Check out our just-in titles, ranging from classics to new horror, Criterion to Vinegar Syndrome, and real-life inspirations to fictional wonders.
AFTER THE THIN MAN (1936) (WARNER ARCHIVE) (Blu-ray)
In this sequel to W.S. Van Dyke’s comedy Thin Man (1934), Nick Charles (William Powell) is at it again in his investigation of a murder that’s linked to the family of his wife, Nora (Myrna Loy). With James Stewart and Elissa Landi.
AGFA HORROR TRAILER SHOW (2020) (Blu-ray)
Vinegar Syndrome’s region-free release of American Genre Film Archive’s compilation of horror trailers.
THE ASCENT (1977) (CRITERION) (DVD and Blu-ray)
The final film made by Larisa Shepitko, whose filmmaking career was cut tragically short in 1979 when she died in a car crash while scouting locations for her upcoming project. Poetic and starkly beautiful, The Ascent was awarded the 1977 Berlin International Film Festival’s prestigious Golden Bear. The story follows two Soviet partisans who go on a mission to find food during some of the darkest days of WWII. Criterion has included several compelling extra features, including a 4K digital restoration; selected-scene commentary featuring film scholar Daniel Bird; a video introduction by Anton Klimov, son of director Shepitko and filmmaker Elem Klimov; two documentaries about Shepitko’s life and work; and a new Russian-to-English subtitle translation.
BATMAN: SOUL OF THE DRAGON (2021) (Blu-ray)
BLIND FURY (1989) (Blu-ray)
Rutger Hauer passed away in 2019, thirty years after playing a combat-skilled veteran in Blind Fury, but man did he gift us with some entertaining characters while he was here. In Blade Runner, Ladyhawke, The Hitcher… And let’s not forget about The 10th Kingdom (I’ll mention it again later), in which he plays a mysterious huntsman with a lethal magic bow.
BORN A CHAMPION (2021) (DVD)
BURIED ALIVE (1990) (Blu-ray)
THE CHANGIN’ TIMES OF IKE WHITE (2019) (DVD)
Ike White had impressive musical talent. He was also given a life sentence for murder when he was 19. While locked up, he made music, garnered the attention of big names in the business (think Stevie Wonder and Jimi Hendrix affiliates), and created the funky 1976-released album “Changin’ Times,” which was the first commercial album recorded inside a prison by an inmate. All this and the events that follow in White’s enigmatic life after the album’s release seem almost too incredible to be true, which is what makes this documentary by filmmaker Dan Vernon so fascinating.
CITIZENS OF THE WORLD (2019) (DVD)
COME PLAY (2020) (DVD)
Jacob Chase’s feature-length expansion of his 2017 short film offers uniquely modern scares and ideas in a tale about a bullied young boy (Azhy Robertson) who is further challenged with the arrival of a terrifying monster that manifests itself through electronic devices.
THE COURT JESTER (1955) (Blu-ray)
THE CURIOUS DR. HUMPP (1967) (Blu-ray)
DON’T PANIC (1987) (Blu-ray)
Directed by Rubén Galindo Jr., “the reigning king of gory Mexican horror,” Don’t Panic is an off-the-rails tribute to A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) that centers around a murderous demonic presence released by a ouija board. Vinegar Syndrome has included some great extras in this limited edition that’s now available for the first time on region-free Blu-ray, including a director commentary and interview.
DOOM PATROL: SEASON 2 (2020) (3 DISC) (DVD)
EDDY’S KINGDOM (2020) (DVD)
A bizarre and intriguing documentary about Eddy Haymour, an eccentric man whose obsession over a B.C. island he owned in the 1970s has led to extreme behavior on his part, from kidnapping and hostage-taking to threats and letter bombs. He’s still on a mission to get his island back.
FADE TO BLACK (1980) (Blu-ray)
FAMILY PORTRAITS: A TRILOGY OF AMERICA (2004) (Blu-ray)
“The most chilling portrait of the loss of humanity in the manicured lawns of Middle America ever made.” – LA Weekly
FATMAN (2020) (DVD and Blu-ray)
GOOD NEWS (1947) (WARNER ARCHIVE) (Blu-ray)
Comedy and music combine in this energetic college love story starring June Allyson and Peter Lawford. The feature directing debut of Charles Walters and screenwriting debut of Betty Comden and Adolph Gree.
IMPETIGORE (2019) (Blu-ray)
“Family can get under your skin.” After moving away to a city, Maya (Tara Basro) returns to her rural hometown when she learns that she may inherit family property, unaware of the dangers that await her. Rural horror is one of those genres that has so much potential, whether it’s looming among trees or hiding in dark timeworn structures, and Indonesian writer/director Joko Anwar’s Impetigore seizes that potential in interesting and horrifying ways. “Anwar seems to be at his best when he takes genre devices and uses them to explore and exploit Indonesia’s rich culture and history…he has reached back into the island nation’s pre-colonial history and traditions to create a unique experience that couldn’t have come from any other place on earth.” J Hurtado, Screen Anarchy
INFIDELITY (2019) (DVD)
JASPER MALL (2020) (DVD-R)
This one, which documents a year in the life of a dying shopping mall in Alabama, has me leaning in because I’ve always been fascinated by American malls even though I mostly haven’t been able to stand being in them since I hit adulthood. Their culturally reflective quality can be unnerving, but I still usually feel at least a twinge of nostalgia when I see a big arched entrance with neon lights just past the glass doors. As we barrel forward into the age of the internet, these once-bustling hubs of human cross-happenings are rapidly becoming obsolete – and now even more so with the pandemic, but this doc was filmed over the course of 2018. I think that was the same year I walked through the Northgate mall to get a burger. Except for the glowing red signs of the Game Stop and Red Robin, the interior was dark. Boards covered most of the windows and a pigeon was hanging out in the food court.
LOVE ON A LEASH (2011) (DVD)
There’s no talking around the fact that this movie about a woman’s relationship with a transforming man-dog is head-scratchingly weird. And bad. But as we all know, bad isn’t always a bad thing. The badness of this movie might be just what you’re looking for, as is true for the many people who write about their love of it online. And I must say, there’s something captivating about its audacious badness. Throughout my dive into Love on a Leash, I noticed several oddly specific cross-overs between it and The 10th Kingdom, a fairytale miniseries from 2000 (that I owned on VHS once): Both have magic water that speaks, lots of air sparkle effects, and a brazen inner-monologuing golden retriever named Prince who morphs into a man.
MINUTE BODIES: THE INTIMATE WORLD OF F. PERCY SMITH (2016) (DVD)
MY DARLING VIVIAN (2020) (DVD)
The songs of Johnny Cash were some of the first that I committed to memory growing up, but I wish I had known more about the people in his life who undoubtedly influenced him, held him when he was down, and were there with him in his quietest moments out of the spotlight. I imagine that knowledge would have filled in my appreciation for his music, and it certainly would have helped me develop an empathetic perspective on individuals attached to fame via the people they love rather than any direct choice of their own. I’m glad I can explore that now with biographical documentaries like My Darling Vivian, which focuses on the life of Vivian Liberto, Cash’s first wife, mother of his four daughters, and the inspiration behind his song “I Walk the Line.” Through interviews, abundant archival footage, letters, and photographs, the film tells the story of a woman who has so often either been painted in an inaccurate light (as she was in 2005’s award-winning film Walk the Line) or written out of biographical histories. In addition to I Walked the Line, Liberto’s posthumously published memoir which came out in 2007, this documentary helps to illuminate her moving story and create for us a fuller picture of the remarkable and resilient woman she was.
MYSTERY ROAD (2018) (2 DISKS) (DVD)
NASRIN (2020) (DVD)
Renowned human rights attorney and activist Nasrin Sotoudeh has spent her life fighting for the rights of children, women, and other individuals seeking freedom in Iran. In 2018, she was imprisoned and lashed for defending a group of women who removed their hijabs in public to protest Iran’s law that requires them to wear the headscarves. Even with health problems and constant push-back, she continues to work while she’s in prison. The footage for Nasrin was secretly captured and submitted by individuals who risked arrest to do so, which speaks to how high the stakes are when it comes to telling absolutely essential stories like Nasrin’s and those of the people she fights for.
PRINCESS OF THE ROW (2019) (DVD)
REBECKA MARTINSSON: SERIES 2 (2020) (2 DISKS) (DVD)
A moody, atmospheric Swedish crime series that follows the investigations of a sharp attorney among snowy landscapes and menacing forests.
ROOM FOR ONE MORE (1952) (WARNER ARCHIVE) (Blu-ray)
SHE DIES TOMORROW (2020) (DVD)
Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil), who shares a first name with director Amy Seimetz, wakes up convinced she’s going to die the next day. In a burst of contagious anxiety, she communicates her overwhelming concern to her friends, and they in turn start to believe they will meet the same premature fate. “Yes, it is remarkable that Amy Seimetz somehow managed to make something that accurately captures the feeling of life right now, given that she had no idea of the environment into which her film would be released. But what makes her picture so unnerving, so uncanny, so unforgettable isn’t its depiction of a viral phenomenon, which is momentary, but rather its all-encompassing, debilitating sense of finality, which is eternal. Things end — that’s what they do, the film suggests. The realization that they must is a truth that can itself destroy entire worlds and create terrifying new ones. She Dies Tomorrow is one of the scariest movies I’ve seen in a long time.” – Bilge Ebiri, Vulture
THE SHEPHERD OF THE HILLS (1941) (Blu-ray)
SILENT MADNESS (1984) (2 DISKS) (3D Blu-ray)
SNOWPIERCER: SEASON 1 (2020) (DVD and Blu-ray)
Based on the graphic novels and 2013 Bong Joon-ho film of the same title, the Snowpiercer series is off to a roaring start as it tackles class, injustice, and survival aboard a train that perpetually circles a frozen post-apocalyptic world. Some of my favorite actors to watch are involved, including Jennifer Connelly, Daveed Diggs (check out his film Blindspotting), and Sean Bean.
SWANS: WHERE DOES A BODY END? (2019) (DVD)
SYNCHRONIC (2020) (DVD and Blu-ray)
A time-bending sci-fi that revolves around two close friends, exceedingly strange accidents, and a designer drug. Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. Stars Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker) and Jamie Dornan (The Fall).
THE THEATRE BIZARRE (2011) (Blu-ray)
THE VENTURES: STARS ON GUITARS (2020) (DVD)
YOU: SEASON 2 (2019) (2 DISKS) (DVD)
I bet actor Penn Badgley hasn’t been able to comfortably say “Hey you” in any sort of normal real-life context since he started playing this show’s lead: a charming and obsessive stalker/abductor/murderer guy. Before You, Badgley was Gossip Girl’s shy and cute but ultimately stalkery “Lonely Boy” character, so I suppose taking a next-level creepy role was a logical progression for him.