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New Releases for Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Given that it’s the end of the year, BVB wanted to clue readers in on a couple of standout releases that we weren’t able to get to by their respective street dates, but which deserve your attention none the less.

So here we go:

The Omen Collection Deluxe Edition (Shout! Factory, 525 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): This fantastic boxed set features all five Omen films, including The Omen (1976), Damian: Omen II, The Final Conflict – Omen III, Omen IV: The Awakening and The Omen (2006 remake).

For some reason, I have always held a fond remembrance of The Final Conflict, which was released in 1981 and starred Sam Neill as a grown-up Damian maneuvering his way to the White House.

So, naturally, that was the first disc I popped in. And immediately upon hitting eject once the credits rolled, all I could think is, wow, my memory can never be trusted again.

The Final Conflict sets up its central theme early on, and that is the discovery of seven Biblical daggers, allegedly the only weapon that can kill the son of Satan.

And, obviously, with Thorne Industries taking on a global presence and its figurehead Damian garnering respect and accolades from the POTUS, the sect of priests who hold the daggers realize that time is running out to rid the world of the Antichrist.

To further complicate matters, astrologists have determined that a rare alignment of stars is imminent and that the last time such an alignment occurred, the child Christ was born.

Suffice to say, Damian goes all Old Testament and calls for a mass extermination of any male child born under that particular starry sign, meaning 31 baby boys are systematically slaughtered. Except one.

The Final Conflict has flashes of genre brilliance, and most of those moments are solely attributable to Neill, who gives his all as the Antichrist, but so much of the film now feels wholly telegraphed that it’s hard to appreciate the small details that tried to build on the legacy of the first two films.

The Blob: Collector’s Edition (Shout! Factory, 95 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): I’m not 100 percent sure, but I’m fairly convinced that for some unexplained reason I allowed star Kevin Dillon’s ridiculous hairstyle to keep me from ever watching this decidedly awesome remake of The Blob from 1988.

But once I received Shout! Factory’s deluxe collector’s edition, and realized that Frank Darabont had co-written the script, I decided to let go of my misplaced hatred for Dillon’s ridiculously wind-swept locks and finally watch the movie.

I’m so glad I did.

Having never been a huge fan of the 1958 original starring Steve McQueen (it’s a slow-moving gelatinous mass, how hard can that be to avoid?), I was not expecting Darabont and co-writer/director Chuck Russell to lean so heavy into the special effects. The mixture of early CGI coupled with practical prosthetic work produced some genuinely queasy moments with a host of severed limbs being torn asunder and multiple bodies being dissolved and merged with the titular creature, which is set loose after a meteorite crashes to Earth.

I’ve always liked Russell as a director (Eraser is an oft overlooked gem) and Darabont can do no wrong in my book after The Mist, so it was a pleasant surprise to discover just how cool they actually made The Blob.

Road Games: Collector’s Edition (Shout! Factory, 101 minutes, PG, Blu-Ray): One of the best things about Shout! Factory’s continuing roll-out of obscure and forgotten horror and thriller titles is that more often than not, I find myself discovering a film I never knew existed.

Case in point, Road Games, a 1981 trucker thriller from Australian director Richard Franklin (Patrick, Psycho II).

Don’t think too much about why an Australian thriller is starring two American actors (Stacy Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis), and thankfully neither of them tries to affect an accent.

Road Games is a true curiosity and possibly one of the most eccentric films I’ve ever seen. While billed as a taunt serial killer thriller, it’s actually much more of a chatty character study, but Keach in particular does a fantastic job as Quid.

Curtis is almost an after-thought as Hitch, the daughter of an American ambassador, who decides to thumb her way across the country.

Franklin’s film benefits enormously from a wonderful score by the late Brian May (Mad Max, Cloak & Dagger), and ultimately Road Games is more memorable for its colorful portrait of the Outback and its native people than it is for the serial killer plotline.

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