Halloween week scares up a fresh assortment of Blu-ray releases. Take a look and let us know if you find some treats to your liking.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘The Dark Tower‘ – “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” So began the first volume of Stephen King’s epic book series, often described as the author’s magnum opus. After many failed attempts by notable filmmakers, it seemed like a movie adaptation would never come. The one that finally made it to cinema screens wound up with a modest budget and a surprisingly short run time, helmed by a little-known Danish director. It also appears to have little resemblance to the first book (which was primarily a Western story with some light fantasy trappings). Reviews were poor and the box office weak. That was very bad news for Sony, which intended it as the first entry in an ambitious project spanning several planned sequels and a TV series. At the moment, the TV show is still being worked on, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it falls through. For what it’s worth, Idris Elba is very interesting and appealing casting as the gunslinger.
‘Kidnap‘ – Oscar and Emmy winner Halle Berry resorts to playing the frantic mom in a painfully generic “Give me back my kid!” abduction thriller that probably ought to have gone directly to the Lifetime Movies Network.
‘Dawson City: Frozen Time‘ – Presumed lost for over 50 years, a treasure trove of over 500 silent films from the 1910s and ’20s was discovered, of all places, buried in a swimming pool deep in the Yukon Territory. With unanimous praise from critics, the documentary about that 1978 find chronicles not just the films themselves, but the complicated history of the region.
‘The Dark Tower‘ receives a 4k release simultaneously with the Blu-ray. A SteelBook is available at Best Buy.
That copy of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas‘ I mentioned last week got bumped at the last minute to a new street date of October 31st, even though the Thanksgiving special came out as originally planned.
Also delayed for some reason were the GKIDS reissues of Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘Castle in the Sky‘ and ‘Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind‘.
If a scary movie is released on Tuesday, that gives you a very limited window to watch it for Halloween this year. Nevertheless, Scream Factory has new Collector’s Editions for Zack Snyder’s 2004 ‘Dawn of the Dead‘ remake and George Romero’s ‘Land of the Dead‘ out today, while Severin serves up the notoriously cheesy William Shatner/Ernest Borgnine/John Travolta satanic cult thriller ‘The Devil’s Rain‘.
Not a horror movie despite its title, the 1973 drama ‘Scarecrow‘ featured early standout performances from Al Pacino and Gene Hackman as a pair of hard-luck drifters. The film won top honors at Cannes and now makes its way out of the Warner Archive.
VCI conjures up Cary Grant’s delightful 1937 supernatural comedy ‘Topper‘. Unfortunately, the disc is reported to have an underwhelming video transfer.
Available on Blu-ray in other countries for years (a Canadian disc was released way back in 2009), Universal finally issues a copy of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s intersecting-lives misery-fest ‘21 Grams‘ for the U.S. market.
Nicholas Hytner’s comedic historical drama ‘The Madness of King George‘ scored Oscar nominations for stars Nigel Hawthorne and Helen Mirren, the script by playwright Alan Bennett, and Art Direction (which it won). Recounting the peculiar period where the most powerful nation on Earth was ruled by a certifiable nutcase, the story seems strangely relevant again all of a sudden. The Blu-ray comes from Olive.
Other notable offerings from Olive include ‘The Miracle Worker‘ (the 1962 version with Patty Duke as Helen Keller and Anne Bancroft as her teacher Annie Sullivan, not the 1979 remake where Duke switched to playing the teacher part), and Bob Rafelson’s 1976 bodybuilding drama ‘Stay Hungry‘, starring a young Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Despite being the final movie from the legendary Federico Fellini, ‘The Voice of the Moon‘ was savagely panned at the Cannes Film Festival and was the only of his works to never receive distribution in North America. The Arrow Academy Blu-ray marks its first release on this side of the ocean.
Setting aside all the anime I know nothing about, TV content this week includes the first season of Robert Kirkman’s demonic possession thriller ‘Outcast‘, the second season of the A.I. drama ‘Humans‘ (rebranded on disc as ‘Humans 2.0’), and a complete collection of ‘Orphan Black‘. Olive also follows through with the third season of the family classic ‘Flipper‘.
Finally, BBC has a gift set of both of the ‘Planet Earth‘ documentary miniseries, and a ‘Sherlock‘ bundle containing the first four seasons plus the ‘Abominable Bride’ special.
The poor word-of-mouth has convinced me not to blind-buy ‘The Dark Tower’, but I’m still curious enough to give it a streaming rental. ‘Dawson City: Frozen Time’ also sounds fascinating.
My wish list items this week include ‘The Voice of the Moon’, ‘The Madness of King George’, ‘Scarecrow’, ‘Topper’, and the ‘Dawn of the Dead’ reissue.
Will you put any movies in your Halloween goodie bag this year?