One of the great Freudian westerns starring a regal, butch Joan Crawford as Vienna, the owner of a saloon in the middle of nowhere. Her arch enemy is Emma (Mercedes McCambridge), and the two women are locked in a deadly battle over a man- the "Dancin' Kid" (Scott Brady). Sterling Hayden plays a gunfighter/guitarist and past love of Vienna who rolls into town just as this powder keg of repression is about to explode. Filmed by Nicholas Ray who uses architecture and color to frame this existential and singularly bizarre film that was rightly hailed by the French New Wave. This is a masterful 4K restoration with insightful extras.
Carrie (Scream Factory)
Brian De Palma's unforgettable adaptation of a Stephen King book about a shy, bullied, teenage girl Carrie (spectacularly played by Sissy Spacek) living with her religious fanatic mother (brilliant Piper Laurie) who discovers she has telekinetic powers. De Palma's own powers as a filmmaker are in rare, dizzying, form, and the fiery prom scene at the end is stunning. Although nothing was as fun as seeing whole audiences jump and scream at the end when Carrie premiered in theaters in 1976. This special edition has a gorgeous new scan from the negative and a full disc of special features including one about the ill-fated Carrie, the musical.
On Dangerous Ground (Warner Archive)
A truly sensational 1951 Nicholas Ray film noir with an electrifying performance by Robert Ryan as a tightly wound city cop who enjoys beating the truth out of his suspects. The whole beginning with Bernard Herrmann's moody score will really remind you of Taxi Driver. The second half of the film has him traveling to a remote mountainous region to assist the police in search of a killer. There he becomes fascinated by the blind sister of the on-the-run suspect- played with exquisite tenderness by Ida Lupino. This restoration of this under-appreciated masterwork is a revelation.
The Thing (Shout Factory)
It's hard to realize that John Carpenter's brilliant 1982 reboot of the sci-fi classic about a remote arctic military base that comes under attack from a shape-shifting alien was not a hit at the time of its release. Thanks to the nightmarish special effects by Rob Bottin and other greats, the claustrophobic sense of dread thanks to cinematographer Dean Cundey, and superb ensemble- with Kurt Russell, Keith David etc, this movie gets insanely better with time. This superb two-disc Collector's Edition really does this film justice.
Jack Irish (Acorn)
Three superb Australian mysteries starring an incredibly handsome and charismatic Guy Pearce as Jack, as a former lawyer, who, after a personal tragedy, becomes a part time investigator. He also hangs out at a bar filled with oddball codgers, and works for two dubious men who dabble in shady dealings at the race track. But each hard-boiled mystery is wildly suspenseful and great fun. Miss these at your peril. There's also another six-part season of Jack Irish from Acorn that is just as fabulous. The stunning Marta Dusseldorp (who plays the lead in another great series- Janet King) stars as Jack's reporter girlfriend.
The Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast (Arrow Films)
The late great exploitation director who introduced excessive gore into movies with such fabulously deranged drive-in favorites like Blood Feast, Two Thousand Maniacs & Color Me Blood Red is given an exhaustive box set with fourteen of the shlockmeister's outlandish films on Blu-ray. Included is the crackpot female biker film: She Devils On Wheels, the nutty juvenile delinquent flick: Just For The Hell Of It and the sordid roughie: Scum Of The Earth. Lewis introduces each film with his trademark depreciating humor. Also included is Frank Henelotter's documentary The Godfather Of Gore which is amazing. I've seen the test discs and went crazy. Boy, do I know what I want for Christmas!
The Pit (Kino Lorber)
A wonderfully crackpot 1981 film filmed in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin about a loathsome little boy (played with fiendish abandon by Sammy Snyders) who finds a pit out in the woods with these strange little cannibalistic creatures and decides to get rid of his enemies by pushing them down the hole. It's even weirder than it sounds, and the extras includes a wonderful interview with the lead star discussing the movie and his career.
Café Society (Lionsgate)
A sublimely funny and bittersweet new film by Woody Allen starring Jessie Eisenberg as the touchingly naïve Bobby, who comes to Hollywood in the 1930s to ask his famous agent Uncle (Steve Carell) for a job. Hobnobbing with celebrities he falls for a beautiful, refreshingly down-to-earth secretary, Vonnie (a stunning Kristen Stewart), but she unfortunately is in love with a married man. Every shot evocatively captures this magical era, which Allen looks at with romanticism and ruefulness.
The Return Of Dracula (Olive Films)
Francis Lederer (who actually starred in silent films like Pandora's Box) plays a vampire who arrives in California pretending to be a relative from the old country and sets his sights on starting up an army of undead. This fun black and white 1957 horror film (which looks great on Blu-ray) has one startling segment in color that is sublimely bloody.
Astro Zombies (Kino Lorber)
Hilarious Z-grade horror film by Ted V. Mikels (The Corpse Grinders) about a mad scientist (John Carradine, natch) who stitches murdered body parts together to create a robotic army of skull-masked killers. With the sexy Tura Satana (Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!) as a secret agent. Need we say more?
Manhattan Baby (Blue Underground)
The Italian director Lucio Fulci (The Beyond) made a series of unforgettable horror films in the early 1980s- this comes near the end of his inspired period about an archeologist's (Christopher Connelly) expedition in a cursed Egyptian tomb that results in his temporary blindness. When he returns home to New York he brings a supernatural presence that haunts his children. The fabulous kid from Fulci's House By The Cemetery (Giovanni Frezza) plays the young son- Tommy. An incredible restoration which also includes a CD of the score by Fabio Frizzi.
Child's Play (Scream Factory)
In this 1988 cult favorite directed by Tom Holland, a mother buys her son a popular Chuckie Doll- a red-headed blue-eyed by doll in overalls that promises He'll "be your friend to the end." Unfortunately, the soul of a serial killer (Brad Douriff) is trapped inside the doll and he gets up to his old tricks. This two-disc Collector's Edition has incredible behind-the-scenes footage, new featurettes about the making of the film. Happy Halloween!