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 11th, 2022! This week’s home video selection includes The Limey and The Score in UHD, a box set of Paranormal Activity films, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
The Limey [4K UHD, steelbook]
What is it? An ex-con seeks answers and retribution after his daughter’s death.
Why see it? Steven Soderbergh’s captivating and intentionally fractured tale of gritty vengeance and lush L.A. lifestyles didn’t set the world ablaze on release, but it’s a film that has since earned a stronger appreciation. Terence Stamp stars in the title role as a man who failed his daughter while she was alive and who refuses to do the same after her death. Stylish to a fault, engrossing in its story and characters, and anchored by a stellar lead performance, this is a great film. This is also the movie’s long overdue disc debut in the U.S., and this release includes both a UHD and Blu-ray, both of which look fantastic. The UHD in particular offers a brilliant transfer capturing the film’s various color schemes, set pieces, and photographic styles with clarity and depth. Also included is a wonderfully cantankerous and entertaining commentary track featuring Soderbergh and writer Lem Dobbs that is absolutely worth a listen.
What is it? A father and his daughters face off against a killer lion.
Why see it? The 70s and 80s remain the highpoint for “animal attack” movies, but the decades since have squeezed out a few winners here and there. This latest entry in the subgenre succeeds for a few different reasons starting with a game Idris Elba in the lead. He handles the drama and genre antics equally well, and you will cheer when he starts punching — yes, punching — the damn lion. The CG used to bring the lions to life is actually pretty great for the most part with only a handful of underwhelming beats. It’s also forgivable as the film’s energy and suspense keeps things lively throughout.
By Candlelight [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A butler pretends to be a prince to woo a countess.
Why see it? Director James Whale is best know — only know by some — for his Universal horror classics, but this delightful romantic comedy showcases the man’s lighter side well. Paul Lukas plays a loyal butler to a prince, but in his down time he likes to pretend he himself is a part of the upper class. Hijinks ensue when he hits it off with a countess with secrets of her own. Some fun, fast-talking antics here complete with minor physical comedy and engaging performances, and the end result is a fun time for fans of romance and comedy.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, commentary]
What is it? Two criminally minded friends have some amoral fun.
Why see it? This mid 70s romp enjoys some wild tonal swings in its tale of two men who spend their days committing petty crimes and sexually harassing women. They’re an unlikable pair, but their journey finds some surprisingly warm and humorous bumps along the way. It’s a French film through and through, from its attitudes to its eroticism, and it’s unafraid to drop some deadly serious moments into its mix of playful rudeness and sexy shenanigans. It’s not an easy watch and very clearly a product of its time, but the carefree mentality of its leads carries you along for the ride despite your misgivings.
Paranormal Activity: The Ultimate Chills Collection
What is it? All seven films in the Paranormal Activity franchise.
Why see it? It was a somewhat widely held belief that no found footage film would succeed at recapturing the magic of the first Blair Witch Project, but Oren Peli’s Paranormal Activity smashed that prediction to dust — and then the sequels continued raking in the bank. The premise is simple enough and kicks off in the first film with a young couple haunted by something malicious in their new home. They set up a video camera in their bedroom, and we get a glimpse of the terror they’re facing. Later films expand on the technology, moving from bulky cameras to phones (and back again) and find new tricks including a doozy of a set-piece involving an oscillating fan. They may not be high art, but the films typically manage one or two solid scares and earn credit for their ever-evolving mythology.
While the first six movies have been released previously, this box set sees the debut of the most recent entry, Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin. Each film comes in its own snap case, and while the extras are slight the discs do include any alternate endings or versions. The final disc features a detailed making-of documentary exploring the found footage “subgenre” and the stories/mythologies connecting the movies.
[Extras: Alternate endings, alternate cuts, documentary]
The Score [4K UHD, KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A professional thief plans one last score.
Why see it? The premise of this crime thriller is a familiar one and suggests that things might not go all that easy for our protagonist. Surprise, they don’t. Happily for viewers, though, Robert De Niro’s troubles are our entertainment. With Marlon Brando bankrolling him and Edward Norton aiding the theft, it’s a film and a job overflowing with personality and acting chops. It’s a fun watch, and director Frank Oz takes pleasure in capturing the minutiae of the plan and the execution. Kino’s new disc captures well the film’s numerous shadows and details.
[Extras: New HDR remaster, commentary, featurette, additional footage]
To Kill a Mockingbird [4K UHD]
What is it? A film classic about personal conviction and humanity.
Why see it? Not every literary classic gets an even more impressive and powerful adaptation, but Harper Lee’s novel hit the jackpot on that count. Robert Mulligan directs the great Gregory Peck as a lawyer tasked with defending a Black man accused of a crime he didn’t commit. The trial is the major throughline here, but the narrative takes time to explore how all of it affects others including the lawyer’s own children. Racism is insidious, and it takes good people speaking up and out to squash it where it festers. Universal’s new 4K UHD is the expectedly beautiful affair with the film’s black & white photography feeling like a first-time watch.
Universal Classic Monsters: Icons of Horror Collection [4K UHD]
What is it? Four classic Universal monster movies in their 4K UHD debuts.
Why see it? Universal previously released a set collecting their big name films including Dracula and Frankenstein, but there’s no arguing that at least three of these films are equal classics. The Bride of Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and The Mummy are bangers, and Phantom of the Opera is pretty okay, but they all look quite good in 4K. Ironically, it’s Phantom that benefits most from the new transfer as the film’s colors pop with beautiful clarity. The Mummy is second best on the visual front with the remaining two films delivering upgrades that are noticeable if not clear improvements.
[Extras: Documentaries, commentaries, featurettes]
Blind Fury [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A blind veteran helps an old friend and his kid.
Why see it? Director Phillip Noyce is almost always a reliable choice when it comes to fun, lightweight action pictures, and this 1990 effort is a good example of that. Rutger Hauer stars as a Vietnam vet blinded in the war who spent years afterwards with locals honing his skills as a sightless swordsman. He finds trouble after looking for an old friend and soon starts slicing and dicing his way through mobsters and more. It’s a comedic romp with a little heart, and Hauer is having a blast. Add in some entertaining action beats, and you have a good time for genre fans.
The Blue Iguana [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A bounty hunter heads to Mexico to collect a fortune.
Why see it? There’s little arguing with the cast of this late 80s comedy, but the film’s script and tone don’t really do them much in the way of favors. Dylan McDermott, Jessica Harper, James Russo, Dean Stockwell, and Tovah Feldshuh are all talented performers, but only a couple of them escape unscathed as everyone is encouraged to play things up to some very, very broad levels. It hurts the comedy as too many of the “funny” bits fumble due to delivery and tone. Anyway, great cast!
Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema IX [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Three lesser known noirs from the 40s.
Why see it? 1945’s Lady on a Train is the real highlight of this latest noir set from Kino. Deanna Durbin stars as a murder witness who calls on a mystery writer to help solve the crime, and the film balances its mystery and comedy quite well. Also included is the somewhat unmemorable Tangier and the entertaining Take One False Step starring the great William Powell as a murder suspect. Multi-film collections are almost always a mixed bag, and this series is no exception, but kudos to Kino for continuing to bring little seen noirs to home video.
Goldengirl [Scorpion Releasing]
What is it? A young woman is designed to be an Olympic record-breaker.
Why see it? What an odd little film. The disc contains the theatrical release only, but there was also apparently a much longer cut aired on television as a four-hour miniseries. Susan Anton stars as the young athlete designed and trained by her father and his team of experts, and James Coburn is the sports agent brought on to make bank from it all. The film teases with ideas of German engineering, but it never really settles on a dramatic narrative aside from the pressures the woman is subjected to. For a film about racing it’s oddly devoid of momentum.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, interviews, commentary]
The Horrible Sexy Vampire [Mondo Macabro]
What is it? A vampire is sucking the town dry, and only a family member can end the carnage.
Why see it? First things first, while this title is among the greatest going, the film fails to deliver on both counts. The vampire is neither all that horrible or even remotely sexy. The kills all unfold rather blandly with a plot leading to an expected ending. The only real plus sides here are in the performances and production design. Neither is enough to build momentum though.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, commentary]
Indecent Proposal [4K UHD, KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A billionaire makes an offer a young couple can’t refuse.
Why see it? There’s romance at the heart of this seductive tale pitting Robert Redford as the outsider who attempts to buy love. Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson are the young couple, hurting for money, who tentatively accept his offer of one million dollars for one night with her. There’s drama in the decision, but the bulk of it comes in the days and weeks after. All three leads do good work, and director Adrian Lyne finds the lush heart of it all. It’s arguably a bit too serious throughout allowing little room for playfulness and spirit, but it succeeds as an adult romance.
[Extras: New HDR remaster, commentary by Adrian Lyne]
Love Brides of the Blood Mummy [Mondo Macabro]
What is it? An Egyptian prince is resurrected and thirsts for naked blood.
Why see it? Mondo Macabro is typically more than reliable with their international picks, but as with the film above, this is a case of a fantastic title teasing a film that never matches it. Here a curious fellow opens a sarcophagus only to find a mummy within — which he soon reanimates and pays the price. The Egyptian uses psychic powers to control a servant into fetching young women to be stripped, whipped, and bled. Rinse and repeat. The outdoor locations look pretty great, but that’s about it. That said, for fans of this kind of stuff, Mondo has rescued a long lost cut of the film extending much of its adult shenanigans.
[Extras: New 4K transfer, two versions, commentary]
Mark of the Vampire [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? It’s definitely not Dracula.
Why see it? Tod Browning directs Bela Lugosi as a vampire — wait, what? This film arrived a few years after Browning and Lugosi delivered Dracula into people’s nightmares, but while it teases some similarities it’s actually something wholly different. The back half reveal isn’t all that earth-shattering, but it puts a mildly entertaining spin on things.
[Extras: Commentary, short, cartoon]
Murder at the Vanities [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A stage musical is interrupted by murder!
Why see it? There’s some real fun to be had with this pre-code musical mystery. It’s never exactly laugh out loud funny or all that suspenseful, but the banter and thriller aspects intermingle well with the stage numbers and character types. Its pre-code nature means we get some racy (for the time) outfits and a song about the glory of weed, and it all makes for an entertaining time.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary]
The Other Side of the Mirror [Mondo Macabro]
What is it? A young woman suffers an emotional breakdown.
Why see it? Jess Franco is the epitome of an acquired taste, and it’s one that rarely works for me. There are exceptions among his extensive filmography, though, and this effort comes close to joining their mix. Emma Cohen does good work as a young woman haunted by her father’s suicide and her own inability to find intimacy, and she’s ultimately the central pull here. Franco delivers the expected nudity and music interludes — your mileage may vary on both — which pull away from the actually compelling drama at its core. It’s slow, but the emotional highs work well enough if you can make it past the endless jazz and nightclub scenes.
[Extras: New 4K transfer, interview, commentary]
Also out this week:
Arsenic and Old Lace [Criterion Collection], Frost, Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman, Lost Highway [4K UHD, Criterion Collection], Moon 66 Questions, Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind, Squeal, Trancers [4K UHD], The Twin, Wire Room
Related Topics: Home Video