This week on home video, we’ve got a couple of big winners (at least, in our book), a couple of overlooked films, some so-so new releases, and a couple of classic favorites getting the high definition treatment. For those of you who were hotly anticipating Sam Raimi’s return to the horror genre, you’ll be pleased to know that Drag Me to Hell is finally available on DVD and Blu-Ray, and fans of the sleeper hit animated series Futurama will positively geek out at the latest collection to hit shelves. Marvel loyalists will get a second chance to check out a few of their new animated films, and we’ll put you onto a couple of good indie flicks that failed to get much exposure. Have a look at what’s coming out and beef up that collection.
Director Sam Raimi earned a great deal of goodwill and respect from moviegoers with his work on the Evil Dead series, and many consider those his best films. So it was with great anticipation that audiences looked forward to his return to the horror genre with Drag Me to Hell, particularly after Spider-Man 3. Though the film was rated PG-13, Raimi amped up the “eww” factor with plenty of bodily fluids, capitalized on his dark sense of humor, and utilized the same sort of ambient tension that made the Evil Dead films so effective, and the result was an all-around crowd-pleaser. Alison Lohman plays a loan officer at a bank who denies a mysterious old woman an extension and earns herself a deadly curse in return — she must find a way to remove the curse, or in three days time, she’ll be, you know, dragged to hell. Simple, but oh so effective. You can pick up the movie this week on DVD and Blu-Ray; special features include production video diaries and a featurette, among other things.
For as popular and low-risk as remaking pop-culture icons must seem, remaking Land of the Lost looked like nothing but a gamble, even with heavy hitters like Will Ferrell and Danny McBride on the line. Sid and Marty Kroft’s show, which began in the mid 70s then resurrected very temporarily in the early 90s, followed characters Rick, Will and Holly (here played by Pushing Daisies‘s Anna Friel) through space and time to a “Lost” place where Sleestaks and Dinosaurs mix freely with giant crustaceans, Roman galleys, B-52s and Ice Cream Trucks. DVD features include deleted scenes, a fake ad for Devil’s Canyon, and a short called “A Day in the life of a Big Movie Star,” while Blu-Ray editions include more deleted scenes, Dr. Marshall’s food dairies, and a making-of featurette, among others.
Sandra Bullock has had a rough time as of late; 2007’s Premonition earned a meager 8% on the Tomatometer, and All About Steve, which opened just over a month ago, actually managed to make it onto our 2000-2009 Worst of the Worst list. The one recent semi-bright spot was The Proposal, which opened in June. Though the movie was also rated Rotten overall by critics, many cited the onscreen chemistry between Bullock and co-star Ryan Reynolds as a strength, and for all its formulaic turns of plot, there were still some funny moments to be had. It doesn’t break any new ground in the rom-com genre, but it might be worth a bowl of popcorn on a rainy day. You can pick it up on DVD and Blu-Ray this week.
One megahit animated series just wasn’t enough for Matt Groening, so he figured he’d create another one. Okay, sure, it probably wasn’t that easy, even for the creator of The Simpsons, but we’re sure glad he decided to do it, because Futurama turned out quite brilliant. Though the series went off the air after just four way-too-short seasons, it was recently announced by Comedy Central that 26 new episodes would be created for 2010, and seemingly in preparation for that, Fox is releasing an amazing Complete Collection. The DVD set comes with 19 discs that hold every episode of the series, plus the four direct-to-video feature length movies that have been made since the show’s cancellation. There are commentaries, easter eggs, deleted scenes, and lots of other goodies, but the crown jewel might just be the packaging: a giant Bender head, complete with detachable antenna.
The 1987 version of The Stepfather appears on DVD this week, just in time for the film’s update of the same name to hit theaters this Friday. Terry O’Quinn (John Locke on TV’s LOST) stars as Gerard “Jerry” Blake, who’s a perversion of Reagan era Family Values if ever there was one. Half Prince Charming, Half Ted Bundy, Jerry Blake has a clear idea of what his family is supposed to be, and the genteel and dashing O’Quinn plays him so smoothly it’s not hard to see how divorcees and widows might take to his intensely protective interest in them. Of course, family life looks different once you enter it, and Mr. Blake has issues when things look, shall we say, less than ideal. Out October 13th, the DVD includes a featurette about the film’s legacy and the novel that also inspired a sequel, as well as a commentary track with director Jason Ruben.
What Would Brian Boitano Do? Well, if he’s in the market for a good DVD, the 10th anniversary editon Blu-Ray of South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut might do the trick. One of the most manic, profane, and perversely amusing animated features of recent years, South Park has enough wacky songs, inspired political commentary, and out-and-out naughtiness to recommend it – even if we don’t have Saddam Hussein to kick around anymore. This new release features audio commentary from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, as well as a music video for “What Would Brian Boitano Do?”
One of the noteworthy independent releases coming out this week is a little seen film called American Violet, starring newcomer Nicole Beharie and directed by Tim Disney (that’s right, the grandnephew of Walt Disney). Based on a true story, American Violet is about a Texas woman with no prior criminal history who is thrown in jail on suspicion of dealing drugs. She must make a choice between staying in jail and fighting the charges, which could result in the loss of custody of her children, or plead guilty and return home a disgraced woman. The film came in just below Certified Fresh status at 72%, and critics applauded Beharie’s performance in particular. You can pick it up on DVD and Blu-Ray tomorrow.
Also coming out this week is a collection of 6 previously released direct-to-video feature length films from the guys at Marvel. We’ll start by saying that if you’re looking for any new special features to accompany this package, you won’t find them. The collection is simply that: a collection, specifically of the already available editions of each film. However, if you’re a die hard Marvel fan who, perhaps, might not have seen many of them, then here’s your chance to snatch them all up en masse. The six movies you’ll be getting are Ultimate Avengers, Ultimate Avengers 2, The Invincible Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Next Avengers, and Hulk Vs., along with the extras already available on all of them individually.
To paraphrase its show-stopping signature number, A Chorus Line truly was a singular sensation, merging the real-life tales of showbiz vets with the razzle-dazzle of the Great White Way. The Certified Fresh documentary Every Little Step focuses on the 2005 revival, but also make plenty of time for the 1974 original, chronicling the show’s history, past and present. The DVD features cast and crew interviews, deleted scenes, and director’s commentary.
Oliver Stone’s stylistically bold meditation on our tabloid media culture generated a ton of controversy upon its release in 1994. Specifically, the level of violence was enough raise the hackles of cultural gatekeepers. Critics were mixed as well; while some found Stone’s rapid-fire methods exhilarating, others thought his satirical aims were muddled at best. The Blu-Ray includes several featurettes, an introduction and commentary track from Oliver Stone, a 44-page booklet, an alternate ending and loads of deleted scenes.