This Week’s Best Bets
“Gamera: The Complete Collection Limited Edition Blu-ray Boxset” is a limited collectors’ edition package, housed in a large-format rigid box, fully illustrated by Matt Frank; case bound, fully-illustrated disc book containing eight Blu-ray discs; High Definition (1080p) versions of all 12 films (“Gamera the Giant Monster,” “Gamera vs. Barugon,” “Gamera vs. Gyaos,” “Gamera vs. Viras,” “Gamera vs. Guiron,” “Gamera vs. Jiger,” “Gamera vs. Zigra,” “Gamera Super Monster,” “Gamera the Guardian of the Universe,” “Gamera 2: Attack of Legion,” “Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris,” “Gamera the Brave”), with lossless original Japanese audio and a complete collection of English dub tracks, including classic American International dubs on the Showa-era films remastered from original MGM elements; hardback 130-page comic book including a full-color reprint of the four-issue Gamera comic series originally released by Dark Horse Comics in 1996, and the first-ever English-language printing of the prequel comic The Last Hope by Matt Frank and Joshua Bugosh; perfect-bound 80-page book including a new retrospective on the series by Patrick Macias, an archive interview with Noriaki Yuasa by David Milner, kaiju X-ray illustrations by Jolyon Yates, Fangoria set reports on the Heisei trilogy by Norman England, a viewers’ guide to the English-dubbed versions of the films; double-sided four-panel poster of “Gamera’s Map of Japan” in both Japanese and English; collectors’ artcards for each film, featuring new artwork by Matt Frank. Read more here. From Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … Adapting the acclaimed novel by Ian McEwan, playwright and screenwriter Harold Pinter lends his trademark unnerving dialogue and air of creeping menace to “The Comfort of Strangers” (1990), a spellbinding study of power, control, and the frighteningly thin line between pleasure and pain. Rupert Everett and Natasha Richardson are the prey, a beautiful British couple working on their relationship while on holiday in Venice; Christopher Walken and Helen Mirren are the hunters who draw them into the sinister web of their opulent, old-world palazzo. What plays out is an unsettling, sadomasochistic seduction imbued with an atmosphere of sumptuous dread by the elegantly gliding tracking shots of cinematographer Dante Spinotti, lush score by Angelo Badalamenti, and carefully controlled direction of Paul Schrader, who choreographs a mesmerizing pas de quatre of sustained erotic and emotional tension. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Dante Spinotti, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection … (1979) On April 30, 1971, a standing-room-only crowd of New York’s intellectual elite packed the city’s Town Hall theater to see Norman Mailer — fresh from the controversy over his essay “The Prisoner of Sex” and the backlash it received from leaders of the women’s movement — tangle with a panel of four prominent female thinkers and activists: Jacqueline Ceballos, Germaine Greer, Jill Johnston, and Diana Trilling. Part intellectual death match, part three-ring circus, the proceedings were captured with crackling, fly-on-the-wall immediacy by the documentary great D. A. Pennebaker and a small crew, with Chris Hegedus later condensing the three-and-a-half-hour affair into this briskly entertaining snapshot of a singular cultural moment. Heady, heated, and hilarious, “Town Bloody Hall” is a dazzling display of feminist firepower courtesy of some of the most influential figures of the era, with Mailer plainly relishing his role as the pugnacious rabble-rouser and literary lion at the center of it all. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new 2K digital restoration, supervised by director Chris Hegedus, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection … The directorial debut of horror master Wes Craven, “The Last House on the Left” (1972) stands today as one of the true landmark moments in genre cinema. On the eve of her 17th birthday, Mari and friend Phyllis set off from her family home to attend a rock concert in the city. Attempting to score some drugs on the way, the pair run afoul of a group of vicious crooks, headed up by the sadistic Krug (David Hess). Gagged and bound, the young women are bundled into a car trunk and driven to the woods, where a nightmarish orgy of depravity unfolds. Shocking audiences and critics alike upon its original release in 1972, nearly half a century on “The Last House on the Left” justly retains its reputation as one of the most harrowing cinematic experiences of all time. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment.
From TV to Disc:
“Batwoman: The Complete First Season” (2019-20) is a five-disc set with all 20 episodes. Kate Kane never planned to be Gotham’s new vigilante. After Batman disappeared, Gotham was in despair… until she returned. Armed with a passion for justice and a flair for speaking her mind, she soars through the shadowed streets of Gotham as Batwoman. But don’t call her a hero yet. In a city desperate for a savior, she must first overcome her own demons before becoming Gotham’s symbol of hope. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner … “Blue Bloods: The Tenth Season” (2019-20) is a four-disc set with all 19 episodes. The hit cop drama with a cast featuring Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan, Will Estes, Len Cariou, Vanessa Ray and Marisa Ramirez follows a multi-generational family of cops dedicated to New York City law enforcement. After the wedding ceremony of Jamie (Estes) and Eddie (Ray) in the season nine finale,this season follows the newlyweds as they attempt to balance the rocky terrain of their work and personal lives. Meanwhile, the Trial Bureau Chief, Erin Reagan (Moynahan) realizes the actuality of her job is more political than she would like, often placing her at odds with her father or brothers. Detectives Danny Reagan (Wahlberg) and Maria Baes (Ramirez) uncover and solve more distressing crimes, and Frank Reagan (Selleck) continues to approach trouble from I Police Plaza. Guest stars include Ed Asner, Dylan Walsh and Peter Scolari. From CBS/Paramount … “S.W.A.T. Season 3” (2019-20) is a five-disc set with all 21 episodes. Follows a locally born and bred S.W.A.T. sergeant and his team of highly-trained men and women as they solve crimes in Los Angeles. Torn between loyalty to where he was raised and allegiance to his brothers in blue, former Marine Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson (Shemar Moore) has everything it takes to be an excellent leader and bridge the divide between his two worlds. With Hondo leading the charge, his team of dedicated men and women bravely put themselves at risk to protect their community and save lives. From Sony.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In “Cannibal Corpse Killers” (2018), starring Dennis Haggard and Ron Jason, after a simple virus has led to a legion of demons overwhelming the planet and systemically killing humans, turning the world into an apocalyptic wasteland, a man leads a group of survivors fighting demonically possessed corpses through the new America to try to make it to the epicenter – Jawbone. In his way stands The Magistrate, an amoral leader using an army of cannibal corpses to serve him as he attempts to lead the new world. From Indican Pictures … In “Escape: Puzzle of Fear” (2020), starring Tommy Nash, Aubrey Reynolds, Omar Gooding, Naina Michaud, Nicholas Turturro and Sara Stretton, hot-shot Hollywood agent Matthew Blake has a dark past. He thinks that he is on his way to a double date with his oldest friend to a new Escape Room in Los Angeles. When the couples are locked into the Escape Room, Matthew quickly finds himself at the center of a revenge plot meant to right the wrongs of his past, with deadly results. From Uncork’d Entertainment … In “The Barge People” (2018), starring Kate Davies-Speak, Mark McKirdy, Makenna Guyler and Matt Swales, a group of friends sets off for a relaxing weekend away on the canals of the glorious British countryside, unaware of the flesh-eating mutants lurking in the water … ready and waiting to feed. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … In “Clownface” (2019), starring Thomas Loone, Philip Bailey and Hannah Dougles, a deranged young man, donned in a clown mask made of human flesh, terrorizes a small town with a series of abductions and murders. Neighbors Jenna and Owen search for their missing friend Zoe, who may be the latest victim of this local urban legend: Clownface. From Wild Eye Releasing … “Emperor” (2020), starring Dayo Okeniyi, James Cromwell, Kat Graham, Naturi Naughton, Mykelti Williamson, Ben Robson and Bruce Dern, is based on the iconic American freedom fighter and legend Shields “Emperor” Green (Okeniyi), a descendant of African kings turned outlaw slave. The film tells the astonishing tale of Green’s escape from slavery as he fights his way north, joining the daring raid on Harper’s Ferry, the key battle of the abolitionist movement that helped spark the beginning of the Civil War and alter the course of American history. From Universal … “Prevenge” (2019), starring Gemma Whelan, Kate Dickie and Jo Hartley, is a blood-soaked comedy in which Ruth’s misanthropic unborn baby speaks to her from the womb, coaching her to lure and ultimately kill her unsuspecting victims. Struggling with her conscience, loneliness, and a strange strain of prepartum madness, Ruth must ultimately choose between redemption and destruction at the moment of motherhood. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … “Split Second” (1992), starring Rutger Hauer, Kim Cattrall, Alastair Duncan, Michael J. Pollard and Pete Postlethwaite, gets a Blu-ray treatment this week. In the year 2008, the cops are better armed than before, but nothing has prepared them for this. Swift, sharp-clawed and deadly, something moves among them on the streets, in the alleyways, on the rooftops, tearing out human hearts and devouring them. Maverick cop “Harley” Stone (Hauer) lost his partner to the beast, and now it looks like his girlfriend Michelle (Cattrall) is next on the killer’s list. Even in the future, there aren’t guns big enough to stop the creature’s deadly force, but Stone has no choice. Teamed with rookie detective Durkin (Duncan), Stone must stalk the edge of his own sanity if he is to destroy the rampaging Evil on the outside and banish the very real demons within. High Definition (1080p) presentation in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, newly scanned, restored and color graded in 4K from the 35MM internegative. From MVD Rewind Collection.
For the Family:
In “A Dog’s Courage” (2018 — South Korea), Jacob, a feisty, playful dog abandoned by his owners, joins a pack of strays and comes to terms with his unwanted and abrupt freedom in this new animated adventure. With his new friends in tow, Ralph heads north and finds the perfect place of safety and peace — the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. In both the original Korean language and an all-new English dub. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Well Go USA.
Honoring the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment of women’s suffrage, the two-disc set “American Experience: The Vote” (2019) tells the dramatic story of the epic and surprisingly unfamiliar crusade waged by American women for the right to vote. Focusing primarily on the movement’s final decade, the film charts American women’s determined march to the ballot box, and illuminates the myriad social, political and cultural obstacles that stood in their path. The series features the voices of unsung warriors of the movement: Mae Whitman voices Alice Paul, Audra McDonald voices Ida B. Wells, Laura Linney voices Carrie Chapman Catt and Patricia Clarkson voices Harriot Stanton Blatch. From PBS Distribution … “Cursed Films” (2020) is a five-part documentary series that explores the myths and legends behind some of Hollywood’s notoriously “cursed” horror film productions. From plane accidents and bombings during the making of “The Omen,” to the rumored use of real human skeletons on the set of “Poltergeist,” to tragic events associated with “The Exorcist,” “The Crow” and “Twilight Zone: The Movie.” These stories are legendary amongst film fans and filmmakers alike. Were these films really cursed, as many believe, or just the victims of bad luck and bizarre circumstances? Stars Phil Nobile Jr. (Fangoria editor-in-chief), Linda Blair (“The Exorcist”), Kane Hodder (“Friday the 13th” franchise), Michael Berryman (“The Hills Have Eyes”), Mitch Horowitz (“As a Man Thinketh”), Ryan Turek (VP of development, Blumhouse Pictures), Richard Donner (“The Omen”) and Gary Sherman (“Poltergeist III”). On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … “Biography: Kenny Rogers “ (2020) chronicles the life of one of the best-selling solo artists of all time, from his childhood through the rise and fall of The First Edition band to the iconic release of “The Gambler” to the height of his career as a country music star, actor, and pop-culture icon. Featuring intimate interviews with Chris Stapleton, Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Reba McEntire, and many other friends and fellow artists, along with footage from Rogers’s 2017 star-studded farewell concert in Nashville. From Lionsgate … “Bombardier Blood” (2020) chronicles the remarkable journey of hemophiliac mountaineer Chris Bombardier as he embarks on a historic mission to complete the Seven Summits, and inspire an international community to help those with hemophilia around the globe. He’s completed five of the climbs already, and is preparing for his journey to Nepal to reach the summit of the world’s tallest peak: Everest. Under the supervision of his doctors and with the support of his wife and uncle, Chris is prepared for the mountain. What he’s not prepared for are the Nepalese children with destroyed joints and the stricken mothers who have lost their sons due to the lack of medications for hemophilia. From Believe Limited.
All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers, and Power 10 subwoofer.