Streaming might be the future, but physical media is still the present. It’s also awesome, depending on the title, the label, and the release, so each week we take a look at the new Blu-rays and DVDs making their way into the world. Welcome to this week in Home Video for October 25th, 2022! This week’s home video selection includes Jordan Peele’s Nope, several indies from Vinegar Syndrome’s partner labels, horror films new and old, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
What is it? adult siblings discover something strange unfolding in the skies above their family ranch.
Why see it? Jordan Peele’s filmography is only three movies deep, but he’s already established himself as a director interested in smart spectacle. I’m an outlier in that I don’t love Get Out or Us — both look fantastic and are good movies, but they crumble beneath the weight of explanation and text. Happily, his third feature knocks it out of the park on all fronts by giving viewers only what’s necessary. Gorgeous visuals, Michael fucking Wincott, the amazing Keke Palmer, and that Gordy sequence might just be the year’s best horror film. It’s a film about wonder and observation, and how taking either too far can result in exploitation and obsession. Comparisons to M. Night Shyamalan’s equally fantastic, character-oriented Signs are well-warranted. Play this one big and loud.
[Extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes, gag reel]
The Counterfeit Traitor [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A businessman is roped into spying for the Allies during World War II.
Why see it? William Holden is an oil trader who’s taken up residence in Sweden to allow his work to continue during World War II. He’s looked down upon by many, but his bank account is happy. But the good times don’t last! George Seaton’s dramatic thriller is a compelling and suspenseful tale as Holden’s character grows to value more than just profit. It doesn’t shy away from some German cruelties and succeeds at capturing a personal crisis against an international backdrop. On that latter point, the film takes strong advantage of real locations bringing both beauty and historical accuracy to the proceedings.
[Extras: New 4K scan, commentary]
Cutter’s Way [Fun City Entertainment]
What is it? Friends struggle to bring down the man.
Why see it? Ivan Passer’s film may have been a bomb on its initial release, but people have slowly come around to its greatness. Jeff Bridges and John Heard star as best friends, one a man happy coasting through life on his casual good lucks and the other a Vietnam veteran still scarred both physically and mentally by the war. The pair (along with Heard’s wife, played by a fantastic Lisa Eichhorn) stumble into a minor conspiracy, but standing up for what’s right becomes a Sisophyssian struggle. Sharp performances, beautiful photography seemingly at odds with the story’s darkness, and an ending that’s the epitome of a 70s classic make this a must-own.
[Extras: New 2K restoration, interviews, featurettes, commentaries, booklet]
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde [Warner Archive]
What is it? A scientist digs deep for his own inner monster.
Why see it? Different versions of Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale have reached the screen, but there’s a lot to love in this early 30s adaptation. Fredric March stars in the title role — both title roles, obviously — and does good work finding both the connections and similarities between his own two halves. The bigger draw here, though, even more than the story and star, is the filmmaking that finds an atypical energy and style for the period. It’s a lively thriller, and the disc’s inclusion of two commentary tracks offers viewers (and listeners) some engaging background details on the film’s production.
[Extras: Commentaries, cartoon, radio broadcasts]
Dressed to Kill [4K UHD, KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A killer in heels stalks New York City.
Why see it? Brian De Palma’s 1980 thriller is still not my jam outside of a fantastic Nancy Allen and Dennis Franz as a possible victim and cop, respectively. The combination of psychosexual babble and overly obvious (but played as a mystery) killer reveal just fall flat, and that unfortunately makes up the bulk of Angie Dickinson and Michael Caine’s time. That said, this new Kino UHD is a winner complete with a strong assortment of extras and a newly scanned picture that’s as sharp *and* hazy as ever.
[Extras: New 4K scan and HDR master, commentary, interviews, featurettes]
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial – 40th Anniversary
What is it? Still an absolute family classic.
Why see it? Steven Spielberg’s early 80s masterpiece remains a piece of perfection, and that’s not something to be said lightly. It’s a family film that appeals equally to adults thanks to a terrific script, real warmth, big laughs, some stellar performances, and special effects that delight and impress in equal measure. Friendship and family are at the heart of this one with its story about a boy who befriends an alien, and you’re as guaranteed to smile as you are to cry your damn eyes out. The film has been available on Blu for some time, but this new 40th anniversary release arrives with a pair of new extras well worth your time if you’ve yet to pick up a copy. There’s a new look at the film’s legacy, but even better is a sit-down with Spielberg for TCM exploring his filmography.
[Extras: New retrospective, interviews, deleted scenes, featurettes]
Eve’s Bayou [Criterion Collection]
What is it? A fantastic Southern gothic.
Why see it? Kasi Lemmons’ debut feature is a powerful tale of trauma and redemption that feels magical even when it’s ultimately all too human. Jurnee Smollett is a young girl learning truths about those around her, particularly her father (Samuel L. Jackson), and there’s a darkness swirling through those revelations. It’s a compelling tale, and it’s grounded through some powerful performances by the likes of Lynn Whitfield and Diahann Carroll. The film is beautifully captured in its mood, atmosphere, and photography, and it lulls you into its embrace of Creole culture and family lore. Criterion’s new release is equally stunning.
[Extras: New 4K restoration of director’s cut and theatrical, commentary, short film, interviews]
Fair Game [Dark Star]
What is it? A woman alone in the Australian outback is stalked by jerks.
Why see it? An Ozploitation gem that doesn’t get talked about enough, this one skirts the rape/revenge genre by never allowing the first part of that to happen. Our protagonist is harassed and threatened, but it becomes a stunt and suspense filled game of cat and mouse without the assault. That’s good news, and while some dumb character choices occur they’re forgivable in the face of the action, the fantastic visuals, and Cassandra Delaney’s athletic performance. This is the film’s U.S. Blu-ray debut and carries over all the extras from Umbrella’s release from a few years ago.
[Extras: Commentary, interviews, featurettes, short films]
Married to the Mob [Fun City Editions]
What is it? A mobster’s widow finds troubles old and new.
Why see it? The late Jonathan Demme gifted film lovers with fantastic cinema from all corners of the genre globe. This delightful movie fits in as something of a romantic comedy with added mob thrills. Michelle Pfeiffer stars as the widow who tries to leave the world behind only to find gangsters and feds in pursuit. Matthew Modine catches her heart along the way, and a great Dean Stockwell is the mobster hoping to come between them. It’s a funny, wild ride with brief turns by Alec Baldwin, Nancy Travis, and Mercedes Ruehl as well. Fun City Editions brings the film to disc with some new extras including a fun interview with Modine.
[Extras: New 2K restoration, interviews, booklet]
The Usual Suspects [4K UHD, KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A criminal crew finds trouble with the feds and a mythical villain named Keyser Soze.
Why see it? The villain in real life is Kevin Spacey (and director Bryan Singer), obviously, but no spoilers here as to who’s walking in Keyser Soze’s shoes. The ensemble cast is great with Gabriel Byrne, Benicio del Toro, Kevin Pollak, Clark Gregg, Giancarlo Esposito, and many more. Christopher McQuarrie’s script is a tight and twisty ride bringing laughs, thrills, and surprises. Kino’s new UHD looks unsurprisingly fantastic as it heightens the characters and deepens the shadows they often reside in.
[Extras: New HDR master, commentaries, interviews, featurettes, deleted scenes]
The Amityville Curse [Canadian International Pictures]
What is it? A forgotten entry in the Amityville franchise.
Why see it? I say forgotten, but some folks remember this 1990 entry — one of many unofficial offshoots trading on the Amityville name — and they don’t speak too kindly on it. It’s understandable as the film takes an overly familiar premise involving a group of friends spending some time in a spooky house and does very, very little with it. Like, surprisingly little. They hear noises, a stray dog gets ornery, a tarantula comes calling, they talk a lot, it steals the Psycho music cue… and then we finally get some very minor home improvement-style carnage. anyway, it’s still very cool of CIP to bring the film to disc with a newly scanned image and plenty of extras.
[Extras: New 2K scan, commentary, interviews, booklet]
Ape [Factory 25]
What is it? A down on his luck comedian has a rough time.
Why see it? Perhaps a controversial take, but stand-up comedians in movies are never funny. Even when they’re supposed to be. Ape at least has the foresight to make that truth key to its story and character. Trevor (a terrifically slacker-ific Joshua Burge) is bombing both on stage and off, and it’s only as his world crumbles that he maybe, just maybe, starts to see the ape-shaped light. An engaging, darkly humorous look at frustration, failure, and fire.
[Extras: Short film, featurettes, deleted scene, outtakes, commentary, booklet]
Blood, Guts & Sunshine: The History of Horror Made in Florida [TerrorVision]
What is it? A documentary about Florida-mad horror movies.
Why see it? There are some big names covered and included as talking heads in this doc including Bob Clark, Herschell Gordon Lewis, John Waters, and others, but the focus is more on the regional filmmaking in the state. From the 60s on through today, with a concentration in the 80s and 90s, filmmakers and fans talk film production in Florida, the camaraderie and the competition, and more. Highlights include some bickering and name-calling erupting between talking heads and a general enthusiasm for the genre. At over two hours it does feel a bit bloated with the same points being repeated and feeling like marketing for some of the films, but it’s a good resource for fans.
[Extras: Convention panel, store tour, home video, trailers for Florida-made horrors]
What is it? A centuries old Russian vampire takes up residence in Kentucky.
Why see it? The premise sounds like the setup for a comedy, but the laughs you’ll find in this slice of homegrown 90s horror probably aren’t intentional. Director Jack Shrum plays the vampire, and while it’s clear he’s having a good time it’s fair to say he may have bitten off more than he can chew here. The vamp only kills bad people which makes him something of a Forever Knight-like antihero, and there’s mild entertainment to be had in his adventures even if the amateur enthusiasm is the major source of it.
[Extras: Commentary, making of, featurette, Q&A, interview, raw footage]
What is it? Tunisia’s first horror film!
Why see it? Three journalism students head to a remote village for a school assignment, but curiosity killed the… well, the journalists. On the one hand, it’s awesome seeing a burgeoning film industry jump into the horror genre. On the other, though, the assignment falters with a rather generic and familiar approach to its terrors. The setting is its saving grace as the village and the culture around it stand out, but even that plus is hurt by a trio of lead characters who are endlessly obnoxious. You want them all to bite it, and that’s rarely a good thing.
[Extras: Introduction, interview]
What is it? Advent calendar horror anthology.
Why see it? Look, the idea here is to be appreciated as we get a Christmas horror anthology in the form of an advent calendar. But in addition to not committing to the bit — there are only twenty-four — there’s no excuse for a horror anthology movie to run nearly two and a half hours. It is rough going. Worse, ultimately, is that there really aren’t any great entries here. Some stand out for being merely okay, and a claymation short is unforgettable for more extreme reasons (I’m a fan, but fair warning to the rest of you).
[Extras: Featurettes, Q&A, commentary, interviews]
Devil Rider [Culture Shock Releasing]
What is it? A killer cowboy returns from the past.
Why see it? Horror westerns often fall into a singular category as bad guys dealt with in the 1800s return in present day to terrorize unfortunate souls. This indie follows that path and has fun with the idea of a phantom rider who haunts the hills around a large ranch. Newcomers visiting in hopes of converting it into a dude ranch fall prey to his wild ways with only a relative of the original owners standing a chance against him. It’s extremely low budget and amateurish on the acting front, but it’s pretty well made and takes good advantage of the location. Two of the actors are brothers who reveal in new interviews their family history in the business and their ongoing presence as the longest-running, family owned western show. Makes a nice companion to Nope!
[Extras: Two cuts of the film, featurette, interviews]
What is it? A woman discovers that sometimes having a family really bites.
Why see it? Nathalie Emmanuel (always worth a watch and often the best thing in a film/show) heads to Europe to meet a family she never knew she had, but the weekend excursion reveals that sometimes it’s better to be all alone in the damn world. They’re a supernatural bunch, and that doesn’t bode well for her. The film borrows a title from a superior film and a basic setup from from another, and it ultimately goes where you’re expecting. It earns points, though, with some strong production design, fun horror beats, and Emmanuel.
[Extras: Theatrical and unrated cuts, deleted scenes, outtakes, featurettes]
Lonelyhearts [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A journalist finds trouble as an anonymous columnist.
Why see it? A late 50s drama about desperate workers, infidelity, and the cynicism spilling through the media. The weight of it all is a mixed bag of sorts, but the cast makes it compelling all the same. Montgomery Clift is the conflicted newsman, and he’s joined by Robert Ryan, Myrna Loy, and an Academy Award nominated Maureen Stapleton. It’s never quite as daring as it wants to be, but it’s a good watch all the same.
[Extras: New HD master]
Nick the Sting [Raro Video]
What is it? A petty thief looks for revenge.
Why see it? Italian great Fernando Di Leo is well known for his poliziotteschi films, but here the politics and organized crime elements take a back seat to a tale with wider appeal. Luc Merenda plays a low level crook who loses a friend to far worse people. His path to vengeance involves a swindle of meticulous proportions with maybe a little bit of violence on the side. It’s something of a David vs Goliath tale with the small-minded taking on big wigs, and the satisfaction that follows is fitting.
Quiet Days in Clichy [4K UHD, Blue Underground]
What is it? Two jerks go to Europe.
Why see it? Blue Underground is on a tear delivering gorgeous 4K UHDs of their horror collection, but while this non-genre title looks good it’s arguably not worth the watch. An “adaptation” of sorts of Henry Miller’s book, it follows two friends as they fool around with dozens of women in and around Paris. The plot is paper thin, the lead characters are pricks from start to finish, and the women are there solely for T&A purposes (both to the film and the characters). Add in a score that walks a thin line between catchy and endlessly annoying, and you have a drag of a movie where women are treated as dressing in a film delivering nothing else.
[Extras: Deleted scene, interviews]
Satan’s Little Helper [Synapse Films]
What is it? A gullible child hangs out with “Satan” on Halloween.
Why see it? Jeff Lieberman’s early aughts genre flick is something of a cult favorite, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a horror/comedy with the occasionally dark beat — a vicious killing of a black cat feels out of place — but it retains a sense of fun overall. Is Satan, you know, Satan? Or just a serial killer having a gas on Halloween? Either way he plays little Dougie and his family like the devil’s fiddle. The low budget keeps things looking like the indie it is, from the production design to the bloodletting, and it also commits my least favorite horror trope (twice!), but it has a blackly comic sensibility that makes it a solid choice for seasonal viewing.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes]
Also out this week:
Blade of the 47 Ronin, Breaking, Deadguy: Killing Music, The Last Detail [4K UHD, Shout Factory], Private Desert, The Rainmaker, The Sporting Club, This is Gwar