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 October 18th, 2022 ! This week’s home video selection includes Fall, Bullet Train, action gems in 4K, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
What is it? Two friends climb a radio tower for the lolz and get stuck up there.
Why see it? Every year sees some stellar flicks that get lost in the shuffle, and this year one of those examples is this high-concept thriller. Two young women climb a giant radio tower for social media reasons, but misfortune leaves them trapped with no way down. Well, no way but the fastest way. It’s a suspenseful, well-crafted ride using both real heights and fantastic visual effects to create the illusion of absurd heights. Watch it on the biggest screen available.
[Extras: Commentary, music video, featurette]
Bullet Train [4K UHD]
What is it? Numerous spies converge on the same Japanese train.
Why see it? This action/comedy from David Leitch took quite a beating from cool critics and tastemakers, but it’s their loss. It’s a goofy film, a romp that delivers some fun beats and entertaining action. And you can’t argue with a cast ehre to have fun including Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron-Taylor Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Andrew Koji, Michael Shannon, Zazie Beetz, and more. You could call it Guy Ritchie-lite in that it throws together silly personalities and banter into a violent tale, but none of it should be taken seriously. Just relax, have fun, and enjoy the well-produced shenanigans.
[Extras: Outtakes, bloopers, featurettes, commentary]
Eyes of Laura Mars [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A woman sees murders she’s nowhere near.
Why see it? John Carpenter co-wrote this thriller, and it’s a solid watch with suspenseful beats and an engaging ensemble. Faye Dunaway plays the lead character, a successful fashion photographer, and Tommy Lee Jones is the cop assigned to the case. Add in Brad Dourif and director Irvin Kershner, and you’re off to the serial killer races. Giallos are an Italian invention, but this late 70s Hollywood entry makes the case for an American take on the subgenre.
[Extras: Commentary, featurette]
Orphan: First Kill
What is it? A pint-sized sociopath cons an American couple into believing she’s their lost daughter.
Why see it? 2009’s Orphan is a solidly entertaining B-movie with a wild twist, and delivering a prequel was a daunting task. How is a film set before the events of that film supposed to thrill when we know it all? Well, it does, and it’s no small miracle. The devil is in the details, and the film shines on that front with a twisty tale that goes places that thrill and delight. Isabelle Fuhrman is once again terrific, but Julia Stiles gives her a run for her money this time out. It’s once more a B-movie, but it’s great fun.
Punisher: War Zone [4K UHD]
What is it? Frank Castle finds and kills baddies, and now he’s setting his sights on the mob.
Why see it? While the popular Marvel character has seen a few different film versions and a Netflix series, Lexi Alexander’s take on the material embraces the violence and action better than any of them. Ray Stevenson takes on the title role, and he makes for an imposing figure. The villains are equally charismatic including Dominic West and a wildly over the top Doug Hutchison. The action is equally ridiculous and thrilling, and Alexander keeps the momentum moving with energy and guts. It’s a sharp film made even more visually exciting with Lionsgate’s new 4K transfer and disc.
[Extras: Featurettes, commentary]
The Return of the Living Dead [4K UHD, Scream Factory]
What is it? It seems the movies lied.
Why see it? We’ve talked a lot about Dan O’Bannon’s horror/comedy masterpiece over the years, and I expect that love will continue. Part of that is picking up and enjoying every new upgrade that comes along in the world of home video. The newest, and probably the last when it comes to physical media, is Scream Factory’s new 4K UHD of the film. The movie itself remains perfect with its story of a group of people who accidentally unleash a zombie horde, and the new disc is gorgeous. Sharp, colorful, deep blacks, and every detail captured beautifully and clearly. The film and multiple commentaries are found on the UHD, while two Blu-ray discs offer the film, commentaries, and a ton of extra features. This is an ultimate release for a masterpiece and highly recommended for anyone who enjoys great 4K titles.
[Extras: New 4K scan, commentaries, featurettes, workprint, interviews]
Tropic Thunder [4K UHD, KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A group of actors making a war film get caught up in real action.
Why see it? Ben Stiller’s hilarious riff on actors, filmmakers, and film production remains as funny today as it was on release. That said, its humor may have gone stale for some as it crosses multiple lines in its quest for laughs. If you’re down with its brazen ridiculousness, though, the comedic joys are numerous. Stiller co-stars with Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Tom Cruise, Matthew McConaughey, and many more familiar faces, and everyone is foregoing ego in favor of comedy. The extras are equally plentiful and worth your time.
[Extras: New HDR remaster, commentaries, featurettes, interviews, deleted scenes]
American Frontier Trilogy
What is it? Three films from Taylor Sheridan.
Why see it? Having recently watched the first (?) season of 1883, I’m comfortable calling it my second favorite of his works. Sicario, one of the three films collected here, retains the top spot. The film is just a savage and suspenseful film about people on the front lines of this country’s illegal drug issues. Wind River is a movie with good intentions, but Sheridan’s script just drops the ball throughout with its dismissal of both women and indigenous people in favor of the super cool white tracker. Finally, Hell or High Water is a solid but predictable drama carried by the strength of its two lead performances (Chris Pine and Ben Foster). This is a good set if you’re a fan of all three.
Doctor Death: Seeker of Souls [Scorpion Releasing]
What is it? A man seeks help bringing his wife back to life.
Why see it? John Considine plays Doctor Death, a showman who gives life to the undead as part of a traveling money-maker, but there’ a catch. To give life he must take life. Uh oh! Good guy Fred misses his dead wife pretty terribly, but his emotional desires lead to rash decisions. Considine gives his villain a high camp appeal, and there are some grisly beats here people pay the price of his ambition. It’s almost a comedy? Unclear, but it’s fun enough if you’re in the right state of mind for B-movie silliness.
[Extras: Commentary, interview, introduction]
What is it? A successful comedian returns home for the holiday.
Why see it? Jo Koy is apparently a successful comedian, so congrats. His work as a lead actor is still to be decided, though. His turn here, basically as a version of himself, is fine but basically a series of one-liners and reaction shots. The narrative is what you’re expecting, and the result is a light comedy about family expectations and realities. Fans of Koy will find more than enough fun here.
[Extras: Gag reel, deleted scenes]
Gothic Fantastico [Arrow Video]
What is it? Four gothic chillers from 1960s Italy.
Why see it? Arrow Video restores and/or releases dozens of great films each year, and while the best get standalone releases the label knows that the lesser titles benefit from a grouped release. That’s the case here as the four films included — Lady Morgan’s Vengeance, The Blancheville Monster, The Third Eye, and The Witch — are perfectly okay on an individual basis. None of them pop or worm their way into your synapses the way great films do, but as a collection they offer an interesting glimpse into the subgenre and Italy’s approach to it in the sixties. They occasionally push boundaries of the time, but they can’t help but feel restrained. Still, each finds an engaging appeal through their visuals or casting, and the set as a whole is another slick and exhaustive release from the label.
[Extras: New 2K restorations, booklet, commentaries, video essays, interviews]
Happy Birthday to Me [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A new student’s arrival kicks off a string of murders at an exclusive academy.
Why see it? This early 80s slasher may not be a shining example of the genre, but it’s a fun time for horror fans. The main reason? Some creative kills. The mystery is as weak as they come meaning you’ll have the killer pegged well before they’re actually revealed, but who cares. Come for the heightened drama between students and faculty, and stay for the brutal slayings. Glenn Ford brings the class, while Melissa Sue Anderson brings the young actor breaking free from her goody two-shoes character on Little House on the Prairie.
[Extras: Commentary, interview]
Island of the Blue Dolphins [Scorpion Releasing]
What is it? A young Native woman must survive alone after tragedy.
Why see it? Books for young adults existed long before the creation of the YA label, and Scott O’Dell’s 1960 novel most assuredly counts. It’s the story of a Native community off the Californian coast that finds itself decimated by the expected culprits. One teenage girl and her brother survive, and soon she’s all alone. It’s Castaway before Tom Hanks even hit puberty! The survival angle is worth the watch even if the narrative’s ignorant employ of religious “rescuers” misses the mark. It’s an attractive film all the same.
[Extras: New 2K master]
What is it? Rebels fight a madman in the near future!
Why see it? While this is billed as a werewolf picture you’d be wise to dismiss that expectation up front. A hairy beast does appear late in the film, but the focus of this shot on video action film is an apocalyptic battle between powerful villains and the resistance standing up to them. There’s a lot of action here for a micro-budget SOV film, and while the ambition is more impressive than the execution it still makes for an entertaining time. As with all of the Visual Vengeance titles so far, this disc is loaded with extras meaning fans will be thrilled.
[Extras: Soundtrack CD, commentaries, VHS cut, documentary, deleted scene, interviews]
Two Witches [Arrow Video]
What is it? Two tales of witches and the bloodshed they incur.
Why see it? Contemporary horror films typically eschew the monstrous as it’s cheaper and more high concept. That means when modern movies do tackle the more horrifying beasties they’re automatically worth a watch. The monsters here are witches complete with grotesque faces, and the carnage they inflict is at times gory and bloody. Both halves feel a bit abrupt as they’re light on plot and character in favor of getting right to the meat of the matter. It’s a solid watch delivering some horror goods that make the filmmaker one to watch.
[Extras: Commentaries, featurette, interviews, Q&A]
Also out this week:
Bodies Bodies Bodies, Cure [Criterion Collection], Flux Gourmet, La Llorona [Criterion Collection], Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank
Related Topics: Home Video