This Week in Home Video
Get Ready to Fall in Love With the Funny, Sexy, and Beautifully Independent ‘The Love Witch’
Plus 13 more new releases to watch at home 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 Love Witch
What is it? A witch visits a small coastal community in search of love with a side of unintended consequences.
Why buy it? Writer/director/producer/composer/editor/production designer/art director/set decorator/costume designer Anna Biller delivers a singular experience with this incredibly stylish, sexy, and scathing tale of a witch in search of love. The film is a colorful, stylized nod to the days of Technicolor romance that manages to be both a take down of a patriarchal society and a loose, fun romp.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurette, interview, deleted scenes, dance audition]
What is it? A woman is sexually assaulted in her home and doesn’t react the way anyone expects, including the rapist.
Why see it? Paul Verhoeven’s latest is a lightning rod for extreme and varied opinions thanks to its unexpected mash-up of brutal crimes and dark comedy, but the one thing everyone can agree on is Isabelle Huppert’s lead performance. She’s a brilliant powerhouse and in every scene, and while we question and wonder about her choices we’re never less than enthralled. She’s the film’s biggest strength as the plot offers some ugly bumps along the way including some unintentionally goofy time spent on video games.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: AFI tribute, making of]
What is it? A small, African-American family in 1950’s Pittsburgh faces life’s highs and lows.
Why see it? Denzel Washington’s latest directorial effort sees him also star alongside Viola Davis in an adaptation of August Wilson’s award-winning play. It comes to the screen with it’s stage-like existence intact, an element that will work for some viewers less than others, but there’s no denying the twin performances of Washington and Davis. Both do tremendous work as parents who view their son and their obligations to him differently, and both overcome the sometimes flat (for cinema) drama.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
Firestarter [Scream Factory]
What is it? A young girl with dangerous powers is pursued by overwhelming forces with only her ailing father to protect her.
Why see it? The eighth feature film to be based on Stephen King’s writing doesn’t get a lot of respect, but it’s a tight little thriller about psychic powers and dark government agencies. It still has one of King’s highest profile casts too including Martin Sheen, George C. Scott, David Keith, and little Drew Barrymore. The practical fire effects remain highly effective, the Tangerine Dream score is a great ’80s touch, and the film works as a terrific double feature with the still in-theaters Logan. Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray is fantastic offering up a strong picture and some solid new extra features.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 2k scan, commentary, interviews]
Firestarter [Collector's Edition] [Blu-ray]
Red Dawn [Shout Select]
What is it? Foreign military forces invade America, and while large-scale war rages across the country one small town sees a face-off between hardened soldiers and determined high-schoolers.
Why see it? The 2012 remake is a generic experience, but this mid-’80s original remains a fun action film over-loaded with recognizable young talents. Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson, C. Thomas Howell, and Jennifer Grey fight the good fight, and director John Milius does good work in creating a believable, war-torn battlefield in America’s heartland. Is it a bit melodramatic at times? Sure, but it’s still an entertaining ride.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, featurettes]
Red Dawn [Collector's Edition] [Blu-ray]
Certain Fury [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Two women awaiting their own trial are caught up in someone else’s violent escape and find themselves pursued by cops and bad guys alike.
Why see it? This mid ’80s picture sets up a familiar “buddy action” formula of two cantankerous strangers forced to work together to survive, but unlike most in the subgenre it does so without aiming for laughs. Tatum O’Neal and Irene Cara fulfill the odd pairing, and the action is plentiful, gritty, and bloody. There’s not much of a story behind it all as the villains are a mish mash of thugs and Peter Fonda with no real agenda, but the film moves well and never drags.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary]
What is it? A man still grieving over a personal loss meets the human embodiments of Love, Time, and Death.
Why see it? This Will Smith-headlined drama quickly earned a reputation as the latest example of WTF cinema, but it really doesn’t deserve the label. It’s no Winter’s Tale is what I’m saying. It is poorly written though as it works the characters and viewers through some obvious manipulations and plot turns. Smith is joined by Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Edward Norton, Michael Peña, Naomie Harris, and Kate Winslet, so even though the story is a bit on the dumb side you’re never left wanting for talented performers in search of an easy paycheck.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]
Drive-In Massacre [Severin Films]
What is it? A serial killer targets movie-lovers trying to make love at the movies.
Why see it? There aren’t a lot of ’70s slashers as the genre really came into its own in the ’80s, but while their numbers are low they’re not all well known. Severin’s latest release resurrects one that came out between Halloween and Black Christmas, and while it’s not nearly as good as those two Drive-In Massacre offers its share of bloody thrills and engaging set-pieces. They’ve restored the film from the original negative and added some fun, informative extras as well.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, interviews]
Ghost in the Shell [Mondo Steelbook]
What is it? A cybernetically-enhanced cop works to track down a dangerous threat.
Why see it? Mamoru Oshii’s anime classic remains a visually exciting adventure filled with action, curves, and complex themes, and one wonders how close the upcoming live-action remake will fare against this one. On its own merits the film quite possibly belongs in the “Best” category, but the lack of any special features on Mondo’s new Blu-ray makes it hard to recommend for anyone but steelbook collectors. The artwork and clear slipcase are slick though.
[Blu-ray extras: None]
The Lovers on the Bridge
What is it? An artist and a street performer fall in and out of love.
Why see it? Leos Carax found his greatest critical success with the recent Holy Motors, but while this earlier film is slightly more traditional in its narrative it remains an equally impressive visual feat. Juliette Binoche and Denis Lavant immerse themselves in their roles and along with Carax’s visual flourishes they bring this unconventional love story to life. I’m less enamored with the characters than I am with the world around them, but that’s the norm when it comes to my relationship with Carax’s work.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Booklet, featurette]
Return of Kung-Fu Trailers of Fury
What is it? It’s 134 minutes of kung-fu trailers.
Why see it? What really is there to be said about this one? Martial arts fans will appreciate the deep dive it takes with trailers for films they’ve probably never heard of let alone actually seen. It’s a fun one to have playing in the background, but it doesn’t quite have the same impact as horror trailer collections or something like Not Quite Hollywood as there’s a much more limiting through line here.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary]
The Skull [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A cursed skull brings terror and death to all who possess it.
Why see it? Robert Bloch’s “The Skull of the Marquis de Sade” gets the big-screen Amicus treatment from the legendary Freddie Francis (The Innocents), and the result is a solid little supernatural chiller. It’s made even more enjoyable through the twin presences of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Kino’s Blu-ray features an informative and entertaining commentary from Tim Lucas which makes the film worth watching a second time.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurettes]
What is it? A psychic is brought in to help the FBI catch a serial killer.
Why see it? While the setup is generic the parts of Solace that stand apart come in the form of its casting and the killer’s motive. Anthony Hopkins is the psychic who teams up with Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Abbie Cornish to catch Colin Farrell ‐ who, fair warning, doesn’t show up until over an hour into the film. It’s a definite watch for fans of the actors, but if they don’t appeal to you in a big way the thrills are minimal.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, making of]
What is it? Two teenagers looking for a relaxing afternoon instead wind up in the grips of three criminals.
Why see it? Larry Fessenden co-stars here but plays second-fiddle to his son Jack who’s making his feature debut as writer/director. It’s a pretty straight forward tale, but Fessenden the younger shows a capable hand in crafting set-pieces and capturing the action. His script is the weaker element here, but for a debut it’s an engaging-enough feature that will leave you looking forward to his follow-up.
[DVD extras: None?]
Also Out This Week:
Canoa: A Shameful Memory [Criterion], Demon Seed [Warner Archive], For the Love of Spock, The Gospel of Mark, Johnny Frank Garrett’s Last Word, Passengers, Six, The Valley of Gwangi [Warner Archive]
Related Topics: Home Video