In an effort to catch up with a slew of new releases, BVB is changing its format briefly to include all titles released in April 2016 with a few standouts and duds given proper mention.
April 12, 2016
Bride of Re-Animator Limited Edition (Arrow, 97 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): Few films can capture the same lightning-in-a-bottle magic of a true cult classic, but this 1989 follow-up to Stuart Gordon’s original masterpiece is a worthy successor even if it’s not as great as the first film. Director Brian Yuzna (Society, Return of the Living Dead III) knows not to mess too much with a good thing. He keeps the tone pitch-black and wickedly subversive while employing a host of gory practical effects to expand the reanimated world around Dr. Herbert West. Arrow has done an incredible job packaging this limited edition with a gorgeous hardbound shell, collector’s comic book and a wealth of special features.
Flight 7500 (Lionsgate, 97 minutes, PG-13, DVD): Poor Ryan Kwanten is still searching for his post-“True Blood” breakout, and sadly Flight 7500 is not it. This paranormal plane thriller suffers from too much exposition early on and not enough jolts of genuine terror. I’ve been on short flights with bad turbulence that were scarier.
Antibalas – Live from The House of Soul
The Bible Stories: David
The Bible Stories: Samson & Delilah
Saban’s Power Rangers Dino Charge: Resurgence
Power Rangers Wild Force: The Complete Series
Justice League vs. Teen Titans
The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun
Scream Factory Double Feature: Destroyer/Edge of Sanity
Heroes Reborn: The Complete Event Series
Sex Murder Art: The Films of Jorg Buttgereit – Collector’s Edition
John Carpenter’s Village of the Damned: Collector’s Edition
Where the Devil Dwells
Not to be Overlooked:
Dangerous Men (Drafthouse Films, 80 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): Writer/director John S. Rad’s passion project – an ode to the great exploitation drive-in films of the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s – is the quintessential cult classic. It’s an amateurish attempt to make a big-budget action thriller that lacks any of the hallmarks of an actual film such as cohesive plot construct, believable acting, believable stunts, etc. Yet, despite all its failings, you can’t stop watching.
The Zero Boys (Arrow, 89 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): They no longer make action movies like this 1986 oddity by Nico Mastorakis, and that’s a true shame.
The Horror (Moondog Media, 80 minutes, Unrated, VOD): The first feature by director Jerry White III is a meditative slow-burn thriller about orphaned twins who find themselves battling a home invasion while trying to cope with the loss of their parents. The hunt for one of the assailants pushes one of the twins deeper into his own personal darkness, leaving his sister fearing for his soul.
April 19, 2016
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2: Collector’s Edition (Shout! Factory, 101 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): I’m gonna go ahead and say it – I think I actually prefer Tobe Hooper’s 1986 direct sequel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, to his original masterpiece.
In all reality, TCM 2 shouldn’t even be considered a sequel. It’s a continuation of the story of the murderous Sawyer family that deftly manages to be horrifying, stomach-churning and hysterical. There are moments of surreal magnificence on display from the first appearance of Leatherface wielding a chainsaw from the bed of a pickup truck to the introduction of Dennis Hopper as Lt. Lefty Enright to the extended back-and-forth about musical preferences between DJ Stretch Brock and Chop-Top Sawyer.
Hopper and Bill Moseley, in particular, steal every scene they appear in. Hopper’s dialogue-free shopping excursion at a farm store where he practices fighting with dueling chainsaws is especially awesome.
There’s so much to love about TCM 2 that it boggles the mind why this wasn’t a bigger commercial success upon its release.
Shout! Factory’s collector’s edition is a definite must-have for fans, especially those whose discography previously was limited to 2006’s “The Gruesome Edition.”
The Revenant (Fox, 156 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): Alejandro González Iñárritu is a genius. Literally. The man is a gift from the movie gods, sent to Earth to show mere mortals the true power of cinema. There are moments – too many to accurately describe – in The Revenant where I just sat dumbfounded, in awe of Iñárritu’s prowess as a director to use his camera in a way that transported me back in time to the world of trappers hunting pelts. The Revenant is like the ultimate POV, found footage experience. Watching it, you feel as if the camera is substituting for your own eyes. It’s a magical viewing experience that is completely immersive. The other astounding revelation that I walked away with is just how good the actors really are. Leonardo DiCaprio deserved his Oscar. Tom Hardy likely deserved one as well. By shooting extended scenes in one long, single take, Iñárritu’s camera moves fluidly across the wilderness, allowing multiple points of activity to be occurring all at once. The time and skill it must have taken to achieve those rare moments of perfection is staggering to consider. How many times did they attempt and fail to make it all the way through a single 10 or 15-minute shot without missing a single beat? Finally, there is the bear. Good lord almighty, the bear! I know now that the iconic bear attack was filmed with CGI but I would be hard-pressed to point to an actual second of footage that I didn’t whole-heartedly believe DiCaprio wasn’t being assaulted and nearly killed by a real, live, 1,000-pound beast. It’s just a remarkable accomplishment.
The Stuff (Arrow, 93 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): Larry Cohen’s 1985 indictment of crass consumerism and the sheep-like mentality of American shoppers is both timely and unsettling, even if the film itself – about a gelatinous substance that bubbles up from the bowels of the Earth and gets packaged by an evil conglomerate as the next big healthy food product – is not all that great. One can only imagine what Cohen might have done in this age of GMO crops with a bigger budget and a better script.
Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon
Fifty Shades of Black
Little House on the Prairie: Season 9 – Deluxe Remastered Edition
Outlaw: Gangster VIP: The Complete Collection
When Calls the Heart: Troubled Hearts
Norm of the North
Pretty Little Liars: The Complete Sixth Season
What Lola Wants
Haven: The Complete Final Season
Helga, She Wolf of Stilberg
Veep: The Complete Fourth Season
Silicon Valley: The Complete Second Season
Cary Grant: The Vault Collection – 18 Films from the Archives
New on Video On Demand:
Nina (RLJ Entertainment, 90 minutes, Unrated, VOD): Zoe Saldana stars as the iconic and tragic performer Nina Simone in writer/director Cynthia Mort’s film about her rise, fall and rediscovery.
April 26, 2016
Krampus (Universal, 98 minutes, PG-13, Blu-Ray): Michael Dougherty’s long-awaited follow-up to his masterwork, “Trick ‘r Treat,” is yet another holiday-themed horror feature, this one focusing squarely on the malevolent counterpart to St. Nicholas. Instead of a Christmas-anthology, Dougherty uses his latest film to narrow his focus on a single family and the ramifications of a young boy’s decision to abandon his belief in Santa Claus. It’s dark and delightful at points, and some of the best gags – demonic toys and assaulting gingerbread men that terrorize the family – evoke memories of the best moments of “Trick ‘r Treat.” But overall, I have to admit, I was disappointed. Krampus isn’t perfect, and I realize that few films are, but its imperfections seem to matter more in this case, distracting from the total enjoyment and pulling you away from getting totally lost in a blood-soaked winter nightmare.
Die Fighting (MVD, 90 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): I’m not really sure what to make of Die Fighting, which apparently won a bunch of awards from something called The Action Elite Awards, including Best Director and Best Fight Scene. Die Fighting is the brainchild of a bunch of guys who make up Z Team, a martial arts troupe that makes short action films available on YouTube. In Die Fighting, the team is about to get its big break in Hollywood when suddenly an evil mastermind materializes to wreak havoc with the Z’sters. The movie is structured to appear as if it’s happening in real time. There are elements of found footage but the gimmick doesn’t really work. And, surprisingly, for an alleged action film, there’s very little action at the start of the movie. Instead, there’s a lot of talking. And talking. And some more talking. So much talking that I eventually gave up and hit eject.
Jane Got a Gun
The Beverly Hillbillies: The Official First Season
Ride Along 2
The Driftless Area
The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour Country Special
Diabolical! Bizarre! Sadistic! Double Feature – The Million Eyes of Su Muru/The Girl from Rio