From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Highlights:
There’s plenty of cool collectibles this week, starting off with “Caltiki the Immortal Monster” (1959 – Italy), a collaboration between two giants of Italian cult cinema — Riccardo Freda (“The Vampires,” “The Horrible Dr Hichcock”) and Mario Bava (“Five Dolls for an August Moon,” “Blood and Black Lace”). A team of archaeologists led by Dr John Fielding (John Merivale) descends on the ruins of an ancient Mayan city to investigate the mysterious disappearance of its inhabitants. However, the luckless explorers get more than they bargained for when their investigation of a sacrificial pool awakens the monster that dwells beneath its waters — the fearsome and malevolent god Caltiki. Though Riccardo Freda received sole directing credit, a significant portion of the film was in fact the work of Mario Bava, who also served as its cinematographer and was responsible its striking special effects. Drawing on a diverse array of influences, from “The Quatermass Experiment” to the works of HP Lovecraft, “Caltiki the Immortal Monster” is a unique and unforgettable sci-fi chiller which showcases these two legendary filmmakers at their most inventive. In a Blu-ray/DVD combo, presented for the first time in a newly restored high definition transfer: a new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative. From Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … Also from Arrow is “Django Prepare a Coffin” (1968 – Italy), a classic sixties Spaghetti Western from Ferdinando Baldi (“Texas Addio,” “Comin’ At Ya!”) in which Django the drifter, played by Terence Hill (“They Call Me Trinity”), is hired as executioner to a corrupt local politician who is framing innocent men, sending them to hang in an evil scheme to take hold of their land. But Django has other ideas and, cleverly faking the deaths of the condemned men, he assembles them into a loyal gang who’ll help him take down the boss, a man who had a hand in the death of Django’s wife years before. In a Blu-ray/DVD combo with a new High Definition digital transfer of the film in the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio.
Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Melvyn Douglas, Dwight Frye star in the spooky, pre-code “The Vampire Bat” (1933). When corpses drained of blood begin surfacing in the small European village of Kleines Schloss, town elders suspect a vampire is on the loose, but policeman Karl Brettschneider doubts the existence of such blood-sucking creatures. Arguing the contrary is mad scientist Dr. Otto von Niemann, who is caring for the patients and terrifying his lab assistant, Brettschneider’s love interest Ruth Bertin. Amid mass hysteria, fingers point at the village idiot, Herman Gleib, who has a creepy affinity for bats. But after local vigilantes eliminate him from the picture, the killings continue — and Brettschneider tries to keep a cool head as he reluctantly starts searching for supernatural answers. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, digitally mastered from new 35mm film elements preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive. From The Film Detective.
“Tampopo” (1985 — Japan) is the tale of an eccentric band of culinary ronin who guide the widow of a noodle shop owner on her quest for the perfect recipe in a rapturous “ramen western” by Japanese director Juzo Itami; it’s an entertaining, genre-bending adventure underpinned by a deft satire of the way social conventions distort the most natural of human urges: our appetites. Interspersing the efforts of Tampopo (Nobuko Miyamoto) and friends to make her café a success with the erotic exploits of a gastronome gangster and glimpses of food culture both high and low, the sweet, sexy, and surreal “Tampopo” is a lavishly inclusive paean to the sensual joys of nourishment, and one of the most mouthwatering examples of food-on-film ever made. On DVD and Blu-ray in a new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … In “Rumble Fish” (1983), a deeply personal tale of estrangement and reconciliation between two rebellious brothers, set in a dreamlike and timeless Tulsa, Francis Ford Coppola gives mythic dimensions to intimate, painful emotions. After releasing the classically styled “The Outsiders” earlier the same year, the director returned to the work of S. E. Hinton, this time with a self-described “art film for teenagers.” Graced with a remarkable cast headed by Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Diane Lane, Dennis Hopper, Diana Scarwid, Vincent Spano, Nicolas Cage and Chris Penn; haunting black-and-white visuals that hark back to German expressionism and forward to Coppola’s own “Tetro”; and a powerful, percussive score by Stewart Copeland that underscores the movie’s romantic fatalism, “Rumble Fish” pulsates throughout with genuine love and dread. On DVD and Blu-ray with a new 4K digital restoration, supervised by director of photography Stephen H. Burum and approved by Coppola, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Also from Criterion.
From TV to DVD:
“Animal Kingdom: The Complete First Season” (2016) is a three-disc DVD or two-disc Blu-ray set with all 10 episodes. Inspired by the critically acclaimed 2010 Australian movie by the same name, the series centers on 17-year-old “J” Cody, who moves in with his freewheeling relatives in their Southern California beach town after his mother dies of an overdose. Headed by boot-tough matriarch “Smurf” Cody and her right-hand Baz, who runs the business and calls the shots, the clan also consists of Pope, the oldest and most dangerous of the Cody boys; Craig, the tough and fearless middle son; and Deran, the troubled, suspicious “baby” of the family. It isn’t long before J is pulled into the family’s life of indulgence and excess, but he soon discovers that it’s all being funded by criminal activities. Joining the family comes with more danger and excitement than he might be ready to handle. From Warner.