Plus 16 More New Releases to Watch This Week on Blu-ray/DVD!
Welcome to this week in home video! Click the title to buy a Blu-ray/DVD from Amazon and help support FSR in the process!
Pick of the Week
What is it? A man recalls the most perfect summer spent playing ball with his friends.
Why see it? Look, this was a first-time watch for me as sports movies are often slow to catch my attention, but I would have watched it a lot sooner had even one of you told me it contained numerous inspirations from Stephen King. “The Body” (aka Stand By Me), IT, Cujo, all feel at play here and fit in well with a nostalgic 60s-set tale exploring the importance and power of friendship. It’s never heavy-handed or dramatic and instead maintains a sense of real fun throughout. This new release includes a poster, a booklet, and ten trading cards featuring the characters.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon [Scream Factory]
What is it? A documentary filmmaker follows a budding serial killer in the weeks leading up to his first big kill.
Why see it? Director/co-writer Scott Glosserman’s slasher comedy is just over a decade old, and while it was never the hit it deserved to be it has gained a sizable cult following. It’s a smart horror/comedy delivering bloody thrills and laughs alongside a fun meta commentary on the genre’s tropes and expectations. Scream Factory’s new Blu offers a solid presentation and a ton of extras both new and old. The new interviews offer a tease as to the long-overdue sequel (that still isn’t coming), but the best supplement remains a commentary track moderated by Adam Green and Joe Lynch.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New HD master, interviews, commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes]
The Outer Limits – Season One [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? “The best program of its type to ever run on network TV!” – Stephen King
Why see it? The Twilight Zone is better known, but it’s no more respected than this anthology show from the mid 60s that eschews twists and morality plays in favor of richly engaging tales featuring characters challenged both inside and out. The stories are a mix of high-concept ideas and visually affecting delights and nightmares — “The Zanti Misfits” comes to mind — and watching them today is as much a trip into the past as it is the future. All 32 episodes of this landmark science fiction show’s first season are collected here with HD restorations and individual commentaries, and it’s just as smartly produced a set with a fold-out interior housed in a sturdy sleeve. Writer David J. Schow chimes in with an informative essay and a handful of the commentaries, and honestly, this should be a no-brainer for fans.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New HD restorations, commentaries, booklet]
Sacha Guitry: Four Films 1936-1938 [Arrow Academy]
What is it? Four of the famed French filmmaker’s early films are collected in a beautiful new set.
Why see it? Sacha Guitry was an acclaimed writer/director/actor whose work was celebrated both on stage and on the screen for its wit, dialogue, and observational humor on French society. The films are all comedies, albeit with dramatic beats and interactions at times, and their focus on fast-moving conversations makes for lively affairs. Story lines featuring infidelity, deception, and the eternal pursuit of happiness have a universal appeal, and Guitry’s takes continue to entertain eighty years later. Arrow Academy’s new box set brings four of them to fresh, new life in a limited edition collection loaded with extras.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Introductions, scene commentaries, video essays, reversible sleeves, booklet, limited to 1500]
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
What is it? The rebellion continues.
Why see it? Rian Johnson’s stab at the Star Wars universe has its ups and downs, but the former beats so damn good that they elevate the whole. Basically everything involving Luke, Rey, and/or Kylo is absolute aces with a sequence in Snoke’s throne room being an all-timer for the franchise. Even those of you who are lukewarm (I’m not sorry) on the film in general will probably enjoy the amount and quality of extras included here on a second disc. From a terrific commentary to an equally enlightening documentary it’s a package that covers all the bases for fans both casual and hardcore.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Feature-length documentary, deleted scenes, featurettes, commentary]
The Teenage Prostitution Racket
What is it? Think Robert Altman, but with a lot more uncomfortable nudity.
Why see it? There’s no reason this alternately sleazy, raw, and affecting film should also be so damn funny, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t laugh more than a few times during its two hour running time. There’s an absurdity at times to the situations — the john soaking rolls in toilet water and then eating them stands out — but there’s also humor in some of the dialogue and interactions as young woman stand up to the men in their lives. The majority of it, though, moves between characters who enter prostitution either willfully or less so (ie deception and force), and the whole is a depressing feature because of it. Well, depressing when it’s not being perversely entertaining.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Documentary]
Acts of Violence
What is it? Three brothers are forced into violence when their sister is abducted.
Why see it? Bruce Willis’ long list of direct to DVD releases is only getting longer, but his latest improves on the norm by actually being pretty okay. Perhaps not so coincidentally, Willis plays a very small role and — as a real rarity in his DTV filmography — he doesn’t turn out to be a surprise bad guy. Cole Hauser and Shawn Ashmore take center stage to take down a vicious sex trafficker, and in addition to gun play the film also delivers some darker beats than expected. It’s fine.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, interviews, commentary]
What is it? A bachelorette party takes a saucy turn when the stripper reveals his uplifting effect on those around him.
Why see it? I’m not much of a porn connoisseur — I’m a plot guy see — but some are clearly better than others when it comes to a sense of humor, visually appealing shenanigans, and an appreciated lack of “hairy crack/swinging sack” shots. And yes, I realize these are my own subjective standards. Alex deRenzy delivers a fun and sexy romp here, albeit a plot-free one, and it manages some laughs along the way.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 2K restoration]
What is it? A trio of home invaders terrorize four friends.
Why see it? Home invasion have a leg up on most thrillers because the core threat is both believable and terrifying, but while there are great ones (Kidnapped) there are also ones that fall flat. This is one of the latter, unfortunately, as the initial setup devolves beneath a clunky screenplay, some rough acting, and a tone-deaf approach to sex and T&A. A convoluted explanation and drawn-out ending doesn’t help matters.
[DVD extras: None]
Joan of Arc [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? The life and death of France’s famed God-fearing warrior.
Why see it? This late 40s epic is well-regarded and the winner of two Academy Awards (for Cinematography and Costume Design), and Ingrid Bergman gives a memorable turn in the title role. For me, though, the film has perhaps the misfortune of hitting my eyes barely a week after my first viewing of Carl Theodor Dreyer’s silent classic The Passion of Joan of Arc. This incarnation is undoubtedly epic and delivers large set-pieces alongside more intimate sound-stage sequences, but while it entertains and impresses the emotion of Joan’s journey is somewhat lacking. That said, Kino’s new restoration brings the film to glorious life, and fans should make this an automatic purchase.
[Blu-ray extras: New 2K restoration]
The Last Movie Star
What is it? An aging film star reflects on his past.
Why see it? Burt Reynolds is basically playing himself here as a man who once reigned supreme in Hollywood and now looks back with both fondness and regrets. The film festival setting — he’s being honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award — offers the opportunity for him and the film to explore fame from the perspectives of the famous and the audience that made that fame possible. Reynolds is joined by Chevy Chase, Clark Duke, Ellar Coltrane, and more recognizable faces. It’s a slight affair, but Reynolds’ connection to the character makes it compelling all the same.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurette, commentary]
The Soldier [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? An elite team of soldiers try to stop a terrorist group with destructive plans.
Why see it? This early 80s action film was in heavy HBO rotation back in the day, and its high points remain good fun for genre fans. The gun play is bloody as hell, the ski stunts are memorable, and Ken Wahl’s near-unibrow means serious business. The film’s ending still feels like the production ran out of money, but getting there is entertaining enough as the film takes things very seriously in between head shots, gut blasts, and explosions. Director James Glickenhaus is a genre legend of sorts, and it’s great to see his filmography starting to get more love here and with Shout! Factory’s recent Shakedown release. His commentary here is an informative one too.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New HD remaster, commentaries]
What is it? An undiagnosed schizophrenic is convinced by a mysterious new friend to commit murder.
Why see it? This early 90s slasher (of sorts) takes a slightly different approach from most in that it never really plays like a horror film. The lead is killing people, and it’s clear that he’s nuts, but the movie splits its time between dry comedy and serious criticism of the media and our addiction to it. A bigger budget would have made the effect a heavier one on both counts, but there’s still an appeal to what the indie accomplishes within its limitations and a pathos to where it takes us.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 2K restoration, commentary, interview, short film]
What is it? A killer clown kills non-clowns.
Why see it? This one’s only for dedicated fans of killer clown movies. It lacks the bigger story of something like It and the wit of a film like Clown, and instead it’s purely a hack and slash as the clown slaughters one idiot after the next. There are a couple script beats that show some creativity, but for the most part it’s a one-note affair. All of that said, though, the gory make-up effects are terrific.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, interview, deleted scenes]
The Thousand Faces of Dunjia
What is it? An average Joe discovers a world of supernatural powers and monstrous creatures.
Why see it? This is probably as close as you’ll find to a Stephen Chow film that isn’t actually a Stephen Chow film, and that’s both a compliment and a critique. Tsui Hark and Yuen Wo Ping deliver a wuxia film loaded with action, CG, and broad comedy, and all of it’s a mixed bag of beats that work and those that don’t. Fans of pure goofiness will find enough to enjoy here as wire-fu brings action set-pieces and fight scenes to life with martial arts and CG beasts a plenty.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of]
The Twilight People
What is it? A man discovers an island populated by a madman and his genetic experiments.
Why see it? This early 70s feature is every bit an unofficial adaptation of HG Wells’ Island of Dr. Moreau, and while it lacks that tale’s power it has fun with the same basic themes. And by fun I mean it features a guy with giant bat wings and Pam Grier as Panther Woman. Things get out of control quickly when all the beasts are released, and the film shifts into action/horror mode. It’s definitely B-movie material, but VCI gives it love anyway with a sharp new 2K remaster and a fun commentary track with David Del Valle and David Decoteau.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, interview]
What is it? A man returns home from prison and takes a very particular revenge on the men who sent him there.
Why see it? Jamaa Fanaka’s best known for his Penitentiary trilogy, but his feature debut is every bit as engaging. The majority of its running time is focused on the drama of an ex-con reintegrating back into society, but things get weird once it shifts into revenge mode. He targets the men — cops, judge, lawyer — via their wives who he seduces. The tool he uses to accomplish this, the same tool he uses to kill later on, is best discovered for yourself.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, Q&A]
Also out this week:
A Blast, I Remember You [Scream Factory], King of Jazz [Criterion Collection], Women in Love [Criterion Collection]
Related Topics: Home Video