September 24, 2019: This Week on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD
Anna and Yesterday kick off the week with both Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD editions of the recent big screen releases. The former, directed by Luc Besson, sets Sasha Luss in the title role as one of the world’s top tier assassins. The latter hails from Academy Award winning filmmaker Danny Boyle and follows a young man who wakes up after an accident, only to discover that the Beatles never existed.
The week also brings two franchise reboots with both Child’s Play and Shaft. Child’s Play sets Mark Hamill as the voice of Chucky who, in this version, is an A.I. toy gone mad. Shaft, meanwhile, serves as a sequel of sorts, uniting the original John Shaft, Richard Roundtree, with Samuel L. Jackson’s modern take. The film also introduces a third Shaft generation with Jessie T. Usher playing the part.
Rounding out the new releases are A Score to Settle and Madness in the Method. Nicolas Cage headlines Score, an action thriller that pits his leads against the mob. Then, hailing from Jason Mewes (best known as the more talkative half of Jay and Silent Bob), Madness offers a tongue in cheek look at Hollywood. Mewes plays himself, an actor who, hoping to get out of the shadow of Jay, embraces an acting technique that quickly spirals out of control.
Disney has new versions of three different titles hitting store shelves this week. Look for new Signature editions of the animated classics 101 Dalmatians and Sleeping Beauty alongside a 4K rerelease of the more recent live action reimagining Maleficent. If you haven’t already seen it, this gives you plenty of time to catch up before the new film, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, arrives in theaters next month.
It’s also an exciting week for Stephen King fans as The Stand is finally coming to Blu-ray. The 1994 TV miniseries adapts the master of horror’s 1974 novel of the same name, which happens to be King’s longest work. The new blu-ray includes the entire six hour adaptation starring Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Jamey Sheridan, Ossie Davis and more.
Warner Archive has a trio of great titles coming to HD. First up is The Letter, William Wyler’s 1940 adaptation of the W. Somerset Maugham play of the same name. Nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Actress for star Bette Davis, who plays a socialite responsible for killing a man on her island property. The new blu-ray edition comes packed with bonus features, including two different Lux Radio Theater adaptations of the story as well as an alternate ending.
Next up from WA is Robert Wise’s 1940 boxing noir The Set-Up. Robert Ryan and Audrey Totter headline the real time thriller, set against the backdrop of a boxer’s final fight, one for which the mob has requested he take a dive. Not only does this new edition of The Set-Up boast a new 1080p HD master, it includes an archival commentary track with insight from both Wise and director and cinephile Martin Scorsese.
Finally, Action Jackson rounds out WA’s latest offerings. Carl Weathers plays the title role of a Detroit cop who goes up against a powerful businessman with evil machinations in this 1988 action comedy caper.
Two more horror titles join Shout! Factory’s Scream Factory line with Fear No Evil and John Carpenter’s Vampires. The former, released in 1981, marks the directorial debut of actor turned writer and director Frank LaLoggia. With Fear No Evil, LaLoggia weaves a bigger than life story about the war between heaven and hell and a schoolboy who just so happens to be the reincarnation of Lucifer himself. LaLoggia only helmed one other feature in his career, 1988’s ghost story The Lady in White, which was previously released by Scream Factory and is still available to own.
Scream Factory continues to deliver all things John Carpenter with his 1998 adaptation of John Steakley’s 1990 novel Vampire$. James Woods headlines the film version as the leader of a band of vampire-hunting mercenaries operating out of the American southwest. Previously only available in a long out of print version with no special features, Vampires now arrives with a full Collector’s Edition version that also offers several newly created interview featurettes with Carpenter and his cast.
As Carpenter fans are well aware, Scream Factory has been dedicated to bringing the filmmaker’s works to blu-ray. In fact, there are only four Carpenter features that haven’t yet received the Scream Factory treatment: Carpenter’s debut, Dark Star, the 1996 sequel Escape From L.A., 2001’s supernatural sci-fi thriller Ghosts of Mars, and 2010’s psychological thriller The Ward.
Meanwhile, over at Shout! Factory’s Shout Select label, the week brings two more choice selections. Bing Crosby headlines Going My Way, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. Crosby plays Father O’Malley, a priest looking to revitalize a parish. The winner of seven Academy Awards (including Best Picture), Going My Way hits blu-ray with several bonuses, including vintage Crosby shorts, an audio commentary track with historian Russell Dyball, and a Screen Guild Radio Theater adaptation of the same story.
Then, Shout! is delivering Robert Redford as The Great Waldo Pepper. In 1975, Redford reteamed with his Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting director, George Roy Hill, for the story of a World War I biplane pilot who, long after the war is over, sees an opportunity to reclaim his glory days by flying as a stunt pilot for Hollywood.
The Criterion Collection continues through the Charlie Chaplin feature film catalogue with the 1928 The Circus. A famously troubled production, Chaplin nevertheless managed to make this follow to The Gold Rush a beloved hit. Chaplin’s last silent feature, The Circus arrives with a full 4K digital restoration and a host of supplemental material.
Also arriving today from Criterion is writer and director Bill Forsyth’s comedy drama Local Hero. The Scottish comedy stars Peter Riegert as a Houston oilman who is relocated to a small, fictional town in Scotland. The film gets a full special edition treatment with new interviews, featurettes and a commentary track featuring Forsyth and film critic Mark Kermode.
Previously only available in Arrow Video’s long out of print “Scarlet Box” set, Clive Barker’s original 1987 Hellraiser and its 1988 sequel Hellbound: Hellraiser II both get individual releases. It remains to be seen whether or not the Scarlet Box version of Hellraiser III will follow suit, however.
Also arriving from Arrow this week is the 1988 post apocalyptic thriller In the Aftermath and, from the Arrow Academy label, Billy Wilder’s second ever directorial feature, 1942’s romantic comedy The Major and the Minor, starring Ray Milland and Ginger Rogers.
Olive Films offers up a new entry in their Olive Signature line with Roger Corman’s 1959 horror comedy A Bucket of Blood. Dick Miller headlines the satirical thriller as a busboy whose plaster covered dead cat is mistaken for a great work of art, thrusting the young man into a most unusual spotlight. Until now, A Bucket of Blood has only been available with decidedly less than pristine picture quality. Olive’s new version boasts a 4K transfer and quite a few special features, including a feature commentary track with Elijah Drenner, the director of the recent docmentary That Guy Dick Miller.
The Kino Lorber Studio Classics line gets a box set this week that should delight cinephiles. The Ida Lupino Filmmaker Collection brings to Blu-ray four films from the actress turned director, including her uncredited debut with 1949’s Not Wanted. Each of the four films in the set is also available separately, so you can also pick up single disc versions of 1950’s Never Fear and 1953’s The Hitch-Hiker and The Bigamist.
Quite a few season sets make up this week’s small screen releases. Hitting DVD and Blu-ray is the fourth season of the CW series DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Then, arriving on DVD only is the eighth AHS season, American Horror Story: Apocalypse, the fifth season of Madam Secretary, starring Tea Leoni, and the fourth season of Billions, starring Paul Giamatti.
As always, check back next week for more new releases and, if you missed last week’s column, click here to see what was released on September 17, 2019.