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 German soldier impersonates an officer to terrifying effect.
Why see it? Willi Herold was a deserter who escaped punishment by finding a uniform and pretending to be a Nazi officer. He moves through the country attracting a squad willing to follow his orders, and the results show what people are capable of under the right and wrong circumstances. It’s a true story which makes it all the more harrowing in its commentary on how easily evil pervades a gathering, a community, a city, and ultimately a country. Had I seen this last year it would have made my list of 2018’s best foreign language films. And be sure to stay through the end credits as they add a powerful exclamation point to everything that came before.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, Q&A, featurettes, interviews]
What is it? A private eye investigates a possible murder.
Why see it? Andrew Kevin Walker’s masterpiece remains Seven, but his love of darkness also fills this mostly terrific thriller as well. Nicolas Cage headlines and gives a fantastic performance as a man troubled by the depraved nature of what he finds, and he’s joined by Joaquin Phoenix, James Gandolfini, Peter Stormare, and others on a journey straight to hell.The ending is a bit of a cop out, but the bulk of the film is stylish descent into the worst of humanity.
[Blu-ray extras: Interview, commentary, featurette]
What is it? A gay man in World War II Germany is sent to a concentration camp.
Why see it? No film about the horrors of the holocaust is likely to open our eyes to new terror these days, but while most confront the tragedy of the Jewish people this mid 90s drama tackles another group marginalized and murdered by the Third Reich. It’s a tough, heartbreaking watch, and Clive Owen does tremendous work in the lead role. Film Movement’s new Blu offers up both a terrific film to new audiences and a reminder of what waits at the end of a hate-filled road.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, music video, featurette]
What is it? A small town experiences terror and stuff.
Why see it? Stephen King’s fictional town of Castle Rock has been through a lot over the years from rabid dogs to serial killers to destruction at the hands of Satan. The new series focuses on its stories and inhabitants but offers up a wholly original narrative that touches and teases King’s actual books and stories in fun ways. The Easter Eggs are more than mere diversions, though, as they help shape the tone of the town. The main thread here is engaging, the cast is stellar, and the ending is… well, it’s good enough. Bring on season two!
[4K UltraHD/Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
What is it? An unlikely sequel to 1977’s The Car.
Why see it? The Car is a fun mash-up of Jaws and Duel, and while its quality is nowhere near their level it remains an entertaining horror flick. No one really expected a sequel to land four decades later, but it’s here anyway, and boy is it something. There’s a minimal connection to the original — the car model itself appears late in the film — but it’s ultimately its own beast. A near future city sees a gang of misfit villains kill a DA, and his spirit possesses a car for revenge. Or something. There are a couple fun action beats and some wet stuff, but it’s akin to the recent DTV Death Race movies for whatever that’s worth.
[DVD extras: None]
What is it? A Korean Alamo.
Why see it? Korean history comes to life often with period pieces detailing various wars, battles, and kingdoms at odds, but while this latest entry features character relationships and sub-plots the main thrust here is the siege of a fortress that raged for nearly three months. Heroes, villains, and human fodder fill the screen alongside epic battle sequences and some truly exciting action set-pieces. It’s easy to make the comparison to America’s own tale of the Alamo as the honor, bravery, and loyalty to a cause remain the same.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurette]
What is it? Friends enjoying a horror-themed festival come face to face with a real killer.
Why see it? While last year’s Blood Fest beat this one to the punch with a similar plot Hell Fest does the idea far better. It helps that it’s played straight as a slasher of sorts without attempts at corny humor or meta-threads. Also a plus? Some good practical gore effects including one hell of a head squash — head meets hammer and the results are pretty glorious. Some elements work better than others, but the whole works as an effective horror picture you may find yourself re-watching down the road.
[4K UltraHD/Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]
What is it? Surprise, moving into a haunted house isn’t very smart.
Why see it? TV horror movies from the 70s are my jam, and director John Llewellyn Moxey is at the helm of more than a few classics including The Night Stalker and Home for the Holidays. This 1970 entry isn’t nearly in their league, but there’s some chilly thrills to be had as Barbara Stanwyck goes head to head with some 18th century spirits. It’s a minor genre entry, but Kino’s new Blu makes it shine with a 2K remaster and an informative commentary.
[Blu-ray extras: New 2K master, interview, commentary]
What is it? A group of friends get lost in the city and cross paths with violent criminals.
Why see it? Fans of 1992’s Trespass should also be fans of this action picture from the following year as it sees people in a fight for their lives well out of their depth. Emilio Estevez, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jeremy Piven, and Stephen Dorff play the friends and they’re facing off against a mean Denis Leary after witnessing a murder. It’s a fun watch with some satisfying beats, and while I wish the Blu featured some extras — new or old — a sharp-looking picture should be satisfying enough for fans.
[Blu-ray extras: None]
Let the Corpses Tan
What is it? A gang of thieves find trouble in a small town.
Why see it? Writers/directors Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani follow up their stylized riffs on giallo films (Amer, The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears) with a different kind of homage. This time they’re exploring the world of spaghetti westerns and Italian crime films, but while the genre changes (slightly) the style remains the same. It’s more of a sensory experience than a traditional narrative, but if you’re on their wavelength it’s a feast for your eyes and ears.
[Blu-ray extras: None]
What is it? The true story of Marguerite Duras’ struggle during World War II.
Why see it? Duras went on to become a well-respected fiction author, but one of her most popular books is a memoir about her time in Paris during the German occupation. It comes to engaging life with a fantastic Mélanie Thierry as Duras and a sweeping story about love, grief, and deception. It’s a solid film that carries viewers into one of many tragedies from the past.
[DVD extras: Featurette, interview, deleted scenes]
What is it? A cyborg cop does what cyborg cops do.
Why see it? Albert Pyun’s filmography may not be filled with classy movies — or truly good movies — but there’s some fun genre flicks to be found. Nemesis grew into a DTV franchise of varying quality, but the first film offers some exciting set-pieces with gun play, stunts, and a sweaty and naked conversation between a woman and Thomas Jane. It screams early 90s and is exactly the kind of film you watched on cable back then. MVD’s Rewind Collection has typically done a good job bringing these older movies to Blu, but while the extras a solid the picture leaves a lot to be desired. On the plus side the disc includes both a director’s cut and the Japanese extended version.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Two cuts of the film, interviews, commentary, featurettes]
What is it? A young man uses time travel to perfect his relationship.
Why see it? Like a less humorous About Time, the focus of the film here is a man who manipulates time to manipulate a woman’s affection for him. Both films are annoying for the same reason, but at least the former had Bill Nighy. This one isn’t so lucky, and while Asa Butterfield, Sophie Turner, and Skyler Gisondo are perfectly fine there’s just not enough here to make the story compelling. It’s a flat experience.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, short film]
What is it? A widow finds a deadly source of income after her husband’s death.
Why see it? This is a wicked little tale of murder and madness with a terrific Geraldine Page in the lead and a spunky Ruth Gordon bringing up the rear. Page’s widow starts running through housekeepers and fertilizing her garden in the process, but her reign of terror can’t last forever. There’s a solid little stinger at the end too. Kino’s disc includes a commentary offering up some interesting details and anecdotes about production.
[Blu-ray extras: New 4K scan, commentary]
What is it? It’s hard out there for a pimp.
Why see it? Willie Dynamite isn’t nearly as well known as something like Super Fly, but fans of blaxploitation cinema will find plenty to enjoy here starting with a vibrant lead performance from Roscoe Orman. He’s an out-sized personality and headlines the action, character work, and slim commentary on society’s ills, and he’s enough to make this a compelling genre entry. It lacks that extra something special, hence its lesser known status, but fans will be pleased with it and Arrow’s presentation.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]
Also out this week:
24 Frames [Criterion Collection], Blind Date [Scorpion Releasing], Street Law [Code Red], When Harry Met Sally [Shout Select]