Microwaves Are Deadly Weapons In Our Pick of the Week

Plus 13 more new releases to watch at home this week on Blu-ray/DVD!

Discs Superstition

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

Superstition [Scream Factory]

What is it? A family moves into a house cursed by a witch three centuries earlier.

Why see it? A haunted house and gory deaths sit at the center of this under-appreciated horror flick, and while the story follows some familiar beats it goes against the grain by pairing the family with a cantankerous detective instead of the usual priest. (There is a priest, but he takes a circular saw to the chest early on like a chump.) Toss in a mute thug, some expositional flashbacks, a far from subtle riff on The Shining‘s main music theme, and even more bloody demises and you have a fun 85 minute ride. And not for nothing, but anyone who knows me knows the second quickest way to my horror-loving heart is to kill off a kid. Spoiler… two bite it here, and even better? One’s played by the always obnoxious (but fun) Billy Jacoby. Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray looks great, and while probably won’t become your new favorite it will deliver a fun slice of 80s horror.

[Blu-ray extras: New 2K scan, interviews]


The Best

The Big Fix [Twilight Time]

What is it? A private eye takes a case involving an ex, an election, and murder.

Why see it? Roger L. Simon’s novel gets a solid adaptation here that starts as a casually comedic mystery before shifting into something a bit darker. It’s loose and funny for a while, and Richard Dreyfuss does great work with the lead character. Things get serious with bomb threats, murder, and betrayal, but the film never loses its sense of entertainment and engagement. The disc is sadly devoid of extras, but the film worth a pick up all on its own for fans of 1970s P.I. cinema.

[Blu-ray extras: None]

Hard Ticket to Hawaii

What is it? Diamond smugglers cross paths with buxom government agents.

Why see it? It sounds simple enough, but this being an Andy Sidaris film you’re right to suspect there’s more to enjoy than expected. Poisonous snakes are for losers, this movie has a contaminated snake. What does that mean? Who knows, but the puppet is a killer. Forget Frisbee golf, this flick has a bloody death by razor-lined Frisbee. Regular assassins? Lame. This movie has a skateboarding hitman with a blowup sex doll whose death is perhaps the most memorable bad guy death in film history. Bullets, bazookas, and boobs galore, and did I mention it’s sourced from a 4K restoration?!

[Blu-ray extras: New 4K restoration, introduction, commentary, featurette]

The Karate Kid

What is it? A new kid in town learns how to kick ass.

Why see it? John G. Avildsen’s mid 80s underdog tale remains a favorite and a template for films that followed, and even on re-watch the movie delivers the goods. Ralph Macchio’s awkward teenager will strike a familiar tone with many viewers, and his journey towards facing down the bullies delivers suspense and cheer-worthy drama. The core of the film, the teen’s friendship with Pat Morita’s older and wiser Mr. Miyagi, is still a delight. This new 4K release delivers the expected sharp picture, but the real selling point — as the film looks equally good on Blu-ray — is a new interview-heavy featurette with the main stars… who have also returned recently in their Cobra Kai series.

[4K UltraHD/Blu-ray extras: Featurette, interviews, commentary, featurettes]

Keoma [Arrow Video]

What is it? A man returns home after the Civil War to find his home town in duress.

Why see it? Franco Nero collaborated with director Enzo G. Castellari more than once, but their towering achievement remains this stylish western that tells a familiar tale with more than a little flair. Nero’s long hair — he’s half Native American — and icy eyes make for a compelling antihero look, and the film drops him repeatedly into deadly action beats that see him out-gunning his opponents when he’s not busy throwing knives at them. The score is strong as well, but the original songs? Not so much. Their desire to sing directly to what’s happening onscreen gives off a cheesy vibe. Arrow’s new Blu-ray is as beautiful as you’d expect with a restored picture and several new interviews.

[Blu-ray extras: New 2K restoration, commentary, interviews, booklet]

The Kid Who Would Be King

What is it? A bullied boy discovers he’s actually the true king of England.

Why see it? You’d be hard-pressed to call this an original tale — despite the claims made by some in arguing why it shouldn’t have fizzled out at the box-office — but it offers plenty of fun with the familiar. Young Alex and his best friend are forced to unite with the school’s worst bullies, and the challenge presented is impressive in its approach to dealing with conflict. Solid creature effects bring undead knights to life, Merlin brings plenty of personality — both young and old – and the film’s themes deliver a strong message for young viewers.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]

Malibu Express

What is it? A crappy private eye who’s far better with the ladies gets caught up in a murder case.

Why see it? Andy Sidaris’ films are an acquired taste, and if you’re not open to goofy T&A flicks then don’t even try. If you are, though, then his best movies are crazy fun entertainment, and this is one of the highlights. Darby Hinton is hilarious as the nearly incompetent ladies man, and the dialogue is just a steady stream of genre-themed silliness. Sybil Danning adds to the fun with her beauty and wit, and there’s just an appealing innocence to all the naughty fun. Mill Creek brings the film to Blu-ray for the first time, and as with the other Sidaris film below it’s from a 4K restoration. You read that right.

[Blu-ray extras: New 4K restoration, introduction, commentary, featurette]

The Manitou [Scream Factory]

What is it? A tumorous growth on a woman’s neck is actually an undead Native American.

Why see it? God bless director WIlliam Girdler (Grizzly, Day of the Animals). This late 70s shocker is delightfully ludicrous in the best possible ways starting with that synopsis. The evil medicine man exits her neck in the form of a little person, and the film goes on to include skinless doctor zombies, Stella Stevens in brown-face, an exploding typewriter, Tony Curtis in super stylish jeans, a frozen world, earthquakes, and more on its way to an absolutely trippy laser battle between topless entities. Good gravy it’s silly but played absolutely straight for our benefit. Troy Howarth’s commentary is as detailed as expected — probably a bit too detailed as it delves into IMDB filmographies rather than find comments about what’s happening on the screen — and the new interview with author Graham Masterton adds to the package as well.

[Blu-ray extras: New 2K scan, commentary, interviews]


The Rest

Bend of the River [KL Studio Classics]

What is it? Pioneers find troubles expected and otherwise.

Why see it? James Stewart headlines this solid western adventure as a man with his own rocky past, and he’s joined by Arthur Kennedy and Rock Hudson. Threats come from nature itself, but more immediate dangers come in the form of scurrilous people trying to make a buck on other’s misery and survival. At just ninety minutes it’s a fast-moving adventure — unlike the wagon train that brought them there — and the talents and landscapes keep things compelling throughout.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]

The Big C – The Complete Series

What is it? A woman’s cancer diagnosis sets her life loose.

Why see it? Cancer in film and television is typically the start of drama (or melodrama), but as the instigator behind this series it instead serves as a wake up call for a middle-aged woman played by Laura Linney. She takes it as permission to speak her mind and live life to the fullest with the result being awkward interactions, laughs, and a life without risks. It’s a good show anchored by a fantastic lead performance — and some terrific supporting ones too including Oliver Platt, Cynthia Nixon, Reid Scott, Hugh Dancy, Alan Alda, Idris Elba, Parker Posey, and Liam Neeson — and Mill Creek collects all four seasons here for fans.

[Blu-ray extras: None]

Glass

What is it? A hero and a villain are brought together by fate and poor writing.

Why see it? M.Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable (2000) remains an all-timer when it comes to unofficial comic book movies, and while Split (2016) is far less effective the promise of an actual sequel to Unbreakable is too much to resist. Unfortunately, Shyamalan’s script is a series of disappointments. I respect his desire to shake up convention and go against genre expectations, but the result is one unfulfilled promise after another. It’s dull, idiotic, and underwhelming, and his attempt to blend the comics’ disregard for logic with a drama’s display of heart and character fails miserably. The ending — the final twenty minutes — is a slowly deflating fart noise.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]

Justice League vs The Fatal Five

What is it? The Justice League faces growing pains and the arrival of a deadly team of villains.

Why see it? DC’s animated feature films are frequently every bit as good as the best their live-action siblings have to offer, and while this latest entry isn’t among the best it’s still a solidly entertaining comic adventure. Our usual heroes — Superman, Wonder Woman, some dude named Mr. Terrific — are joined by a new Green Lantern in the form of a teenage girl and some new threats too. Comic fans will recognize them all, of course, but newbie may stumble a bit keeping up. Still, the action and personality are entertaining.

[4K UltraHD/Blu-ray extras: Featurettes, commentary, bonus cartoons]

The Quiller Memorandum [Twilight Time]

What is it? An agent investigates Nazis in Berlin.

Why see it? George Segal is better known for comedies these days — and for the past several decades — but he dabbled in some more serious roles early on. More surprising for some of us, he also played in some action-oriented films. This spy thriller features only a little action, but it’s good fun, and the film delivers a solid story with pressures on both sides of the divide. Segal is joined by an evil Max Von Sydow and a “good” Alec Guinness.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]

The River’s Edge [Twilight Time]

What is it? A man discovers too late that his wife’s past involves a dangerous man.

Why see it? Anthony Quinn plays a good guy with questionable taste in women, and after a small squabble with his wife she takes off with her ex (played by Ray Milland). The pair return, though, and soon the three are on the run. We get some nice landscapes here along with two headstrong performances battling over the girl, and the film delivers a couple brutal beats too including a hit ‘n’ run. There’s an odd turn at the end as an effort to paint the bad guy as maybe not so bad, but in general it’s a solid adventure tale.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]

Soul Team Six

What is it? Six slices of little-seen blaxploitation come together in one package.

Why see it? The six films included here are The Black Six, The Black Gestapo, Black Brigade, Black Fist, The Black Godfather, and Fighting Mad, and they’re all from the 70s. They’re mostly lacking in familiar faces, but Richard Pryor, Billy Dee Williams, Dabney Coleman, Philip Michael Thomas, and others do appear. The highlight here is The Black Gestapo as its violent antics take on a more menacing and creative energy in its tale of a Black Panther-like group that goes rogue. None of the films have been remastered and most look pretty rough, but fans will still find enough to love for the price.

[DVD extras: None]

The Take / Black Gunn

What is it? A dirty cop fights crime and a nightclub owner fights crime!

Why see it? This double feature of early 70s action pictures has a clear highlight in the Billy Dee Williams-led The Take. Williams plays a hotshot cop who comes to New Mexico to help the locals combat the mob, but it’s complicated by the face that he’s actually on the mob’s payroll. An attempted escape makes the opening scene the highlight, but a handful of other action beats add to the fun. Black Gunn finds some charm in having Jim Brown in the lead, but the action and drama never rise above merely okay. There’s nothing fancy in this release, but the first film in particular looks quite good in HD.

[Blu-ray extras: None]

Thrillers: 4 in 1 Collection

What is it? Sex, murder, and family relations, oh my!

Why see it? Sometimes you’re in the mood for masterpiece cinema, and other times you’re in the mood for highly entertaining escapism. Still other times, though, you just want trash. This quartet of made-for-TV thrillers fits the bill provided you’re okay with trash meant to comply with television’s standards and practices, and each of them feel like the epitome of Lifetime channel entertainment. Inappropriate behaviors and deception work hand in hand in all four films, and while none of them are all that memorable there’s mild fun to be found if you’re in the mood.

[DVD extras: None]

The Whole Town’s Talking [Twilight Time]

What is it? A mild-mannered office worker is mistaken for a deadly gangster.

Why see it? Edward G. Robinson plays a tough guy here, but he delivers far more with the atypical turn as the shy guy who happens to look just like him. It’s a comedy/thriller as the regular guy struggles to stay alive, stay out of jail, and keep his job. John Ford’s direction is sharp, and we get some laughs and sweetness, but the film’s biggest strength is seeing a smiling, timid, and increasingly panicked Robinson. It’s a fun watch.

[Blu-ray extras: None]


Also out this week:

Becky Sharp, Brief Encounter [Scorpion Releasing], Cold War – 6 Film Collection, Diamonds of the Night [Criterion Collection], Escape at Dannemora, Grave of the Vampire [Scream Factory], Stray

"Rob is great. He likes movies. He writes about them. And he's a good person."