Contrary to even our own guide to what’s coming out on video-on-demand and online, rumors of the demise of those shiny discs that still take up shelf space have been greatly exaggerated. Take next week, for example, in which one will only be able to enjoy the guilty pleasure of “Lake Placid 3” or the easy charm of the Adam Scott indie comedy “Passenger Side” on DVD or upgrade to high-definition for the “Alien Quadrilogy” boxed set, a rerelease of the “Back to the Future” trilogy or better yet, Criterion editions of Stanley Kubrick’s “Paths of Glory” or the Japanese curiosity “Hausu” on Blu-ray. And it’s not even December yet.
Unfortunately in this time of tightened purse strings, the studios and specialty labels like Shout! Factory, Criterion and Olive Films aren’t going to make this holiday season any easier on the wallet, with most digging deep into the vaults to pull up restored classics and lesser-seen obscurities, which will sit side by side with plenty of this summer’s biggest blockbusters on Netflix queues and store shelves in the months ahead. Many of the films showcased below never were released in theaters or in many cases haven’t been available on home video before, waiting to be discovered by new audiences.
by Stephen Saito
On DVD the week ending October 23
After becoming one of the foremost directors of the giallo genre, famed horror auteur Dario Argento gives it a nod in the title to his latest, which brings in Adrien Brody as a detective on the hunt for a murder nicknamed “Giallo” (The Yellow) after the sister of a kidnap victim (Emmanuelle Seigner) seeks out his help. Granted, we were more excited about this when Vincent Gallo was in talks to play the serial killer in question and before “Giallo” sat on the shelf after a mildly enthusiastic response from the festival circuit in 2009, but still, new Argento is always reason enough to celebrate.
An upgrade from the 2006 “Complete Dossier” edition, Francis Ford Coppola’s classic war film hits Blu-ray for the very first time (in both the original and extended “Redux” cuts), finally accompanied by the making-of doc “Hearts of Darkness,” as well as new interviews, a new 48-page booklet with rediscovered archival materials and new interviews with Coppola and the cast and crew.
Mamoru Oshii helms this follow-up to 2001’s “Avalon” in which a trio of women led by “Babel” star Rinko Kikuchi fight off sand monsters in a virtual world to test their mettle and weapons skills.
After his latest score goes awry, a fading gangster (Raymond J. Barry) reaches out to his estranged son (Michael Weatherly), a budding criminal himself, to help him, though the lure of money and power may prove stronger than blood in this crime thriller. Tom Berenger co-stars.
Billy Zane dons a crown for this fantasy epic about a rebel (Sam Murphy) who leads his people to rise up against an oppressive king.
…Dolph Lundgren is. Here, the “Expendables” star plays a hitman trying quit the profession to concentrate on his duties as a husband and father, but he must fight to stay alive after his cover is blown. Bo Svenson co-stars.
Roel Reiné’s horror flick concerns a group of friends and business partners who aid a drowning man, only to learn that he leads them into a jungle filled with danger. Lance Henriksen co-stars as a priest with suspicious motives.
Nick Stahl fills in for Kiefer Sutherland as a newbie security guard who must track down the murdered woman who is caught between this world and the next that he can only see in the reflective glass before she starts killing others in this direct-to-video sequel to Alexander Aja’s 2008 horror film. Fox is going the extra step with the sequel’s DVD release, including the original Korean film “In the Mirror” that the series is based upon.
“Hellboy” and “Legion” star Doug Jones, who is just popping up everywhere these days, plays a door-to-door salesman who seeks to emerge from his midlife slump with the help of a punk rocker (Allison Scagliotti). Catherine Hicks and “That ’70s Show”‘s Don Stark co-star in Morgan Mead’s comedy.
“Clerks”‘ Jason Mewes and Samantha Lockwood star as a couple who go through a different kind of premarital counseling in this action comedy about a soon-to-be-wed pair who are held hostage during a jewelry heist when they go ring shopping. Danny Trejo and Fred Williamson co-star.
Tim Allen is thought to be dead, leaving behind six exes, including Paz Vega, Jenna Elfman, Lindsay Sloane, Kelli Garner, Andie MacDowell and Jenna Dewan, eager to cash in on his will, if only his daughter (Elisha Cuthbert) would let them in the directorial debut of “Mr. 3000” screenwriter Howard Michael Gould.
A selection of the Tribeca Film Fest in 2008, John Walter gives audiences a peek inside the Public Theater’s controversial revival of Bertolt Brecht’s “Mother Courage” that had its share of big personalities in Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, director George C. Wolfe and playwright Tony Kushner. (An interview with Walter here.)
“Tokyo Gore Police” director and general gore makeup extraordinaire Yoshihiro Nishimura once again presides over madness in this battle over an ex between two women with supernatural powers.
Other indies that played theaters, but you might have missed:
The Rachel Weisz epic “Agora,” the Jesse Eisenberg starrer “Holy Rollers,” the nature doc “Oceans,” the Nicole Holofcener dramedy “Please Give” (Matt Singer’s review here), “Smash His Camera” (Bilge Ebiri’s review here), “The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet’s Struggle for Freedom” (Lisa Rosman’s review here)
New to Blu-ray:
“The Howling Trilogy,” “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Ultimate Edition,” “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Ultimate Edition,” Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge” and “William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet,” Robert Rodriguez and Nimrod Antal’s “Predators” (Matt Singer’s review is here) “Psycho,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Seven Samurai” (Criterion)