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 January 23rd (and the 16th too), 2024! This week’s home video selection includes The Childe, the Blood Feast remake in 4K, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
What is it? A boxer is chased by a mysterious assassin.
Why see it? It may have just missed the cut on my list of 2023’s Best Action Movies, but don’t let that dissuade you from checking out this fun, thrilling gem out of South Korea. The writer/director of The Witch franchise can do no wrong in my eyes (even if part two is a step or two down from the first), and while his unrelated latest is lighter in both its action and density it’s still a highly entertaining ride. Credit Kim Seon-ho for bringing the charm and personality as a mysterious killer who provides both minor laughs and bloody kills — one third-act set-piece is a very good time for fans of the red stuff. The film doles out the details slowly keeping both the protagonist and the audience unsure of what exactly is happening, and it pairs well with the action set-pieces erupting at a steady rate.
Coming Home [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A woman deals with two men who’ve returned from Vietnam broken and changed.
Why see it? Jane Fonda’s Vietnam connection is probably most notoriously her protests and subsequent labeling as “Hanoi Jane,” but this feature is arguably far more lasting. She plays a woman whose husband (Bruce Dern) goes off to war, and while she awaits his return she takes up with another man (Jon Voight) wounded by the war. It’s a compelling tale, one grounded in three strong performances bringing to life people caught up in a complicated, morally messy affair. Hal Ashby’s filmography includes better, far more rewatchable movies including Being There, The Last Detail, The Landlord, and Harold and Maude, but this is the one that hits the heartstrings and, despite coming years after the war ended, it’s a movie that captures the situation well.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes]
Kindergarten Cop [4K UHD, KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A cop goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher.
Why see it? Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career turned sharply towards comedy with the one-two punch of Twins (1988) and 1990’s Kindergarten Cop. The latter has always been the better of the two, although both come courtesy of director Ivan Reitman, and it’s now popping on 4K UHD. The studio comedy always looked good with its bright colors and on-location shooting, and the 4K captures it all giving us the best transfer since its theatrical release. The movie itself still holds up too with some mild action bolstered by some fun comedy bits and interactions between the big guy and some pint-sized children. The extras are slight, although the two commentaries might offer up some worthwhile production info for big fans.
[Extras: New 4K scan, commentaries]
Lone Star [4K UHD, Criterion]
What is it? A sheriff investigates both a body in the desert and his own father’s involvement.
Why see it? John Sayles writes compelling characters, no matter the circumstances, and they’re almost always the priority. That’s the case here as well, and while the film is ostensibly a murder mystery it’s all the more interested in the characters and their wobbly walk between memory and the truth. Chris Cooper is fantastic as the small town sheriff battling both the crime and his own father’s (Matthew McConaughey in flashbacks) reputation as the best sheriff the town ever saw, and Kris Kristofferson is equally strong as a vile lawman with even worse tendencies. It’s a slow burn, a character tale weaving racism, history, and relationships into its narrative, and Criterion’s new 4K release brings the desert sun to life.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, interviews]
The Raid: Redemption [4K UHD]
What is it? A modern action classic.
Why see it? We’ll likely be waiting a long ass time for Gareth Evans to deliver a third entry in this epic franchise, but until then we’re more than stuffed with the first two entries. The first is now available on 4K UHD, and it is a stellar release allowing Evans to finesse the film’s color timing the way he originally intended. The result is like night and day with the film looking better than ever. Happily, the film is still an absolute blast delivering some brilliant action beats as Iko Uwais leads a group of cops into a highrise filled with villains. Great fights, bloody actions et-pieces, and pure satisfaction is the name of the game.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes]
Run Silent, Run Deep [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A submarine commander puts revenge ahead of common sense and duty.
Why see it? This film’s fingerprints are all over Tony Scott’s phenomenal Crimson Tide, but it’s a solid wartime thriller with its own merits as well. Clark Gable is the commander seeking a specific Japanese destroyer, one he holds accountable for his previous command’s sinking, and that hunger takes him and his boat beyond reason. Director Robert Wise crafts a sweaty, compelling thriller overflowing with tension and anxiety, and his supporting cast brings their A-game as well including Burt Lancaster, Jack Warden, and Don Rickles. Great films hold up, and this is a great film.
The Sea Shall Not Have Them
What is it? Two World War II tales from director Lewis Gilbert.
Why see it? Michael Redgrave and Dirk Bogarde headline The Sea Shall Not Have Them, a suspenseful thriller that sees four British airmen shot down during the war. They float in a raft, adrift in the ocean, while both Allies and Axis search for them — and the secret one man holds. The lesser known Albert R.N. is a tale more akin to Stalag 17 as it focuses on a wartime escape from a POW camp. The problem? There’s reason to suspect one of the prisoners is actually a German spy. Both films are solid wartime tales worth watching.
Blood Feast [4K UHD]
What is it? A gory remake of a gory cult classic.
Why see it? H.G. Lewis’ original cult favorite is a cheap, campy romp that, let’s be honest, isn’t good. This remake steps things up in many areas with a slightly higher budget, slightly better performances, and slightly better gore, and the result is a slightly better film? The story changes are an upgrade as well, but we’re still left with a film — played mostly serious this time out — that exists solely to get a rise from genre fans. Tastes vary, and if you like the red stuff paired with dirty talk and a full embrace of an unrated atmosphere, this is a remake you just might enjoy.
[Extras: Uncut and theatrical versions, featurette, music video]
The Devil’s Brigade [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A war film starring William Holden!
Why see it? This early 60s effort brings together soldiers from both the U.S. and Canada to form a Special Forces unit in the early days of World War II. The big draw here is the cast featuring Holden, Cliff Robertson, Andrew Prine, Claude Akins, Richard Jaeckel, Richard Dawson, and more. The film itself hits the right beats even if it never excels, and the result is a satisfying war film pitting our heroes against a Nazi compound. Kino’s new Blu looks good, and the commentary offers up some interesting details, and it’s all a solid enough affair.
Jennifer 8 [Scream Factory]
What is it? A serial killer targets a blind woman.
Why see it? Director Bruce Robinson isn’t exactly known for being a genre guy, but he acquits himself well with this solid enough thriller about a determined cop, a helpless victim, and a maniacal killer. Uma Thurman is good as the blind woman targeted by a madman, but it’s Andy Garcia’s intense portrayal of the cop on the case that holds the attention as he’s searching for a killer that just might be smarter than he is. Add in Lance Henriksen and John Malkovich and you have a compelling ride for fans of serial killer cinema.
[Extras: New 4K scan, alternate ending, featurette, interviews]
The Outside Man [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A betrayed hitman is on the run from another assassin.
Why see it? A French thriller shot in Los Angeles feels like an odd fit, and that opinion won’t change after watching it. You’ll be entertained, though, as Jean-Louis Trintignant kills a mobster only to be betrayed by those who hired him. He’s immediately put on the defensive as Roy Scheider’s hitman comes calling. Scheider is always a welcome presence, but his hitman is so ridiculously incompetent you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a comedy. It is not. The film becomes a big chase through the city making good use of LA locations, and that combined with the film’s personalities (also stars Ann-Margret and Angie Dickinson) makes for a fun watch of an uneven film.
[Extras: New 4K scan, commentary, English and French versions]
The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming! [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A Russian submarine and its crew wash up on the New England coast.
Why see it? Some movies survive and thrive on the strength of their cast, and this Norman Jewison film is one such example. Alan Arkin, Carl Reiner, Jonathan Winters, Brian Keith, Eva Marie Saint, and more help bring this big, loud, fast-moving comedy to life. An interesting precursor to Steven Spielberg’s 1941, this romp sees clashes between nations boiled down to ego and idiocy, misunderstandings and mayhem, and while the comedy itself is a mixed bag of jokes and physical antics that work as often as they don’t, it’s all just silly enough to hold the attention.
[Extras: Commentary, featurette]
What is it? A doctor without borders (but with mad action skills) discovers a conspiracy.
Why see it? Max Zhang doesn’t get the love he deserves for some pretty stellar action chops, and part of the reason why is his tendency to pick mediocre projects. He had a great run with bangers like SPL 2, Ip Man 3, and The Brink, but his last gem was 2018’s Master Z. Since then? A whole lotta meh. We get two pretty solid bouts here in the third act, but too much of the action is generic shootouts and poorly crafted/shot/edited fights. Getting to that third act, though, is a slog of extremely messy exposition.
Your Lucky Day
What is it? A winning lottery ticket attracts violence, deception, and death.
Why see it? When a businessman gets loud about his winning ticket, a thug in the convenience store with him decides to make his move. Things go downhill from there as others inside and a few nosy nasties from outside turn the store into a den of splatter and deceit. The late Angus Cloud stars as the thug who kicks it all off. It’s a solid enough thriller within its confined setting, and while there are plenty of betrayals none of them are exactly surprising. Fans of the setup will enjoy the show, though.
Also out this week:
Chantel Akerman Masterpieces [Criterion], Four Daughters, Inside the Mind of Coffin Joe [Arrow], Thinner [Scream Factory], Trolls Band Together
Related Topics: Home Video