This Week in Home Video
‘Toni Erdmann’ Suggests It’s Time to Get Naked With Your Co-Workers
Plus 15 more new releases to watch at home 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 professional woman and her oddball father dance around their complicated relationship, both in and out of costumes.
Why buy it? Family dysfunction is a longtime staple in cinema, but no film this year captured it with such humor, warmth, and wisdom as Maren Ade’s third feature. Even at 162 minutes our time with Ines and her oddball father feels far too short as their journey of discovery becomes one we don’t want to see end. There’s an honesty here – yes, even with subtitles – about the way we see ourselves through our loved ones’ eyes and in turn how we view ourselves, but if that’s not enough of a draw the film also delivers at least one of the year’s biggest laughs.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None?]
Toni Erdmann (2016) [Blu-ray]
Dead or Alive: Trilogy [Arrow Video]
What is it? Gangsters face off in Dead or Alive, hitmen join forces in Dead or Alive 2: Birds, and gangsters face off in an apocalyptic future in Dead or Alive: Final.
Why see it? Arrow Video continues to show their love for Takashi Miike – Miike fans – with this trilogy’s HD debut. All three films present engaging, visually creative, and frequently energetic tales of men and women behaving badly. Violence and sexuality fill the screen, usually apart but sometimes together, but Miike’s got far more on his mind than just visceral thrills. He’s offering a commentary on Japanese society, masculinity, and the relationships between people of all stripes, and he’s doing it with insane visuals, odd set-pieces, and an approach that’s 100% Miike.
[Blu-ray extras: Interviews, commentary, featurettes]
Dead Or Alive Trilogy (Dead or Alive, Dead or Alive 2: Birds, Dead or Alive: Final) (2-Disc Special Edition) [Blu-ray]
What is it? The true story of three African American women who played integral roles in launching NASA and John Glenn into orbit.
Why see it? Biopics and “true” stories don’t always make for the best movies, but Theodore Melfi’s feature is both delightful entertainment and an affecting revelation into history. It’s heartwarming and inspiring, and it’s terrifically-acted throughout. Kevin Costner has a supporting role, but the film belongs to Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae, and Octavia Spencer. All three honor the real women they’re portraying with performances highlighting their strength, determination, and absolute spunk.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, deleted scenes, featurette, commentary]
Hidden Figures [Blu-ray]
House: Two Stories [Arrow Video]
What is it? A man moves into a house where his son disappeared in House, and a young man digs up his great-great grandfather in House II: The Second Story.
Why see it? 1986’s House remains a goofy, fun little horror/comedy that leans heavy on the latter while showcasing a healthy imagination through its practical effects work. It’s definitely silly, but it works thanks to the creature work and character heart. The sequel is a different story though – a second if you will – as it foregoes even the slightest attempt at horror and instead goes full comedy. Worse, it’s an unfunny comedy. Arrow Video includes two new making-of documentaries roughly an hour each that offer great details and interviews on the productions. The book is fantastic, but it reveals the set’s only real flaw – this US version only includes the first two films while the UK box set features all four. I already knew The Horror Show was technically House III, but it was news to me that House IV: The Repossession even existed.
[Blu-ray extras: 2K restorations, 148-page hardcover book, commentaries, new “making of” documentaries]
House: Two Stories (House, House II: The Second Story) (2-Disc Limited Edition) [Blu-ray]
What is it? An Indian boy stuck on a train ends up thousands of miles from home before being adopted by an Australian couple, and decades later he returns in the hopes of finding his original family.
Why see it? This feel-good drama divided viewers last year with some finding it too saccharine, but while it could stand to trim some in the second act the film as a whole works quite well as a story of determination and inspiration. Dev Patel plays the boy grown up and does great work as a man who’s made a life while still yearning for the one he left behind, and he’s supported with turns from Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara. It’s an attractive film beyond the cast with eye-catching locales on two different continents, but more than that it should leave you feeling good about people. And that’s no small feat these days.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, music video]
The Phantasm Collection
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 new box set offers up a terrific package including new remasters of three of the films and a 120-page book featuring photos and interviews. Each film is in its own snapcase, and the set includes a poster as well.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentaries, interviews, behind the scenes, deleted scenes, workprint footage, making ofs, featurettes]
Phantasm Special Edition Boxset [Blu-ray]
Veep – The Complete Fifth Season
What is it? America’s first female vice president has fallen into the presidency, and now she needs to get up if she wants to hold onto the position.
Why see it? The real world threatens to derail this comedy gem’s satirical eye on a daily basis, but even if the story lines no longer feel far-fetched the scathing, gut-busting humor remains a necessity. Pitch perfect delivery and performances from Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Anna Chlumsky, Timothy Simons, Matt Walsh, Reid Scott, Gary Cole, and many others means each episode is a blisteringly funny experience guaranteed to arm you with more quotes and insults than you’ll ever need.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, commentaries]
Veep: The Complete Fifth Season (BD + Digital HD) [Blu-ray]
What is it? A ghostly curse ruins people’s lives by getting into their head and making bad things happen.
Why see it? Oof. Studio horror is less than thrilling more often than not, and sadly this poorly-titled entry falls on the crappy side. A strong opening quickly gives way to an uninteresting story about a bland demonic presence and a illogical warning, and as everything goes to hell the film slams every attempt at a jump scare with a loud sound cue. The movie’s never scary, unsettling, or disturbing, and we’re left with an annoying and dull waste of time.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
Cathy’s Curse [Severin Films]
What is it? A dead girl possesses a doll which in turn possesses a living girl, and then things get weird.
Why see it? This mid ’70s slice of canuxploitation has been rescued from obscurity by Severin Films with a sweet new Blu-ray, but a cleaned-up presentation doesn’t make it a good movie. There’s fun to be had though as the little terror trash talks everyone within earshot and people find themselves targeted by evil hallucinations. The director’s cut makes some of the film’s narrative choices clearer while still leaving a messy romp in its wake. Fans of the film will definitely love this release, and if you count yourself among them be sure to listen to Simon Barrett’s (You’re Next) appreciation track too.
[Blu-ray extras: Theatrical/director’s cuts, interviews, commentary, screening introduction]
What is it? Idiots go looking for a monster in the woods and film the whole experience for our pleasure.
Why see it? You’d think in 2017 that any filmmaker deciding to make a found footage horror movie would do so with some fresh twist or smart take up his or her sleeve, but apparently you’d think wrong. Nothing about this one makes it stand apart from the hundreds that have come before – onscreen text pretends this is real, the four friends tape things they never would, the “found” footage has been edited by someone into a movie, the kills/creature conveniently happen off-screen for most of the film, we don’t care if any of them survive, etc. There’s a tent scene too, an opportunity to create something scary with relative ease, but it totally whiffs it leaving viewers unmoved (if they’ve indeed stuck it out this long.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews]
Dream Stalker / Death by Love
What is it? A woman is haunted by her dead motocross lover in Dream Stalker, and a sculptor wonders why the ladies he beds end up dead in Death by Love.
Why see it? Intervision’s latest release of shot on video oddities is a double feature from the early ’90s featuring murders, sex scenes, and some supernatural weirdness. Both are clearly ultra low budget affairs, but they have their charms for SOV fans. The second feature is actually the more thoroughly entertaining of the two as the story has more coherence, it’s better shot overall, and a story turn late in the film is just goofy enough. It’s heavier on the T&A too, and one wonders if maybe writer/director/star Alan Grant didn’t make the movie as an excuse to play around with some lovely ladies.
[DVD extras: Interviews]
What is it? An oil-slurping creature from beneath the Earth’s crust befriends a “teen” who helps it elude authorities and reunite with its family.
Why see it? If you have young kids there’s a good chance they’ll be entertained by this goofy romp. The CG effects are a mix of great and less than stellar, but the energy stays high and the humor will work on the young ones who may appreciate the mix of E.T. and Transformers. For the rest of us there’s 28 year old Jane Levy playing a high school girl.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, gag reel, deleted scenes]
Never Too Young to Die [Shout Factory]
What is it? A hermaphroditic terrorist threatens a city’s water supply, and only the lead singer of Jesse and the Rippers can stop him.
Why see it? This mid ’80s action-ish movie is a beloved cult favorite for some, but personally I don’t see it. It’s never quite weird or funny enough to elevate the movie beyond its generic (and frequently weak) action, and it instead left me craving a double feature of Gymkata and No Retreat No Surrender. John Stamos really isn’t built to carry a movie, and Gene Simmons’ villain seems designed solely to find laughs in his sexual situation – he whimpers after being hit by Stamos to which our hero says “You really are like a woman.” The attempts at humor would be forgivable if the other elements made up for it, but the randomly costumed bad guys and subsequent action scenes amount to very little.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary]
Silicon Valley – The Third Complete Season
What is it? A new CEO is put in charge of the Pied Piper gang, but it’s far from a peaceful transition of power.
Why see it? HBO’s funny and cruel look at the ups and downs of the software industry soldiers on, and while it can seem at times to be stuck in a loop of sorts the laughs make even the repetitive and often exaggerated nature of it all okay. The cast remains aces with funny work from Thomas Middleditch, TJ Miller, Martin Starr, Kumail Nanjiani, and others.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes]
The Violent Shit Collection [Synapse]
What is it? People die in violent and bloody ways.
Why see it? These German horror films from the ’80s make the SOV titles above look like multi-million dollar productions by comparison as director Andreas Schnass literally gives no shits. His Violent Shit “franchise” follows a serial killer from victim to victim, each being snuffed out in absurdly bloody ways often to the point of dismemberment, but there’s very little else going on here. Later films expand plot points a smidge and add different settings, but the core aesthetic remains the same – the killer kills and people die. Synapse’s new release offers the remastered versions of the films, but that’s something of a misuse of the word as these films still look like VHS tapes that have been watched, rewound, and watched again for years on end. They’re neither good nor interesting in the traditional sense, but for lifelong horror fans such as myself there’s an undeniable charm and innocence to blood-spurting horrors unspooling before our eyes. It’s free of pretension and instead feels exactly like what it is – horror lovers making horror movies.
[DVD extras: Bonus feature film, premiere footage, behind the scenes]
War on Everyone
What is it? Two corrupt cops run into trouble in their effort to increase their corruption.
Why see it? John Michael McDonagh films are always worth a watch with titles like The Guard and Calvary being memorable and in the latter case brilliant experiences. His latest is an odd partial misfire though as little of it works beyond its two leads. Michael Pena and Alexander Skarsgard both show off some killer comedic chops as comically abusive cops always clamoring for a bigger piece of the pie. They’re never truly challenged though and rarely feel in danger, and the characters around them are just more and more cartoonish.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]
Also Out This Week:
Brimstone, Daughter of the Dust, Demented [Scream Factory], Ludwig [Arrow Academy], Swordmaster, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg [Criterion], The Young Girls of Rochefort [Criterion]
Related Topics: Home Video