Features and Columns · Movies

‘The Last of Sheila’ Invites You to Go Yachting with Friends and Murderers

Plus 19 more new releases to watch at home this week on 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD!
James Coburn in The Last Of Sheila
Warner Bros.
By  · Published on November 9th, 2021

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 November 9th, 2021!

This week’s home video selection includes The Last of Sheila, the long overdue arrival of L.A. Story, and more. Check out our picks below.

Pick of the Week

The Last Of SheilaThe Last of Sheila [Warner Archive]

What is it? A millionaire invites six friends one year after his wife was mysteriously killed.

Why see it? Man, the seventies were the best. This cast — Richard Benjamin, James Coburn, James Mason, Raquel Welch, Dyan Cannon, Ian McShane, and Joan Hackett — brought together on a luxurious yacht in the Mediterranean for a week of fun and games. They were all present the night Sheila died, and now her husband has something up his sleeve. Director Herbert Ross and writer Anthony Perkins — yes, that Anthony Perkins — have crafted a smart little whodunnit in The Last of Sheila with charisma to spare. It riffs on friendship, Hollywood, and mysteries themselves, and while it’s rarely laugh out loud funny it’s never less than entertaining. Its central genius is the strength and brilliance of the cast as each bring their own weight to the story and mystery at hand. The writing is also sharp enough to leave viewers both certain of the killer’s identity and wholly unsure. It’s very good indeed.

[Extras: Commentary]

The Best

The Chinese BoxerThe Chinese Boxer [88 Films]

What is it? A martial arts student seeks vengeance.

Why see it? The Shaw Brothers studio released numerous martial arts gems over the years, and boutique labels are on a roll celebrating them. (Keep an eye out for an upcoming box set from Arrow Video.) 88 Films is a reliably great label from the UK that’s making its US debut with this 1970 feature, and it’s a fantastic release pairing a fun, bloody tale of vengeance with some solid extras. The film deserves more praise for its set-pieces — one sees our hero taking on baddies and spraying the snow with their bright blood — and multiple other fights throughout bring plenty of thrills too.

[Extras: Poster, booklet, commentary, featurette, interviews]

Coming Home In The DarkComing Home in the Dark

What is it? A family on a road trip is terrorized by a pair of killers.

Why see it? Australian thrillers are notorious for getting a bit meaner than most (aside from South Korean ones, obviously), and this recent gem continues that trend. There are some actions/beats that fall flat, but the bulk of the film delivers a tense, increasingly grim ride. Daniel Gillies is the big draw here as his turn as the main killer makes for a harrowing watch. He’s eternally on edge, as likely to offer dark commentary as he is to inflict cruel pain, and and he succeeds at dialling up the suspense and terror.

[Extras: Featurette]

The Designated VictimThe Designated Victim [Mondo Macabro]

What is it? Strangers meet in Venice instead of on a train.

Why see it? Alfred Hitchcock’s popular thriller is riffed on here with European style and skin as two men meet, casually mention killing off each other’s problem person, and then go their separate ways. Stefano shot the plan down immediately, but when his nagging wife ends up dead he realizes the other man may have gone through with the “plan.” Tomas Milian plays the carefree photographer who only wants to spend more time with his girlfriend, but the crime leaves him the prime suspect making for some dangerous choices ahead. It’s a solid, sexy, and occasionally suspenseful thriller

[Extras: New 4K transfer, interviews, commentary, deleted scenes]

FuryFury [Warner Archive]

What is it? A man is mistakenly accused of a crime and falls victim to mob justice.

Why see it? This drama from 1936 offers a fairly progressive look at injustice with a swell Spencer Tracy at the heart of it all. He sees the good in people, at least until people form a mob after he’s mistakenly arrested for kidnapping. They refuse reason, defy authority, and burn down the jail with him in it… except he escapes. The film follows the DA’s attempt to charge twenty-two people responsible for the lynching, but Tracy’s thirst for justice soon bumps up against his better self and conscience. This is a solid little court thriller offering a sharp commentary on an American problem, but it does deftly skirt the race issue. It’s an engaging tale.

[Extras: Commentary]

The Hills Have Eyes KThe Hills Have Eyes [4K Ultra HD, Arrow Video limited edition]

What is it? A family is tormented in the desert by cannibals.

Why see it? As with Wes Craven’s debut, The Last House on the Left, I actually prefer the remake of his second (non-adult) feature. Still, this is an improvement over Last House as the raw cruelty comes with better performances, setting, and situations. It’s a brutal tale of survival starring familiar faces like Dee Wallace and Michael Berryman, and it’s an effectively mean little thriller. Arrow’s new 4K release is a visual/aural step up from their already strong Blu-ray, and this new one ports over the bevy of extras from that release too offering plenty to dig into regarding the film’s production and legacy.

[Extras: New 4K restoration, postcards, poster, 40-page booklet, commentaries, documentary, interviews]

La StoryL.A. Story

What is it? The city of angels helps a bored weatherman find love.

Why see it? This early 90s comedy is an absolute gem of a film (and like The Last of Sheila, is long overdue for home video in HD), and now thirty years later it’s finally available on Blu-ray. Steve Martin stars (and he also wrote the script) as a Los Angeles weatherman as bored by life as he is by the city’s monotonously lovely weather. Things take a turn when a freeway sign starts communicating with him, and soon he’s finding that L.A. still has some surprises in store for him. Sarah Jessica Parker brings some fun as a free spirit who catches his eye, but it’s his romance with his (at the time) real-life partner Victoria Tennant that holds the film together with heart and wonder. It’s also damn funny whether you’re familiar with the city or not.

[Extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]

The Rest

The Bank Dick [KL Studio Classics]

What is it? W.C. Fields is a sassy fool.

Why see it? The Bank Dick is among the great W.C. Fields’ most popular films, and it’s easy to see why as he’s at his prime and delivering some laughs. Kino is also releasing two other Fields films — It’s a Gift and The Old Fashioned Way — and all three are good pickups for fans of the comedian. He was never much of an actor and instead works best as a comedic performer, but if his style appeals to you you’ll find plenty to enjoy across these three films.

[Extras: Commentary]

Batman: Year One [4K Ultra HD]

What is it? Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon decide to fight crime in different ways.

Why see it? Frank Miller’s popular tale of Batman’s early days as a crimefighter comes to animated life with Ben McKenzie and Bryan Cranston voicing Wayne and Gordon, respectively. We follow both men as they return to Gotham City and realize that someone needs to stand up to the criminal elements. It manages to stand apart from Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins while delivering some engaging beats of its own, but it does feel more like Gordon’s story than Batman’s. That’s not a knock, and Cranston’s voice performance is solid.

[Extras: Featurettes, commentary, DC shorts]

Emily in Paris – Season One

What is it? A young woman gets a free ride to Paris.

Why see it? Darren Star’s shows (Sex in the City, Younger) have never really been about realism or character worthiness, so the backlash to this silly little CW-like “drama” feels somewhat misguided. The show still isn’t very good even beyond the lead character’s antics, but it’s also exactly what you should have all expected. We get some minor wit here and there, but for the most part Emily’s various encounters and situations feel like uninteresting fantasy.

[Extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes]

The Emperor’s Sword

What is it? Soldiers vow to protect a sacred weapon.

Why see it? Fans of wuxia films and swordplay will want to give this one a spin as it delivers old-school thrills with a healthy budget. The story is a standard one about duty and honor, but we get lots of action — particularly of the sword-based variety — and much of it features fanciful wire-work as well. Too many big wuxia films in recent years have delved into fantasy with creatures, magic, etc., but here everything but the fighters is relatively grounded.

[Extras: None]

Human Animals [Mondo Macabro]

What is it? The apocalypse leaves three survivors in heat.

Why see it? This Spanish production is unlike anything you’ve seen before. Three people awake on an isolated landscape after an apocalyptic event, and they immediately set about trying to survive. Both men are hot for the woman, and she sometimes reciprocates, but the arrival of a dog offers a new direction and the possibility of survival… until the dog reveals it’s hot for her too. Yes, the movie goes there. And did I mention there’s no dialogue? Just grunting, moaning, and the occasional scream. Add in sex, violence, and *a lot* of nudity, and you have a film that feels almost like an allegory for humankind itself. The people descend into animalistic savagery, and while it’s oddly entertaining it’s not quite endearing.

[Extras: New 4K transfer, interview]

It’s Nothing Mama, Just a Game [Mondo Macabro]

What is it? A twisted man abuses the help.

Why see it? David Hemmings had a varied career on the screen, and while many of his roles were high-profile and worthy of attention, others instead flew under the radar. This Spanish production is part of the latter group, and it’s no lost gem. The conceit is a familiar one as a wealthy man abuses attractive young women, but it’s more atmospheric than exploitative. It ends well, but getting there sees a lot of self-satisfied looks from Hemmings and his equally insane mother.

[Extras: New 4K transfer, commentary, video essay]

Mania Killer [Full Moon Pictures]

What is it? Weirdos in a small town!

Why see it? Sometimes a film is pulled from obscurity to be revealed as a lost classic — think The Last of Sheila above which, while not obscure, is far from well know. Other times it’s movies like Mania Killer (called Maniac Killer on the title screen) which offers little to nothing for fans of anything. We do get some familiar B-movie faces in Bo Svenson, Chuck Connors, and Robert Ginty, but all three are clearly just here for their $200 paycheck and can’t muster much in the way of their usual charisma. It also feels as if a couple different story threads were mashed together without concern or care. Gore is minimal, salacious thrills are anything but, and then it ends.

[Extras: None]

One More Train to Rob [Code Red]

What is it? A train robber prepares to rob one last train.

Why see it? George Peppard was always a fun personality, and while he played the occasional villain and straight man he was always at his best with the more playful characters. Here he’s a crook he gets bamboozled by a friend only to return years later in search of all that was stolen from him. It’s a perfectly adequate film — the laughs are never all that big, the heist action is never all that thrilling, but it’s fine.

[Extras: None]

The Resonator: Miskatonic U [Full Moon Pictures]

What is it? A sequel to Stuart Gordon’s From Beyond, kind of.

Why see it? From Beyond is an under-appreciated entry in Stuart Gordon’s Lovecraft-related filmography — I even place it a slot above Re-Animator — so fans like myself are theoretically in the bag for a follow-up. Unfortunately, this web-series turned sixty-minute movie lacks nearly all of the appeal of the late Gordon’s film. We get some interdimensional fish (via weaker fx than the thirty-five-year-old film delivers), a little bit of sauciness, and some college shenanigans, but it feels so restrained that it ultimately feels like setup rather than a complete story. But hey, a young Herbert West shows up in the end, so that’s cool I guess.

[Extras: Featurette]


What is it? The rise of Aretha Franklin.

Why see it? As biopics go this is pretty standard — the expected beats are here, and there are no real surprises in either the narrative nor the execution. What there is, though, is a strong lead performance by Jennifer Hudson whose singing is every bit as powerful and compelling as it needs to be. She’s ultimately the main (and arguably only) reason to watch, but sometimes one fantastic performer is more than enough.

[Extras: Featurettes]

Younger – The Complete Series

What is it? A woman in her forties convinces the world she’s twenty-years younger.

Why see it? As mentioned above with another Darren Star series, his creations have no interest in feeling grounded in anything resembling reality. To that end, Sutton Foster — who is charismatic and funny — in no way resembles a woman in her twenties. Everyone on the screen pretends otherwise, of course, and it’s silly. That aside, the show is fun enough with the expected sitcom-like shenanigans.

[Extras: Deleted scenes, bloopers, featurettes]

Also out this week:

Batman: Year One, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season Six, Edmond, Old Henry, The Outsiders: The Complete Novel [4K Ultra HD], Reminiscence, Snowpiercer – Season Two

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.