From the Big Screen:
“The Age of Adaline.” For more information on these and other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.
This Week’s Best Bets:
Wes Craven, who died August 30, was the king of modern horror films: he scared the hell out of audiences with slashing gore, self-reflexive humor and genre-bending in a host of films that have all stood the test of time, beginning in 1972 with “The Last House on the Left” through “The Hills Have Eyes” and the “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Scream” franchises. Expect his films to be reissued soon to commemorate his life and style; in the meantime, check out Scream Factory’s Blu-ray Collector’s Edition release of “Shocker” (1989), about a murderous TV repairman, Horace Pinker, whose killing spree continues even after he’s put to death in the electric chair when he returns as a shape-shifting energy source. The film stars Michael Murphy, Peter Berg, Mitch Pileggi, Sam Scarber, Camille Cooper and Ted Raimi, and features a special audio commentary with Craven; an all-new interviews with Mitch Pileggi, Cami Cooper, executive producer Shep Gordon, music supervisor Desmond Child and soundtrack artists; new audio commentary with director of photography Jacques Haitkin, co-producer Robert Engelman and composer William Goldstein; retrospective featurettes; original storyboard gallery; and more.
Independent video studio The Film Detective has announced a new Blu-ray initiative in which the company will release two to three re-mastered titles per month; their library includes some 3,000 titles that include feature films, television programming, foreign imports and documentaries. The first three releases are: “Beat the Devil” (1953), directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida and Peter Lorre. An exquisitely dry comedy with a witty script (by Huston and Truman Capote), this film finds subtle, absurdist laughs in the misadventures of Humphrey Bogart’s tough customer, who — aboard a ship enroute to Africa — becomes involved with an unlikely group of rogues in a complex scheme to gain control of a patch of uranium-rich land. The fifth and final movie Bogart made with Peter Lorre … In “Hollow Triumph” (1948), starring Paul Henreid, Joan Bennett, Eduard Franz and Leslie Brooks, John Muller, a career criminal on the run from vengeful gangsters after a botched casino robbery, finds the ultimate hideout, masquerading as a successful psychoanalyst to whom he bears a strong resemblance. However, he fails to take into account that when you take over someone’s life, you inherit the bad with the good … The controversial “Salt of the Earth” (1954), starring Juan Chacon, Rosaura Revueltas and Will Geer, centers on a long, difficult workers’ strike against a mining company in New Mexico, based on real-life events. Ramon Quintero fights for equity of wages as well as health and safety issues … but at home he mistreats his wife, Esperanza. When the men are forced to end their picketing, Esperanza joins up with the other wives of the workers, who demand to play a role in the strike — against their husband’s wishes. Written, directed and produced by members of the original blacklisted “Hollywood Ten”: director Herbert J. Biberman, screenwriter Michael Wilson, producer Paul Jarrico and composer Sol Kaplan. “Salt of the Earth” was the only film ever blacklisted in American film history; it was not allowed to be shown during the Communist scares of the 1950s and was first shown in American theaters in 1965. The production was fraught with outside interference due to the “communist” nature of the film: The entire cast and crew were met by a citizens’ committee in Central, New Mexico, where they had planned to film, and were ordered to leave town. The following day they moved the production to Silver City, NM, and were warned to “get out of town … or go out in black boxes.” Because the producers feared both sabotage and destruction of the film, the exposed footage had to be developed in secret, and at night, by a sympathetic lab technician, with the film delivered in unmarked canisters. One of the most important films of the 20th century.
The Criterion Collection brings back one of our favorite thrillers from the 1980s, “Dressed to Kill” (1980). Brian De Palma ascended to the highest ranks of American suspense filmmaking with this virtuoso, explicit erotic thriller. At once tongue-in-cheek and scary as hell, “Dressed to Kill” revolves around the grisly murder of a woman in Manhattan, and what happens when her psychiatrist, her brainiac teenage son, and the prostitute who witnessed the crime try to piece together what happened while the killer remains at large. With its masterfully executed scenes of horror, voluptuous camera work, and passionate score, “Dressed to Kill” is a veritable symphony of terror, enhanced by vivid performances by Angie Dickinson, Michael Caine and Nancy Allen. On DVD and Blu-ray Disc, in a new, restored 4K digital transfer of director Brian De Palma’s preferred unrated version, approved by the director, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray.
And now for something completely different: Pickin’ and grinnin,’ singin’ and spinnin’ tall tales and corny jokes, the citizens of Kornfield Kounty landed on television in 1969 with the arrival of “Hee Haw” as a summer replacement series for “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.” Each week, co-hosts Buck Owens and Roy Clark and the cast of comedians and musicians welcomed the biggest stars in country music to perform their songs and help deliver the legendary corny one-liners. Though a hit, CBS dropped the show in 1971 in an attempt to “de-countrify” the network’s programming; however, it was quickly picked up and became the longest-running weekly syndicated series in television history. The “The Hee Haw Collection” three-disc collection features five episodes — never-before-available at retail — from the late 60s and early 70s. Features performances by Conway Twitty, Merle Haggard (singing his classic “Okie from Muskogie”) Donna Fargo, Tammy Wynette, Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, Charlie Rich, Hank Williams Jr. and Tennessee Ernie Ford. Formats: DVD: $39.95. Extras: Bonus interviews with show regulars including Roy Clark, Lulu Roman, George Lindsey, Charlie McCoy and Jim and John Hager; favorite comedy bits from the early years in “Hee Haw Laffs,” featuring “Board Fence,” “Cornfield,” “Moonshiners,” “Doctor Spot,” “Old Philosopher,” “General Store,” “Haystack,” “Schoolhouse” and other knee-slappers. Chaw on that! From Time-Life.
From TV to DVD:
“Blue Bloods: The Fifth Season” (2014-15) is a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $55.98. The Regan family — headed up by Tom Selleck — continues to serve and protect the streets of New York. Oldest son Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) works to convict a national felon as well as resolve a dangerous hostage situation. Erin (Bridget Moynahan) faces numerous challenges as she navigates the judicial system enduring the retrial of a woman she’s already convicted, as well as enlisting the testimony of a protected mob informant. Meanwhile, Jamie’s (Will Estes) desire to help lands him in a few troubling situations. No matter what difficulties they face, this is a squad that sticks together, protecting family before all else. From CBS/Paramount … “Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season Two” (2014-15) is a three-disc set with all 23 episodes. Detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) and Captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher) are back for more hijinks as they team up with Brooklyn’s finest to make the precinct better than ever. As they deal with overbearing superiors, a drug task force, dating crimes, the questionable motives of close family, and a long-awaited interdepartmental romance, they discover there’s nothing like laughter when you’re staring danger in the face. From Universal … “The Goldbergs: The Complete Second Season” (2014-15) is a three-disc set with 24 episodes from Sony … “Gotham: The Complete First Season” (2014-15) is a six-DVD set and four-disc Blu-ray with all 22 episodes from Warner … “Haven: Season Five, Volume One” (2014) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes. Based on the novella “The Colorado Kid” by Stephen King, the Syfy series follows former FBI agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose), who became a cop in the small town of Haven, Maine, and quickly found herself involved in the return of “the Troubles,” a series of supernatural afflictions that have plagued the seaside village for generations. Partnered with local residents Nathan Wuornos (Lucas Bryant) and Duke Crocker (Eric Balfour), Audrey began to realize that Haven’s fate was linked to her own, and only she can save the town and the people she loves from the weight of their curses. From Entertainment One … “Hill Street Blues: Season Six” (1985-86) is a five-disc set with all 22 episodes, $34.99. Combining gritty realism and surprising humor to document both the personal and professional challenges of the officers and detectives who protect and serve, the sixth season of “Hill Street Blues” continued the series’ tradition of high-quality, compelling television. With top-notch writing, directing, and ensemble acting (from cast veterans Daniel J. Travanti, Veronica Hamel, Bruce Weitz, Joe Spano, Betty Thomas, Robert Prosky and Dennis Franz, appearing as Lt. Norman Buntz), the sixth season maintained the program’s dominance as one of the greatest television series of its time, and further solidified its place as one of the all-time finest. From Shout! Factory … “Homeland: The Complete Fourth Season” (2014) is a four-disc DVD, three-disc Blu-ray with 12 episodes from Fox … “Supernatural: The Complete Tenth Season” (2014-15) is a six-disc DVD and four-disc Blu-ray with all 23 episodes from Warner … “When Calls the Heart: Heart and Home” (2015) is the latest episode in the nostalgic Hallmark series about Elizabeth Thatcher, a young school teacher from a wealthy Eastern family who migrates from the big city to teach school in a small coal mining town in the west. Jack and Elizabeth leave Hope Valley and rush back to the city of Hamilton when they learn that Jack’s brother, Tom, was involved in an automobile accident … with Elizabeth’s sister, Julie. Their trip is further complicated when Tom and Julie endeavor to run off together — via train this time – and Elizabeth’s father offers Jack a job — an offer that puts Jack and Elizabeth’s fledgling romance in peril yet again. From Shout! Factory.