to be had here, and fans can hardly argue with the price for this epically complete collection covering the MTV series and all seven movies (including Bad Grandpa and its follow-up).
[DVD extras: Commentaries, outtakes]
Mountain of the Cannibal God [Shameless Films]
What is it? A woman heads to the jungle in search of her husband but finds cannibals instead!
Why see it? Director Sergio Martino is well-versed in genre films with some beloved titles to his name including Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, Torso, and The Great Alligator. This film sits more on the side of infamy and limps along as a cannibal film, but it works pretty well as an adventure as the jungle’s visitors face all manner of threats from nature and humans alike. Ursula Andress stars, and the film takes a detour from terror to give her a Bolero-like nude scene as her body is painted for a ceremony. It’s odd. Shameless’ new Blu looks killer, and while it’s uncut in regard to gore and flesh Martino and the disc’s producers agreed to remove the animal violence. Some may balk at the decision, but a desire to see it isn’t something to brag about.
[UK Blu-ray/DVD extras: Documentary, featurette]
What is it? Alien creatures feast on tough marines beneath Venice.
Why see it? Bruno Mattei’s late 90s mash-up of Aliens and The Terminator is probably exactly what you expect. More a ripoff of the former than latter, the movie sees tough soldiers and a female civilian find a little girl in need while battling a bunch of aliens, and scenes are lifted almost verbatim from James Cameron’s sequel. The downside here, though, is that as fun as it sounds the $8 budget makes for a super bland movie. A nutty ending aside, there’s no creativity here in the script, visuals, or action.
[Blu-ray extras: Interview]
Smash Palace [Arrow Academy]
What is it? A husband and father finds himself at odds with life.
Why see it? Roger Donaldson’s (No Way Out) second feature doesn’t quite have the punch of his debut (Sleeping Dogs, also recently released by Arrow Academy), but it’s still a solid drama about expectations and reality colliding. Bruno Lawrence stars as a junkyard owner whose life is a collection of unfinished projects and dysfunctional equipment, and that incomplete nature gets in the way of his family life with tragic results. It’s an affecting enough film that moves from divorce drama to police evasion, and it’s a good film from a very good director.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, making-of documentary]
Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? A black man framed by white cops escapes into a night of violence and hallucination.
Why see it? Melvin Van Peebles’ early 70s feature is something of a landmark and is actually considered to be the first blaxploitation movie. It’s less plot-oriented than most, though, in that it moves from the familiar setup to sequences far more surreal, and plenty of time is given over to those odder and less tangible scenes. It’s all a part of the experience, but as a narrative fan the film feels like it abandons too much of its early strengths in favor of its later nightmares. Vinegar Syndrome’s new Blu-ray offers a fantastic presentation with both its new transfer and the extras.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 4K restoration, interviews, Q&A, making of, commentary]
The Two of Us
What is it? A Jewish boy in Nazi-occupied France is shipped to the countryside to live with a Catholic relative.
Why see it? Claude Berri’s late 60s drama offers a warm look at a cold time in world history, and the film offers an engaging balance between the bullying and abuse he endures at school with the sweet times he finds with his burly, grandfatherly caretaker. It’s a pocket of kindness in dangerous times, and Cohen’s new Blu-ray brings the black & white photography to gorgeous life with a brand new 4K restoration. Fans of the film might just burst into dance at its beauty.
[Blu-ray extras: New 4K restoration, commentary, podcast]
Zombi 4: After Death [Severin Films]
What is it? Zombies attack… again!
Why see it? A cancer cure that should have brought hope instead brings only rage from the locals, and that of course leads to zombies. Claudio Fragasso takes the helm this time around delivering a terrifically silly flick highlighted by some creatively gory beats along the way. It doesn’t quite have the punch of its predecessor, but it’s an undeniably fun watch all the same. As with Zombi 3, Severin’s new Blu is beautiful, paired with solid supplements, and includes a soundtrack CD.
[Blu-ray extras: New 2K scan, interviews, behind the scenes]
Also out this week:
Au hasard Balthazar [Criterion Collection], Midnight Cowboy [Criterion Collection], Red River [Criterion Collection]
Related Topics: Home Video