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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Malignant, Krampus, The Show, Werewolves Within, Ron’s Gone Wrong, Creepshow and more

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Malignant

It’s a smaller release slate this week, and with two horror movies leading the charge it feels more like an October release drop than a December one! Check out what’s on shelves this week:

Malignant

I don’t generally use terms like “bats**t crazy” to describe movies, but then again, I don’t watch movies like Malignant very often, either. The latest horror film from James Wan (The Conjuring universe of films), Malignant starts out as a pretty traditional horror flick, with weird ghostly killings and creepy moments of dread and so on. As the film goes on, however, it morphs into something completely different. As the story’s main twist is revealed (and don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil it here), things get more and more over-the-top until the last half-hour turns into almost a straight-up action flick. On the one hand, I admire the audacity to do something different, because Malignant certainly is that. On the other hand, the film is somewhat ridiculous. It’s never boring, though, I’ll give it that. There’s also some excellent cinematography at work here. You might remember that overhead tracking shot of the main character running through the house from the commercials, and that and other interesting cinematography tricks make sure the film is visually interesting while also being completely bats**t crazy. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Krampus: The Naughty Cut

I’ve been a big fan of Krampus since it came out back in 2015. While it wasn’t a huge hit at the time, I believe its cult classic status is going to continue to grow and grow with every passing holiday season. One of the rare horror-comedies that is genuinely creepy as well as genuinely funny, the film also works as one of the few good Christmas-themed horror movies. Well, Scream Factory apparently agrees with my assessment that the film is destined to get bigger and bigger, because this year they’ve given us Krampus: The Naughty Cut. This new R-rated cut of the film isn’t hugely different from the original, adding about four minutes back in, mostly a little extra gore and a lot more language. A few scenes are a bit longer, but largely it’s the same movie just now R-rated. The release includes the film in both 4K and Blu-ray, though, and the 4K offers up some visual and auditory enhancements, namely brighter dark scenes, more vibrant colors, and a truly immersive surround soundtrack that really enhances the onscreen action. The disc also comes loaded with extra features, including about an hour’s worth of new interviews with cast and crew members. Whether you’re a Krampus fan already or you’ve never seen the film, you definitely want to track this one down. It’s fantastic! RECOMMENDED!

Ron’s Gone Wrong

Take your typical E.T. or Big Hero 6 story of boy meets alien/robot and mix it with a little bit of a message (“Unplug from your phone once in a while!”), and you get Ron’s Gone Wrong, a surprisingly enjoyable animated feature that kind of came and went from theaters but I suspect may find new life on home video. The story follows young Barney, a middle schooler who gets a new B-Bot (effectively a video game robot come to life) who’s just a little bit defective thanks to a strong jolt. Cue the usual mix of Wacky Hijinks and Mischievous Adventures. But while the film may not be overly original, it feels fresh and charming due to some sharp writing. There are several funny moments throughout the film, and while the underlying message is a little heavy handed it’s not too much so, and the film will leave you with a smile on your face. Some strong voice work by a cast that includes Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms adds to the film’s overall effectiveness. It’s not a masterpiece, but Ron’s Gone Wrong will make for a fun family viewing experience.

Clint Eastwood: A Cinematic Legacy

Okay, so this isn’t technically its own DVD or Blu-ray release. Instead, this nine-part documentary series about Clint Eastwood’s films and careers is either available digitally (as one whole two-and-a-half-hour package) or as a bonus feature on several new 50th Anniversary Clint Eastwood collections that Warner Bros. has put out. However, they were kind enough to provide me with a digital copy so I could check it out, and since I’m a big Clint Eastwood fan, of course I wanted to dive right in. Like I said, it’s a non-part series, and the nine episodes are: A Director’s Vision, The Heart of a Hero, Witness to History, Reinventing the Western, An Actor’s Director, No Holds Barred, Fighting for Justice, Courage Under Fire, and Triple Threat. Each episode runs about 20 minutes, and they’re grouped together thematically rather than chronologically. This isn’t a deep dive biography, but rather a look at the films of Eastwood’s career (focusing more on the films he directed), featuring interviews with Eastwood himself as well as other luminaries such as Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, and many others. If you’re a fan of Eastwood’s filmography and you want to learn more about his large body of work (without truly deep diving into any particular work), then this is a great viewing experience.

Creepshow: Season 2

Loosely based on the old EC comics like Tales From the Crypt, 1982’s Creepshow film was a horror anthology that became a cult classic and spawned a sequel. Fast forward a few decades, and now we have Creepshow, the television series. While I didn’t get a chance to review the first season, it doesn’t really matter because Creepshow is an anthology series, with each episode featuring completely new horror-themed stories. This new collection of the Shudder series features all five episodes of season two, each of which includes two short stories. With guest stars such as Kevin Dillon, Molly Ringwald, Ali Larter, C. Thomas Howell, Ryan Kwanten, Breckin Meyer, Justin Long, D’Arcy Carden, and Denise Crosby, the show is a lot of fun. Between the familiar faces and the short-form horror bites, it’s an easy show to throw on and have a good time watching. There’s also a really nice collection of extra features, including the two between-season specials (an animated special and a holiday special) as well as interviews and making-of material. Horror fans will have a really good time with this release.

Werewolves Within

Any fan of werewolves will know that finding good werewolf movies is a nearly impossible task. For every good one — which are extremely few and far between — there are a dozen low-budget shlockfests that inevitably disappoint. Werewolves Within is apparently based on a video game, which didn’t exactly fill me with hope that this would be one of the good ones. Well, I’m happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised by Werewolves Within. More of a horror comedy than a straight up horror film, the movie stars Sam Richardson and Milana Vayntraub (best known from all those AT&T commercials on TV) as the main duo in a small town that’s beset upon by a werewolf; a town that also has an oil pipeline in it, which drives some of the story. The film has a great energy, and the creative editing, soundtrack and sense of humor keep things upbeat and moving along nicely. If you like werewolf movies and you don’t mind a less serious approach, you’ll definitely dig Werewolves Within.

The Show

Alan Moore will forever be revered in comic book circles thanks to his magnum opus, Watchmen. But Moore has largely left the comic book world behind, and with the new movie The Show, we get to see Moore fully venturing forth into the world of film, as he wrote the screenplay and also has a small role in the film. Now, I’m not the fan of Moore I once was, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect here. The film is surprisingly cohesive, although to call it straightforward would be largely inaccurate. Ostensibly, the film is about a hitman who travels to a haunted town in search of an artifact, where he meets an increasingly strange coterie of characters. As to be expected, it quickly ventures into “weird” territory. It’s not as out there as I suspected it might be, but it’s far from mundane, either. Ultimately, I think the film is interesting. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it, but it could just as easily have been called “Future Cult Classic” because that’s what I think it’s destined to be.

Also Available This Week on Home Video:
  • Monkey King Reborn – Over the past decade, there was a trio of live action Monkey King movies that I guess were relatively successful, so now we have a new entry in the franchise (that is more of a spin-off), a fully animated adventure called Monkey King Reborn. With some nice CGI animation, the film follows a group of adventurers (including an average joe, a monk, and a couple of friendly demons) who accidentally loose a demon and must save the world. This new take on the Monkey King legend is family friendly (although I think older kids will appreciate it more than really little ones) and it features plenty of action and likable characters, without being a “kids’ film” per se. I’m not overly enamored with the whole ancient China/demons/monks/quests genre that is pretty popular, but this is an entertaining enough movie to kill 90 minutes with.
  • Shirobako: The Movie – As someone who is a casual fan of anime at best, there are a lot of anime series I’ve never viewed or even heard of, and Shirobako is one of them. So I didn’t know what I was getting into with Shirobako: The Movie, which makes its debut on Blu-ray this week. Most anime that I get to review is sci-fi, fantasy or action-based, so Shirobako was a neat change from that. This film (which apparently picks up four years after the series ended) follows a trio of friends who work in the anime industry and and are determined to succeed. When one of them gets an offer to work for a big new movie, it’s all hands on deck to complete it in time. I was pretty impressed with the film, as it didn’t veer into overly silly territory or try to work in things like talking typewriters or floating furball characters. It’s an anime film about working in the anime field, and since I love Hollywood movies about Hollywood, I enjoyed this one as well.
  • A House Divided Season 3 – The hit show from UMC (Urban Media Channel), A House Divided returns to home video for those of you who are either fans already or who don’t have the channel and want to catch up. A House Divided is a soap opera-esque show about a rich family that is filled with strife, secrets, scheming, and sex. And while I don’t go out of my way to watch shows like this, there’s no denying that is extremely juicy and things move at a fast pace right from the get-go. This season is composed of eight episodes, up two from the six-episode seasons 1 and 2, but you still get a LOT of melodrama in every episode. It’s the kind of show that I think people can get addicted to very quickly, so I won’t be surprised to see more seasons, and I won’t be surprised to see more episodes in future seasons, either.
  • Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries: Series 2 – The original Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries series gained a fan following all over the world. Part mystery, part adventure serial, the original show only ran for a few seasons but it was a lot of fun, and fan interest remains high, which led to a a new spin-off series. Now, we have Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries. This newer series sees the original Miss Fisher’s niece solving mysteries in Melbourne, Australia in the swinging 60s. The show is set in motion by her aunt disappearing, but eventually leads to the younger Ms. Fisher sleuthing her way through a number of murders. This set includes eight episodes (the first season only had four) and the show remains an upbeat, interesting, and fun mystery show that has a unique feel that I enjoy. Worth a watch.

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