New to View: Feb. 9
By Bob Bloom
The following titles are being released on Tuesday, Feb. 9, unless otherwise noted:
Freaky: Killer Switch Edition (Blu-ray + DVD + digital)
Details: 2020, Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Rated: R, graphic and strong bloody horror violence, sexual content, language
The lowdown: The mashup of a 1980s’ slasher film and “Freaky Friday” stars Vince Vaughn as The Butcher, a serial killer terrorizing a town, and Kathryn Newton as Millie, a 17-year-old trying to survive high school.
Somehow, The Butcher’s mystical dagger causes the killer and the teen to switch bodies.
The frightened teen discovers that she has 24 hours for the two to switch back before she is permanently stuck in the body of a middle-aged maniac.
This horror-comedy works because Vaughn and Newton both fully commit to their characterizations.
Critics appreciated the movie, giving it an 83 percent fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 DVS and French and Spanish 5.1 DTS digital surround; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles; DVD: 2.39:1 anamorphic widescreen picture; English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby digital and English 2.0 DVS; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Bonus materials include a behind-the-scenes look at how Vaughn and Newton worked together to bring their characters to life and created distinct personalities for each; deleted scenes; a look at how the kills were created; a profile of co-writer-director Christopher Landon; a featurette on the “Final Girl” concept in horror film; and a commentary track with Landon.
Greenland (Blu-ray + DVD + digital code)
Details: 2020, Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Rated: PG-13, intense disaster action, violence, bloody images, language
The lowdown: In this low-budget, apocalyptic thriller, Gerard Butler plays John Garrity who races to get his estranged wife, Allison, and young son, Nathan, to safety as a planet-killing comet is heading toward Earth.
Garrity gets his family and heads to Greenland, where there is sanctuary. How that is possible if the comet is a planet killer, is something you will have to watch the movie to understand. But it has something to do with fortified bunkers. Plus, this is a movie — not real science.
My colleague, Evan Dossey at The Midwest Film Journal, called “Greenland,” “a bleak, low-budget melodrama that works because it’s so aggressively manipulative, not in spite of it.”
A majority of critics agreed, awarding the movie a 73 percent fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 DVS Dolby digital; English SDH and Spanish subtitles; DVD: 2.39:1 anamorphic widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby digital and 2.0 DVS Dolby digital.
Don’t miss: Extras include deleted scenes, a commentary track and a behind-the-scenes featurette.
The Parallax View: Special Edition (Blu-ray)
Details: 1974, The Criterion Collection
Rated: R, violence
The lowdown: Conspiracy theories about political assassinations have flourished since John Wilkes Booth murdered President Abraham Lincoln in 1865.
The most famous — and persistent — was the killing of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. In 1968, came the murders of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
These events — along with the political upheaval of the Vietnam War — ignited a feeling of unease and mistrust — especially about the government — in the nation.
And that was reflected in many movies of the era, including Alan J. Pakula’s “The Parallax View.”
The movie stars Warren Beatty as reporter Joe Frady who, three years after a senator was assassinated atop Seattle’s Space Needle, begins investigating the killing.
Along the way, he stumbles into an elaborate conspiracy that is much more sinister than he ever imagined.
As Frady goes deeper into the rabbit hole, he cannot tell friend from foe as people he knows begin dying all around him.
The movie’s atmosphere of paranoia is very heavy because of Pakula’s direction and the screenplay by David Giler and Lorenzo Semple Jr.
The supporting cast includes Hume Cronyn, William Daniels and Paula Prentiss.
The film impressed a large majority of critics, who awarded it a 90 percent fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 widescreen picture; English LPCM monaural; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include a new introduction to the movie by filmmaker Alex Cord, archival interviews with Pakula from 1974 and 1995, a program of cinematographer Gordon Willis as well an interview from 2004, a new interview with Pakula assistant John Boorstein and an essay about the movie.
A Tale of Two Cities (Blu-ray)
Details: 1935, Warner Archive Collection
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This MGM adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic was produced by David O. Selznick, who, that same year, produced an acclaimed adaptation of “David Copperfield.”
The major asset of “A Tale of Two Cities” is the performance — and voice — of Ronald Colman as Sydney Carton. He is sardonic, weary, cynical and honorable as the lawyer whose love leads him to the ultimate sacrifice.
Colman is backed by Elizabeth Allan, Donald Woods and Basil Rathbone and an of unforgettable character actors including Edna Mae Oliver, Reginald Owen, Henry B. Walthall, Blanche Yurka, H.B. Warner, Billy Bevan, Isabelle Jewel and Lucille LaVerne, who was the voice of the evil queen and the old hag in Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
The release is a made-on-demand Blu-ray from the Warner Archive Collection and can be ordered at www.wb.com/warnerarchive or at other online sellers.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.37:1 (16:9) full-screen picture; English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio monaural; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include two cartoons, a radio adaptation starring Colman and a short subject.
The Suspect (Blu-ray)
Details: 1944, Kino Lorber Studio Classics
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Charles Laughton stars in this Edwardian-era noir thriller as a henpecked accountant who befriends a young, unemployed stenographer, Mary Gray, played by Ella Raines.
Laughton’s Phillip Marshall gradually finds himself falling in love with the young woman, but being an honorable man, he maintains a platonic relationship with Mary.
Marshall asks his shrewish wife, Cora (Rosalind Ivan), for a divorce. She refuses and threatens to expose him and start a scandal.
Later, when Cora is found dead after an apparent accident, Inspector Huxley (Stanley Ridges), a Scotland Yard detective, begins an investigation, suspecting Marshall.
He is unable to find any proof. Later, when he finds out about Mary and goes to question her, he discovers that she and Marshall have married.
The truth is eventually revealed and justice, of a sort, is satisfied.
Your appreciation of the movie may depend on your tolerance for Laughton who, at times, could be flamboyant. Here, though, he is somewhat low key.
The movie was directed by Robert Siodmak, who also helmed “The Spiral Staircase,” “Criss Cross” and “The Killers.”
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.37:1 full-screen picture; English DTS-HD. English subtitles.
Don’t miss: The major extra is a commentary track by film historian Troy Howarth.
Jazz on a Summer’s Day (Blu-ray)
Details: 1959, Kino Lorber
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This musical documentary is a jazz-lover’s dream; highlighting the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island.
A who’s who of jazz royalty, including Louis Armstrong, Gerry Mulligan, Dinah Washington, Thelonious Monk and Anita O’Day, performed.
The movie’s highlight is a midnight performance of “The Lord’s Prayer” by Mahalia Jackson.
This energetic and joyous documentary soars with energy and talent offering an all-star program that is worth the price of the Blu-ray.
This is a movie that all music lovers can embrace, whether or not jazz is your genre.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.37:1 full-screen picture; English 2.0 DTS-HD monaural; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: Bonus components include a series of photo galleries by director Ben Stern, an archival interview with Stern, a commentary track, a documentary about Stern and a booklet with an essay about the movie.
Man From Del Rio & The Ride Back double feature (Blu-ray)
Details: 1956, 1957, Kino Lorber Studio Classics
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Two-time Academy Award-winner Anthony Quinn displays his range in this Western double feature, in which he portrays men from both sides of the law.
In 1956’s “The Man From Del Rio,” he is Mexican gunfighter Dave Robles who, after he emerges victorious from a shootout with a few gunmen, is hired as the sheriff of Mesa, despite the racism of the town’s residents.
He is warned by Estella (Katy Jurado), a nurse, that without his gun, he would not survive very long in the town. Her prediction nearly comes true after crooked saloon owner Ed Bannister (Peter Whitney) injures the sheriff’s wrist and later challenges Robles to a duel.
The cast also includes Whit Bissell and John Larch.
In “The Ride Back” (1957), Quinn is outlaw Bob Kallen who is captured by Texas Marshal Chris Hamish (William Conrad) to be brought for trial.
On the trail, they are attacked by Apaches and Hamish is seriously wounded. Kallen must decide whether to help the wounded lawman or escape.
This Western is more psychological than action oriented.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English DTS-HD monaural; English subtitles.
The El Duce Tapes (Blu-ray)
Details: 2019, Arrow Video
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: In the early 1990s, actor Ryan Sexton, an aspiring filmmaker, began filming hours of VHS footage centering on the highly offensive shock rock band, The Mentors. He mostly focused on its infamous lead singer, El Duce.
Now, three decades later, filmmakers Rodney Ascher, David Lawrence and Sexton unleash this footage on the public, offering a view of El Duce, who hid under a black executioner’s hood.
The documentary looks at what his willfully offensive act and controversial views tells us about ourselves in the 21st century.
Be prepared for some shocks as you view this incendiary individual and his band. It is actually a depressing examination of a damaged artist.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.33:1 full-screen picture; English audio; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include a short, behind-the-scenes look at the filming; an interview with Mentors member Steven Broy, aka Dr. Heathen Scum; a look at the all-female El Duce tribute band, The Womentors; a video of the recording of the movie’s score; a cut-up of a few of El Duce’s long, aimless stories; a commentary track; an audio conversation between Sexton and the film’s producer, Tim Kirk; a free-standing alternate assembly of El Duce’s ramblings and unused material; and a booklet.
Details: 2019, Greenwich Entertainment-Kino Lorber
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A documentary that examines the life and music of legendary singer Billie Holiday.
Holiday, who was celebrated around the world, was not afraid of stirring controversy. She used her voice to sing about injustice and the realities of Black life in America.
Her song, “Strange Fruit,” earned her many powerful and dangerous enemies — some inside our own government.
“Billie” features interviews with such musical greats as Count Basie, Tony Bennett, Charles Mangus and Sylvia Syms.
The movie is told by the many people who knew her and were impacted by her voice and her life.
Technical aspects: 2.39:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH subtitles.
The Hills Run Red (Blu-ray)
Details: 1966, Kino Lorber
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A spaghetti Western starring fading American film noir character actor Dan Duryea as a gunslinger named Getz who helps an ex-convict seek revenge on his former partner.
During the Civil War, the two were Confederate soldiers who stole a fortune in Union gold; one man escaped with the gold, while the other was captured by Union troops and sent to prison for five years.
When he is released, he discovers his ex-partner also was responsible for the death of his wife.
This is a bloody Italian feature meant to capitalize on the craze created by Sergio Leone and his “Man With No Name” Westerns.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.35:1 widescreen picture; English DTS; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: The main extra is a commentary track by filmmaker Alex Cox.
Jiang Ziya: Legend of Deification (Blu-ray)
Details: 2020, Well Go USA Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: To earn his place among the gods, celestial army general Jiang Ziya must destroy a fox demon that threatens the existence of the mortal realm in this animated feature.
When the Jiang Ziya learns that the creature’s fate is linked to that of a little girl, he refuses — and is banished to the mortal realm.
Years later, after a devastating war, he is offered a task that will return him to the Heavenly realm — kill the fox demon, even if it cost the young girl’s life.
Now Jiang Ziya must choose between following the will of the gods or his own path.
The movie is the second chapter in the Fengshen Cinematic Universe series.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced) widescreen picture; Mandarin and English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH, English and Chinese subtitles.
The State of Texas vs. Melissa: Special Edition (Blu-ray)
Details: 2020, FilmRise-MVD Visual Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Melissa Lucio has been on death row in a Texas prison for more than 10 years.
She is now on her last appeal. Lucio was the first Hispanic woman sentenced to death in Texas.
She was convicted in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Mariah, who died of blunt head trauma.
Lucio also supposedly abused her daughter daily.
Oddly, Lucio was not known to be violent nor did anyone ever witness her abusing Mariah.
The documentary, which earned an 82 percent fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, explores Lucio’s life and the case that put her at death’s door.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, widescreen picture; English DTS-HD Master Audio; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include an interview with director Sabrina Van Tassel and deleted scenes.
Man of the East (Blu-ray)
Details: 1973, Kino Lorber
The lowdown: Terence Hill (born Mario Girotti) stars in the spaghetti western comedy about a dude sent the wild West to claim his father’s ranch.
Hill’s Sir Thomas Fitzpatrick Phillip Moore does not know that his father’s secret dying wish was for his friends and fellow bandits to teach the greenhorn how to be a real man.
The father’s three remaining friends take the young man under their wing, but it is a difficult assignment, as the son prefers reading poetry and riding bicycles to horses and guns.
He finally relents after a speedy romance that forces him to take action against a jealous town marshal.
The movie was among a series of Westerns that featured Hill, who was best known for his Trinity series of oaters.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.35:1 widescreen picture; English DTS-HD audio; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: A commentary track by filmmaker Alex Cox is the main extra.
Deep in Vogue: Special Edition (Blu-ray)
Details: 2019, FilmRise-MVD Visual Entertainment
The lowdown: This documentary celebrates the LGBTQ+ community of Northern vogue and its people.
The movie examines why Manchester, England, needs vogue — which is synonymous with the Black, gay ballrooms of 1980s New York.
The filmmakers spent more than a year covering the buildup to the Manchester ICONS Vogue Ball, examining its internal as well as external political, cultural and social issues.
The foundation of the movie is about people coming to love and accept themselves and their differences.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: A commentary track and additional scenes comprise the bonus features.
The Mary Millington Movie Collection: Limited Edition (Blu-ray)
Details: 1977-2015, Screenbound-MVD Visual Entertainment
Rated: X, sexual content
The lowdown: Mary Millington was an English model and actress who gained notoriety for her appearances in soft-core and pornographic movies in the 1970s.
Millington, who died at 33 from an overdose, led a tumultuous life. She was continually battling police who often raided the sex shop she ran in London.
This set, which is comprised of six films and a documentary about Millington, is definitely for adults-only viewing.
The movies include “Come Play With Me’ (1977), “The Playbirds” (1978), “Confessions From the David Galaxy Affair” (1979), “Queen of the Blues” (1979), “Mary Millington’s True Blue Confessions” (1980), “Mary Millington’s World Striptease Extravaganza” (1981) and the 2015 documentary, “Respectable: The Mary Millington Story.”
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.66:1 and 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen pictures; English 2.0 LPCM monaural.
Don’t miss: Bonus materials include 8mm softcore short films, interviews, commentaries and a book about Millington and this collection.
Happy Times (Blu-ray)
Details: 2019, Artsploitation Films
Rated: Not rated, violence
The lowdown: An Israeli American couple invite a group of fellow ex-pat friends and family to their Hollywood Hills mansion for dinner.
What begins as a friendly gathering soon, under the influence of too much booze, too many big egos, raging jealousy and inappropriate lustful behavior, disintegrates into murder and mayhem.
This black comedy is frustrating at times, but it ultimately is worth seeing.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 widescreen picture; English and Hebrew 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English subtitles.
Other titles being released on Tuesday, unless otherwise indicated:
Elysium (4K UHD) (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
The Legend of Fall Creek (DVD & VOD) (Uncork’d Entertainment)
Monster Zone (DVD & digital) (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
The Right One (Blu-ray & DVD) (Grindstone Entertainment-Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
X (DVD & digital) (Cinedigm)
DIGITAL DOWNLOAD, STREAMING or VOD
The Croods: A New Age (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
The Reunited States (Dark Star Pictures)
C.B. Strike: Lethal White (HBO Home Entertainment, Feb. 11)
They Call Me Dr. Miami (Discovery+, Feb. 11)
Barb & Star Go to Vista del Mar (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Feb. 12)
Breaking News in Yuba County (American International Pictures, Feb. 12)
Bullied (Global Digital Releasing, Feb. 12)
Cowboys (Samuel Goldwyn Films, Feb. 12)
Fear of Rain (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Feb. 12)
Happy Cleaners (Passion River Films, Feb. 12)
I Blame Society (Cranked Up, Feb. 12)
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things (Amazon Prime, Feb. 12)
Paradise Cove (Quiver Distribution, Feb. 12)
To All the Boys: Always and Forever (www.netflix.com/toalltheboysalwaysandforever) (Netflix, Feb. 12)
Young Hearts (Blue Fox Entertainment, Feb. 12)
The Circuit: Series 1 & 2 (Acorn TV, Feb. 15)
The Real Prince Philip (Acorn TV, Feb. 15)
Coming next week: Lovecraft Country: The Complete First Season
I am a founding member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. I review movies, 4K UHD, Blu-rays and DVDs for ReelBob (ReelBob.com), The Film Yap and other print and online publications. I can be reached by email at email@example.com. You also can follow me on Twitter @ReelBobBloom and on Facebook at ReelBob or the Indiana Film Journalists Association. My movie reviews also can be found at Rotten Tomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.