DVD Obscura: '1985,' 'A Moment in the Reeds,' 'Evil Dead 2' and Much More

DVD Obscura: '1985,' 'A Moment in the Reeds,' 'Evil Dead 2' and Much More

Feb 05, 2019


We highlight recent home video releases of indie, foreign, documentary, grindhouse and classic movies, as well as TV shows. Check them all out below.

New Indie

1985One of the best films of 2018 you may well have missed is Yen Tan’s powerful period drama 1985 (Wolfe), starring Cory Michael Smith (Gotham) as a young gay man who returns to Texas from New York City to spend Christmas with his parents (played with subtle poignancy by Virginia Madsen and Michael Chiklis). Set in the early years of the HIV-AIDS epidemic, the film examines the secrecy and judgments that tore so many families apart, and it’s an evocative examination of this very specific time and place, shot in stunning black and white and featuring a powerful script (by Tan) and a talented ensemble. Seek this one out.

Also available: Regina King earned a well-deserved Best Actress award from the New York Film Critics Circle for Support the Girls (Magnolia Home Entertainment), a funny and powerful comedy about working-class women, viewed through the lens of a Hooters-style bar; Lizzie (Lionsgate) takes the oft-told legend of accused murderess Lizzie Borden and imbues it with contemporary notions, not to mention stellar performances by Chloë Sevigny and Kristen Stewart; a young woman goes to extreme measures to escape an abusive marriage in ‘Til Death Do Us Part (Novus), co-starring Taye Diggs; the Texas-baked thriller Galveston (RLJE Films) stars Ben Foster, Dakota Fanning, Beau Bridges and Riverdale’s Lili Reinhart.

Director Ned Ehrbar makes an auspicious feature debut with California No (Gravitas Ventures), a comic look at a possibly imploding marriage; Taye Diggs pops up again in the vigilante drama River Runs Red (Cinedigm); there’s a case to be made that William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury (Monarch Home Entertainment) defies adaptation, but James Franco gave it a shot anyway; Bella Thorne takes a Ride (RLJE Films) with Jessie T. Usher that she may live to regret in this fest-fave thriller.


New Foreign

If you liked God’s Own Country, check out A Moment in the Reeds (Wild Beast), a gay love story that unfolds between a Finnish academic and a Syrian refugee; Rodrigo Santoro stars in Un Traductor (Film Movement) as a Russian literature professor in Havana who gets embroiled in the lives of young victims of Chernobyl when he acts as their translator; the 2014 Oscar entry An Afghan Love Story (Film Movement) makes its U.S. home video debut, examining an illicit romance in a strict society.


New Doc

No one had previously turned the potential destruction of human race into a source of ironic humor, so in its own way, the influential documentary The Atomic Café (Kino Classics) rewrote the rules of both comedy and non-fiction filmmaking when it came on the scene in 1982. Directors Jayne Loader, Kevin Rafferty and Pierce Rafferty compiled an astonishing collection of propaganda films designed to assure Americans that nuclear holocaust was totally survivable so long as they remembered to "duck and cover" and to build a shelter in the back yard. While it set the tone for campy retrospectives of vintage ephemeral films, The Atomic Café still has the power to amuse and to provoke, often at the same time.

Also available: two gorgeous nature documentaries -- A Beautiful Planet (narrated by Jennifer Lawrence) and Journey to the South Pacific (narrated by Cate Blanchett) – both make it to home video in stunning 4K (both Mill Creek Entertainment); Towards Mathilde (Grasshopper Films) assembles a pair of powerhouse French artists: choreographer Mathilde Monnier, the film’s subject, and director Claire Denis.

Gamers face off in the eSports arena in Gamechangers: Dreams of Blizzcon (FilmRise); Mantovani: The King of Strings (FilmRise) examines an easy-listening legend; Gene Hackman narrates We, the Marines (Shout Factory), which offers a first-hand look into the USMC experience; Coby (Film Movement) undergoes gender transition in a small Ohio town, keeping a video diary of the experience interspersed with interviews with friends and family.

An unlikely pursuit takes the spotlight in Hobbyhorse Revolution (FilmRise); Quiet Heroes (First Run Features) celebrates two Utah nurses who championed the welfare of AIDS patients as the local community turned its back; relive baseball’s biggest showdown with the eight-disc 2018 World Series Collector’s Edition: Boston Red Sox, or just get the highlights in the two-disc The 2018 World Series (both Shout Factory/MLB).


New Grindhouse

Director Sam Raimi proved he was ready for the big leagues with the outrageous Evil Dead 2 (Lionsgate), a sequel to his own groundbreaking horror hit that somehow managed to up the stakes even further. Bruce Campbell gives a career-defining performance in the ultimate cabin-in-the-woods movie, now looking better than ever in a 4K release. This collection also features a brand-new featurette, the 52-minute "Bloody and Groovy, Baby!" making this new release essential for Raimi fans and horror lovers of all stripes.

Also available: Something sinister is happening on Christmas Day, and all one family knows is that they are to Await Further Instructions (Dark Sky Films); in Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days (Well Go USA Entertainment), a deceased soul battles through the afterlife; a heist goes terrifyingly wrong in Monster Party (RLJE Films), featuring Julian McMahon and Robin Tunney.

Two characters set out on a bloody search for their author in the international festival hit Snowflake (Artsploitation); Joan Chen stars in the Chinese haunted-house saga The House That Never Dies: Reawakening (Well Go USA Entertainment); an alien invasion brings out the worst in mankind in Attraction (Dark Sky/Capelight), from Stalingrad director Fedor Bondarchuk.

And leave it to the fine folks at Scream Factory to provide a steady stream of essential horror, from the new chiller Elizabeth Harvest (in conjunction with IFC Midnight) to classics like Tobe Hooper’s The Mangler, and Collector’s Editions of the Christopher Lee Hammer epic Dracula Prince of Darkness (Scream Factory) and Kim Henkel’s wonderfully warped sequel Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (Scream Factory) – featuring Renée Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey -- complete with the original director’s cut, heretofore unseen outside of its film-festival run.


New Classic

The legendary My Neighbor Totoro (GKIDS) turns 30, and a new anniversary-edition set gives this beloved animated feature its due. The film that put Hayao Miyazaki into the international spotlight has only gained in reputation over the past three decades, and this new collection will be treasured by fans as well as those just discovering its magic. The limited-edition release includes a 40-page book of art and essays, hours of special features, the English- and Japanese-language versions of the film, and the first U.S. CD release of the soundtrack. Hop aboard the cat bus and don’t miss this exquisite edition of a lovely family film.

Also available: You know The Untouchables, but do you know The Wedding Party and Greetings? Get caught up on De Niro & De Palma: The Early Films (MVD Entertainment) with this essential new collection; Spanish legends Carlos Saura and Victoria Abril team up for The 7th Day (Olive Films), based on a true story of feuding families, land grabs and revenge; John Hughes completists won’t want to miss one of his early writing efforts, the raucous National Lampoon’s Class Reunion (Kino Lorber); if ever there was a movie you would want to see and own in 4K, it’s Stanley Kubrick’s legendary 2001: A Space Odyssey (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment).

Barbara Stanwyck straps on a six-shooter in Samuel Fuller’s subversive Western Forty Guns (The Criterion Collection); put A Dry White Season (The Criterion Collection) on your #52FilmsbyWomen list, as Euzhan Palcy directs Donald Sutherland and Marlon Brando in this powerful drama; it’s fairly different from the John Carpenter remake but the original The Thing from Another World (Warner Archive Collection) brings its own brand of creature-feature pleasure; oh look, it’s Christopher Lee again, donning a cape for Hammer as he embodies the Horror of Dracula (Warner Archive Collection).

Joan Crawford is the Female on the Beach (Kino Lorber) in this torrid noir classic; enjoy Elizabeth Taylor at her most uninhibited in the domestic drama X Y & Zee (Twilight Time), which also features some eye-popping 1970s fashions.

IndiePix continues its "Retro Afrika Collection" with three more South African releases from the 1980s: Charlie Steel, Revenge and The Comedians; not only are the new phone books here, there’s also a brand-new Blu-ray of The Jerk: 40th Anniversary Edition (Shout Select); Jeff Bridges gives one of his most sensitive performances as the literally otherworldly Starman: Collector’s Edition (Scream Factory); screwball ghosts make more merriment in the sequel Topper Takes a Trip (VCI Entertainment).


New TV

If you tuned out of the second season of Westworld during its HBO run, you’re not alone; the show seemed so determined not to repeat what happened during the first season – viewers figuring out the show’s secrets before they were revealed – that the narrative became too labyrinthine and intricate for many to follow from week to week. But hey, that’s where bingeing comes in, and with Westworld Season Two: The Door (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment), you can let the show unfold without having to wait a week between installments. It’s a rich experience, from the curlicues of the storytelling to the top-notch ensemble of actors, and this is perhaps the way this season was designed to be watched.

Also available: Seth MacFarlane gets his Star Trek on far less ironically than you might think in The Orville: The Complete First Season (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment); The Shield: The Complete Series (Mill Creek Entertainment) still holds up as a cornerstone of Difficult Men drama; watch one of the greatest interviewers in the history of TV ply his trade with the new collections The Dick Cavett Show: "And That’s the Way It Is…" and The Dick Cavett Show: Inside the Minds Of… (both S'More Entertainment).

Alan Cumming tracks a dangerous serial killer in Instinct: Season One (CBS/Paramount); Our Cartoon President: Season One with World Class Amenities (CBS/Paramount) tries its best to find political satire in an age when the real thing is hard enough to swallow; Kevin Costner leads an all-star cast in the acclaimed Yellowstone: Season One (Paramount Home Media), about a family of ranchers; and comedian Nathan Fielder turns small business on its head in the hilarious Nathan for You: The Complete Series (Comedy Central).

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