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Platoon Leader / Soldier Boyz Blu-ray Review: The Dudikoff Abides

Kino Lorber gives us a double feature offering of two 'lesser' Michael Dudikoff actioneers.
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Yes, that's right, kids ‒ our favorite American Ninja has returned to kick a little ass on Blu-ray once more. This time around, the folks at Kino Lorber have given us a double feature of Vietnam-focused films to star the one and only Michael Dudikoff: 1988's Platoon Leader and 1995's Soldier Boyz. Our first selection, Platoon Leader, hails from the Dudikoff's propitious Cannon days. Oddly enough, however, this was one of very few Cannon releases to not actually be produced by company founders Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus; rather, this drama set during the Vietnam War (and filmed in South

Ruby (1977) / Satan's Cheerleaders Blu-ray Reviews: Tales from the Drive-In

VCI Entertainment goes retro with two imperfect releases for two equally flawed horror flicks.
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VCI Entertainment is no stranger to the world of home video. In fact, it's (quite possibly) the only label in the US to have survived all of these years without a parental company in the active motion picture business (Universal, Paramount, et al). And while their current library of classic films and forgotten flicks is anything less than impressive, certain "niche" enthusiasts such as myself will always associate the outfit with cult movies. This Fall, VCI has returned to its roots (replete with retro logo) by releasing several cult classics to Blu-ray. Both originally gracing flickering silver screens in 1977,

The Wrong Guy (1997) Blu-ray Review: The Right Release

Kino Lorber's Studio Classics releases the quirky late '90s Canadian comedy starring Dave Foley, David Anthony Higgins, and Jennifer Tilly.
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What would happen if comedians from The Kids in the Hall, SCTV, and Mike and Molly got together with a writer from The Simpsons? Well, depending on the circumstances surrounding your first viewing of The Wrong Guy, the end-result can be seen as one of two things: a silly Canadian comedy, or a subtly brilliant neglected masterpiece. Spawned from a sketch lead performer/writer Dave Foley once wrote during his days as one of the The Kids in the Hall, the quirky farce finds Mr. Foley as a meager ‒ and startlingly naïve ‒ executive at a major city high-rise office

Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016) Blu-ray Review: Uncovering Cinematic Buried Treasures

This documentary about a 1978 find of a cache of "lost" silent films traces the history of Dawson City.
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In an industry that is lately obsessed with making films available in multiple different versions, both in medium of delivery and in the actual content, it's astounding to conceive just how disposable film was in its early days. Cinema was more curiosity than art form, and it's estimated that nearly 75% of all the films made in the early, silent era are lost. There's a number of reasons for this (not least of which that early film stock, made with silver nitrate, was highly flammable and could even spontaneously combust in the right conditions) but in the end it means

War for the Planet of the Apes Blu-ray Review: Hail, Caesar and the Film Crew!

War for the Planet of the Apes works as both the end of a trilogy or the continuation of the franchise, depending on what happens next.
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Taking place 15 years after the events of Rise and the release of the Simian virus, which made apes smarter and killed many humans, and two years after "a distress call to a military base" was made in Dawn, humans and apes find themselves embroiled in a war in this thrilling third installment of the Apes reboot. A devastating attack on their home causes the apes to flee, but they must go without their leader Caesar (Andy Serkis), who is consumed by anger due to the death of his family members. He seeks revenge against the Colonel (Woody Harrelson), and

The Mercenary (1968) Blu-ray Review: This Fun for Hire

Franco Nero, Tony Musante, and a flamboyant Jack Palance highlight this Sergio Corbucci western, now available from Kino Lorber.
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Amongst the many subgenres of the European western ‒ the tombstones of which typically bear the headings of "Revenge" and "Betrayal" ‒ is another category, informally referred to by devout aficionados as the "Zapata Western." Set during the Mexican Revolution (see: History), these plates of Spaghetti usually feature a pair of protagonists, neither of whom truly adore one another or ever see eye-to-eye, but who form an alliance nevertheless in their individual, alternating quests for glory, money, and/or freedom. Naturally, the American(ized) lead is always the one in pursuit of a fistful of dollars within the confines of these fairly

The Incredible Shrinking Woman Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

Lily Tomlin is funny but also charming, smart, and conveys such resilience as a mom fighting for her family and her values.
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Pat Kramer (Lily Tomlin) is a normal housewife trying her best to take care of her husband (Charles Grodin) and two children. Her household responsibilities require a myriad of chemical products, the combination of which have a strange effect, causing her to shrink. She goes through every test imaginable and eventually gets so small that she must endure intense media and public scrutiny. As she struggles to keep out of the public eye while continuing to be a proper wife and mother, a group of scientists have their own ideas on how to take advantage of her. The result is

The Gumball Rally (1976) Blu-ray Review: Real Cars. Real Actors. Real Fun.

The Warner Archive Collection revs its engines up for one of the greatest cross-country race flicks to hail from the '70s.
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It never fails to amuse me how many road/race flicks spawned from the same decade now synonymous with "gas shortage." Similarly, those very motion pictures never fail to delight. And now, thanks to the ever-diligent efforts of the Warner Archive Collection, one of the first films to capitalize on Brock Yates' Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash ‒ which Yates himself would cash-in on a few years later with The Cannonball Run, after Burt Reynolds already had in Smokey and the Bandit ‒ has hit Blu-ray for home media enthusiasts who love seeing vintage (and very expensive) automobiles darting across

The Man with Two Brains / My Blue Heaven Blu-ray Reviews: Get Martinized

The Warner Archive Collection re-releases two of Steve Martin's best films, this time in glorious High-Definition.
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From his early days as a collaborator on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Steve Martin's unique brand of humor has always left an impression. Even on people who have never been able to tune in to his sense of comedy, such as my father and just about every critic who saw The Jerk upon its initial release. Fortunately, time has always been on Mr. Martin's side. Well, maybe so not so much in the case of those Pink Panther remakes, but his original classics have maintained their popularity over the years, especially these two new Warner Archive Blu-ray issues. Originally

Freebie and the Bean (1974) Blu-ray Review: How Can Something So Wrong Feel So Right?

Look out, world ‒ because James Caan and Alan Arkin are on the loose again, thanks to the Warner Archive Collection.
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A classic example of "How can something so wrong feel so right?", Richard (The Stunt Man) Rush's classic 1974 action-comedy starring James Caan and Alan Arkin is a delightful politically-incorrect romp through the streets of San Francisco. The granddaddy of the buddy cop genre most of us have grown to despise today, Freebie and the Bean focuses on the outrageous antics of two rogue SFPD detectives, whom we only ever know by their eponymous nicknames: Caan plays the openly corrupt "Freebie," while Arkin ‒ an actor of Jewish heritage, mind you ‒ plays a Mexican-American everyone calls "Bean." And who

Death Rides a Horse (1967) Blu-ray Review: Lee Van Cleef's Finest Hour

Lee Van Cleef and John Phillip Law each set out for revenge in this above-average Spaghetti Western classic, now available from Kino Lorber.
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Though it was one of several dozen Spaghetti Westerns produced just in the year of 1967 alone, Giulio Petroni's Death Rides a Horse (Da uomo a uomo; or, As Man to Man) has nevertheless managed to climb its way up through the dark and dusty trails of European westerns over the years. Boasting a memorable score by the legendary Ennio Morricone himself (both the soundtrack and film "inspired" several aspects of Quentin Tarantino's homage to just about every kind of genre movie under the desert sun, Kill Bill), the unconventional entry in the long list of Euro westerns ‒ the

The High Commissioner (1968) Blu-ray Review: The Accidental Spy from Down Under

Kino Lorber brings us a fun tale of an abrasive detective wrapped up in international intrigue starring Rod Taylor and Christopher Plummer.
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The notion of a Eurospy movie was hardly anything new in 1968. If anything, it was becoming rather mundane to European filmgoers who had been bombarded by a jaw-dropping assortment of bastardized 007 clones by the time our film in question first hit screens. And yet, the makers of The High Commissioner (aka Nobody Runs Forever) nevertheless managed to give their project a unique twist: an abrasive, unsophisticated copper straight from the Outback as the protagonist. Made before fellow Aussie George Lazenby engaged in his shortlived stint as James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the late great Rod

Jerome Bixby's The Man From Earth (2007) Blu-ray Review: Science Fiction Chamber Play

Ten years after it was a sleeper sci-fi hit, Man from Earth comes visually restored to Blu-ray.
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A man is confronted by his friends after he walks out on his going-away party. He's been a local professor for 10 years, but tells them that he does this: after a while, he just moves on. He needs to. "You can't have done it too often, you're too young," one of them says. Well... that may not be strictly true. Because John Oldman is a very old man indeed. 14,000 years old, and he leaves places when it becomes too obvious that he's not like everybody else. Released in 2007, The Man From Earth is a rare thing in

Logan Lucky Blu-ray Review: Soderbergh's Back

A rougher, dumber, more redneck Ocean's 11 that's better in almost every way.
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When Steven Soderbergh declared he was retiring from feature filmmaking in 2013, nobody really took him seriously. Technically, he did take a sabbatical from “feature filmmaking” but he stayed very busy. He produced and directed two seasons of the Cinemax drama The Knick, directed the off-Broadway play The Library, helped Spike Jonze edit Her, he executive produced the Starz series The Girlfriend Experience (which was based on his film of the same name), and executive produced the Amazon series Red Oaks, and began working on the HBO series Mosaic. That’s a lot of work for a guy who was retired.

Web of the Spider (1971) Blu-ray Review: Get Caught in This One

Garagehouse Pictures ups the ante of awesomeness by bringing us a fresh HD print of a classic cult Italian horror flick.
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There aren't a whole heck of a lot of film directors who are brave enough to remake their own work (short films notwithstanding). In fact, I can only think of four off the top of my head. At the top of that very short list are A-list contenders Alfred Hitchcock (The Man Who Knew Too Much) and Cecil B. DeMille (The Ten Commandments). The quality of motion pictures change drastically, however, come the final two entries, which consists of two cult filmmakers: Dick Maas (whose remade his bizarre killer elevator film The Lift years later as Down, both of which

Woodshock (2017) Blu-ray Review: Shockingly Bad

The feature film debut from fashion designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy is a hypnotic mess.
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Sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy may have established themselves well in the fashion world with their brand, Rodarte. But when it comes to trying to get noticed in the world of film, they need some work. Okay, a lot of work. Although the duo helped create some gorgeous outfits for Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, their directorial debut, Woodshock, is the result of someone (in this case, two people) with an eye for visuals and nothing else. It looks pretty in both the wardrobe and cinematography departments, but it’s so self-indulgent that it forgets to make the viewer care for the

The Woman in Red Blu-ray Review: A Light Comedy Not Without Its Charms

I just called, to say, your film's not that good.
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Teddy Pierce (Gene Wilder) has a good life. He’s got a good job in advertising. He lives in a nice suburban house. He’s got a pretty wife and a couple of good kids. His life might be a little on the dull side, but he’s happy. He doesn’t need anything else. Then one day while parking in his office’s underground garage, he spies Charlotte (Kelly LeBrock), a gorgeous model passing by. As she walks over a grate, a gust of wind pushes her skirt over her head. Embarrassed, she quickly jumps off and walks away. But then she turns around,

Superman: The Movie - Extended Cut (1978/82) Blu-ray Review: A DC Miracle

The Warner Archive Collection soars with this rare, three-hour TV cut of Richard Donner's superhero classic.
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Of all the variable incarnations of motion pictures that exist within the world, there is perhaps none more elusive than the legendary TV version. This holds particularly true in the instance of films made before television censors officially threw up their arms and said "We give up" after Dennis Franz's flabby backside first appeared on late night television airings. Prior to that, many theatrical outings underwent sometimes drastic re-edits before they could be shown to the still-sensitive primetime audiences of the late '70s and early '80s. One good example is the near-legendary network-added prologue to Sergio Leone's A Fistful of

The Villainess Blu-ray Review: Villainous Melodrama Mars Mind-Blowing Action

Korean import mixes hyperkinetic action scenes with insufferable melodrama and confusing flashbacks.
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The Villainess opens with one of the most insane action scenes ever committed to film, both for its stunts and its camera work. Like Hardcore Henry, the harrowing fight scene is shot from a first-person perspective, making it look more like a shooter video game such as Call of Duty instead of a film. Unlike that film, the carefully constructed pseudo-continuous take eventually switches to a standard third-person perspective, revealing that our protagonist is a woman who is handily dismembering and demolishing dozens of men in a multi-story building. The intense close-quarters fighting is heightened by incredible camera work that

Zoology Blu-ray Review: A Fable In Search of a Metaphor

A grown woman grows a tail, but what does it all mean?
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A lonely, dowdy, middle-aged woman lives in a small seaside village in rural Russia. She has no friends, her coworkers are excessively cruel, and she lives with her religious and superstitious mother. Life for her, in a word, is depressing. Then she grows a tail. A large, long, fleshy rat-like tail. Zoology, the second film from writer director Ivan I. Tverdovsky, is in search of a metaphor. Its fable-like structure and the fact that it's a movie about a woman growing a flipping tail makes us search for allegory, to find some meaning in its story. But the film never

Black Sabbath: The End Blu-ray Review: A Fitting Swan Song

The Blu-ray deserves to recognized on "Best of 2017" lists.
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On February 4, 2017 at Genting Arena in their hometown of Birmingham, England, Black Sabbath (sans founding drummer Bill Ward) played the final show of their farewell tour. The set list focused primarily on the band's first four albums, including six of the eight songs from Paranoid. The remaining four albums from Ozzy's initial tenure were only represented three times: "Dirty Women" and two songs performed during the instrumental medley. Unfortunately, nothing for fans of Never Say Die! The concert opens with the sound of the bell tolling at the beginning of "Black Sabbath". Ozzy acts as cheerleader between lyrics,

George A. Romero: Between Night and Dawn Blu-ray Review: Between Great and Awful

Three of Romero's earliest films get a nice boxed set.
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Made on a minuscule budget and featuring no-name local Pittsburgh actors George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead became a huge worldwide success, essentially invented the modern zombie craze, influenced countless horror films, and is now in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. Not wanting to be pigeonholed as just a horror/zombie director, Romero branched out making a variety of films before returning to the zombie well in 1978 with Dawn of the Dead. Three of those films (There’s Always Vanilla, Season of the Witch, and The Crazies) are included in a new boxed set from

The Captive (1915) Blu-ray Review: War, Romance, Forced Labor

Olive Films releases an obscure film from epic director Cecil B. DeMille's silent cinema days.
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The Captive is a story of war-time deprivation and how terrible circumstances can bring disparate people together. There's gun battles, and romance. It's also a thematic precursor to the Seinfeld sitcom pilot within the show, where Jerry gets a man assigned to be his butler by the courts. Set during the Balkan Wars in 1913, The Captive is a silent film made by Cecil B. DeMille. It was one of more than a dozen films he made in 1915 in his first couple years of filmmaking, and it demonstrates the meticulous attention to detail the were a hallmark of his

The Man Who Died Twice (1958) Blu-ray Review: Um, Is That a Spoiler Alert?

Kino Lorber digs up a beautiful print of a less-than-remembered guilty pleasure B-noir from Republic Pictures.
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The career of the late Vera Ralston was perhaps more fascinating off-screen than it was on. After escaping her native Czechoslovakia immediately before the Nazis closed the borders off during World War II, the former ice skater later became Republic Pictures head Herbert J. Yates' personal discovery, and he frequently cast her in pictures. Alas, even Ralston's thick Czech accent ‒ coupled with the fact she she didn't speak English terribly well and had to learn her lines phonetically ‒ was not enough to excuse her "unique" acting skills, and it was only a matter of time before her career

Wind River Blu-ray Review: A Compelling Murder Mystery

Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen are excellent in this tense, deeply affecting thriller.
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There’s a sudden chill that makes its way down the viewer’s back after the opening scene of Taylor Sheridan’s Wind River. The film is a murder mystery set in an Indian reservation in Wyoming. The murder itself is not the reason why a sudden shock hits the person’s nervous system in the beginning. The reasoning for that is Ben Richardson’s lovely cinematography, which exquisitely captures a chilly Wyoming winter so well that we’re suddenly immersed into the film’s setting. The multiple feet of snow crunching under the characters’ feet and the constant blowing of the cold air bring us that

Since You Went Away Blu-ray Review: An Epic Bore

I've never watched a movie so long and so dull in which so very little happens.
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After the enormous success of Gone With The Wind producer extraordinaire David O. Selznick was looking for another epic melodrama to make. This was 1944. The world was at war and Hollywood loved to make movies about it just as much as audiences loved watching them. But war movies with their big sets and action sequences were expensive. Selznick came upon an idea - everybody was making movies about the boys overseas fighting, why not make a movie about those they left behind? He found a book by Margaret Buell Wilder in which a wife writes a series of letters

Nightkill Blu-ray Review: A Deadly Bore

Never trust a movie by its poster, Nightkill is neither sexy nor scary.
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Intended to be Jaclyn Smith’s break-out role into movies (this was was right in the middle of Charlie’s Angels mania), Nightkill instead went almost straight to TV (after a very, very limited theatrical run) where it died a quick death. One look at its lurid poster featuring Jaclyn Smith naked in a shower while a sinister-looking shadow comes in behind her or the cast list featuring Robert Mitchum and Mike Connors (fresh in the middle of his popular Mannix role) and you might wonder why its taken so long for it to come to home video. After watching, I have

Joe Versus the Volcano Blu-ray Review: An Overlooked Tom Hanks Gem

It's a lot of fun, and sometimes that's all you want, or need, from a movie.
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When you have a lengthy and acclaimed filmography like Tom Hanks, some films are going to fall through the cracks. That has certainly been the case of 1990's Joe Versus the Volcano. Even among early-career comedies, this is a movie that gets overlooked. People remember Splash. They remember Big even if it is just to make jokes about the fact the movie features a grown woman having a sexual relationship with a child in a man's body. You rarely hear about Joe Versus the Volcano. That's a mistake, because it is the best of the early-period Hanks comedies. In fact,

Westworld: Season One Blu-ray Review: Do Enjoy Your Stay

HBO's new series is light on AI theories, but has an exceptional cast and storyline to keep it chugging along.
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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the DVD reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. Much like Jurassic Park did with people’s fascination of living in the time of the dinosaurs, Westworld focuses on a theme park in which people can experience what it was like living in the Old West. The robots, a.k.a. hosts, of this theme park are so life-like in their speech and reaction, the setting so impeccably crafted, that people are immersed into the scenario the minute they step foot in the park.

Superman / Batman: Apocalypse Blu-ray Review: Destined to Be a Fan Favorite

It's great to see so much effort put into delivering a robust and informative package.
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Here’s a recipe for surefire fanboy satisfaction: pair the two most recognizable superheroes in the world with their most well-known and beloved vocal actors, stir in a great story adapted from comics stars Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner, season with eye-popping visuals and thumping sound, and simmer to perfection. The latest DC Universe Animated direct-to-video film once again proves that theatrical blockbusters aren’t the only top chefs in the home video market, delivering a winning package destined to be a fan favorite. Although Superman and Batman get top billing, the film is actually centered on the mysterious arrival and origin

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