It’s another big week for Blu-ray, with another huge batch of new titles on the high-def discs. From giant monsters to tiny cult films and lots in between, Hollywood is determined to drain our bank accounts. Will you indulge?
‘Godzilla‘ – The last attempt to Americanize Japan’s most famous giant monster back in 1998 didn’t exactly work out too well, but failure has never stopped Hollywood from trying to cash in on a popular product with high brand-name recognition. The latest version of the big lizard, from ‘Monsters’ director Gareth Edwards, generally went over better with audiences and made a lot of money. Even so, many viewers complained that the film was disappointingly short on the monster action promised in the trailers. If you buy it, most accounts agree that the 3D conversion is useless. Even the film’s own cinematographer says that he despises 3D and only shot the movie for 2D. For collectors, Amazon has a MetalPak that apparently makes monster-roaring noises, but I still prefer the artwork on the foreign SteelBook editions.
‘The Fault in Our Stars‘ – Teen girl gets cancer and falls in love with a teen boy missing a leg. Based on an enormously popular YA novel by some guy famous for acting like a twit on YouTube. Safe to say, this movie was not made for me. If you have any teenage girls in your life, expect them to play this in a non-stop repeat loop for the next year or so until the next weepy melodrama of its ilk claims their attention.
‘Think Like a Man Too‘ – No thank you, Steve Harvey.
‘The Dead 2: India‘ – Zombie movies are a dime a dozen these days, and the first ‘The Dead‘ pretty much slipped under the radar for most genre fans. However, both it and this new sequel have garnered some strong word of mouth.
‘Burt’s Buzz‘ – You may have used a Burt’s Bees personal care product at some point in your life. (My wife is a big fan of their lip balm.) You may not have known that the Burt, the hippie co-founder whose image is prominently displayed on every item, was ousted from control of his own company, yet remains contractually obligated to participate in promotional duties as its mascot. Sounds like he got a bum deal. Unfortunately, the documentary about him reportedly only touches on that story in a disappointingly superficial manner.
The Criterion Collection was supposed to release David Lynch’s debut feature ‘Eraserhead‘ on DVD a number of years back. The way I heard the story told, Lynch got pissed at the company for leaking word of those plans early (probably via one of its newsletter clues) and pulled the plug on the whole project in a huff. A couple years after that, he released the DVD himself via his personal web site. It’s taken over a decade, but Lynch and Criterion have finally patched things up for the movie’s North American premiere on Blu-ray. Coming a couple years after the film appeared on the format in Europe and Asia, the Criterion disc features a slightly improved transfer and some interesting bonus features, including brand new HD remasters for many of Lynch’s early short films. Following the recent release of the spectacular ‘Twin Peaks‘ box set, this is a very good time to be a David Lynch fan.
Twilight Time’s new batch of limited releases was originally scheduled for last week, but got pushed back due to some production issue with the manufacturer. Details on the screenarchives.com web site are sketchy. Hopefully, the discs are ready this week. Titles include ‘Salvador‘ (Oliver Stone’s first serious movie as a director), the Ritchie Valens musical bio-pic ‘La Bamba‘, the political bio-pic ‘Che!‘ (the 1969 film with Omar Sharif, not the Steven Soderbergh version that’s already available on Blu-ray from Criterion), the 1980 Christopher Walken action flick ‘The Dogs of War‘, and Sam Peckinpah’s 1975 hit man thriller ‘The Killer Elite‘.
In 1978, author Michael Crichton adapted his own novel ‘The Great Train Robbery‘ into a fun historical heist picture starring Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland. Years later, after the success of ‘Jurassic Park’, Hollywood was eager to adapt any and every Crichton book to the big screen as soon as possible. Unfortunately, his writing didn’t fare too well when made into the dopey adventure film ‘Congo‘.
After badly screwing up the first Blu-ray edition of ‘Ghostbusters‘, Sony did right by the popular comedy with its “Mastered in 4k” re-release in 2013. That superior transfer is being reissued again with some new supplements for the film’s 30th anniversary. Making its Blu-ray debut is the inferior but still somewhat amusing sequel ‘Ghostbusters II‘. You can buy them each separately, or both packaged together in either a Digibook or a more elaborate gift set. The new two-handed ghost logo looks kind of awful.
Also reissued is the 1974 horror classic ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre‘. Given that all of its sequels and reboots spell the word “chainsaw” correctly, it’s a common mistake for people (even fans) to assume that the original does as well. But no, “Chain Saw” is two words in that one. Hey, you can’t expect inbred cannibals to spell! MPI has remastered the film from a new 4k scan, so that you can see all the nasty grit and grain as crisply as possible.
If that’s not enough for horror aficionados, Starz has a 30th Anniversary Edition of the slasher ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night‘.
Unearthed from some sci-fi trashheap are the 1979 Sean Connery disaster epic ‘Meteor‘ and Lawrence Kasdan’s 2003 Stephen King adaptation ‘Dreamcatcher‘. They’re both dreadful movies that were deserved flops in their respective days, but I suppose they must count as guilty pleasures for somebody.
Continuing its very eclectic selection of titles this week, Kino also has Paul Verhoeven’s first Hollywood production, the Medieval adventure tale ‘Flesh + Blood‘, and Blake Edwards’ 1968 slapstick farce ‘The Party‘.
I’m not sure why Amazon has a new listing for a ‘Star Trek into Darkness‘ gift set with a release date of this week. I’m pretty sure that was actually released last year. Maybe it’s a new pressing for those who missed out on the first run? Anyway, I thought I’d mention it.
Along with all of the above, we’ve also got a whole bunch of TV box sets this week. If you’re in the mood for comedy, there’s the first season of Amazon’s political satire ‘Alpha House‘, the seventh season of ‘The Big Bang Theory‘ or the seventeenth season of ‘South Park‘. For comic book action, there’s the second season of ‘Arrow‘. For straight-up horror, there’s the second season of ‘Hannibal‘. For horror with a little comedy, the first season of ‘Sleepy Hollow‘, the first season of ‘From Dusk Till Dawn‘ (yeah, it’s a TV show now, on Robert Rodriguez’s new El Rey network), or the third season of ‘Grimm‘. And for cartoony gladiator violence, a Complete Series compendium of ‘Spartacus‘. Those should keep you busy for a while.
I’ve already reviewed the new ‘Eraserhead’ Blu-ray. I haven’t seen but am curious about ‘Godzilla’. Other titles that interest me personally include ‘The Great Train Robbery’, ‘Salvador’, ‘Ghostbusters II’ (I already have the previous Mi4k release of the first ‘Ghostbusters’ ), and ‘The Party’.
What will you part with your money for?