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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: The King’s Daughter, Night Creatures: Collector’s Edition, A Life Among Whales and more

Night Creatures

It’s another small week this week, with few releases and honestly, little to get too excited about, although there are a couple of standouts. Read on to see what can hold you over until next week.

The King’s Daughter

I was excited to watch this new fantasy adventure film, largely due to its cast, which includes Pierce Brosnan, William Hurt (in one of his final roles, sadly), and Kaya Scodelario. The film involves France’s king who is trying to find a way to become immortal, his daughter, and some mermaids. And I wish I could say I really liked the film, but honestly, it left me scratching my head. It’s rated PG, which indicates that it’s a family film, but it’s so slow moving and is filled with sociopolitical issues (and nuns) that I can’t imagine younger audiences sticking with it. It also isn’t nearly interesting or exciting enough to hook in adult audiences. Honestly, I found it a slog to get through, which was a big disappointment. It feels like a film that was trying to be everything to everybody, and instead ended up being a film with no defined audience at all. This one just has no life to it and I found it a big let down.

Night Creatures: Collector’s Edition

Shout Factory’s top-notch genre imprint Scream Factory returns with a new collector’s edition Blu-ray of the little known Night Creatures, a 1962 Hammer Horror film starring Peter Cushing and Oliver Reed. The film sees Captain Clegg and his men investigating mysterious Marsh Phantoms and dealing with the creepy Reverend Blyss (Peter Cushing) and a curse that haunts the area. The film is fairly typical Hammer fare, with a lower budget and a fast-paced running time. There are some great costumes in the film, and the cast does the best they can with the limited story there is, but the film is a fun ride for what it is. This new Collector’s Edition Blu-ray features remastered picture and also a nice suite of extra features, including an audio commentary, several interviews, and a few making-of featurettes, which is pretty impressive for a cult film from 60 years ago. This is a nice package for fans.

Also Available This Week on Home Video:
  • A Life Among Whales – This terrific documentary about whales and their place in the ecosystem focuses heavily on Dr. Roger Payne, the man who 50 years ago discovered whale song and how it’s used for communication and furthered our understanding of these majestic creatures. Narrated by Pierce Brosnan (making his second appearance on this week’s list), this hour-long doc features some amazing footage of whales and gives us a better understanding and appreciation of the gentle giants. It also discusses some topical issues, like whale hunting and whether there’s still a place for it in our society. The brief running time keeps things interesting, and I found this a good viewing experience about some truly impressive animals.
  • Where Are You Jay Bennett? – Another documentary out this week, Where Are You Jay Bennett? focuses on the musician Jay Bennet, who was the lesser known half of the musical and songwriting unit of Wilco alongside Jeff Tweedy. While Tweedy was the “name” of the band, Bennett was there for their seminal albums, including the universally acclaimed Yankee Foxtrot Hotel. But there was an acrimonious split between Tweedy and Bennett, and Bennett set out on his own solo career before he died young of a Fentanyl overdose at the age of 45. Through interviews with his family and colleagues as well as musician Billy Bragg, the film talks about his life and career, with — not surprisingly — a strong focus on his Wilco years. Tweedy isn’t in the film except in archival footage, but it still paints a pretty complete picture. For Wilco/Bennett fans, this is a terrific film, and it’s pretty interesting even if you’re not already a fan.
  • My Sweet Monster – This week’s animated kids’ offering is My Sweet Monster, a Russian CGI-animated film that is — I guess? —sort of a riff on the Beauty and the Beast story. The story is actually somewhat convoluted, but it involves a king, a tempestuous princess, and a kindhearted monster named Boogey. The voice cast includes Haylie Duff and Napoleon Dynamite himself, Jon Heder, who’s making quite a career out of voicing animated movies these days. The film is perfectly fine for younger viewers; it’s not great, but it’s not bad. Parents will probably find it a little tedious, but younger viewers will like the colorful visuals and some of the characters in the film. It’s not action-packed but I’ve definitely seen worse, but I can see where kids will enjoy it.
  • Girl on A Chain Gang: Special Edition – This is a new Blu-ray version of the cult classic exploitation movie from 1966. Directed by Jerry Gross (who helped get many, many infamous exploitation films into theaters, such as I Spit on Your Grave), the film tells the story of two men (one white and one black) and a woman who are social rights activists driving through the south when they are pulled over by corrupt police. From there, things get worse and worse for the trio, who are subjected to all kinds of debasement and mistreatment from the police. It’s ostensibly a social justice protest picture, but it’s also an exploitation film that doesn’t often lean towards the highbrow. This new special edition Blu-ray from Film Detective includes some cool extra features, including an audio commentary, a documentary featurette, and a 16-page essay booklet. Fans of 60’s B-movies would do well to check this one out.
  • Premutos: The Fallen Angel – Man, the cover art for this new Blu-ray release is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time. Seriously, google it; it’s a work of art. The film itself, however, doesn’t quite work up to the beauty of the cover art. Premutos is a 1997 horror film from Germany, and it’s about the first fallen angel, who predates even Lucifer. Through a series of convoluted events throughout the first half of the film, we follow Premutos’s son appearing throughout history. When we get to modern day, that’s when all hell breaks loose. We get zombie-like creatures, a demonic figure, and lots and lots of gore. I mean, like… lots. This is not a film for the faint of heart. It’s over the top and low-budget, and luckily the film doesn’t take itself too seriously, so there are some humorous moments as well. I’m not a huge fan of gorefests, so this one wasn’t exactly up my alley, but fans of low-budget horror shock and schlock will probably have a lot of fun with it.
  • Tokyo Decadence – This 1992 erotic drama comes from Japan and makes its Blu-ray debut courtesy of Unearthed Films. The movie is based on an acclaimed Japanese novel, and it gives us a look into the life of a high class Japanese prostitute and her dealings with various men (most of whom are looking for some S&M-related activities) while dealing with a fortune teller’s premonition and looking for a former client who has married someone else. The film is largely a drama, but it doesn’t shy away from the sexual material, giving the film an edge that has given it a bit of notoriety. It’s a little on the slow moving side and veers into arthouse film territory more than I would like, so it’s going to really appeal to that small cross-section of people who want to watch both Basic Instinct and Memoirs of a Geisha at the same time. Not bad, not great.

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