June Blu-ray Releases
June 13, 2013
June is here and summer is just around the corner as I write this. That can only mean that it is time for my monthly column highlighting films debuting on the high definition video, Blu-ray. Now that school is out and schedules are less hectic, there is more time to seek out some new or forgotten cinematic gems. Here is a sampling of what you’ll find in the first month of summer.
First off, let’s take care of some of the recent theatrically released films headed for Blu-ray this month.
Mel Gibson in Mad Max
These include the Melissa McCarthy/Jason Bateman comedy hit, Identity Thief (**); the atrocious horror sequel, The Last Exorcism, Part 2 (No Stars); the mystery film, Stoker (Not Reviewed); the sketch comedy film from January, Movie 43 (* ½); the comedy 21 and Over (Not Reviewed); the live-action fairy tale adaptations, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (* ½) and Jack the Giant Slayer (** ½); the zombie romance Warm Bodies (**); the story of country singer Hank Williams’ final hours with Henry (of E.T.) Thomas in the lead role, The Last Ride (Not Reviewed); actor Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut Quartet (Not Reviewed); the prequel, Oz: The Great and Powerful (**); the latest Die Hard installment A Good Day to Die Hard (* ½); the suspense film The Call (** ½), and the failed comedy about dueling magicians, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (* ½).
Scream Factory/Shout Factory will be busy releasing special editions of several cult films whose licenses the company has acquired. These include a double feature of two of my 1970’s, drive in faves, Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry and Race for the Devil (both films ***); a special edition of director Tobe Hooper’s 1985 thriller of vampires in space Lifeforce (** ½) and the now-classic werewolf film, The Howling (*** ½). While we are on the subject of cult films, let it be duly noted that June will also see the release of both the 1973 horror film The House of Seven Corpses (**) and the fondly remembered 1980 UFO docudrama, Hangar 18 (** ½), starring Darren McGavin.
Several music themed Blu-rays being released in June worth mentioning include a remastered version of the 1965 Beatles feature Help (***); the 1980 concert film of Paul McCartney and Wings’ 1976 world tour Rockshow (** ½); and the recent Lifetime channel biopic of June Carter Cash, Ring of Fire (Not Reviewed), which stars singer Jewel in the lead role.
During the mid-1970s Universal Studios attempted to get audiences to line up for their films by utilizing a sound system they patented and referred to as Sensurround. Only a few films were made with the process, which claimed to make you feel as if you were thrust into the middle of the action by rattling you to the core. Two of these films, Midway (** ½) and Earthquake (** ½), will make their way to Blu-ray in June as well.
Criterion continues their trend of bringing critically adored films to the forefront with new transfers and mouth-watering extras. Their offerings in June include Ingmar Bergman’s classic 1957 meditation on death Wild Strawberries (***) and the nine hour and thirty minute, 1985 holocaust documentary Shoah (*** ½).
The Odd Couple, with Lemmon & Matthau
Lastly, I’ll mention several titles that don’t neatly fit into any other category listed above. These include Warner Brothers’ Mad Max Trilogy box set (all three films rated *** ½), containing brand new transfers of all of the films in the Mad Max canon; a limited edition release, via Twilight Time, of one of the great action films of the 1970s, the 1978 film, The Driver (*** ½); a 40th anniversary edition release of Enter the Dragon (***); director Peter Bogdanovich’s underrated 1975 look at the early days of Hollywood, At Long Last Love (***) and one of the greatest comedies of the 1960s, The Odd Couple (*** ½)
That’s it for this month. Hope you find something worth seeking out.
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