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
Creepshow [Scream Factory]
What is it? Five tales of terror, EC Comics style.
Why see it? This wouldn’t be the last collaboration between Stephen King and George Romero, but it remains the best. I’ll even go so far as to say it’s the best horror anthology film thanks to its terrific blend of horror and laughs. Tom Savini’s effects, both bloody and creative, share the screen with fun tales, familiar faces (Leslie Nielsen, Hal Holbrook, Ted Danson, Adrienne Barbeau, and King himself), and smart production design that creates one of the most visually compelling comic adaptations to hit the screen. It’s a great time at the movies for fans of Tales from the Crypt, EC Comics, and the like, and Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray is an absolute stunner with a beautiful hard case holding the disc, reversible cover, and a booklet. The extras are a mix of new and old with special attention paid to the former, and the new 4K scan brings all of the death and color to glorious life.
[Blu-ray extras: New 4K scan, commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes, interviews]
Blood and Black Lace
What is it? A beautiful woman is murdered, and she won’t be the last.
Why see it? Dario Argento is the name most-often used in correlation with giallos, but Mario Bava is the director who really got the sub-genre going. A year after birthing it with The Girl Who Knew Too Much he delivered the colorful mystery of Blood and Black Lace. It’s a sharp, visually attractive thriller introducing many of the tropes we’ve come to love, and its denouement remains one of the stronger reveals. VCI’s new Blu-ray looks beautiful with a 2K restoration and numerous extras.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 2K restoration, commentaries, interviews]
Community – The Complete Series
What is it? New friends are made at community college.
Why see it? Dan Harmon’s sitcom obviously derails a bit in later seasons, but the pure comedic brilliance of the first few can’t be denied. The ensemble cast — Gillian Jacobs, Alison Brie, Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Joel McHale, Jim Rash, Ken Jeong, and Chevy Chase — are just endlessly fantastic, and the show’s wit and creativity is on full display through those first three seasons. They alone make this set worth a buy, but even the later ones feature more than a few worthwhile and funny moments.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentaries, gag reel, deleted scenes, featurettes]
What is it? An ex-gang member is drawn back into the violent world after his girlfriend is murdered.
Why see it? The story here is a familiar one for genre film fans as a man seeks violent revenge (of sorts) and fights back against some nasty bad guys. What sets it apart, though, is a clear DIY spirit running through every frame. Writer/director/star Jim VanBebber fills the screen with blood, sweat, and tears with a heavy focus on the blood front. For all the violence, much of it quite grisly, there’s a thick thread of raw emotion pouring from his character as he moves through a world infused with tinges of Death Wish, The Warriors, and more. Arrow’s new Blu cleans it up as much as can be expected and adds a bevy of fantastic new extras.
[Blu-ray extras: New 2K restoration, commentary, documentary, archival doc, outtakes, short films]
Get Shorty [Shout Select]
What is it? A mobster tries to change careers and become a movie producer instead.
Why see it? Barry Sonnenfeld’s adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s novel ranks among the absolute funniest comedies of the 1990s. The writing is just pitch-perfect as a terrifically smart blend of mob cliches and Hollywood truths, and the casting follows suit with stellar performances from Gene Hackman, Rene Russo, Danny DeVito, Dennis Farina, Delroy Lindo, James Gandolfini, and John Travolta. It’s an endlessly quotable and hilarious movie, and Shout’s new Blu gives it some fun extras alongside a sharp new transfer.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 4K transfer, commentary, featurettes]
How the Grinch Stole Christmas – The Ultimate Edition
What is it? A holiday classic in its best version!
Why see it? Odds are you’ve already seen this classic animated tale based on Dr. Seuss’ beloved book, and if you have kids in the house you should also have a hard copy of the movie. It’s a funny, dark, and ultimately sweetly rewarding story that’s best-known for its Christmas setting but has themes worth revisiting year-round. The Boris Karloff narration and animation are so exquisitely perfect, and this new edition adds plenty of extras to further your enjoyment.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Two Grinch TV specials, commentary, featurettes]
Maximum Overdrive [Vestron Video]
What is it? A passing comet brings machines to murderous life.
Why see it? I’ve never been the biggest fan of Stephen King’s sole directorial effort in part because the performances seem almost intentionally bad, but it’s grown on me over the years as an entertaining piece of bloody, coke-fueled, redneck madness. From King’s opening cameo — “Honey, this machine just called me an asshole!” — to the dead kids, vehicular mayhem, and Green Goblin truck, it’s just a big ball of dumb fun that delights despite its lack of smarts and logic. Vestron’s new Blu-ray brings it home on HD for the first time complete with some great and informative new extras.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, interviews, featurette]
Sisters [Criterion Collection]
What is it? Sisters separated at birth hold a secret.
Why see it? Brian De Palma’s early 70s thriller puts all of his stylistic and narrative touches right up front with split screens, a Bernard Herrmann score, and plenty of malicious and effed up behaviors. There’s bloodletting and suspense, but the film’s greatest strength is Margot Kidder as the possibly psychotic twins. She’s mesmerizing at times both as the confused and slightly crazy one and as the murderous and very, very crazy one. (Yup, both of them Mmhmm.) Criterion’s new Blu-ray looks brilliant and includes a pair of older interviews with the director.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 4K restoration, interviews]
Sorry to Bother You
What is it? A young man struggling to succeed finds disturbing promise with a simple change of his voice.
Why see it? Boots Riley’s debut feature is a comedy blending the absurd with some sharp commentary on modern society’s embrace of capitalism and status. It goes to some crazy places — don’t let anyone spoil them for you before you see it — but even after things get absolutely nutty the anger at our country’s continued deference towards class, money, and power is loud and clear. The comedy is more subversive and angry than laugh out loud funny, but paired with Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, and the voices of Patton Oswalt and David Cross some of it’s giggle-worthy all the same.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, commentary]
Age of Consent / Cactus Flower
What is it? An older artist finds inspiration in a young model, and a man’s romantic lies catch up with him.
Why see it? At first glance these two films seem to share little reason for a double feature, but in addition to both being from the 60s they also feature older men involved with younger women. Only the latter is a real romantic comedy, though, and it’s one that shines with the bright presence of both Goldie Hawn (her first film) and Walter Matthau.
[Blu-ray extras: None]
Benji: Off the Leash
What is it? America’s third favorite pooch has some adventures.
Why see it? The original Benji films were something fresh and heartwarming back in the 70s — so yeah, maybe not the one co-starring Chevy Chase — but this new film released after 2000 lacks their charm. Joe Camp, Benji’s owner/filmmaker, is back, but it feels more choreographed and sterile than the ones we all loved from decades past. Less picky viewers, or maybe kids, will probably find more to enjoy here, but those of us old enough to remember will feel somewhat slighted.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentary, featurette]
I Am Vengeance
What is it? A man seeks justice for the death of his friend.
Why see it? This action pic is as generic as they come, and your enjoyment of it will most likely comedown to how much you love direct to DVD action and/or your interest in the WWE’s Stu Bennett. He’s not the most charismatic performer, and pairing that with a very familiar plot doesn’t exactly set the film ablaze, but it’s a competent action pic.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes]
Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again
What is it? A young woman struggles with life, love, and song.
Why see it? 2008’s Mamma Mia! is a fun enough romantic comedy set to the music of ABBA, but this follow-up is a pretty horrendous affair. Gone are the sweetly innocent characters, the goofy hopefuls vying as her father, and the strong relationship between generations, and in their place are the same people… far less engaging, interesting, and charismatic. The song segues feel less natural, the flashbacks are excessive, and the emotional core of it all comes down to a pregnancy. Meh.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Sing-alongs, deleted scenes, featurettes]
What is it? Scientists hoping to find a cure for a zombie outbreak search for the first infected.
Why see it? As Day of the Dead knock-offs go this is far better than the actual Day of the Dead remakes. Natalie Dormer and Matt Smith headline with the former doing solid work while Smith continues to embarrass himself, and Stanley Tucci brings some class as a literate member of the infected. The budget keeps things localized in a drab bunker meaning it’s not an attractive film, but the themes at play here involving the infected being a new evolution of humanity are engaging. Genre fans may find some thrills here.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
What is it? The Bronx is turned into a prison! The government wants to gentrify the Bronx! Nuclear war has devastated the world, including the Bronx!
Why see it? Director Enzo G. Castellari’s career is populated by cult classic westerns (Keoma), war films (The Inglorious Bastards), and the like, and Blue Underground collects three of his post-apocalyptic pictures here (each on their own Blu-ray). They’re low budget genre fare to be sure, but there’s fun to be had all the same. The fist two riff on John Carpenter’s Escape from New York, and while they may not match that classic’s power they deliver solid action, stunts, and soldiers on horseback armed with flamethrowers. The included extrasoffer some insight into their production via interviews with Castellari and more.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, interviews]
What is it? A boy and his family come across four miniature dinosaurs.
Why see it? Full Moon’s first entry in their kiddie label, Moonbeam, is as harmless and goofy a feature as you’d expect. The kid from The Last Action Hero takes the lead, but it’s really a family venture as his dad and older sister come together to protect the creatures from those who would exploit them. The beats are familiar, and the effects are a mix of fun stop-motion/puppetry and dated optical work, but the appeal to young viewers not addicted to rapid-fire editing remains.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, commentary]
Snake Outta Compton
What is it? A snake falls from the sky, and an egg inside of it grows to enormous size and begins terrorizing Los Angeles.
Why see it? Look, this movie is exactly what you think it is. Bad, yes, but also cheap and ridiculously silly in both its premise and execution. Jokes are broad, frequent, and rarely funny. Performances are big. CG is terrible. And so on, and so on. All of that said, there’s a definite audience for this pure and utter goofiness,but if you’re not on its wavelength the film is guaranteed to annoy in its aggressive efforts to make you laugh.
[DVD extras: Commentary]
Twilight [4K UltraHD]
What is it? A teenage girl falls under a young-looking vampire’s spell.
Why see it? The easy thing to do is bash this first adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s terribly written novels, but before I get to that I’d be remiss in not saying the existence of these films is worth it solely for the bump they gave to Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. Both performers have developed into strong actors with an eye for all manner of indie fare. Okay, that out of the way, Twilight is a pretty dippy supernatural romance. Not only is he far too old for her, but being a vampire his glamour skills mean their relationship is built on a lie. Also, you know, it’s just dumb. All of that said, fans — and there are many — will be very happy with this new release that offers up a sharp new picture along with a new featurette.
[4K UltraHD/Blu-ray extras: Featurettes, interviews]
What is it? Supernatural love is complicated by werewolves, evil vampires, pregnancy, and more.
Why see it? While the first film in the franchise gets a new 4K transfer the following four films are being reissued in matching slipcases. All four come loaded with past extras, and completists will want to collect them. The films themselves still aren’t great shakes — the budget increases are no help with the laughable scripts — and while they’re occasionally humorous there’s not enough entertainment value to warrant actually watching them all the way through.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, interviews, featurettes, commentaries]
Also out this week:
3 Dead or Trick or Treaters, The Devil’s Doorway, Distant Voices Still Lives, Elena Ferrante on Film, I Think We’re Alone Now, Scorpion King: Book of Souls, You Never Know Women
Related Topics: Home Video