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 August 10th, 2021!
This week’s home video selection includes genre classics, new releases, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
After Life [Criterion Collection]
What is it? Heaven is your choice of one single memory.
Why see it? Hirokazu Kore-eda delivers a sweet and intelligent piece of cinema here. Its high concept — the newly deceased stop over at a way station of sorts where they are tasked with picking a single memory from their life, a favorite moment, one that will be recreated for them in the form of a short film before they move on the Beyond — but exists well beyond mere fantasy. It’s a beautiful character drama about self-discovery and the value of life… even after life has passed. There’s nothing flashy here as the entirety is a calm, meditative experience, and its tone passes easily onto the viewer. Criterion’s new Blu captures that warmth and includes some enlightening extras.
[Extras: New 2K restoration, commentary, interviews, deleted scenes]
The Dead Zone [Imprint Films]
What is it? A man’s psychic ability leads to sadness and salvation.
Why see it? Stephen King’s filmography is filled with bangers, but David Cronenberg’s adaptation of The Dead Zone rarely gets the acclaim it deserves. It’s lowkey, seemingly perfect for the Canadian filmmaker, and winds up being his warmest film yet. Similarly, while Christopher Walken is often considered a quirky actor, he gives a beautiful, humane performance here as a man who loses everything but gains the gift (?) of seeing future tragedies. Add in Martin Sheen’s terrifically terrifying politician, Tom Skerritt as a local sheriff, and some memorable set-pieces as Johnny Smith sees the future, and you have an effective chiller that holds up extremely well. Imprint’s new disc is loaded with extras, both archival with the filmmakers and new from genre experts and more. One highlight is a new documentary on the subject of adapting King to the screen.
[Extras: 2K scan, commentary, interviews, documentary, video essay, featurettes]
The Frenchman’s Garden [Mondo Macabro]
What is it? A bar owner plants murdered people in his garden.
Why see it? Paul Naschy had a long, colorful career as a filmmaker and actor with the bulk of his genre efforts carrying some kind of supernatural element. This late 70s feature eschews that norm and instead finds terror in the true story of a sociopath who killed for money and thought nothing about it. It’s a well-crafted thriller, and while the outcome is clear from the start the film still delivers grim thrills. It looks quite good too, and the new transfer captures the vitality and grue accordingly. Give this one a spin then listen to Troy Howarth’s informative commentary.
[Extras: New 4K transfer, interview, commentary]
Lilies of the Field [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A man finds purpose with a hammer and some nuns.
Why see it? Sidney Poitier is always an actor worth watching, and while this early 60s effort is light on traditional plot it manages to deliver all the feels. Poitier plays a handyman who takes a small repair job for an offbeat convent only to discover they’ve got an even bigger job for him — they want him to build a chapel without being paid. It’s a sweet film, and while godly elements play a role its focus is on more grounded concerns like kindness, charity, and self-worth. Put this one on when you’re feeling down about the world.
Nashville [Paramount Presents]
What is it? Five days with twenty-four characters in one city.
Why see it? While I’m admittedly more of a Short Cuts guy, there’s no denying the lowkey brilliance of Robert Altman’s 1975 feature. Dozens of characters swirl and collide in the country music capital in ways that range from the comedic to the devastating. As is often the case with Altman’s ensembles, it’s a microcosm of America with people struggling to succeed, live, and overcome — and it’s not always for the best of those nearby. It’s funny and strange, filled with music that sometimes entertains, and ends on a gut punch capturing this country perhaps too well. Paramount’s new Blu is a gift for fans.
[Extras: Remastered, commentary by Robert Altman, featurette]
A Place in the Sun [Paramount Presents]
What is it? A man loves a woman after making love to another.
Why see it? Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, and Shelley Winters. Those are your reasons to watch as all three give memorable performances in this tale of romance, drama, and tragedy. It’s melodrama, but never camp, and it’s a downer that earns the time spent with it all the same. Class and privilege play a role here too, but while they’re effectively approached the focus remains the love at its heart — true, heartfelt, deceptive, and ultimately devastating. Paramount’s release once again makes a strong case for their Presents line being a major one for film lovers.
[Extras: Remastered, commentary, featurettes]
Silip: Daughters of Eve [Mondo Macabro]
What is it? Two sisters reunite with tragic results.
Why see it? This, my friends, is beautifully bleak cinema. Billed as something of an erotic feature, the film does deliver plenty of naked flesh and sexual antics, enough for any three Skinemax titles… but it’s also guaranteed to leave you depressingly aroused. Yeah, I said it. No spoilers on the ending, but the film’s exploration of sexism, misogyny, and ignorance through a softcore lens eventually leads to a reckoning of sorts. It’s hauntingly unforgettable, and it’s not an easy one to shake. Also, heads up that it opens with a cow being murdered on camera. Be sure to watch the interviews with the two female leads after seeing the movie.
[Extras: Restoration, interviews, commentary]
F.P. 1 Doesn’t Answer
What is it? Saboteurs attack a floating aircraft platform in the middle of the ocean.
Why see it? Real-world aircraft carriers move around, obviously, but back when they were science fiction the best that could be imagined was a floating platform. That crazy idea is the premise of this dramatic thriller, and while it manages some classical entertainment it avoids crossing over into a more elaborate genre affair. The spy shenanigans and sabotage still bring some thrills, though, making for a memorable flight into the 30s.
[Extras: German and far shorter English cut, commentary]
Friday the 13th – 8-Movie Collection
What is it? The first eight films in the franchise.
Why see it? Here’s the deal. If you’re a fan of Friday the 13th and its sequels then then odds are you already have one of the collections — there was a slick tin a few years ago, and last year saw the release of Scream Factory’s big ‘n fancy box set. Both feature every film which is what makes this release a bit strange. It only has the first eight movies meaning no Jason Goes to Hell, Jason X, Freddy vs Jason, or the (superior) 2009 remake. It makes the set difficult to recommend, and when you add in that only the first four films here are remastered it feels even more like a placeholder. It does include these eight on digital as well, and there are plenty of extras too.
[Extras: Commentaries, interviews, featurettes]
My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To
What is it? Siblings protect their dangerous brother.
Why see it? More family drama than genre piece, the film reveals a family dynamic familiar to many — everyone has the black sheep in their family, and no matter how many times they stumble you’re there to help them up. In this case, the sheep has a taste and need for blood. All three leads are good, but it’s Patrick Fugit who hits hardest with an emotionally charged turn. The film’s biggest obstacle for some will be intentionally slow pacing that focuses on the building tension between the siblings, but if slowburns are for you you’ll to take a bite out of this one.
O.S.S. [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A team of spies enters Nazi-occupied France.
Why see it? Alan Ladd and Geraldine Fitzgerald headline this World War II spy thriller, and the result is a solid tale of espionage, romance, and war. Director Irving Pichel crafts an engaging film, and the combined talents work to find minor suspense as the characters and story move towards the inevitable. Fans of Ladd will fare best here.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary]
One Crazy Summer [Warner Archive]
What is it? A comedy.
Why see it? I’ll be honest. I tried to go see Manhunter in 1986 with my older sister and her friend, but the staff wouldn’t sell me a ticket as I was underage. I had to watch One Crazy Summer instead and have despised it ever since. Having now rewatched the movie it’s clear I’ve been a bit too harsh over the years. It’s not good or all that funny, necessarily, but it’s not as horrible as I recalled. John Cusack, Demi Moore, and Bobcat Goldthwait headline for “Savage” Steve Holland — whose Better Off Dead remains far superior — and it’s ultimately a light, occasionally humorous, occasionally grating comedy.
What is it? A reporter gets caught up in her story.
Why see it? Screenlife films — branded movies that unfold entirely on a computer screen — still have yet to exceed the brilliant thriller The Den (2013), but they usually offer some thrills. From Searching to Unfriended, there’s promise in the premise. This terrorism-themed entry is a lesser affair due to its writing and protagonist, but there are still some real-world thrills to be found.
Also out this week:
Back Street [KL Studio Classics], Desire [KL Studio Classics], I Am Toxic, Lust, The Misfits, Occupation: Rainfall, Peter Ibbetson [KL Studio Classics], Through the Shadow, Till Death, You Will Die at Twenty
Related Topics: Home Video