Plus 13 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
I Am a Hero
What is it? A man struggles to survive a zombie apocalypse in Tokyo.
Why see it? I’ve been hoping to catch this one for a few years now, but it repeatedly eluded me at festivals and avoided an official US release. Happily, Funimation has just solved that problem by making it available on home video and VOD, and it is well worth the blind buy for fans of zombie action. Based on the popular manga, the film follows a shy, far from brave manga artist who’s thrust into this new life with little preparation. Fantastic set-pieces, frequent and bloody gore effects, and a strong sense of character make for a terrifically thrilling ride through a sub-genre that typically feels overdone. It’s fun and exciting, and it’s highly recommended.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None?]
Beyond Re-Animator [Vestron Video]
What is it? Dr. Herbert West is behind bars but still up to his old tricks involving re-animating the dead.
Why see it? I think I’m a minority of one in that I vastly prefer this film to its predecessor, Bride of Re-Animator. While that film’s tone is off to me, this one sings with its absurdity. The effects work is bursting with creativity, the humor is pitch black (when it’s not busy being broad), and it’s just a bloody fun romp. It can’t match the original’s charm and personality, but it’s just a crass blast of guts, gags, and grue that finds new fun with its ridiculously charismatic anti-hero. Vestron’s new Blu-ray comes loaded with extras shedding light on the production as well as a look into H.P. Lovecraft’s life.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentary, interviews, featurette, music video]
In the Mouth of Madness [Scream Factory]
What is it? John Carpenter’s last great movie.
Why see it? If I’m being honest, this 1994 masterpiece of Lovecraftian madness and terror is even Carpenter’s last “good” movie, but seeing as it’s preceded by 11 other very good/great movies (and only one dud) you’d be a fool to complain too much about his output over the last twenty-plus years. This gem sends Sam Neill into a spiral towards hell as an author’s books find life in the real world. Or do they? Either way, it’s awesome and pure Carpenter from the visuals on through the score. The film’s previously been available on Blu, but Scream Factory ups the ante with a gorgeous new 4K scan, a new Carpenter commentary, and plenty more.
[Blu-ray extras: New 4K scan, commentaries, featurettes, interviews]
A Matter of Life and Death [Criterion Collection]
What is it? A man must defend himself in heavenly court.
Why see it? David Niven plays an RAF pilot who jumps to his death from a burning plane only to miraculously survive. It seems there was a mix up upstairs, and in the time it takes Heaven to catch their error the pilot has fallen in love. Very much an influence on Albert Brooks’ brilliant Defending Your Life, this Powell & Pressburger production is a marvelous slice of the fantastic. Kim Hunter delights as the American radio operator who catches his eye and heart, and the film makes a strong argument for the power of love. The film is gorgeous with tremendous sets (that staircase!) and impressive production design bringing the afterlife to life, and the splendor goes beyond the visual to a sharp script and engaging performances. It’s a fun, affirming movie that leaves you better off than when you started it, and that’s something worth celebrating. Criterion’s new Blu is beautiful and packed with informative extras.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 4K restoration, interviews, commentary,
Operation Red Sea
What is it? The Chinese Navy’s special forces team fights terrorists.
Why see it? Director Dante Lam may not always understand logic and character, but the man knows action. His follow-up to Operation Mekong ups the ante in every way and packs the screen with action set-pieces that deliver kick-ass kinetics. Squad structure, snipers, explosives, and full-on gun battles keep things constantly engaging, and while the expected Chinese patriotism is in full force it’s never at the detriment of the excitement. I’m not entirely convinced Chinese soldiers covering their mouths and noses and then passing as Middle Eastern is all that legit, but what are you gonna do… movies!
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes]
The Con Is On
What is it? A pair of married con artists tackle a big heist in Los Angeles.
Why see it? It’s hard to not enjoy a heist film. Ensemble casts, elaborate planning, and a satisfying payoff are guaranteed good times, and this direct to video flick meets the bare minimum requirements. Parker Posey, Maggie Q, Alice Eve, Uma Thurman, and Tim Roth are all good fun, and while none of it is super engaging there’s enough here to hold the attention of genre fans. Its story turns offer minor elation, so consider this a minor distraction.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
Dagon [Vestron Video]
What is it? A couple is stranded on a remote island with a weird populace.
Why see it? Stuart Gordon’s continued love for H.P. Lovecraft continues with this adaptation of the short story, and while the budget’s low — resulting in some hideous optical effects — the practical work is terrifically grim and creative. The people have mutated to varying degrees, but there’s violence too including one hell of a face-rip. It’s an interesting tale of mankind’s reverse evolution back towards the sea, and Vestron’s new Blu pairs it with a healthy portion of new extras exploring the story and production.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentaries, interviews, featurette]
I Walk Alone [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A thief leaves jail after fourteen years seeking satisfaction or retribution from the partner who prospered in his absence.
Why see it? Burt Lancaster plays the ex-con while Kirk Douglas gives life to the crook who went straight, and both do strong work with their opposing perspectives on the past. Toss in a couple dames and you have a tight little noir that sets the stage for an engaging clash of wills. Neither man is all that good, but both are determined. Kino Lorber brings the film to Blu-ray with a new HD master from a 4K scan, and fans will be very pleased with the results.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]
What is it? Two women who survived a home invasion as children return home to find the horror has continued.
Why see it? Pascal Laugier’s one hell of a divisive filmmaker, but while Martyrs and The Tall Man are flat-out brilliant his third feature is quite a bit messier. His themes are as jumbled as his plot, and while there’s the core of something special here in its story about what it takes to fight back the execution makes it less effective than you’d hope. The opening twenty minutes are pretty great though.
[DVD extras: None?]
Memoirs of an Invisible Man [Scream Factory]
What is it? A stock analyst is accidentally turned invisible and finds himself on the run from government goons.
Why see it? As noted above for this week’s other John Carpenter release, he had an amazing and unparalleled run of eleven feature films that are arguably very good to great. This 1992 studio effort is the film that broke that streak. It’s just so endlessly dull, and while Sam Neill does good work as a bad guy its two leads — Chevy Chase and Daryl Hannah — are just flat and unaffecting. Chase in particular seems ill-suited for the role’s more serious moments. Sure the effects were impressive at the time, but they’ve aged and add nothing to the film now.
[Blu-ray extras: New 2K scan, outtakes, featurette]
The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey [Arrow Video]
What is it? Villagers hoping to escape the plague in the 14th century tunnel into the ground and emerge in modern day (1980s) New Zealand.
Why see it? Vincent Ward’s second feature gained critical fame worldwide and propelled his move to North America for bigger (and arguably better) features. The charm remains, though, with this scrappy little genre tale blending science fiction, adventure, and spirituality into an engaging quest for survival. Ward captures his worlds with a distinct look most obviously present in the black & white medieval time and colorful arrival into the 1980s. It’s played serious (unlike something like Just Visiting), and that tone in turn finds the drama at the heart of their efforts.
[Blu-ray extras: Featurette, documentary, booklet]
Ready Player One – 4K UltraHD
What is it? A teenager searches for Easter eggs in a virtual world in order to win the chocolate factory.
Why see it? Steven Spielberg’s films are always worth a spin, and many of them have become pop culture fixtures. His latest, an adaptation of the popular novel, celebrates that fact with a sci-fi world built on people’s addiction to content — specifically pre-2000 content, oddly, seeing as it’s set in 2045. The visuals are impressive, and the Stanley Kubrick sequence is amazing, but the film itself is a pretty shitty appreciation of nerd culture. You can be whoever/whatever you want to be? Cool, so why choose characters created by someone else as your identity? Everyone’s different from their avatar except the manic pixie dream girl? The male hero makes two big decisions for her so he can be the hero? Pass.
[4K UltraHD/Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
Supergirl [Warner Archive]
What is it? Superman’s cousin comes to earth and wacky heroics ensue.
Why see it? The Salkinds’ fourth Superman film mentions the more familiar hero in a brief radio bit, but the film belongs to Supergirl. Unfortunately, it’s not the best introduction to the character as she’s an utter moron. The writing is overly silly across the board, but she’s crafted as an idiot of sorts — she’s less the empathetic idealist and more plain stupid. Helen Slater is still appealing though, and Faye Dunaway hams it up nicely as the main villain. It’s ultimately more enjoyable as an artifact of a different period in Hollywood’s approach to superhero tales.
[Blu-ray extras: Documentary, commentary]
Tiger By the Tail [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A vet returns home to find his brother the victim of a deadly robbery.
Why see it? Christopher George is always great fun, and here he gets to play a rough and tumble protagonist with his back against the wall. His brother’s dead, his business interests are days away from being legally stolen from him, and an old flame (Tippi Hedren) may or may not be trustworthy. It’s a solid little thriller that sees George butting heads with the town’s powerful forces while he searches for stolen money and his borther’s killer. Kino Lorber’s new Blu offers up an HD master of a 4K scan.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]
What is it? A man finds challenges on his way to windsurfing success.
Why see it? Nicole Kidman is the big name here in an early role as a pop singer who partners up with the windsurfing champ, and her future shift towards stardom is evident. The film’s an engaging drama about one man’s attempts at being better than he is, and the challenges he faces include both relationship issues and a shark. A shark! It’s a good flick, but it’s surprising to hear it was a success on release as I’ve never heard of it before this release. (That, of course, is the beauty of home video releases.)
[Blu-ray extras: Commentary, promos, poster]
Also out this week:
Another Soul, Gravity Falls: The Complete Series, The Incantation, Indivisible, Love After Love, The Midnighters, No Good Heroes, Three Way Wedding, You Will Be Mine
Related Topics: Home Video