From the Big Screen:
This Week's Best Bets:
This week's best bets include a selection of very dark films, beginning with Arrow Video's gigantic boxed set "The Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast." In 1963, director Herschell Gordon Lewis pulled a cow's tongue out of an actress' mouth on camera, and in doing so, changed the landscape of horror cinema forever. That sequence was just one of numerous gruesome gags featured in "Blood Feast," the film credited as being the world's first gore movie. It's no exaggeration to say that the modern gross-out movies of today owe their very existence to the pioneering efforts of H.G. Lewis. But whilst Lewis is most widely celebrated for his blood-and-guts epics ("Two Thousand Maniacs!", "The Wizard of Gore," etc.), there's more to the prolific director than splatter. From tales of sordid photographers ("Scum of the Earth") to sex robots ("How to Make a Doll"), from biker girl-gangs ("She-Devils on Wheels") to youths-run-amok ("Just for the Hell of It"), and from psychic witches ("Something Weird") to hard liquor-loving hillbillies ("Moonshine Mountain"), the filmography of H.G. Lewis reads like a veritable wish-list of exploitation movie madness. Now, for the first time ever, Arrow Video presents 14 of the Godfather of Gore's most essential films on seven Blu-ray Discs and seven DVDs (including nine Blu-ray world debuts), packed full of eye-popping bonus content. The Blu-ray/DVD Combo set has a retail price of $229.95 but is selling for $159.99 online. Read more here. From Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … Next up is a 4K digital restoration of director Leslie Stevens' long-missing 1960 thriller "Private Property" (2015), starring iconic American character actor Warren Oates in his first significant screen role. A major rediscovery for noir and crime fans," Private Property" had essentially vanished following a very brief release in the early 1960s. Two homicidal Southern California drifters (played to creepy, Peeping Tom perfection by Oates and Corey Allen) wander off the beach and into the seemingly-perfect Beverly Hills home of an unhappy housewife (Leslie Stevens' real-life spouse, Kate Manx). Shimmering with sexual tension and lensed in stunning B&W by master cameraman Ted McCord ("The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," "East of Eden"), "Private Property" is both an eerie, neo-Hitchcockian thriller and a savage critique of the hollowness of the Playboy-era American Dream. Oates delivers his first great screen performance here as one of the murderous vagabonds, years before he emerged as one of the finest character actors of his generation; his bizarre, voyeuristic Lennie-and-George relationship with the underrated Allen (James Dean's hot rod rival in "Rebel Without a Cause") is fueled by a barely-suppressed homoeroticism. Shot almost entirely in the Beverly Hills home where director Stevens and lead actress Manx lived at the time, the film is a simmering thriller tinged with deeply unnerving elements of autobiography — and all the voyeurism anyone could ask for. From Cinelicious Pics … Rounding out the trio is "The Executioner" (1963), a masterpiece of black humor, beloved in Spain but too little seen elsewhere, a scathing critique of Franco-era values through a macabre farce about an undertaker who marries an executioner's daughter and reluctantly takes over her father's job so the family can keep their government-allotted apartment. As caustic today as it was in 1963, this early collaboration between Luis García Berlangan and his longtime screenwriter Rafael Azcona is an unerring depiction of what Berlanga called "the invisible traps that society sets up for us." A furiously funny personal attack on capital punishment, "The Executioner" escaped the state censors who sought to suppress it, and today is regarded as one of the greatest Spanish films of all time. On DVD and Blu-ray, with a new, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection
To lighten things a little, Sony has on offer "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby 10th Anniversary" (2006), in an ultimate two-disc Blu-ray fan edition. The comedy stars Will Ferrell as #1 NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby, who stays atop the heap thanks to a pact with his best friend and teammate, Cal Naughton, Jr. (John C. Reilly). But when a French Formula One driver (Sacha Baron Cohen) makes his way up the ladder, Ricky Bobby's talent and devotion are put to the test. Includes the theatrical version of the film fully remastered in 4K, plus over 90 minutes of new special features including 13 never-before-seen deleted and extended scenes, interviews with Ricky & Jean, "Raw Takes," director Adam McKay's video diaries, auditions and more. The set also includes the unrated version of the film, along with all archival bonus material: "25 Years Later" commentary, commentary with director Adam McKay, deleted and extended scenes, gag reel, "Line-O-Rama," interviews, "Will Ferrell Returns to Talladega" featurette, bonus race footage, "Walker & Texas Ranger" featurette, Ricky and Cal's commercials and public service announcements, more.
From TV to DVD:
Based on MC Beaton's best-selling mystery novels, the Acorn TV Original Series "Agatha Raisin" (2016) makes its DVD debut. In this funny and intriguing new mystery series, a London PR whizz, Agatha Raisin (Ashley Jensen), turns amateur sleuth as she becomes entangled in mischief, mayhem, and murder when she opts for early retirement in a small village in the Cotswolds. Agatha finds her hopes of a quiet life are dashed when more murders start occurring in her village. Drawn into their mysteries, Agatha attempts to solve the crimes … often in rather unorthodox ways. Three-disc set with eight episodes … "American Masters: Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You" (2016) is the first documentary about the 94-year-old television writer/producer legend who was largely responsible for the explosion of bold American television in the 1970s. With unprecedented access to Lear, his work and his massive personal archives, the film combines stories from his turbulent childhood and early career with his groundbreaking TV success ("All in the Family," "The Jeffersons," "Good Times," "Maude") and social activism. The documentary also features colorful stories from Lear’s family, friends and collaborators, including John Amos, George Clooney, Alan Horn, Bill Moyers, Rob Reiner, Phil Rosenthal and Russell Simmons, as well as cinéma vérité moments with Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Jon Stewart, Amy Poehler and Lena Dunham. Release timed to coincide with national broadcast premiering on PBS October 25 after a July-August theatrical release.On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from PBS Distribution … "Ancient Aliens: Season 9" (2014) is a four-disc set with 12 episodes. Pyramids … hidden beneath the ice of Antarctica. Egyptian hieroglyphs of flying ships … carved on sandstone walls in Australia. As technology advances, scientists and archaeologists are making new, groundbreaking discoveries at an unprecedented rate. According to Ancient Astronaut theorists, these discoveries may reveal not only that extraterrestrials visited Earth in the distant past, but that they may still be among us today. From Lionsgate … Award-winning actress Marta Dusseldorp returns in Acorn TV's enthralling Australian legal drama "Janet King, Series 2: The Invisible Wound" (2016). In Series 2, still reeling from her own personal tragedy, Janet and her team leave the courtroom to lead a Royal Commission into gun crimes. In Series 2, Janet remains devastated by the unsolved murder of her partner, Ash, two years earlier. Her professional life is no less challenging, as the attorney general tasks Janet with heading a royal commission into serious firearm crime. Recruiting some of her old team from the Department of Public Prosecutions, Janet begins piecing together how illegal guns enter the country. When the commission discovers evidence related to Ash's murder, Janet comes closer to finding the killer who tore her family apart. But uncovering the truth makes Janet and the high-profile commission a target for criminals and politicians alike. Three-disc set with eight episodes.