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article imageReview: A variety of classics get new life in this week’s releases Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jun 22, 2020 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include anniversary editions of several classics; the last chapter in an epic journey; a horror revival that hits all the right nerves; a new anthology horror series; and short films that expand an already vast universe.
Creepshow: Season 1 (Blu-ray)
RLJE Films & Shudder
A comic book comes to life in a series of 12 vignettes over six episodes, exploring terrors from murder to the supernatural and unexplainable. Haunted dollhouses, werewolves, murderous goblins, villainous trick-or-treaters, the dead, and medical marvels are just a few of the things to watch out for in this new series.
This new series is based on George A. Romero’s 1982 horror anthology, which adapted stories by Stephen King. The Creep is the host, but he never actually speaks during the show. Instead, each tale is introduced via a page in a comic book, though the camera doesn’t give audiences too much of an opportunity to read the weirdly fun advertisements, let alone the story intros — thankfully, this new Blu-ray release means viewers can pause and examine the details to their heart’s content. The stories vary greatly from each other, which means different ones are likely to appeal to different people. There’s a classic werewolf tale set during WWII, featuring excellent practical effects; a fresh take on the monkey’s paw; a pet avenger; a creepy, doll-sized decapitated head; and several people getting more than for which they bargained. Recognizable guest stars include Adrienne Barbeau, Giancarlo Esposito, Tobin Bell, Jeffrey Combs, DJ Qualls, David Arquette and Dana Gould.
Special features include: commentaries with cast and crew; cast and crew interviews; behind-the-scenes footage; Easter eggs featurette; photo galleries; and 24-page comic art booklet. (RLJE Films & Shudder)
The Deer Hunter Collector's Edition (4K Ultra HD & Blu-ray)
Shout Factory
A group of Pennsylvania steelworkers (Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken and John Savage) go from their blue-collar lives, hunting in the woods of the Alleghenies, to the hell of Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.
This 1978 picture was one of the first to realistically depict the impact of the Vietnam War on the veterans who survived. Each of the men is affected differently, shaping how they perceive and interact with the world after the war is over. The roles are demanding and the acting is impeccable. While these men are welcomed back with open arms, their PTSD prevents them from seamlessly re-integrating into their old lives. At just over three hours, the film is arguably longer than necessary and could’ve used some tightening. On the other hand, the compelling story and captivating performances keep audiences engaged so their less likely to notice the runtime. Divided into three acts, the first introduces the guys and shows viewers their happy-go-lucky attitudes before being deployed; the second portrays a brutal war and the torture they endured as POWs; and the third demonstrates how changed they are after serving. More than 40 years later, this is still a must-see movie for film enthusiasts.
Special features include: commentary with cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond and journalist Bob Fisher; deleted and extended scenes; “We Don’t Belong Here,” an interview with actor John Savage; “The War At Home,” an interview with actress Rutanya Alda; “A National Anthem,” an interview with producer Michael Deeley; “This is Not About War,” interview with post-production supervisor Katy Haber and Universal Marketing executive Willette Klausner; interview with film critic David Thomson; still gallery; radio spots; and theatrical trailer. (Shout Factory)
Escape from L.A. Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) takes on Los Angeles after a 9.6 earthquake decimates the city. His job: wade through L.A.'s ruined landmarks to retrieve a doomsday device.
In this sequel to Escape from New York, it’s been 15 years since Snake did the world a favour and saved the president… and now the U.S. government has come a-knocking once more. Blackmailing Snake with yet another life-threatening illness, he must again infiltrate a city of undesirables to retrieve a world-ending device. Though the storylines are similar, this is an all-new adventure that includes city surfing down Wilshire Blvd. with Peter Fonda, a tour of the stars with Steve Buscemi, an unscheduled doctor’s appointment with Bruce Campbell, a criminal reunion reluctantly hosted by Pam Grier and an impossible basketball tournament with dire consequences. Russell seamlessly reprises the role, portraying the innovative felon with the same shrewdness and confidence, while also demonstrating Snake has become unfeasibly colder over the years.
Special features include: “A Little Bit Off Beat,” an interview with actor Stacy Keach; “Beverly Hills Workshed,” an audio interview with Bruce Campbell; “Part of the Family,” an interview with Peter Jason; “Miss A Shot, Get A Shot,” an interview with George Corraface; “One Eye is Better Than None,” an interview with special effects artist Jim Mc Pherson; “The Renderman,” an interview with visual effects artist David Jones; still gallery; TV spots; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
Friday the 13th [40th Anniversary] steelbook (Blu-ray)
Paramount Home Entertainment
A group of young counsellors prepare for the reopening of Camp Crystal Lake, where a boy drowned years earlier. One by one, the counsellors are stalked by a mysterious and violent killer.
While Jason Voorhees would become the star of the franchise, this film featuring his brutally murderous mom launched the series. Complete with salacious young people and inventive kills, this movie has scared and entertained audiences for 40 years. Released right in the midst of the slasher movie’s heyday, the gory massacre became a cult favourite and horror classic. It also helped establish the formula and “survival rules” that would define the genre. Many aspiring actors got their break in horror pictures and this one features a young Kevin Bacon among its many victims. The bonus features take audiences behind-the-curtain, including tidbits about low budget filmmaking and practical effects, as well as tribute to the late director.
Special features include: commentary by director Sean S. Cunningham with cast and crew; “Friday the 13th Reunion”; “Fresh Cuts: New Tales from Friday the 13th”; “The Man Behind the Legacy: Sean S. Cunningham”; “Lost Tales from Camp Blood — Part 1”; “The Friday the 13th Chronicles”; and “Secrets Galore Behind the Gore.” (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Gladiator [20th Anniversary] steelbook (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Paramount Home Entertainment
A Roman general (Russell Crowe) is betrayed by a corrupt prince (Joaquin Phoenix) and comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek revenge.
The 2000 film was nominated for 12 Oscars and won five, including best actor for Crowe and best picture. The blockbuster period film has everything from thrilling fight choreography to largescale sets recreating historical landmarks, from a captivating narrative of good vs. bad to a cast of accomplished actors to bring the complex characters to life. Maximus’ journey takes him from Rome’s most trusted general to a slave whose only purpose is to fight and eventually die for the amusement of everyone at the Colosseum. Even though he’s obviously strong and worthy, this film has the appeal of an underdog story as Maximus battles against the odds to get his revenge. Ridley Scott is a masterful director and this movie is a testament to his skills in producing an epic, impactful picture.
Special features include: theatrical and extended versions of the film; commentaries on both versions; introduction by director Ridley Scott; deleted scenes; making-of documentary; “The Scrolls of Knowledge”; “Visions of Elysium”; “Strength and Honor”; storyboards; and more. (Paramount Home Entertainment)
The Invisible Man (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) slowly begins to rebuild her life after the death of her abusive ex-boyfriend (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). But before long, she begins to question whether or not he is truly gone.
While the teasers suggest the film centres on Cecilia repeatedly claiming “he’s in the room,” it’s actually much more than that and uses the two-hour runtime to explore the idea of being stalked by a mad genius no one can see. Writer/director Leigh Whannell is a seasoned horror filmmaker who understands scaring viewers is about more than just loud bangs and things popping out of the darkness. He knows how to keep audiences on the edge of their seat for an entire picture by creating an intense atmosphere of suspicion and anticipation, surpassing any need to solely rely on jump scares — though he effectively delivers a few of those too. Everything is so subtle at first that when there’s a sudden explosion of violence, viewers are taken aback and left to watch as their shock turns to horror. Moss must carry most of the picture, reacting and selling the malevolent presence of an invisible man, which she does compellingly. However, the strength of her performance is in her portrayal of a battered wife who’s done with her controlling husband, and ready to fight back to retain her freedom and protect her loved ones.
Special features include: commentary with writer/director Leigh Whannell; deleted scenes; “Moss Manifested”; “Director’s Journey with Leigh Whannell”; “The Players”; and “Timeless Terror.” (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
Ip Man 4: The Finale (Blu-ray & DVD)
Well Go USA
Following the death of his wife, Ip Man (Donnie Yen) travels to San Francisco to ease tensions between the local kung fu masters and his star student, Bruce Lee, while searching for a better future for his son.
Master Ip has been living the quiet life since putting down the crooked developer (Mike Tyson) in the second sequel. However, since his wife’s death, his son has become rebellious and he hopes a change of scenery may adjust his attitude. In America, Master Ip is invited to meet with the local Chinese association, but they’re only willing to help him if he convinces Bruce to stop teaching non-Chinese the art of kung fu. Although the other masters present an obstacle, the true villains of this story are the U.S. Marines, who aggressively assert their karate is superior to kung fu, injuring many of its practitioners along the way to prove their point. The bad guys are led by English martial artist Scott Adkins, who’s featured in many action movies but never opposite Yen until now.
Special features include: featurettes and trailers. (Well Go USA)
Star Trek: Short Treks (Blu-ray)
Paramount Home Entertainment
This collection of shorts brings fans of the Star Trek universe together on a thrilling exploration of the themes and characters they've already come to love. Witness the Star Trek: Discovery storyline expand with episodes featuring fan-favourites Rainn Wilson (Harry Mudd), Ethan Peck (Spock), Anson Mount (Captain Christopher Pike), Rebecca Romijn (Number One) and more. Experience nine shorts that deliver nearly two hours of live-action and animated adventures never-before-seen in Star Trek's history.
Since Discovery occurs before Gene Roddenberry’s original series, the show has the opportunity to tell the origin stories of some classic, beloved characters; and while not all of these merit an entire episode’s focus, these shorts provide showrunners the occasion to explore some of these ideas. Probably the best story in this collection involves the geneses of the tribbles, which are a fan favourite from Captain Kirk’s era. Fans are also provided a glimpse of Saru’s home world and how he was recruited to Starfleet, as well as how Spock developed a relationship with Number One. The chapter about Harry Mudd has an unsurprisingly very humorous tone, while one of the most touching involves a repair drone and a mother alien.
Special features include: commentaries; making-of featurette; and cast interviews. (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Urban Cowboy [40th Anniversary] (Blu-ray)
Paramount Home Entertainment
Bud (John Travolta), a West Texas farm boy, goes to the big city where he rides a mechanical bull, meets his future wife, and encounters the antagonism of an ex-con.
This is not a look people are used to seeing on Travolta. He has a big bushy beard at the start of the film and later he turns out to be an impulsive and abusive husband, which seems like an attempt to distance himself from some of his earlier roles. Debra Winger plays his wife-to-be and she is unceremoniously beaten by all her partners throughout the picture, including several times by Bud. Although the underlying narrative is about riding a mechanical bull for a large cash prize, it’s difficult to get past the behaviour of the characters who turn a battle of wills into long-term extramarital affairs. Unfortunately, in spite of the decent performances, this movie hasn’t aged well and won’t hold a lot of appeal for contemporary audiences.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “Good Times with Gilley: Looking Back at Urban Cowboy”; rehearsal footage; and outtakes. (Paramount Home Entertainment)
More about The Invisible Man, Star Trek Short Treks, creepshow, The Deer Hunter, Escape from LA
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