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 5th, 2021!
This week’s home video selection includes some classic monsters in 4K, a trio of made for TV thrillers from the 70s, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Universal Classic Monsters [4K UltraHD]
What is it? Dracula, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and The Wolf Man!
Why see it? You’ve obviously seen and loved these four films for years now and maybe even own them already, but I’d still suggest an upgrade to this new 4K set as Universal does fantastic work with the remasters in UHD. All four films see their blacks deepen with depth and starkness, while the details find new crispness. The films obviously still hold up — the set also includes 1931’s Spanish Dracula filmed simultaneously with the original — and the hours upon hours of extras offer all manner of interesting historical information on the films, their productions, and their legacies.
[Extras: Spanish version of Dracula, documentaries, featurettes, commentaries]
Audrey Hepburn 7-Movie Collection
What is it? Seven movies starring Audrey Hepburn, obviously.
Why see it? Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Funny Face, My Fair Lady, Paris When It Sizzles, Roman Holiday, Sabrina, and War & Peace offer up a damn solid selection of films. Just over half of them are all-timers, so even if you don’t watch the other three you’re still getting a fantastic collection here. Hepburn was one of those Hollywood stars who knew when to get out (even if she did return for the misfire that is Always), but when she starred in a film she gave it her all. Comedy, romance, suspense, drama, she was a star, and these are some of her finest films.
Black and White [Umbrella Entertainment]
What is it? An aboriginal man is accused of killing a white girl in 1950s Australia.
Why see it? Every country’s history is filled with injustice, but Australia and the United States share a particular form of it in the treatment of their lands’ original occupants. Here it’s the Native Americans, and down under it’s the aboriginals, and this film tells the true story of one such injustice. Robert Carlyle, Kerry Fox, and Charles Dance play the lawyers on both sides while Ben Mendelsohn stars as a young Rupert Murdoch — he’s making choices that will increase circulation, but at least they’re ones on the right side of history as he draws attention to the injustice. It’s an engaging tale, often infuriating, and it’s an important one.
[Extras: New restoration, featurettes, deleted scenes, interview]
The Screaming Woman [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? An older woman hears screaming.
Why see it? Joan Fontaine’s sister stars as a wealthy woman with past mental issues who thinks she hears screaming while riding around her estate. No one believes her, of course, including her family and associates who hope this means they’re one step closer to inheriting her property and money. Based on a Ray Bradbury short story, and scored by John Williams, this is a better than average TV genre flick from the 70s managing solid suspense and a strong performance from Olivia de Havilland.
[Extras: New HD master, commentary]
Elvira’s Haunted Hills [Scream Factory]
What is it? The Mistress of the Night has fun in olden times.
Why see it? I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know there was a second Elvira film. Having now watched it, I can see why it’s made a considerably smaller impact on the pop culture landscape. Cassandra Peterson, Elvira herself, is still a card and entertaining in her silly, schlocky way, but the film’s budgetary restrictions are a big impediment. Fans, though, will be very pleased by Scream Factory’s new release as it comes in a sharp hard case and includes some new extras.
[Extras: New 4K scan, introduction , commentary, featurettes, interview]
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
What is it? A sequel to Escape Room, obviously.
Why see it? Adam Robitel’s surprise horror hit Escape Room ends on something of a very clear setup for a sequel, and happily this follow-up honors those intentions. Unfortunately, it also bungles the execution a bit as our survivors are brought together with other winners to solve their way through new life-threatening puzzles. The production design is once again solid, albeit less memorable this time around, and while the director’s cut adds an entirely new set of characters it also gives the film the feeling of a Saw knock-off that the first never exuded. Fans of the first will want to give it a spin.
[Extras: Theatrical and extended cuts, featurettes]
What is it? A guy in already rough shape has his body hijacked by aliens.
Why see it? This one’s something of a sensory trip — the story is fairly minimal, and instead it’s a journey as we follow this alien (in Barry’s body) on an adventure of drugs, sex, and other extreme behaviors. It’s sometimes gross, other times amusing, and somewhat redundant, but it’s never exactly dull. Barry is a wild guy, especially with the alien behind the wheel, and he holds the attention through his actions, expressions, and the possibilities of what he might do next. And then it ends? Anyway, it’s an odd one.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes, short film, outtakes]
I Spit on Your Grave
What is it? A woman seeks revenge for her assault.
Why see it? As far as rape/revenge films go, this late 70s entry is something of an infamous one. It is brutal with repeated, elongated assaults and some bloody demises, and it’s difficult to see it as entertainment. Sure, bad guys get what’s coming to them, but there’s no thrill to be found here and very little (if any) style to the film. Still, it has its fans, and Ronin Flix has given it a fantastic release with a 4K restoration and loads of extras. Is it a film you’ll rewatch? I’m not here to judge. They’ve also released (both films were initially part of their terrific but limited box-set) I Spit on Your Grave Deja Vu, a sequel from 2018 that sees more assaults, more vengeance, and less of a reason to exist.
[Extras: New 4K scan, featurettes, commentaries, interviews]
The Old Ways
What is it? A woman is abducted and exorcised.
Why see it? Exorcism films have long been pretty bland for a long time as they walk through the same Catholic beats each time, so The Old Ways automatically earns a point for offering a different take on the topic. It’s a small film taking place mostly in just a couple locations, but there are some intriguing beats here along with some memorable visuals. AJ Bowen has a small role which is never a bad thing.
[Extras: Featurette, commentary, deleted scenes]
The Right Hand Man [Umbrella Entertainment]
What is it? Men from different classes are enamored by the same woman.
Why see it? Rupert Everett plays a wealthy landowner who loses an arm in a biggy accident, and Hugo Weaving is a stagecoach driver. Both fall for young Catherine McClements, and much drama ensues. As period dramas go, this one finds some charm in both its cast and the rarity of a female writer/director duo, but the drama is a bit too lifeless at times making for a romance that never feels alive. The cast and the production design make us care to a degree, but it’s not quite enough to carry the film.
[Extras: New restoration, commentary, featurette]
Scream, Pretty Peggy [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A young woman finds trouble at her part-time job.
Why see it? The second of three TV suspense flicks from the 70s to see slick new releases from Kino Lorber, Scream, Pretty Peggy stars Bette Davis as an old woman who lives with her sculptor son. When a college student arrives to help around the house the girl begins to snoop and discovers some dark truths. It’s pretty simplistic at times, and the twist probably won’t surprise anyone, but it’s competent enough.
[Extras: New HD master, commentary]
Space Jam: A New Legacy [4K UltraHD]
What is it? LeBron James plays with cartoon animals.
Why see it? Look, some of you out there were kids when you saw the first Space Jam movie and subsequently are very forgiving of its numerous flaws. I get it. But you don’t have that excuse with this abomination of a sequel. Not that Michael Jordan is an acting talent, but James is barely a personality off the court making for some rough beats as cartoon characters act circles around him. The laughs are absent, the basketball action is obviously silly, and the film only works as a nostalgia bomb.
[Extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes]
Trick or Treats [Code Red]
What is it? A killer returns home.
Why see it? The early 80s saw no shortage of slasher films hoping to ape the success of Halloween, and this oddball certainly gives it a try. Unfortunately, as fun as Peter Jason is as a supporting actor in films he’s not a frightening figure. He plays the wackadoo who escapes the mental ward and returns home to kill, and in addition to his lack of threatening presence there are also long gaps where very little happens. The only bright spot here is a little shit named Christopher who’s tormenting his dimwitted babysitter. The kid is entertaining, the film less so.
[Extras: HD master, commentary, interview]
The Victim [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A woman searches for her missing sister.
Why see it? Elizabeth Montgomery found success as a witch on Bewitched, but she does equally good — if less humorous — work as a mere mortal. She plays a woman who heads to her sister’s rural estate only to suspect the woman has fallen victim to foul play. A stormy night, a creepy husband, and more make for a solid time with this early 70s TV thriller. As is often the case it’s a simple story stretched to the minimum seventy minutes or so, but it works.
[Extras: New HD master, commentary]
Also out this week:
The Awakening, Halloween 1-5 [4K UltraHD, Scream Factory], Little Vampire, Naked Singularity, Night of the Animated Dead, Night Shift [Warner Archive], Onibaba [Criterion Collection], Songs My Brothers Taught Me, The Stand
Related Topics: Home Video