Recently in Blu-ray

Society Limited Edition Steelbook Blu-ray Review: Body Horror At Its Best

No matter what they paid "Screaming" Mad George for the practical horror effects, they got their money's worth.
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A quick look at our recent history will show plenty of animosity towards the wealthy, the upper classes, and high society. From the Occupy Wall Street movement to Bernie Sanders-style socialism, thousands of people are lining up to protest with cries of “Eat the Rich!” But what if the rich weren't just greedy bastards taking from the poor to make themselves unfathomably more wealthy? What if they truly were evil. What if the rich ate us? Director Brian Yuzna’s 1989 film Society has something to say about that. Young, pretty Bill (Billy Warlock) comes from a wealthy, elite family but

Who'll Stop the Rain (1978) Blu-ray Review: Drugs, Not Hugs

Director Karel Reisz lends a lot of Creedence to this grim and gloomy tale of Dog Soldiers running amok, recently released to Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
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In case you've ever found yourself quoting the fairly famous words of The Dude whenever a song by The Eagles comes on, you'll be happy to know you can get your Creedence Clearwater Revival fill ‒ and then some ‒ in Karel Reisz' gloomy 1978 adult drama, Who'll Stop the Rain. In fact, I think it's safe to say someone overseeing the post-production of this gritty adaptation of Robert Stone's novel Dog Soldiers (not to be confused with the 2002 British werewolf horror film of the same name) was quite the fan of CCR since one-third of the soundtrack is

Inferno (1953) 3D/2D Blu-ray Review: Survival of the Richest

The line between film noir and technicolor melodrama is finely drawn in the sand, as this must-see Twilight Time offering proves.
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While the title may have been used several hundred times over since then, 1953's Inferno is a rare, one-of-a-kind contribution to the film noir genre. And that's mostly because it was filmed in both Technicolor and 3D. Maintaining a delicate balance between noir and melodrama (because that's what happens when you shoot noir in color), this scorching flick from English filmmaker Roy Ward Baker (who would later helm the highly rated Titanic classic A Night to Remember as well as several iconic Hammer horror titles) also sports the unusual distinction of being a survival adventure atop of it all. With

Year of the Comet (1992) Blu-ray Review: It's Twilight Wine Time

Peter Yates' unintentionally hilarious adventure tale will make you want to join a wine club and beat him over the head with it.
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What can you say about a movie where the hero is named Oliver Plexico? Well, frankly, you can say an awful lot about it, actually ‒ especially if the movie you're talking about happens to be Peter Yates' less-than-revered early '90s "magnum oopus", Year of the Comet. According to screenwriter William Goldman, the less-than-lacklustre success his story received from a free screening audience (who, reportedly, got up and left) was attributable solely to the unpaid group's respective distastes for red wine, which is ‒ believe it or not ‒ what this 1992 ode to the romantic comedy adventures of the

Hopscotch Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: The Matthau Supremacy

Matthau plays a disgruntled spy out for comedic payback against his boss.
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Hopscotch is a conundrum. It’s a comedic but still realistic spy movie filmed in the waning days of the terrifying Cold War. It’s a sleek caper that expects us to accept a rumpled, elderly lead actor as the dashing hero. It’s an international jaunt between multiple countries that could have been resolved within Washington, D.C. It’s a throwback that feels like a ‘60s film in spite of its 1980 release date. Inconceivably, it all works, leading to a totally satisfying romp that proves to be just as much fun for viewers as it does for its clearly delighted star. Walter

Ronin (1998) Blu-ray Review: Welcome Back to Cinematic Reality, Kids

Arrow Video revives John Frankenheimer's criminally neglected late '90s gritty crime thriller via a beautiful, all-new 4K scan.
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At one point or another amidst whatever we may have selected (or been selected) for our respective careers, we will fall from grace. Even if you're a great filmmaker like John Frankenheimer. In his heyday, the late director (who passed from this world in 2002, shortly after his final contribution to cinema ‒ an HBO docu-drama ‒ premiered) had crafted several groundbreaking films, from the highly fictionalized (but nevertheless well-made) biopic Birdman of Alcatraz, the must-see WWII locomotive heist classic The Train, as well as one of my personal favorites, the 1962 paranoiac conspiracy Cold War thriller, The Manchurian Candidate.

After the Storm Blu-ray Review: Human Drama is Equally Sad, Sweet

Japanese director Kore-Eda continues career-long streak of touching, humorous and very human dramas.
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The premise sounds like a high-concept, wacky comedy: down on his luck novelist and sometimes private detective follows around his ex-wife to keep tabs on her new boyfriend, while his aging mother engineers a scheme to get the two back together, for the sake of the couple's son. The lead actor even looks the part for broad physical comedy: at 6’2”, Hiroshi Abe literally stands out in any crowd in Japan. But After the Storm was written and directed by Hirokazu Kore-Eda, Japan’s latter day master of the quietly powerful drama. His style is about observing small moments and interactions,

Kung Fu Yoga Blu-ray Review: Jackie Chan Channels His Inner Indiana Jones

Overall, it’s entertaining to watch, the girls are beautiful, and the Bollywood ending was fun.
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Jack (Jackie Chan) is a famous archaeologist teaching in a major Chinese university. While working on a new project, Ashmita (Disha Patani), an Indian professor, comes into his life looking for his help to find a long-forgotten treasure that was held by the royal army but disappeared centuries ago in the Tibetan mountains. Using newly developed technology, Jack’s team manages to find a hidden ice cave that has held the treasure and the army frozen for all these years. But before they can catalog and remove all the treasure, Randall (Sonu Sood), a treasure hunter, and his armed men steal

The Zodiac Killer (1971) Blu-ray Review: Trap Them and Thrill Them

The American Film Genre Archive teams up with Something Weird Video to bring us a quintessential slice of sleazy '70s exploitation filmmaking, paired with a second, rarely-seen serial killer flick.
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Pop quiz, hotshot: How many films can you think of that were made to trap a serial killer? If you find yourself suddenly developing a headache at the mere notion of such a thing having ever taken place, it's probably time you checked out Tom Hanson's creepy low-budget exploitation flick from 1971, The Zodiac Killer. Cranked out on a whim and released less than three weeks after the infamous real life serial killer mailed what would prove to be the last letter for nearly three years, this very loose adaptation of one of the modern world's greatest unsolved mysteries was

Blackenstein (1973) Blu-ray Review: Withstanding the Tests of Taste and Time Alike

Severin Films and Vinegar Syndrome team up to bring us a certifiable guilty pleasure, which is probably most famous due to the unsolved murder of its creator.
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When it comes to connecting with a cult movie enthusiast, the mere mention of the blaxploitation genre can effectively inspire one's ticker to start pumpin' blood ‒ usually to the strains of a funky theme song we have come to adopt as our own over the years. For instance, if you so much as even say "Shaft" to me, you had best be prepared for my best Isaac Hayes impersonation. This also applies to the rarer horror subgenre of urban exploitation features, the best example of which would more than likely be AIP's lovably ridiculous (but still right on track)

Stormy Monday (1988) Blu-ray Review: Young Sean Bean Learns How to Make It Sting

Mike Figgis' impressive feature film debut ‒ also starring Melanie Griffith and Tommy Lee Jones ‒ returns to razzle, dazzle, and jazzle thanks to Arrow Video.
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Years before he found himself Leaving Las Vegas, the one man showmanship of Britain's own Mike Figgis paved the way for the influx of jazzy, sex-fueled neo-noir titles that all-but dominated the film industry in the early '90s with 1988's Stormy Monday. Inspired by the many magnificent gritty crime dramas that emerged from Europe in the '60s and '70s (and filmed his Figgis' hometown of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where Michael Caine's Get Carter was shot), Figgis' self-described "romantic thriller" finds young Sean Bean as a fellow who is desperate enough to do just about anything for work. Fortunately for him, he couldn't

Warlock Collection Blu-ray Review: Satan's Son Starts Franchise

Collects the three loosely connected movies in the Warlock series: one good, one weird, one dreadful.
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Like House II, Warlock was one of those movies that I remember seeing heavily advertised on television as a kid, and it occupied a place of real intrigue in my mind. I was too young to see it in the theater, and as it turns out (though I had no idea at the time) a shake-up at the production company meant that Warlock barely even saw a theatrical release. But the ads, with their canny use of "Carmina Burana" created a space of real menace in my consciousness. This new Blu-ray release, the Warlock Collection, brings all three movies (the

The Intruder (1975) Blu-ray Review: A Lost Regional Horror Film Comes Home to Slay

After 42 years of obscurity, the lost '70s proto-slasher ‒ complete with marquee value guest stars Mickey Rooney, Yvonne De Carlo, and Ted Cassidy ‒ finally gets a chance to see the night.
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Even after one viewing of Chris Robinson's 1975 regional horror flick The Intruder, you can roughly envision what would have befallen the film had it ever made it to cinemas. The frequent releases it would have seen on drive-in double feature programs throughout the rest of the decade, usually under a misleading alias coupled with an equally deceptive ad campaign. The inevitability of falling into the Public Domain, only to be released by every grey-market videocassette label in the '80s, wherein the names of the picture's marquee value stars ‒ Mickey Rooney, Ted Cassidy, and Yvonne De Carlo ‒ would

Who's Crazy? (1966) Blu-ray Review: Come for the Jazz, Stay for It!

Kino Lorber presents this lost avant-garde sensory orgy, featuring actors from the Living Theatre and music by The Ornette Coleman Trio.
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Whereas some films withstand the test of time, others simply get buried by it. And one such example recently emerged from the annals of obscurity in the form of Thomas White and Allan Zion's Who's Crazy? ‒ a ripe slice of avant-garde celluloid from the glorious post-beatnik world of the mid '60s that is perhaps best-known for having never been seen at all. Following a poorly-received debut at Locarno in '65 and a brief screening at Cannes in '66 (this time with some extra added musical accompaniment by Nino Ferrer), the meager, black-and-white U.S./Belgian co-production vanished, leaving a vague, lingering

Beyond the Darkness (Buio Omega) Blu-ray Review: She's a Real Doll

Get stuffed as Severin Films proves a dynamic HD master can make even Joe D'Amato's most notorious schlocker look sharp and polished.
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Of all the Italian horror maestros whose various works I discovered and worshipped as a teenager in the analog era, none stood out quite like the great Aristide Massaccesi did. Best known by his more marketable anglicized alias Joe D'Amato, the late low-budget director/producer/writer/cinematographer/editor of sleazy European exploitation cinema cranked out nearly 200 directorial efforts alone throughout his wild ride on Earth before heading off to the world beyond in 1999. Fortunately, Joe left behind a wide and varied legacy for both the devout and the curious alike, with numerous contributions to every feasible film genre in existence, from westerns

Pulse Blu-ray Review: Loneliness is Hell

Japanese horror doesn't so much scare, but fills you with unnamed dread.
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Horror in the 1980s was all about the slasher - mindless monsters mutilating teenagers in desolate places. With Scream, released in 1996, director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson stabbed the slasher in its cold, dead heart. Scream (and its numerous sequels and countless inspired-bys) satirized slasher films with a self-aware sarcastic mocking. Around this same time, Americans first began discovering (and then remaking) Asian horror in general and Japanese horror in specific. These films neither relied on blood-filled violence (though certainly Japan has its fair share of gore maestros - the films of Takashi Miike come immediately to mind)

Going In Style (2017) Blu-ray Review: Entertainment to Pass the Time

The main cast members are appealing even though their talents aren't being fully utilized.
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Going In Style (2017), a reboot of the 1979 film, takes the struggles of old age and combines them with the financial struggles of the modern age and turns them into a lighthearted comedy. It's entertainment to pass the time, best suited when trying to pick a movie with a large group that has varied cinema interests, like at a family get-together where jokes about pot and one F-bomb are acceptable, and at least most involved can be made interested by the main cast members, who are appealing even though their talents aren't being fully utilized. Joe (Michael Caine) is

The Circle Blu-ray Review: An Interesting Idea with Poor Execution

Just because you have a good cast, it’s no guarantee that you will have a good film.
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Mae Holland (Emma Watson) is a young adult searching for her way in the world. She works as a customer-service operator in a call center. Her parents, Bonnie (Glenne Headly) and Vinnie (Bill Paxton), are struggling to get by while dealing with her father’s MS. But things suddenly begin to look up for her when her good friend Annie (Karen Gillan) contacts her informing her that she pulled some strings and has signed her up for an interview with The Circle, one of the world’s biggest tech companies. Mae impresses her interviewer and immediately goes to work. It’s essentially the

Free Fire Blu-ray Review: Pride and Stupidity Cometh Before the Fall

A hysterical showdown between gangs that couldn't shoot straight.
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Ben Wheatley's Free Fire is a hysterical shoot-'em up destined for cult status, because this slightly gruesome, black comedy is not for everyone. The story centers around a gun deal in '70s Boston between two IRA members, Chris (Cillian Murphy) and Frank (Michael Smiley), South African weapons dealer Vernon (Sharlto Copley), their respective associates, and a couple of facilitators, like Justine (Brie Larson). Unfortunately for them (and lucky for us), her presence is unable to counteract all the testosterone. Tensions are continually on the rise, from the misunderstanding of smug Ord's (Armie Hammer) sense of humor to the wrong rifles

36 Hours (1964) Blu-ray Review: Captivating Wartime Espionage

James Garner finds himself right in the middle of a dirty Nazi trick in this taut WWII thriller from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Imagine waking up one day, only to discover five years have passed and your memory isn't what it used to be. No, it's not another melodrama about people suffering from Alzheimer's. Rather, that is the heart of a nifty Nazi conspiracy in George Seaton's 1964 World War II thriller 36 Hours. Here, the late great James Garner stars as an American intelligence officer who ‒ after attending a top-secret briefing about the forthcoming Invasion of Normandy ‒ heads off to Lisbon to meet an informant. Alas, he doesn't make it that far. Kidnapped by Der Führer's men, our hero instead

Terror in a Texas Town (1958) Blu-ray Review: The Dark Side of the West

Arrow Academy releases Joseph H. Lewis' wonderful western/film noir hybrid, which features Sterling Hayden as a Swedish sailor who brings a whaling harpoon to a gunfight.
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Though he mostly helmed B-grade crime dramas, Saturday matinee western oaters, and early entries in what would eventually become a part of The Bowery Boys legacy, director Joseph H. Lewis nevertheless made several notable contributions to the world of film noir. One such title was 1950's Gun Crazy, which writer Dalton Trumbo was forced to employ a front for due to the fact he had been blacklisted by the McCarthy Era witch hunts. Appropriately, the writer and director would pair once more in 1958 for Lewis' final theatrical film: a nifty little B-grade western film noir sporting a parallel or

The Rounders (1965) Blu-ray Review: Glenn Ford. Henry Fonda. 'Nuff Said.

The Warner Archive Collection wrangles up a classic western comedy starring two of filmdom's greatest cowboys.
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The Rounders is the sort of film that made a bigger impression on the public than anyone had anticipated. Originally released on the tail end of a double feature ‒ a spot generally reserved for movies nobody expected much from ‒ the 1965 cowboy comedy starring the unbeatable pairing of western icons Glenn Ford and Henry Fonda garnered enough attention to launch a prequel TV series starring Ron Hayes and Patrick Wayne. But whereas the television version was doomed to failure (as was just about any project starring Ron Hayes or Patrick Wayne), this adaptation of Max Evans' 1960 novel

Twilight Time Presents: Riches, Fortunes, Millions, and Women

Four classics ranging from comedic capers to World War II musicals to soul-stirring Woody Allen dramas make their HD home video debut.
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Luck. Timing. Fate. Coincidence. Good or bad, they're all on display here in this quartet of catalog classics now available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time, beginning with a once-timeless expression which the essential oil and mustache wax-obsessed entrepreneurial youth of today could do with a reminder of: You'll Never Get Rich. Granted, times have changed just slightly since this black-and-white wartime musical comedy first premiered in 1941 ‒ beginning with the more than immediately noticeable observation that they just don't make black-and-white wartime musical comedies anymore for some reason. Featuring songs by the legendary Cole Porter himself, You'll Never Get

S.O.B. (1981) Blu-ray Review: Julie Andrews' Most Revealing Role

The Warner Archive Collection releases Blake Edwards' bitingly funny stab at Hollywood, featuring his famous wife's only nude scene.
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For a film director, there surely can be no greater blow to the ego than to have your work re-edited without your consent. In fact, studio interference has had dire consequences in the allegedly "magical" world of motion pictures, resulting in vastly talented filmmakers being reduced to little more than mystical scapegoats when things don't go the way the people who screwed everything up had hoped for (also see: Politics). There have even been unforgivably unfortunate moments in Tinseltown history where directors have committed suicide after things didn't quite work out in the favor of the businessmen who thought they

The Gumball Rally Blu-ray Review: An Amusing Racing Movie

The Warner Archive's Blu-ray delivers quality video and good audio.
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Auto enthusiast and writer Brock Yates conceived the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, an unsanctioned cross country race. He tried to turn the idea into a movie, which he did with The Cannonball Run (1981) but a few films beat him to release, including The Gumball Rally, which has been given a Blu-ray release from the Warner Archive Collection. Bored candy executive Steve Bannon (Michael Sarrazin) sets in motion The Gumball Rally, an illegal 2,900-mile race that starts in Manhattan, New York and ends in Long Beach, CA, which he won the previous year. There are 11 different vehicles

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (Criterion Collection) Blu-ray Review: A Stealth Double Feature

This release allows viewers to see Hitchcock at the early stage of career on his way to becoming a legendary director.
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The Criterion Collection's release of Alfred Hitchcock's third feature, The Lodger (1927), is actually a stealth double feature of Hitchcock and actor Ivor Novello as it includes their film Downhill (1927) as an extra. The Lodger, considered the first “Hitchcock” film, even by the man himself, tells of a mystery revolving around a serial killer working the streets of London. It has many story and visual elements that populate Hitchcock's filmography. Based on the novel of the same name by Marie Belloc Lowndes, the film opens, a young woman found murdered along the river. She is the seventh golden-haired victim

Doberman Cop (1977) Blu-ray Review: Sonny Chiba Does It Doggy Style

Arrow Video unleashes a truly mind-blowing 1970s exploitation action-comedy equivalent to fusion cuisine starring the larger-than-life Shin'ichi Chiba.
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An unconventional policeman from the boonies travels to the big city to help out on a case, complete with a pet pig in tow. No, it's not the beginning of another Italian cop comedy starring Terence Hill. Rather, this particular picture marked both the beginning and the end of two distinctively different eras in Japanese cinema. After maybe overdoing the yakuza genre just a tad throughout the '70s, the film industry in Japan started to explore different options. And if there is one good word which may be employed in a noble effort to accurately describe all of the sights

Zaza (1923) Blu-ray Review: Swanson's Spitfire Star Turn

Gloria Swanson stars as a singing star who just wants her man in this silent comedy melodrama.
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It's hard to get around the fact that, for a modern movie viewer, silent movies are a lot of extra work. Even for a viewer more used to enjoying silents than most, it can be extra taxing to pay attention without audio cues. For some genres this can ultimately is a bonus - fantasy and horror silents tend to have a dream-like quality that makes the material extra-effective. For comedies and melodramas, it can be a lot iffier. Zaza, a 1923 comedy that morphs into a melodrama, is an odd duck in any case for a modern viewer. First, there's

The Fate of the Furious Blu-ray Review: The Franchise Gets a Much-Needed Jump Start

Fate looks good for the F&F family and for fans.
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The Fate opens with the series returning to its roots. Dom (Vin Diesel) gets involved in a race on the streets of Havana standing up for his cousin Fernando. The audience's senses become engaged with bright colors, loud sounds, and beautiful bodies, as the cars race through the streets of Cuba in an intense action sequence that gets wilder by the minute. While walking the streets alone, Dom plays the Good Samaritan to a woman with car trouble, only she turns out to be the notorious cyber-terrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron), who mysteriously gets Dom to work for her and turn

Their Finest Blu-ray Review: One of the Year's Finest Films

One of the year's best movies looks to get a new audience on a wonderful Blu-ray.
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It's always disheartening to see a movie fail to capture audience's attentions like it should. And whether you believe 2017 has already presented some incredible films, or the worst, it's impossible to make a decision without seeing Their Finest. Lone Scherfig's tale of perserverance is both a love letter to WWII-era production in Britain, as well as a blistering condemnation of the double standards, in film and life, that are just as fresh today as they were in the '40s. Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) is struggling to make ends meet for her and her husband. She takes what she presumes

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