DVD Obscura: 'My Friend Dahmer,' 'Have a Nice Day,' 'Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story' and More

DVD Obscura: 'My Friend Dahmer,' 'Have a Nice Day,' 'Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story' and More

May 14, 2018

Our latest roundup features serial killers, Chinese criminals, and a Hollywood legend. Read onward for all our picks.

New Indie

Ah, our endless fascination with serial killers. With so many true-crime movies floating around, it’s always exciting when filmmakers find a new way to dig into the life stories of these real-life monsters. Take My Friend Dahmer (FilmRise), based on the graphic memoir by John “Derf” Backderf about being high school buddies with teenage Jeffrey Dahmer. Portrayed by former Disney Channel star Ross Lynch as a dorky outsider with an unpredictable sense of humor, Dahmer emerges as a fascinating figure, both misunderstood and inexorably doom-bound in this provocative feature from writer-director Marc Meyers.

Also available: Jemaine Clement plays a struggling playwright forced to move in with his dad (Elliott Gould) at a New Jersey retirement community in the hilarious Humor Me (Shout Factory); superheroes get the ribbing they deserve in the low-budget satire Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel (Indie Rights); Brie Larson’s got the Basmati Blues (Shout Factory) as a sheltered scientist whose life is blown wide open by a work trip to India.

Mohawk (Dark Sky Films) traces one day’s worth of battle between indigenous warriors and U.S. troops during the War of 1812; Jennifer Garner leads an all-star ensemble in the dysfunctional-family drama The Tribes of Palos Verdes (Shout Factory); the indie comedy Are We Not Cats (Cleopatra Entertainment) sees two people brought together by a very unusual habit; Christopher Abbott, Jon Bernthal and Rosemarie DeWitt deliver powerful performances in the tense Sweet Virginia (Shout Factory).

 

New Foreign

If you’re still carrying around preconceived notions about how animation is strictly for kids, take a look at the Chinese import Have a Nice Day (Strand Entertainment), a bloody and outrageous gangster noir comedy. In this festival award-winner, a driver for the mob makes off with a bag of money (to fix his girlfriend’s botched plastic surgery), only to find himself the target of every hood in town. It’s a kinetic and unpredictable piece of genre entertainment.

Also available: South Korean Oscar entry A Taxi Driver (Well Go USA Entertainment) tells the true story of a cabbie (Song Kang-Ho, Snowpiercer) who gets mixed up with a German journalist (Thomas Kretschmann); another Oscar entry, Estonia’s The Fencer (Music Box Films) also tells a true story, with the titular swashbuckler eluding the Russian secret police; Annette Bening adds to her pantheon of great performances as actresses of a certain age with her turn as Gloria Grahame in Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment); IndiePix Festival Favorites, Volume 5 (IndiePix Films) offers up a triple feature of global faves: Entre Nos, That Girl in Yellow Boots and Jermal.

 

New Documentary

You may know her as an exotic beauty and screen siren, but Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (Kino Lorber) tells the full story of the Hollywood legend, from her escape from the Nazis (dressed as her own maid), her tough negotiations with studio bosses, and her technical inventions for radio signals, which helped the Allies win World War II (and paved the way for cell phones and the internet). Hers is a story that has long deserved this level of attention, and this fascinating doc tells it with verve.

Also available: A very different movie legend gets her due in Doris Day: A Sentimental Journey (MPI/Dark Sky); Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: In Concert (Time Life) features four different induction ceremonies and a total of 53 legendary live performances; in 1973, Tom Schiller (SNL, Nothing Lasts Forever) captured a literary lion in the winter of his life in the intimate documentary Henry Miller Asleep & Awake (IndiePix Films).

 

New Grindhouse

Fans of Italian horror won’t want to miss Deep Red: Limited Edition (Arrow) – not only does this axe-murder-mystery rank among Dario Argento’s most acclaimed chillers, but this new edition also features a plethora of extras – including commentaries, documentaries and a brand new 4K restoration -- and goodies that any collector will covet. Also known as Profondo Rosso and The Hatchet Murders, and starring David Hemmings (Blow-Up, Barbarella), this delirious thrill ride features another acclaimed score by Goblin.

Also available: Don’t confuse Profondo Rosso with Alberto Negrin’s Enigma Rosso (Scorpion Releasing) – aka Red Rings of Fear – which makes its US Blu-ray debut; cult fave Killer Klowns from Outer Space (Arrow) gets a 4K restoration and new extras for fans of those creepy alien harlequins; only Jean-Claude Van Damme can save the post-apocalyptic world in the gloriously cheesy Cyborg: Collector’s Edition (Scream Factory); Insidious: The Last Key (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) gives the great Lin Shaye another opportunity to delve into The Further in this eerie addition to the ghostly franchise.

 

New Classic

Out of circulation for quite some time, a gorgeous new Blu-ray of Liquid Sky (Vinegar Syndrome) gives modern audiences a chance to experience a film that’s both a quirky sci-fi tale and a rare look at pre-Disney New York City. This trippy film follows aliens that zap people who create a substance in their brain that’s only created by shooting heroin or having an orgasm, so they’ve picked the right place to find victims.

Anne Carlisle stars as a bisexual model and as her gay male rival, and her androgyny fits perfectly with the film’s New Wave vibe. If you’ve never seen it, or haven’t caught it in decades, this film has rarely looked this great, and the new Blu-ray offers intros, commentaries, interviews, a new making-of feature, outtakes and much more.

Also available: One of the big screen’s greatest canines kept the magic alive in the sequel For the Love of Benji (Mill Creek Entertainment); Gene Kelly has his hands full with a trio of singer-dancers in Les Girls (Warner Archive Collection), featuring songs by Cole Porter; Jennifer Jones is the rootin’-tootin’ Ruby Gentry (Kino Lorber Studio Classics) in this beloved cult Western; and speaking of cult Westerns, few carry the indie cred of Jim Jarmusch’s acclaimed Dead Man (The Criterion Collection).

Put on your glasses for an old-school horror fave, The Maze in 3D (Kino Lorber Studio Classics); Jacques Demy came to America for the groovy Model Shop (Twilight Time), starring Gary Lockwood and Anouk Aimée; Ona Munson is The Hot Heiress (Warner Archive Collection) who falls for a working man in this pre-Code romance; director John Landis made his directorial debut with the outrageous Schlock (Turbine Media Group), the ultimate man-in-a-gorilla-suit movie, available in a limited mediabook edition of 2000.

Before there was the musical, there was the biopic Alexander Hamilton (Warner Archive Collection), starring George Arliss as the Founding Father; no conversation about “problematic faves” can leave out My Father, the Hero (Kino Lorber Studio Classics), in which teenager Katherine Heigl pretends to be the mistress of dad Gerard Depardieu; before Cher started working on her ABBA standards, she memorably covered “The Shoop Shoop Song” in Mermaids (Olive Films), co-starring Winona Ryder and a very young Christina Ricci; The Awful Truth (The Criterion Collection) remains one of the sassiest, breeziest screwball comedies of all time, with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne creating sparks that even poor Ralph Bellamy can’t dampen.

One of my favorite films of the 1980s, Hope and Glory (Olive Films) presents World War II as remembered through director John Boorman’s youthful POV; probably Gloria Swanson’s most successful silent comedy, Manhandled (Kino Lorber) features the star as a working girl who becomes the toast of society when she pretends to be a Russian noblewoman; while The Jazz Singer featured a few Vitaphone sequences, it’s gangster tale Lights of New York (Warner Archive Collection) that actually counts as Warner Bros.’ first all-talking picture.

Director Paul Schrader delves deeply into actor Bob Crane’s creepy filmmaking habits in the darkly funny Auto Focus (Twilight Time); the early Merchant-Ivory-Jhabvala collaboration Shakespeare Wallah (Cohen Film Collection) follows a troupe of British actors around India, witnessing the country through their eyes; MGM’s The Big Parade of Comedy (Warner Archive Collection) compiles the studio’s funniest moments from its biggest stars, covering 1920 to 1948; 9 Pulse Pounding Films (Mill Creek Entertainment) looks like the usual mixed-bag box set, but it offers some highlights of black cinema, from the drama The River Niger (starring James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson) to Mario Van Peebles’ BAADASSSSS!, a tribute to his father Melvin’s groundbreaking movie.

Two legendary films celebrate their 40th anniversary with new releases from Paramount Home Media: mega-musical Grease gets the 4K treatment, and it and Cheech & Chong’s Up in Smoke both have plenty of extras for fans; the works of a Japanese master are collected in Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years, Vol. 2 (Arrow); early-80s cable staple Full Moon High (Scream Factory) gets a lovely Blu-ray, complete with commentary from director Larry Cohen.

 

New TV

They said it couldn’t be done, but Mystery Science Theater 3000: Season 11 (Shout Factory) brings back the magic of the long-running cult cable TV hit. Jonah Ray takes the middle seat in the theater, but with MST3K creator Joel Hodgson at the helm (and Elliott Kalan of The Daily Show and The Flop House as head writer), this reboot hilariously skewers more than a dozen terrible movies, from Avalanche and Starcrash to Reptilicus and The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t. This collection features all the new episodes, plus a feature-length documentary, making it a must for any fan of the show.

Also available: Kudos to whoever decided to package the Mother, May I Sleep with Danger? Double Feature (Mill Creek Entertainment), combining vintage Tori Spelling cheese with 21st century James Franco weirdness; Niecy Nash and her crew of manicurists are not to be messed with, as we learn in the sizzling crime drama Claws: The Complete First Season (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment); Outlander: Season Three (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) serves up more time-traveling romance; the provocative Netflix series 13 Reasons Why: Season One (Paramount Home Media) deserves another look before the second season drops; and not content to be the king of the movies, Dwayne Johnson is still at it on the small screen with Ballers: The Complete Third Season (HBO Home Entertainment).

And the folks at Acorn TV keep the great international TV hits coming with The Governor: The Complete Collection; A Place to Call Home, Season 5; and The Accident (L’Accident).

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