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The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Beyond Suspicion Blu-ray Review: Proto-Giallo

More psycho-sexual thriller than giallo, this film nevertheless delivers the goods.
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Giallo films had been around for several years before Dario Argento revolutionized and popularized the genre in The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. These early films tended to be less lurid, much less graphically violent, and had plots that actually made some sense. Such it is with Luciano Ercoli’s Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion. But enough genre talk, the real question is does the movie work? The answer actually depends on which parts of the genre you like. It is surprisingly bloodless, has no black-gloved killer, does have some interesting camera work, and a wonderfully baroque set. The

When Harry Met Sally... (30th Anniversary Edition) Blu-ray Review: A Sweet, Funny Love Story

It's one of the best films on the resumes of everyone involved with it.
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Shout Factory celebrates the 30th anniversary of Rob Reiner's When Harry Met Sally... with a new Blu-ray release that includes a new picture struck from a 4K scan of the original camera negative and a new special feature of a conversation between Reiner and Billy Crystal. Opening with white titles on a background as an instrumental version of “It Had to Be You” plays, it's not a surprise the film, a romantic comedy about the relationship between a Jewish man and a Gentile woman, set mostly in New York City, gets compared to Woody Allen's work, particularly Annie Hall. But

Four Times That Night Blu-ray Review: Rashomon Remade As a Sex Comedy

A single date is told from four perspectives in this Mario Bava comedy. None of them really work.
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A woman and a man meet at a park. They agree to go dancing later that evening. Afterwards, they go back to his flat. At some point, her dress is torn and his forehead is scratched. These are the facts of the movie. The details, well the details are a bit fuzzy. Mario Bava’s 1970 drama Four Times That Night takes Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece Rashomon and turns it into a goofy sex comedy. We see the events of the night from three character's points of view and then a final "this is what really happened" segment. (It may not actually

Mid90s Blu-ray Review: An Authentic Coming-of-age Story

Best known as an actor, Jonah Hill's first outing as a director is a stunning debut because of his creative choices.
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Written and directed by Jonah Hill, Mid90s is an authentic coming-of-age story about a young teenager named Stevie (Sunny Suljic) looking for a family that he misses at home. The film opens with a jarring scene as Stevie bursts into the frame, thrown into the hallway by his half-brother Ian (Lucas Hedges), who frequently uses Stevie as a punching bag. Their single mom Dabney (Katherine Waterston) is too busy working to provide much supervision. Stevie finds a brotherhood in a group of skaterboarders: Ray (Na-kel Smith), Ruben (Gio Galicia), and two kids who go by nicknames, "Fuckshit" (Olan Prenatt), derived

Halloween (2018) Blu-ray Review: A Pleasing Sequel

Eleven films into the franchise and Halloween is suddenly looking fresh again.
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Up front I’ve got to admit that out of the eleven films in the Halloween franchise, I’ve only seen John Carpetner’s original Halloween (1978), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, and Rob Zombie’s remake Halloween (2007). That means there are eight films in the franchise that I’m missing. I’m not an expert on the franchise. Which winds up being a good thing because this new film, Halloween (2018) - and can we talk just for a moment how there are now three films in this series simply named "Halloween"? I mean, come on guys, stop making everybody put dates behind your

Knives of the Avenger Blu-ray Review: Swords, Sandals, and Not Much Else

Almost as good as the Beastmaster.
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Come with me, my friends, for a trip down memory lane. The year is 1982 and a little fantasy film called The Beastmaster is released. It does poorly at the box office but then cable stations like HBO and TBS pick it up and run it incessantly over the next few years. The Beastmaster is not a good film. In every conceivable way, it is a bad film. Yet there is something charming about it. It stars a loincloth-wearing Marc Singer battling S&M dungeon master-looking bad guys by telepathically talking to animals. I watched that film probably a couple of

Let the Corpses Tan Blu-ray Review: An Assult on the Senses

A modern, psychedelic take on the Spaghetti Western is visually stylish and exhausting.
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With The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears, French directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani created a modern giallo that was a psychedelic audio/visual delight which had virtually no story or plot. With Let the Corpses Tan, they've added a touch more story and moved their Italian influences into Spaghetti Western territory but continue the sensory overload. It is a beautiful, strange, exhausting film. A group of men violently rob a stack of gold bricks from an armored truck, killing everyone aboard. They rush to their hideout but are stopped by a woman standing in the middle of the road.

Brewster McCloud Blu-ray Review: A Weird, Strange Trip into the Altmanverse

Robert Altman's follow-up to M*A*S*H is an idiosyncratic, weird little film that only he could make.
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After spending a decade or so making industrial films then directing television episodes, Robert Altman finally connected with critics and audiences on a feature film. Released in 1970, M*A*S*H, a satirical account of a medical unit in the Korean War, was a smash hit. It won awards, made big money (and spawned a hugely successful TV series), and put Altman on the map as an exciting filmmaker. With the success of M*A*S*H, the studios gave Altman a green light to make any film he wanted. He chose the hottest screenplay around, Brewster McCloud, a black comedy about a New York

Bright Lights, Big City: 30th Anniversary Special Collector's Edition Review

While some aspects of this film are dated, most of it still holds up in this tale of addiction and grief avoidance.
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Bright Lights, Big City is being released in a Special Collector's Edition for its 30th Anniversary celebration. The film is based on Jay McInerney's novel of the same title. Directed by James Bridges and produced by Sydney Pollack, the movie follows Jamie Conway (Michael J. Fox) through his need to escape his daily reality after his mother (Dianne Wiest) dies and his model wife Amanda (Phoebe Cates) leaves him for a new life. Jamie spends his days as a fact-checker at a New York magazine where his co-worker Megan (Swoosie Kurtz) tries to help him survive, while Jamie spends his

Blindspotting Blu-ray Review: Not Throwing Away Their Shot

Hamilton alum Daveed Diggs and his best friend team up to write and star in this thought-provoking film.
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Daveed Diggs rose to fame as a prominent Tony-winning actor in the original Broadway cast of musical phenomenon Hamilton, so it’s no surprise that his lead turn in this film incorporates some hip-hop flow. The real revelation is the acting talent of his largely unknown long-time friend and co-star here, Rafael Casal. Their close friendship provides them natural chemistry that is successfully utilized by debut feature-film director Carlos Lopez Estrada in a tale about race relations in rapidly gentrifying Oakland. While the finished product occasionally feels like a collection of calling-card scenes for demo reels instead of an actual feature

Streets of Fire Blu-ray Review: Rock and Roll Dreams Come True

Willem Dafoe in vinyl overalls. Need I say more?
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I first heard of 1984's Streets of Fire sometime in the last few years, which surprised me given I spent the bulk of the '80s and '90s with my head buried in theaters, HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, and my local Blockbuster. I vaguely recall a comment on Reddit leading me to IMDB, and then dug it up for a viewing shortly after hearing about what an experience it is. It did not disappoint. The soundtrack as a whole is just as compelling as the set designs, editing, and cinematography, but what caught my ear first were probably Jim

Mandy (2018) Blu-ray Review: Destined to be a Cult Classic

Nicolas Cage gives his most bonkers performance to date in Panos Cosmatos’ psychedelic revenge thriller.
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For every disposable, straight-to-VOD picture that Nicolas Cage does, he’ll usually come up with something that surprises and shocks even his most stern critics. Oddly enough, Mandy ended up falling into the same category as Rage, 211, and so many other features starring the Oscar-winning actor in that they run in an extremely limited amount of theaters while also being available to purchase or rent on streaming services. But, unlike those aforementioned titles, Mandy doesn’t come across as yet another throwaway effort from Cage and whomever he happens to bring along with him. Sure, the revenge plot is formulaic, but

De Niro & De Palma: The Early Years Blu-ray Review: For Fans Only

Arrow Video brings together a collection of three early collaborations between two titans of the cinema with mixed results.
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That Robert De Niro is one of the greatest film actors of all time there is no doubt. He has starred in some of the greatest films ever made, won nearly every acting award in existence including two Oscars, an AFI Life Achievement Award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His work in the 1970s and '80s on films like The Godfather, Part II, The Deer Hunter, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, and Once Upon A Time in America is nearly unparalleled. That his filmography over the last couple of decades doesn’t really hold up does not in any way take

Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s, Volume 1 Blu-ray Review: Impressive Visuals but Disappointing Audio

After 10 years, completists will certainly be glad Warner Archive is continuing the release of Popeye cartoons.
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From July 2007 through November 2008, Warner Brothers released three volumes of Popeye the Sailor cartoons on DVD, which contained the first 123 cartoons from Popeye the Sailor (1933) through to Cartoons Ain't Human (1943). Aside from three Popeye Color Specials, two-reelers shot in Technicolor, those cartoons were in black and white. Now 10 years later, Warner Archive is continuing the run with Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1, featuring the next 14 theatrical cartoons made by Famous Studios, all in Technicolor, from Her Honor the Mare (1943) through to Mess Production (1945). For those new to the Popeye

Snowflake Blu-ray Review: A Blood-Soaked, Twisted Delight

Tarantino knock-off from Germany is a lot of fun.
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Two men, Javid (Reza Brojerdi) and Tan (Erkan Acar), sit in a kebab shop arguing over the quality of the food. They seem to have made a bet on whether or not the meat could be made to taste better by a different style of cooking. Their language is graphic and saucy. The argument causes them to lose their appetetite so they get up to leave, grabbing a gun and a chainsaw from the table. The camera pans up revealing the restaurant floor littered with bodies. Outside, they steal a car and head into the night. The narrator explains this

The Jerk: 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review: A Movie Star Is Born

Be somebody and add this to your collection.
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The Jerk came out in 1978 when Steve Martin was a king of comedy. He had moved on from small clubs and was now selling out arenas like a rock star. He appeared so often and was so good on Saturday Night Live he was considered an unofficial cast member by some viewers. “King Tut” was a hit single off his Grammy-winning comedy album, A Wild and Crazy Guy. He even had a best-selling book, The Cruel Shoes. He was the King of All Media before Howard Stern. The Jerk was his first-starring feature role. He had previously had tiny

A Dry White Season Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Truly Gripping Cinema

An unflinching and sadly relevant drama of violence and ongoing oppression.
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Racism is one those things that just doesn't seem to go away. Every day you turn on the news to find more unarmed black men being shot by white cops; white people calling the police on innocent black people, and the underestimation of Black Lives Matter. Unfortunately, it has gotten much worse, especially ever since an orange someone was elected President. The violent consequences of prejudice is mostly directed to the wrong groups, and director Euzhan Palcy's 1989 film, A Dry White Season, shows how that hate is definitely universal, meaning that it doesn't just happen in the movies. Based

The Original Christmas Specials Collection: Deluxe Edition Blu-ray Review

It's wonderful to have them on hand, complete and able to watch at one's leisure.
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Rankin/Bass Productions, named after co-founders Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass, will forever be remembered in the annals of television history for creating some of the most beloved Christmas-related animated specials, many of which continue to air on TV over 50 years later. Universal Studios is making five of those programs available in The Original Christmas Specials Collection: Deluxe Edition. They are Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), Frosty the Snowman (1969), Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970), The Little Drummer Boy (1968), Cricket on the Hearth (1967). Additionally the first three are also available in individual new Deluxe Editions

Bloody Birthday Blu-ray Review: Bloody Awful

Kids behaving badly in a really bad movie.
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What is is about kids behaving badly that makes for such delightfully creepy cinema? The genre has been around since at least Patty McCormack’s turn as a demented killer in 1956’s The Bad Seed and has turned out such classics as Children of the Corn and Village of the Damned. There is just something about children doing horrible things that is both really disturbing and really fun to watch. In 1981, cult director Ed Hunt took the killer-kids genre and spliced it onto the burgeoning slasher genre and made Bloody Birthday an ultimately silly flick that generally fails to do

Little Annie Rooney Blu-ray Review: Charming Silent Comedy and Melodrama

One of Mary Pickford's most successful films pulls on the heartstrings with admittedly shameless melodrama.
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Mary Pickford was 32 when she made Little Annie Rooney, where she plays a girl barely into her teens who spends all of her time picking fights with boys and getting into child gang warfare, when she isn't doting on her cop dad. It's a testament to Pickford's particular talents that she often easily passes for someone that young, even when surrounded by other child actors: she's tiny, her face is ageless, and she knows how to hold herself in a way that belies physical maturity. That she becomes the love interest for an apparently much older man (played by

Westworld Season Two: The Door Blu-ray Review: Flawed Mechanisms

The robots are out for revenge, but it's hard to care for most of the season.
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Warner Bros.Home Entertainment provided the writer with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in the Blog Post. The opinions shared are his own. I was a bit lukewarm on the first season of HBO’s Westworld. I didn’t feel that it really brought about anything new in regards to the theory of artificial intelligence rebelling against its creator(s), but there was plenty in which I got invested. It was mainly the star power - most notably Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright, and Thandie Newton - that kept me tuning in, and I was interested in seeing where it was

The Serpent's Egg Blu-ray Review: Bergman's Worst Is Still Worth Watching

Ingmar Bergman's only Hollywood production is wildly uneven, rather strange, but still worthwhile.
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In January of 1976, famed Swedish director Ingmar Bergman was arrested on charges of tax evasion. The charges were later dropped, it all being a mix-up over a large transaction between two companies Bergman owned, but the damage was severe and long lasting. Bergman suffered a nervous breakdown and fled the country. He first travelled to Germany and then to California where he met famed producer Dino De Laurentis who agreed to finance his next film. The Serpent’s Egg bombed - critics hated it and it did horrible business. It is generally considered one of Bergman’s worst films. When your

Operation Finale Blu-ray Review: Emotionally Flat but Subjectively Intriguing

Although there aren't too many characters to grow attached to, the subject material of the film is what keeps it going.
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I’m a sucker for films based on historical events, especially those that don’t get told often or have yet to be told at all. And if it revolves around World War II or afterward, you can guarantee I’ll be watching it sometime soon. Operation Finale is exactly the type of movie that piques my interest. After having so many movies focus on Adolf Hitler and other stories that we were told countless times in history classes, director Chris Weitz gives us one that isn’t as well known but is as important to learn about. The funny thing is, this is

A Simple Favor Blu-ray Review: A Sorta Simple Mystery, With All Its Twists and Turns

There is just enough black humor and movie-star style to make watching it fun, even if you walk away at the end long having figured out the multiple twists and wishing it had been better.
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Director Paul Feig's (Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters) A Simple Favor doesn't know what it wants to be. Murder mystery? Psychological thriller? Black comedy? Twisted romance? All of the above? Unfortunately it doesn't tip in any one direction long enough to embrace any genre, so it falls short in all of them. But there is just enough black humor and movie star style to make watching A Simple Favor fun, even if you walk away at the end long having figured out the multiple twists and wishing it had been better. Anna Kendrick is Stephanie, an overachieving single Mommy-vlogger who is swept up

The Atomic Cafe Blu-ray Review: How I Learned to Keep Worrying, Laugh Uneasily, and Continue to Fear the Bomb

One of the most essential films, documentary or otherwise, in the history of Cinema.
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When converseing of satire about our deepest, troubling fear about potential nuclear catastrophe, Stanley Kubrick's 1964 masterpiece, Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, seemed for its time the only cinematic representation of very bleak humor of nuclear proportions. However, if there's one film that matches it for extremely black comedy, or ever betters it, it is the 1982 cult-classic documentary, The Atomic Cafe, which does the derision in such an absurd way that it actually remains as alarmingly vital as it obviously was almost 40 years ago. Mixed with Cold War blasphemy (or

Zombie: 40th Anniversary Limited Edition (1979) Blu-ray Review: A Real Eye-Opener

Blue Underground gives Lucio Fulci's groundbreaking "massacre-piece" a gorgeous new 4K restoration, and the results are even more shocking than ever.
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It's hard to keep a good zombie down, and the regular re-emergence of Lucio Fulci's seminal Dawn of the Dead rip-off onto home video is quite the indication it will never go out of style. One of the most quintessential Italian splatter flicks ever made, this epic bastard sequel to George A. Romero's masterpiece launched the horror movie career for director Fulci, whilst simultaneously leaving a noticeable boot print on the map for Italy itself. Known around the world by an oft-bizarre assortment of alternate titles ‒ including Zombi 2 (its original title, as christened to cash-in on the release

A Story from Chikamatsu Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Tale Worth Watching

Criterion continues their welcome attention to the works of director Kenji Mizoguchi with this superb new Blu-ray release.
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When an adulterous nobleman learns that his wife is rumored to be carrying on an affair with a member of his staff, he seeks to punish both of them. Sure, it’s fine for the man to brazenly step out on his wife, but when the smallest hint of initially untrue impropriety is leveled against her, his righteous indignation speaks volumes about the vast gender morality imbalance. There’s also the matter of his continued noble status, as his failure to punish his perceived transgressors carries the risk of loss of his esteemed title. With that setup in place, director Kenji Mizoguchi

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis: Commemorative Edition Blu-ray Review: Not All Heroes Wear Capes

A good introduction of Aquaman into this iteration of the Justice League,
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the 4K UHD Blu-ray Combo Pack reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are the writer's own. Previously released direct to video in 2015, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, inspired by the graphic novel of the same name, serves as an origin story for Aquaman and shows the Justice League growing into a formal group. It has been now been released in a new Commemorative Edition as a tie-in with James Wan's Aquaman, set for release on December 21. The new edition presents the animated film remastered in

Crazy Rich Asians Blu-ray Review: Crazy Good Movie

Jon M. Chu's box-office success is a wickedly smart romantic comedy.
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By now, it’s already very well known that Jon M. Chu’s Crazy Rich Asians marked a milestone for Hollywood as the first major motion picture in 25 years to feature a predominantly Asian cast. It’s something definitely worth celebrating. It’s also a good thing that the movie itself takes the rom-com formula and doesn’t exactly reinvent it, but makes it worthwhile again. Some of the familiar beats are just that, but there’s hardly a moment that doesn’t make you grin ear to ear. The plot is familiar, but Jon M. Chu injects a lot of fervor into Crazy Rich Asians,

Strait-Jacket / Berserk! Double Feature Blu-ray Review: A Pair from the End of Joan Crawford's Career

Fans of Crawford and horror should have some fun with these two.
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Mill Creek Entertainment presents two Joan Crawford films, Strait-Jacket and Berserk!, on a single Blu-ray disc. Dubbed a “Psycho Biddy Double Feature,” the pair come from the latter stage of the actress' career after her resurgence in Robert Aldrich's Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? After the reteaming of Crawford and Bette Davis in Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte fell apart during production due to the actresses' acrimonious off-screen behavior, resulting in Crawford being replaced by Olivia de Havilland, Crawford replaced Joan Blondell in William Castle's Strait-Jacket, an entertaining low-budget horror film. Somehow, Lucy (Joan Crawford) only has to do 20 years at

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