From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bet:
There’s a trio of old and new classics due this week:
In “Heaven Can Wait” (1943), deceased turn-of-the-century playboy Henry Van Cleve (Don Ameche) presents himself to the outer offices of Hades, where he asks a bemused Satan for permission to enter through the gates of hell. Though the devil doubts that Henry’s sins qualify him for eternal damnation, Henry proceeds to recount a lifetime of wooing and pursuing women, his long, happy marriage to Martha (Gene Tierney) notwithstanding. Ernst Lubitsch’s “Heaven Can Wait,” nominated for Academy Awards for best picture and director, is an enduring classic that showcases his trademark blend of wit, urbanity, and grace. On DVD and Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection … Susan Seidelman established her distinctive vision of 1980s New York with her debut feature “Smithereens” (2012), the lo-fi original for her vibrant portraits of women reinventing themselves. After escaping New Jersey, the quintessentially punk Wren (Susan Berman) — a sparkplug in fishnets who lives dangerously downtown — moves to the city with the mission of becoming famous. When not pasting up flyers for herself or hanging at the Peppermint Lounge, she’s getting involved with Paul (Brad Rijn), the nicest guy to ever live in a van next to the highway, and Eric (Richard Hell), an aloof rocker. Shot on 16 mm film that captures the grit and glam of the setting, with an alternately moody and frenetic soundtrack by the Feelies and others, “Smithereens” — the first independent American film to compete for the Palme d’Or — is an unfaded snapshot of a bygone era. On DVD and Blu-ray Disc from The Criterion Collection … In his 10th feature, “Tideland” (2005), Terry Gilliam adapted Mitch Cullin’s celebrated cult novel “Tideland”, a work he once described as “Alice in Wonderland meets Psycho through the eyes of Amélie.” To escape her unhappy life in a remote part of Texas, 9-year-old Jeliza-Rose dreams up an elaborate fantasy world. But the reality of having junkie parents — played by Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Tilly — and the influence of her eccentric neighbors begins to encroach, turning her daydreams ever darker. A rich slice of Southern Gothic blurring whimsical fantasy with unsettling reality, “Tideland” is among Gilliam’s most personal works — indeed, with its shifts between the amusing and the macabre, expressive camerawork and striking special effects, the film could be the very definition of Gilliamesque. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video.
Scream Factory has two great William Castle exploitation films on Blu-ray this week: In “The Tingler” (1959), Vincent Price stars as an obsessed doctor who discovers a parasitic creature that grows on the spinal cords of terrified people. If they scream, the Tingler can be destroyed. If they don’t, it will sever the spinal column and kill them. He successfully isolates and removes the Tingler from a deaf mute (Judith Evelyn) who has been scared to death by her devious husband. Once captured, the Tingler escapes and runs amok in a crowded movie theater. Terror is loose, but can it be stopped? “The Tingler” is legendary horror director-producer William Castle’s magnum opus. After the success of “House on Haunted Hill,” Castle devised a new gimmick called “Percepto.” Participating theaters would wire seats so that random moviegoers would get a tangible electric shock during climactic moments in the film. Another novelty used to maximum effect is the short color sequence depicting blood pouring from a faucet and filling a bathtub. Castle went on to direct more cult classics like “Homicidal” and “13 Ghosts” and later produced the mainstream hit “Rosemary’s Baby.” Film legend Joan Crawford gives a terrific performance in the William Castle chiller “Strait-Jacket” (1964). Crawford plays Lucy Harbin, a woman who goes berserk when she finds her husband in bed with another woman. With her 3-year-old daughter accidentally witnessing the grisly act, Lucy axes the couple to death. She spends 20 years in a mental institution for the double murder. After she’s released, she moves in with her brother, Bill (Leif Erickson), his wife, Emily (Rochelle Hudson) and Carol (Diane Baker), her own daughter who is now 23. Her nightmare is over … or is it? When a spate of ax murders start occurring suddenly in the neighborhood, police think Lucy has reverted to her old ways.
From TV to Disc:
“Ash vs Evil Dead: Season 3” (2018) is a single disc with 10 episodes. Legendary horror icon Bruce Campbell stars in the truly insane, awe-inspiring, and gruesome final season of the hilarious, critically acclaimed, Starz series that follows-up the classic horror film “The Evil Dead.” Also stars Lucy Lawless, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo and newcomer Arielle Carver-O’Neill. Ash, who — having gone from urban legend to hometown hero — discovers that he has a daughter. And, when Kelly witnesses a massacre with Ruby’s fingerprints all over it, she returns to warn Ash and Pablo. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … “Blindspot: The Complete Third Season” (2017-18) is a four-disc set with 22 episodes. “Blindspot” tells the story of a mysterious woman (Jaimie Alexander) who is found in Times Square with her body completely covered in intricate, coded tattoos. With no memories of her past, she is clueless about her own identity. Dubbed Jane Doe, she is investigated by the FBI when they learn one of her mysterious tattoos bears the name of agent Kurt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton). As the FBI investigates the complex treasure map of her body, an ever-widening web of conspiracy and corruption is revealed. Following the shocking second season finale, which revealed a new set of bioluminescent tattoos that mysteriously appeared on Jane Doe’s body, season three jumps forward two years as FBI Agent Kurt Weller finally tracks down Jane, who has been on the run. After the two discover her new hidden tattoos, Jane is forced to return to the FBI, where Weller, Jane and the rest of the team set out to solve these new puzzles and stop the dangerous conspiracies they reveal. The tattoos however, reveal the team’s darkest secrets. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner … “Blue Bloods: The Eighth Season” (2017) is a six-disc set with all 22 episodes. With an all-star cast including Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan and Will Estes, the Reagan family drama — about a multigenerational family of cops dedicated to New York City law enforcement — continues. This season follows the Reagan family as they continue to follow every lead and work to overcome personal challenges within and outside of the work force. New York Police Commissioner Frank Reagan clashes with the new interim mayor and must defend the NYPD from a series of public scandals, while eldest son and seasoned detective Danny deals with the aftermath of a tragic accident and New York Assistant D.A. Erin Reagan reopens old cases and faces off with her ex-husband. The latest season includes guest appearances by Whoopi Goldberg, Ernie Hudson, Mimi Rogers and Lorraine Bracco. From CBS/Paramount … “Gotham: The Complete Fourth Season” (2017-18) includes all 22 episodes. Horror fills the streets as season four of Gotham witnesses the emergence of the criminal landscape for which Gotham City is best known while Bruce Wayne begins the path to vigilantism, showing signs of the caped crusader to come. Gotham City Police Department Captain Jim Gordon and Detective Harvey Bullock remain at the forefront of the fight against the most depraved and unhinged villains from Penguin to The Riddler and numerous others in between. In a five-disc DVD, four-disc Blu-ray, from Warner … “Hostages Season 2” (2016) is a three-disc set with all 12 episodes. In Season Two of the Israeli thriller, a SWAT officer has abducted the Prime Minister in order to save his wife’s life. Now he is under siege by the police force, including some of his best friends. He’s stuck with the Prime Minister in an abandoned Yeshiva building on the outskirts of Jerusalem. His wife’s medical condition is deteriorating, and he has to get out of there to save her life, but he has no plan of action, and every passing moment sinks him deeper into quicksand. Even if he manages to extricate them from the trouble they’re in, the real troubles await him outside. From Kino Lorber … “NCIS: The Fifteenth Season” (2017-18) is a six-disc set with all 24 episode. NCIS Special Agent Leroy Gibbs (Mark Harmon), a former Marine gunnery sergeant whose skills as an investigator are unmatched, leads the NCIS troupe. In this season, they continue to search the jungles of Paraguay for NCIS Special Agents Gibbs and McGee, while confronting cold cases, running secretive stings and chasing down kidnappers. From CBS/Paramount … “The Terror: The Complete First Season” (2018) is a three-disc set with all 10 episodes. Inspired by the true story of Captain Sir John Franklin’s lost expedition in the late 1800s as he ventured into uncharted territory in an attempt to discover the Northwest Passage. A desperate game of survival begins when the Royal Naval expedition faces starvation, mutiny, cannibalism, and a monstrous predator, a cunning and vicious Gothic horror that stalks the ships in a desperate game of survival, the consequences of which could endanger the region and its native people forever. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … “The Walking Dead: The Complete Eighth Season” (2017-18) is a five-disc set with all 16 episodes. Together with the Hilltop and the Kingdom, Rick and the Alexandrians bring “All Out War” to Negan and his forces. The Saviors are larger, better equipped, and ruthless, but Rick and the unified communities are fighting for the promise of a brighter future. The battle lines are drawn as they launch into a kinetic, action-packed offensive. The eighth season bridges the stories between “The Walking Dead” and its spinoff, “Fear the Walking Dead.” On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate.