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article imageReview: This week’s releases face questions of morality Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Sep 10, 2020 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include an entertainingly eye-opening political comedy; a zombie movie with something new to say; a couple of high-def indulgences in violence and gore; and a collection of some of Universal’s best horror pictures.
Blood Quantum (Blu-ray)
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RLJE Films & Shudder
The Indigenous people in the isolated reserve of Red Crow are immune to the zombie plague that has taken over the nation, but that doesn’t mean their lives aren’t at risk. It’s up to Traylor (Michael Greyeyes), the tribal sheriff, to protect the families residing on the reserve and a flood of desperate refugees from the hordes of bloodthirsty, walking white corpses that are closing in.
It’s difficult to find innovation in the zombie genre, but this new horror entry uses the category’s classic penchant for social commentary to examine and critique post-colonial Indigenous life and culture. The isolated Mi’gmaq community grapples with the decision of whether to shelter the uninfected but susceptible outsiders, which could put their tribe — and what’s left of humanity — at risk. Dissension within their group creates a lot of tension and feeds the apocalyptic paranoia so common in these dire situations. However, at its heart, it’s still a zombie movie and it goes hardcore with the human and zombie deaths, featuring lots of blood and gore whether it’s someone succumbing to an attack or the undead being dispatched by sword, chainsaw or axe. There are also some strategically placed animated sequences that likely helped keep the budget lower, while adding another layer of ingenuity to the picture.
There are no special features. (RLJE Films & Shudder)
The House by the Cemetery (4K Ultra HD & Blu-ray)
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Blue Underground
A young family moves from their cramped New York City apartment to a spacious new home in New England. But this is no ordinary house in the country: the previous owner was the deranged Dr. Freudstein, whose monstrous human experiments have left a legacy of bloody mayhem. Now, someone — or something — is alive in the basement, and home sweet home is about to become a horrific hell on earth.
This is a strange tale that initially appears to be about a haunted house. The family looks like they’re being plagued by a poltergeist as things mysteriously move and something frightens their son. The boy also has a strange connection with a neighbour girl who repeatedly warns him that his house is dangerous. However, when people start being murdered in the house and the boy’s encounters with the ghoul become tenser, it seems less and less ghostly. Meanwhile, the father is investigating Dr. Freudstein and his mysterious work under the watchful eyes of his former assistant. Not much of this movie makes sense, including the ending, but director Lucio Fulci’s focus on the special effects pays off in its gory extravagance.
Special features include: commentary with Troy Howarth, author of “Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films”; deleted scenes; poster and still gallery; and theatrical trailers. (Blue Underground)
Irresistible (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital code)
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Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Top Democratic consultant Gary Zimmer (Steve Carell) sees an opportunity to win back voters in America’s heartland when a video of a passionate farmer and retired Marine colonel (Chris Cooper) goes viral. After a long, hard day’s work as a farmhand, Gary persuades the farmer to run for mayor. However, when the Republican National Committee counters him by sending in his brilliant nemesis, Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne), Gary is more than primed to up his game, turning this local race into a game of tug of war.
Though Jon Stewart gave up his late-night hosting duties, he hasn’t stopped finding entertaining ways to deliver social and political commentary to a mainstream audience. His latest stint in the director’s chair is a pointed comedy about campaign financing. This political microcosm brings everything down to a more manageable and digestible level by focusing on the race for office in a small town. But the addition of high-ranking, cutthroat political consultants, who bring their big league strategies and donors to the table, provides viewers with a glimpse behind the curtain. However, the film’s larger underlying message isn’t revealed until the end in a clever twist. Carell and Cooper have excellent chemistry, while the colonel’s daughter (Mackenzie Davis) is probably the smartest of the bunch.
Special features include: deleted and extended scenes; “An Irresistible Story”; “Campaign Comedy: The Cast of Irresistible”; “Taking the Lead: Jon Stewart”; and gag reel. (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
The New York Ripper (4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray)
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Blue Underground
A blade-wielding psychopath is on the loose, turning The Big Apple bright red with the blood of beautiful young women. As NYPD detective Fred Williams (Jack Hedley) follows the trail of butchery from the decks of the Staten Island Ferry to the sex shows of Times Square, each brutal murder becomes a sadistic taunt. In the city that never sleeps, the hunt is on for the killer that can't be stopped.
The title serial killer shares its name with the famed London murderer because both their victims are killed for their sex. The women in this movie are graphically mutilated with various blades while the killer quacks maniacally. Lucio Fulci’s love of blood and gore is exercised in the close-up shots of the cutting edge penetrating the skin and, later, with the disfigured, partially nude corpses. There’s also a sense that the murderer is lashing out against a morally corrupt society as various characters partake in non-traditional sex play. As is typical for the director, not everything about the script makes sense, but it is an effective vehicle to bring Fulci’s deranged vision to the screen.
Special features include: commentary with Troy Howarth, author of “Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films”; “The Art of Killing,” interview with co-writer Dardano Sacchetti; “Three Fingers Of Violence,” interview with star Howard Ross; “The Second Victim,” interview with co-star Cinzia de Ponti; “The Broken Bottle Murder,” interview with co-star Zora Kerova; “’I'm an Actress!,’” 2009 Interview with co-star Zora Kerova; “The Beauty Killer,” interview with Stephen Thrower, author of “Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci”; “Paint Me Blood Red,” interview with poster artist Enzo Sciotti; “NYC Locations Then and Now”; poster and still gallery; and theatrical trailer. (Blue Underground)
Universal Horror Collection Volume 6 (Blu-ray)
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Scream Factory
Four tales of terror from the archives of Universal Pictures. Boris Karloff stars as a doctor who risks his own life to save the captives of a mad count in The Black Castle. Vengeance is sworn against six men who witness a ceremony where beautiful women turn into serpents in Cult of the Cobra. In The Thing That Couldn’t Die, when a young psychic discovers a box that contains the living head of an executed devil worshiper — heads will roll! A cat witnesses the murder of her owner and is hell-bent on revenge in The Shadow of the Cat.
The theme of this collection seems to be revenge. The first picture is a bit of an outlier as Karloff’s character isn’t as much seeking vengeance as he is trying to stop a cruel man who torments everyone around him. The second movie, though, finds a group of military tourists paying the price for disrespecting the sanctity of a ceremony they crashed. Then, the bodiless man in the next film takes out his anger over being imprisoned on all those involved in his excavation. Finally, the last movie is a reminder that cats are clever creatures that shouldn’t be crossed and which may have served as inspiration for other similarly feline-centric horror stories. Each of the pictures in this volume retain their entertainment value more than 50 years after their release, attesting to Universal’s genre dominance.
Special features include: commentary with author/film historian Tom Weaver; “Universal Horror Strikes Back!,” a look at Universal Horror in the ‘40s; commentary with film historians Tom Weaver, Steve Kronenberg, David Schecter and Robert J. Kiss; commentary by authors/film historians Tom Weaver and C. Courtney Joyner; commentary by author/film historian Bruce G. Hallenbeck; “In the Shadow of Shelley,” an interview with Barbara Shelley; still galleries; and theatrical trailers. (Scream Factory)
More about Irresistible, Blood Quantum, Universal Horror Collection, The House by the Cemetery, The New York Ripper
 
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