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 22nd, 2022!
This week’s home video selection includes The Hurt Locker in 4K, House of Gucci, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
The Hurt Locker [4K UHD, steelbook]
What is it? The head of a bomb detonation squad balances life and war.
Why see it? Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break, Strange Days) is a terrific director who doesn’t work nearly enough — especially as her last film, 2017’s Detroit, is something of a rare letdown — but one of her greats is new to 4K UHD and worth celebrating all over again. The film stars Jeremy Renner as the bomb disposal expert who returns home unable to function in such mundane environments. There’s drama and strong character beats in the story, but the film’s most lasting strength involves the sequences that see him at work dealing with explosives. They’re incredibly tense and suspenseful set-pieces that even on rewatch leave fists clenched and your ass on the edge of the seat. Renner does terrific work portraying a soldier whose PTSD only relaxes in the very element that caused it. Bigelow’s commentary with co-writer Mark Boal is a necessary listen for fans as well. This new 4K UHD release of The Hurt Locker offers a minor visual upgrade while still embracing the film’s 16mm photography — it’s still grainy, but there’s some new clarity and attention on every little piece of debris, all of which is deadly at a high enough velocity. The audio gets a Dolby Atmos upgrade as well.
[Extras: Commentary featurette]
Edge of Darkness [Warner Archive]
What is it? Townspeople come together to band against the Nazis.
Why see it? Errol Flynn headlines this suspenseful drama about a small Norwegian village that refuses to make life easy for the invading Nazis. The townspeople work together to ferret out sympathizers and spies while crafting a resistance. Less action than tense character drama, the film is a thrilling look at the more human side of war as friends, family, and strangers alike come together against a common enemy — I know, it sounds like a fantasy compared to the real world we’re currently living in. Flynn gives a good, understated performance far removed from his more heroically flamboyant roles, and the film is a memorable one.
[Extras: Short film, cartoon]
What is it? A banker finds a bomb neath his car seat while driving his kids to school.
Why see it? Ignore the generic action-centric title as the action here takes a back seat to suspense, emotion, and lots of chatter. We still get some as the banker races through traffic with cops on his tail, but it’s the presence of the bomb and his kids that ratchets up the tension as our hero attempts to handle the situation. There are some twists here and there, and while they’re not all that surprising they still up the engagement. The emotional stress absolutely lands, though, thanks in part to one of the things South Korea does best — find fantastic child actors.
Killing Spree [Terror Vision]
What is it? A man thinks he’s been cucked and becomes a murderer.
Why see it? Tim Ritter’s late 80s horror/comedy is a goofy, gory romp on the tiniest of budgets. Asbestos Felt (?) stars as the insecure Tom who begins to think his wife is having a variety of affairs behind his back. He begins inviting the men back to the house one by one and dispatching them in gruesome ways, but both the truth and a supernatural twist are awaiting him. Think of it as a Creepshow fan film, albeit one that stretches a single tale to feature length, made for a couple hundred bucks and a whole lot of enthusiasm. The gore is as playful as it is inexpensive, and while performances come with a heightened delivery they and the dialogue manage more than a few laughs along the way. Fans used to enjoying the film in less stellar presentations will be stoked to see what Terror Vision has accomplished here including a brand-new documentary detailing the film’s production, release, and subsequent arrival at cult classic status.
[Extras: New upscale transfer, commentaries, interviews, documentaries]
Man on the Moon [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? The Andy Kaufman story.
Why see it? The combination of director Milos Forman, star Jim Carrey, and subject Andy Kaufman make for a powerfully entertaining watch as Kaufman’s fascinating journey to and through stardom comes to life. Kaufman was all about the antagonism, and the film balances that aspect with the man’s more personable ambitions and interests while also letting supporting characters shine. Kaufman’s willingness to play with people’s beliefs comes full circle as he himself becomes someone who needs to believe in something, and there’s a pathos to the realization even as we celebrate the man’s life and accomplishments. From stand-up shenanigans to Saturday Night Live, from Taxi to wrestling women on the Phil Donahue show, no one can say Kaufman didn’t live. Of course, the real question is whether or not he’s still alive…
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary, interview, featurette, deleted scenes, music videos]
The Midnight Swim [Yellow Veil]
What is it? A mystery for three sisters to decipher regarding their mother.
Why see it? First things first, the film uses found footage and uses it poorly, and that alone holds the movie back from greatness. The rest, though, is aces as director Sarah Adina Smith crafts an atmospheric descent into myth and madness. There’s a mystery at its heart helping shape an unsettling thriller, and the glue holding it all together is a trio of fantastic performances that leave you convinced these women are sisters who’ve shared a lifetime of memories. That feeling aids in the growing emotional power of it all making for a dreamy, engrossing watch.
[Extras: Commentary, featurette, short films]
The Unknown Man of Shandigor [Deaf Crocodile]
What is it? An invention meant to neuter nuclear weapons becomes a target of spies.
Why see it? Jean-Louis Roy’s oddball 60s spy film was thought lost before being rediscovered and restored by the folks at Deaf Crocodile, and the wait was arguably worth it. It feels almost like the black & white dream you have after watching some early James Bond films, eating too much cheese, and then going to bed early. Various spy elements, some serious some that feel like riffs on Bond, combine with beautiful photography, some intriguing characters, and Serge Gainsbourg. It walks a wavering line between the traditional and the silly, but it works.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, commentary, interview, featurette]
What is it? A group of female agents come together to stop an international threat.
Why see it? Well, the short answer here is don’t. But in the spirit of hitting the pros first, this otherwise bland action/adventure does have a killer cast including Diane Kruger, Penelope Cruz, Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, and Bingbing Fan. They’re all worth watching a film for, in theory, but neither the script nor the direction is worthy of their talents. The story is underbaked, the twists are written in big, bold letters an hour in advance, and the action never manages to thrill.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]
What is it? The Kurt Warner story.
Why see it? Even a two-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl MVP, and Hall of Famer has to start somewhere, and for Kurt Warner it involved a lot of hard work, menial jobs, and the belief that he had greatness within him. Sure, the film wants you to know faith played a role too, but that’s nonsense for hicks. The true inspiration here is seeing someone struggle to improve themselves and never give up along the way. That’s a message that anyone can take to heart, whether or not they ever give a damn about football.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes]
C.H.O.M.P.S. [Code Red]
What is it? A robot dog leads to hijinks!
Why see it? If you didn’t know better you’d think this 1979 family comedy was a television movie from The Wonderful World of Disney weekly series, but it’s not. The vibe is the same, though, as some sweet protagonists go head to head with goofy criminal elements. The story here involves a young inventor whose robot guard dog becomes the envy of some clumsy crooks. Wesley Eure takes the lead, and he’s joined by Valerie Bertinelli, Conrad Bain, and Red Buttons. It’s silly fun for fans of late 70s family fare.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary, interview]
Curfew [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? A pair of killer brothers take a family hostage.
Why see it? Turns out the director of 13 Going on 30 got his start with a low-budget slasher/home invasion flick! Two brothers escape from police custody and begin slaughtering everyone they blame for their incarceration, but their last stop sees the pair take up residence in the prosecutor’s home with his family as prisoners. There’s a pretty high body count here, but the bulk of the violence/gore is offscreen leaving only the results to litter the floorboards. Add to that a real amateurish feel among most of the actors — yes, even Peter Brady — and it feels like a film that needed a stronger hand guiding it. That said, the interview with actor Wendell Wellman is a great listen as he talks about his career, his shift from acting to writing, and more.
[Extras: New 2K restoration, interviews]
Dead Heat [4K UHD, Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? A buddy cop comedy with a supernatural twist.
Why see it? Everything about this late 80s comedy sounds great on paper — two cops investigating a string of robberies discover some undead henchmen, and soon one of the detectives dies and returns from the dead too — but the attempt at making a horror/comedy leans so heavily into unfunny comedy that it hurts the genre elements that do work. Joe Piscopo just isn’t funny here, and he’s trying so aggressively to find laughs that the opposite reaction occurs. It’s a shame as the action, bloodletting, makeup fx, and Treat Williams are all good fun. Vinegar Syndrome’s new 4K UHD does look good, and the collection of extras old and new offers plenty of entertaining insights into the production including the studio’s insistence on keeping the violence and gore to an acceptable limit. The interview with Steve Johnson is also a must-watch.
[Extras: Commentary, interviews, deleted scenes]
Deadly Games [Arrow Video]
What is it? A woman suspects one of two men of being serial killers.
Why see it? Swingers are wild, man, wild, and they’re also the community at the heart of this little slasher. A young woman falls into a relationship with a cop, but after meeting his best friend she begins to suspect the guy might be a serial killer. More women die, a black-gloved killer plays a board game, and the truth might be too frightening to think about. Steve Railsback plays the friend, and he’s a highlight in this otherwise somewhat slow burn slasher. Arrow’s new Blu-ray gives it something of a new life, though, with a restoration that makes many of the shadows visible for the first time. The commentary track by The Hysteria Continues also finds some interesting anecdotes on the film’s production.
[Extras: New 2K restoration, commentary, interviews]
The Douglas Sirk Collection: The Girl from the Marsh Croft / The Final Chord
What is it? A pair of mid 30s romantic dramas from Douglas Sirk.
Why see it? Douglas Sirk is best known for American melodramas like Imitation of Life (1959) and All That Heaven Allows (1955), but there’s charm in his earlier efforts too. The two films collected here were made before he left Germany and focus on young women whose feelings of love leave them hurting. They’re dramas that are grounded while still feeling tweaked in some melodramatic ways, and while neither can touch the depth, nuances, and performances of his later films, they offer an interesting look at the themes and tones that would become his trademark.
Girlfriend from Hell [Culture Shock]
What is it? A devilish entity possesses a young woman with silly results.
Why see it? This late 80s slice of comedic horror/sci-fi has been lost to time for decades, but Culture Shock’s new Blu-ray resurrects it for a new crowd. It’s a goofy little film that sees a geeky young woman turned into a sexpot once the devil’s inside her, and soon she’s sucking the energy right out of the guys. It’s never a raunchy ride despite the implications, but there’s some minor fun to be had as an interdimensional bounty hunter comes looking for her. Fans of the film are well-served here with some in-depth interviews and a commentary with the director. It’s definitely a film that would have benefited from a bigger budget,
[Extras: New 4K scan, commentary, interviews]
House of Gucci
What is it? A waste of time outside of Jared Leto.
Why see it? Ridley Scott’s second film of 2021 is another mixed bag with a stellar cast. Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino, and Leto star in a biopic of the Gucci family in the years leading up to an infamous murder. It’s a lot of pomp and circumstance dressed up as dull melodrama, but the one bright spot is a performance that entertains — and this is no confirmation that it’s necessarily a good performance — as Leto just goes to town with an accent, makeup, and mannerisms that scream “I am an Italian!”
The King’s Man
What is it? A prequel to the Kingsmen films.
Why see it? If you count yourself a fan of both previous Kingsmen films then yes, you will also enjoy this prequel. It won’t, however, win any new fans despite the arrival of Ralph Fiennes and Djimon Hounsou. Both are good fun, and the action is more of the same high energy, hyper antics. It lacks the character elements of the first, but it’s arguably better than the second. The story line is pretty weak, though, as it feels like a somewhat onenote approach to the agency’s founding.
Koko-Di Koko-Da [Dark Star]
What is it? An unhappy couple endures a shitty Groundhog Day.
Why see it? Grief and trauma have long been a part of cinema, and recent years have seen the topic become even more of a mainstay on the screen. This latest entry features elements that approach the idea in fresh and original ways — a shadow puppet show, a Groundhog Day-like approach, etc — but every character here is designed to frustrate viewers at every turn. The variations between replays are minimal, and we’re stuck watching cruelty and cowardice on a loop. The end catharsis is empty and not even remotely worth the annoyance getting there.
[Extras: Commentary, short films, deleted scenes, featurette]
Master of the World [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? A quest for a Quest for Fire knockoff.
Why see it? Italian knockoffs are often highly entertaining movies in their own right, but that’s not the case here. The movie is an endlessly dull slog filled with characters who communicate almost exclusively through grunts. Brief highlights include some beheadings and brain eating, but the much ballyhooed nature fights consist almost exclusively of dudes fighting a bear that’s clearly both leashed and muzzled. Lame. Fifteen minutes or so is made up of old nature footage, the graininess is over the top, but it’s no less (or more) interesting than the actual film footage. It’s as bland and uninteresting a Quest for Fire ripoff as you would fear.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, interviews]
The Monster of Camp Sunshine [AGFA]
What is it? A killer made mad by science threatens the tranquility of a nudist camp.
Why see it? This mid 60s tale of nudists and weirdos is actually a pretty straightforward one at its most basic elements — two friends spending time at a nudist camp discover a fully clothed terror — but it’s also silly and sincere in its appreciation of the culture. So yes, lots of black & white nudity and a crazed killer lead up to more silliness involving cuts from war films and a recap for folks wanting to relive the film. Two additional 60s features, both micro-budget affairs with an eye for naked performers, are included here. Of the two, Honeymoon of Terror manages some thrills with its barebones setup and execution as a lumberjack-looking bastard tries to attack a young bride on her honeymoon at the beach.
[Extras: Two bonus features]
What is it? Beach volleyball, baby!
Why see it? 1990 was a time in which Peter Horton could land a leading role in a harmless, forgettable little beach flick, and that’s not a knock. He plays the cool older dude who partners with a young newcomer (C. Thomas Howell) to the sport, and together they shake up things and win some fans. It’s a movie no one ever thinks about, but it’s a fun enough watch with romance, beach skin, and some entertaining volleyball action.
Village of the Giants [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Rowdy teens get a hold of a growth formula!
Why see it? Leave it to Bert I. Gordon to realize that he’d already made movies about lots of different animals so why not give teens a growth spurt? It’s the 60s so you know there’s gonna be dancing and cops who just don’t understand the youth of today, but when the bad kids grow into giants they take control of the town. They didn’t count on a young Ron Howard inventing an antidote though! Add in Beau Bridges and Tommy Kirk alongside a silly sense of humor — the final gag sees a group of little people heading to the town where people get bigger — and you have a fun little piece of 60s genre entertainment.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, commentary]
Also out this week:
Alligator II: The Mutation [Scream Factory], Boat People [Criterion Collection], Dancing Pirate, El Planeta, Escape from L.A. [4K UHD], France, The Green Mile [4K UHD], Shattered, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy [4K UHD]
Related Topics: Home Video