It’s time for another edition featuring highlights of new releases on DVD and Blu-ray. Besides the arrival of one of the biggest box office hits of all time, there are plenty of smaller, quirkier efforts. Click on any links to read more about them. 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!
Ava’s Possessions – A young woman who has recently been exorcised of a demonic spirit attempts to pick up the pieces of her life in this independent comedy/horror. While she attends self-help group meetings, she begins to suspect that the evil force may want to return. Reviews were decent for this low-budget spoof, suggesting that while it wasn’t hilariously funny or terrifically scary, it was quirky enough to provide a few interesting moments. The cast includes Lousia Krouse, Carol Kane and William Sadler.
Countdown – This low-budget action picture from the WWE places two of their wrestlers in a plot about a detective determined to take down a mad bomber after the villain straps timed explosives to a child. This is a straight-to-DVD title that hasn’t been made available for previews, so I wouldn’t expect a cinematic classic. It stars Nick Nemeth (aka Dolph Ziggler), Glenn Jacobs (aka Kane) and Katharine Isabelle.
Death in Buenos Aires – This foreign-language Argentine crime film from a couple of years back is only receiving its North American release just now. The 80s set-tale follows a detective investigating the murder of a wealthy gay socialite while suppressing own his feelings for another cop. There are currently no write-ups so there isn’t a consensus on the quality of the flick. At least arthouse festival-goers appeared to appreciate it. The movie features Demian Bachir, as well as Chino Darin and Monica Antonopulis.
The Hallow – Also known as The Woods, this Ireland-set effort is about a family who move to a remote mill house – they soon find themselves under attack by mysterious (and perhaps mystical) creatures of the forest. Overall, response was quite positive to this little chiller. While a few called it gloomy and a bit formulaic, many more were impressed with the special effects and atmosphere created on a limited budget. Joseph Mawle, Bojana Novakovic, Michael McElhatton and Michael Smiley take on the lead roles.
#Horror – Inspired by actual events, this low-budget terror film involves some spoiled preteen girls who are also cyber-bullies. Unfortunately for them, they soon become terrorized after getting together for a sleepover. Reviews were mixed-negative – while many complimented the visuals as impressive, many felt the characters were so repugnant that the entire exercise became difficult to endure. While Sadie Seelert, Haley Murphy and Bridget McGarry play the girls, the movie boasts a supporting cast of recognizable faces that include Chloe Sevigny, Timothy Hutton and Balthazar Getty.
Identicals – This small UK production follows a man who comes into contact with a business called Brand New-U – they find use human copies of clients to give them a better life. The hero attempts to learn exactly what that entails and discovers that many persons have copies floating around. There aren’t any reviews online, so interested viewers will be on their own. It features Nick Blood and Nora-Jane Noone.
Mojave – A dispirited film producer travels out to the title location and meets a psychotic individual. The strange drifter murders a police officer and follows the protagonist back to Los Angeles where he attempts to frame the individual for the crime. Notices weren’t exemplary for this moody thriller. They suggested that the villain was charismatic, but also calling it slow and ponderous. It stars Garrett Hedlund, Oscar Isaac, Louise Bourgoin Mark Wahlberg and Walter Goggins. To read a full review of the movie, just click here.
Riot – This low-budget action picture involves ex-copper gets himself thrown into prison to get close to a Russian mobster who murdered his family and who runs the city from his lavish cell. Again, this effort is being released direct-to-DVD, so one can’t comment on its quality. However, keep expectations in check. It features Matthew Reese, Dolph Lundgren and Danielle Churchran.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – Here’s one you may have already heard of. The all-time highest grossing film in North America (it ranks third worldwide) is this sequel in the Star Wars saga. A new group of outcasts face off against a new evil empire who also plan on taking over the universe with a Death Star-like orb in space. Of course, classic characters return to help the youngsters along the way. The press were positive about the film, suggesting that while it all may have been overly familiar, it still managed to do a good job of recreating the tone of the original series. Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill appear. To read a full review, click here.
Stealing Cars – This small indie film involves a juvenile car thief who is caught and placed in a detention center. Once there, he attempts to navigate his way through an assortment of judges, gangs and guards. It’s a direct-to-DVD release as well, so there are currently no write-ups available. The impressive cast includes Emory Cohen, Heather Lind, William H. Macy, John Leguizamo, Felicity Huffman and Mike Epps.
Tumbledown – The widow of a folk singer has difficulty moving on with her life some time after her husband’s unfortunate passing. Sparks fly after she encounters the brash and blunt writer of a biography on her husband. This drama received generally positive reviews. A few felt there wasn’t as much romantic chemistry between the stars as there should have been, but more believed the performances and poignancy of the story made up for it. Rebecca Hall, Jason Sudeikis, Blythe Danner, Joe Manganiello and Griffin Dunne headline the film.
Veteran – This foreign-language effort from South Korea tells the tale of a thickheaded detective on the trail of a wealthy head of an auto theft ring. When the rich criminal tries to buy him off, the cop takes offense and becomes determined to take his target down. Notices were very strong for this effort. While one or two called it formulaic, it has mostly been describes as a high-energy, fun and exciting effort that also contains a bit of subtext about class and culture in its homeland. Jeong-min Hwang and Ah In Yoo play the leads.
The von Trapp Family: A Life of Music – The final new release is another title making its debut as a direct-to-DVD title. Completed just in time to mark the 50th Anniversary of The Sound of Music, this movie is adapted from Agetha von Trapp’s autobiography and details the real story behind the legend. Unfortunately, its unceremonious debut suggests the finished product may not be as successful as hoped. It stars Eliza Bennett, Lauryn Canny, Yvonne Catterfeld, Rosemary Harris and Matthew MacFadyen.
Blasts From the Past!
Kino have a few titles arriving on Blu-ray. The Gallant Hours (1960) is a war flick set in the South Pacific following a week in the life of a naval captain. It stars James Cagney and Dennis Weaver. In Journey to the Seventh Planet (1962) a group of astronauts (led by John Agar) land on Uranus and get more than they bargained for when they begin to experience hallucinations of women from their past. As it turns out, the giant and nasty pulsating brain that commands the planet is responsible. Finally, The Purple Plain (1954) is a UK WWII drama about a reckless pilot who is taken off duty to deal with some severe psychiatric issues. Gregory Peck takes on the lead role.
Mill Creek Entertainment are releasing an inexpensive DVD set called The Hammer Film Collection Volume 2. It contains six titles, including Creatures the World Forgot (1971), Die! Die! My Darling! (1965), Maniac (1963), Never Take Candy From a Stranger (1960), The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) and The Snorkel (1958). They also have a Blu-ray of the well-regarded biopic Prefontaine (1997), featuring Jared Leto as the Olympic long-distance runner.
Arrow have an Italian horror Double Feature Blu-ray package called Death Walks Twice. It contains the films Death Walks on High Heels (1971) and Death Walks at Midnight (1972). The movies come with tons of extras.
The same company have a couple other notable releases as well. The Black Cat (1981) is a loose take on the Edgar Allen Poe story from filmmaker Lucio Fulci (Zombie, The Beyond). It follows a man who communicates psychically with the title animal. After using it to help him cover up some “accidents” the cat decides to exert its control over the lead to save itself. The Blu-ray features include a transfer from the original camera negative, an audio commentary from fan/Fangoria editor/filmmaker Chris Alexander, a documentary on the production and other bonuses.
Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972) is an Italian thriller about a damaged writer who becomes the prime suspect after a young woman is murdered. It also doesn’t help that the crime inspires the author to get over his block. This Arrow Blu-ray comes with a new restoration, interviews with the director, crew members and actors and clips from fans of the film like Eli Roth among numerous other extras.
You Know, For Kids!
It’s a slim week for children’s entertainment, so I hope your kid likes The Wiggles.
The Wiggles: Rock & Roll Preschool
On the Tube!
And here are some TV-related releases coming your way. You can check out a few bonus clips below, including the evolution of The Odd Couple over the years.
10 Items or Less: The Complete Series
Banshee: Season 3
Casual: Season 1
The Dick Van Dyke Show: The Complete Remastered 1st Season
The Dick Van Dyke Show: The Complete Remastered 2nd Season
The Dick Van Dyke Show: The Complete Remastered 3rd Season
The Dick Van Dyke Show: The Complete Remastered 4th Season
The Dick Van Dyke Show: The Complete Remastered 5th Season
Doctor Who: The Complete 9th Season
Episodes: Season 4
The Expanse: Season 1
Heartland: Season 6
House of Lies: Season 4
NYPD Blue: Season 9
The Odd Couple (New 2015 series): Season 1
A Place to Call Home: Season 3