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 September 27th, 2022! This week’s home video selection includes The Chocolate War, new 4K UHDs of In Bruge and War of the Worlds, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
The War of the Worlds / When Worlds Collide [4K UHD, War only]
What is it? Two sci-fi classics from the 50s, one in 4K UHD!
Why see it? This new two-disc release — War of the Worlds on UHD, When Worlds Collide on Blu-ray — sees both films given spiffy cleanups from Paramount Pictures. Both movies remain fun times pairing 50s ideals and practical effects into entertaining romps, but this is a must-own for Paramount’s new 4K restoration/transfer of The War of the Worlds. The picture is rich with detail, and the colors in the back half pop bringing the action and mayhem to beautiful life.
[Extras: Commentaries, featurettes]
The Amityville Horror [4K UHD, Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? A family makes a pretty bad real estate investment.
Why see it? Stuart Rosenberg’s adaptation of the “non-fiction” bestseller can feel a bit rough around the edges at times, but that raw feeling adds to the terror. James Brolin, Margot Kidder, and Rod Steiger are all talented actors, and their journey through the hellscape that is this house sees panic lead to life-threatening turns. Some of the beats feel overly familiar while others find terror in the intensity, particularly in the third act finale. It’s no classic, but it’s far better than the dozens of sequels and “sequels” that followed. Vinegar Syndrome’s new disc offers a sharp new restoration that tightens up details and deepens the shadows making it the best way to see the film outside of a screening in the actual Long Island home.
[Extras: New 4K transfer, commentary, documentaries, interviews]
The Chocolate War
What is it? A school candy sale gets out of hand.
Why see it? Robert Cormier’s classic YA novel gets a fantastic adaptation here from writer/director Keith Gordon. Ilan Mitchell-Smith stars as Jerry, a teen still mourning the death of his mother, who decides to take a stand with the only thing in the universe he can control — he’s not going to sell chocolates for his school. Chaos erupts in a smart, affecting tale about the power and danger of conformity. Gordon changes the ending from Cormier’s novel, and it still works beautifully to land with a gut punch. He also deserves credit for assembling one hell of a soundtrack including Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Yaz, Joan Armatrading, and more.
[Extras: Commentary, interview, featurette]
Hearts Beat Loud [Gunpowder & Sky]
What is it? A father and daughter prepare for the latter’s move to college.
Why see it? Sometimes all you want in a movie is something that makes you smile, and that’s exactly what we get with Brett Haley’s Hearts Beat Loud. Nick Offerman plays a widower with a teenage daughter and a record shop, and while the two enjoy playing music together young Kiersey Clemons is focused on her own future. The expected dramatic beats hit, but the film’s focus is on the love between them, the fun they have as family, and some truly catchy music. It’s just a sweet, funny film guaranteed to leave you feeling good. The extras here are good stuff offering insight and more time with these people.
[Extras: Commentaries, interviews, featurettes]
Hudson Hawk [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A good thief has a hard time going straight.
Why see it? Michael Lehmann’s much maligned action/comedy deserves another shot. I won’t argue that it’s some misunderstood masterpiece, but the damn film is a fun time with a game cast and great production values. Bruce Willis headlines alongside Danny Aiello, Andie MacDowell, Richard E. Grant, and Sandra Bernhard, and it’s a fast moving, quick witted caper flick pairing fun action with loose, light comedy. It’s probably something of an acquired taste, so maybe don’t blind buy this one, but definitely give it a chance.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes, music video, deleted scenes]
In Bruges [4K UHD, KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Two hitmen run afoul of their boss in Bruges.
Why see it? Martin McDonagh’s dark as hell comedy remains an absolute delight for the non-delicate among us. That distinction is due to some potentially offensive dialogue uttered by killers, but the cast do such justice to McDonagh’s script that some of the most inappropriate comments end up being hilarious. Eh, sue me. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are working on another level here delivering big laughs and real heart, and they’re supported by a terrific Ralph Fiennes. The gorgeous city of Bruges adds to the film’s appeal, as does some fun action and a pretty stellar finale. Kino’s new HDR release is a winner.
[Extras: New HDR master, featurettes, deleted scenes, gag reel]
Natural Enemies [Fun City Entertainment]
What is it? A man plans to kill his family and himself at the end of the day.
Why see it? Films rarely come as honest and raw as this late 70s gem exploring one man’s ennui and devastating decision on how to deal with it. Hal Holbrook delivers a soul crushing turn as a man who looks perfectly fulfilled on the outside reveals he’s anything but. He makes his decision in morning, and we spend the day with him as he talks with friends and strangers, none of them knowing his plan, about life and purpose — and then we follow him home. It’s a slow gut punch of a film, tense and revealing, and it’s a must-watch. Kudos to Fun City Editions for rescuing this classic from its YouTube purgatory.
[Extras: New 2K restoration, interview, introduction, alternate ending, commentary]
Righting Wrongs [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? A lawyer seeks justice at the end of his fists.
Why see it? Corey Yuen’s mid 80s banger puts both Yuen Biao and Cynthia Rothrock front and center. The action is fast and brutal with a mix of fights and stunts. Both Biao and Rothrock bring the goods in numerous bouts — against baddies and each other at times — and depending on which version you watch, one of them doesn’t survive til the end credits! Vinegar Syndrome’s new three-disc release features three cuts with the major difference being in that third act. The extras are numerous and strong, and this release continues to bode well for the label’s move into Hong Kong titles.
[Extras: Hong Kong cut, Chinese cut, English cut, commentaries, interviews, The Best of Martial Arts documentary]
Buried Alive [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? An “adaptation” of an Edgar Allan Poe story.
Why see it? Donald Pleasence, Robert Vaughn, Ginger Lynn Allen, John Carradine, and Arnold Vosloo all star, so that’s something. The rest doesn’t necessarily earn their ensemble chops, but there’s some B-movie fun to be had with the girls college shenanigans. Enough fun to warrant a pick up? Maybe not, but fans will want to snag this new Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray all the same as it gives the film a solid new transfer alongside some entertaining interviews.
[Extras: New 2K scan, interviews]
Faults [Yellow Veil Pictures]
What is it? A deprogrammer finds more resistance than expected while trying to rescue a cult member.
Why see it? Riley Stearns’ debut feature has an interesting premise and two extremely talented leads in Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Leland Orser. It also runs a tight ninety minutes, but all these plusses can’t quite get it over the hump of being merely okay. Orser’s attempts at bringing Winstead back to reality hits a wall as his own grasp starts to flutter, and the result is an engaging watch fueled by those two performances. That said, I’m in the extreme minority on this one, so fans should race to pick up Yellow Veil Pictures’ new Blu-ray.
[Extras: Introduction, commentaries, interviews, short film]
The Films of Doris Wishman: The Moonlight Years [AGFA]
What is it? A collection of films from the filmmaker’s middle “gutter-noir” filmography.
Why see it? Doris Wishman was a pioneer filmmaker, a woman who not only crafted low budget sexploitation cinema but who also infused them with imagery, themes, and action that “polite” society deemed offensive. The nine films here — Bad Girls Go to Hell, Indecent Desires, A Taste of Flesh, Another Day Another Man, My Brother’s Wife, Passion Fever, The Perils of Paulette, The Hot Month of August, and Too Much Too Often! — are sometimes rough in content and production value, but they’re all unequivocally Wishman. Together with AGFA’s release of The Twilight Years, the filmmaker’s legacy is well protected and revered.
[Extras: New 2K restorations, commentaries]
Hot Snakes / Guns and Guts [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? Two westerns from mid 70s Mexico.
Why see it? It makes sense that Vinegar Syndrome would pair these two newly restored westerns together. Neither quite has the weight of a standalone release (evidenced by the paltry extras as well), but together they make for a mean double feature. And I do mean “mean” — Hot Snake opens with the baddie killing a woman, robbing her, and having his way with her corpse. Still, for fans of dark, grim westerns the two movies here more than satisfy with nasty characters and cruel action.
[Extras: New 4K scans, interview]
The Inner Life of Martin Frost
What is it? A writer discovers a muse in his bed.
Why see it? Paul Auster delivers another tale of creation, imagination, and inspiration with his story of a writer and the woman who might not be real. David Thewlis is the writer, and Irene Jacob is the stranger who appears in the house uninvited. The two hit it off, but he quickly comes to realize she’s no normal visitor. The film has fun with the ramifications of the situation, what it means for creativity and such, and it’s a less broad approach to the subject than Albert Brooks delivers with The Muse.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, interview, featurette]
Mayor of Kingstown – Season One
What is it? Another Taylor Sheridan show!
Why see it? Jeremy Renner stars as a member of the McLusky family, a dynasty built on pawn shops and profit-based prisons, and the cracks are starting to show in the system. The Michigan set show follows the family’s differing approaches to the reality of a system designed to keep people down even as it lifts their coffers up. It’s an intriguing enough series, and Renner is joined by Kyle Chandler and Dianne Wiest. My own tastes when it comes to Sheridan is more with his “westerns,” but the appeal here remains.
What is it? A deaf thug and his son witness a murder and find themselves hunted.
Why see it? Indonesian action has become a more reliable thing over the years thanks to The Raid and others, but that’s no guarantee. This film delivers a solid setup and atypical protagonist, but those action beats stumble as both the choreography and execution underwhelm. That said, the non-action scenes actually fare better and find some heart and good character work. Worth a watch, but don’t go in expecting to find the next Iko Uwais.
Streets of Death [Culture Shock Releasing]
What is it? A killer stalks sex workers in Los Angeles.
Why see it? The director of Night Ripper returns with another shot-on-video slasher, and while it’s still a film with severe limitations it finds both style and weight in its presentation. Of course, it’s slathered in sleaze, nudity, and violence too, if that’s more your speed. The SOV approach is typically a guarantee of a certain look and level of performances, and that’s mostly the case here, but Jeff Hathcock does good work with those format and budget limitations.
[Extras: Interviews, commentary]
Thor: Love and Thunder
What is it? A few steps down from Ragnarok.
Why see it? Taika, what happened to you man? Thor Ragnarok is a funny, character rich adventure that’s also visually thrilling, and it sets a high mark for the MCU. Taika Waititi returns for the follow-up, and while it’s still visually interesting it completely drops the ball with both its characters and comedy. The latter feels so forced, frequent, and unfunny, and it cuts into the former in damaging ways. The characters become joke machines, and when it comes time for things to matter the tone can’t recover. There are still some entertaining beats here, and Christian Bale does great work as the villain, but hoo boy, what a misfire.
[Extras: Featurettes, commentary, gag reel, deleted scenes]
You Can’t Kill Meme
What is it? A documentary about meme culture.
Why see it? While most of us enjoy memes for the lols and to offer up playful commentary on news and other thoughts, some people take the concept far more seriously. Their own memes may look dumb or silly, but sometimes the motivation and application are far more insidious. This doc looks at those latter folks who weaponize memes and the effect it has on social media discourse. It’s interesting enough, but these aren’t people you’ll want in your life for long.
Also out this week:
Bullet Proof, Cinematographer, Evil Dead [4K UHD], Evil Dead Trap 2: Hideki, The House of the Lost on the Cape, I Know What You Did Last Summer [4K UHD], Lo Sound Desert, Miracle, The Munsters, Randy Rhodes: Reflections of a Guitar Icon, Sound of Metal [Criterion Collection], Summer of Blood