Plus 18 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
Happy Endings – The Complete Series
What is it? A couple breaks up on their wedding day, and both try to hang on to the same friends.
Why see it? It doesn’t get talked about enough, but this ABC sitcom is one of the most consistently funny series to grace the small screen in decades. The cast is pitch perfect with talents who not only demonstrate fantastic comic timing but who also show brilliant chemistry with each other. The comedy is whip-smart with jokes that range from one-liners to pop culture references to more elaborate hilarity, and fans of laughing should seek it out immediately. This Blu-ray collection is ideal for the extras which add extra fun into the mix.
[Blu-ray extras: Deleted scenes, outtakes, parodies, interviews]
The Changeling [Severin Films]
What is it? A grieving man moves into a new house holding on to its own devastating loss.
Why see it? Peter Medak’s 1980 thriller is a masterclass in supernatural chills, and while modern audiences might find some of its story turns and set-pieces familiar it’s only because this film helped make them standards. George C. Scott gives an intense and angry performance — a couple notches down from his Hardcore turn, but still impressive — and themes of grief, guilt, and terror find beautiful and frightening life here. Severin’s new Blu-ray is gorgeous and loaded with informative extras, and it should be a blind buy for horror fans.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentary, featurettes, interviews]
The Day After [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A small Midwest town struggles to survive a nuclear war.
Why see it? This 1983 television movie was a stunner in the 80s as it revealed the harsh reality of nuclear war, and while its impact has lessened with time it’s still an incredibly powerful drama. Familiar faces, ones often known for lighter fare, find their humanity as everyday people experiencing the unbelievable. It’s a film that hits with a kick to the gut, and Kino’s new Blu-ray adds context with compelling extras and two versions of the film.
[Blu-ray extras: TV and theatrical cuts, commentary, interviews]
DC Universe Movie: The Death of Superman
What is it? A fierce threat arrives in Metropolis and begins tearing through the city and the Justice League.
Why see it? This is still one of the best-selling graphic novels going, and the story gets an action-packed and affecting feature turn here. I won’t pretend to understand the physiology or physics-based reactions to punches, laser eyes, explosions, and more that sees clothes damaged but leaves hair and skin unblemished, but it’s all part of the comic experience. The action sequences are frequent and engaging, and the heart of the story — the relationship between Clark Kent and Lois Lane — finds more heart than many of the live action films have managed. This film leads into DC’s next, Reign of the Supermen, and I’m looking forward to it.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, archival cartoons]
Lowlife [Scream Factory]
What is it? A handful of characters cross paths over one fateful day in Los Angeles.
Why see it? Early comparisons to Pulp Fiction are a bit hyperbolic, but there’s no denying the film’s structure, energy, and cast of characters are enough to earn the reference. It’s a fun watch with good performances and smart writing finding laughs and tension along the way. The low budget sees the film going out of its way to avoid showing any action until the end, but it remains a captivating tale about people of various ethnicities struggling do right when the time comes.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentaries, shorts, featurette]
What is it? Four siblings pretend they weren’t recently orphaned in the hopes of avoiding the eye of social services.
Why see it? The writer of The Orphanage and The Impossible delivers another tale of children in danger, but government officials are the least of their problems. The film brings a supernatural chill to the family drama, and it’s a smartly told thriller with a fantastic young cast including George MacKay, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, and Mia Goth. The film’s highly atmospheric, and while it’s in no rush with its story the terror builds alongside the story.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]
Pyewacket [Scream Factory]
What is it? A teenager calls upon a demon in a fit of rage and soon regrets it.
Why see it? Writer/director MacDonald crafts a beautifully-paced slow-burn with Pyewacket that explores the necessity and power of belief as well as the dangers. Just as his previous film did by leaving viewers uncertain (for a while) if the threat was animal or human in nature, his latest walks a fine with the source of the menace. Is Leah imagining the things she’s seeing and hearing? Or is a malicious and murderous spirit after their very souls? As with the recent The Devil’s Candy and IT, MacDonald’s film makes a point of ensuring we care about the lead which in turn adds an intensity to the scenes of terror and danger. And some of those scenes are fucking terrifying.
[Blu-ray extras: Featurette]
What is it? A woman discovers too late that the man she loves sees her as regrettably disposable, and he’s equally slow in realizing she’s one tenacious woman.
Why see it? As sadly generic as the title may be, Coralie Fargeat’s film is anything but. The film hits the various expected beats of the sub-genre, from the triggering act itself through the catharsis of comeuppance, but it does it all with something of a female gaze, an eye for beauty, and lots and lots of blood. The beautiful, vast landscapes seem at odds with the ugly brutality, but the combined package is one of effectively entertaining thrills and catharsis.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None?]
What is it? A woman finds herself face to face with home invaders holding her children hostage.
Why see it? This is a solid little thriller that’s wholly unassuming in its content while still feeling confident in its execution. Gabrielle Union offers a compelling performance as the woman pushed to the edge, and you but her actions without hesitation. It’s a single location thriller as it mostly takes place in and around the house, but it takes good advantage of the geography. Fun diversion for genre fans.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes, commentary]
Cradle Will Rock [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A theater troupe in the 1930s facing pressure from government forces who want to squash questionable arts.
Why see it? Tim Robbins wrote and directed this fun ensemble about serious themes, and the cast is fully on board for an important yet playful tale. Hank Azaria, Joan Cusack, John Cusack, Cary Elwes, Bill Murray, Susan Sarandon, John Turturro, and more terrifically talented actors do great work, and Robbins’ film tackles issues of art, politics, class, and other timeless concerns while finding humor along the way. Kino’s disc includes a commentary by Robbins exploring his intentions and thoughts on the finished film.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentary, featurette]
What is it? Three teens find terror in the woods.
Why see it? Some films build to greatness while others start strong and fizzle out. Unfortunately, this one falls in the latter pile. The character dynamic is a tenuous mix of laughs and thrills early on, but as the minutes tick by and the action grows crueler the film struggles to keep viewers laughing. It keeps trying, though, with diminishing returns that instead make its characters less and less likable. Narrative threads involving friendship, teen romance, and commentary on economic woes are scuttled by the realization that these people are all assholes. The film does manage some fun set-pieces and delivers a few worthwhile gore gags, but it ultimately limps across the finish line as a half-baked horror/comedy.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]
What is it? Young scientists in the forest find something deadly beneath the soil.
Why see it? The period conceit here is pretty terrific as the film is set in 1929 meaning the scientists are limited in their knowledge by today’s standards. More genre films should follow this setup as it offers a fresh take on the familiar. All of that said, the film is just so damn low-key that it can’t quite find the thrills. It also feels too “clean” and artificial — the costumes feel like rentals that have to be returned in perfect condition — which moves viewers even further from the drama.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, deleted scenes, commentary]
Life of the Party
What is it? A newly divorced mom goes back to college.
Why see it? Melissa McCarthy’s films are pretty clearly divided between big studio pictures and ones directed by her husband Ben Falcone. The latter titles are among her weaker fare, but her latest is easily the best of the Falcone productions as it finds real laughs and heart in its riff on Back to School. That’s not to say there’s a lot of either, but there’s enough to make a watch worthwhile. Gillian Jacobs and Maya Rudolph actually steal the show on the humor front, but McCarthy holds her own.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes, gag reel]
Mac and Me
What is it? A family of undocumented aliens arrives on earth and is separated from their youngest child.
Why see it? Fans of product placement and cheap-looking creature prosthetics will want to give this one a spin, but if you don’t go in expecting bad fun you might be disappointed. Its heart is in the right place, if nothing else, but everything from the writing to the performances just fails to connect. You’ll laugh, but it’ll be from unintentionally funny beats — but is that so bad? And not for nothing, but it’s a missed opportunity not having Paul Rudd do the commentary for this release.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentary, interviews]
What is it? A rodeo rider tries to move forward after a devastating fall and trample.
Why see it? There’s real heart in this story of a modern cowboy hoping to recover even as he sees so many others with no hope of returning to the men they once were. It’s a very naturalistic film with the pacing to match, but sticking with it reveals a quiet and honest look at a life dedicated to what it knows best. It feels real, and with that comes a certain hypocrisy as time and effort is spent on healing the rider, but when his horse injures its leg the immediate response is to shoot it. The scene’s played for sadness, but it’s an empty emotion here.
[DVD extras: Q&As, deleted scenes]
Someone’s Watching Me [Scream Factory]
What is it? A woman is stalked and harassed by a psychotic stranger.
Why see it? John Carpenter had a busy year in 1978 working on both Halloween and this TV effort, and while the former (rightfully) stole all the thunder this is a pretty solid little suspense flick. Lauren Hutton plays the woman targeted by the wacko, and Adrienne Barbeau shows up as her friend, and the result is a smartly acted thriller. The highlight of Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray is a pair of new interviews with Barbeau and Carpenter veteran Charles Cyphers.
[Blu-ray extras: New 2K scan, interviews,commentary, featurette]
Street Mobster [Arrow Video]
What is it? An ex-con returns to the street where he continues his old ways.
Why see it? Kinji Fukasaku’s filmography is one filled with gangsters, mobsters, thieves, and worse, and one of his early efforts found them at their worst. The great and surly Bunta Sugawara takes the lead here as a bad man only getting worse, and while the immersion into the grim and gritty yakuza world is expectedly unrelenting it’s aggressively heavy on the sexual assault. It’s all part of the mix, but while it’s always been an element of these types of films its heavy presence hurts other aspects of the film’s appeal.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]
Transporter 3 [4K UltraHD]
What is it? Jason Statham has to deliver a ginger package.
Why see it? The Transporter films typically deliver some solid action with car-based stunts and Statham’s fight skills, and this third entry offers up a little of the same. The fights are still good fun, but the bigger action is marred with an over-reliance on f/x. The film feels smaller than its predecessors for some reason, and that’s not how action sequels should work. The sidekick is a bust this time too as she’s incredibly obnoxious and tonally at odds with the mayhem around her. It looks sharp in 4K, though, so there’s that.
[4K UltraHD/Blu-ray extras: Commentary, featurettes]
Wildling [Scream Factory]
What is it? A teenage girl used to living in seclusion finds a new life in the real world, but it comes with consequences.
Why see it? This indie is a riff on the werewolf tropes and legends we all know well, but its attempt at pairing physical changes with the girl’s coming of age aren’t quite as poetic as intended. The horror side of things is equally uninspired as the expected beats unfold one after the next. Bel Powley gives another good performance in the lead, and Brad Dourif is always a joy, but Liv Tyler is stuck with something of a thankless character that doesn’t quite fit her. It’s ultimately more of good effort than a good film.
[Blu-ray extras: Deleted scenes, outtakes]
Also out this week:
Alien Code, Birdman of Alcatraz (UK), Blackmark, Bye Bye Germany, The Good Doctor – Season One, Measure of a Man, On Chesil Beach, Riverdale – The Complete Second Season, Zama