Welcome back once again for another look at highlights arriving on Blu-ray and DVD. Once again, it’s a sizable mix of big Hollywood flicks and smaller, indie fare. Be sure to click on any links you see to read full reviews. 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!
2:22 – An air traffic controller experiences a blinding flash of light and brief paralysis at work. Taking a leave to recover, he begins to suffer from the same effects every day at the exact same time. Naturally, the protagonist attempts to figure out what this ominous sensation means. The press were not overwhelmed by this independent thriller and generally didn’t respond to it. They stated that while it started out interesting enough, the film appeared to run out of ideas and lacked a powerful resolution. The cast includes Michiel Huisman, Teresa Palmer, Sam Reid and Maeve Dermody.
47 Meters Down – Sisters vacationing in Mexico decide to embark on a water adventure and agree to enter a shark cage and be lowered into the sea. When the enclosure cable snaps and the apparatus drops to the bottom of the sea, the ladies must figure out how to get help from above. That is, if they can survive pursuit by various hungry sharks out to chew them up. This horror/thriller split critics. About half felt tension and anxiety from the precarious situation, while the remainder found it all a bit silly and claimed that it was difficult to identify with the characters. It stars Mandy Moore, Claire Holt and Matthew Modine. To read the site’s review, click here.
The Black Room – This horror flick was slated to be released a couple of months ago, but was delayed. The plot involves a young couple who think they’ve found the perfect home. But after purchasing it and moving in, they begin to feel the effects of an evil, demonic and amorous presence living in an area deep in their basement. Suffice to say that things get pretty ugly very quickly. There aren’t a lot of reviews for this independent horror picture, but the ones that have appeared have been dreadful. These write-ups have described the movie as tasteless and gratuitous. At least it features plenty of familiar faces, including Natasha Henstridge, Lin Shaye and Dominique Swain.
It Stains the Sands Red – Here’s another tale of a zombie apocalypse. This time out, a women finds herself on foot, lost in the desert and pursued by a hungry corpse. Initially, she thinks she’ll be alright as the creature shuffles, following at a slow rate. But the heroine soon realizes that while she needs to rest, the zombie will march unendingly after her. Reaction was split towards this indie horror picture. Some thought that it was an interesting variation on the formula and offered a couple of nifty twists, while others complained that the turn from terror to jokiness ultimately hurt the film. Now viewers can make up their own minds. The cast includes Brittany Allen and Juan Riedinger.
L.O.R.D.: Legend of the Ravaging Dynasties – This Chinese production involves a young orphan who is taken in by a sorcerer and trained in the master’s magical ways. When a conflict arises between powerful practitioners from all around the country, the kid must use newly acquired skills and help his master to victory. Based on a series of popular fantasy novels in China, this foreign-language fantasy film hasn’t been seen in this part of the world, so audiences will just have to take a chance if they are interested. It features Bingbing Fan, Kris Wu and Cheney Chen.
Love, Kennedy – This faith-based film involves a teenage girl who is diagnosed with a terminal neurodegenerative disorder in the form of Batten disease. The condition slowly takes its toll, but the youngster maintains a positive attitude and outlook with her Mormon family during her final days. Made for a very specific audience, this effort has played in a few festivals but hasn’t been seen by many members of the press (although there are a couple of middling reviews online that suggest its characters lacks a strong dramatic arc). Heather Beer, Yvonne D Bennett and Tatum Chiniquy headline the feature.
Lycan – A college class is asked by their professor to research any local historical event. One student decides to investigate a 100 hundred year old incident deep in the wilderness of Georgia that involved a werewolf. Bad idea! It isn’t long before the lead knucklehead gets their friends into a whole lot of danger as they get hunted down. The press were not at all taken by this little horror flick. They couldn’t figure out if the film was nodding at genre conventions or rigidly following them and believed that the characters wouldn’t be very appealing to horror fans. It stars Vanessa Angel, Parker Croft and Rebeckah Graf.
Mune: Guardian of the Moon – This animated feature from France involves a half-human, half-goat fawn who becomes protector of the moon. After a corrupt titan decides to take control of the sun and use it for some kind of villainous purpose, the protagonist learns that he has serious work on his hands and enlists the help of his friends. Reportedly, this one did reasonably well in its homeland and features some beautiful, stylized animation. Viewers will likely have the choice of viewing it in its original French or with an English dub. The Gallic version includes the voices of Omar Sy, Izia Higelin and Michael Gregorio.
Queen of the Desert – Sorry, this is another title slated for a release a few weeks back that was unexpectedly delayed at the last minute. The latest narrative feature from acclaimed director Werner Herzog (Fitzcarraldo, Grizzly Man and too many others to list here) involves a turn-of-the-century woman who decides resist the social codes of the day and head out on a lifelong adventure across the Middle East. Along the way, she encounters various romantic interests and unique personalities. This one didn’t make much of an impact with the press. Reviewers called it pretty to look at, but slow-moving and they didn’t find themselves emotionally invested in the proceedings. The cast includes Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Damian Lewis, Robert Pattinson and Jenny Agutter.
Transformers: The Last Knight – The latest in the popular series of film’s based on the toy line finds heroic Optimus Prime away from Earth and seeking out his home planet. In the meantime, the good Autobots attempt to fend off a plot by the evil Decepticons to take over the world. Success depends on finding a magical item hidden that was hidden by Merlin the wizard hundreds of years ago. The press absolutely hated this flick. Comments ranged from it being loud, overlong, and headache-inducing to being completely nonsensical with awful dialogue. They also bemoaned the fact that it sets up yet another sequel at the close. It stars Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel and Laura Haddock. To read this site’s review, click here.
Blasts from the Past!
Wow, there’s a ton of stuff coming your way if you’re looking to catch up with some older titles. Arrow Video are re-releasing the Blu-ray for the cult horror flick Bride of Re-Animator (1989) as a Limited Edition Steelbook. This one follows the leads from the previous entry as they embark on more experimentation on the dead. While not as iconic as the 1985 original Re-animator film, this sequel does have a few fun moments. This version includes an Unrated cut of the film with multiple commentary tracks, deleted scenes, interviews, a look at the elaborate special effects and other making-of featurettes.
Arrow Academy have a Blu-ray of the Italian/French period drama, The Legend of the Holy Drinker (1988). It stars Rutger Hauer and has been newly restored for Blu-ray with a new sound mix as well. There’s also an interview with Hauer and the screenwriter. If you like foreign films, it looks like another solid release.
Shout! Factory have some very notable titles coming on Blu-ray. After Midnight (1989) is a horror anthology from Jim and Ken Wheat (who would go on to write the Pitch Black/Riddick series). Various segments include scariness in the form of a haunted house, killer dogs and psychopathic killers. The film arrives with a new high definition transfer, director commentary, an interview with one of the stars and a theatrical trailer.
Those who remember the glory days of the Grunge music scene will be able to pick up a Blu-ray of the long out-of-print Seattle music documentary, Hype! (1996). This one was thought lost many years ago due to song rights issues, but they’ve all been cleared now. It details the rise of Grunge and includes rare interviews and music from the likes of Nirvana, The Melvins, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, The Screaming Trees, Mudhoney and many others. It arrives in a Collector’s Edition and includes a commentary track, a 20 years later documentary, additional performances that weren’t used in the final cut and other nifty bonuses.
Speaking of music, Shout! are also releasing a high definition Blu-ray of the notorious musical, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978). Inspired by the Beatles album, this feature casts Peter Frampton and The Bee Gees as the title characters, who play cover versions of tunes from the record and try to stop a villain named Mean Mr. Mustard (they also sing and make reference to other Beatles albums) from stealing their instruments. It’s pretty terrible, but features wild cameos from bands like Aerosmith, Alice Cooper and Earth, Wind & Fire as well as some incredibly bizarre moments… Steve Martin performing “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” stands out in memory as a truly surreal sequence. The disc includes a pop culture commentary track as well as still galleries and the theatrical trailer.
Kino also have some fascinating Blu-rays. They’ve got cheesy sci-fi in the form of Cyborg 2087 (1966) and Dimension 5 (1966). If you like westerns, The Long Riders (1980) is a great one. It comes from director Walter Hill (The Warriors, Southern Comfort, 48 hrs. and many others) and tells the story of the James-Younger gang. The 2 disc set includes a newly restored 4K transfer and a film historian commentary track, while the second disc includes interviews with seemingly all of the cast and crew, an hour-long making-of and other bonuses.
And Kino have a box set of the original series of French spy films named after Agent OSS 117. The OSS 117: Five Film Collection includes titles produced between 1957 and 1968. Imagine a French James Bond on you’re on the right track. They’re very popular in their homeland and might be a fun little set of flick to check out. One imagines the sets and styles on display will probably be entertaining in and of themselves. Of course, this series was later rebooted as comedy vehicles for performer Jean Dujardin (The Artist).
The same distributor are also releasing a DVD of the cheesy Ken Wahl and Judge Reinhold action picture Running Scared (1980). The pair play servicemen who are mistaken for enemy spies and chased through the Florida Everglades. It could provide some cheesy B-movie laughs to the right viewer.
Finally, the company are putting out a Blu-ray of the sweet family flick, Spacecamp (1986), about a group of kids learning about the space program. Of course, they eventually end up in space and must work together to get back to Earth.
Criterion are releasing David Lynch: The Art Life (2016) on Blu-ray. This is a recent documentary on the director that is focused on his early work as a painter and artist, that eventually led to a career in cinema. It should be quite interesting for fans of the filmmaker. The also have the Isabelle Huppert drama The Piano Teacher (2001). This movie is from Michael Haneke, which means it’s pretty dark and icy stuff. It comes with a 2K transfers, interviews with the director and star as well as other extras.
Finally, Tempe Digital have a 2 disc Blu-ray Collector’s Edition of the low-budget zombie feature, The Dead Next Door (1989). One should expect it to be filled with all kinds of bonuses as well.
You Know, For Kids!
Here are the highlights for children.
Mune: Guardian of the Moon
On the Tube!
And you’ll find all of the week’s TV-themed releases listed below.
Big Pacific (PBS)
Channel Zero: Candle Cover: Season 1
Janet King: Series 3
Line of Duty: Season 4
Longmire: Season 5
Ned and Stacey: The Complete Series
The Paper Chase: Season 3
Shameless: Season 7
Sleepy Hollow: Season 4
Taken: Season 1