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 young woman accepts a position at a dance academy only to discover it holds a dark secret.
Why see it? Luca Guadagnino makes gorgeous movies, and his entry into the horror genre is no different. It’s an entirely new creation that honors Dario Argento’s vision while forging its own beautiful and nightmarish path with its story about necessary revolutions and the women behind them. Pain, suffering, and a story about change. Change by necessity, change by force, and depending on where you’re standing when shit gets very, very real — change for the better. Fans of Argento’s original film have nothing to fear from this remake as his feature remains a unique experience this film isn’t trying to replicate. It’s still a brilliant film, though, as it takes the core story and crafts it into its own memorable and mesmerizing thing.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
In the Heat of the Night [Criterion Collection]
What is it? A black detective passing through 1960s Mississippi finds trouble.
Why see it? Norman Jewison’s Academy Award winning feature remains a powerful indictment of hatred and a celebration of honor, justice, and begrudging respect. Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger headline a strong cast, and both give incredibly affecting performances in their righteousness and racism. It’s an honest look at America in the form of a thriller, and even if you ignore the social commentary (although why would you) the murder story remains a suspenseful and exciting watch. Criterion’s new Blu-ray affords the film a sharp, stunning picture in addition to extras that enhance and magnify an appreciation for the film.
[Blu-ray extras: New 4K restoration, interviews, commentary, featurettes, booklet]
Tarzan Goes to India [Warner Archive]
What is it? Uh, Tarzan goes to India? I mean it’s right there in the title.
Why see it? This run of Tarzan movies doesn’t quite get the credit it deserves as they frequently deliver solid action and scenery. This entry from 1962 is a great example as the landscape and wildlife of India come to fantastic life in a tale about greedy developers threatening the lives of locals and a herd of elephants. Tarzan helps out as you expect, but along the way we get strong action beats and some pretty terrifying animal horror — a bull elephant fight, a cobra tangle with a mongoose, and more. It’s a legit thrilling watch in big, glorious Cinemascope.
[Blu-ray extras: None]
Benchwarmers 2: Breaking Balls
What is it? Two idiots and a normal guy became baseball underdogs.
Why see it? I’m not sure if there are actual fans of 2006’s The Benchwarmers, but if you’re out there you’re in luck — they made a sequel! To be clear, only Jon Lovitz returns (unsurprisingly), and the three departing “funny” guys are replaced by Chris Klein, but still… it’s a sequel. It’s also utterly devoid of laughs and purpose.
[DVD extras: None]
What is it? A couple struggles to “cure” their teenage son after discovering he’s gay.
Why see it? Joel Edgerton’s latest effort as director tackles a dramatic and powerful story in fairly rote ways. There’s no denying the importance of recognizing the fear and hatred that leads to such things as conversion therapy, but as a film it’s at its strongest through its three lead performances. Lucas Hedges plays the teen while Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe play his parents, and all three give intense performances filled with emotion that’s somewhat flat elsewhere in the film itself. Still, an important story.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
What is it? A young girl’s gift from her deceased mother sends her on an adventure into a magical land.
Why see it? The classic tale of The Nutcracker gets the big Disney treatment for better or worse depending on your tastes. The simple story is made overly complicated, and of course brought to life through lots and lots of CG effects and landscapes. Fans of this type of fare will probably find something to enjoy, but I’m not convinced the target audience — kids — will be all that enamored. I could be wrong, though, so you all do you.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, music videos, deleted scenes]
Reign of the Supermen
What is it? Superman is dead, long live the super folks who try to fill his shoes.
Why see it? The Death of Superman continues as four wannabe “Supermen” arrive to fill the void. Each is distinct, and none are Superman, but their presence brings Metropolis closer to danger as one of them might not be the hero they pretend to be. There’s good fun and action here in finding out the truth, and it ramps up once the other members of the Justice League arrive. It also continues to boggle me that these animated films from DC can be so consistently entertaining while the live-action films frequently struggle. To be sure, I love Wonder Woman and Aquaman, but can we get a great live-action team-up movie please?
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, bonus cartoons]
Screamers [Scream Factory]
What is it? Mechanical killing machines threaten lives and resources on a futuristic planet.
Why see it? Peter Weller headlines, and that’s always reason enough to watch a film — especially of the genre variety — but there’s also some fun action beats here as people face off against each other and the robotic threats. There are some cool, gory kills too as the mechanical beings tear through flesh before revealing their higher aspirations. Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray is light on extras but the new interviews with filmmakers offer some insight into its production.
[Blu-ray extras: Interviews]
What is it? Murders send a supernaturally afflicted town into a tizzy.
Why see it? This horror/comedy sat on a shelf for a couple years before getting a quiet release late in 2018, and while it’s easy to see why it didn’t get a bigger, quicker push there’s still fun to found here. The core setup is pretty cool with a town that’s home to ghosts, witches, and humans visited by a werewolf on a moped who just might be a killer, and there are some laughs too thanks to the likes of Paul Scheer, Chris Parnell, and Zazie Beetz. The whole, though, is something of a mess that misses the mark more often than it hits.
[DVD extras: Deleted scenes, commentary]
Suburbia [Shout Select]
What is it? A group of young homeless punks struggle against society, bad manners, and adults bored with their own lives.
Why see it? Penelope Spheeris’ ode to punk music fans shines a light on the sad reality of young people forced out of their homes by abuse, addiction, and circumstance, but while I respect the message I really dislike the film. None of the characters are likable as they treat others like crap — our kids ripping off a woman’s clothing at a show and laughing as she screams naked amid the crowd is a highlight — and the adults are no better. We do get two scenes of little kids biting the dust, though, so I guess it’s a mixed bag? It’s also worth noting that I’m in the minority on this one, so if you you’re a fan know that this new Blu-ray looks fantastic.
[Blu-ray extras: New 4K scan, commentaries]
Tarzan’s Three Challenges [Warner Archive]
What is it? Tarzan continues filling up his passport, this time with a trip to Thailand.
Why see it? This follow-up to Tarzan’s trip to India isn’t quite as engaging or thrilling, but in addition to some more gorgeous scenery the film does build to a pretty terrific one on one conflict between Tarzan and Woody Strode. A foot chase is followed by a sword fight atop a large rope netting, and it’s good stuff. Kudos to Warner Archive for continuing to rescue these older films as they capture the spirit of Tarzan so much better than later, more convoluted efforts.
[Blu-ray extras: None]
Also out this week:
Bloody New Year [Vinegar Syndrome], A Climax of Blue Power [Vinegar Syndrome], Deadly Force [Shout Factory], The Game – The Complete Series, Kidding – Season One, Sarah T. Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic [Shout Factory], Splatter University [Vinegar Syndrome], There’s Nothing Out There [Vinegar Syndrome], Uninvited [Vinegar Syndrome]
Related Topics: Home Video