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 ! This week’s home video selection includes The Big Bus, The Man Who Fell to Earth in 4K, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
The Big Bus [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? The little-seen template for the comedy classic Airplane!
Why see it? You think I’m joking, but this comedic disaster romp predates the Abrams/Zucker Brothers joint by several years and feels very, very familiar. A nuclear powered bus on a cross-country trip is a big deal and populated by a motley bunch of crew and passengers including a reluctant bus driver with traumatic reasons for not wanting to drive again. His ex gets him back into the game, and soon they’re dealing with one disaster after another. The humor runs the gamut from broad gags to sharp writing and delivery, and the cast of reliable character actors include Joseph Bologna, Stockard Channing, Ned Beatty, Ruth Gordon, Larry Hagman, Sally Kellerman, and more. It’s a goofy damn movie but well worth the time of farce fans.
[Extras: New 4K scan, commentary]
The Man Who Fell to Earth [4K UHD Steelbook]
What is it? An alien resembling David Bowie comes to Earth in search of water and fame.
Why see it? Nicolas Roeg’s filmography is littered with oddly beautiful movies, but only one features an equally strange and attractive lead star. David Bowie, at the height of his eccentricities, stars as a humanoid alien who arrives on earth for water only to be sucked into the best and worst of what it means to be human. It’s something of a slow burn at times as atmosphere is weighed as heavily as narrative and character, but it stays engaging as an oddball tale that morphs into a biting commentary on the “normies” that make the world go round.
[Extras: Interviews, featurette]
Something in the Dirt
What is it? Two LA neighbors investigate strange occurrences in one of their apartments.
Why see it? The team of Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead have gifted genre lovers with some terrific indies over the years including Spring, Resolution, and more. Their latest continues that trend as they mix paranormal thrills, an inventive creativity, and lots of humor into a look at our shared condition throughout the pandemic. Yes, it’s another movie made during — and indirectly commenting on — our recent nightmare, but it succeeds beautifully in finding the humanity, heart, and humor that make looking for answers so damn necessary.
[Extras: Q&As, commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes]
Backtrack [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A hitman pursues a woman who witnessed a mob hit.
Why see it? The 90s were a wild time in numerous ways, but one specific way? Dennis Hopper directed and stars in a film where he falls in love with Jodie Foster. The supporting cast list is bonkers — Dean Stockwell, Vincent Price, John Turturro, Fred Ward, Catherine Keener, Charlie Sheen, Toni Basil, Alex Cox, Joe Pesci, and Bob Dylan! — but even they’re incapable of righting this ship of nonsense. The tone is all kinds of wonky, worsened even slightly with Hopper’s director’s cut (both versions are included here), meaning the serious beats flail while the comedy just never lands. It’s a watchable film due to its eccentricities alone.
[Extras: Theatrical and director’s cuts, commentary]
Bullets Over Summer
What is it? Undercover cops find family and trouble on the job.
Why see it? Wilson Yip is best known for his slam-bang action hits like SPL and the Ip Man franchise with Donnie Yen, but his filmography features plenty of outliers worth your time. This late 90s film finds some action in its quick ninety-minute runtime, but the focus is much more on the characters and interactions. Two buddy cops settle into an apartment building awaiting an inciting event, and their time is spent mingling, ogling, and chatting with the locals. It’s an engaging movie on that strength alone, and while the brief action beats satisfy it’s the quieter times that take hold the longest.
[Extras: Interviews, commentary]
The Civil Dead
What is it? The arrival of an old friend sends a man’s life in strange directions.
Why see it? Indie comedies can be a tough sell as low-key, dry humor from unproven talents isn’t always enough to engage and hold an audience. This one succeeds, though, as both its premise and execution find creativity and laughs along the way. To be clear, it’s less of a laugh out loud kind of romp than an amusing tale of friendship under odd circumstances, and it’s definitely a bit too long, but if you can get on its wavelength it’s time well spent.
[Extras: Commentary, deleted scenes]
Full Moon Trilogy
What is it? Three films from Joe Swanberg.
Why see it? Joe Swanberg may be an acquired taste when it comes to his work as a filmmaker, but he’ll always get a pass from me for beating the snot out of Devin Faraci in a Fantastic Fest bout. It has no bearing on his talents behind the camera, but it’s a plus worth mentioning. That’s especially the case as, while I dig some of his later fare (Drinking Buddies, 2013; Digging for Fire, 2015), his earlier stuff isn’t really my speed. This release collects three such films — Silver Bullets, Art History, and The Zone — and it’s a great one for fans of Swanberg or his strong casts (Jane Adams, Josephine Decker, Amy Seimetz, Kate Lyn Sheil, Sophia Takal, and more).
[Extras: Short film]
Heart of Dragon [Arrow Video]
What is it? Jackie Chan protects a mentally challenged Sammo Hung.
Why see it? Look, not even films from smack dab in the middle of Jackie Chan’s heyday are guaranteed to be all that great, and this one is exhibit A. We do get a handful of fights that are of expected quality, but the film is ultimately pulled down in two ways. One, there’s way too much downtime between the action scenes as the movie tries to focus on character and drama that never quite work. And two? Well, as great as Sammo is, his turn as a mentally challenged man is far from nuanced. All of that said, Arrow’s new release is a strong one with a great looking picture and plenty of extras.
[Extras: 2K restoration, Hong Kong cut and extended Japanese cut, commentary, ]
Heat [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A bodyguard finds himself in deep with bad guys.
Why see it? This William Goldman-penned thriller isn’t among his best, but it remains a solidly entertaining Burt Reynolds vehicle (that was adapted again thirty years later with Jason Statham in the lead role). Reynolds opens the film mocking a man for wearing a toupee — classic Burt seeing as the actor was himself famously sporting a toup of his own — but grows to deliver fist fights, gun fights, and more. Again, no lost classic, but solid Burt.
[Extras: Commentary, alternate ending]
The Hourglass Sanatorium
What is it? A man tries to visit his dying father in a sanitarium.
Why see it? Wojciech J. Has’ early 70s fantasy (of sorts) had a bumpy road to exposure — the film had to make a deceptive path towards Cannes where it played despite the filmmaker’s government overlords taking issue from the start, resulting in Has’ removal from filmmaking for eight years — but it remains an imaginative feast for the senses. It’s a surreal journey, and its mileage will vary accordingly on that front, but even if the overly long film doesn’t work for you on the narrative level its visuals most surely will.
[Extras: Introduction, essay, interview]
Justice Ninja Style
What is it? A man unjustly accused of a crime is aided by a mysterious ninja.
Why see it? SOV (shot on video) finds from decades past are watches wholly dependent on charm and some degree of competence.Many fail that test while others deliver entertainment by succeeding as fun little curiosities whose ambitions you can’t help but respect. Justice Ninja Style is one of those goofy gems that entertains despite itself. The film’s played seriously, thankfully, and seeing a stealthy ninja step up to defend a wronged man — a martial arts instructor with a few chops up his sleeve — is just a good, micro-budget time.
[Extras: Commentary, extended cut, featurettes]
Lovers Lane [Arrow Video]
What is it? A hook-handed killer terrorizes a community.
Why see it? There really aren’t enough good holiday-themed horror movies — there are a bunch, obviously, but there should really be more. This late 90s slasher is a Valentine’s Day-set chiller, but it can’t quite reach the level of good. The budget woes, performances, and dull kills keep things from ever becoming all that interesting. It ultimately leaves you wondering if, in this age of niche home video labels remastering old, forgotten genre films, maybe sometimes the effort isn’t necessary?
[Extras: New 2K restoration, commentary, featurette]
Terminal Invasion [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Bruce Campbell fights alien invaders.
Why see it? Bruce Campbell is always worth watching, so if that’s your vibe check then this made-for-TV sci-fi/thriller should satisfy well enough. Those hoping for a bit more to chew on, though, are pretty much out of luck. Neither Campbell nor director Sean S. Cunningham can muster enough energy to overcome the film’s budgetary limitations. The ensemble — a small group are trapped during a blizzard with a convicted murderer (Campbell) and some nasty aliens — is far from memorable, and the action/horror beats never really amount to much.
[Extras: Commentary, costume test]
Also out this week:
The Great Basin, The Jackie Chan Collection: Volume 2 [Shout Factory], Jesus Revolution, Moonlighting Wives/The Naked Fog, The New Godfathers, New Gods Yang Jian, One Way Passage [Warner Archive], Return to Seoul, Small Axe [Criterion Collection], Storm Warning [Warner Archive], Strawberry Blonde [Warner Archive], Triangle of Sadness [Criterion Collection]
Related Topics: Home Video