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You are here: Community Film DVD/Blu-ray Roundup for October 4, 2019

DVD/Blu-ray Roundup for October 4, 2019

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Greetings once again for another look at highlights arriving on Blu-ray and DVD. It appears that this edition sees the release of one of the year’s biggest box office hits, but there are also plenty of smaller indie titles arriving on shelves. So, if you can’t make it out to the movies this week, be sure to give one of these titles a try!

 

Big New Releases!

Airplane Mode - A man with a flight phobia needs to take a plane to Australia in order to attend an important social media convention. Unfortunately, the other passengers are so obsessed with their phones, they forget to switch them to “airplane mode,” causing chaos in the sky. In the meantime, the lead’s inexperienced pal does everything he can to use the situation to lose his virginity. This film was shot back in 2016, but is only now premiering, making its debut on disc.

There aren’t many official reviews of the feature, although online people are slamming it as being agonizing to sit through. The one professional write-up that has appeared agrees, stating that the film is pretty awful and that the cast of mostly YouTube stars lacks the acting chops to make any of it work. It features Logan Paul, Amanda Cerny, David Dobrik, Nick Bateman, Chloe Bridges and Nick Swardson.

American Chaos - Several months before the 2016 election, a documentarian set out to travel through the red states to talk to Donald Trump supporters. Hoping to find a reason for the future president’s surging popularity in spite of a horrific past filled with scandal, pending lawsuits, and disturbing ties to extremist groups. The resultant film tries to explain and come to terms with the current cultural divide in America. Notices were good for this documentary, although not exceptional.

Those who criticized the movie called the revelations already well out-of-date and suggested that it was sloppily put together, doing little to offer much insight. Slightly more thought that though it was difficult to watch, it at least provides some information about Trump’s strange appeal.

Astronaut – This independent feature involves an elderly widower who enters a competition giving individuals a chance to fly in space. Seeing this as a chance to make a lifelong dream come true, the protagonist fudges his age and other health issues. His dysfunctional family also steps in and tries to help him win a spot on the journey. The press appears to have a mixed-positive reaction to the end results.

While nearly half said that the dramas pacing was slow and called it too bland and sentimental for their tastes, a larger number enjoyed its inspirational message and thought the work of the star was good enough to earn the film a recommendation. It stars Richard Dreyfuss, Lyriq Bent, Colm Feore, Krista Bridges and Art Hindle.

Birds Without Feathers - The plot of this independent comedy/drama follows a group of misfits trying to find their way in the world. Their psychological issues lead to desperate, ineffective and sometimes self-harmful acts, all in the hopes of gaining the attention of the public. The main characters include a wannabe Instagram star, an identity thief and a motivational speaker. This feature premiered at Slamdance and has played a few film festivals, but right now, there aren’t many reviews for it.

Those curious about the picture will just have to take a chance on it. The cast includes Wendy McColm, Cooper Oznowicz, Alexander Stasko, William Gabriel Grier, Sara Estefanos and Lenae Day.

Doom: Annihilation - Remember the old computer game Doom? Or the 2005 big screen adaptation featuring Karl Urban and Dwayne Johnson? Well, the rights have passed on to another company and they’ve developed a new low-budget horror flick based on the property. It follows a new group of Space Marines who receive a distress call on a Martian moon and go to help, only to be attacked an army of monstrous creatures.

Frankly, I didn’t even know this title existed and it is premiering on disc, so absolutely no one has seen it.  So anyone who isn’t a low-budget horror fan should approach this little movie with extreme caution. Nina Bergman, Amy Manson, Kate Nichols, Louis Mandylor and Jemma Moore headline the flick.

Driver -Also known as Acceleration in some parts of the world, is yet another straight-to-disc action effort. It’s about a crime lord who finds himself double-crossed by one of his most trusted operatives. In retaliation, the kingpin kidnaps the employee’s son and forces her to go out and take out a series of enemies in order to get her child back. Naturally, while she’s out taking care of business, she looks for a way to finish off her boss.

Once again, this picture was made on the cheap and no one knows a thing about this title, so one shouldn’t expect much from it. At least it has an impressive cast that features Sean Patrick Flanery, Dolph Lundgren, Natalie Burn, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Danny Trejo.

Encounter - Watch out for… rural fields. In this sci-fi picture, a disabled man is suffering from depression and his group of friends don’t heed that warning and investigate a strange sight in some nearby terrain. Once there, they uncover a strange alien object. The group calls in for some help from a local professor, who tries to assist them in discovering what the item is, along with the bizarre life form inside, that could be from another world.

Alas, it’s the same story for this release as for a few others listed in this article. Few have seen it and for most it will be premiering on disc. One review that has popped up online is terrible. It suggests that despite plenty of talent, the skills behind the camera are undeveloped, resulting in a very ineffective alien picture. Luke Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison and Tom Atkins take on the lead roles.

Framing John DeLorean - This unusual documentary recounts the life story of vehicle manufacturer John DeLorean and tells his story using both archival footage and reenactments with a full cast of specific chapters in the man’s life. Naturally, the events featured include the man’s work at General Motors, his attempts to build the ultimate automobile, and the dramatic fall from grace that followed. Critics liked the approach taken and gave the title high marks. One or two write-ups found it a strange concoction that didn’t appeal to them, but the vast majority thought the story was fascinating and complimented the unique approach, suggesting it was an appropriately nutty way to deal with a true eccentric. Alec Baldwin, Morena Baccarin, Josh Charles and Jason Jones appear.

The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil - In this foreign-language picture from South Korea, a crime boss is attacked by a vicious and cunning serial killer. Barely surviving, he slowly recovers, determined to find the person responsible. He becomes so obsessed that he teams up with a local detective and the two work together using all resources available to locate and vanquish the threat. Response toward this thriller was very positive.

While one or two didn’t think the dramatic moments between the leads spoke to them, almost all others were taken by what they saw. They wrote that it was faced-paced, exciting, suspenseful and veered successfully between various genres, making it an extremely compelling flick. Dong-seok Ma, Mu-Yeol Kim and Kim Sungkyu play the title characters.

Itsy Bitsy - In this independent horror picture, a nurse decides to take her family out of the city and gets a job in the country caring for an older gentleman with multiple sclerosis. However, after accidentally finding an old relic in the patient’s house, a threatening creature comes to life. Any guesses on what kind of terrifying monster it might be? Reaction toward this genre picture was split.

About half thought that the digital effects weren’t very well executed, killing much of the suspense. Still, just as many stated that the film did a good job of establishing a creepy mood and admired the gooeyness on display. It features Elizabeth Roberts, Bruce Davison, Denise Crosby, Arman Darbo and, presumably, a big and menacing spider.

Jarhead: Law of Return - The 2005 film Jarhead with Jake Gyllenhaal and Jamie Foxx garnered some great reviews back in its day. Amazingly, in the past five years there have been several sequels to the original film, featuring a new cast and made primarily for the home video market. Frankly, I wasn’t even aware that any of them existed. This follow-up involves a major and son of a U.S. senator who is shot down while flying over Syria.

After being taken captive, an elite team attempts to rescue him. As you might have already guessed, this one is making its debut on disc, so right now no one has seen it. Don’t expect it to be in the same league as the original. The cast includes Devon Sawa, Robert Patrick, Amaury Nolasco, Yael Eitan, Nicholas Aaron and Ben Cross.

Maiden - This documentary has received a great deal of excellent press since its release earlier in the year. It details the story Tracy Edwards, a 24-year-old charter boat cook who, in 1989, became the skipper of the first all-female crew ever to compete in the Whitbread Round the World race. The footage shows how no one believed that she could do it, the bad publicity the team garnered, and even displays many competitors taking bets on the level of her failure. As many readers might have guessed, things turned out differently than expected.

Virtually all reviewers noted that the editing did a great job of placing the viewer out on the waters with the team and called it an exciting and inspirational feature.

The Pilgrim’s Progress - An animated faith-based film makes its debut on disc this week in an adaptation of the John Bunyan novel. Apparently, this is a modernization of the story featuring an everyman of sorts, who decides to head out on a journey from his home city to the Celestial City on Mount Zion. The hero faces challenges at every stop on his long and difficult quest, eventually joining with guides on a similar trek. The movie received a limited release earlier in the year, but there weren’t many reviews.

A few online write-ups have suggested that the animation isn’t quite up to the standards of bigger productions. The voice cast includes David Thorpe, John Rhys-Davies and Kristyn Getty.

The Proposal - Luis Barragán is considered by many experts to be one of the greatest architects of the 20th century. Unfortunately, a great deal of his work was locked away in a Swiss bunker upon his death in 1988 and is inaccessible to the public. This documentary follows a modern-day artist and fan of the figure who strives to uncover Barragán’s work and release it to the public via a “daring proposition.” Reaction towards the feature was upbeat and positive.

While one or two reviewers couldn’t get on the film’s wavelength, most thought that this was an impressively shot effort that offered some interesting insight about who should have access to a person’s art and legacy.

Spider-Man: Far from Home - The big release of the week is this Marvel superhero sequel taking place after the events of the previous Avengers film. Peter Parker attempts to adjust back to his normal life and reestablish old relationships while on a school trip to Europe. However, new dangers arise. Parker also encounters and befriends another powerful figure named Mysterio, whose motivations may not be as clear as initially thought.

The press gave the latest franchise chapter high marks. A small percentage described it as a comedown after the previous Marvel flick. However, the majority referred to this follow-up as a  breezy piece of summer entertainment with plenty of thrills and laughs. It stars Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Marisa Tomei, John Favreau and Zendaya.

Wrestled Away: The Lee Kemp Story - This documentary chronicles the life of Olympic wrestler Lee Kemp and the many struggles the man has had to overcome. The film details his upbringing and efforts to overcome a physical disability and his rise in the wrestling world. It also goes into his Olympic quest and how his ultimate victory was stripped from him, as well as the fallout that followed the decision. While the feature did receive a limited release, et there don’t appear to be any notices available.

One assumes that sports and wrestling enthusiasts might find it interesting. The events and footage shown is narrated by William Baldwin.

 

Blasts from the Past!

Some interesting older titles are also making their Blu-ray debuts. The Prey (1984), about campers being stalked by a scarred wild man, was actually made in 1979, just before the height of the slasher craze, but was eventually granted a VHS release five years later. It quickly disappeared and was never put out on DVD. This week, Arrow Video is giving the film the spiffy Blu-ray treatment.

This 2-disc Limited Edition (the print run is 3000 copies) features three cuts of the film including the theatrical, International and composite cuts. All the versions including the director-approved theatrical cut have been given 2K restorations and the release comes with two commentaries, one featuring the producer and the other with horror fans and experts. There’s also an interview with the director, numerous cast interviews, a Q&A from Frightmare fest, an audience reaction track, publicity materials and other great bonuses. If you do remember the film, you’ll be very happy with what you see here.

Kino has some Blu-rays of a couple of quirky flicks. The first is the Roger Moore comic spy riff, ffolkes (1980). When terrorists led by Antony Hopkins threaten to blow up an oil rig, the British government sends in this eccentric and misogynistic agent to save the day. At the time, Moore was famous for playing the suave superspy James Bond and the movie attempts to play him against that image. The disc includes a film historian audio commentary and the theatrical trailer.

Nightmare Beach (1989) features a motorcycle rider who is killed and then returns from the dead to take revenge on those responsible for his death. The Italian production was shot in Florida and includes appearances from Michael Parks and John Saxon. This Special Edition has both the English and Italian audio tracks, as well as a film historian commentary and an interview with Claudio Simonetti (of Goblin fame).

They also have the Rutger Hauer action picture, Wanted: Dead or Alive (1986), about a bounty hunter tasked with catching a psychotic criminal essayed by Gene Simmons. This is a Special Edition and comes with a director commentary and interview, a talk with co-star Mel Harris and two trailers for the picture.

 

Universal Pictures is releasing The House of Hitchcock Collection, which features 15 of the best of Alfred Hitchcock from Universal in impressive and elaborate packaging. All of the previously released extras are included here as well. If you’re a fan of the filmmaker, this seems like an impressive set.

There are also tons of Marvel superhero movies being rereleased on Blu-ray in 4K (for those who have high resolution TVs). Warner Bros. is offering Gremlins (1984) and The Shining (1980) in the updated format.

And Paramount is making the comedies The Addams Family (1991) and Addams Family Values (1993) available as a double-feature Blu-ray. They’re also being made available separately. (personally, I’m partial to the follow-up). You can pick up one or both depending on your preference.

 

You Know, For Kids!

Here are some titles that children may be interested in.

The Addams Family (1991) / Addams Family Values (1993) Blu-ray Double-Feature

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: The Complete Original Series

Peanuts 70th Anniversary Holiday Collection - Doghouse themed packaging

Sesame Street: 50 Years and Counting (featuring a collection of the best sketches)

She-Ra: Princess of Power: The Complete Original Series

Sonic Boom: Season 1, Vol. 1

Splash and Bubbles: Pole to Pole (PBS Kids)

On the Tube!

And you’ll find the week’s TV-themed releases below.

American Masters: Raul Julia - The World’s a Stage (PBS)

Black Clover: Season 2, Part 1

Charmed: Season 1

Chernobyl (HBO)

Christmas at Grand Valley (Hallmark TV movie DVD)

Christmas Homecoming (Hallmark TV movie DVD)

Christmas Mad to Order (Hallmark TV movie DVD)

Christmas at Pemberley Manor (Hallmark TV movie DVD)

Doom Patrol: Season 1

General Magic (TV-documentary about first smartphone)

Gunsmoke: Season 15, Vol. 1

Gunsmoke: Season 15, Vol. 2

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: The Complete Original Series

Home for Christmas Day (Hallmark TV movie DVD)

Marrying Father Christmas (Hallmark TV movie DVD)

Once Upon a Christmas Miracle (Hallmark TV movie DVD)

Peanuts 70th Anniversary Holiday Collection

Sesame Street: 50 Years and Counting

She-Ra: Princess of Power: The Complete Original Series

Sonic Boom: Season 1, Vol. 1

Tell Me a Story: Season 1

The Toys That Made Us: Season 1 & 2 (Netflix series)

The Truth Will Out: Series 1

A Veteran’s Christmas (Hallmark TV movie DVD)

When Calls the Heart: Year 6

When Calls the Heart: A Call from the Past

By Glenn Kay
For the Sun