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 July 25th, 2023! This week’s home video selection includes The Harbinger, Gorgo and Needful Things in 4K, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
What is it? One of 2022’s best horror films.
Why see it? The recent pandemic has seen more than a few films get produced that are set in the world of Covid. Most are garbage, but two of them are genre masterpieces. John Hyams’ Sick is 2023’s gem, while Andy Mitton’s The Harbinger owned the year before. This is a slow burn, a haunting exploration of the emotional turmoil and trauma caused by a pandemic that left the world isolated. What happens to those the world leaves behind? Those forgotten few claimed by an illness and left to fade away? Beautifully shot, often creepy as hell, and crafted to end on a powerfully devastating finale, this is a magnificent horror film that hits with both supernatural and emotional barrels.
[Extras: Commentary, deleted scenes]
The Anderson Tapes [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? An ex-con moves quickly on a new heist.
Why see it? Heist films are an almost always reliable subgenre, the more elaborate the better, and this Sidney Lumet gem highlights why. Sean Connery is the ex-con who makes plans to rob an entire brownstone, every resident from the ground floor on up, and his plan is as foolproof as it is destined to fail. Dyan Cannon, Martin Balsam, Alan King, and more familiar faces round out the ensemble, and Lumet keeps them all the pieces moving with a blend of suspense, drama, and wit.
Gorgo [4K UHD, Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? A kaiju movie from the UK!
Why see it? This early 60s creature feature doesn’t stretch the genre at all, but it delivers a solid big monster movie that should appeal to fans of kaiju cinema, monster movies, and elaborate use of miniatures. I’m all three, especially the last, and the film delivers mightily on its use of practical carnage and spectacular miniature sets and structures. It’s a fun tale, part King Kong as they catch and display the beast, and part Godzilla as the big lizard teaches a valuable lesson on the environment. Vinegar’s new 4K UHD looks fantastic bringing the colorful action and dark shadows to the screen with clarity and beauty.
[Extras: New restoration, commentary, featurettes, making ofs, short film]
Needful Things [4K UHD, KL Studio Classics]
What is it? An underrated Stephen King adaptation, now in 4K.
Why see it? Stephen King wasn’t the first writer to create a fictional town as a setting for various tales, but Castle Rock is arguably the most well know. It’s home to several of his horror classics, and in the 90s he decided to straight up destroy it. The novel is a great read, but the adaptation is something truly special. Fraser C. Heston directs from W.D. Richter’s screenplay, and the result is a delicious black comedy about devilish deals, easily manipulated townsfolk, and a heroic Ed Harris. We get legitimate laughs alongside some genuine cruelty, and a killer cast that also includes Max Von Sydow, Bonnie Bedelia, and J.T. Walsh. It’s a terrifically entertaining movie, and Kino’s new release delivers with a 4K UHD of the theatrical and the little-seen extended cut on Blu.
[Extras: New restoration, commentary, extended television cut, interview]
So I Married an Axe Murderer [4K UHD]
What is it? A man thinks he may have fallen in love with a serial killer.
Why see it? While Mike Myers’ franchise films — Wayne’s World, Austin Powers, Shrek — have been huge hits, his standalone work usually falls through the cracks. This early 90s comedy is one such movie, a cult hit to be sure, but a film that passed general audiences by. Rewatching it now, though, it’s still a fun, ridiculous romantic comedy that’s unafraid to be playful and loose where others might tighten up the narrative and characters. It’s equal parts funny and dumb, but Myers, Nancy Travis (a 90s staple deserving of love today), and Anthony LaPaglia all do great comedic work.
[Extras: Deleted scenes]
A Dandy in Aspic [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A double agent sees his desire to return home stymied at every turn.
Why see it? Anthony Mann’s final film — he died during filming, and the lead star picked up the directorial reins — is a solid tale of espionage and cold war antics set mainly in Berlin. Double crosses, doomed love affairs, and cynical truths populate the screen alongside an engaging look at old Berlin, all set to a score by Quincy Jones. Some elements work far better than others with Mia Farrow being a particular highlight, and while it fumbles its way towards an ending the overall effect is still positive.
Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? An ex-con plans a bank robbery.
Why see it? Like The Anderson Tapes above, this is another fun little heist film that entertains through its sharp script, ensemble cast, and elaborate heist plans. The pieces don’t always come together all that smoothly, but there’s more than enough here to deliver a hundred minutes of entertainment. James Coburn takes the lead, and he’s always watchable. He’s joined by some mildly familiar faces including a young Harrison Ford in his feature film debut.
Delirium [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? A doctor commits heinous murders.
Why see it? An early 70s slasher/giallo, this effort from director Renato Polselli is a sleazy affair with a splash of mystery to accompany the sex and violence. It seems clear cut for most of the film, but there are some secrets at play that help make this more than just a slice of exploitation. Mickey Hargitay stars — yes, Mariska’s dad — as the bad doctor with some very salacious tastes. This has been a hard film to see stateside in any worthwhile form, so Vinegar Syndrome’s new Blu-ray is a big win for fans from its restoration to its extras.
[Extras: New 4K scan, commentary, interviews, alternate American cut]
My Best Friend Is a Vampire [Vestron]
What is it? A teen becomes a vampire!
Why see it? Horror comedies are tough to get right, and most take the easy way by focusing mostly on the comedy. This late 80s feature takes that route, but unfortunately it’s not very funny? We get some awkward teen antics, and the great David Warner brightens things a bit as a vampire hunter, but the whole is ultimately a bit meh as it lacks bite at nearly every turn. It has its fans, though, who remember seeing it decades ago, and for them this new release is a gift as it’s a Blu-ray debut and comes with informative extras.
[Extras: Commentary, interviews]
Also out this week:
Blood Money: 4 Classic Westerns [Arrow], Broadway Melody [Warner Archive], Full Time, One False Move [4K UHD, Criterion], Paint, Robot Monster
Related Topics: Home Video