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 18th, 2021!
This week’s home video selection includes some 4K beauties, a pair of joyous animal attack horror films, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Santa Sangre [Severin Films, 4K UltraHD]
What is it? A carny kid grows up every bit as disturbed as his parents.
Why see it? Alejandro Jodorowsky’s epic tale of love, murder, madness, throwing knives, political oppression, carnival shenanigans, and more gets an equally impressive and loaded release on 4K UltraHD. Severin’s new 4-disc release is a visual stunner and stacked with special features — if you are a fan of the film this is an absolute must-own. The film itself is a continuously striking tale of intensely twisted relationships and filled with imagery that sears its way into your brain. It’s an odd one with no clear protagonist to latch onto, but the characters are so damn fascinating that your like/dislike for them won’t matter in the slightest. Few movies deliver an experience like this.
[Extras: Commentary with Alejandro Jodorowsky, interviews, deleted scenes, documentary, featurettes, short film, soundtrack CD]
Baxter [Scorpion Releasing]
What is it? A mean dog desires a meaner master.
Why see it? Blackly comic horror doesn’t get much darker than this French import about a Bull Terrier that encourages the death of its kindly old owner in the hopes of finding someone tougher. The film is a subversive look at the ease with which people submit to fascism, and while that’s not necessarily news its presentation here is fresh and horrible. The dog, Baxter, narrates the tale, and in addition to delivering some grim laughs he also becomes a source of increasing sadness. It’s not light fare, but if you can stomach the cruelty it’s a damning commentary on our own docile nature.
Day of the Animals [Severin Films]
What is it? An ecological horror film with pissed off animals versus Leslie Nielsen.
Why see it? The filmmakers behind the excellent Grizzly (1976) returned that same year to make another slice of animal horror, and it’s every bit as entertaining. This time there’s more than just a single bear to contend with as birds, dogs, and other cute critters attack tourists on an expedition led by Christopher George. It’s a grand time for numerous reasons with fun set pieces, over the top performances, and more. And while it’s just one of the highlights, you’ll never forget a horny, violent Leslie Nielsen stripping off his shirt and fighting a bear. The new scan looks great, the interviews offer plenty to enjoy, and the commentaries are icing on the cake (especially the new one with Lee Gambin).
[Extras: New 2K scan, featurette, interviews, commentaries]
Drunken Master II [Warner Archive]
What is it? Jackie Chan gets drunk and kicks ass.
Why see it? Hong Kong films have a long history of seeing their US releases chopped and re-edited (if they got a US release at all), and not even Jackie Chan could escape that fate. This film received some minor changes, but Warner Archive has now brought the original uncut film to Blu-ray. It’s free of extras, but the film itself is worth the price. Chan has numerous winners in his filmography, and this is considered one of his best as the action and fight sequences are blistering delights.
[Extras: Original English subtitles from Hong Kong theatrical release]
What is it? A woman watches her father slip into dementia.
Why see it? Anthony Hopkins just won Best Actor at the Academy Awards for his performance here, and it’s every bit as fantastic as you’d think. Olivia Colman keeps pace, though, as his adult daughter who’s unable to stop her father’s mental descent. There’s warmth here, but it comes with enormous dollops of sadness and loss — even more so if you have someone in your own life with Alzheimer’s. There’s no feel good ending here, either, so while that limits the rewatchability (for me at least) it remains a film you should at least watch once.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]
Grizzly [Severin Films]
What is it? A rogue bear goes to town on humans.
Why see it? William Girdler’s mid 70s classic remains one of the best of the Jaws riffs right up through its explosive ending. Christopher George shines as a park ranger tasked with stopping the killer bear without disrupting tourist season, and he’s joined by the equally great Richard Jaeckel and Andrew Prine. It’s big fun, frequently bloody — a cute little kid gets his leg ripped off! — and just a rousing slice of animal attack horror. Severin’s new Blu is packed with new extras, all of which are worth your time, making this is another must-own.
[Extras: New 2K scan, featurettes, interviews, commentary]
What is it? A Korean family moves to the United States in search of the American Dream.
Why see it? The praise you’ve been hearing for this one is accurate as writer/director Lee Isaac Chung delivers a warm, honest, heartfelt look at one immigrant family’s journey. It’s touching, stressful, inspiring, and endlessly warm, and the performances are as impeccable as the filmmaking. Steven Yeun headlines and is joined by the equally terrific Yeri Han, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho, and Youn Yuh-jung. It’s a film about making a home, and it’s always worth it to to see your own life through someone else’s experience.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, featurette, commentary with Lee Isaac Chung]
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House [Warner Archive]
What is it? A couple moves out of the city and tries to make a home in suburbia.
Why see it? Fans of The Money Pit (1986) — there has to be one or two of you — should give this original a spin with Cary Grant and Myrna Loy delivering the comic goods. The pair make a simple plan to renovate a home they secured outside of New York City, but everything that can go wrong does go wrong, and audiences benefit. Melvyn Douglas is along for the ride, and the film manages to deliver plenty of laughs alongside some warmth and relationship fun. Look, it’s Grant — get it!
[Extras: Radio productions, cartoon]
Raya and the Last Dragon
What is it? A young woman and a dragon save the world.
Why see it? Disney’s efforts to reach beyond “white” norms don’t always succeed, but this Eastern adventure is a hit across the board. The film’s animation is breathtaking and incorporates elements from multiple East Asian cultures and nations, but it’s also an exciting story with memorable characters, big laughs, lots of heart, and some thrilling action sequences. It’s terrific fun with important themes and messages throughout regarding heritage, family, and more, and it’s one that will find fans across the age spread. Probably the studio’s best animated release in years.
[Extras: Outtakes, deleted scenes, featurettes]
What is it? A college freshman goes through an emotional ringer.
Why see it? Writer/director Cooper Raiff’s debut feature feels on the surface like a cookie cutter indie you’d be better off avoiding, but that would be a mistake. Raiff plays a character who’ll strike a bit close to home for many as his insecurities — being away from home, being in a sea of strangers, misunderstanding your one connection — feel authentic and painful to watch. As hard as it is, though, the film never becomes emotion porn and instead uses humor and humanity to deliver a movie that feels like you’ve been let into someone’s very small circle. It’s a beautiful film.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, bloopers, short film]
What is it? Humans face off against an alien threat far from Earth.
Why see it? Bruce Willis’ ongoing descent into irrelevance continues with his latest direct-to-video release — he has seven more films currently in post-production — which pairs him with Frank “I also can’t say no to a gig” Grillo as high ranking space force officers fighting a war against elusive aliens. What can I say… it’s terrible. Willis is lazy, the effects are cheap, the script is an afterthought, and not a single character will hold your attention for any reason.
The Daydreamer [Scorpion Releasing]
What is it? A Rankin/Bass “classic” new to Blu!
Why see it? Classic is in quotes because you’d be hard-pressed to put this film up against any of the famed duo’s Christmas specials, for example, but it’s still a fun little flashback to simpler times. Young Hans Christian Andersen finds fantasy amid his lazy days, and his adventures come to life via Rankin/Bass stop-motion which is never not cool to see. The script gets a bit religious and a lot hokey, but the animation is a soothing and relaxing reminder of decades past.
Escape from Fort Bravo [Warner Archive]
What is it? Civil War soldiers join forces to survive attacks by Native Americans.
Why see it? First things first, the premise here is a bit iffy. William Holden plays a Union soldier who works with Confederate prisoners to fight an indigenous tribe — not cool. That aside, though, it’s a pretty solid western adventure that sees director John Sturges capturing some thrilling action beats and gorgeous vistas. Holden is a charismatic and commanding presence as always,, and he’s joined by a strong supporting cast too.
Flowers of Shanghai [Criterion Collection]
What is it? Relationships see highs and lows between courtesans and their visitors.
Why see it? Hou Hsiao-hsien makes endlessly atmospheric movies, and that applies to this acclaimed 1998 film as well. A succession of long takes, camera moving between faces and around rooms, reveals the heartbreak and love flowing through a 19th century house of ill repute in Shanghai. Tony Leung Chiu-wai is the big draw here as a man caught between a long-standing mistress and other visitors, and the film makes some interesting observations on monogamy at a price. As is Hou’s style, nearly the entirety of what happens here happens through dialogue with other events off screen, but it’s worth a watch at least as the film draws viewers into its world and conversations. Criterion’s new Blu-ray is impeccable, as expected, and features a new doc exploring the film’s production.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, introduction, documentary, interview]
It Happened Tomorrow
What is it? A man gets tomorrow’s newspaper, today!
Why see it? Remember that show Early Edition? A man got tomorrow’s news today, and it led to all manner of hijinks. This 1944 comedy/drama got there first and has good fun with the premise. It’s hindered by a wholly unlikable lead character — Dick Powell’s performance is fine, but his character is a real jerk — but the intricate nature of the story keeps things lively and entertaining through to the end.
[Extras: New 4K scan]
Last Action Hero [4K UltraHD]
What is it? A movie lover enters the cinematic world of his favorite action hero.
Why see it? Director John McTiernan and writer Shane Black could do no wrong back in the 80s, but the decade that followed saw them hit some speed bumps. This meta adventure — Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the onscreen character who enters our world and has a face to face with Arnold Schwarzenegger — is a big swing that too often misses the mark. Some jokes land, but most are groan-worthy. Happily the action and pop culture references make up for the shoddy attempts at humor as big stunts and silly face-offs delight. The optical effects are poorly dated, though, so while much of the film looks great in 4K other scenes only accentuate the terrible. This new steelbook release is pretty slick, and it predates the standard 4K release due next month.
[Extras: Commentary with John McTiernan, deleted scenes, music video, featurette]
Mackintosh and T.J.
What is it? An old man befriends a young boy on his own.
Why see it? The legendary Roy Rogers made his final big screen appearance in this nice little movie, and fans will want to revisit it on Blu-ray. The story is pretty straightforward as the down on his luck Mackintosh crosses paths with a boy in need and offers compassion where others give only scorn and disinterest. It goes pretty much where you expect as the pair get caught up in some trouble, but it’s a solid family film and a warm modern day western.
[Extras: Cast reunion, interview, commentary]
What is it? A woman and her son are stalked by weirdos.
Why see it? This little chiller feels reminiscent of Dean Koontz’s Servants of Twilight (adapted for the screen in the 90s), but that’s not a knock. Cults and desperate mothers make for good, suspenseful genre fare, and this is no exception. The mystery itself feels pretty clear throughout, but some details manage some twists and turns, and Emile Hirsch is always a welcome face too. Don’t go in expecting to be rocked, but fans of quietly suspenseful horror should give it a spin.
[Extras: Interviews, deleted scenes]
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
What is it? It’s pretty self-explanatory.
Why see it? Tom and Jerry are something of an acquired taste these days as the pair just bash the shit out of each other — usually giving the smug mouse the win more often than not — again and again. What this live-action/animated hybrid presupposes, though, is what if they did that for 100 minutes while actors collected paychecks around them? Anyway. It’s a bit of a chore as real people dumb themselves down while Tom & Jerry continue the cycle of violence they’ve known their whole life.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, gag reel, featurettes]
Also out this week:
Above Suspicion, The Alienist: Angel of Darkness, Animal House [4K UltraHD], Eyes of a Stranger [Scream Factory], He Knows You’re Alone [Scream Factory], Hunter, It Happened Tomorrow, The Nest, Nina Wu, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex [Warner Archive], Snoopy Collection, Star Trek: Lower Decks – Season One, The Sting [4K UltraHD], Supernova, Wildcats [Shout Select]
Related Topics: Home Video