Streaming might be the future, but physical media is still the present. It’s also awesome, depending on the title, the label, and the release, so each week we take a look at the new Blu-rays and DVDs making their way into the world. Welcome to this week in Home Video for September 15th, 2020 where we celebrate David Cronenberg’s Shivers!
This week’s home video selection includes a beloved Fred Savage film, a collection of Stephen King favorites, an early Jeremy Renner thriller, and more. Check out our picks below starting with Shivers!
Pick of the Week
Shivers [Vestron Video]
What is it? A parasite infestation takes over a remote condominium and its inhabitants.
Why see it? David Cronenberg’s feature debut remains a minor Canadian classic of body horror and social commentary. It’s lacking the control of his later films, and some may not vibe with the film’s horror-tinged approach towards sexual assault, but it’s an undeniably effective riff on the mindless zombie hordes familiar from George Romero films. Here it’s a creepy slug that infests bodies and turns people into rage-filled maniacs craving sexual release and murder. Cronenberg’s sedate style is fully on display, but it’s punctuated with bursts of uncomfortable violence and some uncomfortably frightening scenes. This is Shivers‘ Blu-ray debut, and Vestron has added some solid new extras to make it a must buy.
[Extras: Commentaries including one new track with Cronenberg, interviews]
21 Jump Street [4K UaHD]
What is it? A hilarious reboot of the popular TV series.
Why see it? TV shows rebooted into big screen comedies — even when the original show wasn’t really comedic — usually go off the rails into the bad and the boring. Think Starsky & Hutch or Baywatch for examples. This is not those. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum headline and deliver an incredibly funny, very sharp, and highly entertaining action/comedy. The laughs are fast and frequent, and the action beats are well crafted and exciting. All TV reboots should be this lucky.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes, gag reel]
What is it? A single mother befriends a lonely old man.
Why see it? This is a simple little drama with an uplifting tale of friendship at its core, but the main reason to watch is its lead performances. Hong Chau was Oscar nominated for 2017’s Downsizing, and she shines again here as a woman struggling with her young son in a new town. She’s met beat for beat by the late, great Brian Dennehy as a man done with life but reignited by her and her son. It’s a sweet film that reminds about the importance of human companionship and kindness, and that’s never a bad thing.
Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway [Arrow Video]
What is it? A weird trip, man.
Why see it? Some films are different, but some? Some are wholly unique. This belongs in that latter group, and while it’s unclear if that makes it a great film — I’m still unsure on that count — it definitely makes it an unforgettable one. Spy shenanigans and virtual reality collide with a tale of unlikely romance, and while the budget is small the imagination is enormous. The VR scenes alone are wonders of artificial stop-motion, and as the story whips around it captivates through both inventiveness and ingenuity. All of that said, it’s very weird meaning you really can’t fault anyone for not being on its wavelength.
[Extras: Commentary, visual essay, interview, bonus feature Crumbs, short films]
Stephen King – 5-Movie Collection
What is it? Five films from Stephen King’s filmography.
Why see it? This collection marks the US Blu-ray debut of one of Stephen King’s (and David Cronenberg’s) more under-appreciated titles, and The Dead Zone is alone worth the pick-up. The set also includes 1989’s Pet Sematary which is another horror gem as well as the eternally fun Silver Bullet and The Stand miniseries. These four are among the best of King’s horror adaptations making this a terrific bargain for fans. Sure, it also includes the Pet Sematary remake, but nothing in life is perfect.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, commentary, featurettes]
22 Jump Street [4K UaHD]
What is it? The boys are back, baby!
Why see it? While this follow-up may not be as funny or exciting as the first, it still delivers plenty of laughs and fun thrills. the pair head to college — less ridiculous, but more believable — and once again square off against young punks, organized criminals, and each other. Some jokes get recycle, but they’re typically given a fresh spin along with all new gags and beats that keep the film feeling fresh enough. It’s fun!
[Extras: Featurettes, music video, commentary, deleted scenes, gag reel]
What is it? Still less embarrassing than the Jeremy Renner App.
Why see it? Grim, low budget thrillers about real-life serial killers are fighting an uphill battle, and I’m not sure any have actually succeeded in delivering anything more than poor taste. This 2002 effort stars Jeremy Renner as Jeffrey Dahmer, but rather than give viewers a suspenseful thriller or an engaging commentary the film simply plays out some scenes from his life — real or imagined — before ending in a rather unsatisfying way. It’s a curiosity now for Renner fans and nothing more.
[Extras: Commentary with Jeremy Renner, featurette]
Flying Leathernecks [Warner Archive]
What is it? The battle of Guadalcanal unfolds in the sky.
Why see it? John Wayne and Robert Ryan headline this World War II action/drama, and both deliver the expected performances. That’s not a knock, but both actors have their niche and explore it well in this standard fare. Director Nicholas Ray has made movies with far more depth and quality — They Live By Night (1948), Johnny Guitar (1954), Rebel Without a Cause (1955) — but he delivers a solid diversion here.
Little Monsters [Vestron Video]
What is it? A boy befriends the monster beneath the bed and discovers a world of childish nightmares.
Why see it? Like Monsters Inc? Well this is the movie they stole the idea from! It’s an odd one and definitely less family friendly than its Pixar cousin — at least, modern day family friendly, as this is the kind of fare kids were allowed once upon a time. The jokes and gags are geared towards immature sensibilities, and while some work the rest are just silly and crass. It’s definitely a film that should scratch the nostalgia itch for horror fans who were young in the late 80s.
[Extras: Commentary, interviews, featurettes]
Weathering With You
What is it? Young love is messy.
Why see it? Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name is a smart and touching blockbuster, and his follow-up aims for similar vibes even as it falls somewhat short. The animation remains a strength, though, with imagery and movement that delivers real beauty. The love story is a bit less successful as it relies exclusively on the manic pixie dream girl angle and excuses some violence as motivated by love. We’re also meant to approve of someone’s own interest taking precedent over the destruction of millions of homes, but whatever. It’s a tear-jerker if you let it be, and Shinkai ensures the visuals are never less than attractive and affecting.
[Extras: Interview, talk show, featurette]
Also out this week:
21 Jump Street [4K UaHD], 22 Jump Street [4K UaHD], Beau Travail [Criterion Collection], Becky, Def-Con 4 [Scorpion Releasing], GoodFellas [4K UaHD], Hocus Pocus [4K UaHD], Home Alone [4K UaHD], Outlander – Season Five, Roman Holiday [Paramount Presents], A Tramway in Jerusalem