Plus 19 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? A scientist’s experiments with death have terrible consequences. Obviously.
Why see it? Director Dan O’Bannon only directed two feature films, but seeing as his first was The Return of the Living Dead you know damn well that his second would at least be worth a watch. Happily his sophomore effort is actually quite good too. Chris Sarandon plays the scientist and has great fun in the role, but the film’s core is John Terry as the private eye hired by the wife to see what’s going on in the man’s laboratory. He adds a nice touch of noir to the H.P. Lovecraft-inspired shenanigans, and the genres blend well even as the monsters come to life. Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray presents the film with the sharpest picture its yet known, and the extras — new and old — offer plenty of insight into the production. It’s a fun horror flick that does Lovecraft proud where so many others fail.
[Blu-ray extras: 2K restoration, interviews, commentary, deleted scenes]
What is it? The true story of a terrible filmmaker and an even worse person.
Why see it? The Creeping Flesh is regarded as one of the worst films ever made, and it’s a fool’s errand to argue otherwise. This film is a part narrative, part documentary exploring the man behind that turkey, but rather than be a fun look at a goofy, sincere guy (ie Ed Wood) the subject here is a truly bad human being guilty of abuse, fraud, rape, and more. The format intercuts talking heads into recreations, and it entertains both with absurdity and drama. There’s fun outside the narrative too as it works as an interesting behind-the-scenes look into low-budget film production. It’s a pretty crazy true story, one that finds beats both outrageous and sad, and Synapse includes the actual film in question too to complete the package.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: 2K restoration of The Creeping Terror, commentary, making of, featurettes, deleted scenes, Q&A]
What is it? An alien with a sweet tooth sets his sights on a young boy.
Why see it? Steven Spielberg has gifted movie lovers with numerous classics, but his most universally beloved film remains this tale of an alien lost far from from home and the human boy who befriends him. It remains every bit as wondrous, heartfelt, and rousing as you remember. Yes, it’s unfortunate that Spielberg did some digital touch up work and refuses to re-release the original version, but the changes are cosmetic. The film itself remains with its humor and soul intact, and while this anniversary release doesn’t add anything new supplement-wise the 4K Ultra HD disc is a thing of beauty. It’s already an attractive film filled with moments small and big, and the 4K just highlights it all.
[4k Ultra HD/Blu-ray extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]
What is it? An old man with magical balls chases after a young boy and an ice cream truck driver.
Why see it? Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm franchise stretches across a whopping thirty-eight years, and the five films offer a wealth of weirdness. The world of the films is one where no rules apply aside from the certainty that the Tall Man and his tiny minions will persist in their efforts to harvest bodies and torment the two men sworn to stop him. It’s dreamy, nightmarish horror with gore, action, explosions, and an open-ended nature that offers up some fun sequences even as it ensures the stakes never feel that high – basically no one’s death is permanent. Parts 2 remains my favorite for its slightly larger scale, fun gore, and the presence of James Le Gros, but each of the films have entertaining elements. Well Go USA’s Blu-ray box set from earlier this year is the way to go, but if ideal picture, the book, and that higher cost aren’t your bag this DVD release will do just fine.
[DVD extras: Commentaries, interviews, featurettes, deleted scenes]
What is it? Your typical story about a deranged killer, a razor-wielding chimpanzee, and a teen girl who can control insects.
Why see it? Deep Red may be his best, but this nutty, bloody, hard rock-infused romp is my favorite Dario Argento film. From its creepy, adrenaline-fueled opening through its various gory killings, ludicrous developments, and Goblin-scored madness the movie just keeps throwing memorable images and beats at you. Young Jennifer Connelly plays the hero, Donald Pleasance appears as a wheelchair-bound entomologist, and did I mention the chimp? The movie is a blast, and Synapse’s new Blu-ray is a fantastic presentation of its three versions — the American cut is a narrative mess, so I advise sticking with the longer international cuts.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Three versions of the film including the 83 minute U.S. Creepers cut, commentary, “Dario Argento’s World of Horror,” interview]
Silicon Valley – The Complete Fourth Season
What is it? The Pied Piper gang faces new challenges with pride, professionalism, and actually neither of those.
Why see it? HBO’s funny, insightful, and perhaps too accurate look into the daily workings of the tech industry continues to be a source of big laughs and hearty cringes. You want these people to succeed, well, most of them anyway, but they continually get in their own way. The show walks a fine line between satire and reality, and with a cast that includes Martin Starr, Kumail Nanjiani, Zach Woods, and others it always remembers to be funny first.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes]
Veep – The Complete Sixth Season
What is it? The first female American president refuses to let anyone forget it.
Why see it? While Silicon Valley above is a funny show, this satirical look at our messed up political system is a constant source of gut-busting creativity and cruelty. Its strengths are numerous from a cast that includes Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Timothy Simons, Anna Chlumsky, Gary Cole, and others to writing that weaves foul magic out of familiar syllables. This season’s story follows Selina Meyer’s efforts to stay relevant as a has-been and her troubling plan to reverse her fortunes. Between the insults sit wise observations on American politics and politicians making for a show that leaves you laughing in both joy and sorrow.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries]
What is it? A nice woman and a mean man meet at a dinner party, and neither walks away unchanged.
Why see it? Salma Hayek and John Lithgow are the main reasons to give this one a spin as both do trmendous work as polar opposites in both personality and societal position. Dinner party movies are typically good fun as tempers flare in a supposedly controlled atmosphere, and this film is no different as these two characters find themselves clashing in engaging and sometimes humorous ways. The two leads hold the floor, but there’s fun to be had with the supporting cast too including Connie Britton and Jay Duplass.
[DVD extras: None]
What is it? An actor’s life may not be as picture-perfect as it seems on the outside.
Why see it? As bleak a Hollywood tale as you’re likely to see, this stage adaptation tells the story of a successful actor (Jack Palance) struggling to avoid signing another sever year studio contract and the manipulative studio head (Rod Steiger) who won’t take no for an answer. Its roots on the stage are evident in its locations and cast, but while events can feel stilted at times it builds to a powerful conclusion. The supporting cast includes Shelley Winters and Ida Lupino.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: 2K restoration, commentary, interview, TV promo]
What is it? The fourth and second entries in Dick Wolf’s growing Chicago-based empire.
Why see it? Wolf is still best known for his Law & Order universe, but the past few years have seen him branch out with a quartet of Chicago-based shows cornering the market on each facet of the city’s emergency services — the other two are Chicago Fire and Chicago Med. Wolf is a veteran so the shows are solidly crafted, but there’s an undeniable assembly-line feel to them as pieces are plugged into the mix in precise, uniform ways. The stories and characters don’t feel natural and instead give off a generic, “been there” sheen.
[DVD extras: Crossover episodes]
What is it? A bad ass returns from the dead to fight for the living.
Why see it? Danny Trejo is in his 70s and pumping out more movies per year than many actors make in a decade. It’s definitely a quantity over quality filmography, though, as his days of good performances in great/fun movies (Heat, Con Air) is long gone. That’s not to imply there isn’t some fun to be had here for fans of western/action/horror hybrids. The budget and talent involved deliver a goofy little flick with cartoonish action and a campy Jake Busey. It’s not Shakespeare, but if the ingredients appeal to you… eh.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, featurette, deleted scenes, commentary]
What is it? Alien crafts hover over Earth’s cities sending down lasers and creatures to wipe out humanity.
Why see it? I’m not sure if this was a Syfy production, but it certainly feels like it. The director of Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus once again delivers some mediocre action, underwhelming cg effects, and uninteresting story turns. This time it’s Corin Nemec of Parker Lewis Can’t Lose fame facing off against an animated threat, and the odds against him seem quite a bit more certain.
[DVD extras: None]
What is it? Two brothers, separated as children by war, reunite as adults leading opposing armies.
Why see it? The great Mario Bava remains best known for genre efforts of the horror variety, but his stab at historical adventure is a worthwhile slice of entertainment. Opening with a bloody battle that sees a woman and her infant speared together, the film grows to become a tale of two lives heading for collision. It’s spectacle on a budget, and it succeeds at crafting atmosphere and action throughout. Bava vet Cameron Mitchell again shows his talents that would later be wasted in less inspired genre fare, and the film as a whole entertains with adventure, romance, and the sharp blade of destiny. The highlight of Arrow Video’s extras is an engaging commentary with Tim Lucas.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: 2K restoration, commentary, interview, featurette, original ending]
What is it? A detective goes undercover as a therapy patient only to discover unwanted truths about himself.
Why see it? Ben Wheatley produced this methodically-paced thriller about identity, mental states, and the unknown. The story takes some intriguing turns, but the atmosphere just isn’t all that captivating. The secrets are slowly doled out alongside a main character who struggles to hold our attention. His shift into darkness and uncertainty occurs too quickly for viewers to have cared, and that in turn leaves his discoveries that much less engaging.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, making of documentary, short film]
What is it? It’s the 80s show.
Why see it? As a kid/teen of the 80s there’s a lot going on in The Goldbergs that appeals to me and triggers memories, and the show isn’t shy about packing in references to the decade’s pop culture, fashions, sensibilities, etc. It’s a funny show aided in part by talented performers like George Segal, Jeff Garlin, and Wendi McLendon-Covey, but, and I may be alone in thinking this, it never manages to surpass the easy gags and 80s references to become a show with real character and heart. Being very funny isn’t a bad thing, and I certainly recommend watching the show.
[DVD extras: Commentaries, deleted scenes, gag reels]
What is it? An ex-outlaw becomes a law man, but while he changed his career he can’t change his past.
Why see it? Robert Taylor and Richard Widmark headline this western as the reformed outlaw and active bad guy, respectively, and both give engaging turns building towards their inevitable showdown. Director John Sturges (Bad Day at Black Rock, The Magnificent Seven) crafts a solid tale of good, evil, and the grey area in between, and while its tropes are clear the film remains lively enough across its short running time.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
What is it? An ancient evil is released by a greedy treasure hunter.
Why see it? Tom Cruise in a monster movie — even a PG-13 one — should have been something fun and entertaining, but this Alex Kurtzman-directed supposed franchise starter is an unfortunate dud. Sofia Boutella acquits herself fine as the undead princess, but scenes that should thrill just can’t manage it. Blame the weak script and underwhelming set-pieces, but the abundance of cg is is equally dulling. The film tries hard to be casual and funny, but not only does it fail to find laughs but it’s light tone neuters the action too. The film was meant to start Universal’s Dark Universe, and Russell Crowe’s turn as Dr. Henry Jekyll is looking to be the connective tissue, but it’s anybody’s guess now if that project will continue. No one will be waiting.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes, commentary]
What is it? A ghostly vengeance strikes out against former mobsters.
Why see it? The marketing played the film up as a Carrie clone, complete with the presence of Piper Laurie as a creepy young girl’s mother, but the child only plays a major role in the third act. Until then it’s a straightforward tale of supernatural revenge as men pay for a long ago murder. It’s a serious thriller, but it’s hard not to chuckle at the site of big time killers making ends meet as drive-in theater employees. It gets goofier towards the end making for an ultimately okay little horror thriller.
[Blu-ray extras: Interviews, commentaries]
What is it? A man sets out on a long journey to return a sacred stone, but it won’t be an easy trip.
Why see it? A western of sorts, this is a gorgeous-shot film about honor and duty towards something greater than yourself. The landscapes are stunning and both inviting and threatening simultaneously, and while the action is limited it’s well-crafted and works as punctuation on the film’s more hypnotic stretches. Buddhist philosophies are front and center here, but it all works as an adventure as well as a lesson into mindfulness and the wonders or the world.
[DVD extras: Short film]
Also out this week:
Captain Underpants, The Fox with a Velvet Tail, Fun Mom Dinner, The Hatred, It Comes at Night, Slack Bay, Spider, This Is Us – The Complete First Season