Plus 15 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
The Strangers: Prey at Night
What is it? Three mask-wearing weirdos are still looking for their friend Tamara.
Why see it? It’s been ten years, but this sequel follows the basic setup of its predecessor with protagonists on edge and at odds before the killers even arrive, but while it doubles the potential victim pool it cuts in half our empathy and concern for them. The film’s first fifty minutes or so are a generic affair, but then something happens. The characters come alive. Our surviving protagonists realize they can actually resist being murdered, and our antagonists discover they’re every bit as human in both their strengths and weaknesses. For the first time uncertainty creeps onscreen leaving viewers unsure what will happen and who will live, and the action even finds room to breathe with Christine-inspired vehicular fun. Scenes move in fresh directions, outcomes vary greatly from ones you’re sure are coming, and you might even find yourself cheering for characters you previously disliked. That’s a long way from the somber experience of the first film, and that goes double for the neon-lit pool scene.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Alternate ending, music video, featurettes]
What is it? A man stuck in a wheelchair sees something horrible and hairy happening through his binoculars.
Why see it? As riffs on Rear Window go, this is easily one of the most entertaining. Rather than witness a mere murder, our hero sees Bigfoot slaughtering his way through a cabin full of young women. The film’s goofy at times, but once the big guy appears on screen he brings carnage and mayhem with him. It’s good fun all around, and fantastic creature effects add to the entertainment value. This disc marks the film’s debut in HD, and includes a new version with enhanced CG work. The differences are minor unless you watch them both back to back. Toss in a wealth of fun extras and you have a terrific home video release of one of the best Bigfoot movies out there.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 2K transfer, introduction, commentary, featurette, deleted scenes, bloopers, short films, original version]
King of Hearts
What is it? A Scottish soldier finds himself stuck in a town populated only by the insane.
Why see it? The synopsis sounds like the setup of a horror movie (that I would definitely watch), but the story here is an absurdist gem exploring the madness that is war. Alan Bates plays the intrepid soldier who finds the town empty aside from the residents of its asylum, and as his time with them comes under fire from encroaching military forces he begins to identify more with the officially insane. Themes are similar to those found in Catch 22 and the like, but they’re played more for absurd and endearing humor.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 4K restoration, commentary, interviews]
What is it? A teenage boy struggles with coming out while dealing with family, friends, and strangers alike.
Why see it? Teen coming of age movies are a dime a dozen, but Greg Berlanti’s latest delivers a smart blend of the familiar and the fresh. It’s a sweet and warm movie offering laughs and surprises in support of its immense heart. It belongs in the conversation about the best teen movies as its a rare blend of story and honesty, and you’ll care about these characters as if they were friends and family of your own. A warning though… be sure to keep plenty of tissues on hand as the film is a miracle cure for dry eyes.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes, commentary]
Ninja III: The Domination [Scream Factory]
What is it? A ninja possesses an aerobics instructor for obvious reasons.
Why see it? The first twelve minutes of this action “classic” offers up a mesmerizing mix of ninja action, absurdity, and slaughter, and it’s an utter joy to behold. From the golf course attack to the sexy V8 juice sequence, this is 80s cinema at its finest. The action is occasionally impressive but always entertaining, and the horror element brings something fresh to the ninja subgenre. Scream Factory previously released this ninja romp from Cannon but are now giving it a Collector’s Edition complete with a sharp new 4K scan. It’s well worth the double dip as the picture and new extras offer new appreciation for the madness within.
[Blu-ray extras: New 4K scan, interviews, commentary]
What is it? Two strangers see their lives swapped for the amusement of two wealthy brothers.
Why see it? This is arguably John Landis’ funniest film as it sees both Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd at the top of their game alongside a terrific comic turn from Jamie Lee Curtis. The double-crosses, mind games, and one-liners all delight, and no matter how many times I’ve seen it the big stock price switcheroo at the end still confuses the hell out of me. I don’t need to understand it to love it though. There’s nothing new in the supplements, but I’m sticking it in the Best section anyway as the movie is just that great.
[Blu-ray extras: Featurettes, deleted scene]
Coming to America
What is it? An African prince heads to Queens, NY in search of a woman to make his queen back home.
Why see it? Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall double team the Big Apple by playing seven different characters, and the laughs are pretty frequent as the culture clash and character mix lands one big giggle after the last. The film remains John Landis’ second biggest hit (behind only Animal House), and the comedy is every bit effective thirty years later. This new Blu-ray is a straight forward anniversary release meaning there’s nothing new added on the extras front.
[Blu-ray extras: Featurettes]
Designing Woman [Warner Archive]
What is it? A new couple reflects on their short relationship.
Why see it? A romantic comedy with Lauren Bacall and Gregory Peck feels like an oddity, but they pair well and show comedic chops that aren’t present in most of their respective films. It’s a fun rom-com that sees this unlikely pairing run afoul of exes, mobsters, and miscommunication, and it has a good time with the format too. The film is basically being told by all the various players as if they’re telling a crazy story that touched their lives, and it adds to the humor and fun of it all.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]
Dirty Grandpa – 4K UltraHD
What is it? A young man takes a break with his pervy grandfather.
Why see it? Honestly, who could have predicted twenty years ago that Robert De Niro would star alongside an ex-Disney kid in a raunchy comedy like this? The pair deliver some laughs and a little bit of heart, and both have obviously become better known for their comedic sides recently, but it’s a minor comedy when all is said and done. This 4K re-release is fine for fans, but you’d be hard-pressed to call it an essential upgrade as comedies aren’t exactly the kind of genre that benefits most from extra visual clarity.
[4K UltraHD/Blu-ray extras: Featurettes, gag reel, commentary]
What is it? A special young man runs through history.
Why see it? Robert Zemeckis’ Best Picture winner remains a technical marvel, and there’s great fun to be had from Tom Hanks’ interactions with history’s big moments. It’s an epic tale of sorts, and his smaller stories and relationships make for a compelling watch. What ultimately hurts the film, though, is its central relationship and motivation — Gump’s unfortunate love for Jenny. Get past those too frequent scenes, and there’s fun and casual thrills to be had. The new 4K presentation highlights the attractively shot film.
[4K UltraHD/Blu-ray extras: Commentaries, featurettes]
What is it? An evil wizard abducts a woman with the help of a giant monster.
Why see it? Old-school action/fantasy films are always good fun in part because of their use of stop-motion special effects. The ones here aren’t necessarily Ray Harryhausen-level, but they’re still delightful and add to the charm of the adventure as our hero Jack faces off against monsters in the name of justice and love. Kino Lorber’s new Blu-ray features a remastered picture and two cuts of the film — the original theatrical and a slightly shorter musical version.
[Blu-ray extras: Two cuts, commentary]
What is it? A Korean myth comes to life leading others toward death.
Why see it? Horror movies from Asian cultures are often based on myths and legends that are fresh to the rest of the world. This Korean feature touches on stories of a ghost that taunts and terrifies through vocal mimicry. The film pairs the human impressions with some creepy imagery, but while the ghost’s sounds are eerie the film’s over-reliance on music stingers for jump scares gets old quick.
[Blu-ray extras: None]
Spetters [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Three friends come of age in an industrial, working-class town.
Why see it? Paul Verhoeven’s films are always worth a spin as even his lesser films are visually interesting affairs. This 1980 entry from his home country of Denmark is one of the good ones, and while it lacks genre touches it’s an engaging look at young people behaving badly as they attempt to define themselves and recognize who they are in life. They’re not “nice” guys, and life treats them accordingly, but they feel real in their desires and experiences. Speaking of the latter, like many films from the Netherlands in the 80s this is a pretty explicit movie in regards to sexuality and nudity, so keep that in mind before popping it in for family film night.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]
Terminator: Genisys – 4K UltraHD
What is it? Time travel’s a real bitch on continuity.
Why see it? Re-casting familiar and beloved characters can be a risk, but if the story and beats work viewers are more likely to go along with the change. That’s my way of saying the story and beats don’t quite work here. Arnold Schwarzenegger is back, but the rest of the franchise regulars have been replaced by younger, “sexier” versions lacking in charisma or emotional heft. The story is something of a mess, but the action is a mix of fun set-pieces and CG shenanigans. You already know if you’re a fan of this installment, and if you are the new 4K looks fantastic.
[4K UltraHD/Blu-ray extras: Featurettes]
What is it? A young woman goes spelunking.
Why see it? From its video game origins to two Angela Jolie-led feature films, the Tomb Raider brand continues to carry on celebrating its kick-ass heroine. Alicia Vikander takes the lead this time out with the awesomely named Roar Uthaug in the director’s chair, and the result is a solid adventure with good action and character beats. It’s definitely the best of the adaptations, and Vikander is a convincing action hero.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
Will & Grace: The Revival – Season One
What is it? It’s the return of Will & Grace & Jack & Karen!
Why see it? Fans of the long-running sitcom should be more than happy with its return as the cast and behind the scenes talents slip right back into things as if they never stopped. As familiar as it all is the show does go heavy with humorous critiques and jokes aimed at the current administration. It’s basically the opposite of Roseanne — and not just because it’s actually funny and wasn’t canceled.
[DVD extras: Gag reel, featurettes]
Also out this week:
Darkman Trilogy, Edward II, Gross Anatomy, Hamlet, The Humanity Bureau, Jerry Lewis – 10 Films, The Late Great Planet Earth, Loveless, Manila in the Claws of Light [Criterion Collection], More American Graffiti, Orange Is the New Black – Season Five, Ordinary Man, Tehran Taboo
Related Topics: Home Video