Our Home Video Pick of the Week Goes to War with the Undead

Plus 14 more new releases to watch at home this week on Blu-ray/DVD!

Overlord

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

Overlord

OverlordWhat is it? A squad of American soldiers attempt a daring mission to make D-Day a success, but zombies have other plans.

Why see it? Audiences unfortunately missed out on this one in theaters — but if you’re one of the few who chose correctly then good on you! —  but hopefully they won’t make the same mistake now that this glorious, biggish budget B-movie is available at home. The action is intense and fun, the horror is gory and fun, and the movie is just a big ball of, well, fun. The characters are likable and the plot is kept simple enough as it blends the likes of Saving Private Ryan with Re-Animator to terrifically entertaining effect. Seek it out, and if you’re an UltraHD user you’ll definitely want to go the 4K route as the film’s cinematography and sound design are aces.

[4K UltraHD/Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]


The Best

My Name Is Julia Ross [Arrow Academy]

My Name Is Julia RossWhat is it? A woman is abducted and made to impersonate a soon to be dead wife.

Why see it? Thriller’s don’t often come as tight as this Joseph H. Lewis noir, and that’s unfortunate. It’s short — barely over an hour — but it drops viewers quickly into a suspenseful race against time with a smart, capable woman at its center. She never settles on being a victim and never gives up her fight for freedom, and it’s terrifically unconventional for a film from 1945. The film alone is worth a pickup, but Arrow tosses in an informative commentary as well making a must own for noir fans.

[Blu-ray extras: 2K restoration, commentary, featurette]


The Rest

Backbeat [Shout Select]

BackbeatWhat is it? Before they were the Beatles they were lads in a band.

Why see it? The Beatles are still probably the best-known band in the world, but while many of us are familiar with where they went there’s fresh drama in the story of where they began. The focus here is bassist Stuart Sutcliffe, played by Stephen Dorff, who left the band pre-stardom for art and love. There are some interesting beats here exploring the motivations and interactions between them, and it makes for an engaging drama. It does seem at times that the director made the film mostly as an excuse to get women naked, but that’s pop music I guess.

[Blu-ray extras: Interviews, deleted scenes, commentary]

Backtrace

BacktraceWhat is it? A criminal with amnesia is forced to remember where he stashed the loot.

Why see it? Director Brian Miller shoots some pretty fantastic gun fights, but I wish he’d get his hands on a worthwhile script and a real budget. Sure Sylvester Stallone is here in a limited capacity alongside Matthew Modine and Christopher McDonald, but the film still feels small in every regard outside of those action beats. Sadly, the story’s no great shakes, the dialogue is flat, and you’ll find it difficult to care what’s going on. Aside from the gun play of course.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, interviews]

Color Me Blood Red [Arrow Video]

Color Me Blood RedWhat is it? An artist finds success when painting with human blood!

Why see it? The third and weakest of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ “Blood Trilogy” films, this effort feels like a precursor of sorts to the recent Velvet Buzzsaw with its artist using human blood and finding terror. The bloody chaos is here, but none of it plays as creatively or messily as the previous two films (Blood Feast, Two Thousand Maniacs) leaving the script and characters to be more of a focus. Neither are Lewis’ strong points resulting in a film desperately in need of more zaniness. Fans will want to pick up this release, though, as it’s cleaned up and comes loaded with extras including a whole second feature from the beloved genre filmmaker.

[Blu-ray extras: Something Weird bonus feature, commentary, featurettes, short film, outtakes]

Desert Fury [KL Studio Classics]

Desert FuryWhat is it? A gangster returns to a small town with a deadly history.

Why see it? Two thugs, a young woman looking for love, and a straight arrow lawman collide in a small desert town in this noir-ish tale romance, murder, and destiny. It’s a solid enough film pitting men both bad and good against each other with a woman’s heart in between, but the bad wins out early with unfortunate consequences. The bigger draw here, and the reason the film remains a must-see for films fans/historians, is the not so subtle subtext regarding homosexuality. The two gangsters are seen by some as an unspoken couple whose truth is given away through dialogue shared between and about them. It adds an intriguing layer to the film’s relationship narrative.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]

Dracula’s Fiancee [Redemption]

Draculas FianceeWhat is it? A vampire hunter finds his quarry at a mysterious convent.

Why see it? Jean Rollin’s films elude me. The content seems right up my alley with this film in particular ticking off several appealing boxes — crazy nuns, bloody deaths, abundant T&A — but as usual with Rollin’s work the film just leaves me flat. I blame his fascination with vampires as they bore me, and his preference for the artsy fartsy variety doesn’t help. He has his fans, though, and for them this new release from Redemption and Kino is a no-brainer. The film looks great and the disc includes a second feature as well.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentary, Lost in New York bonus film]

Iceman: The Time Traveler

IcemanWhat is it? A time traveling warrior from long ago continues to find adventure in modern day Hong Kong and beyond.

Why see it? My love for Donnie Yen is immense, but hoo boy, this is a garbage movie. Memories of Jackie Chan’s Chinese Zodiac come to mind watching a fantastic martial artist sink to lame comedy, wire work, and excessive,unimpressive CG work. The story continues where the first film left off — after a ten minute recap — but while jumping through time should be fun the movie is not. The antics grow tiresome, and the action sequences fail to excite thanks to all the trickery. Pass.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

The Return of the Vampire [Scream Factory]

The Return Of The VampireWhat is it? A vampire returns… along with a werewolf and some Nazis.

Why see it? Bela Lugosi playing a vampire? Crazy! Here he’s a bit less cool than Count Dracula but still racks up a body count while keeping an eye out for the ladies. The film’s focus on some human scientists fairs a bit dull, but there’s an engaging thread in the vampire’s werewolf servant. While the film itself is merely fine there’s more of interest to be found in the whopping three new commentary tracks offering context and history to the film’s production.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentaries]

Robin Hood

Robin HoodWhat is it? Finally. A movie about Robin Hood.

Why see it? Young Robin — “Call me Rob.” — is a lord sent off to battle, and when he returns after being labeled a dead man his woman has moved on, his home has been emptied, and a nasty Sheriff has taken control. You know the story, but what this film presupposes is maybe it’s even sillier and involves bow and arrow close-quarters combat? It’s ridiculous and unnecessary to boot, but at least we get an extremely talented black man to train a less talented white man to be a hero. But seriously, the urban warfare with bows and arrows is good fun.

[4K UltraHD/Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, outtakes, featurette]

Skinner [Severin Films]

SkinnerWhat is in? A killer gets under his victims’ skin.

Why see it? As slasher/serial killer movies from the 1990s go this is one that was fondly remembered by genre fans but that never really got a proper home video release. Until now, obviously, as Severin’s new Blu-ray is the ideal way to experience it. Ted Raimi stars as a sicko with a penchant for murder and wearing other people’s skin, and while the film’s first half is wobbly due to some tonal choices and odd Traci Lords behavior the back half ups the ante with more action and a KNB F/X skin suit that is both gross and disturbing. Fans will want to scoop this one up as the film looks quite good for a low budget affair, and the new interviews offers some interesting insight into its production and director Ivan Nagy.

[Blu-ray extras: New 4K scan, interviews, outtakes

So Dark the Night [Arrow Academy]

So Dark The NightWhat is it? A detective on vacation in the country finds a case he can’t ignore.

Why see it? Joseph H. Lewis’ other release this week from Arrow Video’s classy cousin offers a more traditional mystery as a young couple goes missing. The woman had caught the detective’s eye before disappearing which complicates things a bit, and his search for the truth offers some intriguing twists and turns. In addition to a sharp picture the disc includes a commentary from Glenn Kenny and an appreciation exploring the film’s history. It’s a great release for a good film.

[Blu-ray extras: 2K restoration, commentary, featurette]

A Star Is Born

A Star Is BornWhat is it? A successful singer takes a young talent under his wing.

Why see it? This is the fourth version of this particular tale, and it’s every bit as good as the rest. Bradley Cooper does solid work both as director and star, the songs are catchy enough, and Lady Gaga doesn’t embarrass herself on the acting front. There’s power to some of the scenes — her first song at his show, his brother’s (Sam Elliott) clear love — and it finds an emotional core in its story about the ups and downs of life. It’s no best picture of the year, but it’s an enjoyable watch.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Songs, featurette, music videos]

Year of the Dragon [Warner Archive]

Year Of The DragonWhat is it? A tough cop starts causing trouble in a crime-ridden Chinatown.

Why see it? Mickey Rourke headlining a film from director Michael Cimino from a script co-written by Oliver Stone was bound to be an aggressive brew of trouble, and it delivers just that. It’s a tough-talking movie — too much talking maybe — with some intense and bloody action, but it paints a pretty ugly picture of Asian immigrants along the way (and women don’t come off much better). It’s a very 80s movie, but if you can stomach its ugliness there’s a grim and cynically dramatic thriller waiting for you. Warner’s new Blu looks great and features a commentary track from Cimino that’s definitely worth a listen.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]

Youngblood [KL Studio Classics]

YoungbloodWhat is it? A young hockey player finds challenge, adrenaline, and love on and off the ice.

Why see it? Fans of 1977’s Slap Shot may want to give this softer, more young adult friendly take on the material a chance as it hits some of the same themes as its older cousin. Rob Lowe is no Paul Newman obviously, but on the bright side we get Patrick Swayze as the older, wiser player and the terrific Cynthia Gibb as the love interest who probably isn’t wise enough. It’s a familiar underdog tale, but we don’t get too many hockey movies so it’s worth finding some fun with this one.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]


Also out this week:

Death in Venice [Criterion Collection], Frantz Fanon: Black Skin White Mask [Film Movement]

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