Recently in Blu-ray

Who? (aka Robo Man, 1974) Blu-ray Review: Wait, What?

An offbeat, seldom-seen British spy-fi offering goes HD courtesy the efforts of Kino Lorber.
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Apart from farfetched clones and spoofs of the James Bond films, or television shows ranging from animation to puppets to live-action girls with nice bouncy boobies about, there aren't a whole heck of a lot of noticeable titles falling under the heading of "spy-fy" in the world. We can fathom the sight of 007 driving an invisible car, or kids and talking animals preventing world domination. We are also able to accept comic book superheroes and space travelers in galaxies far, far away embarking on dangerous missions of intrigue with a straight face ‒ as such titles tend to be

Doubt Blu-ray Review: One of the Best Modern Acting Ensembles

Without a doubt, I highly recommend seeing this movie,
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In a Bronx Catholic church, a year after Kennedy’s assassination, recently arrived Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) gives a sermon about doubt. Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep), principal of the church’s school, is intrigued by the sermon’s origin, because it comes from somewhere, and she suggests to her fellow Sisters of Charity to keep an eye out for anything suspicious. Sister James (Amy Adams) notices a seemingly unusual closeness between Father Flynn and Donald Miller, an altar boy and the school’s only black student. During her class, Donald is called to the rectory to meet Father Flynn. Upon his return, Donald

Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler Blu-ray Review: A Captivating Crime Thriller

A safe bet for silent-film fans.
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Based on the novel Dr Mabuse by Norbert Jacques, Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler is a two-part crime epic by legendary German film director Fritz Lang, and is the first in a trilogy that includes The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933) and The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse (1960). Running 270 minutes, the film, which was originally released in two parts, comes across nowadays like a TV miniseries, as the villainous Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) attempts to stay ahead of state prosecutor Norbert von Wenk (Bernhard Goetzke) in this captivating thriller. The Kino Classics Blu-ray presents the film on two discs. The

The Night of the Grizzly (Olive Signature) Blu-ray Review: An Enjoyable, Classic Western

Clint Walker is a commanding, comforting presence on screen.
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The Night of the Grizzly tells the story of "Big Jim" Cole (Clint Walker), a former lawman, who along with his family plan to make a new life for themselves in Wyoming on ranch land Jim has inherited. Not only does he have to contend with wealthy rancher Jed Curry (Keenan Wynn), who used to own the property and wants it back, but also a bear named Satan that is terrorizing the area by killing animals. The bear causes so much damage Curry puts up a reward. Jim desparately needs the money but the bounty brings to town Cass (Leo

Blair Witch Blu-ray Review: Murky Modern Updating Misses Mark

The 2016 sequel to the '99 shock hit tries to update the original's formula, but to much diminished effect.
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Ambiguity is a central attribute to satisfying horror movies (I write "satisfying" because, if the box office is any indication, playing really loud noises every couple of minutes is the key to a successful horror movie). For a horror movie to get under your skin, you have to engage with it and that means, on some level, trying to figure out just what the heck is really going on. The Blair Witch Project, for all it did to foist the found-footage filmmaking style upon us, had ambiguity in spades. What this (comparatively) big-budget sequel, titled simply Blair Witch, demonstrates is

The Driller Killer Blu-ray Review: All Driller, No Thriller

The Driller Killer plays like a Taxi Driver knock-off whose arthouse ambitions are overcome by its need to fill grindhouse seats.
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The Driller Killer is known mostly for being Abel Ferrara’s directorial debut (if one discounts 9 Lives of a Wet Pussy, the hard-core porno he helmed three years prior) and for being one of first films put on England’s notorious Video Nasties list. I first came across it in a bootleg DVD shop in Shanghai. It was one of the few places I’d found in that city that carried art-house, classics, and other oddball films. The title alone had me curious and that scandalous cover featuring a blood-soaked face being punctured by an electric drill made me want to watch

The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story Blu-ray Review

An impressive miniseries that sheds light on a significant event in American history.
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FX's true-crime anthology television series American Crime Story has set a high standard for its duration because its first season, The People v. O.J. Simpson, was critically acclaimed and won nine Emmy Awards including three for acting, one for writing, and for Outstanding Limited Series. Based on Jeffrey Toobin's book, The Run of His Life: The People v. O. J. Simpson (1997), the TV series takes viewers behind the scenes during one of the most notable trials of the twentieth century, though what is factual and what has dramatized is not made clear. The series opens with news footage of

Hellraiser: The Limited Edition Scarlet Box Trilogy Blu-ray Review: A Puzzle Box Worth Solving

This box has such sights to show you.
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Bringing back 1980s horror is all the rage lately. It's hard to swing a dead cat without hitting reboots of Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and Friday the 13th, throwbacks like Hatchet, or parodies like Tucker and Dale vs. Evil and Cabin in the Woods. It's about time Clive Barker's longest-running and most recognizable franchise enjoyed some of the limelight again. However, where the Nightmare and Friday box sets include every film in their respective franchises, no matter how critically revered or panned they were, The Scarlet Box includes only the first three Hellraiser flicks, which are generally considered the

Twilight Time Presents: A Quartet of Quirky Killers

Susan Hayward, Anthony Perkins, Tony Curtis, and Shelley Winters commit killer performances in this assortment of murderous movies.
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As it has been stated time and time again, the only two things we can be certain of in life are death and taxes. Onscreen, however, within the magical realms of cinematic art (where applicable), the subject of taxation ‒ with the notable exception of various legends hailing from Loxley and perhaps a song by The Beatles ‒ is one of the dullest subjects to spend your money on. Death, on the other hand, is a timeless and bankable topic. Few people would take note of a newspaper headline reading "Taxes Paid" (unless it's a politician or religious leader), but

Moby Dick (1956) Blu-ray Review: A Newly Restored Whale of a Tale

Twilight Time brings us the most famous filmic Melville adaptation of all, lovingly restored to match the original theatrical presentation.
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Obsession seems to abound every aspect of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, from its initial published parable right down to its most famous film adaptation, right down to John Huston's 1956 cinematic version, wherein most of the obsession was to be found on the other side of the camera. With as feverish of a desire to capture the legendary white whale as was Melville's main antagonist, Mr. Huston tried (unsuccessfully) to acquire financial backing for his little pet project over the course of several years before finally finding a source of salvation in Pink Panther producer Walter Mirisch and his brothers. Thus,

American Honey Blu-ray Review: Director Andrea Arnold Takes Kids on the Road

A cross-country road movie that will either be held up as a treatise to the restlessness of youth or tossed off as pointlessly boring.
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The space between being a child and an adult - youthfulness - is full of manic energy, enormous emotions, nervous lust, and restlessness. It is a time of experimentation, of being able to let go and run off, of figuring out who we are, who we are going to be. Andrea Arnold’s American Honey captures that moment in life perfectly. First-time actress Sasha Lane plays Star, a lost child who left her meth-addicted mother in Texas to live with a family in Oklahoma and raise their two kids. The mother prefers spending time at the local bar line-dancing and the

Heart of a Dog Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Moving Meditation from a Singular Artist

Laurie Anderson's essay film sees her moving comfortably between abstractions and personal revelations.
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Can a film permeated with thoughts on death be playful? Can it be uplifting? Can it be equally cerebral and emotional, its two sides not merely coexisting but helping to inform the other? Can a film in which a person is almost wholly absent tell us innumerable amounts about the filmmaker’s relationship with that figure? In Heart of a Dog, the wondrous second feature film from multidisciplinary artist Laurie Anderson, the answer to all of the above is a resounding "yes." A deeply personal essay film narrated by Anderson in the kind of bemused monotone that features in spoken-word pieces

Creepshow 2 Blu-ray Review: Stick to the Original

I'd been better off not remembering this thing exists.
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In 1982, director George Romero teamed with writer Stephen King to make Creepshow, a comedy/horror anthology film designed to wax nostalgic about the old DC and EC horror comics of their youth. It was a surprise hit and remains a classic among horror hounds to this day. Five years later, they made a sequel. Romero took over writing duties (though it was still based on King stories) and Michael Gornick directed. Arrow Video has released a newly restored Blu-ray of the sequel filled with more extras than it deserves. I have very vague memories of seeing the first one on

Finding Dory Blu-ray Combo Review: You Will Believe an Octopus Can Drive

An entertaining film though it suffers from similarities to its predecessor.
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Thirteen years after the smash-hit Finding Nemo, Disney/Pixar returns to the ocean for the sequel Finding Dory, an entertaining film that suffers from similarities to its predecessor. More accurately titled Finding Dory's Parents, the film tells the story of Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a regal blue tang that suffers from severe short-term loss, remembering and seeking out her parents, whom she hasn't seen in years. After a prologue featuring an overwhelmingly adorable, tiny younger version of herself, Dory remembers her parents (Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy) and seeks them out with the help of her friends, the clownfish Nemo (Hayden Rolence)

Time After Time (1979) Blu-ray Review: And Now for Something Completely Different

Nicholas Meyer's quirky sci-fi classic ‒ wherein Jack the Ripper and H.G. Wells travel through time ‒ gets a much-needed makeover from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Imagine, if you will, Jack the Ripper ‒ having just committed his final murder in Victorian London ‒ hopping into a time machine built by H.G. Wells and venturing forth to modern-day (1979) San Francisco, leaving the latter famous figure no choice but to follow him. It's the sort of premise to a motion picture which definitely falls under the category of "something completely different" ‒ so much so, one might theorize the entire concept had been taken from an unfilmed Monty Python sketch. After the success of writer/director Nicholas Meyer's previous movie mashup ‒ the combination of Sherlock Holmes

Body Snatchers (1993) Blu-ray Review: Uneven, But Not Unnecessary

The Warner Archive Collection dusts off filmdom's oddest pod people Invasion yet.
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Imagine a science fiction parable ‒ one for Communism, paranoia, conformity, or whatever ‒ where, should you fall asleep, you will be replaced by an unemotional clone grown from a pod. Sound familiar? Well, of course it does: we've been seeing such shenanigans on-screen since the mid '50s, when the first official adaptation of Jack Finney's The Body Snatchers hit theaters and sent chills up our spines. Since then, we have witnessed a number of bad imitations and three big-screen remakes ‒ the last of which, 2007's big-budgeted dud The Invasion starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, failed to garner

Michael Collins / Man in the Wilderness Blu-ray Reviews: Super Heroes

The Warner Archive Collection brings us both a legendary man and a man of legend in these two High-Def offerings.
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Some things simply go well together, hands down. Things like chocolate and peanut butter, Burt and Loni, and ‒ of course ‒ the fine art of combining totally true stories with complete and utter bullshit. And apart from politics and people on social media who should not be permitted to access the Internet, there is no great force behind blending fact with fiction than Hollywood. And for those of you who can't handle a little truth without a bit of falsehoods being thrown into the fray, these two "true stories" ‒ recently released to Blu-ray from the Warner Archive Collection

The Driller Killer Blu-ray Review: If Looking for a Routine Slasher Film, Look Elsewhere

A misunderstood cult masterpiece of late '70s New York urban squalor.
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New York is argubly the most cinematic city of all-time. It has been filmed by the likes of Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, and Sidney Lumet, among others. On the surface, there is so much life, elegance, and sophistication that comes out of every pore of this most famous of cities. However, there is always a very dark side to every beauty; the dark side that usually goes unnoticed, especially in film. With its authentic ugliness, raw documentary-like atmosphere, and punk-rock insanity, director Abel Ferrara's 1979 notorious masterwork, The Driller Killer, is probably the ultimate depiction of New York's grim underbelly.

The Right Stuff (30th Anniversary Edition) Blu-ray Review: A Real Superhero Movie

A marvelous look at the men who risked their lives to make the impossible possible.
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Based on Tom Wolfe’s award-winning non-fiction book, writer-director Phillip Kaufman’s The Right Stuff is a marvelous look at the men who served the United States, and all of mankind, by risking their lives to make the impossible possible. Black and white archival footage (1.33:1), with new material blended in, helps set the stage that the story we are about to see is based on true events. A narrator (Levon Helm) warns of what’s beyond the known as legend tells of a demon that will kill all comers who challenge it. A fiery crash explodes the image, which is now in

Lone Wolf and Cub Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Manga Comes to Life

Chanbara film series is aided by the screenwriting of the manga series creator, Kazuo Koike.
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As the shogun executioner, Ogami Itto has a comfortable gig until he falls from grace and endures the death of his beloved wife. Facing almost certain death at the hands of his enemies, the dreaded Yagyu clan, he’s forced to flee and gives his toddler son a choice: die at his hand or join him in a life of hardship on the “demon road”. With no home, no money, and no seeming future, the father becomes an assassin for hire and stays on the move, pushing his son around the countryside in a rickety cart from one misadventure to the

Pete's Dragon (2016) Blu-ray Review: A Fine Film If You Simply Change the Name

I would recommend ignoring the title and viewing it as a completely new movie featuring a dragon.
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The original Pete's Dragon (1977) is one of my all-time favorite Disney films. When I heard a remake was in process, I couldn't wait to see it. Unfortunately, the people behind the new film had no idea what made the original so special. Rather than creating a new version of a beloved film, they ended up with something completely unconnected to the original. Five-year-old Pete (Oakes Fegley) is on a road trip with his parents when, in an effort to avoid a deer, they crash the car. His parents are instantly killed and wolves force Pete into the woods where

C.H.U.D. (1984) Blu-ray Review: The A-List B-Grade Latchkey Monster Flick

Arrow Video's two-disc Limited Edition release of this '80s horror flick is worth crawling through a mutant-infested sewer for.
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Like many of the "classic" horror flicks I tend to review, C.H.U.D. first crawled its way out of the manhole and into my life via videocassette. Even then, during that awkward span of existence known as my teenaged years, I couldn't help but shake the feeling there was something equally thorny about the film ‒ and it had absolutely nothing to do with the titular flesh-eating creatures within the picture itself. Rather, the peculiar odor C.H.U.D. emitted was of an entirely different variety of cumbersome: it was almost as if it was simultaneously trying to be something it ultimately wasn't

Hannie Caulder (Olive Signature) Blu-ray Review: Rape, Revenge, and Raquel

There are trappings of the subversive in Burt Kennedy's western, but not their convictions.
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An early entry in the rape-revenge subgenre, Burt Kennedy’s western Hannie Caulder requires you to squint pretty hard to read it as a proto-feminist work. The framework is there — Raquel Welch’s titular character wreaks violent vengeance on a trio of men who raped her — but the details don’t really support it, from the way Kennedy films the rape to the way he portrays her assaulters to the repeated narrative beat where Hannie must rely on a man for help. One could easily argue that Kennedy (who wrote the screenplay using the pen name Z.X. Jones) is more interested

They Were Expendable / She Wore a Yellow Ribbon Blu-ray Reviews: The WAC Duke

Two of the most famous John Ford/John Wayne collaborations make their HD home video debut courtesy the Warner Archive Collection.
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While both names carry around their own amount of (significant) weight, it's almost hard to imagine a John Ford movie without John "The Duke" Wayne ‒ and vice versa. Thankfully, the Warner Archive Collection has been gracious enough to help fans of both classic motion picture greats fill two voids in their High-Definition libraries with new Blu-ray releases of two of their best-known collaborations, They Were Expendable and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. Both films showcase The Duke doing what he did best ‒ giving 'em hell ‒ but is in the first of these individually released titles, MGM's They

Citizen Kane 75th Anniversary Blu-ray Review: One of the Medium's Most Visually Compelling Films

Caveat emptor, it's a reissue of the 70th Anniversary release.
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After a restored DCP master of Citizen Kane played at the 2016 AFI Fest, followed by an AFI Master Class, featuring Peter Bogdanovich and Orson Welles' daughter, Beatrice Welles, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment released a new Blu-ray and DVD to commemorate the film's 75th Anniversary. However, this release has not been struck from the new master, but instead is a reissue of the 70th Anniversary release. Citizen Kane tells the story of Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles), a newspaper tycoon who “helped to change the world” though his detractors declared him a yellow journalist. He became one of the wealthiest

C.H.U.D. Blu-ray Review: Cheesy Happenings, Underwhelming Direction

C.H.U.D. strands a fun premise and surprisingly great cast in a meandering story with few thrills.
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What’s weird about C.H.U.D. is how much it’s like a real movie. An '80s horror flick, it has the feel of one of those '70s movies shockers that doled out the horror pretty sparingly, but spent a lot of time building characters and solidifying its premise. Partly this is because of the New York location shooting. Partly it is because the actors, particularly David Stern and Christopher Curry, rewrote large swatches of the script to turn their cut-outs into real characters. The title is an acronym meaning Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. And it’s not a surprise these C.H.U.D.s are working

The Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast Blu-ray Review: Extensive, Exhausting Exploitation Experience

With 14 movies and hour of extras, this set is all a fan could want (and more than most need.)
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Enormous multi-movie box sets (especially expensive ones) have two real audiences: already devoted fans, and movie buffs who want to get into a director, so they take the plunge all at once. There is, to my mind, no one who will casually purchase a 17-disc, 14-movie set with copious (almost endless) extras, particularly one that retails for a couple hundred bucks. The question, then, for Arrow Video’s extensive (if not entirely exhaustive) Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast is, what is in it, and will it satisfy both the dedicated and the curious? Being curious myself, and not a follower of the

Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze Blu-ray Review: A Hero? Yes. Super? Hell, No.

One of the pulp world's first heroes makes for one of film world's worst zeroes.
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Lately, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has been threatening all of mankind by announcing he is slated to star in one remake after another, including a short-lived, fleeting fantasy of a new version of Big Trouble in Little China and ‒ more recently ‒ the reboot of a footnote in the revised American Superhero book, the Doc Savage franchise. And though no such crimes have been perpetrated as of this writing, I almost think a re-envisioning of Doc Savage is in order. Not necessarily because I would support it (I wouldn't), but because it couldn't possibly be any worse than the

Twilight Time Presents: The Southern Pacific Training Montage

Runaway locomotives, trainspotting hoboes, rail-hopping escapees, and deep-rooted Deep South prides and prejudices highlight this delivery of Blu-ray goods.
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Generally, my attempts at finding a common link between Twilight Time's monthly releases leaves me a lot of room to improvise. In the instance of the label's October 2016 releases, however, I didn't have to delve in too terribly far beneath the surface, especially with titles like Runaway Train, The Train, and Boxcar Bertha staring me right in the face. Combine that with the fact there is an awful lot of Southern drama involved in a large portion of the mix ‒ specifically in The Chase and Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte ‒ and, well, I'm sure you get the idea

Universal Studios Home Entertainment Holiday Gift Guide 2016

From classic tear-jerkers to vintage knee-slappers, these goodies are sure to warm the hearts and tickle the funnybones of movie buffs.
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It's that time of the year once again, videophiles. And with all of the crazy mixed-up offerings 2016 has been pulling on us from the very beginning, there is some considerable comfort to be found in what Universal Studios Home Entertainment has put together for the holiday season. First and foremost is the prospect of you and yours spending a very Marxist Christmas (or perhaps Hanukkah would be more appropriate) with one of the most eagerly awaited Blu-ray box sets for classic comedy lovers everywhere. I speak, of course, of The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection: a three-disc High-Def item

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