Blu-ray releases 1128

(Welcome to Not Dead Yet, a feature dedicated to what’s new on Blu-ray and what special features you should be excited about. Because yes, some of us still like to own physical copies of our movies.)

Before we kick November to the curb, there’s a slew of great Blu-rays you might want to snap up for your viewing pleasure. As always, we encourage you to remember that while there’s plenty of digital media out there, physical media is still an essential part of a balanced entertainment diet. You can’t beat something tangible, folks. Or maybe you can. But I’m going to hold onto this stubborn belief as long as humanly possible!

This week’s Blu-ray roundup features Kathy Bates breaking a leg (or two), a killer Santa Claus, Kirsten Dunst getting high, a goofy yet inventive space adventure, the best performance of Robert Pattinson’s career, and Jeff Goldblum doing his Jeff Goldblum thing. Here are the new Blu-ray releases you should check out this week.

Misery

One of the very best Stephen King adaptations doesn’t deal with the supernatural, but rather with real-life horrors. Rob Reiner’s take on King’s Misery stars James Caan as a romance novelist who is held captive by his number one fan, played to perfection by Kathy Bates. Bates won a much-deserved Best Actress Oscar for her twisted, hilarious, and terrifying portrayal of the fan from hell, and she and Caan play off each other wonderfully. William Goldman, one of the best screenwriters in the biz, turns King’s pulpy novel into an incredibly tight screenplay, where every scene, every nuance, every bit of dialogue coalesces into something remarkable. Scream! Factory has brought this gem to Blu-ray in a special Collector’s Edition, which comes pre-packaged with previous special features as well as a handful of new features created especially for this release.

Special Features To Note: In a new interview with Misery director Rob Reiner, the This Is Spinal Tap filmmaker talks about how Misery was a very personal book for Stephen King, and how King was reluctant to sell the film rights unless he knew for certain it was in good hands. King was a big fan of Reiner’s Stand By Me, an adaptation of the King novella The Body, and said that he’d only sell the rights to Misery if Reiner was producing or directing. Reiner goes on to say that since Misery was his first thriller, he had to learn the “grammar” of a thriller genre, and he did so by watching Alfred Hitchcock films and film noir in general. “I learned there’s a certain grammar to them; a certain shape to them,” the director says. “There’s a lot of inserts; a lot of wacky angles.”  

In another feature, Misery makeup artist Greg Nicotero, who now handles make-up effects for The Walking Dead, discusses the creation of the sometimes gory makeup for Misery, including the famous leg-smashing scene, where Kathy Bates breaks both of James Caan’s ankles. In the book, Bates’ character cuts off Caan’s character’s legs, but Nicotero says that Reiner felt like the audience wouldn’t “recover” from such an action. So instead they came up with the hobbling scene. In other words, Reiner thought dismemberment was too brutal, but deliberately smashing ankles was a-okay. This is slightly ironic, since the hobbling sequence is particularly graphic and became one of the most memorable scenes in the film.

In addition to the rest of the bonus material, there are some vintage feature videos about stalking, with interviews with psychologists and other experts. They’re done very seriously, and seem like the type of things you’d see pop up in reruns on the ID Investigation Discovery channel. These features seem a bit out of place here, but they’ll be interesting for true crime fans.

Special Features Include:

  • NEW 4K Restoration From The Original Film Elements
  • NEW Interview With Director Rob Reiner
  • NEW Interview With Special Makeup Effects Artist Greg Nicotero
  • Audio Commentary With Rob Reiner
  • Audio Commentary With Screenwriter William Goldman
  • “Misery Loves Company” Featurette
  • “Marc Shaiman’s Musical MiseryTour” Featurette
  • “Diagnosing Annie Wilkes” Featurette
  • “Advice For The Stalked” Featurette
  • “Profile Of A Stalker” Featurette
  • “Celebrity Stalkers” Featurette
  • “Anti-Stalking Laws” Featurette
  • Trailers

Silent Night, Deadly Night
(Available on Blu-ray December 5, 2017)

Silent Night, Deadly Night isn’t the only “Killer Santa” movie, but it’s certainly one of the most memorable. Primarily because the film feels so sleazy. There’s a thin layer of grime over this 1984 flick that had parents protesting. Young Billy watches helplessly as a maniac dressed as Santa Claus murders his parents, an event that lands the poor kid in a cold orphanage. Billy grows up to be a strapping young man with a horde of repressed memories – memories that violently return when Christmas season rolls around. Soon, Billy is donning a Santa suit of his own, partaking in a killing spree and shouting “PUNISH!” as he cuts off the heads of kids sledding, or impales women on deer antlers. Make no mistake: this movie is bad, but it’s the good kind of bad, where you can’t help but appreciate how ridiculous this all is. Silent Night, Deadly Night inspired a horde of sequels, as most slasher films do, but please, ignore all of them. None have the gross charm of the original. Scream! Factory has a sleigh full of features for their new Blu-ray release, including both rated and unrated versions.

Special Features to Note: In the documentary feature Slay Bells Ring: The Story Of Silent Night, Deadly Night, co-executive producers Scott J. Schneid and Dennis Whitehead discuss the origins of the film. They reveal that they came up with the concept, then hired writer Michael Hickey (who is also interviewed here) to write the script. Hickey was paid a whopping $500 to write what would become Silent Night, Deadly Night. The documentary feature goes on to reveal that film studio TriStar Pictures were jonesing to get in on the still-lucrative slasher film business, made popular by HalloweenFriday the 13th, and more, and they jumped at the chance to buy the rights to Silent Night, Deadly Night. The documentary later goes into the controversy surrounding the film, most of it centered around the marketing which featured images of Santa grasping an axe as he came down the chimney. Parents groups were outraged at all of this, and the film both suffered and profited from this. Nervous executives pulled it from theaters, but by the time Silent Night, Deadly Night hit home video, it already had a cult following built around the controversy. This is a great feature, and tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the film. There’s another feature that interviews co-star and scream queen Linnea Quigley, but I’d advise skipping it. The quality of the interview is terrible, with the audio almost impossible to hear. Not sure what happened there.

Special Features Include:

DISC ONE: Theatrical Version

  • NEW 4K Scan Of The Original Camera Negative
  • R-Rated Theatrical Trailer & VHS Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Radio Spot

DISC TWO: Extended Unrated Version

  • NEW 4K Scan Of The Original Camera Negative With Standard Definition Inserts
  • NEW Slay Bells Ring: The Story Of Silent Night, Deadly Night – Featuring Interviews With Writer Michael Hickey, Co-Executive Producers Scott J. Schneid And Dennis Whitehead, Editor/Second Unit Director Michael Spence, Composer Perry Botkin, And Actor Robert Brian Wilson
  • NEW Oh Deer! – An Interview With Linnea Quigley
  • NEW Christmas In July – Silent Night, Deadly Night Locations – Then And Now
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Actor Robert Brian Wilson And Co-Executive Producer Scott J. Schneid
  • Audio Commentary With Michael Hickey, Perry Boykin, Scott J. Schneid, and Michael Spence
  • Audio Interview With Director Charles E. Sellier, Jr. From Deadpit Radio (Extended Version)
  • Santa’s Stocking Of Outrage
  • Poster And Still Gallery

Woodshock

Despite being a release from mega-indie-studio A24, and featuring Kirsten Dunst in the lead, Woodshock made very little impression when it arrived in a few theaters earlier this year. The buzz about it was mostly negative, and the film slipped away. Now this curiosity arrives on Blu-ray, and you know what? It’s not half-bad. It’s easy to see why Woodshock didn’t set the world on fire: it’s not really about anything, per se. Rather, it’s a moody tone poem of a film, featuring Dunst as a grieving young woman who flits from scene to scene in a kind of stupor, likely a result of the copious amount of marijuana she inhales. This might sound unbearable to some, but directors Laura Mulleavy and Kate Mulleavy bring enough style and grace to Woodshock to make it rather hypnotic. “Our goal was to break down the film layers into frequencies,” Laura Mulleavy told W magazine. “Sound, touch, image, dialogue—all those things come together and create the narrative of the film.” What really makes the film inherently watchable is Dunst, giving a frequently silent performance. The actress commands the screen as she both figuratively and literally floats through it. Your milage may vary on Woodshock, but those in tune with its otherworldly frequency will find something special here.

Special Features to Note: Sadly, there’s not a lot here. We only get one feature: Making Woodshock: A Mental Landscape. The feature is as airy and ethereal as the film itself, with relaxing music playing as directors Laura Mulleavy and Kate Mulleavy talk about their vision for the film. The Mulleavys say that “the idea of Woodshock came about because we wanted to create an emotional experience about what it could feel like to feel so small,” and that the film deals with “psychology of humanity.”  They discuss details on how Dunst delved into dreams and used “not only her body but her soul and spirit” to inhabit her character. The woods represent the character’s deep subconscious. The filmmakers want you to become so absorbed in the world that the film almost enters a “dream state.” It’s a quick featurette, and it would’ve been nice if a few more features had been added to the release. Alas, it was not to be.

Special Features Include:

  • “Making Woodshock: A Mental Landscape” Featurette  

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