Last train from Gun Hill [Paramount Presents]
What is it? A United States bailiff promises to take in a pair of murderers.
Why watch it? The great John Sturges led this hidden Western classic by pairing Kirk Douglas against Anthony Quinn. Douglas plays the marshal whose wife is mugged and murdered by two men, and when he pursues them he discovers that one is the son of his old friend (Quinn). Indicate the showdown between Douglas and an entire town loyal to Quinn with one blow involving the last train leaving town. It’s a clever, suspenseful western that offers forward-thinking ideals and observations on the genre along the way. Paramount’s new Blu-ray, the film’s debut in the format, is surprising in that it offers a 6K transfer from the original VistaVision negative.
[Extras: New 6K transfer, featurette]
Anything for Jackson
What is it? A couple practice dark magic in search of a resurrection.
Why watch it? Movies dealing with exorcisms can often be quite bland, but this gem of a horror movie takes a fresh approach that starts with its premise. The couple try to perform a “reverse” exorcism to put a spirit in a body, and while their motives are pure, their execution is a disaster. It’s a funny movie at times, surprisingly, but that humor makes the darkness and The Bloody Events land with even more power. Give this one a spin as it will probably surprise you.
What is it? A dinner party turns into chaos when strange things start to happen both in the sky and on the ground.
Why watch it? Sometimes the best science fiction movies are the ones that don’t seem like sf on the surface. This perfect example sees a group of friends get together for another generic dinner in the suburbs, but when a strange astronomical phenomenon interrupts the night, the sf speeds up. The less you know the better, but rest assured that in under ninety minutes it’s a cleverly designed ride without a dull moment.
[Extras: Commentaries, featurette]
Godzilla vs Kong [4K UltraHD]
What is it? It’s there in the title.
Why watch it? I may be alone in this, but of the four Monsterverse titles: Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and this, this is the one that does the most good. Director Adam Wingard and his friends know that human antics are the least interesting element and keep them to a minimum, which means that most of the film is geared towards monsters. Those monster beats are a lot of fun too, even when it gets stupid, as the effects and settings provide a lot of action and excitement. It’s a great looking movie (even if it doesn’t feature a spectacular sequence like the others), and the sound design is excellent with some speaker / subwoofer rattle effects.
[Extras: Commentary by Adam Wingard, featurettes]
In the line of fire [4K UltraHD]
What is it? A Secret Service agent works to prevent a murder.
Why watch it? Clint Eastwood has left action movies behind, for the most part, but even in his later years he was still delivering some solid hits. Wolfgang Petersen takes over the helm in this case, and the result is a clever action thriller that pits Eastwood’s worn-out agent against a cunning assassin played by John Malkovich. The two old pros are having a blast, and one mean and twisted, going head to head, and the addition of Rene Russo is never a bad thing. It’s fun, exciting entertainment on the big screen and looks even more refined in 4K.
[Extras: Commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes]
One potato, two potato [Scorpion Releasing]
What is it? An interracial couple encounters problems in the world around them.
Why watch it? Racism will be a thing as long as there are people around, and that means movies on the subject will remain a thing as well. This mid-1960s drama captures reality while it was at its peak with its tale of a white woman and a black man facing bigotry and racism both on and off the streets. It’s a raw drama, beautifully portrayed by Barbara Barrie, Bernie Hamilton, and Richard Mulligan, and it ends with undeniable power. This movie may not be one that I rewatch as often as it hurts, but it’s no less great for that.
[Extras: New 4K scan, interview, commentary]
Being [Code Red]
What is it? Man-made pollution turns a young man into a monster.
Why watch it? Jackie Kong’s early ’80s surprise is better known for its cast than for its actual value as a horror film – it stars Martin Landau, Jose Ferrer, Dorothy Malone, Kinky Friedman, and Ruth Buzzi. Yes it’s strange. The movie itself is the expected low-budget affair, but Kong handles some funny creature antics and gory beats with the story of misguided scientists, killer monsters, and human food buckets.
[Extras: 2K scan, commentaries]
Body punch [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A talent agent is successful in professional wrestling.
Why watch it? The mid-1980s were a wild time, as this Hal Needham comedy about professional wrestling shows. It’s silly fun, but wrestling fans should remember or look for it right away, as it features some familiar faces alongside Dirk Benedict’s frontman, including Roddy Piper, Captain Lou Albano, and others. It’s like a lighter, smoother DC Cab in a way, for whatever it’s worth.
[Extras: New 2K scan, interview]
What is it? A Lovecraftian tale.
Why watch it? Imagine Stuart Gordon Dagon (2001) but on a much, much smaller budget, and you’ll be in the right mindset for this indie horror story. Innocent visitors, creepy cultists, and a monster from the sea that seeks to assault and pervade – it’s all here. Unfortunately, however, budget and execution keep most of it from turning into much more than minor thrills.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]
What is it? A mother and her son act strangely in Paris.
Why watch it? Sometimes you just watch a movie for your lead actor, and that’s the case here, as Michelle Pfeiffer is fantastic as a widowed woman slowly working her way through everything her life gave her. Her son (Lucas Hedges) is on the road and he’s just as eccentric as she is, if not worse. However, what works for Pfeiffer doesn’t quite translate for Hedges, which means that the film has a bit of a lopsided character. We forgive her and commit to her, but he just needs to go.
[Extras: Deleted scenes]
Weapons for San Sebastián [Warner Archive]
What is it? A man on the run stops and stands his ground.
Why watch it? Anthony Quinn headlines this western about a man who rises from the frying pan and into the fire when he escapes the Mexican army only to land squarely in a conflict with a group of savage locals. The problem is that he finds safety with a small village caught in the middle, but he soon realizes that he will have to help them defend themselves. It’s a solid little western with some exciting scenes and a supporting twist from the always welcome Charles Bronson.
Grab this job and keep it [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? An executive returns home to find himself.
Why watch it? This fun-loving comedy was an HBO staple back in the day, and it’s easy to see why. Robert Hays plays a man whose career took him to the big city, but when he returns to get the local brewery in shape, he instead finds himself taking the side of the workers. Barbara Hershey, David Keith, Tim Thomerson, and Eddie Albert are on the ride, as is the Bigfoot monster truck, so it amounts to Gung ho (1986) in a different industry.
What is it? A young spaceship crew is tested.
Why watch it? Colin Farrell is the big draw here, but don’t get too attached as he’s just a support player. It’s all about the “teens” with this sci-fi riff on lord of the flies that’s as weightless as you would expect in space. Hormones are racing, but as an effort for under 13s, the focus is on teenage anger and their willingness to act like sheep. It’s a frustrating watch as mobs form, terrible decisions are made, and all-too-obvious heroes step up. Skip it and look at one of the lord of the flies adaptations in place.
The Walking Dead: World Beyond – Season One
What is it? Ten years after the zombie apocalypse, a new adventure unfolds.
Why watch it? This derivative of AMC’s popular (but long on the tooth) the Walking Dead He hopes to inject new blood into his undead world, and he succeeds with his new cast. But … it’s still basically the same premise where people fight in a land overrun with zombies and violent punctures. The show still features some of the spooky effects that we love, but its YA skewed cast isn’t nearly as charismatic as the OG show. Maybe that will come in time.
Ziegfeld’s follies [Warner Archive]
What is it? A variety show!
Why watch it? MGM goes full throttle with this star-studded variety feature featuring big stars singing, dancing, and doing things for your viewing pleasure. It’s understandable it’s a mixed bag, and your mileage will vary based on your art and artist preferences, but there’s no denying it’s a big, colorful affair. A sampling of famous faces here: Fred Astaire, Lucille Ball, Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Red Skelton, and more.
[Extras: Featurettes, shorts]
Also available this week:
The awakening [Scream Factory], The Great Archimedean War, Sphinx [Scream Factory], Tous le matins du monde