Blu-ray Highlights: Week of April 19th, 2015 – And Eat It Too

A disappointing entry in a faltering action franchise and a failed attempt at Oscar bait headline the latest batch of new Blu-ray releases. If you’re a fan of 1980s cult movies, however, this could be a big week for you.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (4/21/15)?

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New Releases

Taken 3‘ – The name of this franchise grows increasingly inaccurate with each sequel. In the latest (and supposedly last) entry, nobody gets taken at all. Instead, Liam Neeson gets framed for his wife’s murder and has to remake ‘The Fugitive’ to clear his name – just with way more shooting and explosions. Even fans of the first two (or, more accurately, fans of the first one who tolerated the second) found Part 3 to be lazy and incoherently plotted.

Cake‘ – When a famously beautiful Hollywood star plays frumpy and depressed in a low-budget indie drama, you know she must be angling for an Oscar nomination. Sadly, that strategy didn’t work for Jennifer Aniston this year (though she did get a Golden Globe nod). Julianne Moore had better luck in ‘Still Alice’. From what I hear, aside from the lead performances, neither movie is particularly good.

Everly‘ – Salma Hayek mows down assassins with a machine gun. That’s about the extent of what I know about this thriller from ‘Knights of Badassdom’ director Joe Lynch, but he got my attention with that.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night‘ – Talk about high-concept. This black-and-white Iranian horror drama (actually shot in Los Angeles doubling as Tehran) follows a silent female vampire from the 1980s who feasts on the blood of men that abuse women. In his theatrical review, Phil said, “The film has an undeniable sense of cool mixed together with pain, politics, horror and humor in just the right doses.” That sounds pretty fascinating to me.

Catalog Titles

The Criterion Collection generally releases Blu-rays in twos, but this week only offers Jean Renoir’s ‘The River‘, a coming-of-age drama about a teenage British girl living in India. The film is reported to be a favorite of both Martin Scorsese and Wes Anderson, one or the other of whom no doubt nudged Criterion into releasing it.

The Warner Archive busts out into song with the classic musical ‘42nd Street‘, featuring dance numbers by Busby Berkeley.

The 1994 drama ‘Blue Sky‘ was the final film by Oscar-winning director Tony Richardson (‘Tom Jones’), but actually sat on the studio shelf for three years after Richardson’s death. Scuttlebutt at the time of its release was that star Jessica Lange had feuded with the director and pressured the studio to re-edit the movie to give her character more screen time. The ploy apparently worked, as Lange eventually got a Best Actress Oscar out of it, even though the movie itself has generally been forgotten in the meantime.

MGM previously released John Carpenter’s dystopian sci-fi action classic ‘Escape from New Yorkback in 2010 in a stripped-down Blu-ray with no bonus features (even though the older DVD had a bunch) and an overly-dark video transfer. Shout! Factory promises to correct those wrongs with a new Collector’s Edition reissue that will hopefully finally put an end to fans’ grumbling.

Bust a move! Also available from Shout! Factory is a double-feature of the ’80s hip hop dance-fests ‘Breakin’‘ and ‘Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo‘. Let’s be honest here, the only reason these movies are remembered at all is for the sequel’s hilariously goofy title, which has since transcended its origin and become a meme used to refer to any pointless sequel.

Speaking of hilariously goofy, that was the stock-in-trade of schlock producer Charles Band. Shout!’s Scream Factory label gives us a double-bill of his campy tiny-demon horror comedy ‘Ghoulies‘ and its first sequel. (Four of these were made in all.)

Arrow Video treats the vintage Euro-sleaze ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne‘ with the type of loving reverence you’d expect out of a Criterion Collection or Masters of Cinema.[Looks like this has been delayed to May 12th.]

It seems that those Troma Blu-rays for ‘The Toxic Avenger II‘ and ‘Class of Nuke ‘Em High II‘ I mentioned last week were actually pushed back to this week.

Nyuk! Nyuk! Nyuk! Mill Creek has a couple volumes of classic ‘Three Stooges‘ features.

Chuck Norris and Louis Gossett play low-rent Indiana Jones wannabes in ‘Firewalker‘.

Just when you’d forgotten that Pauly Shore ever existed, Olive Films has to go dredge up ‘Bio-Dome‘. Yes, ‘Bio-Dome’ is really on Blu-ray now while ‘The Magnificent Ambersons’ isn’t. Think about that.

Television

From Across the Pond come the first season of the Arctic thriller ‘Fortitude‘ and the second for ‘The Musketeers‘.

HBO keeps on ‘Getting On‘ with the second season of that nursing home dramedy.

My $.02

The only disc I actually plan to buy this week is the ‘Escape from New York’ reissue, though I might rent ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’ someday.

What will you do with your dollars?

19 comments

  1. William Henley

    I preordered Teen Titans Go. Now I can free up some space on my Tivo (its sad when your TIVO has a 3TB harddrive, you have only had it for three months, and its 77% full, and that is AFTER replacing many recordings with the streaming versions now that One Pass is out. I got to clear off some shows).

    I may also pick up The Three Stooges, but really want to see a review.

  2. Lord Bowler

    The only movie I may pick up is ‘Firewalker’.

    I love this movie, it is a great action film, with some great comedic moments. Great chemistry between Gossett, Jr. and Norris. It’s been very expensive when you can find it on DVD, so I hope this release is good on Blu-Ray.

    • Chris B

      I totally forgot about Firewalker until
      Just now. I remember seeing it on Fox on a Saturday afternoon in the early 90’s and loving it. Gosset is so underrated IMHO.

      • Lord Bowler

        I concur… I still enjoy the Iron Eagle films. And of course, the great Enemy Mine.

        I want to see the new Bad Ass films because Gossett Jr. has joined the franchise with Trejo. Haven’t seen him in anything in awhile.

        • Chris B

          He was also the best thing about the original Punisher movie with Dolph Lundgren. I’m not sure if that movie has even had a domestic blu ray release, all the copies I’ve seen online to buy are imports unfortunately.

          • William Henley

            Group of teenagers take over air force base, steal an f-16, teenage kid flies it overseas (and at no time is intercepted by the US Air Force or any other military branch) to the Middle East into enemy terrritory, single-handedly attacks enemy outposts in a country the US has not declaired war with, rescues dad, flies back home, and instead of being sent to federal prison, he gets sent to the Air Force Academy. Yeah, totally believable.

            Still love that movie, though

  3. Hopefully this will be my final week of restrained bluray purchases. I am very interested in Escape From New York, but was not at all impressed with the screen caps I saw. It seems to be brighter, but detail didnt really seem any better. Maybe it’ll look better in motion, but I feel the color correction work (or lack therof) is not accurate. I’ll probably get it anyway for the bonus material and original onesheet art. I really wish Shout would step up their game for restoring some of these movies. Escape From New York isn’t that great of a movie, but it’s a very important cult movie and I wish Synapse or Blue Underground would of got their hands on it for restoration. The only thing I remeber about Ghoulies is that while I was watching it, The Challenger tragedy happened, I could look out my window and see that big ominous cloud linger for hours. Ghoulies 2 I used to love, the giant ghoulie and the carnival setting is what I remeber most. Taken 3 will be a rental when available, the Troma titles will be future purchases. Everly is tempting at such a low price, but maybe I’ll redbox or see if Netflix gets it quick.

    • Chris B

      I dunno man I think Shout has done a great job with all over the other stuff in Carpenter’s catalog, are there any discs in particular you feel like they dropped the ball on?

      • Yes. The Amityville trilogy. The first movie. MGM had put out a blu of that one years earlier and Shouts/Scream’s version looks about the same detail wise, but is covered with dirt, speckles and print damage, meanwhile the MGM version is clean. Terror Train is another release that my brother picked up and when he brought it over, I compared the dvd to his blu and there was very little improvement in the image. That one also had a lot of white speckles. Pumpkinhead 2 looks pretty good, but the blue filters that were used in some of the night scenes are not present on the Scream version. I have been pretty happy with the Carpenter releases as far as improvement over the DVDs. I very much agree with you on Vampires getting the bluray treatment. They need to release it immediately! I love that Shout Factory puts out a ton of movies from my childhood that maybe don’t even deserve the bluray treatment ( it seems as Kino has taken a lesson and is scrounging up all the ninja and action flicks from that era as well) but for a higher profile release like EFNY, they should step it up a little more. I’m pretty happy with my MGM blu of EFNY as far as picture goes. All memories I have of watching it are that it’s a dark movie. Isn’t Dean Cundey known for shooting very dark at times? The screengrab that really bothers me with the new transfer is the one by the helicopter where it looks like dusk, but the new transfer looks like 9:00am. I guess seeing it in motion will be the best way to determine if i like this new look. I wonder if the audio commentary with Cundey will address the look of this transfer. Like I stated earlier, I’ll probably pick this one up sooner rather than later.

        • Chris B

          Yeah to be fair I haven’t seen their Amityville disc or Terror Train. I’ve seen a few others besides the J.C stuff (Nightbreed, The Shadow etc.) and they’ve all looked pretty damn good. Leviathan was admittedly pretty weak and I hate that they re-used the transfer for Darkman that was just cheap. I agree that EFNY was always a dark movie, but sometimes it was hard to even see what was going on, it seemed opressively dark on the old blu. The new transfer seems like it could
          be overly bright, but most computer moniters aren’t calibrated and can make everything seem that way. I’m not sure if Cundey had anything to do with the new transfer itself, whether the brightness or contrast levels or the colour timing. I know what you mean about the helicopter shot though…my fingers are crossed. And yeah, I don’t understand all the hatred Vampires gets…Woods is such a BAMF in it.

  4. Chris B

    Picking up Escape From New York tommorow, although I already own the movie on several formats, the new cover artwork is so killer and like Josh mentioned, the previously blu-ray was dark to a fault. Really interested to see the new transfer as well. I was conparing shots on caps-a-holic last night and the two blus seem radically different….maybe to a fault? I’ll put my faith in Shout! though, their previous Carpenter discs have all looked pretty great. Now hopefully they’ll get around to releasing “Vampires” in the near future.

  5. Deaditelord

    Escape from New York and the Troma titles I may rent at some point, but otherwise for the first week in a long time I can honestly say I’m not buying anything. On the plus side, the lack of blu-ray releases means more time spent this week playing Bloodborne! 🙂

  6. frankie

    I only buy blu rays for the killer artwork. I don’t actually watch them or see the artwork on the shelf, but hey……I’m a sucker for killer artwork.

  7. Funny, Phil even namedrops the ‘Electric Boogaloo’ meme in his ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night’ review:

    “Essentially, this is another Jarmusch-style vampire movie, but thankfully one with enough else going on that it can’t merely be dismissed as ‘Only Lovers Left Alive 2: Vampire Boogaloo’.”

  8. Based on the review on HDD, I will possibly pick up Everly. Ignoring the title, Taken 3 might sound like a decent blast em fest as well, and if Josh says it’s The Fugitive yet once again, that’s okay too.
    Maybes (if not, will put near top of wishlist) – Breakin 1 & 2, Ghoulies 1 & 2, Escape from NY.
    Wish List, meaning not this week but still if the opportunity strikes: Cell Count, Deep in the Darkness, Firewalker, Pete Walker Collection.

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