New Blu-ray Releases Us

In this week’s Blu-ray round-up, Jordan Peele’s latest horror masterpiece comes home. Along with that we have a gorgeous stoner comedy, two comedy classics, a horror-comedy showcase for Tom Atkins, and a neo-noir that’s sure to develop cult status sooner rather than later. These are the new Blu-ray releases you should check out this week.

Us

Jordan Peele‘s Us is cut from the same cloth as Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. That might sound hyperbolic, but I don’t say it lightly. I also don’t mean that the film’s story is similar to that of The Shining (although they do both involve families in peril). Rather, what’s happened here is that Peele has crafted a film as meticulously layered, and as utterly mysterious as Kubrick’s horror classic. Decades after The Shining opened, people still obsess over it. Hell, there was even an entire documentary – Room 237 – devoted to the often crazy theories and interpretations of Kubrick’s film. And I firmly believe Us will find itself treated the same way. Years from now, people will still be trying to pick this movie apart; to decipher its mysteries. People will go through this frame by frame, searching for the secrets Peele hid in the frames. In Us, the Wilson family – lead by Lupita Nyong’o‘s Adelaide and Winston Duke‘s Gabe – find themselves face to face…with themselves. Sort of. Strange, violent doppelgängers of them have come up from underground, and are wrecking havoc. Peele’s direction is beyond brilliant, blending horror and humor with ease. And Nyong’o gives what might be the best performance – scratch that, the best performances of the year. As Adelaide and her doppelgänger Red, Nyong’o creates two wholly unique, individual characters that feel fully realized. Nearly everything here works beautifully…until the end. Without giving away spoilers, I’ll say that Us comes incredibly close to being perfect, until one lengthy, exposition-heavy scene where Peele’s script attempts to explain all the craziness that’s been going on. It nearly sinks the film – but everything before it, and even the scenes after it, are too remarkable to forget.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

As I said above, Us is a film worthy of study. And what better way to go through this film frame by frame than by owning it on Blu-ray. There’s also over an hours worth of special features here, where Peele breaks down a hefty chunk of the movie’s symbology – the clothing characters where, the social commentary scenes are making, the references to other horror films being drawn on. I wish Peele had just gone all-in and done a full commentary here as he did with Get Out, because Us is a movie that begs for commentary. But there’s enough of the filmmaker’s featurettes to satisfy. In addition to that, you get to look behind-the-scenes to Peele’s process, and you also see Nyong’o staying in character as Red in between takes – it’s legitimately creepy.

Special Features Include: 

  • The Duality of US – Jordan Peele goes in-depth on some of the key themes and imagery in US – including Doppelgängers, Hands Across America, The Nutcracker dance scene, rabbits and the infamous 11:11 coincidence.
  • The Monsters Within US – Examine how the great cast were able to find their characters, whether they were playing one of the Wilsons or their sinister doppelgängers.
  • Tethered Together: Making US Twice – Making of a movie is hard. Making a movie where all the main cast play dual roles can be downright mind-bending. In this piece, filmmakers, cast, and crew discuss some of the technical challenges to making the film, as well as some of the design choices for the characters.
  • Redefining a Genre: Jordan Peele’s Brand of Horror – In the space of two films, Jordan Peele has set himself apart as an invaluable artistic voice. Hear cast and filmmakers highlight what makes him so unique, as well as Jordan’s own thoughts on his inspirations and the relationship between horror and comedy.
  • Becoming Red – Using behind-the-scenes footage from between takes, we take a closer look at Lupita Nyong’o’s intense and mesmerizing performance as “Red.”
  • Deleted Scenes
    • I Am Not Even Near You
    • Rabbit Season
    • That’s Badass
    • Driftwood
    • The P is Silent
    • I Wanna Go Home
  • We’re All Dying – Hilarious outtakes from the conversation between Winston Duke and Tim Heidecker on the beach.
  • As Above, So Below: Grand Pas de Deux – An extended version of the dance sequence from the film, cutting between adolescent Adelaide at her recital to Red in the Underpass.

 

 

The Beach Bum

There’s something special about films that make you want to crawl inside them. To somehow pull off a magic trick, step through the screen, and find yourself living within their flickering worlds. The Beach Bum is such a film. A hazy, lazy, hilarious shuffle of a film, Harmony Korine‘s stoner wonder finds Matthew McConaughey playing the role he was literally born to play. As constantly intoxicated poet Moondog, McConaughey drifts through this film like a benevolent sprite floating on cannabis smoke. There is a plot here – Moondog has to get his act together long enough to finish a book and earn some money. But that’s all secondary. The Beach Bum mostly ignores plot trappings to instead engross us in one ludicrous moment after another. The best involves Moondog teaming up with Captain Whack (Martin Lawrence), a dolphin tour captain who clearly doesn’t know much about dolphins. Through all of this, Korine’s direction is hoisted up by the jaw-dropping cinematography courtesy of Benoît Debie. Debie captures light from neon and gorgeous Florida sunsets, painting an inviting world in the process. Some may grow weary of The Beach Bum‘s laid back attitude, and wish the film would hurry the hell up. Me? I never wanted it to end.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

There’s not a single special feature on this Blu-ray release, and that bums me out, man. But it’s okay. While I’d love to have some extras, I’m also just happy to own this film in its beautifully rendered form. A 4K release might be ideal, but the regular Blu-ray looks gorgeous. The Beach Bum is such a funny, hypnotic experience that it’s the exact type of movie you’re going to want to revisit, again and again, possibly while under the influence of some sort of substance. But even if you watch this film stone-cold sober (as I did), you’re bound to fall in love, and want the option of returning to this world whenever the mood strikes you.

Special Features Include: 

None!

 

 

Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2 4K

There was a brief period, after the unnecessarily toxic reaction to the perfectly entertaining 2016 Ghostbusters reboot, where I felt almost embarrassed to admit I was a Ghostbusters fan. The “fans” of the series had reacted so batshit crazy about the reboot that I wanted to distance myself from that world entirely. Now that time has passed, I revisited the two original films, courtesy of Sony’s great new 4K steelbook release. I’m glad I did. These films still hold up. They’re funny, they’re creepy, they contain a whole slew of delightful performances. And yes, I’m lumping Ghostbusters 2 in there. In the years since its release, Ghostbusters 2 has garnered a bad reputation – even some of the cast members have expressed displeasure with it. But I find it to be charming. Is it as good as the original? No. But it has some wonderful ideas. I particularly love the way Ghostbusters 2 takes time to show the Ghostbusters outside of work – something the first film ignores. We get the sense these characters have real lives – they do normal, every-day stuff when not busting ghosts. It’s charming, and I was happy to return to the worlds of these films. Worlds where very sarcastic scientists run around chasing big, rubbery ghosts.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

This 4K steelbook is, without question, the definitive way to own Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2. The picture quality, with the film grain still beautifully visible, is on point. Even better is the sound, with sound effects and music popping in ways I’ve never noticed before – and I’ve seen both of these movies dozens and dozens of times. In addition to that, this release provides some rare features, including deleted scenes that have never been released before. In other words, even if you’re like me and know these two movies by heart, there is material included here that will be brand new.

Special Features Include: 

GHOSTBUSTERS

  • Fan Commentary featuring Troy Benjamin and Chris Stewart (Interdimensional Crossrip podcast), Ashley Victoria Robinson (Geek History Lesson podcast) and Sean Bishop (Ghostbusters prop replica expert), moderated by Ghost Corps’ Eric Reich
  • 6 Rare & Newly Unearthed Deleted Scenes, including the long-requested Fort Detmerring scenes!
    • Also includes Raw Takes for the Central Park Bums sequence
  • 1984 ShoWest Exhibitor Reel, featuring Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd pitching an early reel of footage to theatrical exhibitors!
  • Full Ghostbusters TV Commercial from the film
  • Ghostbusters TV Commercial Outtakes
  • “A Moment With the Stars” – Original EPK Featurette
  • Original Domestic Teaser Trailer
  • Original Stereo Audio for the Feature (Blu-ray only)

GHOSTBUSTERS II

  • Commentary featuring Director Ivan Reitman, Star/Co-Writer Dan Aykroyd and Executive Producer Joe Medjuck
  • The Oprah Winfrey Show: Cast of Ghostbusters II” – June 1989
  • Full Ghostbusters II Theatrical EPK
  • Rare Unfinished Teaser Trailer – featuring the full commercial from the film!
  • Original Stereo Audio for the Feature (Blu-ray only)

 

 

Night of the Creeps

“Thrill me.” So says the constantly miserable Detective Ray Cameron, played to perfection by Tom Atkins and his mustache. He says it again, and again, almost like a mantra. And sure enough, Night of the Creeps writer-director Fred Dekker takes him up on the offer. This gloriously insane horror-comedy is set on a college campus, where alien slugs are turning people into murderous zombies. Dekker, who also directed The Monster Squad, knows just how to blend comedy and gross-out gore. It’s campy, and wildly entertaining. And tying it all together is Atkins, horror’s unlikely hero. Would any other genre make Tom Atkins, who always looks like he’s just pounded down four tall boys of Pabst Blue Ribbon, a leading man? I doubt it. And yet Atkins ruled the genre in the ’80s, an always-welcomed presence up against ghosts, ghouls and other nonsense. Night of the Creeps contains the best of Atkins’s boozy, surly performances, and you never, ever grow tired of his schtick here.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

How can you not want to own Night of the Creeps? As usual, the fine folks at Scream/Shout Factory have gone all-in, producing a release that includes both the theatrical cut and the director’s cut. There’s also a five-part documentary all about the making of the film. As is usually the case with the Scream Factory documentaries, this is a bit meandering, and some tighter editing would’ve gone a long way. But that doesn’t make it any less worthwhile. In addition to several other features, there’s one devoted entirely to Tom Fucking Atkins. A must-have.

Special Features Include: 

DISC ONE: THEATRICAL VERSION

  • Thrill Me!: The Making Of Night Of The Creeps – A Five-Part Documentary On The Making Of The Film Featuring Interviews With Writer/Director Fred Dekker, Actors Tom Atkins, Jason Lively, Steve Marshall, Jill Whitlow, Producer Charles Gordon, And More
  • Tom Atkins: Man Of Action – A Look At The Actor’s Career
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Theatrical Trailer

DISC TWO: DIRECTOR’S CUT

  • NEW Horror’s Hallowed Grounds – A Look At The Film’s Locations Today With Host Sean Clark, Director Fred Dekker And Actor Jason Lively
  • NEW Real Good Plan – An Interview With Actor Jason Lively
  • NEW The Bradster – An Interview With Actor Alan Kayser
  • NEW I Vote For That One – An Interview With Actor Ken Heron
  • NEW Worst Coroner Ever – An Interview With Actor Vic Polizos
  • NEW Answering The Door – An Interview With Actress Suzanne Snyder
  • NEW Final Cut – An Interview With Editor Michael N. Knue
  • Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Fred Dekker
  • Audio Commentary With Actors Tom Atkins, Jason Lively, Steve Marshall And Jill Whitlow

 

 

Under the Silver Lake

Back in 2016, A24 bought the U.S. distribution rights to Under the Silver Lake, a new film from It Follows director David Robert Mitchell. The movie would eventually premiere at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. After that, A24 had no idea what the hell to do with it. The indie distributor kept shuffling the film’s release date around, eventually giving it a small, uneventful theatrical run in April 2019. Now, it comes home to Blu-ray. So what’s the deal? Is Under the Silver Lake an unmitigated disaster? Or a lost treasure? The answer lies somewhere in between. Yes, the film is wildly self-indulgent, and probably a half-hour too long. And yet, Mitchell is so committed to trying something wild and new here that you have to appreciate it. Many have compared Silver Lake to the cult film Southland Tales, and while it’s not as crazy as that Richard Kelly movie, it definitely shares some of its qualities. Andrew Garfield plays a shiftless, violent weirdo who becomes obsessed with trying to find his missing neighbor, a mysterious beauty played by Riley Keough. What follows is a bonkers neo-noir about secret underground worlds, symbology, conspiracy theories, and more – all set against the backdrop of sunny Los Angeles. The end result is an often stunning film that may drag from time to time, but never grows boring or stale.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

Under the Silver Lake got shafted in theaters – it deserved more attention. I doubt it would’ve been much of a hit, but it would’ve been nice if it had been given a bit more of a noticeable release. Now that it’s on Blu-ray, the film is perfect for discovery. The dreamy, mysterious nature of the proceedings also makes Silver Lake the perfect film to revisit. I imagine you could watch this film multiple times, and always pick up on something new – and get something new from it, as well. Give it a shot – you won’t regret it.

Special Features Include: 

  • “What Lies Under the Silver Lake” Featurette
  • “Beautiful Specter” Featurette
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