New Blu-ray Releases Pet Sematary

Greetings, physical media aficionados. I’m back again with a round-up of some Blu-rays you should dare to venture out of your house to pick up. Or I guess you could just get them shipped to your house and never see the daylight again. These are the new Blu-ray releases you should check out this week!

Pet Sematary 

Some fans were left bewildered by the major changes made for the 2019 Pet Sematary. In many ways, this new take on Stephen King’s scariest book remains true to the text. But it also forges its own path, and while this new twist works, and works quite well, some viewers seemed unwilling to accept it. Which is a shame, because I count this among the best of the best Stephen King adaptations. Directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer nail down King’s never-ending sense of dread. Is it as scary as the book? No, but I don’t know if anything ever will be. But it’s highly disturbing, with high production values that elevate the movie above the standard studio horror fare. Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) moves his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz), daughter Ellie (Jeté Laurence), and son Gage (Hugo & Lucas Lavoie) to a new house in rural Maine. It should be the start of a peaceful new life. But as the Creed’s new neighbor Jud Crandall (John Lithgow) knows, the woods surrounding the home hold dark secrets. Soon, death is a constant factor in the life Louis Creed – as is the prospect of resurrection. But the dead person that comes back from those woods isn’t the same person they were to begin with. Clarke and Seimetz have an easy-going, natural chemistry that sells their relationship, and John Lithgow is grandfatherly and perfect as Jud. But the real breakout here is newcomer Jeté Laurence, who has to go to some considerably dark places as the movie progresses, and does so with gusto.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

Pet Sematary is worth owning for the film alone, but as an added incentive, the Blu-ray release comes packed with special features. It’s nice to see that Paramount didn’t skimp on the bonus material, and there’s a wealth of content to comb through here. The most notable is an alternate ending, which is almost soul-crushingly dark. While I understand why the filmmakers ultimately went with the theatrical ending – which is dark, but also somehow amusing – I do wish they had stuck with this original conclusion. It’s bleak and unflinching, and much closer to the tone of King’s novel.

Beyond that, there are several deleted scenes. More often than not, when you’re watching a deleted scene, you know exactly why it was deleted. That’s not the case here. Nearly every single deleted scene included on this disc should’ve been left in the film. These were all likely cut for pacing, but they add so much more context to the movie as a whole. There’s more moment between Louis and Ellie, Louis and Jud, Louis and Rachel. There’s even more between Rachel and her parents, who are barely in the theatrical cut. I’d kill for a directors cut that edits all of these back in.

The disc also comes with a very in-depth look at the production, tracking it from conception to execution. It’s a dream come true for a fan of this movie (like me). There’s also a neat little featurette called “The Tale of Timmy Baterman”, in which John Lithgow, as Jud Crandall, talks directly to the camera, telling the story of the death and resurrection of Timmy Baterman – a story that wasn’t in the final film. This clearly isn’t a deleted scene, since it involves Lithgow sitting on what’s obviously a soundstage dressed to look like the woods, and speaking directly into the camera. But it’s neat, and I could honestly listen to Lithgow spin spooky yarns all day.

Special Features Include: 

  • Alternate Ending
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • Night Terrors – Family Haunting Visions
    • Louis
    • Rachel
    • Ellie
  • The Tale of Timmy Baterman
  • Beyond the Deadfall
    • Chapter One: Resurrection – Directors, screenwriters and cast discuss bringing this classic back to life
    • Chapter Two: The Final Resting Place—A deeper look into finding the right location for the terror to unfold
    • Chapter Three: The Road to Sorrow— Inside the film’s tragic themes and creating the iconic cat “Church”
    • Chapter Four: Death Comes home—Unearth the creepy elements behind the climax and final scenes of the film

Fast Color
(Now on Digital; on Blu-ray July 16)

If you’d like a break from the standard superhero cinema that takes up most movie theaters, you might want to check out Fast Color. A slow-burning, quiet film that would make a great double-feature with Midnight SpecialFast Color comes from director Julia Hart, and at times feels very close to greatness. It doesn’t quite get there – the film is far too slow for its own good. Thankfully, it has the talented Gugu Mbatha-Raw in the lead as Ruth, a woman with powerful abilities. We learn that Ruth comes from an entire family of women who all have their own superpowers (for lack of a better word). But Ruth has evil government agents (are there any other kind?) on her trail, and she’ll need to learn to harness and control her powers if she wants save the day. Fast Color features some stunning moments, and I’m always interested in films that attempt to subvert the norm. Superhero films have become the norm at this point, and Fast Color is taking an “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach by making a unique, introspective superhero movie. I wish the script were just slightly more engaging – the film is too introspective at times – but I appreciate what Julia Hart and company were going for here.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

While I’m not as enamored with Fast Color as some of my colleagues, I’d very much like for there to be more movies like this. That is, quiet indie movies that dare to take some risks. Movies that aren’t part of big franchises, or tentpoles. Something different, in other words. And the only way producers will dare to keep making movies like this is if they make money. Fast Color was by no means a blockbuster, so it would be nice for home video audiences to discover the film and give it a new lease on life. The result could be even more risky films like this – films that are willing to stray from the norm. Those films might not always be successful, but damn it, we need them. On top of all that, the Blu-ray transfer looks stunning. The blue and purple color scheme that dominates the film pops crisp and clean, making Fast Color a visually appealing experience.

Special Features Include: 

  •  Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Julia Hart and Writer-Producer Jordan Horowitz
  • “A Mother’s Power: Making Fast Color” Featurette

 

 

Silent Hill

Video game movies have a very spotty track record. Silent Hill is mostly successful, however. Mostly. This 2006 adaptation from director Christophe Gans gets by on some incredible atmosphere, and some genuinely disturbing and scary imagery. The plot, which involves mom Radha Mitchell  taking her daughter (Jodelle Ferland) to a spooky abandoned town in a search for answers, is a muddled mess – and also not very original. There’s a ton of Hellraiser-mythology here, as well as ideas cherry-picked from half a dozen other horror titles. But there are times when Silent Hill is a rare, beautiful blend of art film and gore flick, combining a painters aesthetic with grisly nastiness. Most horror fans will be able to overlook the script flaws, and embrace everything else.

 

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

As is usually the case, the good folks at Scream Factory have put together a fine package, featuring a new HD master that looks great – even if some of the digital effects don’t quite hold up. There’s also an informative interview with director Christophe Gans where he discusses his artistic vision for the movie. It’s refreshing to hear Gans talk about this material in such a thoughtful way – he really took the making of this movie seriously, instead of thinking of it as just another video game adaptation.

Special Features Include: 

Disc One:

  • HD Master Approved By Director Christophe Gans
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Cinematographer Dan Laustsen
  • Theatrical Trailer

Disc Two:

  • NEW Interview With Director Christophe Gans
  • NEW A Tale Of Two Jodelles – An Interview With Actress Jodelle Ferland
  • NEW Dance Of The Pyramid – An Interview With Actor Roberto Campanella
  • NEW Interview With Makeup-Effects Artist Paul Jones
  • Path Of Darkness: The Making of Silent Hill – A Six-Part Documentary
  • The Making Of Silent Hill Vintage Featurette
  • On Set Interviews And Behind-The-Scenes Footage
  • Photo Galleries – Still Photos And Posters

 

The New York Ripper

This 1982 giallo from Lucio Fulci will leave you feeling both dirty and confused. There are plenty of sleazy, nasty, bright-red murders in this tale of a serial killer preying on “easy” women in New York. And then there’s the absolutely bonkers choice to have the killer quack and talk like a duck. I’m not kidding: the off-screen killer is frequently heard doing a Donald Duck impression as he attacks his victims, and there’s never a single point where it works. It’s so jarring, and confusing, that you have to wonder just what the hell was going on with the making of this film. Damned if I know. Fulci claims he was paying tribute to Alfred Hitchcock with this film – I’ll leave it up to you to decide how accurate that assessment it. The New York Ripper probably isn’t what you’d call an essential Fulci film, but it bears all of his trademarks, which means that for fans, it’s a must-have.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

God bless boutique outlets like Blue Underground. Not only do they dare to re-release films like The New York Ripper on Blu-ray, they give said Blu-ray a ton of bonus features, including an informative commentary track from author Troy Howarth. The soundtrack is also included on a separate disc, which is something of a treat. Again: this isn’t essential Fulci, but there’s so much love and care poured into this release that you’ll be won over. This release is also uncut and unedited, and features a 4K restoration from the original camera negative. It’s still grainy and grimy, and that’s all part of the charm. It’s almost like you’re watching this thing in some Times Square grindhouse back in the day.

Special Features Include: 

  • Audio Commentary with Troy Howarth, Author of Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films
  • The Art Of Killing – Interview with Co-Writer Dardano Sacchetti
  • Three Fingers Of Violence – Interview with Star Howard Ross
  • The Second Victim – Interview with Co-Star Cinzia de Ponti
  • The Broken Bottle Murder – Interview with Co-Star Zora Kerova
  • “I’m an Actress!” – 2009 Interview with Co-Star Zora Kerova
  • The Beauty Killer – Interview with Stephen Thrower, Author of Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci
  • Paint Me Blood Red – Interview with Poster Artist Enzo Sciotti
  • NYC Locations Then and Now
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Poster & Still Gallery
  • BONUS! THE NEW YORK RIPPER Original Motion Picture Soundtrack CD by Francesco De Masi
  • BONUS! Collectable Booklet with new essay by Travis Crawford
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