DVD/Blu-ray Roundup for October 9th, 2015


Wow, this week is packed with all sorts of flicks, running the gamut from independent, to Hollywood, to low-budget horror (Halloween is coming, after all). 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!

Burying the Ex - A young man must contend with a possessive and controlling ex-girlfriend who has risen from the grave in this indie comedy-horror flick from director Joe Dante (Gremlins). It also puts a damper on the lead’s burgeoning relationship with his dream girl. A few critics called it an amusing bit of fun, but most weren’t as forgiving, suggesting the material was well below the talents of the director and cast. Now viewers can make up their own minds. It stars Anton Yelchin, Ashley Greene, Alexandra Daddario, Mary Woronov and, of course, Dick Miller.

Dead Rising: Watchtower - Initially debuting on the Sony Crackle streaming service, this zombie feature and video game adaptation tells the story of a undead invasion and the attempts by survivors to find a cure for the outbreak. There haven’t been many notices posted, but the ones that have popped up suggest it’s a good-looking, but overly familiar tale that adds nothing new to the subgenre. At least it features a lot of well-known faces, including Jesse Metcalfe, Meghan Ory, Virginia Madsen, Rob Riggle and Dennis Haysbert.

Gravy - Guess what? Here’s yet another genre film, this time about a group of costumed oddballs who take control of a Mexican cantina and force those within to take part in a series of bizarre acts. The independent title has been described as a horror/comedy and got a decent write up or two on the festival circuit. Shout! Factory picked up the distribution rights and is handling its exclusive release to video this week. So, horror fans will now be able to see what the fuss is about. Lothaire Bluteau, Lily Cole and Molly Ephraim headline the movie.

Insidious: Chapter 3 - This second sequel to the horror hit is actually a prequel that details the history of the medium character who appeared in previous films. In this tale, she helps a teenager being tormented by a supernatural entity. Reviews were mixed, but ultimately there were a few more positive write-ups than negative. While most admitted that this effort provides more of the same and doesn’t have as strong an impact as its predecessors, more felt that the numerous jolts were staged well enough to earn it a pass. The cast includes Lin Shaye, Dermot Mulroney and Stefanie Scott.

Magic Mike XXL - The first Magic Mike was a somber drama about male strippers. In this sequel the tone is considerably lighter, following the lead and his buddies as they stage one final show for their adoring fan base. Critics weren’t as enamored with this follow-up and many criticized the lack of deeper subtext, but it still managed to receive a generally positive reception. Those who liked the movie recommended it as a fun and raunchy comedic romp. It stars Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash, Gabrielle Iglesias, Amber Heard, Jada Pinkett Smith, Donald Glover, Elizabeth Banks and Andie MacDowell.

Manglehorn - Al Pacino plays against type in this comedy/drama from David Gordon Green (Prince Avalance, Joe and the upcoming Our Brand Is Crisis). It’s about an introverted, heartbroken elderly man who is befriended by a bank teller and begins to slowly open up about his troubles. Reviews were mixed for this effort. Half found it to be an effective and low-key slow-burner. However, just as many claimed it was too moody and downbeat to enjoy. Guess viewers will have to decide for themselves. It also features Chris Messina, Holly Hunter and Harmony Korine.

Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! - Yep, the Syfy TV movie is arriving on home video, and it’s a popular series so I figured it deserved a mention. This time out, a giant storm unleashes sharks in Florida. That doesn’t actually sound outrageous in and of itself, but you can bet over-the-top silliness follows. It wasn’t well thought of in the papers, with many calling it a dull sequel that doesn’t do much except roll out celebrity cameos. The extended cast features Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Frankie Muniz, David Hasselhoff, Bo Derek, Michael Winslow, Ne-Yo, Chris Jericho, Mark McGrath, Grant Imahara, Lou Ferrigno and Lorenzo Lamas (and that’s not even close to everyone who pops their head in frame).

Tremors 5: Bloodlines - Straight-to-video fans can now pick up this fourth sequel to the extremely entertaining 1990 comedy/horror, Tremors. This new edition takes its heroes to the wilds of South Africa, where they attempt to survive not only animals, but a new onslaught of monstrous “Graboids.” No reviews are available, but it’s hard to imagine why you wouldn’t want to just go back and revisit the original film instead (if you haven’t seen it, it’s worth your while). This follow-up includes actors Michael Gross and Jamie Kennedy.

Blasts From the Past!

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) has been a popular catalog title for Sony pictures, but the image quality of the previous Blu-ray (released during the format’s infancy) was heavily criticized. This week, a newly minted 4K transfer arrives via the studio’s Supreme Cinema Series. Reportedly, it still isn’t quite perfect, but it’s a lot better than the previous incarnation. The disc also includes loads of extras, including multiple commentary tracks, documentaries on the production (as well as the famous character himself), deleted scenes and just about everything else you could possibly want. That is, except for the “Editing Workshop” from the old Criterion Lasersdisc. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s a gorgeous-looking gothic melodrama filled with amazing in-camera special effects work courtesy of director Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, The Outsiders).

Warner Brothers have a couple of very interesting box sets arriving. The Horror Classics, Vol. 1 set contains four Hammer Films titles on Blu-ray. They have one genuine classic in The Mummy (1959), along with some entertaining sequels in their “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” series. Specifically, you’ll get Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969) and Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970).

Additionally, Warner Brothers have the Special Effects Collection. The awesome science fiction and horror movies included are Son of Kong (1933), Mighty Joe Young (1949), The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) and Them! (1954). This reviewer says that any Blu-ray set containing a giant ape movie and killer ant flick is worth your while. They’re great flick (and you’ll quickly see that Them! had an influence on several modern day horror flicks, including Aliens).

Not to be outdone, Universal is delivering a Restored Edition Blu-ray of the Stanley Kubrick classic, Spartacus (1960). It’s about a slave and gladiator who turns revolutionary and leads an uprising against the Roman Republic. As mentioned, the Blu-ray features a 2015 transfer restored from original, 35mm large format elements. It also comes with bonus features like deleted scenes, interviews with cast members (including a brand new clip with star Kirk Douglas), as well as behind-the-scenes footage and promotional material.

If you like Lee Van Cleef movies, Kino Lorber has you set with a couple of Blu-rays from the actor’s oeuvre. Bad Man’s River (1971) is a Spanish western in which the thespian stars with James Mason and Gina Lollobrigida. Also made in Spain (probably back to back with River), Captain Apache (1971) serves as a tongue-in-cheek western/comedy in which Van Cleef shares the screen with Stuart Whitman. If you prefer horror, Kino also has a Blu-ray of the supernatural creeper Burnt Offerings (1976), featuring Oliver Reed and Karen Black.

And Criterion has a noteworthy Blu-ray to promote as well. My Own Private Idaho (1991) is a well-regarded drama from Gus Van Sant (To Die For, Good Will Hunting, Milk) about a pair of male prostitutes living on the streets of Portland, Oregon. Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix essay the lead roles. The disc includes a new director approved transfer and loads of bonuses like documentaries on the film and interviews with the director and cast.

Finally, Film Movement has a Blu-ray of the French drama Full Moon in Paris (1984). It’s about a young interior decorator who uses her wiles on various men, leading to some unexpected complications.

You Know, For Kids!

And here is what’s coming for the kids this week!

The New Three Stooges Collection (animated)

Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special (Blu-ray)

Shalom Sesame: The Complete Series (Sesame Street)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete 1st and 2nd Season