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US Blu-ray and DVD releases: Smallfoot, Galveston, Some Like It Hot, Evil Dead 2 and more

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Galveston

Smallfoot – I really like it when Channing Tatum does voices in animated films; he just seems to really get it. He doesn’t hold back and he throws himself into the role, even if it’s playing a yeti who’s trying to prove to his brethren that humans really exist. Smallfoot isn’t a classic, but it is a fun way for kids and parents to kill 90 minutes. There are some good gags and the characters are largely amusing, plus the basic story concept is fun. It’s not a laugh-a-minute, nor is it one that will be remembered through the ages, but it’s entertaining and sometimes that’s enough.

Galveston – The always terrific Ben Foster stars alongside Elle Fanning in this crime thriller based on a novel by Nic Pizzolatto, the creator of True Detective. Foster plays a hitman who gets set up and kills the hitmen sent to assassinate him. He discovers a young woman being held captive and takes her with him as he tries t reach safety in Galveston, Texas. The film is pretty slow burn in sections, but Foster and Fanning are both incredible actors and they really carry this film all the way through. When things get moving, the film gets exciting, but the end result is just a decent movie with too many slow moments. The film has been released on 4K Ultra HD (as well as Blu-ray and DVD), and it looks quite spectacular, with vibrant colors and razor sharp image clarity. The film isn’t filled with special effects or explosions, but there is a definite visual flair to it which shines here.

Some Like it Hot – The Criterion Collection brings one of the greatest films of all time to its hallowed halls with this new Blu-ray release of Some Like It Hot, the Billy Wilder-directed classic starring Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Marilyn Monroe. This is one of my all-time favorite movies, and to see it get the Criterion treatment is a real treat. The film has been remastered and restored, and it looks and sounds the best I’ve ever seen it The disc also includes a bevvy of extra features, and since I can’t get enough of this movie, it’s nice to dive into some of the bonus material as well as the film. Simply put, this is a must-have for any film fan.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation – Okay, I’ve never really liked the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies. I don’t know if its that they’re too gory or too grimy or just too much in general, but they’ve never been my cup of tea. But this one is a curiosity; sort of a rebooting of the franchise in the ‘90s, it stars a young Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger in the lead roles (which I’m sure they’d both rather forget). Now, as much fun as it is to see them in an over-the-top slasher film, I still just can’t get into the franchise. However, for fans, this new Collector’s Edition sees the film on Blu-ray (for I believe the first time) and it comes loaded with extra features such as a Director’s Cut of the film and several interview featurettes.

Evil Dead 2 (4K Ultra HD) – There’s no shortage of home video releases of the Evil Dead movies, and Evil Dead 2 might have more than the other two films combined, but here we are once again. This time, at least it’s for a good reason, as the film makes its debut on the premium 4K Ultra HD format (which includes a Blu-ray and a digital copy.) Now, while the film sees a visual upgrade in the new format, it’s still an ultra-low-budget movie that was made some 30 years ago, so it’s not like it suddenly looks like a whole new film. There’s a definite improvement in the color saturation and the black levels, and scenes in shade (of which there are many) are easier to see, so there are some improvements for sure. With some solid extra features and the digital copy, this is a worthwhile pick-up even if you have a previous version already.

I Still See You – Now, I generally pay about as much attention to Rotten Tomatoes as I do to random dust motes, but I ran across the Rotten Tomatoes rating for this film right after I watched it and it was an 11%. Which is pretty bad. But here’s the thing: I really liked this film. Based on a book by Daniel Waters, the film takes place in a world where Remnants are ghost-like after-images of dead people. Mostly they live on a loop and repeat the same few seconds day after day. But when one of them starts trying to hurt a living girl, the mystery kicks into overdrive. I found the film to be intriguing, engaging, and fun to watch. Sure, it’s not a masterpiece, but as a fun genre outing that’s an easy way to kill 90 minutes, it definitely worked for me. Worth a watch, no matter what Rotten Tomatoes says.

Also Available This Week on Home Video:

  • Support The Girls – Regina Hall stars in this dramedy about an extremely trying day in the life of a manager at a Hooters-like bar & grill. Hall carries the bulk of the load here, as she’s in virtually every scene of the film, but there are a number of recognizable faces in the supporting cast, including Haley Lu Richardson, Jana Kramer, Brooklyn Decker, and James LeGros. It’s an interesting film; the performances are all good and Hall is especially outstanding. But the film tries to be funny and dramatic, and it doesn’t a hundred percent succeed on either front. I wish it was a funnier, and the serious bits don’t have enough gravitas (or deep enough characters) to really care about. It’s an easy watch, though, and it’s certainly not a bad film, just an uneven and surprisingly serious one.
  • Nathan For You: The Complete Series – I get why this show is popular with certain people, but it never really clicked for me. Over the course of four seasons, Nathan Fielder would bring his “marketing expertise” to small businesses to help them succeed or grow, with the only caveat being that his ideas were all completely asinine. A reality/comedy hybrid (I sometimes wonder how much of it is candid and how much scripted), the show is filled with awkward humor, awkward people, and awkward situations. It’s all awkward, basically, and while there are funny moments, it’s also painful to watch at times. This nine-disc set includes every episode of the series, plus a ton of extra features, so fans will really enjoy it.
  • Maniac – This three-disc limited edition release from Blue Underground brings the notorious slasher film Maniac to Blu-ray for the first time. With gore effects by horror legend Tom Savini, the film stars Joe Spinell and Caroline Munro and is something of a cult classic. It’s been censored and banned over the years, and it’s definitely somewhat disturbing and depraved at times. Now, fans of the film have the definitive version of it on home video with this three-disc set that includes the film, a soundtrack CD, and a bonus disc jam-packed with extra features including two audio commentaries, multiple featurettes, and an illustrated booklet, plus a 3-D lenticular cover. Fans will eat this one up.
  • The Night Stalker & The Night Strangler – I was super excited to finally get to see these two classic TV movies from the ‘70s, and I was even more excited to discover just how good they are. A direct inspiration for The X-Files (Cris Carter famously quotes the Kolchak movies as major sources of inspiration for the show), I’d been familiar with them for years but had never actually gotten around to watching them. So I sat down for a double feature, and entered the world of Carl Kolchak, lone wolf reporter who tracks down vampires and immortal men when nobody else believes him. In fact, the second film, The Night Strangler, is the source of the story for two of The X-Files most popular episodes, Squeeze and Tooms. Darren McGavin is terrific as Kolchak, and these films hold up so well, it’s extremely impressive. These two new Blu-ray releases of the films from Kino Lorber include new extra features and essay booklets, all under slipcovers with terrific new artwork on them. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
  • Viking Destiny – Okay, so first the good: Viking Destiny has some nice cinematography, some good action scenes, and a beautiful lead actress. Now the bad: the characters are pretty uninteresting, the acting is mediocre, the story is largely uncomplicated, and the film as a whole isn’t all that great. Like I said, there are some good moments, but this tale of a female Viking warrior trying to regain the throne with the help of some hippies (and some gods) can’t overcome all of its flaws to become better than the sum of its parts.
  • The Mangler – Every time I think I’ve seen the worst movie ever made, a new film comes along and takes its place. This week, that film is The Mangler. You’d think a movie based on a Stephen King story and directed by Tobe Hooper (the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre) would at least be… well, if not good, then maybe just decent. Unfortunately, this tale of an industrial ironing/folding machine that’s possessed by a bloodthirsty demon doesn’t have a single redeeming quality. It’s honestly one of the least pleasant movie-watching experiences I’ve ever had. Even Ted Levine and Robert Englund in the cast do nothing to improve this stinker. This new Blu-ray edition from Scream Factory includes a ton of extra features, so if you’re a fan f the film, you’ll like this release. So that’s something, I guess.
  • Deadman Standing – Luke Arnold and C. Thomas Howell star in this western (loosely based on a true story) that tells of the events in Hyde Park, one of the bloodiest towns in American history. The film is a lower-budgeted western, but Howell and Arnold are good in their roles, and the film checks all the boxes for what makes a decent western, so fans of the genre might enjoy it,
  • Wild Women – Speaking of westerns, this 1970 western stars Dan Taylor, Hugh O’Brien and Ann Francis, and tells the tale of “an Army engineer who recruits a band of boisterous female prisoners to accompany him on an undercover map-making assignment.” I mean, with a description like that, how could the film not be fun? This release marks the film’s Blu-ray debut, and it’s a fun one to discover, as it is definitely a western but it also has that sort of offbeat ‘70s vibe to it. It’s not a classic, but it’s an enjoyable flashback that doesn’t take itself too seriously at all.
  • Death House – This film is being marketed as “The Expendables of horror,” and in one respect it does earn that moniker. The cast includes a ton of horror notables (in varying capacities) including: Kane Hodder, Bill Mosely, Dee Wallace, Sid Haig, Adrienne Barbeau, Barbara Crampton, Lloyd Kaufman, Tony Todd, and a host of others. However, instead of being a high-quality, big budget release that capitalizes on having all these favorite horror actors in one place, the film is instead a cheap, quick, dirty horror flick that sees most of the big name stars pop up for just moments in a cameo before disappearing. It doesn’t try to do anything clever or witty or knowing with the cast or the fact that they’re all horror legends. File under: disappointing.
  • The Atomic Cafe – This is an interesting one. Described as a “cult classic,” I’ll admit I’ve never even heard of the film, and I’m pretty dialed in on most cult classics. But regardless, it’s still an incredibly unique film. Basically, it takes 1950s propaganda films and recuts them into a sort f “how to survive in a post-nuclear America” documentary, with not small amount of satirical humor embedded. Obviously, the film doesn’t have any recognizable cast members or anything, but the humor builds on the fact that most everything you’re seeing was once meant for public consumption. Like I said, interesting.
  • Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero – This computer-animated film features an all-star voice cast (including Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter and Gerard Depardieu) and is based on the true story of Sergeant Stubby, a real-life dog who bonded with a soldier, took on real duties int he army, and became the first dog ever promoted to the rank fo Sergeant in the US army. Now, that sounds like it could be a real serious film (or a documentary), but as told here, it’s an animated family film that kids will enjoy and parents will find enlightening, as I’m sure most of them have never even heard of the real-life Sgt. Stubby. It’s not anything special, but it’s a decent film that’s fast-paced and easy to watch with the kids.
  • Un Traductor – Sometimes you’re in the mood for the latest Dwayne Johnson action flick, and other times you’re in the mood for an incredibly heavy foreign-language drama with sick children, economic crisis, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. And when you find yourself in the mood for the latter, well, have I got food news for you! Rodrigo Santoro stars in this Spanish-language drama about a translator working with kids from Chernobyl who has to reassess his life and heal his family, all while the Berlin Wall falls and Cuba undergoes an economic crisis. Yep, it’s a comedy. (Not really.) Santoro turns in a terrific performance, but the film is a bit heavy for my tastes. Still, when you’re in the right mood for it, it will definitely check all the right boxes.

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