From the Big Screen:
“Wild Tales,” “Run All Night,” “Chappie,” “The Lazarus Effect” and “Unfinished Business.” For more information on these and other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.
This Week’s Best Bets:
Arrow Video/MVD has a pair of cult favorites hitting home entertainment shelves this week, and while they arrived too late for review, they both sound excruciatingly delightful. The credits dub “Spider Baby” (1967) “the maddest story ever told,” a promise that’s well on the way to being fulfilled in the opening scene alone, when Virginia traps and kills a hapless deliveryman in her makeshift web. She’s one of three siblings who suffer from a unique genetic disorder that causes them to regress back to childhood, while retaining the physical strength and sexual maturity of adults. Lon Chaney Jr. gave one of his most memorable late performances as Bruno, their guardian and protector, who has managed to cover up their crimes until two distant relatives lay claim to their house. When they insist on moving in, Bruno has to cross his fingers and hope that the “children” behave towards their new guests … . This was the first solo feature by Jack Hill (“Coffy,” “Foxy Brown”), whom Quentin Tarantino dubbed “the Howard Hawks of exploitation filmmaking,” and it remains one of his wildest and weirdest. Formats: Blu-ray/DVD Combo. High definition transfer of the feature supervised and approved by director Jack Hill with original 2.0 mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray) … From Takashi Miike, the prolific director of such shocking hits as “Audition” and “Ichi the Killer,” comes “Happiness of the Katakuris” (2001), kind of “The Sound of Music meets Dawn of the Dead”! The Katakuris are a family trying to run a peaceful country inn but with a lack of guests there is much excitement for their first visitor, until he winds up dead. As each new guest in turn dies under strange circumstances, the family agree to hide the bodies … but will the coverups come back to haunt them. In this horror-comedy-musical scenes of grotesque stop motion animation, surreal musical numbers and zombies combine to make one of the finest genre outings ever made. Formats: Blu-ray/DVD Combo. Original uncompressed Stereo PCM audio. Extras: Audio commentary by director Takashi Miike; “The Making of the Katakuris”: An original documentary from the film’s production featuring interviews and behind-the-scenes footage with the cast and crew; interviews with Katakuris cast members Kenji Sawada, Keiko Matsuzaka, Kiyoshiro Imawano, Shinji Takeda, Naomi Nishida, Tetsuro Tanba and Miike; “Animating the Katakuris”: A look at the creation of the film’s stop motion effects with animation director Hideki Kimura and Miike; trailer and TV spots; reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil; booklet featuring new writing on the film by author Johnny Mains and a re-printed interview with Miike conducted by Sean Axmaker, illustrated with original stills.
When Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn — theater directors, writers, actors, and longtime friends — sat down for a stimulating meal in 1981’s “My Dinner With Andre,” they not only ended up with one of cinema’s unlikeliest iconic scenarios but launched a film collaboration that would continue to pay creative dividends for decades. The subsequent projects they made together for the screen — 1994’s “Vanya on 42nd Street,” a passionate read-through of Anton Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya,” and 2014’s striking Henrik Ibsen interpretation “A Master Builder” — are penetrating works that exist on the edge of theater and film, and that both emerged out of many years of rehearsals with loyal troupes of actors. Gregory and Shawn’s unique contributions to the cinematic landscape are shape-shifting, challenging, and entertaining works about the process of creation. This three-film set — “Andre Gregory & Wallace Shawn: 3 Films,” available in DVD and Blu-ray editions — contains “My Dinner With Andre,” “Vanya on 42nd Street” and “A Master Builder.” Features a high-definition digital restoration of “My Dinner with Andre”, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray; restored high-definition digital transfer of “Vanya on 42nd Street,” supervised by director of photography Declan Quinn, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack on the Blu-ray; and high-definition digital master of “A Master Builder,” supervised by Quinn, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from The Criterion Collection.