DVD Obscura: 'Hereditary,' 'Godard Mon Amour,' 'Ramen Heads,' 'Halloween' and More

DVD Obscura: 'Hereditary,' 'Godard Mon Amour,' 'Ramen Heads,' 'Halloween' and More

Oct 16, 2018


We pick the best (and note the rest) in recent home video: indie, foreign, doc, grindhouse, classic and TV titles are included below.

New Indie

When critics and audiences disagree about a horror movie, it’s usually because the reviews were bad. But the opposite happened with Hereditary (Lionsgate Home Entertainment), which generated strong buzz out of Sundance and in early reviews, only to leave some paying audiences shaking their heads. Now that this acclaimed film has made it to home video, you can overstep the hype on both sides and make up your own mind; for me, the debut feature from writer-director Ari Aster might make a few missteps, but it’s still a brilliantly moody and evocative piece about a family's disintegration, bolstered by strong work from actors Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd and particularly Toni Collette. Playing a woman coping with her mother’s death and making disturbing realizations about her mother’s life, Collette gives one of her most unforgettable performances.

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Robert Pattinson isn’t exactly a hero and Mia Wasikowska isn’t exactly in distress in the unconventional Western Damsel (Lionsgate Home Entertainment); when Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town (Shout! Studios), she encounters an offbeat mix of L.A. people (and obstacles); one of the year’s most controversial films, Gotti (Lionsgate Home Entertainment) is bound to wind up on a lot of year-end lists (just probably not the ones featuring the best films); All Styles (Shout Factory) of choreography get worked into this vibrant dance drama; Timothée Chalamet gets caught between a summer fling and her drug-dealing brother in the drama Hot Summer Nights (Lionsgate Home Entertainment).

New Foreign

How do you say "chutzpah" in French? The Artist director Michel Hazanavicius goes after one of his country’s most lauded filmmakers in Godard Mon Amour (Cohen Film Collection). Louis Garrel plays Godard in this tale of how the New Wave master’s marriage to actress Anne Wiazemsky (played by Stacy Martin of Nymphomaniac) fell apart as the filmmaker became absorbed in France’s political upheaval of the late 1960s. Given that Godard is still very much alive, and that cineastes would place him and Hazanavicius in distinctly separate aesthetic categories, this is one ballsy biopic.

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The legendary Nathalie Baye stars in Xavier Beauvois’ acclaimed The Guardians (Music Box Films), about women who are left behind to run a farm while the men fight World War I; The Desert Bride (Strand Releasing Home Entertainment) features another great performance by Paulina Garcia (Gloria) as a woman on a journey of self-discovery.

New Doc

Get ready to work up an appetite for noodles and broth after seeing the joyous Japanese documentary Ramen Heads (Kino Lorber), which focuses on master chef Osamu Tomita and his exacting, painstaking process of creating what many call Japan’s greatest ramen. The movie expands its view to demonstrate other methods and flavors for this internationally popular dish – and the devotees who will travel the length of the country to get their hands of a bowl of it -- and by the end of the film, you’ll be as hungry for soup as you were the last time you watched Tampopo.

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Full Circle: The Birth, Death & Rebirth of Circle of Dust (MVD Visual) looks at 90s industrial project Circle of Dust and its creator, Klayton from the band Celldweller; a visual poem about the sources of our food, Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s haunting Our Daily Bread (Icarus Films) is finally available in beautiful Blu-ray; Chuck Workman’s masterful The Source (Kino Lorber) traces the evolution of the Beat Generation through the friendship of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs; they surf on Ireland’s west coast, and Between Land and Sea (Film Movement) captures the surfing culture of County Clare.

Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist (Greenwich Entertainment) examines influential designer Vivienne Westwood and her impact on British Punk and beyond; meet the people surviving on the very mean streets of Medellín in Mambo Cool (Indiepix Films); fans of live music won’t want to miss Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Concert: Encore (Time Life) featuring 44 one-of-a-kind performances from a roster that spans Darlene Love and The Hollies to The Stooges and Tom Waits.

Hardcore punk legends – including members of Minor Threat and Agnostic Front – recall the music that shaped them in Records Collecting Dust II (MVD Visual); in Mountain (Greenwich Entertainment), the thrill seekers who climb (and propel themselves from) the world’s highest peaks draw us into their obsessions; filmmaker Serena Dykman profiles her Nana (First Run Features), an Auschwitz survivor who spent the rest of her life as an activist fighting racism, intolerance and anti-Semitism; Russian avant-garde giants like Chagall and Kandinsky get the spotlight in Revolution: New Art for a New World (Film Movement).

New Grindhouse

Even by cult-film standards, 1973’s The Baby (Arrow) is quite the freak-out. Social worker Anjanette Comer takes on the case of a 21-year-old man who crawls, cries and otherwise lives like an infant. But liberating this adult from his crib is no easy feat with his tyrannical Mama (Ruth Roman) running the household. If you love cinema at its most bizarre and disturbing, this is one you’ve just got to experience; this 45th anniversary release includes a new commentary by Travis Crawford, a new piece on the film featuring film scholar Rebekah McKendry, along with archival interviews with director Ted Post and titular star David Mooney.

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I’ve always preferred to call those 1960s horror movies featuring once-glamorous stars of yesteryear as "Grand Dame Guignol," but the Joan Crawford two-fer disc Strait-Jacket/Berserk! (Mill Creek Entertainment) cuts to the chase and puts "Double Psycho-Biddy Feature" right on the cover; Sting and Jennifer Beals star in The Bride (Scream Factory), an unusual attempt to revisit The Bride of Frankenstein; Japanese director Teruo Ishii digs into the bizarre world of author Edogawa Rampo in Horrors of Malformed Men (Arrow); Found Footage 3D (Shudder) pretty much says it all in the title, as the making of a creepy film-within-the-film threatens to become an all too true horror story.

Gather ’round for three chilling Ghost Stories (IFC Midnight/Scream Factory) in this anthology tale that co-stars Martin Freeman; Italian giallo goes to Australia with 1977’s The Pyjama Girl Case (Arrow), featuring Ray Milland; Denise Richard and Mischa Barton must battle a haunted RV in The ToyBox (Skyline Entertainment).

In The Seventh Sign (Scream Factory), expectant mom Demi Moore discovers that her unborn child has given her a front-row seat to the end times; Allied troops stumble upon a contagious biological weapon that must be contained within Trench 11 (RLJE Films); perhaps best known for its score by Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones, cult favorite Scream for Help (Shout Factory) returns in an extras-packed new Blu-ray.

It’s an interesting time for an HD reissue of Asia Argento’s directorial debut, Scarlet Diva (Film Movement); the two-disc Boris Karloff Collection (VCI Entertainment) features some of the actor’s later-career work, including Alien Terror (aka The Incredible Invasion), Cult of the Dead (aka Isle of the Snake People), Dance of Death (aka House of Evil) and Torture Zone (aka Fear Chamber); Spanish horror franchise The [REC] Collection (Scream Factory) collects all four features about a horrifying outbreak and the attempts to keep it quarantined.

New Classic

It’s the most spookiest time of the year – and the long-awaited sequel is hitting theaters – so what better time to take another look at John Carpenter’s classic Halloween (Lionsgate Home Entertainment), available for the first time in 4K Ultra HD? One of the most influential (and copied) films of the late 20th century, this movie helped create the slasher genre and cemented Jamie Lee Curtis’ place in the culture as one of horror’s greatest heroines. This release offers featurettes, footage from the TV version and a vintage commentary featuring Carpenter and Curtis.

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You love the show, so maybe it’s time to give the 1980s Supergirl (Warner Archive Collection) movie another shot now that it’s finally in Blu-ray (Faye Dunaway was always, always in Hi-Def); before there were cat videos there was Born Free: The Complete Collection (Mill Creek Entertainment), movies and a TV show about saving gorgeous, powerful jungle felines; if you like Tim Curry’s butler in Clue, watch him in Oscar (Kino Lorber) as Sylvester Stallone’s drily hilarious manservant; if the above-referenced Halloween is too much for your younger kids, you might show them millenial obsession Hocus Pocus: 25th Anniversary Edition (Walt Disney Home Entertainment) on the 31st instead.

The box art calls it “The Contentious Classic That Angered a Nation,” but check out the new Cabin Boy (Kino Lorber) Blu-ray and decide for yourself about the goofy Chris Elliott vehicle; The Naked and the Dead (Warner Archive Collection) provides a hard-hitting adaptation of Norman Mailer’s WWII novel; a landmark in black theater and cinema, A Raisin in the Sun (The Criterion Collection) gets the full Criterion treatment almost 60 years after it first moved movie audiences; will a Personal Maid’s Secret (Warner Archive Collection) shatter a family in this 1935 drama?

Your neighborhood trick-or-treaters might be annoying, but no way are they as creepy as the kids in the Village of the Damned (Warner Archive Collection); Geraldine Page won a well-deserved late-career Oscar for The Trip to Bountiful (Kino Lorber), based on the play by Horton Foote; never released theatricaly in the United States until this year, 1994’s Cold Water (The Criterion Collection) provides a fascinating glimpse into the early career of director Olivier Assayas (whose latest, Non-Fiction, recently premiered in Venice); Sonny and Cher have some Good Times (Kino Lorber) in a Hollywood spoof directed by none other than William Friedkin.

A legendary Brazilian filmmaker gets his due in the new box set Joaquim Pedro de Andrade: The Complete Films (Kino Classics); surf’s up for Jan-Michael Vincent, Gary Busey (he actually did have a dewy period) and William Katt in the cult classic Big Wednesday (Warner Archive Collection); Fred Zinneman’s The Day of the Jackal (Arrow) is a tense terrorist thriller that shaped spy movies for years to come; it’s terrifying, it’s hilarious, it’s essential, it’s maybe even better than the novel it’s based on – it’s American Psycho (Lionsgate Home Entertainment), presented in 4K and in its uncut version.

New TV

Decades after his death, Jim Henson’s legacy continues to thrive, from the growing appreciation of films like Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal to the recent release of Fraggle Rock: The Complete Series (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment). Created for HBO, this beloved series follows the adventures of several subterranean species, providing the comedy, music and gentle moralizing for which Henson and his associates were acclaimed. This 35th anniversary collection features all 96 episodes remastered in high definition on 12 discs, in a special scrapbook package that features rare behind-the-scenes photos. There are also sing-alongs, hours of archival features and much more. If you’re a Henson fan, or have one on your gift list, you don’t want to miss this one.

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Celebrate one of early TV’s most influential comedic architects with the five-disc Sid Caesar: The Works (Shout Factory); and speaking of the early days of the medium, Television’s Lost Classics: Volume One (VCI Entertainment) offers some early acting work by John Cassavetes and a live show directed by Sidney Lumet; Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis remain fascinatingly locked in battle in the juicy Billions: The Third Season (Showtime/CBS/Paramount); the Swedish procedural Modus Season 2 (Kino Lorber) offers plenty of surprises, not the least of which is Kim Cattrall playing the POTUS.

Twenty-five years later, the poignant telefilm Family Pictures (Mill Creek Entertainment) packs more of a punch than ever; Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon star in a remake of the Ray Bradbury classic Fahrenheit 451 (HBO Home Entertainment); The Carol Burnett Show 50th Anniversary Special (Time Life) celebrates a brilliant comic talent and a beloved sketch-comedy show that changed TV forever.

Anjelica Huston gets spooky again in the Lifetime remake of The Watcher in the Woods (Lionsgate Home Entertainment); a young animated hero returns in Ben 10: Omni-Tricked (Cartoon Network); it might never reach the campy heights of the 1980s original, but Dynasty: Season One (CBS/Paramount) is still a fun romp with awful, beautiful rich people stabbing each other in the back; Angie Dickinson, Mark Spitz and Phyllis Diller are just a few of the big names turning up for Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In: The Complete Sixth Season (Time Life)

Lots of great shows courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, from the binge-able C.B. Strike: The Series to returning favorites like Supernatural: The Complete Thirteenth Season, Young Sheldon: The Complete First Season and The Flash: The Complete Fourth Season, which you’ll want to be caught up on as their new seasons begin.

And of course Acorn TV brings you some of the most beloved series from around the globe, including Sando; Midsomer Murders, Series 20; East West 101, Series 3; and The Good Karma Hospital, Series 2.

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