Plus 11 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
What is it? Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe prepare for their epic match in 1980’s Wimbledon Men’s final.
Why see it? It’s not only the best tennis movie ever made, it’s also one hell of a sports movie period as it moves gracefully between their personal demons in the days leading up to their first match and the match itself. It’s an emotionally affecting watch brought to life with powerful performances by Sverrir Gudnason and Shia LaBeouf, the match itself is a ridiculously suspenseful affair (even if you already know the historical outcome), and like the fantastic Warrior (2011) it frames the competition as one where we root evenly for both sides. We want both to win, we want neither to lose, and the simultaneous rush of triumph and despair is both satisfying and draining. Sports fans should watch, but so should viewers like myself who simply appreciate a beautiful tale of resilience, resistance, and the human spirit.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None?]
Combat Shock [Severin Films]
What is it? A Vietnam veteran crumbles beneath the weight of madness.
Why see it? It feels wrong calling this a great film as it’s just so damn ugly, but its low budget and raw intensity delivers with the kind of power you don’t often see in more polished affairs. It’s not a movie I imagine many people would watch a second time — but what do I know, I’ve watched Martyrs and Dear Zachary several times each — but if that group involves you then this new release is a must-own. It’s gritty and unsettling in its observations on the American dream, the truth about how we treated our returning heroes,and the piss-poor way we respond to mental illness. There’s a ton of extras here exploring what went into director Buddy Giovinazzo’s production, and yes, that includes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.
[Blu-ray extras: New 4K scan, commentary,interviews, outtakes, featurettes, short films, soundtrack cd]
What is it? A mysterious antihero roams the “west” in If You Meet Sartana… Pray for Your Death, I Am Sartana your Angel of Death, Sartana’s Here… Trade Your Pistol for a Coffin, Have a Good Funeral My Friend… Sartana Will Pay, and Light the Fuse… Sartana Is Coming.
Why see it? These are some wickedly great titles for films in a spaghetti western series, and the movies themselves mostly live up to that hype with tremendous personality and entertaining action sequences. Gunplay, explosions, and mean stares abound as our well-dressed “hero” rights wrongs, seeks vengeance, and generally acts like a thorn in the side of the truly villainous. Arrow continues to do the film-loving lord’s work pulling generally obscure Western titles and giving them beautiful releases, and this is easily the cream of that particular crop. Five restored films with extras, each in their own slim case and collectively encased in a slick slipcase. It’s a fantastic release for fans of westerns, Italian or otherwise.
[Blu-ray extras: New 2K restorations, commentaries, interviews, booklet]
What is it? The rage virus has been cured, and now the infected are returning home.
Why see it? Think of it as the 28 Months Later film we never got as it offers up an intriguing spin on not only the zombie genre as a whole but also the recent variations on the formula including The Returned that show the undead returning to society. The film’s Irish setting suggests an easy leap to the country’s not so distant conflicts as factions develop based on interior differences, but the thematic metaphor extends beyond that to ideas of forgiveness, guilt, and prisoner reform too. Viewers can take it as deep as they choose, but happily it works pretty damn well as a surface level thriller too. It’s ultimately a terrifically tense experience that works both as a simple genre effort and a deeper exploration of how we treat those who’ve trespassed against us.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]
What is it? A quartet of thugs terrorize two young women before ending up as guests at one of the girls’ home.
Why see it? Wes Craven’s exploitation classic has never looked as good as it does here making this a beautiful release for an ugly film. The onscreen action is frequently horrific, but intentional or not the score lends the preceding a comedic effect. (A pair of bumbling cops don’t help either.) For my money the remake succeeds better with the tension, terror, and thrills, but Craven’s film has an undeniable charm about its atrocities. The film alone would land it below the fold, but Arrow’s release belongs under the Best as it’s a gloriously packed set loaded with interviews, featurettes, additional cuts of the movie, other extras, a booklet, and a soundtrack CD all packaged into a sturdy slipcase. It’s a stunning release showing care and affection for every alst detail, and while it’s impressive enough to people like me it will blow true fans of the film away.
[Blu-ray extras: New 2K restoration, additional versions, commentaries, interviews, outtakes, Q&A, soundtrack CD]
What is it? A man who was abducted by aliens returns home.
Why see it? This UK sci-fi chiller is a mix of family drama, alien thrills, and creature feature, and it’s a wonderfully weird blast to boot. The visual effects are plentiful and creepily crafted to the point that they’ll stick in your head for years to come including a back road sighting late at night and a bloody ridiculous birthing scene. (One of the film’s images has been a YouTube favorite for “totally real unidentified monsters!” videos.) It’s the kind of genre picture they just don’t make anymore, and Second Sight’s new Blu-ray gives it all the love in the world with a fantastic transfer and copious amounts of extras. (This is a UK release, but it’s an all-region Blu-ray playable on all players.)
[UK Blu-ray extras: Alternate versions, documentary, featurettes, soundtrack CD]
What is it? The true story of an airplane hijacking in 1976 that ended in Uganda.
Why see it? The story here is a familiar one, both in its specifics and in the broader sense, but the film still succeeds in large part on the power of its cast including Daniel Brühl, Rosamund Pike, and Eddie Marsan. The film movies between planning the act, the hijacking itself, and the Israeli response (both the political wrangling and the rescue raid), and it engages through the drama, tragedy, and brief action beats. The highlight, though, is a music number that opens the film and is then intercut with the raid. It’s a percussive and powerful sequence.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
What is it? Wolfcop finds a new challenge in a businessman with nefarious motives.
Why see it? This Canadian horror/comedy sequel leans heavy on the latter, but it still delivers some fun in the action and effects department. In addition to the wolf visuals (including a messy but cool take on the transformation) we also get bloodletting and a mutant parasite/baby thing bursting out of someone’s stomach and engaging in conversation. It’s goofy from beginning to end. Much of the humor — too much — is super broad and weak starting with cops who love donuts, but viewers who can accept some lazy laughs alongside their hairy fun will have a good time anyway.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
What is it? A former diplomat is tasked with revisiting old skills and old haunts while negotiating a hostage exchange in 1982 Beirut.
Why see it? Jon Hamm’s post-Mad Men career has been dominated by comedic turns both on TV and in movies, and while it’s a clear strength for him more dramatic roles have been somewhat elusive. This 80’s set thriller returns him to darker, more dramatic territory, and he does good work as a man whose faith in himself is as low as his faith in others. Director Brad Anderson crafts an engaging tale that’s a period piece with relevant observations for today’s world, and while it never stands apart or feels revelatory it’s a solid thriller for adults.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
What is it? A military man returns to the woods where his girlfriend was abducted by a big hairy creature.
Why see it? This year’s best Bigfoot movie is Primal Rage, but once you’ve seen that one this take on the big guy may still be worth a spin. It sets up an engaging group of characters and gives brief looks at a solid creature, but it ultimately ends far too soon — and without much in the way of Bigfoot action. It feels like the first two acts of a film, and it’s no surprise that plans for a sequel with a very cool premise are teased in the end.
[DVD extras: None?]
What is it? Three parents try to stop their three daughters from following through on a sex pact on prom night.
Why see it? There’s a lot to enjoy with this oddly appealing mix of raunch and family film, and it starts with the cast including Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, John Cena, and a trio of relative newcomers as the teens. All of them are giving their comedic all with fun and funny results, but more than that the film offers up a strong dynamic in its relationships, characters, and observations on sex. It’s a fun watch that feels honest, and that’s an impressive feat for a film that also features someone butt-chugging a beer.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, gag reel, featurettes, commentary]
What is it? A group of teenage punks leave their facility to find a world where adults are killing children.
Why see it? The recent Mom & Dad found more press earlier this year with a similar premise and a zany Nicolas Cage performance, but while this UK thriller lacks a similar energy or personality it at least has a third act. There are some solid suspense/terror beats once you get past the teens’ intros as obnoxious little shits, and it carries forward with an occasionally thrilling tale of survival. It’s a relatively bleak affair that’s not shy about highlighting the sins of adults even before this apocalypse set in, and it’s equally bold in showing kids being offed.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
Also out this week:
The China Hustle, Devilfish [Code Red], Dietrich and von Sterberg in Hollywood [Criterion Collection], Ismael’s Ghosts, The Jericho Mile [KL Studio Classics], Jurassic Games, The Lullaby, Midnighters [Scream Factory], Prefontaine [KL Studio Classics], Submission, Where Is Kyra?