Features and Columns · Movies

Ants Invade Our Pick of the Week in 4K!

Plus 19 more new releases to watch at home this week on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD!
Phase Iv
By  · Published on February 27th, 2024

Streaming might be the future, but physical media is still the present. It’s also awesome, depending on the title, the label, and the release, so each week we take a look at the new Blu-rays and DVDs making their way into the world. Welcome to this week in Home Video for February 27th, 2024! This week’s home video selection includes Phase IV in 4K, two new Korean action/thrillers, and more. Check out our picks below.

Pick of the Week

Phase Iv UhdPhase IV [4K UHD, Vinegar Syndrome]

What is it? Two scientists realize the ants are up to something…

Why see it? Saul Bass’ sole directorial effort is a masterclass in smart eco-horror, and while its pacing may not be for everyone, the film’s revelations work to build a growing terror. It’s a suspenseful film, one that sets up both sides, human and ant, and then commences with a battle of wits and determination on its way to fantastic ending with some unsettling implications. The film’s pacing is an issue for some, but it all plays out so beautifully with a precision that feels appropriate for a tale about ants. Bass uses his eye for memorable visuals to deliver both the dramatic scenes and the other-worldly ones that feel a part of the ants environment. Vinegar’s new 4K release looks fantastic and comes with some informative extras, but the big selling point here for some will be the inclusion of the preview cut with new/different scenes and the montage ending. No actual print of it survives, so Vinegar reconstructed it using their theatrical restoration and the additional sequences. The three disc set is a keeper, complete with slick packaging, and fans of the film should already have it on order.

[Extras: New restoration, commentary, theatrical and preview versions, documentary, featurette, deleted scenes]

The Best

Five Card Stud5 Card Stud [Vinegar Syndrome]

What is it? You got your mystery in my western!

Why see it? Genre hybrids are an eternally fun concept that not enough films attempt, but this late 60s feature from Henry Hathaway got the memo. It’s a western, but there’s a murder mystery at its core bringing a mysterious killer and a trail of corpses into a six-gun town. That’s already enough to recommend this one, but it just gets better from there thanks to a cast that includes Dean Martin, Robert Mitchum, Roddy McDowell, Yaphet Kotto, and more familiar faces. It’s a fun time, and Vinegar’s new Blu-ray cleans up the film and adds informative new extras.

[Extras: New 4K restoration, commentary, featurettes]

AllonsanfanAllonsanfan [Radiance]

What is it? A tale of revolution and regret.

Why see it? Marcello Mastroianni headlines this lavishly produced drama about a man whose choices land him in hot water again and again. Newly released from jail by authorities with ulterior motives, he can’t help but walk back into more trouble. A beautiful period piece, the film teases the likes of Barry Lyndon (released the following year in 1975) with its lush visuals, memorable score (a fantastic one here by Ennio Morricone), and a lead character who simply can’t get a handle on a life that keeps offering up gold. There’s some wit here, but it’s a drama through and through with romance, betrayals, and more. That said, directors Paolo & Vittorio Taviani infuse it with moments of magical disconnect that sparkle with unexpected life. Great new title from Radiance.

[Extras: New 2K restoration, commentary, interviews]

Black Tight KillersBlack Tight Killers [Radiance]

What is it? A guy looking for love finds adventure instead.

Why see it? Yasuharu Hasebe’s mid 60s romp is just that, a wild time that screams “the sixties” with nearly every frame. Our hero is an everyman, but the film puts him through some James Bond-like adventures involving secret groups, oddball killers, saucy women, and more. Romance and adventure make for fun bedfellows, and the film’s style keeps things pleasing to the eye throughout its short running time. It’s an entertaining genre flick filled with unique touches and details showing off both western influences and elements that Hollywood would borrow later on. As is always the case, Radiance’s new Blu-ray comes with engaging and enlightening extras.

[Extras: Commentary, interview]

Contagion UhdContagion [4K UHD]

What is it? A disturbingly accurate look at how humankind acts in the face of a deadly pandemic.

Why see it? Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 feature was a cautionary tale that too many people ignored come 2020, and it remains a terrifying watch because of that truth. An ensemble thriller, the film sees a pandemic set off involving a deadly virus, and as the plague spreads and body count rises, different people and groups react in different ways. It’s a harrowing watch, even more so now, and Soderbergh’s eye ensures that the film looks good and flows well even as the world is falling apart. It’s arguably a horror movie, but it’s also just a sadly accurate indictment of our weaknesses and a celebration of our strengths. Here’s hoping the latter will continue to win out.

[Extras: Featurettes]

Gunfight At Ok Corral UhdGunfight at the O.K. Corral [4K UHD, KL Studio Classics]

What is it? A western classic from John Sturges.

Why see it? There are dozens of films exploring the life and times of Wyatt Earp, and while some aim for historical accuracy, others aim merely to entertain. This late 50s western from director John Sturges sits among the latter as it plays fast and loose with the known facts of the confrontation between Wyatt Earp, his men, and the Clanton gang. Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas headline as Earp and Doc Holliday, respectively, and we also get Dennis Hopper, Lee Van Cleef, DeForest Kelley, and more. The action scenes pop, the actors are legends, and the film delivers as big western entertainment.

[Extras: New 4K scan, commentary]

Man On The BrinkMan on the Brink [Kani]

What is it? An undercover cop goes too far down.

Why see it? Alex Cheung’s early 80s tale of an ambitious cop whose undercover assignment takes him places he can’t quite recover from isn’t nearly as well known as it deserves to be. We’ve seen the basics of this story before, but the Hong Kong take includes some strong action beats in addition to character drama that lands with intensity and emotional weight. There’s a gritty, in your face feel to it all as we find ourselves moving about with our protagonist, and it’s not long before we wonder if we’re going to be stuck in hell too.

[Extras: Interview, commentary, short films]

The Rest

Blind Faith

What is it? A serial killer roams the streets.

Why see it? Shot-on-video thrillers often tackle the serial killer as their subject, and it’s easy to see why. Effects can be minimal, as can the sets, and some viewers will be placated with bloody kills and boobs. For those wanting just a little bit more, though, this effort takes itself pretty seriously and delivers a more traditional tale, albeit one on a micro budget. Still, it’s for SOV fans only. The disc is loaded with extras, so those same fans will be pleased.

[Extras: Commentary, interviews, short films]

Bubble Bath [Deaf Crocodile]

What is it? An animated drama about regret, indecision, and what we really want in life.

Why see it? Deaf Crocodile has been doing great work bringing animated and/or fantastical films from eastern European countries back to life, and this Hungarian effort fits that bill. The only feature from director Gyorgy Kovasznai, the film is something of a trippy, psychedelic ride through adulthood. It’s grounded, in theory, but the visuals offer up some fantastical imagery along the way. Fans of animated fare for adults will want to give this one a spin as its style and narrative choices stand it apart from the pack.

[Extras: New restoration, commentary, interview, short films]

Carpet Cowboys

What is it? A documentary about the town where most of America’s industrial carpets are born.

Why see it? If you’ve walked the halls of hotels and wings of airports, the odds are good that you stepped foot across carpets designed and produced in Dalton, Georgia. Why? Good question, one touched on here, but the bigger focus is the lives of those caught up in the carpet game, for better and worse. This is a documentary that kicks off with an unusual and oddly appealing subject before settling in to some traditional beats, but it maintains an interest level thanks to both the filmmaking and the focus.

[Extras: Deleted scenes, Q&A]

Dr, Cheon and the Lost Talisman

What is it? A charlatan discovers that the supernatural is real.

Why see it? This South Korean genre effort feels like the kind of thing Touchstone or Hollywood Pictures might have released here in the 90s — lots of special effects, minor thrills, a charismatic cast. That’s not a knock, either, as movies like this serve a real purpose as perfectly fine entertainment that won’t weigh on your emotions or memory. It’s a fun time, and the ninety-nine minute running time doesn’t hurt either.

[Extras: None]

Dream Scenario

What is it? A man discovers that he’s appearing in other people’s dreams.

Why see it? Nicolas Cage is never less than interesting on screen, and that especially true here as he’s tasked with playing an everyman who suddenly becomes an everywhere man. The result is a comedy that finds some very funny beats before shifting into a profoundly sad look at the reality of our lives — that being that they don’t belong to us alone anymore. Others seem fixated on the comedic aspect, but I’d be hard-pressed to call it a comedy, so fair warning.

[Extras: Deleted scenes, commentary, featurette]

The Moon

What is it? A lone astronaut is stuck after a lunar trip goes wrong.

Why see it? The obvious inspiration here is Ridley Scott’s The Martian, and while this South Korean film can’t touch that Hollywood production, it still finds some minor thrills and emotional beats. Our protagonist’s team dies, leaving him alone to complete the moon mission, but things only get more precarious from there. Visual effects are solid, performances are big but fine, and this is a rare Korean film that doesn’t demonize the entirety of the U.S. government (they’re jerks for a bit before eventually coming around).

[Extras: Featurette]

Next Goal Wins

What is it? The true story of the American Samoa soccer team.

Why see it? Think of this as the slightly more accurate, and noticeably less entertaining, version of Cool Runnings, and you’ll know just what you’re getting into. Taika Waititi’s latest is a low-key and light watch starring Michael Fassbender, Will Arnett, and Elisabeth Moss, and it’s as harmless a film as you’re likely to find. Amusing at times, mildly emotional at others. It’s fine.

[Extras: Featurette, deleted scene]


What is it? Witches. Why’d it have to be witches.

Why see it? Witchy horror is a subgenre that doesn’t quite get the love it deserves, and there really aren’t enough of them. This Slovakian chiller takes a slow burn approach with breaks for stylistic endeavors, and while that’s what holds it back there are still some terrific beats here as the witch hunt and folk horror elements grow in their intensity. Our protagonist’s journey of self discovery is ultimately what the film delivers, but the horror elements add a solid touch.

[Extras: None]

The Playgirls and the Vampire [Vinegar Syndrome]

What is it? Showgirls in an old, dark house!

Why see it? Well, an old castle anyway, but the showgirls part is correct as five saucy ladies and their manager are forced to spend the night in a vampire’s domicile. This early 60s effort is played straight, for better or worse, as the vampire makes his moves on the scantily clad ladies, but the decade of production also sees the film jumping in on the dance party craze too. It’s its own thing, marrying the horror with the peekaboo, an Italian film making an effort to pass as American, and while neither half sings really, the pairing makes for some basic entertainment for fans of the vampire subgenre.

[Extras: New 4K restoration, interview]

The Rock-afire Explosion

What is it? A documentary about Chuck E. Cheese’s big competitor.

Why see it? When it comes to pizza places with video games and animatronic bands, I’ve only ever been familiar with Chuck E. Cheese — I even celebrated my thirtieth birthday there! ShowBiz Pizza was that for millions of others, though, and this doc explores the band of inhuman characters that brought the place to life. The focus here is the appeal the place still holds in the hearts of many, the nostalgia that carries those memories, and the chain’s ultimate demise.

[Extras: Commentary, outtakes, featurettes]

Spanish Blood Bath [Vinegar Syndrome]

What is it? Three Spanish giallo films!

Why see it? Night of the Skull is a thriller about a death, an inheritance, and more deaths from Jess Franco, Violent Blood Bath sees a vicious judge targeted by a killer leaving a train of bodies around him, and The Fish With the Eyes of Gold follows a young stud whose conquests start dying in violent ways. As is often the case with these collection, none of the three here is a lost classic, but as a whole they offer an interesting look at Spain’s output on the giallo front. They’re also solid enough individually with minor thrills and mysteries.

[Extras: New 4K restorations, interviews]

Where the Devil Roams [Yellow Veil]

What is it? A family of carnival performers goes about doing… things.

Why see it? There’s something appealing about a carnival-set film, something dark and strange in the air that lends an automatic atmosphere to the proceedings. The Adams family’s latest genre effort has that going for it, but a sense of weirdness isn’t nearly enough to make up for the dull pacing, characters that never take hold, and a “story” that just doesn’t go anywhere interesting. Tastes vary, though, and some of you love this one.

[Extras: Featurette, short film]

The Zombie Army

What is it? Military antics lead to the undead!

Why see it? A special squad of deadly ladies? Mad science creating zombies? Low budget, low-fi shenanigans reveling in skin and gore are the name of the game here, and if you’re familiar with releases from Saturn’s Core then you know exactly what you’re getting here. It’s genre thrills on the cheap, but there’s a fun enough vibe to much of it that the film passes pretty quick. It’s also a rare 90s horror film directed by a woman, and that alone make it a curiosity worth watching (after which you’ll find that it might just scratch an itch).

[Extras: Commentary, featurette, interviews, TV show segments]

Also out this week:

The Bridge – The Complete Series, Everything to Entertain You, The Golden Coach [Raro], Migration, Monk – Season Four, Réjeanne Padovani, The Roaring Twenties [Criterion], Sophie Scholl, Stranded + Cosmic Psychos, Totally Wired, Wonka

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.