Merry Christmas from the crew at OnVideo
From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Highlights:
There’s two interesting releases from The Criterion Collection this week.
“Panique” (1946): Proud, eccentric, and antisocial, Monsieur Hire (Michel Simon) has always kept to himself. But after a woman turns up dead in the Paris suburb where he lives, he feels drawn to a pretty young newcomer to town (Viviane Romance), discovers that his neighbors are only too ready to be suspicious of him, and is framed for the murder. Based on a novel by Georges Simenon, Julien Duvivier’s first film after his return to France from Hollywood finds the acclaimed poetic realist applying his consummate craft to darker, moodier ends. Propelled by its two deeply nuanced lead performances, the tensely noirish Panique exposes the dangers of the knives-out mob mentality, delivering as well a pointed allegory of the behavior of Duvivier’s countrymen during the war. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, with new 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray … “Sawdust and Tinsel” (1953): Ingmar Bergman presents the battle of the sexes as a ramshackle, grotesque carnival of humiliation in “Sawdust and Tinsel,” one of the master’s most vivid early works and his first of many collaborations with the great cinematographer Sven Nykvist. The story of the charged relationship between a turn-of-the-20th-century circus owner (Åke Grönberg) and his younger mistress (Harriet Andersson), a horseback rider in the traveling show, the film features dreamlike detours and twisted psychosexual power plays, making for a piercingly brilliant depiction of physical and spiritual degradation. On Blu-ray Disc, with new 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack.
In “Bloody Birthday” (1981), The Bad Seed meets Halloween in a deliciously twisted early ’80s slasher offering directed by Ed Hunt (“The Brain”) and starring the always loveable Lori Lethin (“Return to Horror High,” “The Pre”y). Debbie, Curtis and Steven may seem cute as buttons. But their angelic facade conceals the wicked, murderous streak given to them having all been born under the same solar eclipse. With the grown-ups around them blissfully unaware of their little darlings’ homicidal tendencies, the evil brats begin to bump off the adults one-by-one. By gun. By arrow. By cake. Bye-bye! Mixing the killer-kid subgenre with elements of the then-booming slice-and-dice movie, “Bloody Birthday” shocks and appalls with its scenes of young children shooting, strangling and bludgeoning their way through the local population. Formats: Blu-ray with original uncompressed mono audio. From Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In “Assassination Nation” (2018), starring Odessa Young, Hari Nef, Suki Waterhouse and Abra, high school senior Lily and her three best friends live in a world of selfies, emojis, snaps and sexts. But when their town of Salem is besieged by a massive data hack, resulting in half the citizens’ private info spewed into the public view, the community descends into anarchy. Lily is targeted after being falsely blamed for the hack—and bands together with her friends to survive a long, blood-soaked night. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Universal … In “Monster Party” (2018), starring Julian McMahon, Robin Tunney, Sam Strike, Erin Moriarty, Lance Reddick, Brandon Micheal Hall, Virginia Gardner and Diego Boneta, three thieves plan a daring heist posing as waiters at a fancy Malibu mansion dinner party in hopes of paying off an urgent debt. When their plan goes horribly wrong, the trio realizes the dinner guests are not as innocent as they seem and their simple cash grab becomes a violent and desperate battle to get out of the house alive. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … In “The Super” (2017), starring Patrick John Flueger, Val Kilmer and Louisa Krause, former cop Phil takes a job as a superintendent in a Manhattan apartment building. When a teen goes missing, along with several other tenants, Phil suspects a sadistic murderer may be roaming the eerie corridors and that his daughters’ lives are in danger. But whom can he trust when everybody around him has something to hide? On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … “Air Strike” (2018 — China), starring Ye Liu, Bruce Willis, Nicholas Tse, Su Ma, William Wai-Ting Chan, Bingbing Fan, Wei Fan and Adrien Brody, ios an action-adventure about the courage of China’s citizens during WWII. As a U.S. Army colonel (Willis) trains Chinese aviators to battle Japanese fighters, a hotheaded pilot begs to fly a powerful bomber that could stop the attacks. Meanwhile, a team of spies and refugees must carry a game-changing decoder device through the war-torn countryside. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Lionsgate … “Life Itself” (2018), starring Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Mandy Patinkin, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas and Samuel L. Jackson, is the tale of two long-lived lovers highlights the splendors of life. From their lighthearted romance to the arrival of their baby, every rewarding aspect of life is touched upon. Though the couple endures a series of hardships, the moral is that life’s wonders invariably eclipse periods of woe. With a healthy dose of laughter, love, and resilience, this New York duo discovers a profound appreciation for both the certainties and unpredictabilities in life. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Amazon.
Heading up the reissues this week is the Blu-ray debut of “The Jerk” (1979), directed by Carl Reiner and starring Steve Martin (in his feature film debut), Bernadette Peters, Rob Reiner, Bill Macy and M. Emmet Walsh. Martin stars as Navin Johnson, the adopted son of a poor black sharecropping family in Mississippi. When he learns that the world is a much bigger place than he’d ever imagined, Navin sets out on a quest to find his “special purpose.” His adventures lead him to encounter a would-be assassin, jobs in carnivals and gas stations, a life-saving dog, romance with the girl of his dreams and more money than he could ever spend. But his life in the clouds may come crashing down when the source of his new fame and fortune creates disastrous side effects. 40th Anniversary Edition remastered from a brand-new 2K scan. From Shout! Factory … “Dracula Prince of Darkness” (1966): This ghoulish tale from Hammer’s golden era includes both the UK and US version of the film and a new 4K scan of the US version of the interpositive from the 20th Century Fox vaults. Four English tourists find themselves stranded in the mysterious village of Karlsbad, a sinister and remote place with a deadly, dark legend. Their journey leads them to an abandoned castle where a nightmarish destiny awaits them: an evil in need of resurrection, a blood-craving beast known only as Count Dracula, Prince of Darkness (Christopher Lee).On Blu-ray from Scream Factory … “Topper Takes a Trip” (1938): Starring Constance Bennett, Roland Young, Billie Burke, Alan Mowbray, Verree Teasdale and Franklin Pangborn. Second in the “Topper” series. To gain entry to heaven, ghost Marion Kirby (Bennett) has to do some good on earth. That means reuniting a divorcing couple, Cosmo (Young) and Clara Topper (Burke). To be fair, Marion played a part in their troubles: Clara mistakenly thought Marion was Cosmo’s mistress. On Blu-ray from VCI Entertainment … “Starman Collector’s Edition” (1984): Directed by John Carpenter and starring Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen, Charles Martin Smith, Richard Jaeckel. Visionary filmmaker John Carpenter presents a romantic science fiction odyssey starring Jeff Bridges as an innocent alien from a distant planet who learns what it means to be a man in love. When his spacecraft is shot down over Wisconsin, Starman (Bridges) arrives at the remote cabin of a distraught young widow, Jenny Hayden (Karen Allen), and clones the form of her dead husband. The alien convinces Jenny to drive him to Arizona, explaining that if he isn’t picked up by his mothership in three days, he’ll die. Hot on their trail are government agents, intent on capturing the alien, dead or alive. En route, Starman demonstrates the power of universal love, while Jenny rediscovers her human feelings for passion. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory.