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 June 8th, 2021!
This week’s home video selection includes a fantastic trilogy in 4K, a pair of mean horror films from the 70s, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Indiana Jones: 4-Movie Collection [4K UHD]
What is it? One of the best trilogies of all time comes to 4K!
Why see it? Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones trilogy remains a high point for studio blockbusters, and while neither the second nor the third can touch the perfection of Raiders of the Lost Ark they still deliver big entertainment. I’m not the biggest fan of Temple of Doom, but this new 4K UltraHD release highlights Spielberg’s sharp visuals and elaborate set-pieces giving me a bit more of an appreciation. All three benefit from the upgrade — although their classics anyway you see them — meaning fans will most definitely want to pick up this new set. There’s also a disc with extra features and a coaster labeled Kingdom of the Crystal Skull or something.
What is it? A biopic of a famed Chinese actor.
Why see it? Ruan Lingyu was an immensely popular actor in mid 20th century China, but public scrutiny and private troubles led to her suicide at just twenty-four years old. The eternally great Maggie Cheung brings the talented performer to life, but the film also approaches its subject in the form of a meta documentary as we see Cheung discussing the role and filming scenes. It’s a compelling look at both art and artist, and this new Blu offers a beautiful presentation to match the film’s own artistic merits.
[Extras: Introduction by director, interviews, booklet]
The Howl of the Devil [Mondo Macabro]
What is it? A man struggles with the past.
Why see it? The always entertaining Paul Naschy directs and stars in this bloody, saucy, twisted love letter to horror cinema of old, and it’s a fun one. Naschy dons makeup and costumes from a variety of the genre’s golden age classics (re: Universal films mostly) and proceeds to enjoy some adult time with local women who mysteriously end up dead shortly after. There’s a disturbing mystery at its heart, and the shenanigans deliver gore and skin in equal measure leading up to a disturbing finale. Mondo Macabro do their usual great job with the release from the memorable cover art on, and it’s a recommended pick up for horror fans.
[Extras: New 4K transfer, interview, commentary, featurette]
Le Magnifique [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A writer of spy thrillers imagines himself in his writing.
Why see it? Spy comedies arguably reached their peak with the Austin Powers trilogy (don’t @ me), but there are plenty of gems in the subgenre that missed out on a similar popularity. This early 70s action/comedy from Philippe de Broca stars Jean-Paul Belmondo as a writer whose imagination gets the best of him leading to some outrageous Bond-influenced set-pieces and scenarios. It’s funny and a terrific good time, and it’s also immensely bloody with bullet squibs, decapitations, and more — all played for laughs — ensuring it stands apart from Hollywood fare. Give this one a spin.
There Was a Crooked Man… [Warner Archive]
What is it? A convict escapes in pursuit of a fortune he hid previously.
Why see it? Kirk Douglas, Henry Fonda, Warren Oates, Lee Grant, Burgess Meredith, and more in the only western from director Joseph L. Mankiewicz all make a compelling case for this being a must-see, and happily the film backs up the poster with a fun, thrilling tale that avoids the genre’s usual beats. It’s a cynical film that manages some entertainment interwoven with a commentary on past deeds and no futures. Warner’s new Blu-ray offers a sharp presentation of a film that’s tough to see properly elsewhere, and western fans should consider it a blind buy.
Cartouche [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A French pirate flick!
Why see it? Pirate movies haven’t been in fashion for decades, but fans of the subgenre will want to check out this early 60s entry out of France for a few reasons. First and foremost is Jean-Paul Belmondo in the lead, and while he’s most at home in contemporary tales it’s clear he’s fully invested in this rousing tale. The production is well-mounted, lavish, and engagingly directed by Philippe de Broca landing it somewhere between Project A and The Pirate Movie. (I know, that’s a very big space, but what are you gonna do.)
[Extras: 4K restoration, commentary, documentary]
Hunting Ground [Mondo Macabro]
What is it? A family is victimized during a home invasion.
Why see it? Jorge Grau’s home invasion thriller is a mean, graphic little roughie pitting a lawyer and her family against some absolute thugs. There’s class commentary in the build up, but the third act is is focused on the assault and things get nasty. Children are terrorized and worse is done to the adults including a wildly extreme sequence involving full frontal nudity and fire. Seriously, don’t watch this one with the blinds open. Mondo Macabro’s Blu-ray is another stellar release.
[Extras: New 4K transfer, interview]
Also out this week:
City of Lies, Final Fantasy VII, The Lovebirds, Puzzle, Scream [Code Red], Wild Geese II [KL Studio Classics], Under the Sand, Undercover Punch & Gun, Zeroville