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 April 26th, 2022! This week’s home video selection includes They Look Like People, Roland Emmerich’s latest disaster epic, a film noir box set, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
They Look Like People
What is it? Madness threatens to end a friendship (and some lives).
Why see it? Perry Blackshear’s debut feature is one of 2015’s best horror films (my full review here), and its power hasn’t diminished in the seven years since. The film sees two friends reuniting after years apart, and both are enduring internal struggles. One is suffering from severe self-doubt, while the other is in the grips of paranoid delusions. The latter hears voices warning him that evil beings are taking over humans and threatening annihilation, and only he can stop them — through violence. There’s tension, suspense, and scares to spare here, but the film finds its real power in the friendship and human characters caught up in it all. It’s a haunting watch, and it’s fantastic to see it land a Blu-ray release with Yellow Veil Pictures. The disc comes loaded with three commentary tracks and more.
[Extras: Commentaries, interviews, deleted scenes, featurette]
12 Monkeys [4K UHD, Arrow Video]
What is it? A time-hopping tale of an apocalyptic destiny.
Why see it? Terry Gilliam’s time as a filmmaker of note may have passed, but the ex-Monty Python creative has left some real all-timers in his wake. This tale about a man sent back from a post-apocalyptic future is wonderful, bizarre, bleak, and brilliant in its structure and execution. Bruce Willis leads with one of his finest performances, and he’s joined by a hilariously good Brad Pitt, Christopher Plummer, and Madeleine Stowe. Paul Buckmaster’s score deserves its own shout-out with its mix of playfulness and awe. Arrow’s new release uses their previous 4K restoration, already a fantastic release, but on its native 4K HDR, and it’s the expected success across the board.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, commentary by Terry Gilliam, documentary, interview, featurette]
Born to Win
What is it? A man struggles with addiction in 70s New York City.
Why see it? George Segal stars in and produces this odd slice of early 70s cinema about a heroin addict trying to get by, and while it’s easy to see why it bombed it remains a fantastic film. NYC is both beautiful and grimy, Segal’s character is both charismatic and pathetic, and the film moves between genres with an at times clumsy style, but the movie works all the same. Tragedy and goofiness make for odd bedfellows, but the film succeeds on its own merits. Supporting turns by Hector Elizondo, Paula Prentiss, Karen Black, and a very young Robert De Niro add to the experience. Fans of the film should give a listen to Jason Bailey & Michael Hull’s commentary too as they share a substantial amount of detail and backstory.
[Extras: New 2K restoration, commentary]
Grand Slam [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A heist flick from Europe.
Why see it? Giuliano Montaldo isn’t necessarily a well known filmmaker, but don’t let that stop you from checking out this smartly intricate tale of four thieves working on someone else’s dime. Klaus Kinski is the big name among them with supporting turns by Janet Leigh and Edward G. Robinson, and everyone does a bang up job delivering suspense and hard knock thrills. The final ten minutes is one turn of events after the next, and Ennio Morricone provides a lively score for the action.
Hard Rock Zombies / Slaughterhouse Rock [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? A double feature of 80s horror/rock!
Why see it? Vinegar Syndrome brings together two rocking horror films from the 1980s, and while one is far superior to the other they make for a solid release. Hard Rock Zombies is the big winner here as it has a ridiculously fun time with its tale of a rock band who return from the grave to fight Nazis in small town America. It’s a silly romp with minor bloodletting and big laughs. Slaughterhouse Rock sees a group of friends head to Alcatraz to confront some bad dreams. It’s fine! The film plays too seriously to be all that fun, but it’s worth a watch. The extras are numerous, but the one must-watch is a making-of documentary on Hard Rock Zombies. They talk with cast and crew and share some highly entertaining anecdotes.
[Extras: New 2K restorations, documentary, featurette, interviews]
Reform School Girls [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? A naive young woman lands in prison for female juvenile delinquents.
Why see it? Tom DeSimone’s third stab at the women in prison genre is easily his most entertaining (although my heart still belongs to his horror film Hell Night), and it finally gets the home video love it deserves. Sybil Danning plays the warded, Wendy O’ Williams is a local badass, and the film is just loaded with all the fun the genre offers (violent antics, T&A, over the top villains, etc) without ever really feeling mean spirited. (There’s no rape scene, surely a rarity for the genre.) It’s funny as well with beats and interactions earning laughs and thrills along the way.
[Extras: New 2K restoration, documentary, interviews, commentaries]
‘Round Midnight [Criterion Collection]
What is it? An aging jazz musician struggles to stay on track.
Why see it? While it would make for a depressing double feature with Born to Win, this mid 80s tale makes its own music to the tune of heroin addiction and life’s unfortunate choices. Real-life jazz legend Dexter Gordon plays a musician riding on past popularity while fighting addiction. We spend time with his friends, fans, and family, almost all of whom love the music while ignoring the dark side behind the saxophone. Fans of jazz will find a home in the film’s numerous music scenes unfolding in smoke-filled Parisian clubs. More character-piece than straight drama, the feel works well to create a mood of reluctant sadness. Criterion’s new Blu-ray is the usual classy affair with informative extras and a solid new transfer.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, interviews, documentary]
Wicked World [AGFA]
What is it? Absolutely insane.
Why see it? The opening sequence here, what unfolds before the credits, is a mix of the absurd, the weird, and the laugh out loud funny. Things only get stranger from there. The film is ostensibly about the violence that pervades society and told with a very loose narrative surrounding a serial killer whose release from custody triggers a cop to seek revenge. Don’t for a second think that plot actually makes sense, though, as time jumps, scene changes, and a ubiquitous voiceover offering observations and philosophical questions make things impossible to follow. It’s ultra low budget, but the weird sincerity (and sincere weirdness) make it an oddly compelling watch.
[Extras: Original and director’s cut versions, documentary, video essays]
X-Ray / Schizoid [Vinegar Syndrome, 4K UHD]
What is it? A double feature of slashers from Cannon Films.
Why see it? Leave it to Vinegar Syndrome to not only stick it to a competing label by releasing the very same double feature, but to also make this the premiere release for both films. There’s little to compliment Schizoid on — Klaus Kinski headlines a standard enough slasher — but I have nothing but praise for X-Ray. To be clear, X-Ray is a bad movie, but it’s one that entertains despite itself with some truly bonkers choices made by cast and crew alike. Barbi Benton stars as a gullible woman who enters the hospital for test results only to be shuffled through all manner of manhandling while a killer stalks the halls. It’s ridiculous fun even if it’s played deadly straight.
[Extras: New 4K restorations, interviews, documentary]
What is it? A look at the madcap TV personality who predates Jackass.
Why see it? Ralph Zavadil had a public access show in Canada in the 90s that saw him doing dumb, dangerous, and gross gags. He predated shows that came later (and found far more success) but went off the air after five years later. This doc looks back on his show through Ralph’s present day lens, and it makes for an engaging watch as we hear from his mother, friends, and fans. You can see why his style and personality might not be suitable for today’s TV market, but he’s no less an addictive personality for it.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, 20th Anniversary Special, commentary]
Burglar from Hell
What is it? A dead burglar comes back to terrorize the house where he died.
Why see it? Horror movies that were SOV (shot on video) in the 90s are a singular thing typically comprised equally of ambition and a lack of concern for visuals, acting, etc. I’m generalizing, of course, as some transcend their limitations to deliver legitimate entertainment, but this one sits exactly where you’d expect. That’s not a knock for fans as there are some funny beats here that make for an enjoyable watch if you can ignore the rough presentation. Your mileage may vary, but for me the highlight is the dead burglar’s dick falling off and hearing him go “my peepee!”
[Extras: New transfer, commentary, interviews, bonus feature The Wrong Side of Town, short film]
What is it? A hitman in the near future finds there’s more to life than killing.
Why see it? A hitman thriller without thrills is certainly one way to go, but Ivan Sen’s tale seems far more occupied with drama and character than that genre conceit. That’s not a bad thing! Unfortunately, the drama struggles to find the beats needed to keep things engaging. Ryan Kwanten is his usual, soft-spoken and affable self while Hugo Weaving finds the sincerity needed for his role as a wise but reluctant scientist, but Jillian Nguyen stands out as a young woman caught up in their orbit. It’s an odd one as it’s not really bad, but it just can’t get over the hump towards being good.
Love & Saucers
What is it? A documentary about a man who lost his virginity to a sexy alien.
Why see it? David Huggins is an artist and part-time deli worker who claims to have had a lifetime of interactions with aliens. He’s captured many of his memories in the form of paintings that show his early meetings with different types of aliens, his sexual encounters with one of the females, and more. The focus here is simply telling the man’s story without judgment or an attempt to disprove his claims, and the result is a straightforward look at a man simply living his life. The paintings are a mix of the weird, the silly, and the mildly impressive. The disc includes numerous interviews with people tangentially associated with the strange.
[Extras: Commentary, interviews]
What is it? A low level crook bites off way more than he can chew.
Why see it? The fine folks at Canadian International Pictures — a new label giving forgotten Canadian gems the love they deserve — found an oddly enjoyable crime film here from the best decade in movies. This 1975 film focuses on an ambitious ass of a criminal whose antics land him in hot water, but it’s rather than play madcap it’s more of the expectedly dry Canadian drama. That’s mostly a good thing as some dark laughs land along the way towards a suitably grim conclusion.
[Extras: New 2K restoration, short film]
Moonfall [4K UHD]
What is it? The moon. It is falling.
Why see it? Roland Emmerich loves a good disaster premise, and it’s hard to argue against this one — the moon is drifting close to Earth, and the gravity begins tearing it to pieces. Oh, and it’s also a megastructure built by aliens? That said, it shouldn’t surprise you that the movie is dumb as hell and features a mix of solid CG shenanigans and rough CG backdrops. The Covid restrictions during production are evident as the population feels small throughout, but the damn movie is still a fun time.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes]
What is it? Fucking horrible.
Why see it? Look, this Belgian “comedy” obviously has its fans, but hoo boy do I hope I don’t know any of them. The humor is base but never funny, the gags exist to upset viewers and go on far too long, and the characters grate from beginning to end. The core setup sees two idiot brothers lose their mom’s dog, but they’re not able to milk a single laugh from the premise or anything that follows.
[Extras: Short films]
One for the Road
What is it? Four strangers meet after driving drunk.
Why see it? Chris Cooke’s debut feature is a very British affair as it brings together a quartet of guys who’ve made a very big mistake. Their crime has landed them in a rehabilitation course as part of their convictions, and they become loose friends prone to talking about their troubles while doing very little about them. It’s never quite as funny as it imagines, and the dramatic beats fair about the same due as much to the rough production as to performances that can’t convey real emotion. Indicator’s new release is a gift for fans, though, as it’s loaded with extras including several short films and a booklet.
[Extras: Commentaries, documentary, interviews, short films]
Rocco Schiavone: Ice Cold Murders – Season 1
What is it? An Italian detective solves crimes in the mountains.
Why see it? Norwegian crime shows are all the rage, but other countries have murders to solve too. This Italian series adapts a popular series of mystery novels by Antonio Manzini, and season one delivers a charismatic crank in the lead alongside attractive landscapes and an engaging mystery. The show is far from flashy and doesn’t feel compelled to end each episode on a cliffhanger, but the characters make it worth working through all twelve episodes.
Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street
What is it? The star of the first Elm Street sequel has something to say.
Why see it? As a kid who loved the horrors of the first A Nightmare on Elm Street, the sequel felt off in ways I couldn’t quite articulate. The fun practical effects are there, but both the male “final girl” and the possession element just didn’t work for me. The realization of the film’s “gayness” came later and is evident on rewatches, but years later the film’s lead character and his subsequent possession of sorts still stumble. Mark Patton plays the lead, and the far more interesting story is seeing what happened to send him away from Hollywood after the film was released. This doc explores the obnoxious and offensive reaction from supposed horror fans, but it also sees Patton confront his own demons in his belief that the film’s writer put all the blame at the actor’s feet. It’s an interesting watch.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes, interviews]
What is it? A killer stalks an old theater leaving bodies in his wake.
Why see it? There’s no denying the terrific title here, and there’s minor fun to be had with this low low budget slasher. Women in leotards are being slashed with abandon inside an old theater while auditioning for a show, hanging around the show, lounging around the show, etc. and only an undercover cop in her own leotard can stop the carnage. Culture Shock does another solid job rescuing an 80s shocker from VHS hell.
[Extras: Commentaries, interviews]
What is it? An insane man with a video camera kills young women.
Why see it? Culture Shock is back with more 80s genre thrills shot on 16mm and now upgraded for disc release. Like Slashdance above, the premise here is pretty straightforward in the pairing of a killer and a cop with a string of women biting it in between. The trappings of its budget still weigh heavily, but director Jim McCullough Sr. squeezes a little bit of actual action in the form of a short early chase and a later one that even brings in a helicopter making it feel far bigger than it is. The highlight with the extras is a commentary track moderated by film historian (and all around good guy) Brad Henderson.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, commentary, interviews, music video, audition footage]
Also out this week:
The Islands of Yann Gonzalez, Last Survivors, Moon Manor, Other Music, Take Me Somewhere Nice
Related Topics: Home Video