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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Robocop, Dracula, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Prophecy and more


It’s a light week for new releases this week with Thanksgiving here in the US, but that just means the next month or so until Christmas will be jam-packed with releases that all the studios want to see wrapped up and under the tree. Here’s what you can find on shelves this week:

Robocop: Collector’s Edition – There is no shortage of versions of Robocop on home video, but there’s never been one like this new Collector’s Edition from Arrow Video. Over the past couple of years, Arrow Video has quietly made a bid to become the second coming of the Criterion Collection, with a focus on more genre-centric films (and more out and out hits than you sometimes see at Criterion.) So not only do you get one of the greatest action movies of the ‘80s on Blu-ray with restored and remastered sound and picture, but this version also includes a metric ton of special features. Not only will you find a Director’s Cut of the film, two new commentaries, seven new featurettes, and a bunch of archival extra features, but the physical goodies really push things over the edge. There’s a full-color 80-page book, a set of six lobby cards, a reversible poster, and a sticker, all wrapped up in a gorgeous box that houses it all. Honestly, you couldn’t ask for a better compilation or Robocop-related materials. I’ve been a huge fan of this movie since it came out, and I’m always game to check out a new release related to it, but I can say that this is hands down the best one by a mile. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Dracula (1979) – Frank Langella stars as Dracula in this 1979 film adaptation of the stage play that also starred Langella, but this time he’s up against no less than Sir Laurence Olivier as Van Helsing, Dracula’s arch-nemesis. I’m always wary of these older horror movies because I know they’re very well loved but as a viewer watching most of them for the first time in the 21st century, I’m not always overly impressed by them. However, this is a terrific take on the Dracula legend, with excellent performances by Langella and Olivier, and a great mood and atmosphere with some terrific cinematography. There are two versions of the film include here, one featuring “corrected colors,” which does – at first glance – seem to breathe new life into the film. There’s also a whole suite of new extra features, making this a collector’s edition that fans will be very excited to own.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Gauntlet, Season 12 – The revitalized MST3K series starring Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt continues with Season 12: The Gauntlet. This newest run of episodes sees the MST3K crew (including Jonah Heston, Tom Servo, Crow T. Robot, and Gypsy) tackling a new slate of movies that includes:Mac & Me, Atlantic Rim, Lords of the Deep, The Day Time Ended, Killer Fish and Ator The Fighting Eagle. Now, usually MST3K tackles movies that I’ve never heard of, or just barely heard of, but I love that they went whole hog and jumped right into Mac & Me, one of the great cult-classic-so-bad-it’s-good movies of the ‘90s, a film which many people have seen and love (or at least love ironically). And not surprisingly, the skewering it receives is pretty perfect. This set is available on Blu-ray or DVD, and it includes three discs, six movies, multiple extra features, and endless laughs.

Prophecy – Robert Foxworth, Talia Shire, and Armand Assante star in this cult classic horror film from 1979 in a new Collector’s Edition Blu-ray from Scream Factory (Shout Factory’s excellent horror-themed imprint.) If the words “giant killer bear-monster” get you excited, well, then you are in luck! The film follows a group of people trying to deal with the aftermath of a logging company’s industrial waste creating a pretty nasty monster that they have to try and take down. The movie was directed by John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate, Ronin, Reindeer Games), so there’s definitely a good movie here and it holds up relatively well. The part where it flags a bit is in the special creature effects, which are, well, dated. That’s not a fault of the film as the movie is 40 years old, but there are moments where the word “cheesy” does come to mind. Still, it’s a pretty good flick overall and the disc features some nice extra features.

Mary – Gary Oldman and Emily Mortimer star in this atmospheric horror-thriller set on the high seas. Oldman plays a man who restored a boat that was found adrift on the ocean, and when he sets out to take his family on a pleasure cruise, it turns out that there might be a reason the ship was deserted in the first place. What follows is a largely predictable, occasionally creepy little horror flick that benefits mostly from the terrific performances by Oldman and Mortimer. The story is fairly slight and the scares are okay, and the film never gets to the point of being a must-see, but if you like horror flicks, you could do worse on a night when you’re bored and looking for something to throw on.

Masterpiece: The Chaperone – A new movie written by Julian Fellowes, the creator and writer of Downton Abbey? Yes please! This new Masterpiece feature-length film The Chaperone stars the always-excellent Haley Lu Richardson, Victoria Hill, Blythe Danner, and Downton’s own Elizabeth McGovern. Based on a true story, the film gives us a glimpse into the life of Jazz Age actress and dancer Louise Brooks, and focuses particularly on a trip to New York City for the summer and the woman who chaperones her. It doesn’t sound like the most exciting storyline ever, but in the hands of master craftsman Julian Fellowes, it’s engaging and charming and interesting and vibrant. Of course, the performances really send it all home, and the end result is a great film that fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy quite a bit.

Official Secrets – Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Matthew Goode, and Doctor Who himself Matt Smith star in Official Secrets, a based-on-true-events drama about a whistleblower in 2000s England who exposed a conspiracy and found herself in harm’s way as a result. The film has two parts, in a way, with the first half focusing on the whistleblowing and the search for the identity of the whistleblower, while the second half focuses more on the legal aftermath of her actions and the resulting trial. So it’s half thriller, half drama, which is a pretty potent combination. It’s not a perfect film; there are moments where the action slows down a bit and it runs a full two hours in length, but the performances are uniformly terrific and there’s much more good than bad. Overall, an engaging dramatic thriller that tells a story most people probably know nothing about.

Also Available This Week on Home Video:

  • The Driver – Mark Dacascos has had an interesting career. Starting out as a martial artist, he originally got his start in action films and even landed the lead role in the TV adaptation of The Crow. But in the past decade, his best-known role is probably that of The Chairman on the hit show Iron Chef. Well, he’s now made his return to action films, and this time he’s brought his family. Yep, Dacascos plays a driver who’s caught up in a zombie apocalypse, and his family is played by his real-life wife Julie Condra and daughter Noelani Dacascos. On the plus side, I like Dacascos and his family does a perfectly fine job (Condra has been an actor for a long time, so no surprise there.) On the minus side, the film is disjointed, and there are long stretches with no real action. It’s sort of like a zombie film by default. I’ve seen worse, but I’ve definitely seen better.
  • Line of Duty: Series 5 – While some of the major cast members have changed over each season, Line of Duty: Series 5 returns with the core cast of Martin Compston, Vicki McClure and Adrian Dunbar, all of whom turn in top-notch performances. Line of Duty is a critically acclaimed British series about police corruption. Dark, intense, and well-acted, this is one to check out for sure if you like police procedurals or more adult fare. This season sees the show continue its mix of new themes and storylines while still staying true to what made the show popular in the first place. British police dramas are second to none, and this one will be sure to keep any fans of crime-drama satisfied.
  • London Kills: Series 2 – Acorn Media serves up their usual serving of British crime drama this week with the latest season of London Kills, an engaging show that takes the traditional procedural/drama formula and throws a little wrinkle in. In this case, a police detective who’s been on leave following the disappearance of his wife returns to the force and has to work with his replacement, who of course has a very different style than he does. Not surprisingly, the show combines strong mysteries with intriguing characters, and over the course of five episodes (on two discs), it’s hard not to get sucked in. My biggest issue is with the main character of Bradford, who borders so much on the “unlikable” side of things that he gets too unlikable for my tastes sometimes. But if you can get over that, this show’s strong mysteries will grab you.

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