DVD/Blu-Ray Roundup for June 12, 2015


Welcome once again to the highlights of what is coming your way on Blu-ray and DVD. There isn’t a large quantity of films this time out, but several of them sound interesting. As always, be sure to click on any links to read detailed reviews. 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!

The DUFF - This high school set comedy follows a teen who decides to reinvent herself after learning that she is the “designated ugly fat friend” of the popular kids. Along the way, she decides to take down her uppity classmates. Reviews were solid for this youth-oriented effort. While some found it a bit too familiar to other films of its genre, the majority felt that the performance of the star and the clever dialogue earned the movie a pass. It stars Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Ken Jeong and Allison Janney.

Kingsman: The Secret Service - A young ruffian in London finds himself recruited by his uncle into a secret spy organization. Together, they attempt to stop a criminal mastermind from wreaking havoc around the world. This surprise hit (based on the comic book) from earlier in the year scored with both audiences and critics. A few called it rude and off-color, but more found it to be a fun and eccentric effort with plenty of unexpected twists and some unique performances from its leads. The cast includes Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong and Michael Caine.

Serena - Here’s a star-studded drama that lumbered to find a release (it was shot way back in 2012) and ended up barely coming out at theaters. It’s a depression-era story about newlyweds who attempt to establish a logging empire, the strains of which cause their personal lives to splinter. The press hated it, describing the film as slow-moving with stiff performances and a ponderous tone that leaves its impressive cast floundering. Now viewers can decide for themselves. It stars Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Rhys Ifans and Toby Jones.

Blasts From the Past!

Once again, Olive Films have some great new Blu-rays coming your way featuring strong female leads. Pam Grier starred in several early seventies drive-in classics, most of which are being released in high definition today. The titles include Hammer (1972), Coffy (1973), Foxy Brown (1974) and Friday Foster (1975). Foxy Brown may be the most famous of the films listed, but Coffy is pretty strong too. Additionally, Olive Films are distributing a new Blu-ray of the comic revenge tale She-Devil (1989), starring Rosanne Barr and Meryl Streep.

Shout! Factory have a couple of noteworthy discs as well.  Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988) is the follow-up to the successful 1983 low-budget slasher. It picks up several years later, with the Angela character returning to camp after the events of the first movie. Characters start getting dispatched in all sorts of violent ways, with the returnee as the prime suspect. The movie comes with a commentary and documentary in addition to other extras. Those who enjoy it can also pick up Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989). Along with a similar set of extras, it comes with a work-print cut that features a lot of lost gore footage.

It may not be as well remembered today, but F/X (1986) was a thriller from Orion Pictures starring Bryan Brown and Brian Dennehy that became a surprise success at its time of release. The plot involved a movie special effects technician who uses his skills to help the government fake an assassination - however, he finds himself set-up and must use his special skills of illusion to survive. I remember enjoying the movie during its original run and look forward to revisiting it with a new Kino Lorber Blu-ray.

Here’s one that I missed last week. Warner Archive recently put out a Blu-ray of Wolfen (1981) an eccentric thriller about a pack of supernatural wolves stalking through the streets of Manhattan. The only people who can stop them are a detective and coroner, played by the always entertaining Albert Finney and Gregory Hines. It’s a slightly silly but stylish effort that may appeal to horror fans.

From Warner Brothers proper comes a box set of Blu-rays called The Golden Year - 5 Classic Films From 1939: Dark Victory, Dodge City, Gone With the Wind, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Ninotchka. It’s an impressive set that contains several studio classics all in one package.

Twilight Time have the cult musical Absolute Beginners (1986). This flashy Julien Temple effort set in the 50s about two Soho teenagers in love stars Patsy Kensit and features musicians David Bowie, Ray Davies and Sade in supporting roles. It’s being released in a limited run, so if you’re interested in the Blu-ray, pick it up fast.

Speaking of underground movies, horror fans will also be excited to see a couple more oddities headed to Blu-ray. Arrow is delivering the creepy satire Society (1989). It comes with tons of extras, including a new audio commentary, featurettes and a director interview among many others. They’ve also got the Lon Chaney Jr. flick Spider Baby (1967), and it’s loaded with just as many, if not more bonuses than their other release.

Finally, VCI have The Giant Spider Invasion (1975) coming to Blu-ray, and Troma are putting out the campy action effort Troma’s War (1988) on high definition.

You Know, For Kids!

And here are some releases that should interest youngsters.

Barney: It’s Showtime With Barney!

Daktari: The Complete 4th Season (Warner Archive Collection)

The Last Unicorn

Power Rangers: Super Megaforce Sky Strike

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Search for Splinter