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article imageReview: Secrets are dragged into the light in this week’s releases Special

By Sarah Gopaul     May 30, 2019 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a family filled with suspicion; an incredibly bad acid trip; a return to episodic narratives; a throwback to detective movies; a classic flop; a fun romp; and a rare sequel to a thriller.
Blood: Series 1 (Blu-ray)
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Acorn
Loner Cat Hogan (Carolina Main) returns to her hometown following the sudden death of her mother. But when the details about the accident don’t add up, Cat suspects her father (Adrian Dunbar), a well-respected doctor she has distrusted ever since a childhood trauma. Did he have a hand in her mother’s passing, or is Cat really the troublemaker her siblings perceive her to be? As she sets to find out the truth, Cat uncovers secrets long buried and risks destroying what’s left of her family ties.
This is a murder mystery that may not actually be a murder at all. Cat’s convinced her father has pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes most of her life, as she’s also certain he had a hand in the death of her friend’s father when she was a child. Her juvenile conclusions inform her current ones, though no one believed her then and they don’t want to believe her now. However, murderer or not, he has a lot of secrets and has told a lot of lies, all of which begin to unravel with the more questions Cat asks. The climax of the miniseries is actually more of a plateau as Cat gets all her answers, but none of the satisfaction for which she’d hoped.
Special features include: cast and crew interviews; and behind-the-scenes featurette. (Acorn)
Boom! (Blu-ray)
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Shout Select
Sissy Goforth (Elizabeth Taylor), the world’s richest woman, has retired to her lavish island estate to dictate her memoirs. Her reclusive lifestyle is thrown into upheaval when roguish poet Chris Flanders (Richard Burton) washes up on her beach. With the mysterious habit of calling upon a lady one step before the undertaker, Flanders has become known as “The Angel Of Death” — but an undaunted Goforth opts to tempt fate when she chooses to take Flanders as her next — and last — lover.
It’s not entirely surprising this film bombed when it was released in 1968. In spite of the chemistry between Taylor and her two-time husband, Burton, there is little else to engage viewers. Her performance is grossly over-the-top, reminiscent of a poorly acted high school production in which her coughing convulsions and fits of fatigue are being played against any sort of realism. Burton plays his role of charming stranger well, but that only emphasizes the exaggerated elements of his co-star’s delivery. It’s difficult to view the film as camp, which is how it eventually gained popularity, since it doesn’t feel like that was the initial intention. It has its moments, but at nearly two hours in length they’re too few and far between.
Special features include: commentary by filmmaker John Waters; "The Sound of a Bomb: Contextualizing Boom!"; photo galleries; and original theatrical trailer. (Shout Select)
Climax (DVD)
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Lionsgate Home Entertainment
In an empty and remote school building, a French dance troupe has gathered for rehearsal. The rehearsal morphs into a party — and then turns nightmarish as the dancers discover they've been drinking sangria laced with LSD. Passions and violence erupt as the night moves from jubilation to full-fledged anarchy.
Gasper Noé’s latest picture extends his streak of provocative filmmaking. Opening with a series of recorded interviews with the dancers, audiences learn about their histories, reason for dancing and drug preferences. The interviews play on a small TV outlined with books and VHS tapes that hint at the incendiary influences for the film ahead. The succeeding choreographed dance sequence is arresting as it showcases the performers’ skills while oozing passion and aggression. The camera is stationary until it pans to a bird’s eye view of the routine. Once the drugs kick in, the whole thing evolves into nightmare darkly lit with hellish red or sickening green. Viewers follow as the dancers literally tear themselves and each other apart. It’s possible the director has embedded a number of messages in the picture, but everything is up for interpretation.
Special features include: making-of featurette. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
The Poison Rose (Blu-ray)
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Lionsgate Home Entertainment and VVS Films
Carson Phillips (John Travolta) takes on a routine missing person’s case, which slowly reveals itself to be a complex interwoven web of crimes where his long lost daughter is the number one suspect.
This is a somewhat modern take on an old school detective narrative. Carson narrates the story as he tries to piece together the clues to the increasingly mysterious puzzle. Returning to his hometown after 20 years results in a mix of nostalgia and uneasiness since his former classmates may also be his prime suspects. It’s all fairly predictable, though delivered by a number of familiar faces, including Morgan Freeman, Famke Janssen, Brendan Fraser, Robert Patrick and Peter Stormare. The cast makes an interesting case for the film, but it’s a bit uneven as Carson jumps between investigations while also trying to outrun his own hit-men.
There are no special features. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment and VVS Films)
South Park: The Complete Twenty-Second Season (Blu-ray)
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Paramount Home Media Distribution
Join Cartman, Kenny, Stan, and Kyle as they have a memorable Halloween, get super cereal with Al Gore, and try to win the top prize in the town’s bike parade.
This season returns to the preferred episodic format in which most of the episodes deal with one issue, rather than stretching one story arc over all 10 episodes. Yet, there’s still continuity throughout as elements continue to pop up in subsequent chapters. This season is characteristically timely as the creators take on vaping, e-scooters, school shootings, molestation by priests, an Amazon fulfillment centre and the effects on Ambien on someone’s tweeting — and, subsequently, their career. The ManBearPig also makes its return to the series. As audiences have come to expect, they’ll laugh and cringe at Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s take on these societal concerns and annoyances, but it’s all done with the same quality and lack of sensitivity they’ve maintained for more than two decades.
Special features include: mini-commentaries on all episodes; and deleted scenes. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (Blu-ray)
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Shout Select
Three drag queens are on the cross-country road trip of a lifetime. On their way to Hollywood for a beauty pageant, Vida (Patrick Swayze), Chi-Chi (John Leguizamo) and Noxeema (Wesley Snipes) get stranded in the tiny Midwestern town of Snydersville. Determined to make the best of a bad situation, the “girls” set out to repair the broken hearts, broken dreams and broken nails of the small-town residents during one wildly outrageous weekend.
While many had fallen for the Australian picture, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, this was America’s response to the loveable drag queen narrative. The casting of three well-known actors — and at least two fairly masculine leading men — in the roles was a bit of a surprise, but they each carry their weight and find ways to endear audiences. Each has a unique personality, both personally and on stage, but they stick together through thick and thin. Luckily the small town is only marginally close-minded, so most of their protests lack bite. Though it may not be realistic and is unquestionably a stereotypical portrayal of drag, it’s still quite charming and a cult classic that probably wouldn’t be made today.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “Easy Rider in Dresses: A Look Back at the Making of”; TV spots; and theatrical trailers. (Shout Select)
When A Stranger Calls Back (Blu-ray)
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Scream Factory
Five years after her own terrifying baby-sitting ordeal, Julia Jenz (Jill Schoelen) is trying to put her life together when the past comes back to haunt her. Someone is breaking into her apartment, moving objects around and toying with her. The police think she’s just a hysterical coed, but student advisor Jill Johnson (Carol Kane), similarly victimized thirteen years earlier, is determined to nail Julia’s stalker. Retired detective John Clifford (Charles Durning), who saved Jill’s life before, must find and outwit the culprit before it’s too late.
The opening scenes of this movie are actually quite terrifying, though it’s difficult to understand Julia’s reluctance to help a stranger on her own terms. Nonetheless, the building tension as things keep moving or disappearing and the stranger’s persistence combine for a chilling experience. When things begin to move again without explanation, the police write Julie off as crazy. But she’s lucky Jill works at her school and John is willing to take up the case. His side of the narrative is far more interesting as he works on his hunch that the perpetrator has a unique and trackable skill. In the meantime, Julia’s actions may continue to puzzle audiences and Jill, who only wants to keep her safe. The conclusion has its own creepy element, but it’s not exactly satisfying.
Special features include: 1.33:1 (original TV broadcast) aspect ratio and alternate 1.78:1 version; “Directing A Stranger”; “Process is Everything”; “A Stranger’s Prey”; writer/director Fred Walton’s original short film The Sitter; and TV spot. (Scream Factory)
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