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You are here: Community Film Bluray/DVD Roundup for February 2, 2024

Bluray/DVD Roundup for February 2, 2024

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Welcome back to another look at highlights arriving on Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD and DVD. It’s another busy edition with plenty of selections in a wide variety of genres. 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!

EILEEN: Set in the 19960s, this story follows a lonely young woman who works at a juvenile detention center. When the facility hires a stylish psychologist, the lead is surprised when the new arrival befriends her. The youngster is charmed and their relationship grows closer as time passes. But not long after, the mysterious woman reveals a dark and potentially sinister secret that threatens more than their relationship.

Notices were generally strong for this thriller. A small contingent thought the cast were good but that the story didn’t quite work and didn’t leave a lasting impact. Still, the majority were intrigued throughout and complimented the film as an unsettling character drama mixed with elements of a Hitchcock film.

It stars Thomasin McKenzie, Shea Whigham, Sam Nivola, Siobhan Fallon, Tonye Patano and Anne Hathaway.

INFILTRATION: A retired Russian soldier finds life at home more difficult than expected. When he learns that his ex-commander has been captured by ISIS, he decides to travel behind enemy lines in order to find him. Along the way, the lead encounters U.S. military patrols who decide to help him accomplish his goal. However, he and the captive encounter even more difficulty attempting to escape the country whilst being pursued by the organization.

Apparently, this is a sequel to a 2002 Russian film called War and this follow-up was released in its homeland under the title Svoya Voyna. Shtorm v Pustyne. The title has yet to be screened in this part of the world and no online reviews are available for the title at this time. So, interested parties who haven’t seen the original will have to go in cold.

Aleksey Chadov and Vitali Kishchenko headline the movie.

THE INVENTOR: After creating magnificent paintings, flying machines and other inventions, Leonardo da Vinci decides to set his sights on finding the meaning of life. In order to do so, he ends up leaving Italy and heading to France to study (and also realize more exciting and new designs). Of course, many Italian government figures complain about da Vinci’s plans as he sets out on his journey.

This independent animated feature is rated PG and is a co-production between Fance, Ireland and the U.S. It was co-directed by the co-writer of the award-winning Ratatouille from Pixar.

Critics were more upbeat than negative about the final results. About one-quarter of reviewers commented that the story had narrative problems and lacked tension. However, the majority were impressed with the animation, as well as the big themes the film tackled, calling it a creative and unique animated film that would impress children and parents.

For now, this is a DVD only release. The voice cast includes Stephen Fry, Daisy Ridley, Marion Cotillard and Matt Berry.


MY SAILOR, MY LOVE: Set on the Irish coast, this story follows a gruff ex-mariner widower who doesn’t appreciate socializing. His concerned daughter decides to hire a housekeeper to keep his home in order. While the two butt heads at first, they eventually start seeing each other romantically. This surprises the daughter, who becomes skeptical of the relationship’s success, as well as the changes it will cause in her relationship with her dad.

The press was positive about this independent drama. One or two didn’t appreciate that the movie didn’t make the most of the concerns between the characters and have them voice their issues directly. Everyone else thought it was a poignant film about love between two elderly individuals which dealt with complex family implications and wisely avoided sentimentality.

This is currently a DVD only release. It features James Cosmo, Brid Brennan, Catherine Walker and Nora Jane Noone.

THE PUPPETMAN: A teenager begins dating a schoolmate, only to learn from her friends that she has parental problems. Specifically, he learns that her dad is a convicted murderer. She explains that he is innocent and that an evil force possessed him during the crime. After fellow students begin dying mysteriously, everyone begins to wonder if this story might be true.

The picture first premiered on the Shudder streaming service and is now receiving a DVD-only release. Write-ups were middling, with slightly more negative reviews than positive ones. Those who enjoyed the movie commented that it was fast-paced and did contain some very frightening murder sequences. Unfortunately, more felt that the film was repetitive and never developed enough tension or suspense to involve them in the story.

Michael Pare, Caryn Richman, Alyson Gorske and Angel Prater headline the picture.

SILENT NIGHT: Visionary Hong Kong action film director John Woo (The Killer, Hard Boiled, Hard Target, Broken Arrow, Face/Off) returns with his first American film in 20 years. It’s about a father who witnesses his daughter get gunned down by a gang on Christmas Eve and suffers injuries himself in the shooting. He recovers but permanently loses the use of his voice. After training, he decides to go out and seek bloody vengeance.

Overall, response to the picture was more positive than negative. A contingent did note that the story wasn’t as strong as those in the director’s previous features and called the protagonist’s muteness an ineffective gimmick. But the majority stated that while the plot was a bit simple, the lead was charismatic and action scenes did not disappoint. They called it a cinematic ride that would impress Woo’s long standing fans.

The movie is available on Blu-ray and also separately as a 4K Ultra HD Steelbook. It stars Joel Kinnaman, Scott “Kid Cudi” Mascudi, Catalina Sandino Moreno and Harold Torres.

THANKSGIVING: If you remember the 2007 Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino drive-in homage Grindhouse, you’ll recall that the two films featured were surrounded by genre film parody trailers. Machete ended up being translated into a movie series, and now Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel, The House with a Clock in Its Walls) has adapted his preview into a feature. Set in Massachusetts, it begins with a riot at a Black Friday shopping event that ends tragically. Some years later, a mysterious hatchet-wielding pilgrim arrives in town for the holiday and begins carving up locals.

Critics really enjoyed this gory horror/comedy. A tiny number felt that, despite the unique murders, the characters were weak and the plotting was generic. Yet the vast majority called the movie a wild and gory effort that featured a game cast and delivered memorable, over-the-top moments along with a healthy criticism of consumerism.

The cast includes Patrick Dempsey, Ty Olsson, Gina Gershon, Karen Cliché, Lynne Griffin, Nell Verlaque, Rick Hoffman and Derek McGrath.

BLASTS FROM THE PAST!

Wow, it’s an excellent week for older titles receiving big upgrades.


Arrow is presenting The Conan Chronicles “Limited Edition” set containing Conan the Barbarian (1982) and Conan the Destroyer (1984) in either 4K Ultra HD or Blu-ray (both films can also be purchased separately on each format).  Based on the popular series of pulp novels by Robert E. Howard and the comic books based on the character, the original starred Arnold Schwarzeneggar as an ex-gladiator in a fantasy kingdom seeking revenge for the slaying of his parents. In the follow-up, he becomes something of a sword-for-hire and gets into a series of adventures. The first title is considered a very strong adaptation, while the sequel is a lighter and campier adaptation.

Besides the 4K picture upgrades and three cuts of Conan the Barbarian, these discs feature new and archival extras., including multiple commentary tracks. Conan the Barbarian director John Milius and Schwarzeneggar are on one, and the second is a new track with genre historian Paul M. Sammon, who spent a great deal of time on the set with the cast and crew.

There’s also a comprehensive documentary on the production that was made in 2000, new interviews with the production designer, costume designer, cast members, the assistant editor, the visual effects team, a discussion with filmmaker Robert Eggers about this title’s influence on The Northman (2022), interviews with a Conan historian and a Milus authority, a featurette on the original books and comics, a tribute to composer Basil Poledouris, an EPK from 1982, outtakes, and much, much more.

The distributor is also putting out a Blu-ray of Murphy’s War (1971), a satire starring Peter O’Toole as a British merchant ship captain obsessed with getting revenge on the U-boat that sank his vessel during the close of World War II. Considered an “underseen gem” this disc arrives with a visual essay on the movie, archival interviews with the assistant director, camera focus puller and a film critic. It also comes with a trailer, image gallery, illustrated booklet and a reversible sleeve.

The Violent Years (1956) is arriving on Blu-ray (limited to 1000 copies) from AGFA. This genre picture is about a teenager whose rich parents don’t take an interest in her. She joins a girl gang and soon gets into trouble with the law. The movie is noted for being written by famed B-movie director Ed Wood (Plan 9 from Outer Space). For this release, the picture has been given a 4K restoration and comes with a commentary from director/enthusiast Frank Henelotter (Basket Case, Brain Damage), a series of low-budget film noir trailers, a memorabilia scrapbook and a bonus movie, Anatomy of a Psycho (1961), which has received a 2K restoration.

Altered Innocence is presenting the German title Stielke, Heinz, Fifteen (1987) on Blu-ray. It’s about a Hitler Youth fanatic who unexpectedly learns that his father was actually Jewish. It comes with a restoration trailer and a video essay about the movie. The disc is limited to 1,000 copies.

If you appreciate extreme low-budget, shot-on-video efforts, Art Label is presenting Surf Reality Movie of the Month Club Collection, a Blu-ray set of nine homemade independent movies. The filmmakers involved were New York-based performance artists (some participated in some Troma productions) who decided to improvise stories and each make a movie a day. The results are here, along with interviews with many of the participants, a home video adaptation of Macbeth, an essay about the project, a tour of the locations used and a trailer.

Big World Pictures is delivering a double-feature Blu-ray containing In Bloom (2013) and My Happy Family (2017), a pair of well-regarded dramas made in the country of Georgia (in Eastern Europe, bordering Russia).

This is a big week for Criterion as well. The distributor is presenting a Blu-ray of the drama Mudbound (2017). The picture was a critical darling that was nominated for four Academy Awards. It features two men who return from World War II to work on farms in rural Mississippi. Despite serving his country, one man must deal with racism from those around him. The cast includes Jason Mitchell, Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Mary J. Blige and Garrett Hedlund.

This Netflix release has been given a 2K master supervised by director Dee Rees and the cinematographer. The Blu-ray features a new documentary with Rees, the composer, the editor and the make-up artist, a new documentary made on-set with members of the cast and crew, as well as an interview with the director of photography, the production designer, and publicity materials.

A 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray of the Scotland-set film Trainspotting (1996) is also arriving. This wonderfully wild, edgy and unsettling tale of young drug addicts in Edinburgh was directed by Danny Boyle (28 Days Later, Sunshine, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, Yesterday) and made instant stars of Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller and Ewen Bremner.

This is the uncut edition and the transfer was supervised by Boyle. The disc comes with an archived commentary from the film’s year of release with Boyle, McGregor, the producer and the writer. There’s also a new talk about the movie’s production design, recollections from some incredible musicians featured on the soundtrack like Iggy Pop, Robert Gillespie, Damon Albarn, Jarvis Cocker and Noel Gallagher. There is also a lengthy making-of and an archival documentary on the movie, nine deleted scenes and plenty of promotional material.

The Blu-ray of The Mysterious Castle in the Carpathians (1981) from Deaf Crocodile Films was a Vinegar Syndrome exclusive, but it has now arrived at regular retailers. It’s a unique Czech comedy/horror picture about a man recovering his girlfriend from a sinister baron and a mad scientist. The disc comes with an interview with the original screenwriter’s daughter (who is a screenwriter too), a visual essay by an Eastern European cinema expert, a film historian commentary, a pair of animated shorts and a feature length documentary on the director.

The very low-budget effort Redneck Zombies (1989) is appearing on Blu-ray from Degausser Video. The story involves a group of rednecks who accidentally ingest radioactive waste leaking from a barrel and become flesh-eating monsters. This shot-on-video movie has been transferred using the best possible archival tape master and arrives fully uncut. There’s a director and lead actress commentary track, a critic commentary, an alternate version of the film, a 2023 feature-length making-of documentary, deleted scenes, outtakes, archival interviews and much more.

You can also pick up a Blu-ray of the Japanese feature Fatal Frame (2014) courtesy of Discotek Media. It’s about a series of mysterious killings at an all-girls school.

Skateboard (1978) is arriving on Blu-ray from Factory25. This is another Vinegar Syndrome exclusive that is now available everywhere. It follows a struggling Hollywood agent who sees the growing popularity of skateboarding and puts together a team to win a cash prize at a race. The disc includes a commentary with the director and a co-star, an interview with the filmmaker, a safety PSA on skateboarding, a trailer and a large booklet with writing from the director.


The recent Elizabeth Moss/Katherine Waterston mystery Queen of Earth (2015) is receiving a Blu-ray release from IFC Films (it was only available on DVD previously). This disc includes a new audio commentary with the writer/director, cinematographer and a cast member. It also arrives with an interview with the composer, a video conversation between the director and Waterston (shot during the pandemic), a 2016 filmmaker commentary, a video essay on the movie, behind the scenes footage from the production and a trailer.

Kino is impressing genre movie fans with their new edition of the monster movie The Boogens (1981). It’s coming out as a 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray set (a standalone Blu-ray is also available). This independent creeper is set in Colorado and follows a group of townspeople in a mining town who come under attack from a creature living deep within the tunnels below. Besides the big picture restoration, it arrives with a commentary from director James L. Conway (who has since worked in television) with the writer and co-star Rebecca Balding, a second audio track with actor Jeff Harlan, a featurette on the monster design, as well as a ton of publicity materials.

You can also pick up a Blu-ray with a 4K restoration of the Film-Noir He Walked by Night (1948), which follows a detective hunting down a sharp-witted cop killer. It comes with a pair of film historian commentaries.


Speaking of Film-Noir, the distributor is presenting Scarlet Street (1945) in a 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray set (additionally, a Blu-ray only version is available). This effort from Fritz Lang (Metropolis, M, The Big Heat) involves a con-artist who convinces his girlfriend to seduce a target. Little do they know that he isn’t the man they believe him to be. It includes a sharp new image improvement and two film historian commentaries.

Apparently, there was a delay with the MVD Visual 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray set of the horror movie Cutting Class (1989), but at least it's finally arriving this week. It’s a slasher set in a high school that is best known for featuring Brad Pitt in an early role as one of the students/suspects. Besides a significant image upgrade of the uncut version of the title, bonuses include interviews with cast members Jill Schoelen and Donovan Leitch, an R-rated version of the movie, a “kill comparisons'' featurette, a VHS video store promo, promo materials, a mini-poster, reversible artwork, a special slipcover and more. A Blu-ray only edition is also available from the distributor.

And there’s more! Loaded Guns (1975) is coming out on Blu-ray from RaroVideo U.S.. It’s an action picture with Ursula Andress as a flight attendant who gets in the middle of a mob war while in Naples, Italy. Woody Strode also appears in the movie. The disc comes with a film historian commentary.

Scrapbook (2000) is arriving on Blu-ray from Saturn’s Core Audio & Video. This is another low-budget, shot-on-video production that follows a serial killer. Extras include a director commentary, a track with the director, producer and a cast member. There’s also a look back at the movie, an image gallery, a making-of, a deleted scene and trailers.

Severin Films is releasing some great titles this week. Bad Biology (2008) from Frank Henenlotter (Basket Case, Brain Damage) is arriving on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray (or Blu-ray only). While this title was initially an exclusive available only on their site, it is now available everywhere.

Danza Macabra: Volume Two – The Italian Gothic Collection is a box set with 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray editions of Castle of Blood (1964), as well as Blu-rays of Jekyll (1969), They Have Changed Their Face (1971) and The Devil’s Lover (1972). Interviews with cast and crew are included, in addition to a CD soundtrack of the last title listed.

Nightmare (1981) aka Nightmares of a Damaged Brain is being given a 4k Ultra HD and Blu-ray or Blu-ray only release too. This slasher follows a maniac who terrorizes a family in Florida. The set includes a star commentary, a producer commentary, a very lengthy interview with the director, cast and crew interviews, a discussion with erroneously credited special effects director Tom Savini, a talk with the actual make-up artist, a locations tour, publicity materials and more.

The Psychic (1977) from Lucio Fulci (Zombie, The Beyond) is getting a 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and soundtrack CD release (it’s also available as a standalone Blu-ray). It features a psychic who discovers a body hidden in the walls of her home. She begins to suspect that she may soon be another victim. Besides a serious image upgrade, the set contains selected scene commentary with the make-up effects artist, an interview with the co-writer, camera operator and editor. There’s also a 2021 feature-length documentary on Fulci featuring an extended archival interview with the director, more cast and crew interviews and other bonuses.

The thriller Unlawful Entry (1992) is appearing on Blu-ray as a Shout! Factory exclusive available only through their website (apparently, the first set of copies have already sold out but more may be on the way). It stars Kurt Russell and Madeleine Stowe as a couple who are terrorized by a policeman (played by Ray Liotta). This disc arrives with an archived audio commentary with director Jonathan Kaplan (Heart Like a Wheel, The Accused, Brokedown Palace), a new interview with Kaplan on his career, a discussion with the movie’s cinematographer, a look at the score by late composer James Horner and publicity materials.

Vinegar Syndrome is also releasing plenty of fun stuff. The Black Room (1983) is arriving on Blu-ray and follows a series of strange events at an apartment rental after the murder of a previous tenant. The movie has been restored in 4K for this release and comes with numerous cast and crew interviews.

Cracking Up (1994) is a comedy/drama that is arriving on Blu-ray from Art Label. It will be a Vinegar Syndrome exclusive until Feb. 26 and tells the story of an intense comic trying to make it in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. It comes full of extras like a commentary track, a look back at the film with the cast and crew, as well as a black and white version of the film and much more.

D.A.R.Y.L. (1985) is a science-fiction film about a boy with a microchip in his brain escaping from a research facility and being adopted by a family. This picture from director Simon Wincer (Phar Lap, the Lonesome Dove miniseries, Quigley Down Under, Free Willy, The Phantom) is getting a 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray combo release. It was originally a Vinegar Syndrome exclusive, but is now available everywhere. It comes with a 2023 documentary on the making of the movie with cast and crew interviews, tons of publicity materials and a 40-page book on the production.

It’s limited to only 2,000 copies, but you can now pick up a 40th anniversary “Special Edition” Blu-ray of the French-Canadian family film, The Dog Who Stopped the War (1984). The story involves two groups of war-obsessed kids who begin a snow-fort rampage on each other. The events ultimately take a very dark turn after a heated battle results in tragic collateral damage. It’s a very effective film well-remembered by anyone who grew up in Canada during the 1980s.

This disc includes both the original version and the extended cut in both French and English. It has been scanned and restored in 2K and also comes with a film historian commentary, a 2009 feature-length documentary on the 25th anniversary of the movie, new interviews with the screenwriter, archival discussions with the composer, the producer, the cast, deleted scenes, theatrical trailers for many titles from this production company, a trailer for The Hidden Fortress (2001),  a Canadian feature inspired by this movie, and much more.

Fatal Games (1984) aka Olympic Nightmare is another Vinegar Syndrome exclusive that, for the time being, will only be available through their website. It’s about a killer who terrorizes students at a high school by impaling them with a javelin. The movie features Sally Kirkland in a supporting role. The picture is newly scanned and restored in 4K and arrives with a film expert commentary, cast and crew interviews and promo materials.

And the Warner Archive Collection is putting out several Blu-rays of out-of-print titles. You can pick up Cabin in the Sky (1943), as well as the Marx Brothers classic comedy A Day at the Races (1937).

Cult movie fans may get a kick out of the MTV production Joe’s Apartment (1996), which stars Jerry O’Connell as a college student who moves to New York City and befriends the singing cockroaches living in his run-down apartment. The studio is also making The Prince and the Pauper (1937) available, along with the animated family comedy, Rover Dangerfield (1991). The main character in this movie was, appropriately, voiced by Rodney Dangerfield.

YOU KNOW, FOR KIDS!

The titles listed below may appeal to kids (warning: the first title is for older kids who can handle themes like mortality):

The Dog Who Stopped the War (1984 film) (Canadian International Pictures/Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray

The Inventor (Breaking Glass Films) DVD

Rover Dangerfield (1991 film) (Warner Archive) Blu-ray

ON THE TUBE!

Below is a list of the week’s TV-themed releases:

The Abbott and Costello Show Season 2 (ClassicFlix) Blu-ray

Dreaming Whilst Black Season 1 (Showtime) DVD

Magnum P.I. The Final Season (Paramount) DVD

Monk Season 3 (Kino) Blu-ray

VISIT: WWW.CINEMASTANCE.COM