DVD/Blu-ray Roundup for February 6th, 2018

Welcome back to another look at highlights arriving on Blu-ray and DVD. This edition is one of the busiest in quite some time, with all sorts of intriguing fare both new and old. As always, click on any links you see 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!

24 Hours to Live – This independent, multi-national production involves a hired assassin who is killed on the job. However, technology allows for the hitman to be resurrected for one full day. Brought back to life he sets out to right some wrongs and make up for his mistakes in the limited time he has left. Reaction towards this action flick wasn’t exemplary. A few called it ridiculous B-movie fun that works as long as you don’t think hard about it, but most complained that the writing and events were too juvenile and silly to recommend to paying audiences. It stars Ethan Hawke, Xu Qing, Liam Cunningham and Rutger Hauer.

Accident Man – Here’s another tale about a professional killer. In this action picture, the best hired hand in the murder business is shocked when a loved one is assassinated by members of his own death squad. He sets out to get revenge for the act by “taking out” all of the persons responsible. This effort was made for the direct-to-disc market, so there are currently no reviews available that assess the final product. In cases such as these, one should approach the flick with caution. The cast includes Scott Adkins, Ray Stevenson, Michael Jai White, Ashley Greene and David Paymer.

All I See Is You – A blind woman is at the center of this drama/mystery film from director Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, Stranger Than Fiction, Quantum of Solace, World War Z). When a procedure allows the lead character to regain her sight after years in darkness, she’s not only forced to adjust to the new information coming through her eyes, but also discovers disturbing secrets about her marriage. The press weren’t as taken by this effort as they were with others features from the filmmaker. A couple thought it was odd and quirky enough to keep them engrossed, but most thought that the movie couldn’t juggle the thriller and artistic tangents, eventually falling apart by the climax. It features Blake Lively, Jason Clarke, Ahna O’Reilly and Danny Huston.

A Bad Moms Christmas – This sequel to the 2016 hit Bad Moms finds its parental figures dealing with the holidays. The three leads not only have to contend with satisfying their children’s expectations, but also manage to entertain their own visiting mothers. Critics weren’t as impressed with this follow-up, giving it mostly negative notices. A minority believed the talented cast eked out enough laughs to earn it a pass, but many more complained that movie simply repeated familiar, stale jokes and came across as a hastily thrown together sequel. It stars Mila Kunis, Kristin Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Jay Hernandez, Cheryl Hines, Christine Baranski and Susan Surandon.

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight – Batman returns in this animated, R-rated, direct-to-disc feature. Set in an “Victorian Age Gotham City”, the Dark Knight investigates the famous Jack the Ripper murders. Along the way, he encounters familiar characters from the comic book world taking on slightly altered roles in this alternate universe. Again, this feature is premiering on disc and so there are no official reviews of it currently in the press. Online there have been a few write-ups that say it looks good, but grumbled that the mystery itself isn’t all that well handled. It should at least be interesting for fans of the character, one assumes. The voice cast includes Bruce Greenwood and Jennifer Carpenter.

Day of the Dead: Bloodline – George A. Romero’s 1985 zombie classic Day of the Dead gets a remake in this direct-to-disc horror flick. It involves the last remaining survivors (including members of the military and scientists) of an undead apocalypse, now holed up under the ground and fighting over how to handle the situation. A few reviews have popped up over the past couple of weeks and reaction has been absolutely terrible. It was called an forgettable, unremarkable cash-in of a remake. They claimed that unlike the original, this one doesn’t even appear to be certain of what it’s trying to say. The cast includes Sophie Skelton, Johnathon Schaech and Jeff Gum.

LBJ – This biopic follows US President Lyndon B Johnson through his term as frustrated, sidelined Vice President to JFK and depicts his unexpected ascendancy after Kennedy’s assassination. Now leading the country, he sets out to honor and complete his friend’s legacy by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The drama earned split notices from the press. Half felt that the material was told in a by-the-numbers and generic fashion, but a few more found the lead performance so compelling, they still felt that the movie was worth seeking out. It stars Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rich Sommer, Bill Pullman, C. Thomas Howell, Jeffrey Donovan and Richard Jenkins.

Only the Brave – Here’s another true story adapted for the big screen. This time out, the subject is the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a group of elite firefighters who were sent out to help contain the notorious 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire. Viewers witness how the group came to earn their ranking, the stress placed on their families, and the events culminating in the devastating blaze. The press praised the film. A few had issues with the personal squabbles and some of the details of what really occurred, but the majority complimented the movie as an effective tribute to the real life figures. It features Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jeff Bridges and Taylor Kitsch. To read the site’s review, click here.

Stratton – Based on a series of action novels, this UK thriller follows a Special Boat Service commando and MI6 member who is tasked by his government with taking down a terrorist cell run by a rogue operative. Our hero attempts to eliminate the bad guy via various shoot outs and car chases. Critics completely panned the film. They stated that while it wasn’t terrible, there was nothing about it that was memorable. The term “dull” was used in several reviews, with many noting that it wasted a more-than-capable cast. Dominic Cooper, Austin Stowell, Gemma Chan, Connie Nelson, Thomas Kretschmann, Tom Felton and Derek Jacobi headline the film.

The Stray – This faith-based family feature involves a lost dog who ends up finding a family. Seemingly putting Lassie to shame, the pooch saves an infant, restores a marriage and brings estranged members of the clan together. It soon becomes apparent that the dog might be a guardian angel. Reviews were pretty tepid for this drama. There were a couple who described the Colorado locations as pretty and felt it might work for its target audience, but far more groused that the movie tries an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to eliciting an emotional reaction. Some even suggested that it may end up upsetting dog lovers. The cast includes Sarah Lancaster, Michael Cassidy and Scott Christopher.

Suburbicon – Set in the late 50s, this tale follows a home invasion and its effects on a family. As more is revealed, it suddenly seems like the attack may have been an inside job, leaving that head of the family scrambling to tie up all kinds of loose ends. The movie was directed by George Clooney based on an unproduced script from the 80s by the Coen Brothers, but it didn’t end up going over well with reviewers. They commented that significant changes made from the original screenplay, like the addition of a second plotline, created a tonal jumble that negatively impacted the final product. However, a small concentration enjoyed sections of the film enough to give it a pass. It stars Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Oscar Isaac and Glenn Fleshler. Read a full review here.

Tom of Finland – This biopic depicts the life of Touko Laaksonen. He was a Finnish, decorated WWII veteran and gay man who found life during peacetime equally challenging, dealing with homosexual persecution in his own country. Taking refuge in his drawings and signing his pieces Tom of Finland, he became one of the most important and influential artists to the LGBT community. Critics found the drama to be excellent overall. While a small group of them didn’t think the film was bold or grand enough in tone, most found it to be a low-key but affectionate and entertaining homage to the real life figure. The cast includes Pekka Strong, Lauri Tilkanen and Jessica Grabowsky.

Victor Crowley – Believe it or not, this film is actually the third sequel in the Hatchet horror series. The follow-up is set ten years after the previous installment and involves the lone survivor of the previous films and a new group of accidental visitors to the Honey Island Swamp. When the title psychopath is resurrected from the dead, blood and guts drip from the screen. It’s a small genre film, so it didn’t get a lot of notices. However, horror film festival reviews weren’t bad, suggesting that the low-budget slasher presents plenty of gross-out moments and laughs to keep series enthusiasts happy. It features Perry Shen, Kane Hodder and Laura Ortiz.

Walking Out – A teenager from the city decides to head out with his dad to Montana and try to reconnect while big game hunting. As we all know in these types of features, traveling to remote areas with estranged family members is always a bad idea! An accident leaves the pair wounded and trapped in the snowy wilderness, struggling to get to safety and survive the ordeal. This independent film didn’t get much press during its limited release, but reviews were quite strong. Several called it a good-looking film featuring excellent performances that may even draw a tear or two from viewers. Matt Bomer, Josh Wiggins, Bill Pullman and Lily Gladstone headline the movie.

Welcome to Willits – This independent horror/comedy involves a group of teenagers who venture out into the Northern California woods for a good time. They arrive at a small town populated with marijuana growers, conspiracy theorists, a psychopathic killer and perhaps some aliens as well. Chaos ensues as the kids come under assault from various threats. This one appears to be arriving on disc, and as such there aren’t many write-ups. The couple that I found said it provides a few laughs and shows some promise, but is a bit tonally jumbled and falls apart towards the close. It stars Bill Sage, Chris Zylka, Anastasia Baranova and Dolph Lundgren.

Blasts from the Past!

First up, Arrow Video are delivering a Special Edition Blu-ray of The Gruesome Twosome (1967). This is a schlocky, gory horror picture from director HG Lewis (Blood Feast, 2000 Maniacs) about a wig shop run by a mother and son. Guess they run short on product, because they begin scalping victims in order to create more hairpieces. This release features an introduction to the film and commentary track from Lewis, interviews about the movie with director Fred Olen Ray and San Francisco performer Peaches Christ, a spot on the film’s difficulties with the censor board, publicity material and a bonus feature by the director in the form of A Taste of Blood (1967).

Arrow Academy have a Special Edition Blu-ray of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno (2009). This is a documentary about a failed project from the man who made the classics Les Diaboliques and Wages of Fear. His aborted 1964 film about a possessive hotel manager and his put-upon wife fell apart a few weeks after shooting began due to production troubles and creative battles behind-the-scenes. Compiling interviews, the filmmakers attempt to reconstruct the movie, helping viewers get a feel for this fascinating film-that-never-was. Apparently, the cinematography is noted for being stunning and ahead of its time. The movie arrives with an introduction and interview with the documentarian behind it. It also includes a French film historian and a featurette about the production, as well as a still gallery and other extras.

Kino have an interesting stack of Blu-rays as well. These include the Geena Davis drama, Angie (1994), as well as the period adventure flick, The Aviator (1985), which stars Christopher Reeve and Rosanna Arquette. In that one, Reeve plays a pilot who crashes in the wilderness with the daughter of a wealthy client. Also arriving is the mystery flick, Boys (1996). This one features Winona Ryder and Lukas Haas and is about a prep school student who finds a young woman after an accident. He takes her to his dorm, but soon learns that she doesn’t really want to be found.

The fictional character of Sinbad received a feature adaptation in the late 80s, and the feature is also arriving on Blu-ray this week. Sinbad of the Seven Seas (1989) stars Lou Ferrigno as the title character. It was produced by Cannon Films and may provide some B-movie laughs. Kino also have the Kirk Douglas cowboy flick, The Way West (1967). The Wilby Conspiracy (1975) is set in South Africa and features Sidney Poitier and Michael Caine as two men on the run from the law. Rutger Hauer also appears. The distributor are also releasing a DVD of the Doug McClure sci-fi/adventure, At the Earth’s Core (1976).

Criterion are putting out a Blu-ray of Elevator to the Gallows (1958). This is the debut film from French director Louis Malle (Pretty Baby, My Dinner with Andre) and it involves a pair of lovers who decide to commit murder so that they can be together. Unfortunately, things don’t go according to plan. This disc includes a 2K digital restoration of the feature, loads of archived interviews with the cast and crew, a student film from Malle and a wealth of session footage and materials from the scoring sessions (Miles Davis wrote and performed the music for the film).

Mill Creek Entertainment have a Blu-ray of the family classic, Benji (1974). This film was a kind of homage to Lassie and featured a mixed-breed stray who heads out to save a couple of children after they are kidnapped. The movie was a huge hit back in the day and was even nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. It arrives in high definition widescreen with an all new and sharp 35mm transfer, audio commentary and other bonuses.

Scorpion are distributing a Blu-ray of the nature-horror flick, Grizzly (1976). It’s about an 18 foot tall killer grizzly bear that mauls campers in a state park, and the efforts of a ranger to stop it. The movie is receiving a hi-def upgrade that includes a Q&A with the co-star and producer, featurettes on the movie as well as fun facts and trivia about it. They also have the teen flick, Where the Boys Are ’84 (1984), about four female college students who head down to Ft. Lauderdale for Spring Break. It arrives with a few extras including interviews with some of the cast.

Finally, Redemption are putting out a Blu-ray of Jess Franco B-movie genre flick, The Diabolical Dr. Z (1966).

You Know, For Kids!

Lots of material for youngsters coming this week. The highlights are listed below.

Benji (1974) (Mill Creek)
The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!: Season 2, Vol. 1
Duckman: The Complete Series
Miraculous: Tales Of Ladybug & Cat Noir: Season One
Rugrats: Season 3
Scooby-Doo and the Movie Monsters
Shimmer and Shine: Beyond the Rainbow Falls (Nickelodeon)
Woody Woodpecker (Direct-to-DVD live-action/animated feature film)

On the Tube!

And here are all of the TV-themed releases coming you way (including a very interesting one for those who remember the 80s sitcoms).

All in the Family: Season 1 – 5
Bosom Buddies: The Compete Series
The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!: Season 2, Vol. 1
Duckman: The Complete Series
Growing Pains: Seasons 1 – 2
The Guardian: The Complete Series
Homeland: Season 6
Miraculous: Tales Of Ladybug & Cat Noir: Season One
Shimmer and Shine: Beyond the Rainbow Falls (Nickelodeon)
Taboo: Season 1
War of the Worlds: The Complete Series

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