Welcome back to This Week In Discs where we check out tomorrow’s new releases today!
Suspicion (Warner Archive Collection)
What is it? Lina (Joan Fontaine) is worried. It’s bad enough she impulsively married Johnnie (Cary Grant) mere days after meeting him, but now she suspects the love he professes is more interested in her bank account than her heart.
Why buy it? In a single word, JoanFontaine. She’s my only b&w crush, but perhaps more relevant to you is the fact that she won an Oscar for her performance — the only one for an Alfred Hitchcock film — and she makes you feel the weight of Lina’s paranoia. Grant is equally memorable here and brings a far darker character to the screen than he’s used to. The movie takes some twisty turns as we move between thinking he’s murderous and she’s nuts. I’m not fully on board with the ending as I don’t quite think it’s earned, but the film’s greatness remains. Warner Archive’s new Blu-ray is light on extras, but it delivers a gorgeous HD image that breathes new life into this stellar tale of suspense.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]
Three Days of the Condor (Eureka!)
What is it? Joe aka “Condor” works for the C.I.A. in a non-descript building where he and his fellow co-workers scour newspapers, books, and other printed materials for possible codes and hidden communications. He returns from lunch one day to find everyone in the office has been murdered, and he’s next on the list.
Why buy it? Director Sydney Pollack teamed with Redford multiple times with this being one of their rare genre efforts. It’s a pretty fantastic paranoia-laced thriller that weaves a twisty tale of murder and mistrust. The love story subplot between Redford and Faye Dunaway is terribly misguided, but thankfully it takes a back seat to the conspiracy thrills. The StudioCanal release from a few years back includes a Pollack commentary that’s absent here, but Eureka’s UK debut does feature a noticeably better picture. (This is a UK only, region B release.)
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interview, Sydney Pollack appreciation, booklet]
Bride of Re-Animator (Arrow Films)
What is it? Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) and Dr. Dan have left the carnage of Re-Animator behind them for the battlefield of a South American war, but it’s not long before the urge to commit more scientific atrocities back in the United States calls their names. This time West thinks he can do more than simply bring the dead back to life — he thinks he can create it from bits and pieces.
Why rent it? Stuart Gordon’s original film remains a horror/comedy classic that succeeds with a glorious mix of gore and absolute lunacy, but its two sequels don’t fare nearly as well. This immediate follow up misses the humor and awe of the original, but thanks to Screaming Mad George the visual effects are a crazy collection of gory gags and utter oddities. While the film itself is a mixed bag Arrow Video’s new Blu is a thing of beauty. New 2k restorations of both the unrated and R-rated cuts lead off the package, but we also get three commentary tracks, new and old featurettes, and a booklet featuring a comic prequel. It’s worth a buy for all of the love that Arrow adds, but that has to be balanced with the movie itself being the weakest element of the package.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, featurettes, deleted scene, booklet]
Destroyer / Edge of Sanity (Scream Factory)
What is it? A film crew settles in at a recently closed prison to shoot a cheap genre picture, but at least one murderer still roams these halls in Destroyer. Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde gets a bloody and nudity-filled update to late 1800’s Whitechapel in Edge of Sanity.
Why rent it? Anthony Perkins gets double billing — well, triple billing actually — in these two late ’80s horror romps. He plays the film director in Destroyer, but let’s be real, the main draw here is the eternally lovely Deborah Foreman. There are plenty of messy kills and something of a plot, but seriously, it’s all about the Foreman. The second film isn’t as entertaining on the whole, but the unrated cut presented here is filled with more flesh and blood than you’d expect from an ’80s genre pic. Scream Factory’s new Blu is absent any special features, but this is a new HD transfer of the first film.
[Blu-ray extras: None]
What is it? A passenger jet leaves Los Angeles for a red eye flight to Tokyo, but both passengers and crew enter into a nightmare when some mysterious turbulence triggers a horrific chain reaction. One man dies, and as the others attempt to deal with the tragedy they discover there are far more to come.
Why skip it? The cast here is potentially fun as the likes of Leslie Bibb, Ryan Kwanten, and Amy Smart fly the not-so friendly skies, but none of them seem to be putting much effort into their performances. The mystery manages a few interesting beats although most of what occurs feels like cheap attempts at scares, especially in light of the film’s conclusion. Skip it and watch Flightplan instead.
[DVD extras: Featurette]
What is it? Sara (Natalie Dormer) wakes from a nightmare and feels that her twin sister, Jess (Dormer), is in trouble. The last Sara knew, Jess was trying to get her life back on track and was teaching English in Japan, but she can tell that something is wrong. A few phone calls later and she discovers that Jess apparently entered the Aokigahara Forest at the base of Mt. Fuji and never returned. The locals believe she’s dead — they don’t call it the Suicide Forest for nothing — but Sara “knows” that her twin is still alive, flies to Japan, and heads into the haunted woods to find her.
Why skip it? The film teases emotional terrors before falling back permanently into the safety net of jump scares and dream sequences. Both get overworked here well past the point of numbing viewers to their effects, but it’s the jump scares that suggest Zada has entered some manner of competition to see just how many he can cram into 93 minutes. He wins, and we all lose. They’re a poor man’s ploy when atmosphere and terror seem out of reach, and while none of them work well it’s telling that the two most effective involve living, breathing humans instead of the ghostly apparitions at the center of the film itself. Skip it and watch Sleepy Hollow instead.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, commentary]
Grace and Frankie: Season One
What is it? Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin) are acquaintances, but they’ve never really been friends. That changes when their husbands (Martin Sheen, Sam Waterston) divorce them with the intention of marrying each other. Forced by unexpected circumstances to find support in an unlikely place, Grace and Frankie move forward with life.
Why rent it? The writing in this relationship comedy is solid and often sharp, but the biggest reason to watch is this cast. All four leads do strong work and are clearly having fun with the characters and each other. It’s rare to find a show populated by lead actors well into their sixties, but all four reveal themselves as being every bit as spry and energetic as younger performers could only hope to be.
[DVD extras: Featurette, gag reel, commentaries]
What is it? It’s been years since the world first learned about the presence of evolved humans with super powers, but the struggle to accept them remains. An event meant to celebrate humans and evos alike ends in tragedy, killing hundreds, and the situation grows far more dire. Now evos are on the run as they’re being hunted down and assassinated, but somewhere behind the terror sits a truth that threatens all of mankind.
Why rent it? Fans of Tim Kring’s original NBC series should find additional entertainment in this 13-episode event as it ties together heroes old and new. The main narrative is overly familiar — and seemingly obligatory for a superhero story — as humanity’s fear of heroes also played a role in the X-Men films and the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, but if you’re onboard with the characters and conspiracy then it’s a forgivable one. The video game segments are a bit silly though.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes]
Justice League vs Teen Titans
What is it? Robin may be just a kid, but he’s still extremely capable and confident — a fact he feels is lost on Batman and the other Justice League members who continually sideline him from the action. He finds what he’s looking for though when time spent with the Teen Titans drops him at Ground Zero of a major threat. As the adult heroes fall before them the Titans are forced into action.
Why rent it? The film’s strength is in the banter and action beats between characters — there are some legitimately funny dialogue exchanges here — but the story does lose a substantial amount of its power as the enemy becomes a faceless, bland presence. The alien nature of it all is typical for cartoon adventures though, and comic fans will most likely find enjoyment in characters and back stories that are foreign to me.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, bonus cartoons]
The Lady in the Car With Glasses and a Gun
What is it? Dany (Freya Mavor) is a statuesque, attractive, and shy secretary in ’70s Paris who’s tasked by her boss with some work outside of the office, but when she decides to take his Thunderbird for a road trip to the coast she finds herself caught up in a mystery of murder and madness.
Why rent it? There’s a Hitchcockian sheen to this stylish thriller as Dany’s life and sanity come under attack by forces unknown, and the film does a good job keeping viewers consistently one step removed from the truth of what’s happening. Is Dany crazy, is she a victim of gas lighting, or is something even darker at work here? The narrative has a dreamy feel to it at times, and it looks and sounds fantastic — the soundtrack is filled with evocative tracks. Does it all hold together by the time the credits roll? That’s debatable, but your senses will be satisfied regardless.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interview, featurette]
Village of the Damned (Scream Factory)
What is it? An odd occurrence in the small town of Midwich sees its residents simultaneously collapse to ground unconscious, and nine months later many of the women give birth to blond-haired weirdos.
Why rent it? I love me some John Carpenter — his two decade run from 1974 to 1994 only features one misfire across thirteen films — but this 1995 release seemingly marked the beginning of the end. He apparently expended all of his remake magic on The Thing leaving this attempt to twist in the wind. The strong opening scene gives way completely to poor plotting, shaky acting, laughable wigs, and a complete lack of tension or terror. The film is a big, fat “skip,” but Scream Factory’s special features makes it worth a rent for fans. There’s still no commentary track, an oddity for Carpenter, but the other extras include a wealth of behind the scenes information.
[Blu-ray extras: Making of, featurette, interviews]
6 Years, Only Angels Have Wings (Criterion Collection), Standoff
Related Topics: Home Video