From the Big Screen:
(2022) Idris Elba stars in this pulse-pounding thriller as Dr. Nate, a recently widowed husband who returns to South Africa on a long-planned trip to a game reserve. What begins as a journey of healing turns into a fearsome fight for survival as Dr. Nate and his daughters find themselves hunted by a massive, rogue lion intent on proving that the savannah has but one apex predator. Vitals: Director: Baltasar Kormáku. Stars: Idris Elba, Sharlto Copley, Iyana Halley, Leah Jeffries. 2022, CC, MPAA rating: R, 93 min., Action Adventure, North American box office gross: $31.819 million, worldwide $56.646 million, Universal. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Code, VOD, Digital. Extras: Deleted scene; “Man Vs. Lion: The Final Battle; “Creating The Beast”; “Making It Real: The Wounds”; “Filming In The Beast’s Territory”; “Family Bond: The Cast Of The Beast”; “A Lion’s Pride” featurette on the tragic truth of lion poaching. Read more here
This Week’s Best Bets:
Frank Capra adapted a hit stage play for this marvelous screwball meeting of the madcap and the macabre in “Arsenic and Old Lace Blu-ray Debut” (1944). On Halloween, newly married drama critic Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant, cutting loose in a hilariously harried performance) returns home to Brooklyn, where his adorably dotty aunts (Josephine Hull and Jean Adair, who both starred in the Broadway production) greet him with love, sweetness … and a grisly surprise: the corpses buried in their cellar. A bugle-playing brother (John Alexander) who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, a crazed criminal (Raymond Massey) who’s a dead ringer for Boris Karloff, and a seriously slippery plastic surgeon (Peter Lorre) are among the outré oddballs populating this diabolical delight that only gets funnier as the body count rises. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray, with new, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Read more here. From The Criterion Collection … In the controversial and notorious buddy film “Going Places” (1974 — France), director Bertrand Blier created what critic Pauline Kael described as “an explosively funny erotic farce – both a celebration and a satire of men’s daydreams.” Gerard Depardieu (in the role that would make him an international star) and Patrick Dewaere portray Jean-Claude and Pierrot, two amoral drifters who travel the French countryside committing petty crimes and harassing the women they encounter, including Miou-Miou, Jeanne Moreau, and, in an early role, Isabelle Huppert. Perpetually on the run from the police and the women they encounter, the two are always just one step ahead of death or imprisonment as a result of their crime spree. Graced with a justly famous score by Stéphane Grappelli, “Going Places” remains as shocking and outrageous today as it did upon its initial release. On Blu-ray from Cohen Film Collection … In “No Escape” (1994), the Year is 2022. John Robbins (Ray Liotta), a former Marine Captain, has been sentenced for assassinating his commanding officer and is banished to a secret and remote prison island run by The Warden (Michael Lerner). In this prison of the future, inhabited by society’s most violent and feared criminals, Robbins is left to the mercy of the elements and his fellow man. He finds the island divided into two camps: The Outsiders, led by the brutal and bloodthirsty Marek (Stuart Wilson); and The Insiders, led by the strong-willed, benevolent Father (Lance Henriksen) and his followers Hankins (Ernie Hudson) and Casey (Kevin Dillon). Robbins doesn’t care to join either – his one aim is to break free of an island from which there is no escape. To aid him, he steals a powerful and destructive weapon from The Outsiders, sparking off a major war between the two encampments. Now bloody battle and the brutality of hand-to-hand combat will take many lives before Robbins can think of freedom again. Trapped on an island where nature can be as deadly as man, there is only one thought which keeps Robbins alive … escape. On DVD this week, Blu-ray next week, from Unearthed Films. Read more here … Director Tod Browning brought his signature horror style to the classic MGM thriller “Mark of the Vampire” (1935), starring Lionel Barrymore, Bela Lugosi, Jean Hersholt and Elizabeth Allen. In a remote village in Central Europe, a nobleman’s body is found drained of its blood and two punctures on his neck — the Mark of the Vampire. An ancient terror, a horror that won’t die haunts the village: the long undead Count Mora (Bela Lugosi) and his daughter Luna (Carroll Borland), rule the night. But the vampires have not fed on the people of the village for a very long time. Now, with the help of an expert in the occult, Professor Zelen (Lionel Barrymore) and a local Baron (Jean Hersholt), police inspector Neumann (Lionel Atwill) unearth a mystery far stranger and more terrifying than anyone could have imagined. On Blu-ray from Warner Archive.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In “Wire Room” (2022), action legend Bruce Willis comes out with guns blazing as Shane Mueller, a Homeland Security agent who runs the Wire Room, a high-tech command center surveilling the most dangerous criminals. New recruit Justin Rosa (Kevin Dillon) must monitor arms-smuggling cartel member Eddie Flynn — and keep him alive at all costs. When a SWAT team descends on Flynn’s home, Rosa breaks protocol and contacts the gangster directly to save his life. As gunmen break into the Wire Room and chaos erupts, Mueller and Rosa make a desperate stand against the corrupt agents and officials who seek to destroy evidence and kill them both. On DVD, Blu-ray + Digital Code, from Lionsgate. Read more here … “Sawed Off” (2022), starring Eva Hamilton, Jody Barton and Trae Ireland, is a supernatural horror feature based on a comic anthology story. Two hunters, friends for years and vying for the affections of the same woman, find themselves on cursed land and keep killing each other and coming back to life. From Uncork’d Entertainment. Read more here … In “Frost” (2022), starring Devanny Pinn and Vernon Wells, a young woman, Abby (Pinn) and her estranged father Grant (Wells) fight to survive after being stranded on a remote mountainside during a winter storm in this gripping thriller from writer James Cullen Bressack (“Hot Seat,” “Fortress”) and director Brandon Slagle (“Crossbreed”). From Cleopatra Entertainment … Available for the first time on home video anywhere in the world, this is the complete and uncut version of the legendary rarity “Love Brides of the Blood Mummy” (1973 – Spain, France). The film contains extended scenes of sex and violence that are among the most intense and shocking of any film from this period. In ancient Egypt, the son of a high priest is sentenced to death for the murder and mutilation of young women. His father uses his influence to have his son placed in a cataleptic state and sealed intact in a grand sarcophagus. Thousands of years later, in a castle in remote 19th century Cornwall, Lord Dartmoor, an eccentric practitioner of the Black Arts, opens the sarcophagus and brings the body back to life through the power of electricity. The Egyptian needs fresh blood to survive and using his telepathic abilities he enslaves Dartmoor’s servant, John, and forces him to kidnap young women and bring them back to the castle where they will be drained of their life fluid by the monster. Brand new 4k transfer form film negative, digitally restored.On Blu-ray from Mondo Macabro … Also from Mondo Macabro comes the world Blu-ray premiere of the notorious Euro horror rarity “The Horrible Sexy Vampire” (1971 – Spain). A series of murders is being committed. Both men and women are victims of a mystery assassin. The police think it is the work of a serial killer. The coroner is not sure it is so simple. He has been studying the case and has discovered that for nearly a hundred years in the same district, people have been killed in the same way and according to a very distinct time pattern. To the astonishment of the investigating officer, the coroner says he believes the killings to be the work of a supernatural creature – a vampire. Soon a stranger arrives in the area, claiming to be the sole descendent of the long dead baron who was believed to be a vampire. He accompanies the police into the burial vaults of the ancient castle, where a dreadful sight awaits them. Brand new 4k transfer from 35mm materials, digitally restored … Mondo Macabro also brings home the first ever US release and a world premiere on Blu-ray of horror maestro Jesus Franco’s “The Other Side of the Mirror (Al otro lado del espejo)” (1973 – Spain). Ana, a young songwriter and piano player, lives alone with her father in a large house on the island of Madeira. She meets a boy and they plan to marry. However when she tells her father of their intentions he tries to persuade her to call off the wedding. With the help of her aunt, Ana continues with her plans and one day her expensive wedding dress is delivered. Ana puts on the dress and runs happily through the house to find her father. Entering his study she sees, reflected in a mirror, her father hanging by a rope. He has killed himself. Ana leaves the island for the mainland and gets a job playing with a jazz band. However, she is haunted by visions of her dead father calling to her from beyond the mirror, summoning her to murder any man who gets close to her. Gradually the mirror world takes over Ana’s life until she can no longer separate fantasy from reality. Brand new 4k transfer from film negative, digitally restored … In “Guardians of Time” (2022), starring Samantha Ryan, Ava Torres, Skip Schwink, Katie Burgess, Natalie Daniels and Drew Pollock, when Sybil, her kid sister Alex, and two cousins discover a magical book in the family manor, it opens a hidden door into the forest of Keoherus. As the powerful Warriors Four, the girls must now locate secret temples and solve intricate puzzles to gather crystals that will allow them to control time. But when Alex is captured by an evil force, they must rescue her and find a way home — or stay trapped in Keoherus forever.From Lionsgate. Read more here.
In “The Test” (2021 — France), starring Alexandra Lamy, Philippe Katerine, Matteo Perez and Joaquim Fossi, Annie lives in harmony with her work-from-home doctor husband Laurent and her children: the sensitive elders Maximilien and César; teen daughter Poupi and toddler Antoine. But a positive pregnancy test disturbs the family harmony. From Icarus Films. Read more here … “Moon, 66 Questions “ (2021 — Greece), starring Sofia Kokkali and Lazaros Georgakopoulos, follows twenty-something Artemis, who after years of distance, tentatively decides to return to Athens and care for her father, Paris, after his recent decline in health. As she intimately cares for the stoic, near-wordless Paris, she tries to understand this man she never really knew. When Artemis discovers a well-kept secret from her father’s past, she finally begins to not only better understand a complicated man, but the underlying love coursing through a complicated relationship between father and daughter. From Film Movement.
Enter an enchanted, ghostly world with the family adventure “Ghoster” (2022), starring Sophie Proctor, J.R. Brown, Josh Escayg, Rachel G. Whittle and David Henrie. Elizabeth and her father inherit a nearby estate — but find it haunted by a kindly young phantom named Ghoster. He begs for Elizabeth’s help undoing an ancient dragon’s curse that has trapped him in the manor. Joined by the caretaker’s handsome son Mateo, they must enter a magical painting and solve dangerous puzzles to undo the hex and free the trapped souls of Ghoster’s ancestors. From Lionsgate. Read more here.
“HALLELUJAH: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song” (2022) is the definitive exploration of singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen as seen through the prism of his internationally renowned hymn, “Hallelujah.” This feature-length documentary weaves together three creative strands: The songwriter and his times; the song’s dramatic journey from record label reject to chart-topping hit; and moving testimonies from major recording artists for whom “Hallelujah” has become a personal touchstone. Approved for production by Leonard Cohen just before his 80th birthday in 2014, the film accesses a wealth of never-before-seen archival materials from the Cohen Trust including Cohen’s personal notebooks, journals and photographs, performance footage, and extremely rare audio recordings and interviews. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Sony. Read more here.
From TV to Disc:
“Sweet Tooth: The Complete First Season” (2021) is a two-disc set with all eight episodes, based on the DC comic book series. The end of our world is the beginning of his. Ten years ago “The Great Crumble” wreaked havoc on the world and led to the mysterious emergence of hybrids — babies born part human, part animal. Unsure if hybrids are the cause or result of the virus, many humans fear and hunt them. After a decade of living safely in his secluded forest home, a sheltered hybrid deer-boy named Gus unexpectedly befriends a wandering loner named Jepperd. Together Gus and the Big Man set out on an extraordinary adventure across what’s left of America in search of answers — about Gus’s origins, Jepperd’s past, and the true meaning of home. But their story is full of unexpected allies and enemies, and Gus quickly learns the lush, dangerous world outside the forest is more complex than he ever could have imagined. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner.
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.