Plus 13 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
The Dead Next Door
What is it? It’s the zombie apocalypse. Good thing the Zombie Squad has gone through training for just such an event.
Why see it? The zombie sub-genre is filled to the gills with shambling hordes and the flesh-munching undead, but while most aren’t worth the brain matter more than a few stand out as terrifically entertaining. Most of those great ones are well-known, and this 1990 indie deserves to be among their company. It’s low-budget, but the effects, originality, and personality all shine through and work to deliver a fun, gory, highly entertaining zombie romp. The fact that it was directed by a 19 year-old — who was 23 when he finished it — makes it that much more impressive. This new Blu-ray features a restored picture alongside a ton of supplemental material exploring the film’s long road to production and since.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: 2K restoration in two formats, commentaries, featurettes, Q&As, deleted scenes, galleries, interview, auditions]
The Devil’s Candy [Scream Factory]
What is it? A family moves into a house where a man once murdered his parents, and trouble arises when the man returns. Oh, and the devil just may come calling for a cup of sugar too.
Why see it? Sean Byrne’s The Loved Ones remains an incredibly intense thriller about obsession and madness, and while ti took eight years the filmmaker is finally back with his sophomore effort. Happily it’s filled with just as much tension and once again finds power in characters who we can’t help but care for and worry about. We fall in love with this family (including Ethan Embry) and see our nerves wracked as their lives are put in danger again and again. It’s one hell of a ride, and adding in Pruitt Taylor Vince as the killer is just the icing on the cake.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurette, short film, music video, gallery]
The Legend of the Holy Drinker [Arrow Academy]
What is it? A homeless man is given a leg up by a stranger, but his attempts to pay it back are hampered by life and addiction.
Why see it? Rutger Hauer was mostly typecast here in the west as villains (outside of a handful of underseen gems like Blind Fury and Wanted: Dead or Alive), but his native Europe he found far more opportunity to stretch as an actor. This late 80s drama won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival, and much of its strength comes from Hauer’s complex and affecting lead performance. He plays a man who truly wants to do right by his anonymous benefactor, but his struggles interrupt those intentions time and again. The film is a sad look at a broken man, but like life itself is filled with warmth, humor, and emotional connections hinting at what could have been.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: 4K restoration, interviews]
Waiting for Guffman [Warner Archive]
What is it? A small Missouri town celebrates its 150th anniversary with a regional production populated by locals hoping to be discovered.
Why see it? Christopher Guest is a national treasure — yes, even after his Netflix misfire, Mascots — and while he’s best known for his contributions to This Is Spinal Tap my favorite remains A Mighty Wind. This theater-set mockumentary sits high among them as Guest and his usual cohorts (including Fred Willard, Catherine O’Hara, Parker Posey, Bob Balaban, and others) have fun with the people and places who call regional theater their home. As with all of his films, the humor is affectionate but never mean-spirited even when it’s biting. The commentary track is also worth a listen.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentary, deleted scenes]
What is it? An air traffic controller has more time on his hands after nearly causing a mid-air collision. See what I did there? Time? 2:22? You’re welcome.
Why see it? There’s a blend of sci-fi and romance at work here, and while the eternally underrated Teresa Palmer — she looks like Kristen Stewart with a smile — is sadly underutilized there are still a handful of story turns to hold your attention. It’s more than a little dense at times as elements of the tale pile atop themselves, but at its core it’s a story of fate, destiny, and our ability to alter both. I guess? Michiel Huisman isn’t the most charismatic lead, but he’s competent and looks convincing whether he’s running through the street or wooing Miss Palmer.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
47 Meters Down
What is it? Cage goes in the water. They go in the water. Shark’s in the water.
Why see it? The Shallows is a terrific little movie that surprised at the box-office to become something of a hit, and that movie’s success led the distributor of this shark attack movie to cancel its initial home video release scheduled for last August — after dvds had already been shipped — and put it in theaters instead. And it became a hit. It’s can’t compare to the Blake Lively film, but it still delivers plenty of close calls, underwater suspense, and shark action. It even confirms my theory that all creatures can be stopped by digging your fingers behind their eyeball. (Well, creatures with eyes, obviously.)
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, commentary]
All the Sins of Sodom / Vibrations
What is it? A model photographer finds trouble after sampling the wares, and a woman explores the non-mechanical side of sex.
Why see it? Joe Sarno’s filmography has long been lauded as important in the erotica and sexploitation genre, and this double feature captures a pair of his films from 1968 that highlight his style and approach to characters both naked and clothed. The films are saucy looks at people exploring their desires and limitations, and while they’re loaded with naked female flesh neither ever feels all that explicit. Beyond the sex, the two films offer something of a peek into bustling New York City life of the late 60s revealing worlds that are busy and populated outside with no clue what’s happening just beyond someone’s door. Film Movement’s new Blu features informative supplements from Tim Lucas too.
[Blu-ray extras: Interview, commentary]
Brigadoon [Warner Archive]
What is it? A pair of Americans hiking the Scottish hills discover a magical town.
Why see it? Gene Kelly secured his place in American musical history with the tremendous Singing In the Rain, but that obviously wasn’t his only foray into film musicals. This mid 50s entry is a far slighter and more fantastical film and as such doesn’t carry much weight, but fans of old school song and dance movies will enjoy this adaptation of the popular stage musical. The interludes are numerous, and the film takes full advantage of its Cinemascope presentation to capture landscapes, lush soundstages, and large-scale ensemble dancing.
[Blu-ray extras: Outtakes]
The Devil’s Honey [Severin Films]
What is it? A man plays a saxophone for an audience of one.
Why see it? Lucio Fulci’s filmography is varied and plentiful, and while his best and most memorable features fall into the horror genre he dabbled elsewhere with sword & sandals and T&A. This one belongs to the latter camp and delivers heavily on both the T and the A with its tale of love, lust, and dangerous obsession. Violence doesn’t enter until the third act, and it comes with a hefty dose of madness, bondage, and hot wax. We even get an apparent nod to Fulci’s The Beyond with a German Shepherd aggressively defending its female owner. It never reaches the heights of his more popular fare, but as a story of sex and obsession it remains an interesting detour in Fulci’s journey.
[Blu-ray extras: Interviews, audio essay, alternate opening]
It Stains the Sands Red
What is it? A woman winds up alone in the desert with only a flesh-hungry zombie for companionship.
Why see it? The zombie sub-genre only survives because of fresh blood and fresher ideas, and this new film at least manages that much. Stripping the zombie apocalypse down to a one on one scenario feels fresh and offers some new angles on a familiar theme, but the script doesn’t quite know what to do with the setup. Worse, what it does becomes both frustrating and (in one instance) unnecessarily offensive. The relationship, for lack of a better word, that grows between the pair is fertile ground for a story or short film, but there’s just not enough here for a feature. The filler we get is where the movie loses itself, and in turn loses the viewers.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]
Mune: Guardian of the Moon
What is it? A young guardian must overcome his perceived weaknesses to save the natural order of things.
Why see it? There’s an impressively mixed array of voice talents in this CG-animated kids film including Patton Oswalt, Ed Helms, Rob Lowe, and Christian Slater, but whether you listen to them or their original French audio counterparts the result is the same in that the laughs and emotion just feel underwhelming. The details are new, but the journey is far too familiar and never strikes out on its own to the point where the film and characters become memorable in their own right.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, featurette]
The Piano Teacher [Criterion Collection]
What is it? A repressed piano teacher sees her life altered after letting her fingers play upon a new student.
Why see it? Director Michael Haneke’s films are most often character studies in disguise, and this turn of the century award-winner is no different. Isabelle Huppert takes on the title role and delivers with a woman whose years of being closed off to the world’s effect — she lives with her mom, has no relationships, etc — leave her incapable of proceeding with care when a sexual fling rears its head. It’s a cold film (surprise!), one where physical contact occurs without love or affection, and while it’s brought to life with fierce vitality by Huppert the end result is a film that can’t quite land with lasting impact. That said, I’m in the minority on this one, so the fans among you will love this new Criterion release.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, select commentary, featurette]
Taken – Season One
What is it? Very particular sets of skills aren’t made overnight.
Why see it? Taken remains a damn fine thriller that the two sequels could never live up to, but the one strength through all three is the presence of Liam Neeson in the lead role as Bryan Taken. This prequel series replaces him with Clive Standen, and while I’m sure he’s a stand-up guy he lacks the personality that Neeson exudes naturally. The action works though, and the ten episodes making up this first season offer some fun fights of both the fist and gun varieties. It may not ultimately be all that memorable, but TV action fans should enjoy it well enough.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
Transformers: The Last Knight
What is it? King Arthur is a robot or something?
Why see it? I kid Michael Bay, but this is yet another nonsensical waste of time for all but the most die-hard, brain-dead of fans. The characters are all caricature or cartoon — both human and automotive — with dialogue and behaviors appealing strictly to the single digit-aged among us. “Dumb” movies aren’t typically a problem if they make up for it in other areas, but even the action here is joyless and bland. Explosions, tumbling cg beings, and lots of firepower do not a fun action movie make. The novelty of this franchise has long worn off leaving viewers with artless mayhem, convoluted yet still somehow simple plots, and pure idiocy.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
Also out this week:
3 Idiots, Channel Zero: Candle Cove, Girl in the Box, L.O.R. D., Shameless – The Complete Seventh Season
Related Topics: Home Video