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 27th, 2020, including our pick of the week, Parasite!
This week’s home video selection includes Peter Sellers’ sole directorial effort, some sleazy gems from the 70s and 80s, the complete Flintstones series, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Parasite [Criterion Collection]
What is it? An Oscar winner for Best Picture.
Why see it? It feels like ages ago, but Parasite just swept the Academy Awards this year. Anyway, the film remains an immensely entertaining tale of class divide and ambition. Two families come together, unknowingly for one of them, revealing an inescapable inequality in a world uninterested in fairness. Bong’s writing and direction are impeccable, and they’re aided with gorgeous production design and cinematography as well as a stellar cast including Song Kang-ho and others. There are big laughs here as well as biting commentary and painful reveals, and it all builds in ways that layer in unexpected suspense. Criterion’s new Blu-ray is packed with extras and a must-own for any serious film lover.
[Extras: New 4K master, commentary with Bong Joon-ho, black & white version, interviews, featurettes]
The Flintstones – The Complete Series
What is it? They’re a stone-age modern family.
Why see it? While some dismiss The Flintstones as an animated knock-off of The Honeymooners there’s a lot of fun to be had here all the same. The family dynamics afford plenty of comic beats, but the real fun is found in the “prehistoric” shenanigans as the animators find creative ways to employ old materials and animals into contemporary action. This set includes all 166 episodes as well as two TV movies featuring the characters, and it’s guaranteed to provide hours of fun for kids and flashbacks for adults.
[Extras: Two movies, featurettes]
Grave Robbers [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? Young people inadvertently awake an ancient evil.
Why see it? Slashers are often thought of as an American subgenre, but other countries tried their hands at it too including Mexico. This late 80s piece of terror from south of the border features sacrifice, greed, and some fun practical gore beats as a reanimated warrior tears through anyone in his way. The effects are well done, and along with the solid production design — the rundown locales and cemetery look quite good — the resulting film is an entertaining little slasher.
[Extras: New 4K scan, interview, commentary]
The Ipcress File [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A spy is drawn into a twisted assignment.
Why see it? Michael Caine headlines this terrific spy tale, the first in a franchise, and delivers sly fun alongside dark thrills. James Bond this isn’t as Harry Palmer is drowned in bureaucracy and buried in double crosses. Caine’s wry sense of humor pairs well with the character from Len Deighton’s best-selling novel, and the result is a film that balances well the tone and atmosphere of an off-kilter thriller.
[Extras: Commentaries, interview]
What is it? An honest man is corrupted by those around him.
Why see it? The great Peter Sellers starred in numerous films, but in the early 60s he also directed one — his sole directorial effort, as it turned out — that was quickly lost in the shuffle. This new Blu-ray restores the film and reveals a gem beneath the years of neglect. Sellers’ character is a nice guy, not a Being There simpleton, but as he’s taken advantage of he pays careful attention leading to an affecting ending.
[Extras: New 2K restoration, short film, featurette, interview]
Rambo – The Complete Steelbook Collection [4K UltraHD]
What is it? An absolutely gorgeous box-set of 4K steelbook releases.
Why see it? The five Rambo films may be a mixed bag quality-wise, but none of them are straight up stinkers. First Blood remains a modern classic of action and commentary while the two that follow are standard 80s action fare. 2008’s Rambo, though, is a return to greatness — not in its drama or thematic effect, but in its pure commitment to carnage and cruelty in the face of a real-life travesty. It is so ridiculously and gleefully violent and bloody and is immensely entertaining in the process. Last Rambo, while slaughtered by critics and audiences, is actually a fitting finale that once again shows Sylvester Stallone’s lack of expected compassion with this character and franchise. It’s familiar but effective and allows Rambo to ride off into the distance as he always deserved. Still, what lands this set on the Great list is its presentation. New artwork adorns each side of the box-set with more new art on each steelbook’s front and back (and discs). It’s a beautiful release with padded slots to hold and protect each steelbook, and it’s a legitimate high standard going forward for future releases who hope to compare.
[Extras: Commentaries, interviews, featurettes]
Shock Treatment [Severin Films]
What is it? A group of people attend a radical spa with dark secrets.
Why see it? This French genre effort shocked audiences back in the early 70s with a gratuitous scene featuring full frontal nudity, both male and female, that goes on for several minutes. Alain Delon being one of the men was part of the shock, I’m sure, but while nudity is rampant here the film’s biggest draw is elsewhere. It’s a commentary on class and immigration that delivers genre suspense and thrills even as its critique grows. Severin’s new Blu captures all of the film’s beauty along with some informative interviews.
[Extras: New 2K scan, interviews, selected commentary]
Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Terrible Things [AGFA]
What is it? Two criminals hiding out in Florida do as Florida men do.
Why see it? This early 70s gem of absurdity and thrills finally comes to Blu-ray in a much-deserved edition. One of the two bank robbers is a cross-dresser, sincere in his tastes, but the pressures of hiding out soon become too great leading to a breakdown and murder. It’s rough exploitation that occasionally leans weird, sleazy, and silly, and while it’s for admittedly few tastes you should already know if you’re among the lucky few.
[Extras: New 2K preservation, commentary]
Babylon Berlin – Season 1 & 2
What is it? Late 20s Berlin is home to intrigue, corruption, and mystery.
Why see it? This European series takes fantastic advantage of the local cityscapes to capture the look and feel of Berlin from ninety years ago, it helps that many of the locales remain unchanged in major ways. The production design is aces, and the performances follow suit building characters who weave through this noir-ish world with secrets and dreams. The story engages and holds attention throughout the seasons, and knowledge of what’s coming Europe’s way adds to the context and weight of it all.
[Extras: Featurette, documentary]
The Black Cat [Severin Films]
What is it? A film production is haunted by a demon.
Why see it? Pretty ballsy move making a movie that liberally references Suspiria to the point of saying the characters are making a follow-up, but hey, that’s Italian cinema for you. Luigi Cozzi has fun with the premise, but the effects and terrors leave something to be desired. Genre fans will be entertained, though, thanks to the references and nods.
[Extras: New 2K transfer, interview]
Cold Light of Day [Arrow Video]
What is it? A killer is captured in London.
Why see it? Grim serial killer tales are an acquired taste as they typically eschew elements like suspense and thrills in favor of cold realism, and this late 80s drama is no different. Comparisons to Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer or Angst seem likely, but it lacks the charisma and tension of those two, respectively. It is a solid police drama, though, as it opens with his arrest and then uses his interrogation to flash back with events. It’s not a movie you’re likely to re-watch, but Arrow’s new Blu-ray does include a slick die-cut sleeve.
[Extras: New 2K restoration, commentaries, interview, featurette, short films]
Memorial Valley Massacre [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? A national park is home to a slaughter.
Why see it? The premise of this holiday-themed slasher is simple enough, but what should have been an opportunity for outdoor bloodletting instead is a big misfire. The film aims for laughs and doesn’t hit a single one, and the kills are all bland and mostly bloodless. It feels like a film neutered in editing, but I’m not generous to believe that’s the case.
[Extras: New 4K scan and restoration, interviews]
The Opposite Sex [Warner Archive]
What is it? A musical take on The Women.
Why see it? This is arguably a solid idea — retelling The Women within a musical — but the inclusion of male actors seems to undercut the homage more than a little bit. Still, the cast including June Allyson, Joan Collins, Agnes Moorehead, Joan Blondell, and others, meaning it remains a watchable romp as women deal with misfired marriages and relationships. It’s fun enough whether you’re fans of the original or not.
Patrick Still Lives [Severin Films]
What is it? An Italian “sequel” to the Australian film.
Why see it? The second of three films this week that reference far greater predecessors, this follow-up to the Ozploitation classic is an unforgettable oddity. The Patrick plot is still here as a man in a coma unleashes psychic terror on those around him, but it comes with a central plot involving a group of strangers who gather for over the top antics unaware of what’s hiding in the basement. Plenty of sex, nudity, and violence ensues including one hell of a nasty murder involving a naked woman, a sharp pole, and her lady parts.
[Extras: New 2K scan, interview]
Spellcaster [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? Strangers search for a check in a castle.
Why see it? There really aren’t enough horror riffs on the WIlly Wonka premise, but this one comes close. A group of strangers win a contest for a trip to a remote castle owned by a mysterious man for the chance to take home a million dollars, but of course, a nightmare of death awaits. This oddball horror film feels restrained in some ways as it teases both flesh and violence that don’t actually appear on the screen. We do get some fun practical effects work, though, with both creatures and a “wooden” chair that comes to life and eats a woman. It’s silly fun.
[Extras: New 2K scan and restoration, interview]
Waterloo Bridge [Warner Archive]
What is it? A romance set against World War II.
Why see it? Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor play a hopeful couple whose romance is shattered by war, and their journey towards love is a long one. The film is one of those tales of possibly doomed romance that sees its two halves go through heck on their way back to each other, and there’s some solid drama here as their highs and lows unfold. Leigh and Taylor make for a compelling pair as well.
Zombie 5: Killing Birds [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? Not a sequel to Zombie…
Why see it? Italians love movies so much they often cross the usual lines between direct connections (and homage), and this horror movie was saddled with a Zombie moniker despite there being no connection. Birds attack someone early on but never kill anyone, so thankfully there are some ghostly undead folks to do the job. The storyline is bonkers at times, as is to be expected, meaning it’s never dull.
[Extras: New 2K restoration, interviews, commentary]
Also out this week:
Ben 10 Versus the Universe – The Movie, Daughter of Darkness – 4K UltraHD, [Blue Underground], High Plains Drifter [KL Studio Classics], Joe Kidd [KL Studio Classics], The Last Starfighter [Arrow Video], The Secret Ways [KL Studio Classics], Two Mules for Sister Sarah [KL Studio Classics], Welcome to the Circle [Artsploitation], Wolfman’s Got Nards
Related Topics: Home Video