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article imageA lot of strong emotions about this week’s releases Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Nov 5, 2015 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include the frontrunner for best animated film of 2015; a few anniversary releases; a reboot that actually works; and a solid mystery thriller featuring the team from ‘Mad Max: Fury Road.’
Bloodsucking Bastards (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
Evan Sanders (Fran Kranz) is a dutiful and overworked employee stuck at a soul-killing corporation with his beautiful girlfriend, Amanda (Emma Fitzpatrick), and his slacker best friend Tim (Joey Kern). Evan's world begins to crumble when Amanda dumps him and his boss, Ted (Joel Murray), hands his coveted promotion to his nemesis Max (Pedro Pascal). But just when Evan's convinced that life couldn't bite any harder, his office mates start going through disturbing changes and bodies begin to pile up. Evan must find a way to stop the evil brewing amidst the cubicles and water coolers, win back Amanda, and rescue his workplace pals before his life and career go from dead-end to just dead.
This dark comedy is a cross between Office Space and Shaun of the Dead. The monotony of cubicle life and inequity of bureaucracy are just some of the links to the former, though Evan’s slacker buddies are far more overt when they’re goofing off instead of working. The latter is represented by Evan’s desire to save his unhappy girlfriend from becoming undead and his decision to stand his ground against his differently monstrous colleagues. There are a lot of laughs between all the blood splatter and exploding corpses. The script is clever and the actors are very competent in their comedic timing, which makes for a very entertaining 90 minutes of horror comedy.
Special features include: commentary by Dr. God Comedy Troupe Including director Brian James O'Connell, producer/actor Justin Ware, writer/actor Sean Cowhig, and actors Neil W. Garguilo and David F. Park; behind-the-scenes featurette; and gag reel. (Scream Factory)
Breaking Through (DVD)
XLrator Media
When Casey (Sophie Aguiar), a dancer who is discovered on YouTube, gets thrust into the modern world of internet celebrity and culture, she must find a way to balance her true identity with her online persona, or risk losing everything she cares about.
While most viewers are accustomed to the Step Up formula in which a dance contest eventually takes centre stage, this is a story more often seen in narratives about music bands. Casey is the star of her troupe and her friends are 100 per cent supportive in any decision that will get her the recognition she deserves; however, as expected, her new career takes over her life and leaves her friends and family feeling abandoned and unwanted. Luckily this unoriginal story is boosted by some impressive dance sequences, though even these scenes are best when the characters are left to their own devices vs. being directed by other people’s visions. As a result, the first and last performances are the best in the picture.
There are no special features. (XLrator Media)
Californication: The Complete Series (DVD)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
Hank Moody (David Duchovny) is a troubled writer addicted to a rock star lifestyle. Even with long-time love Karen (Natascha McElhone), rebellious daughter Becca (Madeleine Martin) and best friend/agent Charlie (Evan Handler) by his side, Hanks demons catch up to him.
Hank is a self-destructive character audiences love watching whether he’s riding a high or dodging a low point in his life. It’s difficult to understand how a writer could live like Steven Tyler, but this series makes it happen complete with copious amounts of drugs, alcohol and sex. Even when Hank is trying to stay on the straight-and-narrow path, he usually manages to screw it all up somehow — one of the many qualities that endears viewers to the show and Duchovny’s character. It’s almost hard to believe the X-Files actor had it in him to play such a complex and fascinating personality, but he does so with confidence. The supporting actors mentioned are also incredibly important to the narrative with Martin practically growing up on screen and Handler often topping Hank’s moments of stupidity.
Special features include: commentary on select episodes; cast interviews; and blooper reel. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Dark Places (DVD)
Remstar Films
The sole survivor of a home invasion where she famously witnessed the death of her mother and sisters, Libby Day (Charlize Theron) lives with the knowledge that her testimony as a seven-year-old sentenced her brother (Corey Stoll) to life in prison for the horrific crime. When a group of true-crime enthusiasts find Libby twenty-five years later and convince her to re-examine the events of the night, new memories and old suspects suddenly flood back into her life. As shocking information comes to light, Libby begins to question her own key testimony and sets out to discover the truth of her tragic past.
There are many layers to Libby’s story, most of which even she was unaware of since she never revisited any aspect of the incident outside of her nightmares. The underlying narrative is a thought-provoking exploration of the “Satanic panic” of the ‘80s and early ‘90s. Ben’s rebellious attitude, taste in music, newly dyed, shaggy black hair and former complaints make him an easy target in the small town, prompting the police to limit their investigation from the beginning. The final revelations are somewhat startling, but the path to their discovery is a complex web of lies and heartache that grips audiences until the final stone is unturned. However, it’s the outstanding, genuine performances that bring these damaged characters to life and truly set the film apart.
There are no special features. (Remstar Films)
Dr. Terrors House of Horrors (Blu-ray)
Olive Films
Five men who board a train as strangers will soon find commonality when joined by a sixth passenger, the mysterious traveler known as Dr. Schreck (Peter Cushing). To while away the time, the good doctor offers to read each passenger’s Tarot cards. The innocent parlour game has an unexpected conclusion as each reading unfolds on screen as a terrifying vignette, the results of which are unpredictable and shocking.
Older horror anthologies generally consist of strange and creepy tales rather than frighteningly gruesome stories as most do now. The framing story is relatively basic as Dr. Schreck apparently sees a lot in just four cards per man. Their futures are all different from each other, unrelated and told in great detail. The first man awakens a vengeful creature, though it’s not exactly what you’d expect to find in a coffin; the second finds himself hunted by a biological impossibility; another man brings the fury of the gods upon himself by violating a sacred ceremony; the unbeliever is shown a malevolent side of his personality that comes back to haunt him; and the last man with a congenial face is betrayed by his love, which is followed by an even greater deception. Each story is well-crafted and on par with the next, causing this classic to still hold up after 50 years.
There are no special features. (Olive Films)
The End (Blu-ray)
Olive Films
When California real estate agent Wendell “Sonny” Lawson (Burt Reynolds) is told that he only has six months to live he decides to try and beat the grim reaper to the punch. After a failed overdose, the hospitalized Sonny finds the solution to his problem in his fellow inmate, the certifiably insane Marlon (Dom DeLuise). As it turns out Marlon is of little help, botching Sonny’s suicide attempts at every turn.
If you’ve ever wondered if Reynolds was funny, the answer is sometimes. The first act of this movie is terrible as Sonny is given his diagnosis and then wallows in despair. Left to carry the humour on his own, Reynolds proves inept and a detriment to the film. DeLuise’s character is a major oddball whose big personality demands the audience’s attention. A more skilled comedic actor, he is able to alleviate some of the unpleasantness. The supporting cast also contributes by taking some of the burden off of Reynolds and providing him with some with which to share the screen. The familiar faces that appear in this film are endless and include Sally Field, Strother Martin, Norman Fell, Kristy McNichol and Carl Reiner.
There are no special features. (Olive Films)
The Final Girls (Blu-ray)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
When Max (Taissa Farmiga) and her friends reluctantly attend an anniversary screening of “Camp Bloodbath”, the infamous ‘80s horror film that starred Max’s late mother (Malin Akerman), they are mysteriously sucked into the silver screen. They soon realize they are trapped inside the cult classic movie and must team up with the fictional and ill-fated camp counselors, including Max’s mom as the scream queen, to battle the film’s machete-wielding killer.
The “final girl” was a phrase coined by Carol Clover to refer to the sole survivor of most horror movies since the ‘70s. They were typically virgins, often asexual in name and/or appearance, avoided drugs and alcohol, and seemed smarter than their dead friends. While Wes Craven’s Scream played with these rules in his modern day slasher trilogy, this film plunks its characters in the middle of a film in which the rules are not just conventions but instructions for their survival. It unquestioningly tries too hard at times to be funny, but it’s still a very entertaining movie for genre fans. Nina Dobrev reminds audiences she could have an acting career post-Vampire Diaries and Adam DeVine’s improv throughout the picture is generally priceless.
Special features include: cast and crew commentary; writers’ commentary; deleted and extended scenes with optional director’s commentary; alternate endings with optional director’s commentary; “Previsualization: Bringing Scenes To Life”; “Progression Of Visual Effects”; and “Director’s Production Notes.” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Game of Thrones: Season 1 (Blu-ray steelbook & Digital copy)
HBO Home Entertainment
The rival families of the Seven Kingdoms are locked in a battle for the Iron Throne. In the Game of Thrones, you either win or you die.
Having just wrapped the fifth season of the series on HBO, there are few people who are not aware of the show and possibly even know at least one character’s name whether they’ve watched an episode or not. But the temptation to start from the beginning is always present and this newly crafted release of the first season will enhance the appeal. It’s absolutely necessary to watch from start to understand the complex feuds, rivalries and affairs that populate the narrative. Launching a tradition of sex and violence, secret trusts are made and messages are delivered in blood. Watching the series in its intended order is a reward in itself as the schemes and betrayals intricately unfold. With the calibre of acting, design and writing maintained, the bar has only been raised higher in subsequent seasons. The new box art is designed by the same company responsible for the opening credits. This season displays Winterfell and comes with a usable magnet of the direwolf sigil of House Stark. It’s also the first time a TV title has been released with Dolby Atmos which places and moves sounds and music anywhere in the room, including overhead, creating a captivating experience that brings entertainment alive all around the audience.
Special features include: seven commentaries; making-of featurette; complete guide to Westeros; in-episode guide; “Anatomy of an Episode”; “Hidden Dragon Eggs”; “Creating the Show Open”; “From the Book to the Screen”; “Creating the Dothraki Language”; “The Night’s Watch”; and character profiles. (HBO Home Entertainment)
The Golden Cane Warrior (Blu-ray)
Well Go USA
The well-respected Cempaka (Christine Hakim), holder of the mighty and powerful Golden Cane relic weapon and its ultimate deadly moves, was expected to announce her succession to one of her most talented students. Murder and betrayal take over before the announcement is made public, putting the Golden Cane in danger of falling into the wrong hands. The only person who can help restore order is the long lost Naga Putih (The White Dragon), the last warrior who still possesses the ultimate moves of the Golden Cane. Two betrayed students, hurt and angry, must find the warrior before it’s too late.
This is very much a female-led action narrative, though the men do play a significant role and often share the screen with their female counterparts. If anything, the narrative’s pairing of characters indicates equality between the genders. The women are as respected as the men, having become masters of their disciplines. The story unfolds gradually as various plots and secrets are revealed, though most of the characters still play their cards very close to the chest. The fight sequences consist of very purposeful movements, demonstrative of students of very specific styles of fighting. Cempaka is a fascinating personality who would make a great subject for a prequel should the idea of expanding on the story ever be considered.
There are no special features. (Well Go USA)
Inside Out (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Disney Home Entertainment
Based in Headquarters, the control centre of 11-year-old Riley’s (Amy Poehler) mind, five emotions are hard at work, led by lighthearted optimist Joy. She strives to make sure Riley stays happy as she operates alongside fellow emotions Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling).
This interpretation of how our minds work is incredibly engaging. Watching the emotions debate and wrestle for control of the main switch is very amusing, as is Joy’s ability to find the bright side of almost any situation. Sadness is Joy’s exact opposite, always gloomy and indulging in the less agreeable aspects of Riley’s life, such as blaming herself for a significant loss. Anger is the third most powerful emotion, easily overruling the other two in Joy and Sadness’ absence. Black couldn’t be casted more perfectly, having built a career on being mad. The story is divided in two after Joy and Sadness are transported to long-term memory, switching between their attempts to return to the control centre, and Anger, Fear and Disgusts efforts to “do what Joy would do.” Once again Pixar creates the ideal mix of sentiment and humour.
Special features include: “Story of the Story”; “Paths to Pixar: The Women of Inside Out”; “Mixed Emotions”; “Mapping the Mind”; “Our Dads, the Filmmakers”; “Into the Unknown: The Sound of Inside Out”; “The Misunderstood Art of Animation Film Editing”; Riley’s First Date? short; and Lava short film. (Disney Home Entertainment)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail: 40th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
King Arthur and his knights embark on a low-budget search for the Grail, encountering many very silly obstacles.
This was the comedy troupe’s first feature film composed of entirely new material that would prove timeless. The characters are unforgettable and stand up to this day as hilarious creations of some of comedies most talented minds. From Tim the Enchanter and the killer bunny to the unwavering black knight to the Knights who say “Ni,” this film is never any less enjoyable after the first or multiple viewing. It’s also fun to watch the movie and spot which of the Python crew has taken on what role in any given segment. It’s extremely quotable and entertaining in ways no longer seen on the big screen. The numerous special features are an added bonus and include the new uncensored Q&A moderated by John Oliver and the amusing Lego send-up of one of the film’s more ridiculous scenes.
Special features include: “Monty Python and the Holy Grail at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival” Q&A; outtakes and extended scenes with introduction by Terry Jones; lost animations with introduction by Terry Gilliam; scintillating commentary by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones and even more revealing commentary by John Cleese, Eric Idle and Michael Palin; “Quest for the Holy Grail Locations with Michael Palin & Terry Jones”; “Lego Knights: The Knights of the Round Table in LEGO”; “Special Japanese Version”; “How To Use Your Coconuts (An Educational Film)”; “BBC Film Night on Location”; three songs to sing-along; photo gallery; and original theatrical trailer. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
My Fair Lady: 50th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray & DVD)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
Elitist linguistic professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) makes a wager with his colleague that he can turn a sassy, cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) into the toast of English society. The musical includes timeless songs such as “The Rain in Spain,” “I Could Have Danced All Night” and “Get Me to the Church on Time.”
The name Eliza Doolittle was immortalized by this movie and people undoubtedly know some of the songs as they’ve appeared in countless other narratives; but many viewers may never have seen Hepburn’s dazzling performance as a flower girl from the street transformed into an impeccable socialite. Her accent pre-elocution lessons are incomparable, particularly when she’s forced to adapt it to the speech classes before it magically disappears. Hepburn definitely deserved the recognition, but she would not win one of the film’s eight Oscars; they did however take home statues for best picture, actor and director. This anniversary edition has a shiny magnetic case and includes a disc devoted to special features, including an hour-long video examining how the movie was made, a look at the spectacular costumes and Hepburn’s accent tests.
Special features include: “More Loverly Than Ever: The Making of My Fair Lady Then & Now”; “1963 Production Kick-Off Dinner”; “Los Angeles Premiere 10/28/1964”; British premiere; “George Cukor Directs Baroness Bina Rothschild”; Rex Harrison radio interview; production tests; alternate Higgins/Pickering screen test; alternate Audrey Hepburn vocals; galleries; “Comments On A Lady”; theatrical featurettes; “Story of a Lady”; “Design for a Lady”; “The Fairest Fair Lady”; awards speeches; trailers; teaser and awards trailer; and theatrical reissues. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Some Kind of Hate (Blu-ray)
RLJ Entertainment
Relentless bullying has turned Lincoln’s life into a nightmare. But he soon learns the true meaning of terror when he is sent to a remote school for troubled teens and the harassments start all over again. Only this time, someone is watching — a teenage girl named Moira who was driven to suicide by vicious bullying years ago. When Lincoln accidentally summons Moira from the grave, he unleashes a vengeful and unstoppable force on a mission of blood-soaked revenge.
Most movies dealing with hauntings discuss restless spirits with unfinished business or ghosts of people who had violent deaths. While it initially appears the focus of the film will be the nefarious practices of the camp directors, it soon shifts to the cruel behaviour of Lincoln’s peers. Having gained an undeserved reputation, he is further bullied in what is supposed to be a healing environment. Moira is a darker version of Harry Potter’s Myrtle, absorbing Lincoln’s distress and transforming it into a reason to seek revenge. The scenes in which she appears are relatively bloody, though the special effects employed to inflict the wounds are seamless.
Special features include: commentary by Adam Egypt Mortimer; cast commentary by Ronen Rubinstein, Grace Phipps and Sierra McCormick; and deleted scenes. (RLJ Entertainment)
Sometimes They Come Back… (Blu-ray)
Olive Films
Troubled Jim Norman (Tim Matheson) moves back to his hometown with his wife Sally (Brooke Adams) and son Scott (Robert Hy Gorman) after accepting a teaching job at the local high school. But the town holds dark memories for Jim who moved away years earlier following the murder of his brother, Wayne (Chris Demetral). The young men responsible for the murder met with their own horrific deaths and now those restless spirits have come back for revenge.
The supernatural tale is based on a short story by Stephen King and has an eerie foundation in ghost stories and evil spirits. A wicked black car with flames along the sides and fire-breathing exhaust is practically another character in the picture. The concept for this murky revenge plot is very clever and reveals itself slowly over the span of the film. The TV movie was also granted a sequel the proved completely inferior to its predecessor. Matheson is no longer the carefree frat boy from Animal House, having grown to be a rather responsible father and teacher with a notorious temper. The conclusion isn’t necessarily what you’d expect, but it’s very satisfying and true to the rest of the story.
There are no special features. (Olive Films)
Star Trek: The Original Series: The Complete Series (DVD)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and the crew of the Starship Enterprise explore the Galaxy and defend the United Federation of Planets.
It’s impossible to have foretold that this sci-fi series would have the impact it has had on the cultural zeitgeist. In addition to still being a revered TV show, it spawned a number of spin-offs, movies and documentaries that have emerged over the last 50 years and given audiences new space adventures. The crew was uniquely diverse and the aliens they encountered were well-constructed. Each episode presented a new story and Kirk could often be found seducing a female species (though no one ever questioned their biological compatibility). The planet of Tribbles is still a favourite and one-liners from many of the characters are still uttered in conversations today. The special series take fans behind the curtain with vintage video, as well as looking at how being on the show affected the careers of its forever recognizable actors. Live long and prosper.
Special features include: “Spacelift: Transporting Trek Into the 21st Century”; “Reflections on Spock”; “Billy Blackburn's Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memories” parts 1-3; “Writer's Notebook: D.C. Fontana”; “Trials and Tribble-ations: An Historic Endeavor”; “Star Trek's Divine Diva: Nichelle Nichols”; “Life Beyond Trek: Walter Koenig”; “Star Trek's Impact”; “Collectible Trek”; “Captain's Log: Bob Justman”; preview trailers; and more. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Toy Story That Time Forgot (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Disney Home Entertainment
During one of Bonnie's post-Christmas play dates, the “Toy Story” crew find themselves in uncharted territory when the coolest set of action figures ever turn out to be dangerously delusional. It's all up to Trixie (Kristen Schaal), the triceratops, if the gang hopes to ever return to Bonnie's room.
In spite of debuting 20 years ago, the “Toy Story” gang continue to amuse audiences of all ages with their endless adventures. This release is only 20 minutes, but it creates an interesting dichotomy between dinosaur and non-reptile figures as well as self-aware and non-self-aware toys. Kevin McKidd is a great new voice in the universe, breathing life into the cocksure Battlesaur. The other incredible part of this franchise is the dedication of the original cast who return for every new chapter. This time around Tom Hanks’ and Tim Allen’s roles are limited as Schaal takes the lead in the brief but entertaining short.
Special features include: commentary by director Steve Purcell and head of story Derek Thompson; deleted scenes with intros & outros; “Reptillus!”; “My Unexpected Friend”; “Battlesaurs Animated Opening”; and “Toy Story Goes to Comic-Con.” (Disney Home Entertainment)
Vacation (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Warner Home Video
Following in his father’s footsteps and hoping for some much-needed family bonding, a grown-up Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) surprises his wife, Debbie (Christina Applegate), and their two sons with a cross-country trip back to America’s favorite family fun park, Walley World.
The Griswolds are an institution of family comedy not actually appropriate for the whole family. Watching Chevy Chase’s patriarch drag his family kicking and screaming to have family fun is a wonderful pastime; and their first adventure is now his son’s Rusty’s first road trip. The nods to the original movies vary in obviousness, but are incorporated seamlessly into the narrative along with appearances by Rusty’s parents (Chase and Beverly D'Angelo). The dynamic between the two boys is cringeworthy but very funny, while Helms and Applegate adequately fulfill their roles as the parents determined to have a unifying good time. It doesn’t quite measure up to the original series, but by not trying to it’s actually an enjoyable comedy.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “Return to Walley World”; “The Griswold Odyssey”; and gag reel. (Warner Home Video)
More about Inside out, Game Of Thrones, dark places, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Bloodsucking Bastards
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