Blu-ray Highlights: Week of October 25th, 2015 – Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?

It stands to reason that the week leading up to Halloween will find a lot of horror movies released on Blu-ray. What’s perhaps surprising this year is the breadth of other films, including several really appealing titles (all catalog product), available at the same time.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (10/27/15)?

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New Releases

Unfortunately, the latest day-and-date titles are a bunch of crap, but let’s get them out of the way first.

Pixels‘ – The real shame here is that the movie actually has a pretty clever premise: Aliens invade Earth by taking the form of classic videogame characters (Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, etc.), and the only people who can stop them are old-school arcade champions. The short film it’s based on is fairly clever. How the hell this wound up in the hands of Adam Sandler and his Happy Madison team, with Chris Columbus directing, I will never understand. I can hardly think of a crew less suited for the material. By all accounts, the result is more of Sandler’s typical lazy dreck. To spruce it up on the technical front, the movie played in selected theaters with High Dynamic Range projection and Dolby Atmos surround sound. The Blu-ray includes the latter. A 3D version is also available, if that makes it any more appealing for you.

Southpaw‘ – Director Antoine Fuqua’s stock in trade seems to be taking really overplayed genre formulas and making hyper-violent versions of them – from the dirty cop movie (‘Training Day’) to the ‘Die Hard’ knockoff (‘Olympus Has Fallen’) to the revenge flick (‘The Equalizer’). This time, he regurgitates the underdog sports hero picture with a blatant ‘Rocky’ clone. About the only interesting thing about this is star Jake Gyllenhaal’s absolutely insane physique. What he must have had to do to get in that sort of shape terrifies me. Beyond that, every single line uttered in the trailers was a hoary sports movie cliché: “The more you get hit, the harder you fight,” “This is your time. It’s your moment!”, etc. The hero’s name is literally Hope. Ugh.

Max‘ – A military dog is shipped home to America after his master is killed in action. He bonds with a mopey teen and rescues the kid from trouble he’s gotten into with gun-runners. Everybody has a good cry. Yes, that’s really the plot. Yecch.

The Human Centipede 3: Final Sequence‘ – If you somehow made it through the first two of these and still wanted more…

Catalog Titles

The last time Paramount released the classic Audrey Hepburn musical ‘My Fair Lady‘ on Blu-ray back in 2011, the studio notoriously screwed it up with a dreadful video transfer. To make amends, the 50th Anniversary Edition features a sparkling new 4k restoration (from an 8k scan of the original negative) supervised by respected film preservationist Robert Harris. Throw the old copy in the trash, because this is the one to own.

More reissues come from Sony, which expands its Supreme Cinema Series line with new editions of ‘The Fifth Element‘ and ‘Léon: The Professional ‘, both featuring new video transfers (this will be the third for ‘Fifth Element’) and Dolby Atmos audio remixes.

Not remastered (to my knowledge) are a couple of 40th Anniversary Editions for ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail‘. One of them has a ridiculous package that looks like a castle. I’m still happy enough with the Blu-ray from 2012, but if you don’t already have that one, here’s another chance to own the movie.

Criterion’s collaboration with director David Lynch on ‘Eraserhead’ was fruitful enough to bring his ‘Mulholland Drive‘ into the collection as well. The film is frequently described as a masterpiece. Although I’m not high enough on it to go quite that far, it’s certainly the last good movie he has made to date.

After a short delay, Twilight Time’s new limited edition of John Carpenter’s ‘Vampires‘ should begin shipping this week. Anticipating a high demand, the label expanded its availability from 3,000 to 5,000 copies. That may have been optimistic. Even among the director’s fans, this is regarded as a lesser work. Pre-orders opened a couple weeks ago and it’s still available, which is a stark contrast to how quickly his ‘Christine’ sold out.

As far as I can tell, it may never be possible to assemble a truly definitive collection for Sam Raimi’s ‘Army of Darkness‘. Scream Factory does its best with a new Collector’s Edition that compiles no less than four versions of the movie in various states of quality based on the sources currently available. The International Cut has been newly remastered and reportedly looks the best.

Warner’s generically titled ‘Special Effects Collection’ box set bundles new high-def editions of the classic monster movies ‘Son of Kong‘, ‘The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms‘, ‘Mighty Joe Young‘ (1949) and ‘Them!‘. Each is also available separately.

With the so-called ‘Edgar Allan Poe’s Black Cats‘, Arrow Video pairs up a double-feature of two adaptations of Poe’s story ‘The Black Cat’, one by Sergio Martino and one by Lucio Fulci.

Olive Films has once again licensed a very eclectic selection of movies. Among this week’s batch are the Vincent Price chiller ‘Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors‘, Saul Bass’ killer-ant horror flick ‘Phase IV‘, the goofy Cheech & Chong stoner comedy ‘The Corsican Brothers‘, the ridiculous Charles Bronson flop ‘Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects‘, and the controversial exploitation drama ‘Mandingo‘.

Finally, defying all categorization is the bizarre Oingo Boingo cult musical ‘Forbidden Zone‘.

My $.02

I already have a copy of Criterion’s ‘Mulholland Drive’ disc in-hand for review. Other titles that will go on my wish list include the new editions of ‘My Fair Lady’, ‘Army of Darkness’, ‘The Fifth Element’ and ‘Léon’.

What treats will you indulge yourself with this week?


  1. Chris B

    Biggest week in a long time! i pre-ordered Vampires a few weeks back so hopefully it doesn’t take forever to get here. Tommorow I’ll be picking up Army of Darkness, Mullholland Dr. and The recent re-release of FCC’s Dracula remake. Which for some weird reason comes out tommorow in Canada as opposed to a few weeks for you folks down south.

    I’d consider picking up Leon if I really felt it was neccessary, but I own the previous BD edition and it already looks pretty damn good. Plus it has both the North American and International cut of the movie. Not sure if this re-release is all that warranted TBH.

    • Josh Zyber

      The prior Blu-ray for Leon: The Professional had a contrast boosting problem. I’m hoping that gets fixed in the remaster.

      The first Blu-ray of The Fifth Element in 2006 was a notorious disaster. The reissue in 2007 was a huge improvement, but it’s rather noisy by modern standards and doesn’t really hold up. Another 4k remaster (allegedly approved by Luc Besson) was released in Europe a few years later. That one was more detailed and less noisy, but had a weird yellow tint and contrast boosting. The tint I can be OK with (it doesn’t look “bad,” just different), but the jacked-up contrast was hard on the eyes. Assuming that the new disc is a brand new master, it has the potential to be the definitive edition of the movie. I really hope it’s not a port of the European transfer.

        • Csm101

          Fucking amazing! The detail has increased significantly, it has more of a stylized look than before, with all the red tinge. The dark scenes are darker than the dvd, like the first attack at the vampire nest, but it’s still easy to see whats happening. The clouds and colors pop unbelievably. I’ve never paid attention to those things before, really awesome. The desert landscapes and grassy fields are gorgeous. James Woods himself has the perfect kind of face for hd. The sound is fantastic, although I haven’t compared it directly to the dolby digital dvd track. From memory I would say very similar, which is not a bad thing. The score sounds awesome. I never owned the superbit dvd to hear the standard DTS track. The picture is super clean and pristine. I don’t know what everyone else thinks or will say about it, but I love it. Worth every cent!

          • Chris B

            That’s great news man! I’m hoping mine shows up soon but I’m realizing I have yet to receive an email from screen archives stating ny copy has shipped. Do they send those like Amazon or B&N do? Or do the BD’s just show up in your mailbox?

          • Csm101

            They emailed me, but pretty much when my shipment was already at my post office. Something tells me they were in a bit of a hurry to get these out on time. Normally they email me about a day or two after I place my order, then from there its about two days to get to my mailbox. When I got my email this time, i clicked on the tracking number and it said it was waiting to be sorted at my local post office and came a few hours later. Check your account under your order and see if you have a tracking number. It might be a little different for you since it’s out of the country though.

  2. Bolo

    Lotsa repackaging of stuff I already own on editions with which I am satisfied. So, just ‘Mullholland Drive’ for me this week.

    If a theatrical presentation of ‘My Fair Lady’ plays near me, I’ll go check it out there. It’s not a movie I feel like watching often enough to own.

    I’ve never seen ‘John Carpenter’s Vampires’. I’m a fan of Carpenter’s work, yet I haven’t got around to seeing most of the films from his period of alleged decline (the 90s). I do frequently check out films with bad reputations to see if they’ve been unfairly maligned or if they really do live up to their bad raps. I’m also a James Woods fan, so I’ll rent this one eventually.

    • NJScorpio

      There was a trend of vampire movies in the 90’s, before the Twilight reinvention of the characters. You had…
      – Bram Stoker’s Dracula (starting it off in 1992)
      – Dusk Till Dawn
      – Interview w/ a Vampire
      (then it got overdone…)
      – The Blade series
      – John Carpenter’s Vampires
      – Wes Craven’s Dracula 2000 (released in 2000, so it counts enough)
      – Dracula 3000 (with Coolio, in space!)

      Anyway…IMO, Carpenter’s ‘Vampires’ is one of the best generic vampire movies in the Post-Bram Stoker Pre-Twilight era.

      But, not nearly his best work. Better than ‘Ghosts of Mars’ though.

      • Bolo

        Yeah, I think ‘Lost Boys’ also helped kick off that vampire revival. There was stuff like ‘Fright Night’ and ‘Near Dark’ also, but I think ‘Lost Boys’ was a way bigger movie in terms of getting film audiences to think of vampires in a new way.

        I do intend to finish off working through John Carpenter’s filmography. I have yet to see ‘In The Mouth of Madness’, ‘Village of the Damned’, ‘Vampires’, and ‘Ghosts of Mars’. None of those have glowing reputations, but when I’ve got nothing else on my plate, I’ll give them a shot. The guy had an amazing winning streak as a filmmaker and it’s hard to believe that his talent evaporated overnight, but that seems to be the consensus.

        • CC

          James Woods as a Badass Vampire killer (sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church, with a priest by his side) is seriously awesome cinema. Love the movie. Lesser Carpenter- yes.
          But lesser Carpenter is better than most people’s ‘A’ game.

          • NJScorpio


            Also, I’d include ‘In The Mouth of Madness’ in the better half of his collection, especially taken as part of his Apocalypse Trilogy.

          • Bolo

            Okay, well now I’m a little more optimistic. Hopefully this (and the other ones) will be pleasant surprises when I get around to them.


  3. Csm101

    Army of Darkness seems like a pretty complete set this time around. My Boomstick edition directors cut dvd is pretty unwatchable. I’ve never been a giant fan of AOD, but it’d be nice to complete my Evil Dead trilogy on blu finally. Pixels for the 3D ness. I very much want the special effects set from Warner, but it’s a little pricey. Maybe seperate purchases. The dvdbeaver guy didn’t seem too pleased with the pq for Them, which sucks because I don’t own that one at all, and kind of wanted it the most for that reason. I can’t wait to watch Vampires in hd. I’m pretty happy with my Fifth Element and Leon discs, but I am a sucker for remasters. Maybe I’ll wait for reviews. The Gift was really good and I would get it too, even though I forgot to vote for it.

  4. NJScorpio

    – I sit through some bad stuff for the sake of new 3D content at home, but I won’t be sitting through an Adam Sandler performance.

    – I’m a huge Carpenter fan, and I’m not itching to pick up ‘Vampires’. I do enjoy it, but it’s closer in quality to ‘The Ward’ than ‘The Fog’.

    – If anything, I’ll be picking up ‘Army of Darkness’. Huge fan of the series, and I’m actually very interested in the differences between the three editions, and all the bonus content. It’s a collectors edition, for me, that actually justifies the purchase. It is $17.99 on Amazon and at Best Buy right now…so it’s tempting.

    – Putting my entertainment funds aside for the upcoming ‘Fallout 4’, and the keyboard attachment for the Xbox One controller.

  5. ‘Max’, huh? There’s a Belgian movie from 1994 with the same name. I was hoping that one had finally made the transatlantic voyage to be released on an American Blu-ray. Imagine that.

  6. William Henley

    Okay, so have been trying to write all morning (I get in early, so I know what time this blog usually gets published), but I have actually been very busy this morning (Heaven forbid I actually have to do WORK while at Work!)

    I’ve been dying to see Pixels. My schedule the past couple of months has prevented me from going to the theater, so I have the 3D version preordered. I am planning to pop it in when I get home from work tomorrow.

    My Fair Lady is also preordered. This is a must for me – I was SO disappointed in the last Blu-Ray release that I actually kept my copy that I had capped off of HDNet as it looked better. Looking so forward to the new transfer.

    Apparently 2 weeks ago, Disney silently released Escape to Witch Mountain and Return to Witch Mountain as a Disney Movie Club Exclusive, so that is something I will probably be picking up eventually.

    October always seems to be an expensive month – it seems historically to be the month when studios start dumping stuff on the market.

    On a side note – so a couple of years ago, I saw the South Park episode Human Centipod. Thought it was strange, and came close to crossing the line. Then a few months later, there was a review here of a little movie called Human Centipede. I could not even make it through the review before being almost violently sick, because I had seen the South Park spoof, and the concept of it being a live-action movie was too much to handle. To this day, just seeing the name in print is enough to make me feel ill. Man, if you are into that kind of stuff, seriously, seek professional counseling.

    • William Henley

      Oh also interested in Pippi if it comes down – that is a bit pricey for catalogue titles, and it would be a blind buy for me

  7. EM

    I look forward to Them! in (more or less) corrected aspect ratio—apparently this is the first widescreen home-video release!

    A competent horror movie though Them! is, it’s not really Halloween fare in my estimation, and so I’m willing to wait until after the holiday.

  8. itjustWoRX

    Can anyone who purchased the “regular” editions (the cheaper, non-special packaging) of “The Fifth Element” and “Leon: The Professional” confirm or deny that they have UltraViolet digital copies?

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