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You are here: Community Film Bluray/DVD Roundup for February 9, 2024

Bluray/DVD Roundup for February 9, 2024

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Welcome to another look at some of the highlights arriving on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD. It’s an odd week for new releases, consisting almost entirely of eccentric independent efforts. However, some may be fun and there are plenty of older titles receiving spiffy upgrades. So, if you can’t make it out to the movies this week or need to stay indoors for a few days, be sure to check one of these titles out!

BIG NEW RELEASES!

CANDY LAND: A young woman and devotee of a religious cult is regularly taken to a truck stop by her leader in order to help him convert local prostitutes into followers. After she gets on his bad side, the naïve woman is cast out from the cult. The ladies from the truck stop take her in, but insist that she work with them in order to pay for her room and board.

This independent feature first debuted on streaming sites last year and is now getting released on disc. More genre critics liked the movie than disliked it. About one-quarter of them hated the feature, stating that the characters and situation wasn’t developed well and that the end result felt sleazy. However, the majority liked the cast and thought that the movie used grindhouse techniques to interestingly explore issues like prostitution and religious extremism.

The cast includes Olivia Luccardi, Sam Quartin, Eden Brolin, Owen Campbell, Virginia Rand and William Baldwin.

CREATURES: This low-budget independent comedy is a Mexico/UK co-production. It’s about a group of astronomy students who take a trip into the countryside to watch a comet fall to Earth. Instead, a spaceship crashes at the site and they find a cute little injured alien whom they try to help. Alas, nasty aliens soon appear who are bent on capturing the creature. These beings are violent and also turn their victims into undead helpers.

Despite being completed in 2021, there aren’t many reviews available for this picture. Still, a few have popped up online from direct-to-disc film enthusiasts. Unfortunately, they haven’t been all that impressive. These reviews state that the writing and acting is weak, with more groan-worthy lines than actual laughs. They also complained that the pacing was slow and the film dragged.

For the time being, this is a DVD-only release. It features Romain Barbey and Rina Saito.

INTO THE ABYSS: Produced in Argentina, this sci-fi chiller is set in a post-apocalyptic future. It involves a man who takes cover during an intense downpour in a decrepit building. He soon sees a threatening alien move about in the darkness and it isn’t long before he realizes that the world has been invaded by these beings. The protagonist tries to escape with his life and find a way to fight back.

Very few people have seen the picture in this part of the world and online reaction has been mixed. Some have suggested that the movie drags its feet and that pacing is its major problem. But a few have noted that, for a low-budget movie, it is very atmospheric, features excellent creature effects and some disturbing moments.

For now, this title is only available on DVD. Martin Rispau, Germán Baudino and Chucho Fernández headline the film.

PEACOCK: Released under the title Pou in its homeland, this South African horror feature follows a young woman who has been raised in a puritanical institution and kept away from what leaders deem dangerous influences. Of course, the lead breaks the rules and raises the ire of her guardians. In order to set her straight, she’s sent to a farmhouse and asked to care for one of the founders. But after finding and going through his hidden records and documents, she realizes she must try to break free.

Most members of the press who have seen this foreign-language effort were very taken by it. A few said it lacked scares and needed more character development. Still, the majority thought the movie was gorgeously filmed, moody and presented a well-acted and low-key but compelling story with plenty of intriguing subtext.

It stars Alida Theron, Johan Botha and Liza van Deventer.

THE RED TIDE MASSACRE: And here’s another independent creeper that is arriving exclusively on DVD. It is directed by John A. Russo (co-writer of the original Night of the Living Dead) and is set in Florida. A prison escapee on the run is pursued by a sheriff and shot dead in the water. At the same time, a female reporter arrives to report on an out-of-control algae infestation on the coast. She uncovers a conspiracy and must contend with a mutated monster who is, well, obviously the convict.

This movie is debuting on disc and only a handful of online genre critics have seen it. One reviewer appreciated the concept and thought it delivered a couple of fun B-movie moments. But far more slammed the movie as being cheap-looking with a dull plot and poor make-up effects.

It features Rich Sands, Susan Elle, Sam Schweikert and Michael Paré.

THE SECRET CITIES OF MARK KISTLER: For those who grew up in the 1980s and ‘90s watching PBS kids programming like The Secret City, Draw Squad and Imagination Station, this documentary may be for you. It tells the life story of Mark Kistler, the man who created these programs that were nationally broadcast on the network. Many consisted of exercises designed to help kids learn how to draw and tell stories using pictures. The film documents how he came up with the concepts and his career, as well as the many books he has written on the subject and his worldwide influence on young artists.

Not many have seen this non-fiction feature so far, but those who have enjoyed it and the movie won a couple of awards at film festivals. Reviews that have appeared call the movie sweet and heartwarming.

WAITRESS: THE MUSICAL: Back in 2007, an indie film with Keri Russell called Waitress opened to positive reviews and strong box office results. The movie inspired a musical adaptation that opened on Broadway in 2016. Back in December, this production was filmed and released in theaters for five nights. And now it’s arriving on disc.

The story follows a pregnant waitress in the Midwest who feels unfulfilled in her marriage. She attempts to win a pie baking contest to earn the money to start her life anew.

Critics were positive about this special event. They wrote that the show was well-produced and looked great on the big screen, with plenty of memorable songs and a wonderful lead performance. The cast includes Sara Bareilles, Charity Angel Dawson, Caitlin Houlahan, Drew Gehling and Dakin Matthews.

BLASTS FROM THE PAST!

If you’re looking for something older, Radiance Films is putting out a Blu-ray of the Japanese feature The Sting of Death (1990). This award-winning period drama follows a couple with marriage issues. After the man admits an affair to his wife, she begins to suffer a mental breakdown. They end up isolating themselves from others in order to heal, work things out and try to move forward. It doesn’t go well.

Besides the high-definition digital transfer of the feature, there is a documentary on the Japanese film renaissance of the 1990s, featuring interviews with the director and cast. Additionally, the Blu-ray contains a movie scholar interview in which he discusses the title. It also comes with a trailer and a booklet featuring an interview with the filmmaker. This is a “Limited Edition” run of 3,000 copies, so pick it up while you can.

Those who follow Arrow Video may remember the release of The Lukas Moodysson Collection, a 6-disc Blu-ray box set containing several titles from the Swedish director, including We Are the Best! (2013). A “Standard Special Edition” is now being made available, which contains all of the discs and most of the bonuses in a smaller package. The same goes for the Rogue Cops and Racketeers: Two Films by Enzo G. Castellari 2-disc Blu-ray “Standard Special Edition” set containing The Big Racket (1976) and The Heroin Busters (1977).

Criterion is releasing a 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray edition of the classic McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) from famed director Robert Altman (M*A*S*H*, Nashville, Gosford Park). This grimy and grim western follows a gambler who befriends a prostitute and tries to open a business with her, only to come under attack from a large corporation. Besides the 4K picture restoration, this edition arrives with a 2002 Altman and producer David Foster commentary track. It also comes with a making-of documentary with cast and crew members, a conversation between critics on Altman’s career, a featurette from the film’s production, a 1999 Q&A with the production designer, excerpts from archival interview with the cinematographer, a gallery of stills from the set, excerpts from two episodes of the Dick Cavett Show featuring Altman and movie critic Pauline Kael, as well as a trailer.

On a completely different note, Full Moon Features is putting out a Blu-ray of the Jess Franco exploitation film Voodoo Passion (1977), about a woman who moves to Haiti, gets into black magic and exhibits some kinky behavior. It’s appearing on disc fully uncut and remastered from the original negative. There’s also an audio interview with Franco, a German trailer for the movie and a vintage trailer reel of other titles from the filmmaker.

Kino has a big week. You can pick up a Blu-ray of the classic Gregory Peck western The Big Country (1958). He plays a man who arrives in the Old West and finds himself in the middle of a dispute between two ranching families. This “Special Edition” contains a cultural historian commentary track, a documentary on director William Wyler (Roman Holiday, The Desperate Hours, Ben-Hur), Wyler documentary outtakes on the movie, cast and crew interviews, a featurette on the movie, a talk from moviemaker Larry Cohen on the title’s co-star Chuck Connors, as well as publicity materials.

Burnt Offerings (1976) is a chiller with Oliver Reed and Karen Black as a part of a family who move into a haunted house. This reissue Blu-ray comes with a film historian commentary, cast and crew interviews and more.

OSS 117: Five Film Collection is a Blu-ray box set containing five spy thrillers from France made in the mold of James Bond that were produced between 1963 and 1968. They are based on a series of popular novels and projects that actually predated Ian Fleming’s espionage tales. No extras appear to be included, but you’ll get a bunch of fun globe-trotting adventure pictures. For those curious, the character inspired the funny Jean Dujardin spoofs that started arriving in the mid-2000s.

And Blu-rays of the Steve McQueen classic The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) and the Tyrone Power courtroom drama Witness for the Prosecution (1957) are both receiving reissues with previously included bonuses.

Shout! Factory is releasing a “Special Edition” Blu-ray of the creeper, Funeral Home (1980). A young woman is asked to help her grandfather turn the title location into a bed-and-breakfast inn, but things get even more difficult for her when a killer starts terrorizing the guests. This slasher has been given a new image scan from the original camera negative. Bonuses include a film historian commentary track, an isolated score with a music historian commentary, audio and video interviews with cast and crew, original filming location footage and a ton of publicity materials.

Finally, the popular science-fiction thriller The Terminal Man (1974) is also arriving on Blu-ray. This picture is based on the novel by Mchael Crichton (Jurassic Park) and features George Segal as a man who has experimental brain surgery to end his severe seizures. Unfortunately, it results in the character beginning to experience pleasure when he acts out in a violent manner. Unfortunately, it appears that no extras are included.

YOU KNOW, FOR KIDS!

Below is a list of titles that might appeal to children.

Paddles Volume 1 (Dreamscape Media) DVD

Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go – All Wheels on Track Season 26 (NCircle Entertainment) DVD

ON THE TUBE!

All of the week’s TV-related releases can be found below.

Beyond Paradise Season 1 (BBC) DVD

Big Sky River: The Bridal Path (Hallmark) DVD

NOVA: The Battle to Beat Malaria (PBS) DVD

Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go – All Wheels on Track Season 26 (NCircle Entertainment) DVD

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