New DVD and Blu-ray Releases for the Week of October 17

From the Big Screen:


photo for Barbie (2023) In a world where everyone is perfect, Barbie is no different. She’s the perfect size, the perfect color, and has the perfect personality. But when Barbie has an existential crisis and begins to worry about her mortality, she leaves Barbie Land and sets out on an adventure in the real world to find her place. Along the way, she meets a cast of colorful characters who help her learn that it’s okay to be different, and that being yourself is the most important thing of all. In the end, Barbie finds her true home, where she can be herself and inspire others to do the same. Vitals: Director: Greta Gerwig. Stars: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, Rhea Perlman, Will Ferrell, Michael Cera, Ariana Greenblatt, Dua Lipa, Helen Mirren. CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 114 min., Fantasy Comedy, North American box office gross: $633.1 million, worldwide $1,434.0 million, Warner. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray + Digital Code, 4K Ultra HD + Digital Code, VOD, Digital. Extras: Six featurettes; “Welcome to Barbie Land,” “Becoming Barbie,” “Playing Dress-Up,” “Musical Make Believe,” “All-Star Barbie Party,” “It’s A Weird World.” Read more here
4 stars

Haunted Mansion

photo for Haunted Mansion (2023) Inspired by the classic theme park attraction, the film tells the story of Gabbie (Rosario Dawson), a single mom, who discovers that the home she and her son share is haunted by irksome ghosts. Hoping to restore domestic tranquility, Gabbie recruits a motley crew of so-called spiritual experts to help rid the house of the supernatural squatters. Vitals: Director: Justin Simien. Stars: Rosario Dawson, LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito, Dan Levy, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jared Leto. CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 123 min., Comedy, North American box office gross: $66.209 million, worldwide $109.488 million, Disney. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Code, 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo + Digital Code, VOD, Digital. Extras: “Making Haunted Mansion” featurette; “999 Happy Haunts” featurette; deleted scenes; gag reel. Read more here 2 stars

The Last Voyage of the Demeter

photo for The Last Voyage of the Demeter (2023) Based on a single iconic chapter from Bram Stoker’s classic novel, “Dracula,” the film tells the chilling story of the merchant ship Demeter and the strange events that befall the doomed crew as they attempt to survive an ocean voyage to London with a truly monstrous stowaway on board. The doomed merchant ship is ferrying 50 mysterious wooden crates from Carpathia to London. As they set sail, the crew soon discovers they are not alone on board: at night they are stalked by a hidden passenger whose monstrous thirst for blood turns the trip into a harrowing nightmare of tension, terror and unfathomable evil. Vitals: Director: André Øvredal. Stars: Corey Hawkins, Aisling Franciosi, David Dastmalchian, Liam Cunningham. CC, MPAA rating: R, 118 min., Horror, North American box office gross: $13.637 million, worldwide $21.690 million, Universal. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Code, VOD, Digital. Extras: Alternate Opening; deleted scenes; “From The Pits of Hell: Dracula Reimagined”; “Evil Is Aboard: The Making of The Last Voyage of the Demeter”; “Dracula & The Digital Age”; feature commentary with director André Øvredal and producer Bradley J. Fische.
Read more here 2 stars

This Week’s Best Bets

In “The Desperate Hours” (1955), director William Wyler pairs up two Hollywood legends – Humphrey Bogart and Fredric March – for their only appearance together. The result is an electrifying tour de force pitting two giants of the silver screen against each other. Three escaped cons, led by the ruthless Glenn Griffin (Bogart), force their way into a suburban home, intending to hide out while they await the arrival of an all-important package. But what should have been an overnight stay extends into a protracted hostage situation, pitting Glenn against the embattled family patriarch, Daniel Hilliard (March) – a man with everything to lose. Adapted by Joseph Hayes from his own novel and stage play and inspired by actual events, “The Desperate Hours” is a classic tale of photo for The Desperate Hours suspense from a master filmmaker at the height of his creative powers, now fully restored from the original VistaVision negative. Also stars Martha Scott, Arthur Kennedy, Gig Young, Alan Reed, Bert Freed, Dewey Martin. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment. Read more here“Freaks / The Unknown / The Mystic: Tod Browning’s Sideshow Shockers” The world is a carnival of criminality, corruption, and psychosexual strangeness in the twisted pre-Code shockers of Tod Browning. Early Hollywood’s edgiest auteur, Browning drew on his experiences as a circus performer to create subversive pulp entertainments set amid the world of traveling sideshows, which, with their air of the exotic and the disreputable, photo for Freaks / The Unknown / The Mystic: Tod Browning’s Sideshow Shockers provided a pungent backdrop for his sordid tales of outcasts, cons, villains, and vagabonds. Bringing together two of his defining works (“The Unknown” and “Freaks”) and a long-unavailable rarity (“The Mystic”), this cabinet of pre-Code curiosities reveals a master of the morbid whose ability to unsettle is matched only by his daring compassion for society’s most downtrodden. The films: Freaks (1932): The most transgressive film produced by a major American studio in the 1930s, Tod Browning’s crowning achievement has haunted the margins of cinema for nearly one hundred years. An unforgettable cast of real-life sideshow performers portray the entertainers in a traveling circus who, shunned by mainstream society, live according to their own code—one of radical acceptance for the fellow oppressed and, as the show’s beautiful but cruel trapeze artist learns, of terrifying retribution for those who cross them. Received with revulsion by viewers upon its initial release, “Freaks” effectively ended Browning’s career but can now be seen for what it is: an audacious cry for understanding and a singular experience of nightmarish, almost avant-garde power. The Unknown (1927): The most celebrated and exquisitely perverse of the many collaborations between Tod Browning and his legendary leading man Lon Chaney, “The Unknown” features a wrenchingly physical performance from “the Man of a Thousand Faces” as the armless Spanish knife thrower Alonzo (he flings daggers with his feet) whose dastardly infatuation with his beautiful assistant (Joan Crawford)—a woman, it just so happens, who cannot bear to be touched by the hands of any man—drives him to unspeakable extremes. Sadomasochistic obsession, deception, murder, disfigurement, and a spectacular Grand Guignol climax—Browning wrings every last frisson from the lurid premise. The Mystic (1925): A fantastically atmospheric but rarely seen missing link in the development of Tod Browning’s artistry, set amid his favored milieu of shadowy sideshows and clever criminals, “The Mystic” provides a striking showcase for silent-era diva Aileen Pringle, who sports a series of memorably outré looks (courtesy of art-deco designer Erté) as Zara, a phony psychic in a Hungarian carnival who, under the guidance of a Svengali-like con man (Conway Tearle), crashes—and proceeds to swindle—American high society. Browning’s fascination with the weird is on full display in the eerie séance sequences, while his subversive moral ambiguity extends surprising sympathy to even the most seemingly irredeemable of antiheroes. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new 2K digital restorations, from The Criterion Collection. Read more here.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “The Hills” (2023), starring Dennis Quaid, Joelle Carter, Scott Glenn, Bonnie Bedelia and Colin Ford, growing up impoverished in small-town Texas, young Rickey Hill shows an extraordinary ability for hitting a baseball, despite being burdened by leg braces from a degenerative spinal disease. His stern, pastor father (Quaid) discourages Rickey from playing baseball to protect him from injury, and to have him follow in his footsteps and become a preacher. As a young man, Rickey (Ford) becomes a baseball phenomenon. His desire to participate in a try-out for a legendary major league scout divides the photo for 3 Days in Malay family and threatens Rickey’s dream of playing professional baseball. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Universal … When a little girl begins to see the ghost of another girl her age shortly after finding a necklace at a landfill, she embarks on a journey to help the ghost discover the mystery behind her death in “Landfill” (2023), starring Linda Blair, Christine Elise, Michael Dudikoff, Angela Jones andChris Romano. From Indican Pictures … Inspired by historical events, the action film “3 Days in Malay” (2023), starring Louis Mandylor, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, Peter Dobson, Ryan Francis, Randall J. Bacon and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, follows a small group of dedicated soldiers who must defend an airfield for three days against the Japanese assault during the fight for Malay in WWII. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Well Go USA … In 1980s Hollywood, struggling martial arts actor Johnny Cage searches for his missing co-star amidst a Los Angeles filled with bloodthirsty fighters in “Mortal Kombat Legends: Cage Match” (2023), with the voices of Joel McHale, Jennifer Grey and Kelly Hu. On Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD, from Warners.

On the Indie Front:

“A Time For Every Purpose” (2023), starring Zachary S Williams, Eric Diaz, Wade Hunt Williams and Alexia Aldebol, tells the story of four drifting souls seeking answers — their intertwined journey explores faith, forgiveness, trauma, and resilience. Looking for light in the darkness: God’s love guides them. A pastor deals with his waning influence over his congregation; a teenager is an outcast as he copes with insurmountable guilt from a tragic accident; a single mom, having already won the battle against addiction, finds herself in the fire again when a former abuser resurfaces; and a war veteran’s hellish PTSD becomes a load he can no longer bear alone. From Freestyle Digital Media). Read more here.

Foreign Films:

“Sri Asih: The Warrior” (2022 — Indonesia), starring Pevita Pearce, Ario Bayu ahd Christine Hakim, is an action film that follows Alana (Pearce), a young woman trying to find her own identity amidst a world of crime and corruption. She also happens to be the reincarnated Goddess Asih, protector of the masses, and is tasked with preventing a demon spirit commander from releasing the Fire Goddess from captivity inside a volcano. From Shout! Studios. Read more here.

Special Interest:

“Brothers in Arms: WWII & Vietnam War in HD” replays the epic battles of the 20th century through the eyes of the brave soldiers who fought two of the most pivotal wars in world history with these two acclaimed docuseries from The History Channel. Award-winning “WWII in HD” (2009) and “Vietnam in HD” (2011) provide stunning narratives of these seminal moments in time as told through dozens of soldiers’ moving personal accounts from the trenches, with evocative interviews brought more vividly to life by voiceovers from actors Edward Burns, Kevin Connolly, Zachary Levi, Ron Livingston, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Rob Lowe, James Marsden, LL Cool J, and more. From Lionsgate. The History Channel brings history-shaping presidential legacies to life “The Presidential Legacy Collection: Theodore Roosevelt & FDR” (2021-2023). Executive producer and esteemed author Doris Kearns Goodwin brings her astute and thorough knowledge of the lives of two epochal presidents to bear on these acclaimed miniseries, alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Bradley Cooper. Starring Rufus Jones as Theodore Roosevelt in both series, with Christian McKay portraying Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Alice Bounsall as Eleanor Roosevelt in the “FDR” miniseries. Featuring expert commentary, dramatic live-action sequences, rich archival material, and never-before-seen documents, this riveting collection charts the challenging, inspiring journeys that shaped the lives and presidencies of these towering figures. From Lionsgate.

From TV to Disc:

“ALF: The Complete Series (Deluxe Edition)” (1986-90) is a 24-disc collection that includes every episode of this interstellar hit series, restored to photo for ALF: The Complete Series (Deluxe Edition)their original broadcast length for the first time in 30 years. It also includes the 1996 film “Project: ALF” starring Martin Sheen, and all 47 episodes of Saturday morning’s “ALF: The Animated Series” and “ALF Tales!” Created by Tom Patchett (“The Carol Burnett Show”) and Paul Fusco (puppeteer & voice of ALF), “ALF” (short for “Alien Life Form”) follows a hilarious cat-eating alien who crash lands into the garage of the Tanner family. “ALF” ran for four far out seasons on NBC from 1986 – 1990. A 1980s pop culture icon, “ALF” still has a substantial following today, though not among the general cat population. *The episode “Try To Remember” has been edited for content, but represents the best existing version. From Shout! Studios … “The Crown: The Complete Fifth Season” (2022) is a four-disc set with all 10 episodes. Inspired by real events, this fictional dramatization — starring Imelda Staunton, Jonathan Pryce, Lesley Manville, Dominic West, Jonny Lee Miller and Elizabeth Debicki — tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II and the political and personal events that shaped her reign. It’s a new photo for The Crowndecade, and the royal family are facing what may be their biggest challenge yet, proving their continued relevance in 90s Britain. As Diana and Charles wage a media war, cracks begin to splinter the royal foundation. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Sony … “Rabbit Hole: Season One”
(2023) is a three-disc set with all eight episodes. Kiefer Sutherland stars as master of espionage John Wier in this series where nothing is what it seems. When Weir, a master of deception in the world of corporate espionage, is framed for murder by powerful forces with the ability to influence and control populations, Weir finds himself in the midst of a battle over the preservation of democracy in a world at odds with misinformation, behavioral manipulation, the surveillance state, and the interests that control these extraordinary powers. From Paramount … “Titans: The Fourth and Final Season” (2023) contains all 12 episodes. A gritty take on the Teen Titans franchise, “Titans” follows a group of young Super Heroes from the DC Universe. As they come of age and try to find where they belong, the Titans must defend against supervillains, dark conspiracies, corrupt laboratories, and demonic possessions – across Metropolis and beyond. Having saved Gotham, the Titans hit the road to head back to San Francisco. But after a stop in Metropolis, they find themselves in the crosshairs of a supernatural cult with powers unlike anything they’ve faced before. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner … “The Walking Dead: The Complete Collection” (2010-2022) puts together all the episodes from the series’ 11 seasons. After sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes awakens from a coma in an abandoned hospital, he’s immediately thrust into a life-or-death struggle in an apocalyptic, zombie walker-ravaged world. This complete collection of the Primetime Emmy Award-winning series, based on Robert Kirkman’s acclaimed comic book, follows Rick and his band of survivors – Daryl, Morgan, Maggie, Carol, Michonne, Glenn, and more – as they struggle to survive their bleak new reality where the living pose as much of a threat as the hungry, roaming undead. From Alexandria and its promise of a better life to Negan’s ruthless Saviors to the Commonwealth’s corruption, every harrowing, suspenseful moment is here. But hope never dies, for as Rick defiantly puts it, “We’re the ones who live.” On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate.

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.

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