A Kirk Douglas Western is Our Home Video Pick of the Week
Last Train from Gun Hill [Paramount Presents]
What is it? A US marshall vows to take in a pair of killers.
Why see it? The great John Sturges directed this underseen western classic pairing Kirk Douglas against Anthony Quinn. Douglas plays the marshall whose wife is assaulted and killed by two men, and when he chases them down he discovers one is the son of his longtime friend (Quinn). Cue the standoff between Douglas and a whole town loyal to Quinn with a hard out involving the last train leaving town. It’s a smart and suspenseful western that delivers progressive ideals and observations on the genre along the way. Paramount’s new Blu-ray, the film’s debut on the format, is stunning as it offers a 6K transfer of the original VistaVision negative.
[Extras: New 6K transfer, featurette]
Anything for Jackson
What is it? A couple practices dark magic in pursuit of a resurrection.
Why see it? Films dealing with exorcisms can often be pretty bland, but this gem of a horror movie takes a fresh approach starting with its premise. The couple tries to perform a “reverse” exorcism to put a spirit into a body, and while their motives are pure their execution is all kinds of messed up. It’s a funny film at times, surprisingly, but that humor makes the dark and bloody happenings land with even more power. Give this one a spin as it will most likely surprise you.
What is it? A dinner party descends into chaos when weird things start happening both in the sky and on the ground.
Why see it? Sometimes the best science fiction films are the ones that don’t quite look like sf on the surface. This perfect example sees a group of friends get together for another generic dinner in the suburbs, but when a strange astronomical phenomenon interrupts the evening the sf goes into overdrive. The less you know going in the better, but rest assured that at under ninety minutes it’s a smartly crafted ride without a dull moment.
[Extras: Commentaries, featurette]
Godzilla vs Kong [4K UltraHD]
What is it? It’s right there in the title.
Why see it? I may be alone in this, but of the four Monsterverse titles — Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and this one — it’s this one that gets the most right. Director Adam Wingard and friends know that human antics are the least interesting element, and they keep them to a minimum meaning the bulk of the film is monster oriented. Those monster beats are great fun too, even when it gets stupid, as the effects and set-pieces deliver plenty of action and thrills. It’s a great looking movie (even if it doesn’t feature a show-stopping sequence like the others), and the sound design is aces with some speaker/subwoofer-shaking effects.
[Extras: Commentary by Adam Wingard, featurettes]
In the Line of Fire [4K UltraHD]
What is it? A Secret Service agent works to prevent an assassination.
Why see it? Clint Eastwood has left action movies behind, mostly, but even into his later years he was still delivering some solid bangers. Wolfgang Petersen takes the directorial reins on this one, and the result is a slick action/thriller pitting Eastwood’s weathered agent against a wiley assassin played by John Malkovich. The two old pros have a great time — and a mean and twisted one — going head to head, and the addition of Rene Russo is never a bad thing. It’s fun, exciting, big-screen entertainment, and it looks even more polished in 4K.
[Extras: Commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes]
One Potato, Two Potato [Scorpion Releasing]
What is it? An interracial couple finds trouble in the world around them.
Why see it? Racism will be a thing as thing as long as people are around, and that means movies on the topic will continue to be a thing too. This mid 60s drama captures the reality while it was at a high with its story of a white woman and Black man facing bigotry and racism both on and off the streets. It’s a stark drama, beautifully acted by Barbara Barrie, Bernie Hamilton, and Richard Mulligan, and it ends with undeniable power. This film may not be one you’ll rewatch all that often as it hurts, but it’s no less great because of that.
[Extras: New 4K scan, interview, commentary]
The Being [Code Red]
What is it? Man-made pollution turns a young man into a monster.
Why see it? Jackie Kong’s early 80s shocker is better known for its cast than its actual worth as a horror film — it stars Martin Landau, Jose Ferrer, Dorothy Malone, Kinky Friedman, and Ruth Buzzi. Yeah, it’s a weird one. The movie itself is the expected low budget affair, but Kong manages some fun creature feature antics and gory beats with the tale of misguided scientists, murderous monsters, and human feed buckets.
[Extras: 2K scan, commentaries]
Body Slam [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A talent agent finds success with professional wrestling.
Why see it? The mid 80s were a wild time as evidenced by this Hal Needham comedy about professional wrestling. It’s silly fun, but fans of wrestling should either remember it or seek it our immediately as features some familiar faces alongside Dirk Benedict’s lead including Roddy Piper, Captain Lou Albano, and others. It’s like a lighter, softer DC Cab in some ways, for whatever that’s worth.
[Extras: New 2K scan, interview]
The Deep Ones
What is it? A Lovecraftian tale.
Why see it? Imagine Stuart Gordon’s Dagon (2001) but on a much, much smaller budget, and you’ll be in the right mindset for this indie horror tale. Innocent visitors, creepy cultists, and a monster from the sea looking to assault and impregnate — it’s all here. Unfortunately, though, the budget and execution keep most of it from amounting to much more than minor thrills.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]
What is it? A mother and her son act weird in Paris.
Why see it? Sometimes you just watch a movie for its lead actor, and that’s the case here as Michelle Pfeiffer is fantastic as a widowed woman who’s slowly working her way through everything her life gave her. Her son (Lucas Hedges) is along for the ride and is as eccentric as she is — if not worse. What works for Pfeiffer, though, doesn’t quite translate for Hedges meaning the movie is a bit imbalanced in character. We forgive and engage with her, but he just needs to leave.
[Extras: Deleted scenes]
Guns for San Sebastian [Warner Archive]
What is it? A man on the run stops and stands his ground.
Why see it? Anthony Quinn headlines this western about a man who moves out of the frying pan and into the fire when he escapes the Mexican army only to land smack dab into a conflict with a group of savage locals. The catch is that he finds security with a small village caught in the middle, but he soon realizes he’ll have to help them fight back. It’s a solid little western with some thrilling set-pieces and a supporting turn from the always welcome Charles Bronson.
Take This Job and Shove It [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? An executive returns home to find himself.
Why see it? This fun-loving comedy was an HBO staple back in the day, and it’s easy to see why. Robert Hays plays a man whose career led him to the big city, but when he returns to whip the local brewery into shape he instead finds himself taking the side of the working folks. Barbara Hershey, David Keith, Tim Thomerson, and Eddie Albert are along for the ride — as is the Bigfoot monster truck — for what amounts to Gung Ho (1986) in a different industry.
What is it? A young spaceship crew is tested.
Why see it? Colin Farrell is the big draw here, but don’t get too attached as he’s just a supporting player. It’s all about the “teens” with this sci-fi riff on Lord of the Flies that’s as weightless as you’d expect in space. Hormones kick into overdrive, but this being a PG-13 endeavor the focus is on teenage rage and their willingness to act like sheep. It’s a frustrating watch as mobs form, terrible choices are made, and the too obvious heroes step forward. Skip it and watch one of the actual Lord of the Flies adaptations instead.
The Walking Dead: World Beyond – Season One
What is it? Ten years after the zombie apocalypse, a new adventure unfolds.
Why see it? This spin-off of AMC’s popular (but long in the tooth) The Walking Dead hopes to inject new blood into its undead world, and it succeeds with its new cast. But… it’s still basically the same premise as people struggle in a land overrun by zombies and violent pricks. The show still features some of the grisly effects we’ve come to love, but its YA-skewing cast isn’t quite as charismatic as the OG show. Maybe that’ll come in time.
Ziegfeld Follies [Warner Archive]
What is it? A variety show!
Why see it? MGM goes full-tilt with this star-studded variety feature with big stars singing, dancing, and doing bits for your viewing pleasure. It’s understandably a mixed bag, and your mileage will vary depending on your preferences for art and artist, but there’s no denying it’s a big, colorful affair. A sampling of the famous faces here — Fred Astaire, Lucille Ball, Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Red Skelton, and more.
[Extras: Featurettes, shorts]
Also out this week:
The Awakening [Scream Factory], The Great War of Archimedes, Sphinx [Scream Factory], Tous le matins du monde