Blood Simple 4K UHD Is the Pick of the Week

Blood simple blu ray cover.

I think almost every dedicated and loving cinephile has a favorite film by the Coen Brothers. It may be Fargo, Barton Fink, Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, or A Serious Man, among others. Personally, my hands-down favorite is their delicious and down-right diabolical 1984 directorial debut Blood Simple, which is also one of my favorite films.

The unpredictable hybrid of horror, thriller, and dark humor stars Dan Hedaya as Marty, an unscrumptious Texas bar owner who hires a sweaty (and very sleazy) unnamed private detective (a superbly evil M. Emmet Walsh) to kill his cheating wife Abby (Frances McDormand in her striking film debut) and her lover Ray (Jon Getz). After the detective unexpectedly shoots Marty, he thinks he’s gotten away with a perfect murder and the unearned reward, but since this being a Coen Brothers film (and their first one mind you), things don’t go quite as planned.

This is one nasty and twisty experience that doesn’t have a completely good or bad character. Some characters that you think are going to make it to the end don’t. And, you don’t know if the dead will stay dead. That’s the cunning fun of it all.

Blood Simple was the beginning of one of the greatest oeuvres in the history of cinema. You can see how the themes of morality, betrayal, and capitalism seeped into the Coens later films, but this one really sealed the deal for me when I saw it for the first time several years ago… on YouTube of all places! Even then, I never forgot it. Owning a own copy was a must, and I got it when Criterion answered the cinema call in 2016 with their Blu-ray release.

Making its 4K UHD debut this week, I’m sure the suspense and tension will be increased even further. The supplements aren’t new, but they are still terrific. They include a conversation between cinematography Barry Sonnenfeld and the Coens about the film’s look, featuring Telestrator video illustrations; conversation between author Dave Eggers and the Coens about the film’s production, from inception to release; interviews with composer Carter Burwell, sound editor Skip Lievsay, and actors McDormand and Walsh; and trailers (fund-raising, original, and rerelease). There’s also the amazing essay by novelist and critic Nathaniel Rich.

If you’re a diehard Coen Brothers fan, and looking to make an upgrade, then this new release of the 1984 masterpiece is definitely 100% recommended!

Buy The Criterion Collection’s Blood Simple

Other releases:

Oldboy 4K UHD (Decal Releasing): Park Chan-wook’s 2003 twister modern classic about an ordinary Seoul businessman who is kidnapped and locked in a room for fifteen years. He is later freed and seeks revenge against the mysterious enemy who imprisoned him.

Suitable Flesh: A sexy new horror thriller by Joe Lynch, starring Heather Graham as a psychiatrist who becomes infatuated with one of her young clients claiming to be tormented by an evil spirit possessing his father.

Odds Against Tomorrow (Kino): Robert Wise’s stunning 1959 late film noir about a bigoted ex-con (Robert Ryan) at odds with a reckless gambler (Harry Belafonte) who happens to be his black partner-in-crime after both of them are hired to help rob a bank by a disgraced former police officer (Ed Begley).


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