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 October 6th, 2020, which includes our pick of the week, B: The Beginning!
This week’s home video selection includes new horror films, yet another “sequel” to American Pie, a George Peppard threesome, the first season of B: the Beginning, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
B: The Beginning – Season One
What is it? A serial killer returns, and only one man can catch him.
Why see it? Netflix continues their foray into new anime with this series — recently given a greenlight for season two — and the result is a thrilling, visually stylish thriller. The show blends serial killer tropes and character types with action, violence, and high drama. It also milks the various reveals well helping to build up anticipation and tension throughout. There’s a darkness running though it all, both in the main storyline and the various themes at play, and it’s never less than compelling. Shout Factory’s new Blu collects the season on multiple discs and includes a small poster and some art cards.
[Extras: Interview, featurette]
300 [4K UaHD]
What is it? A small band of solders holds off an army.
Why see it? Zack Snyder’s epic adaptation of the best-selling graphic novel delivers a memorable blend of old-school action and high-tech special effects/cinematography. It’s an attractive film, and while it’s arguably too artsy for its own good the action, visuals, and imagination make for a standout experience. The 4K upgrade enhances those visuals ever further making this a solid addition to your UHD library.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes, commentary]
Drop Dead Gorgeous [Warner Archive]
What is it? A beauty contest turns to murder.
Why see it? Years before Sandra Bullock brought her charms to Miss Congeniality, this comedy found the violence inherent in contests of the flesh. It’s a funny, satirical look at the cutthroat world of pageants, and you can’t argue with a cast that includes Kirsten Dunst, Ellen Barkin, Kirstie Alley, and more memorable faces.
P.J. [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A private eye takes on a challenging case.
Why see it? The first of three George Peppard action films hitting Blu-ray this week, this late 60s tale of a tough talking private dick reigns supreme. He’s fantastic as the cynical detective who takes a bodyguard gig out of desperation only to learn that all is not on the up and up. Some nice story turns, some entertaining action, and a terrifically dour denouement make this one worth rediscovering.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary]
The Secret of My Success [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A college grad climbs the corporate ladder on his back.
Why see it? Michael J. Fox’s late 80s hit remains a sharp commentary on the incestuous nature of corporate advancement, and happily it’s also still very funny. Fox is a sharp wit with his dialogue and an equally smart physical comedian making for plenty of laugh out loud beats. The supporting cast shines too with the likes of Helen Slater, Fred Gwynne, John Pankow, and Richard Jordan.
[Extras: Commentary, interview]
American Pie: Girls’ Rules
What is it? Turns out teenage girls are horny too?
Why see it? Universal 1440’s direct to video sequels to their theatrical releases are almost never good times, and this newest installment in the American Pie franchise is no different. It’s harmless — ie not offensively bad — but its attempts at humor never really land. Still, it’s more than about time that a film in the series focused on the ladies even if it does show them being every bit as stupid and prone to pratfalls as the guys.
What is it? A volcanic eruption sends heroes into action to prevent a follow-up.
Why see it? Disaster movies are, by their very nature, often heightened affairs with big drama and bigger effects sequences. This new Korean thriller delivers just that in spades with some strong CG effects, massive amount of destruction, and a ton of high drama unfolding between characters. It’s a high-energy film, and while the plot points are fairly ludicrous the cast — including heavy hitters like Lee Byung-hun, Ha Jung-woo, and Don Lee — is fully invested and sells it all.
The Curse of the Undead [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A vampire Western!
Why see it? Gunfighter by night, vampire by night, and all man, Drake Robey sets his sights on a small town and a single lady rancher within, but as documented in this first vampire/western mashup, some good people aren’t about to let that happen. The film may not set a high bar for the subgenre, but it’s also never really been surpassed as most filmmakers dabbling in this realm have also delivered perfectly okay romps. It looks good, and there’s fun to be had with the genre action.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary]
The Deeper You Dig [Arrow Video]
What is it? Grief and guilt collide.
Why see it? Accidents can be be murder, and this little chiller sees a man haunted by one such incident in the form of a dead girl and her pissed off mother. It’s a slowburn for the most part, but the ghost story is well-crafted and affecting in its outcome. Arrow does a fantastic job presenting the film and even includes an earlier feature from the director making this a solid pickup for fans.
[Extras: Commentary, interviews, visual essay]
Eli Roth’s History of Horror – Season 1
What is it? The filmmaker interviews others in the horror genre.
Why see it? Eli Roth may not be a great director, but the guy clearly loves and knows horror. This series gives him the chance to sit down with big names like Stephen King, Joe Dante, Quentin Tarantino, Edgar Wright, and more to talk about inspirations, themes, movies, and the art of delivering scares. Some interviews are stronger than others, but skip to your favorites and enjoy the banter.
[Extras: Extended interviews, featurettes]
The Face at the Window [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A killer stalks Paris!
Why see it? This British chiller from the late 30s finds suspense with its tale of a maniacal killer named The Wolf. It’s fairly straightforward in most ways, from its staging to its script, but it tells its tale well. George King’s direction keeps things moving with sharp black & white visuals highlighting the shadows and thrills that come from them.
[Extras: New 4K master, commentary]
The Groundstar Conspiracy [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A government facility explodes, and only George Peppard can discover why.
Why see it? Lamont Johnson directs this fun little thriller built on paranoia, intrigue, and mystery. George Peppard’s character is a bad-ass brought in to capture the man responsible, but first impressions are sketchy all around. Is Michael Sarrazin a spy or a patsy? Is Peppard a killer or a hero? We get some solid action beats and some gooey effects, and while the film’s basically one in a long line of “don’t trust the government” thrillers it succeeds with the entertainment.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary]
The Hard Way [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? An actor and a cop find fun the hard way.
Why see it? Michael J. Fox was an unstoppable force in the late 80s and early 90s, but even he has his limits. He’s cast here as a cocky young actor who rides along with a bad-ass cop (James Woods, before he went full dipshit), and the two don’t have much in the way of comedic chemistry. The action is fun enough, and Stephen Lang’s villain is entertainingly hammy, though, so it’s not a wash.
[Extras: Commentary with director John Badham]
What is it? A cop and a killer tangle with their fists.
Why see it? Max Zhang is a highly talented martial artist whose action moves and movies are usually worth watching, and there’s some minor fun to be had here in the fights and set-pieces. The film as a whole, though, has zero grasp on its tone meaning as serious and deadly as things get there’s a silliness to so much of it. The weight never lands, and with some of the action feeling cartoonish too the whole thing suffers.
Newman’s Law [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A good cop faces down bad guys.
Why see it? George Peppard playing a rogue cop trying to defend the blue from its own worst impulses? Sure he’s also beating up suspects left and right, but it all feels okay in this mid 70s action flick. The story’s familiar enough, but Peppard and director Richard Heffron deliver a fun, action-filled good time.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary]
The Pale Door
What is it? A gang of robbers find terror far deadlier than a posse.
Why see it? Horror westerns are too few and far between, so every one must be cherished. This newest entry into the subgenre is a mixed bag, though, leaving too much to be desired. The western sequences that start the film never find life and instead feel like actors playing dress up. Once the horror hits, though, things pick up enough to hold the attention with some fun creature beats.
[Extras: Featurettes, filmmaker commentary]
The Secret Garden
What is it? Frances Hodgson Burnett’s bestselling classic *finally* gets an adaptation.
Why see it? I kid, there have been a dozen of these adaptations. Credit this one for making minor changes to the narrative, but the main thread remains. Fans of the book will enjoy this retelling enough, and it might even make new admirers, but also can we stop adapting the same books over and over? There are so many other novels out there with new characters, new stories, and new perspectives that deserve the big screen treatment.
The Tax Collector
What is it? Bad guys are troubled by tougher bad guys.
Why see it? David Ayer’s filmography remains a hit or miss experience, and while he’s yet to match the highs of Street Kings in recent years he’s still trying all the same. This effort starts off already at odds with itself thanks to a focus on a mid-level drug lord. The character lacks anything resembling charisma leaving something of a void throughout as he’s the lead. Shia LaBeouf fares far better as the man’s badass sidekick, but in addition to being merely a supporting player we’re never even made witness to his badassery! The film instead wants viewers to care about an uninteresting bad guy of a lead, and that just never happens. The film fares better on the technical front and looks fantastic in 4K as Ayer shoots an attractive look at an unattractive world.
[Extras: Deleted scenes]
What is it? A musical version on the 80s cult classic.
Why see it? The only real attraction here is Jessica Rothe (and a supporting cast that includes Judy Greer and Mae Whitman), but they might not be enough to overcome the film’s detriments. The musical numbers are fine, but it never leaps off the screen to whittle its way into your song-loving heart and mind. 80s music fans might find enough to make a watch satisfying, though, so proceed accordingly.
Also out this week:
The 2nd, Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna, Picard – Season One, Pierrot le Fou [Criterion Collection], Save Yourselves!, Tales from the Hood 3, To Your Last Death, The World Is Full of Secrets, Yummy