Features and Columns · Movies

‘Drowning by Numbers’ Makes for a Perversely Entertaining Pick of the Week

Plus 14 more new releases to watch at home this week on UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD!
Drowning by Numbers
By  · Published on May 30th, 2023

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 May 30th, 2023! This week’s home video selection includes Drowning by Numbers, Cliffhanger in 4K, and more. Check out our picks below.

Pick of the Week

Drowning By Numbers UhdDrowning by Numbers [4K UHD, Severin Films]

What is it? A Wes Anderson film for people who like to fuck.

Why see it? Peter Greenaway makes very specific films, ones designed to appeal to himself first and foremost. Happily, they often appeal to some of us pervy weirdos too. This late 80s feature is a lighter piece from him while still featuring lots of death and debauchery in the form of characters celebrating themselves, sex, and the occasional forced drowning. Greenaway captures beautiful imagery as often as he does the grotesque, and the attention to detail, symmetry, and color keep a level of visual engagement that accentuates the character and narrative. Here it’s a blackly comic tale of women offing their husbands, and it’s a quirky, goofy time. Severin’s new 4K UHD highlights all the skin, bugs, and silliness.

[Extras: Commentary, interviews, featurettes]

The Best

Cliffhanger UhdCliffhanger [4K UHD, steelbook]

What is it? A man traumatized by a climbing incident is forced back into action.

Why see it? Renny Harlin may be relegated to churning out direct-to-video action flicks these days, but for a short while there he was crushing it on the big screen. This Sylvester Stallone film is one of his greats with its tale of heights, falls, and thrill-seeking baddies. Stallone plays a professional climber still reeling from a deadly fall that claimed a friend’s life. When a plane crashes in the mountains, though, he’s forced to rise to the occasion as gun-toting bad guys — including a fantastic John Lithgow — threaten lives with abandon. Locales and set-pieces up the suspense and thrills, and it all looks pretty great. The new 4K UHD ups the beauty and detail even more.

[Extras: Deleted scenes, commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes]

Danza MacabraDanza Macabra: Volume One – The Italian Gothic Collection [Severin Films]

What is it? Four Italian chillers from 1964 to 1971.

Why see it? The Monster of the Opera sees a dance troupe terrorized by a vampire, The Seventh Grave gives Agatha Christie an Italian spin, Scream of the Demon Lover pairs Jane Eyre with Frankenstein, and Lady Frankenstein delivers just what the title promises. It’d be pushing to claim that any one of these films is a lost gem, but combined — especially brought together in a slick box set — they make for a potent foursome. The set’s highlight is the fourth entry as it presents a lurid, debaucherous, and color-filled nightmare of biology and gender norms, and the disc features the most extensive extras too. All four are worth the time of genre fans, though, as they offer a look into European horrors that have yet to receive their due. Plus, volume one promises more to come…

[Extras: New 2K scans, commentaries, interviews, video essays]

Duneons And Dragons UhdDungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves [4K UHD]

What is it? A medieval comedy finding fun and respect in Gary Gygax’s imagination.

Why see it? Y’all dropped the ball on this one. The makers of Game Night delivered a legitimately fun time here while still respecting the source material — not an easy feat as the game is a nerd’s paradise — and this really should have kicked off a franchise. Chris Pine heads up the ensemble alongside Michelle Rodriguez, Sophia Lillis, Hugh Grant, and others, and everyone does great work committing to the bit and having a blast. Action scenes are good fun, visual effects are creative, and the whole is just an entertaining romp in a magical world. Special shout out to Grant who is his usual perfection as the villain.

[Extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes, gag reel]


What is it? An act of violence born of worse.

Why see it? Gaspar Noe’s most devastating film plays out in three acts, but in reverse order. It’s no mere gimmick as the impact lands that much harder as we see consequences and horror before the innocence that was shattered, Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel shine as a couple broken by violence only to reveal the beauty of their love blissfully unaware of the nightmare to come. The Straight cut — a chronological retooling of the film — is an odd duck seeing as it removes the film’s core emotional power and leaves it sitting as a more traditional tale of brutal revenge. Interesting, maybe, but it can’t touch the film’s original intent.

[Extras: Two cuts of film, featurettes, interviews, music videos]

The Last Starfighter UhdThe Last Starfighter [4K UHD, Arrow Video]

What is it? A young man is recruited to help out in an intergalactic war.

Why see it? This mid 80s action/sci-fi adventure may not have brought in the big bucks, but it’s no less beloved four decades later. Lance Guest takes lead and plays a great everyman immediately thrown into a wild adventure involving aliens, spaceships, a villainous antagonist, and more. It’s great fun and a fantastic family film delivering warm laughs and explosive action. The CG effects come courtesy of Commodore Amigas — my childhood gaming machines as my parents never got us brand names! — and it’s just a fun, energetic ride. Arrow’s new 4K UHD sees colors and details pop while retaining depth and grain.

[Extras: Commentaries, interviews, featurettes]

The Night Of The Hunter uhdThe Night of the Hunter [4K UHD, KL Studio Classics]

What is it? A preacher comes to town.

Why see it? People often ask what the best film is by a director who only made a single movie, and the responses typically land heavily in favor of Charles Laughton’s 1955 masterpiece of tension and terror. A wild Robert Mitchum plays a traveling preacher with a trail of murdered women behind him, and his latest target promises the satisfaction of ending a life and collecting $10k in cold cash. All that stands before him are two little kids… Gorgeously shot and immaculately staged, the film is a masterclass in suspense as the preacher’s efforts lead to death and horror. Mitchum is playing things with a darkly twisted enthusiasm, and the character becomes an unnerving nightmare in his pursuit of the prize. Kino’s new release ports over familiar extras, but the real star is the new 4K transfer which finds secrets in the shadows you may have previously missed.

[Extras: New 4K scan, commentary, interviews]

Transformers UhdTransformers – Limited Edition Steelbook 6-Movie Collection [4K UHD]

What is it? A tech demo masterclass.

Why see it? I’m admittedly not the biggest fan of the Transformers films. The first is okay, I’m a sucker for Dark of the Moon, and Bumblebee is a breath of fresh air, but generally speaking they’re just not for me. So why is this set under “the best” section? Well, despite my disinterest in the films themselves, they are frequently tech marvels that look and sound fantastic. Want to impress someone with your audio/video setup? Pop in one of these, and you’re off to the races. The box is also beautifully crafted with a magnetic closure housing six individual steelbooks featuring the film on 4K UHD and an abundance of special features on a Blu-ray. (Note, the films aren’t on the Blus.) These are the same transfers and extras from previous releases, but if you haven’t picked them up yet this collection is as slick as it comes.

[Extras: Commentaries, deleted scenes, featurettes, interviews]

The Rest


What is it? A man fights for survival against dinosaurs after crash landing on an alien planet.

Why see it? The premise feels like the start of a simple, straightforward banger, but what starts well quickly gets a bit bogged down as the man (Adam Driver) finds another survivor who becomes an emotional surrogate for his own daughter he left behind. Time spent on that familiar-feeling subplot detracts from the fun the film should otherwise be delivering. And there is fun here! How can there not be with dinosaurs rampaging and threatening Driver’s life? But at just ninety-three minutes, too much time is spent on beats that aren’t dinos. The result is a minor, easily forgettable diversion.

[Extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]

At the Video Store

What is it? A documentary about the loss of the video store.

Why see it? There are still a handful of video rental places left around the country, but they used to be almost as ubiquitous as fast-food joints. Just as they helped squash drive-in theaters, the video stores were squeezed out of existence by the internet. This doc features talking heads sharing memories, highs, and lows from their years as clerks and owners, and while some are still standing strong, several go out of business by the end of the film. There are some fun beats here that bump your nostalgia (provided you’re of a certain age), and the interviewees include Bill Hader who is always a joy to hear chat movies. There’s not much else to it, though, no grand conclusion or reveal, just a sad truth.

[Extras: Introduction, deleted scenes]

Attack of the Demons

What is it? An animated tale of demonic carnage.

Why see it? Director Eric Power and friends created this animated feature brought to life through paper cutouts, and it’s an impressive feat. It plays out like a traditional coming-of-age tale until the gates of hell open onto a small Colorado town. There are some fun elements at play here as character dynamics and escalating story keep things interesting, but the gory sequences are the film’s real charm as they find life in paper glory.

[Extras: Commentaries, featurettes, music video]

Joy House [KL Studio Classics]

What is it? A man, two women, and  whole lot of misdirection.

Why see it? Alain Delon is on the run from poor choices and the mob, and while he temporarily escapes the latter he just keeps embracing the former. Two sultry women enter his view, Jane Fonda and Lola Albright, and what seems like simple flirting soon shifts into murkier motives and dangerous seductions. Rene Clement’s mid 60s feature is powered by sumptuous black & white photography and the screen presences of its three leads. It’s an intriguing tale that engages as much with its dialogue as with its knowing glances.

[Extras: New 2K restoration, commentary]

Maximum Overdrive [Vestron Video, steelbook]

What is it? A fun movie despite its numerous shortcomings!

Why see it? Stephen King’s sole directorial effort remains a bad film by most metrics, but there’s no denying the entertainment his blend of incompetence and enthusiasm brings to the screen. The film, based on King’s short story “Trucks,” sees a mechanical devices come alive and start murdering people. Trucks, lawnmowers, vending machines — the carnage is fun as hell, and I’m not just saying that because a kid gets smushed by a steamroller. Everything feels dialed up a notch or two, from the dialogue to the performances, but it’s just a lot of good, clean fun. This is Vestron’s first reissue of a film they previously released, and the only difference here is the steelbook packaging.

[Extras: Commentaries, interviews]

The Siege

What is it? An assassin fights for his life.

Why see it? Action fans might remember a direct-to-video picture from a couple years back called Last Man Standing. It stars Daniel Stisen as a wood-cutting dude in a vaguely post-apocalyptic world, and it is garbage. Well Stisen is back in a wholly unrelated action picture, but while this one is a bit more competently made, Stisen is still firing blanks. His muscles are evident, but unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger, Stisen has zero charisma or personality. That’d be fine if he had some action chops, but he’s a dull one on that front too. Anyway, if you disagree with this assessment of the man’s screen presence, then The Siege is now available to rent or buy.

[Extras: Featurette]

Trouble Every Day

What is it? A man with needs finds violent satisfaction.

Why see it? Claire Denis is an acclaimed filmmaker who has no need for my seal of approval, and that’s for the best as her films have yet to click with me. I’ve tried more than a few, and this bloody tale is my latest attempt. Lip service is paid to the narrative ideas here, but Denis relies mostly on atmosphere and carnal antics to hold attention. Vincent Gallo is the lead is already a negative — so sue me! — and his violent assault on a woman is doubly upsetting for reasons that are less earned than exploited. Meh, not for me.

[Extras: Commentary, video essay]

Also out this week:

The Boy with Green Hair [Warner Archive], Debbie Does Demons, Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema XIV [KL Studio Classics], A Good Person, The Haunting [4K UHD], Inside, King Solomon’s Mines [Warner Archive], The Nutty Professor [4K UHD, Paramount Presents], The People Under the Stairs [4K UHD, Scream Factory], Queen Christina [Warner Archive], Spinning Gold, Thelma and Louise [4K UHD, Criterion Collection]

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.