Blu-ray Highlights: Week of October 11th, 2015 – The Fault in Our Backyards

For a holiday week (admittedly, a minor holiday), the Blu-ray release schedule is surprisingly packed with new discs this week. Just looking at the huge list makes my eyes glaze over. How can we pick out the few titles possibly worth buying?

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (10/13/15)?

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New Releases

San Andreas‘ – In the event that the biggest earthquake in history finally tears California right off the mainland coast, I should hope that Dwayne Johnson would not abandon his duties as an emergency rescue pilot and steal an invaluable rescue chopper in order to go save his own wife and daughter but nobody else. What a jerk. How many innocent victims will needlessly die because of his actions? If you play the Blu-ray too loud and its thunderous Dolby Atmos soundtrack shakes your house apart, don’t expect The Rock to dig you out. He’ll be too busy with his own stuff for that.

Tomorrowland‘ – This year’s ‘John Carter’, former Pixar animator Brad Bird tries his hand at live action again (after the far more successful ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’) and delivers a big dud. Perhaps not every Disney theme park attraction needs its own feature film? (My apologies if you’ve been waiting with baited breath to learn the thrilling backstory behind the Tea Cups.) Not even George Clooney’s star power could get people into theaters this time. Damon Lindelof’s name in the credits probably didn’t help. Consensus from those who did see it is that the movie’s not terrible but also not great. Our expectations for Brad Bird are higher than that.

Dope‘ – The key to making a movie that will be a big hit at Sundance is pretty simple: Just tell a coming-of-age story about social misfits with some weird obsession or affectation. It works every time. Although the story is set in the present day, the trio of kids featured here are fixated on 1990s hip-hop and pop culture – fade haircuts, Will Smith’s music career, the works. Then they get tied up in some dangerous business involving a local drug dealer. ‘Cuz, see, the title ‘Dope’ has two meanings. I probably shouldn’t be so dismissive, but I remember the ’90s and am happy to leave them behind me.

The Gallows ‘ – Found-footage horror flick about idiot teens who get stalked and chased by something evil when they break into their high school after hours. Probably serves them right.

Call Me Lucky‘ – Bobcat Goldthwait makes a documentary about his friend Barry Crimmins, an acerbic yet little-known stand-up comic who became a prominent activist against child abuse. Is it supposed to be funny or depressing? I can’t tell.

Catalog Titles

I’ve had the UK SteelBook edition of Disney’s ‘Aladdin‘ for a couple years already. I’m not sure what took so long to bring the movie to Blu-ray on these shores. To make up for the delay, the disc’s soundtrack has been upgraded to DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (formerly 5.1) and it adds some new bonus features.

David Cronenberg’s early horror feature ‘The Brood‘ crawls into the Criterion Collection this week. Also getting inducted is ‘A Special Day‘, a 1977 Italian drama starring the great Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren.

Twilight Time prepares for Halloween with the horror movies ‘Count Yorga, Vampire‘ and ‘Scream and Scream Again‘, plus the horror spoof ‘Strange Invaders‘. Bob Rafelson’s ‘Black Widow‘ is more thriller than horror flick, but involves a serial murderess, so it fits the theme well enough. On the other hand, the noir-ish Denzel Washington mystery ‘Devil in a Blue Dress‘ has nothing horrific in it at all. Did someone at the label get confused by the word “devil” in the title?

If you buy the Twilight Time copy of ‘Count Yorga’, Scream Factory hopes that you’ll find some room in your budget for the sequel ‘The Return of Count Yorga‘ as well.

Widely regarded as one of the worst movies ever made, ‘Manos: The Hands of Fate‘ is probably best remembered for being featured in the most popular episode of ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’. Recently, a fan discovered the original 16mm negative and painstakingly restored the film’s grungy photography to the limits of its possible quality. Now that restoration is proudly presented on Blu-ray by Synapse.

As if that weren’t terrifying enough, Synapse also offers a 20th Anniversary Edition of the mutant bug chiller ‘Mosquito‘. I have no memory at all of this movie being released in 1995. Is that just me?

The 2007 Blu-ray release of Tim Burton’s ‘Edward Scissorhands‘ had some pretty underwhelming video quality. Fox promises to rectify that with a newly remastered video transfer for the 25th Anniversary Edition.

On the other hand, Fox does not appear to have remastered any of the films in the goofily-packaged Nakatomi Plaza edition of the ‘Die Hard Collection‘, even though the first movie is known to have undergone a new 4k film scan a couple years ago which has never shown up on home video. What’s the hold-up with that?

Don’t expect anything new from the latest reissues of the ‘Star Wars‘ saga either, other than UltraViolet Digital Copies and new packaging (including SteelBook versions).

Among Warner’s latest batch of titles are the hilarious Trey Parker/Matt Stone marionette satire ‘Team America: World Police‘, Peter Weir’s Oscar-nominated drama ‘Witness‘, Ridley Scott’s con-artist caper ‘Matchstick Men‘, Clint Eastwood’s prison-break thriller ‘Escape from Alcatraz‘, and the dopey disaster flick ‘The Core‘.

Getting the jump on Pixar’s upcoming feature ‘The Good Dinosaur’, Universal would like to remind you that ‘The Land Before Time‘ was once a thing that kids cared about.

After that, Universal gets its JCVD on with ‘Hard Target‘ and ‘Sudden Death‘. For some reason, the studio felt that Ron Howard’s ghastly eye-sore adaptation of ‘Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas‘ was worth reissuing. (I believe it’s even been remastered.)

I know that I saw director Wolfgang Petersen’s Hitchcockian amnesiac thriller ‘Shattered‘ in the theater back in 1991, but the only thing I remember from it is the elaborate car crash set-piece that happens near the beginning of the film. I’m sure that scene probably doesn’t hold up. Bob Hoskins was in this? I have no memory of that. The movie was part of a spate of overheated suspense thrillers from that time period. Like most of the others, it probably hasn’t aged well.

If you happen to be in the mood for some Old West action, Paramount brings us the James Stewart classic ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance‘, while Arrow has the Spaghetti Western ‘Requiescant‘.


It’s a big time for TV series closure on Blu-ray this week. Lionsgate finished off ‘Mad Men‘ with the final season or a Complete Series package. Warner does the same for ‘The Following‘. Meanwhile, Sony bundles together the full run of ‘Justified‘, and Universal tries to drum up some interest in the new reboot by reissuing the original run of ‘Heroes‘.

Bates Motel‘ has been renewed for two more seasons. If you missed Season 3 during broadcast, now’s a good time to catch up.

PBS commemorates Ken Burns’ epic documentary ‘The Civil War‘ with a 25th Anniversary Edition that remasters all 12 hours into high-definition from a new 4k scan of the camera negative.

My $.02

If I didn’t already own import copies of ‘Aladdin’ and ‘Team America’, I’d certainly jump all over those. I would like to see if the domestic copy of the latter is an improvement over the mediocre import.

I’m pretty excited to see Cronenberg’s ‘The Brood’ enter the Criterion Collection. That will go on my wish list along with ‘Witness’, ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’ and ‘Edward Scissorhands’.

I expect that I will just wait to watch ‘Tomorrowland’ when it eventually hits cable.

I’m sure that I’ve probably missed something interesting buried in the huge release slate this week. Tell me what caught your eye.


  1. William Henley

    The only movie I had preordered was Tomorrowland. In my opinion, it was the best movie of the year! Can’t wait to watch it again when it arrives from the UK (can’t remember why I ordered the UK import, my guess is either 3D or steelbook).

    I will probably pick up The Grinch. I only had it on HD-DVD before.

    Land Before Time is tempting. I loved this movie as a kid. If I can get it for a good price, then I will pick it up.

    Debating on Aladdin. I have the UK import unopened, but after reading the reviews here and at other sites about the upgraded audio, I am tempted to pick this up.

    Also debating on the Aladdin sequels. Return of Jaffar was awful, but King of Thieves was fun.

    • William Henley

      Does anyone know if there is any difference between the US release and the UK release of Team America? I got the UK Steelbook, but it was a barebones release with a subpar transfer

      • William Henley

        Saw a review on another site that said it is EXACTLY the same as the UK disc – same transfer, same language options, same lack of extras.

        • Deaditelord

          That’s what I’ve heard as well William. No extras, no unrated cut of the movie, same transfer as the UK disc. Only reason I’m buying Team Americ (other than the fact that I love the movie) is that it’s under $10.

    • Todd

      Glad someone shares my love for Tomorrowland! I wouldn’t go as far as best of the year, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Preordered it as soon as I could.

      • William Henley

        I think its going to be this generation’s Tron. In 15-20 years, people will finally look back on it and realize how great of a movie it is

  2. Nathan

    Target has steelbooks for San Andreas and Edward Scissorhands for anyone who collects them. The Edward Scissorhands one is probably one I’ll pick up

  3. I’ve been waiting for Aladdin for a long time, so I’m happy about that. I wish they would’ve left the aspect ratio at 1:66 like the dvd. Minor gripe. I’m not a big fan of catastrophe flicks, unless it involves giant creatures or aliens. I’m not the biggest fan of The Rock either, but I am a big fan of 3D, so I will be getting this. I bet it’ll look and sound good. I love The Land Before Time, but I’d be surprised to find it in stores. I’m wondering how much work went into the bluray. Maybe I’ll wait for some reviews. Hard Target with JCVD sporting a wet mullet is right up my alley. I bet its even worse than I remeber. Sudden Death was alot of fun in theatres, but I haven’t seen it since. This will be a wish list title. Manos and Mosquito might be fun, but at a later time. Scream and Scream Again will go on my wish list. I have a digital copy of Matchstick Men in my Vudu account, but I’d like to pick up a physical copy of this. Edward Scissorhands brings back great memories and am interested in checking out a fresh master for it. The Brood looks like some interesting early Cronenberg. This one and Rabid have been on my radar for a long time.

    • Josh Zyber

      The Aladdin: Return of Jafar/King of Thieves double-feature was announced as a Disney Movie Club exclusive for 10/13. However, I don’t see a listing for it on the DMC site right now. I don’t know if that means it was postponed or canceled or if it’s just a site glitch.

      • Elizabeth

        They’re available for purchase on digital only sites like Amazon Instant Video and Vudu. Amazon is offering an $18 credit to buy the other sequel when you buy one of them (although they’re $19.99 each so you’ll end up paying $1.99 for the second film). Or Vudu bundles them together for $19.99 (they’re also willing to let you spend $19.99 for just one if you’re completely opposed to owning both of them). Vudu has them both listed as “Early Digital Release.”

        I guess it’s another way for Disney to screw Blu-Ray owners that they started when they stopped putting 3D movies on discs.

        • William Henley

          I’m willing to bet Disney is thinking it won’t sell well. The second film was a dud. The third film was better, on par with the television series, but I don’t know how well it sold considering how badly the second one was received. I am sure Disney considered going the digital-only route to save money on manufactoring, distribution and marketing.

        • Deaditelord

          Are you sure about Disney is no longer including 3D with their films? I thought Inside Out was going to be made available in 3D.

          • Josh Zyber

            Both Pixar and Marvel are exempt from Disney’s “No 3D on Blu-ray” rule. Although part of the same parent company, those two divisions are managed separately and can still make their own decisions.

            The Walt Disney Studios division has dropped 3D on Blu-ray in the North American market, but still releases 3D Blu-rays in foreign territories, including Europe. In North America, the 3D versions of its movies are exclusively available via streaming, not disc.

          • CC

            Get a region free 3D Blu ray player ($150) and you can have all the 3D Disney films from their UK releases (or whatever territory!). Worth the investment IN SPADES! Region free is the only way to fly!

          • William Henley

            Agree with CC here. If it wasn’t for Region Free players, I would be suffering with 2D Frozen!

          • Trond Michelsen

            Is there really need for a region free player? I though all the Disney animated blu-rays, even european ones, were region free

      • BSTNFAN

        I didn’t think of DMC. They have a few exclusives now, so if this comes available I might consider it. I was hoping some of the exclusives would show up in the DMR.

      • Elizabeth

        It’s back up on the Disney Movie Club site, but it’s not being release January 5, 2016. That’s a heck of long window of exclusivity for digital distribution considering those are 2nd tier movies at best.

  4. Lord Bowler

    I’ll be picking up:

    ‘Shattered’ – A great mystery movie starring Tom Berenger and Bob Hoskins

    The great John Wayne picture ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’

    and the Van Damme classics If, I hadn’t already picked up the 5-Movie Van Damme collection on Blu-Ray which included these two:
    ‘Sudden Death’ and ‘Hard Target’

    I was tempted for ‘The Land Before Time’ because I loved it as a kid, but I’ll wait on that one.

  5. ‘THE LAND BEFORE TIME’!!!!!! My favourite animated movie of all time! I hope-hope-hope-hope Universal did something worthwhile (new transfer? finally some behind the scenes extras? an audio commentary with Don Bluth while he’s still alive??!) but I’m not holding my breath. This movie needs more love from the studio. Why can’t Spielberg rectify the sad home video history this title has had so far? The DVD was even full screen, argh?!

  6. Timcharger

    Josh, that pic of the Rock isn’t from San Andreas.
    It’s from one of the Fast & Furious films. Furious 6 maybe?

    So I’ll be receiving the No-Prize in the mail within 2 weeks?

  7. Chris B

    I’ll be picking up The Brood next month.

    Planning on asking for Aladdin as a Christmas gift. I’m really looking forward to showing it to my daughter, I’m not the biggest Disney guy out there but that one has always been my favorite.

    Being a big fan of 90’s hip-hop I’ll prolly end up renting Dope in the near future.

    I’ll wait for Tommorowland and San Andreas to show up on Netflix.

    I’d like to pick up Recquiescant but once again Arrow’s prices are making me hesitant (it’s currently listed at $50.40 on

  8. Deaditelord

    Josh that really sucks that Fox isn’t updating the transfers for the Die Hard films. It would make buying this new box set a much easier decision. Instead now I have to decide if I want to buy all the movies again just for the unrated version of Live Free or Die Hard (which is what I’ve always wanted). I guess I’m going to hold out for now in the hopes that the unrated version of the movie is released separately.

    Although I don’t care for the fact that the release is bare-bones and hasn’t been remastered at all, I’m still going to buy Team America because I love the movie. Aladdin is petty much a no-brainer purchase as well and I’ll probably pick up Hard Target as it’s one of my favorite JCVD films. Part of me all wants to experience Manos since I’m a huge fan of MST3k, but I think I’ll just settle on streaming it since I remember how difficult it was just to get through the MST version of the movie.

  9. Scott H

    Unfortunately, though I’m interested in a lot of releases this month, November and December. I’m on a blu-ray buying ban till after Christmas cause I purchased Age of Ultron when unbeknownst to me, I shouldn’t have. Because my wife had been told by her parents not to let me buy it cause they had bought it for me for Xmas. Luckily I can keep it. But no more buying for me till January. 😕😐

  10. Could potentially be a very expensive week. Some of these are must buy this week, some can wait, some I will seek the import version. So, here’s a rundown;
    Already bought: Aladdin, My Little Pony, Land Before Time.
    Will likely get by week’s end: San Andreas 3D, Tomorrowland
    On the standby list: Class of Nukem High 3, The Core, Escape From Alcatraz, Edward Scissorhands, The Gallows, Hard Target, Mosquito, Die Hard Nakatomi Collection, Sudden Death.
    And finally – will seek out the import to Dragon Nest – Warriors’ Dawn as the U.S. version is not offered in 3D. Universal learning from Disney?

  11. Everybody with enough cash to spare should buy ‘Una Giornata Particolare’ with Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren today. It’s super, super touching and beautiful. At a certain moment, Mastroianni starts shouting in the hallway. All his frustrations come gulping out. Powerful stuff. Tissues needed.

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