Welcome to this week in home video!
Pick of the Week
Victory [Warner Archive]
What is it? POWs plan an escape during a soccer match.
Why see it? John Huston’s World War II film remains a terrific look at humanity, and its final thirty minutes stands as a top five sports movie. Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine, and Max von Sydow headline, and the film delivers suspense, strong character beats, and one hell of a rousing finale. Some special features would have been appreciated, but happily this is a film that’s strong enough on its own merits to land this pick of the week spot. It’s a big, cheer-worthy watch.
Color Out of Space
What is it? A family is transformed by a meteorite that lands in their yard.
Why see it? H.P. Lovecraft’s short story has been adapted and re-imagined before, but director Richard Stanley gives it the most glorious visual representation yet. There are still some bumps in the narrative and with these characters, but the imagery alone makes this worth seeing. (And if you have the setup, the 4K UltraHD disc is a thing of absolute beauty.) It’s cosmic horror that haunts as an otherwise loving family falls victim to the unknown. If you’re here for a Nicolas Cage freakout you’ll be satisfied, but the bigger pull is the nightmarish beauty of it all.
[Extras: Featurette, deleted scenes]
Hot Dog… The Movie [Synapse Films]
What is it? A ski competition attracts all manner of hijinks.
Why see it? No one expects a late night cable favorite from the 80s to get the 4K restoration treatment, but we should all be happy that it happened anyway. Hot Dog is no lost classic, but the movie remains a fun, raunchy comedy that also happens to feature plenty of terrific skiing and stunts. David Naughton and Shannon Tweed co-star — like I said, it’s the 80s! — and it’s just an entertainingly harmless romp all around. Synapse’s new Blu is beautiful, and fans will want to check out the in depth documentary exploring the film’s production as some of the anecdotes are terrific.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, documentary, commentary]
What is it? A murder mystery!
Why see it? Rian Johnson’s latest is a delightfully fun murder mystery with sharp dialogue and a stellar cast. Seriously. Daniel Craig, Ana De Armas, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, and Christopher Plummer? That’s just crazy great and immediately makes this a must-see movie. Happily it’s also funny, smart, and very playful. The disc is also packed meaning fans have a few extra hours of fun to explore.
[Extras: Commentary with Rian Johnson, deleted scenes, documentary, featurette]
One Missed Call – Trilogy [Arrow Video]
What is it? A curse moves through cell phone contact lists!
Why see it? Okay, that synopsis sounds stupid, but this Japanese horror trilogy is for fans of The Ring and The Grudge meaning its core rests on a curse, a wrongdoing, and the bloody fallout that follows. Takashi Miike directs the first film, and it’s a solid horror thriller with some gruesome beats that still makes time for a commentary on media and cultural obsession. The two sequels are maybe a bit more polished, but while solid they bring little new to the table. Arrow’s release is fantastic, though, for fans as it collects not just the three films but also a ton of extra content.
[Extras: Documentaries, interviews, short films, deleted scenes, featurettes, music video]
Perfect Friday [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A bank employee plans a robbery with an unusual couple.
Why see it? At its heart this is a heist film complete with an elaborate bank robbery plan and execution, but what makes it shine is the interactions between the three leads. David Warner is at his weirdest, Ursula Andress is at her nakedest, and Stanley Baker is stuck between them. The film shifts often enough to leave viewers unsure who’s actually running the game, and it’s a sexy, fun treat of a film with a smartly satisfying payoff.
What is it? An Israeli man hopes to start anew in Paris.
Why see it? Making a home somewhere new is always hard, but language barriers and racism make it exponentially more difficult. This occasionally comedic tale of one man’s efforts explores the reality of it through a slightly subverted lens, and the result is a film that’s very much of the moment. There’s a power to the film’s final frames too, and its message about the struggle faced by immigrants hits hard.
And Hope to Die [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A man on the run crosses paths with crooks.
Why see it? French thrillers are often odd birds in comparison to more literal genre efforts from elsewhere, and this early 70s effort is no different. The setup is an engaging one as a man running from a past we don’t know winds up in the clutches of a gang of thieves planning a heist, and in addition to a dubbed Robert Ryan the film also holds attention by being as much a character piece as a thriller. It never quite goes where you expect, and while that’s not always for the best it’s certainly never dull.
The Astrologer [Severin Films]
What is it? A scientist pursues the truth about the Virgin Mary.
Why see it? James Glickenhaus is best known for action movies like The Exterminator and Slaughter of the Innocents, but his first feature is a odd little thriller — a “student film” in his own words — that follows people using science-like shenanigans to trace the Virgin Mary and her subsequent bambino. It’s rough at times and plays fast and loose with plot by going heavy on both dialogue and visual fun, but it’s a memorable watch.
[Extras: F New 4K scan, interviews, featurette]
What is it? Chinese climbers attempt to summit Mount Everest.
Why see it? This adventure tale is based on the true story of a group of Chinese climbers trying to tackle the mountain from the previously untouched Northern Ridge, and the journey is one fraught with tragedy and heroism both. Fans of mountain climbing flicks will want to give it a watch, and the payoff is solid, but the CG effects are shockingly bad for a blockbuster. The human drama remains, but the visuals sometimes knock the weight down a bit.
Cries of Pleasure [Severin Films]
What is it? A man’s death is foretold by a dude with a guitar.
Why see it? Jess Franco is a beloved filmmaker of genre fare who’s never really connected with me, but dammit I keep trying. The setup here involves a dead man in a pool, a trio of frequently naked women, and a guitar player, but it’s really just an excuse for lots of exaggerated sex. The dynamics between the characters never really amounts to much, but on the bright side the locals in Portugal are absolutely gorgeous.
[Extras: New 4K scan, featurette, interviews]
The Deadly Trap [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? An American couple struggles when their kids go missing in Paris.
Why see it? Faye Dunaway and Frank Langella headline this low-key French thriller, and they remain the real reason to watch. The film itself is a bit too unmotivated — the pacing and attention to the relationship slow down the thriller aspects beyond reason — but Dunaway and Langella both shine in atypical roles. Director Rene Clement does shoot an attractive film, though, and it takes great advantage of its locales.
What is it? The enchanted forest wants a few words with the people of Arendelle.
Why see it? The first Frozen remains an absolutely delightful and compelling animated film with some pretty catchy songs, and this follow-up just can’t compete. There are still a few laughs, and the story — a nod to Native people and the invasion by European settlers — is an important one for kids to catch on to, but the fun doesn’t land with the same sense of wonder. Worse, I’ve already forgotten all of the songs! Still, I’m an adult. The kids in your life will probably love it.
[Extras: Outtakes, deleted scenes, deleted songs, featurettes, music videos]
Hollywood Horror House [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? An aging film star welcomes a maniac into her home.
Why see it? There’s fun to be had with this early slasher/thriller that takes good advantage of its Hollywood locale with a story about a mad killer chopping up women. It plays as something of a mystery, but there’s never really any doubt as to whether Vic is a damn psycho. Still, it’s a garish and occasional fun romp with some entertaining gore along the way as the killer dismembers his victims one by one.
[Extras: New 4K scan, commentary]
What is it? A family finds trouble when they welcome a stranger into their Winnebago.
Why see it? There’s a pretty big ask early on in Mind Games as viewers need to accept that this family of three would bring a stranger aboard and even go so far as to allow their young son to sleep outside with him unattended. They’re having marital issues, but still, this is dumb 101. Get past that and you have a pretty generic thriller as Maxwell Caulfield’s stranger grows more and more concerning and cuck Edward Albert finally steps up.
[Extras: Documentary, featurette]
Night of Open Sex [Severin Films]
What is it? A couple in pursuit of a fortune finds sex instead?
Why see it? More Jess Franco! As mentioned above the filmmaker and I don’t have the best track record, but this wild romp actually manages some fun and surprises along the way. I wouldn’t call it a comedy, but there are some fun beats including the final scene. Of course, there’s also a brutal sequence showing a woman murdered via a hot curling iron in her bajango. So yeah, it’s a tonal stew. There’s once again a lot of T&A&P&D including possibly the most ludicrous oral sequence ever captured on film — Lina Romay is going to town biting the air around a limp dick for what seems like hours, and it is hilarious. Anyway. Franco fans are once again served extremely well by Severin Films.
[Extras: New 4K scan, featurette, interviews]
Pet Sematary [Scream Factory]
What is it? Newcomers discover the creepy old burial ground.
Why see it? Mary Lambert’s adaptation of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary remains one of the best of King’s horror films, but this sequel — is still terrible. The tone is way off and unforgivable, the acting is rough, and the undead speak for some dumb reason. None of it works as the attempts at horror are laughable and the resulting comedy just isn’t funny. Scream Factory’s new Blu looks fantastic, though, and Lambert’s commentary is well worth a listen.
[Extras: New 4K scan, commentary with Mary Lambert, interview]
Public Affairs [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? A congressional hopeful is something of a hypocrite.
Why see it? Most porn movies are cheap quickies with little interest in plot, and while that’s understandable it’s always been a bit disappointing. There are exceptions, though, and this political comedy is one of them. Paul Thomas plays a squeaky clean politician running on values and morals, but of course he’s a horndog meaning eventually it all catches up to him. It’s entertaining! The sex is plentiful including an abundance of oral action if that’s your scene, and there’s even a handful of laughs. Is that enough of a reason to watch porn? That’s up to you.
[Extras: New 2K scan, interviews]
Xtro 3 [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? Watch the skies!
Why see it? Having only recently seen the original Xtro last year it’s hard to see this sequel as anything but a let down. Granted, the first film was a low budget affair, but it still manages some memorable imagery that adds to its horror appeal. Here the alien feels like a cheap mashup of E.T. and the Predator, and the horror angle rarely rises above that. The exception comes in some video footage showing the poor treatment of the aliens — those beats are effective.
[Extras: New 2K scan, interviews]
Also out this week:
Line of Demarcation [KL Studio Classics], Manon [Arrow Academy], Max and the Junkmen [KL Studio Classics], Quai des Orfevres [KL Studio Classics], Return of Ultraman, The Third Lover [KL Studio Classics], Three Fantastic Journeys by Karel Zeman [Criterion Collection], Ultraman Orb: the Origin Saga
Related Topics: Home Video