By Bryan Theiss
In this week’s new arrivals we have sharks, cannibals, volcanoes, vampire gunfighters, martial arts, chest-tattoo Shia, George Peppard times three, and much more.
This South Korean action/disaster/race-against-time movie finds the authorities trying to stop a volcano from erupting using a nuclear warhead, which they must steal from North Korea, and before they can do that they have to bust out an imprisoned defector played by Byung-Hun Lee (The Good the Bad the Weird, I Saw the Devil, The Magnificent Seven). In Korean with English subtitles or dubbed into English.
BEFORE THE FIRE (2020)
A TV star (Jenna Lyng Adams, The Kominisky Method, who also wrote the screenplay) returns to her rural home town to wait out a pandemic lockdown, but “an intruder from her past proves as dangerous as the encroaching virus.” So, much like our lives right now if we were all on hiatus from TV shows.
CRUEL JAWS (1995)
Italian director Bruno Mattei (Shocking Dark)’s infamous unauthorized Jaws sequel involves a 25-foot tiger shark threatening to ruin a Florida town’s amusement park annual Regatta. Borrowing footage from other movies and calling it Jaws 5 in some territories caused some copyright issues here. Severin’s special edition includes both the home video version and the extra violent Japanese cut, which they’ve dubbed “The Snyder Cut” since Mattei was credited under the pseudonym “William Snyder.” There’s also an interview with actor Jay Colligan and a study in sharksploitation with Rebekah McKendry of the Shock Waves and Nightmare University podcasts.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
CURSE OF THE UNDEAD (1959)
The first film to combine vampires with the old west stars Michael Pate (Hondo) as the bloodsucking gunslinger and Eric Fleming (Rawhide) as a preacher who tries to put a cross-mounted bullet in him. Directed by Edward Dein (Shack Out on 101). Includes a new commentary by film historian Tom Weaver.
THE DEAD ONES (2019)
Four outcast teens have to clean their high school as part of summer detention. Then they get locked in and hunted by weirdos disguised as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. From the director of The Attic Expeditions. Rob Hunter of Film School Rejects chose it as the best horror film of 2019 after seeing it at a film festival. He called it a “low budget morality play that boldly explores an extremely sensitive subject while still delivering the horror goods… It’s less about an eventual reveal than it is the self-revelatory journey getting there, and while it delivers thrilling visuals, bloody beats, and horrifying imagery its power rests in its frightening look into the mindset of angry youths.”
THE GROUNDSTAR CONSPIRACY (1972)
George Peppard stars as a government investigator who starts to question his own past while chasing the saboteur (Michael Sarrazin) responsible for blowing up a top secret research complex. Directed by Lamont Johnson (The McKenzie Break). With commentary by film historian Daniel Kremer and critic Scout Tafoya.
HOW ABOUT ADOLF? (2018)
A cozy dinner party goes off the rails when an expecting couple announce their plans to name the baby Adolf. This German social satire hit is a remake of the French film What’s in a Name? (Le Prenom).
I USED TO GO HERE (2020)
After publishing her first novel, a writer (Gillian Jacobs) is invited by her former professor and mentor (Jemaine Clement) to speak at her alma mater, and gets mixed up in the lives of a group of college students. Kate Erbland writes in Indiewire that “armed with her funniest material to date and a winning performance from Gillian Jacobs [writer/director Kris Rey] finds new dimensions for both her work and the millennial ennui that has always inspired it.”
THE INVINCIBLE DRAGON (2019)
A trigger-happy undercover cop is outsmarted by a serial killer, loses his job and goes back to fighting in this martial arts vehicle for Max Zhang, the break out star of Kill Zone 2, Ip Man 4, Master Z and The Brink. Apparently he fights MMA star Anderson Silva, but I don’t think Silva is playing the serial killer.
THE LOAD (2018)
A truck driver attempts to deliver a mysterious cargo from Kosovo to Belgrade during NATO’s 1999 bombing of Serbia. Matt Fagerholm of rogerebert.com gave it four stars and called it one of the best films of the year. Jessica Kiang of Variety writes, “It is in the very banality of this day in the life of a Serbian trucker that this impressive new filmmaker illuminates a painful truth that inculpates more of us than we’d like to believe: Ignorance of atrocity, whether it’s an effort of will like Vlada’s, or inadvertent like the younger generation’s, does not make you innocent of it.”
MASSACRE IN DINOSAUR VALLEY (1985)(UNCUT)
From the writer of The Beyond comes the ‘80s cannibal movie Video Graveyard calls “a weird cross between Romancing the Stone and Cannibal Ferox.” Reportedly there are no dinosaurs. Severin’s edition is an uncut 4K remaster and includes interviews with actor Michael Sopkiw and co-writer Dardano Sacchetti, plus a deleted and extended scenes reel.
NEWMAN’S LAW (1974)
George Peppard stars in a gritty ‘70s cop movie about an LAPD detective trying to clear his name after being framed by an international drug syndicate. With commentary by film historian Peter Tonguette and four radio spots.
NOVA: ANIMAL ESPIONAGE
Your pals at Nova take a look at how modern camera and drone technology helps scientists and wildlife managers understand animals that won’t let humans get close to them.
In this week’s third George Peppard vehicle he plays a private detective who gets framed for murder while working as a bodyguard to the mistress (Gayle Hunnicut) of a shady millionaire (Raymond Burr). With commentary by film historians Howard S. Berger and Steve Mitchell.
Martial arts star Barry Prima (The Warrior) stars in this Indonesian take on Italian cannibal movies from the makers of Satan’s Slave. In HD for the first time ever, and including interviews with producer Gore T. Samtani and screenwriter Imam Tantowi.
SAVE YOURSELVES! (2020)
Wouldn’t it be great to go rent a cabin with your significant other, stay off your phones and just unplug from the world? And wouldn’t it be just your luck that that would be when said world would be attacked by aliens? Sunita Mani (GLOW) and John Reynolds (Stranger Things) play a Brooklyn couple who encounter this dilemma. Kristen Yoonsoo Kim of The New York Times called it “a good example of how much fun you can have on a non-studio budget.”
THE SECRET GARDEN (2020)
The latest version of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved 1911 novel co-stars Colin Firth and Julie Walters and comes from Harry Potter and Paddington producer David Heyman. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Bob Strauss writes that though it “may veer too far from the book with its 1947 setting and visualized fantasy elements that previous versions just hinted at… it’s a bit pointless to worry about commercial touches damaging the story’s heart. The core concept, which links emotional and physical regeneration with the reappearance of beauty, is too robust for a few modern touches to do it any harm.” If you really want to go crazy you could also rent the 1949, 1975, 1987, 1993 and 2004 versions and 2002’s Back to the Secret Garden.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
SILENT WITNESS: SEASON 11
SILENT WITNESS: SEASON 12
SILENT WITNESS: SEASON 13
Yes, we got in three more seasons of the long-running BBC crime drama.
TALES FROM THE HOOD 3 (2020)
Hey, they made another one already? Writer/directors Rusty Cundieff and Darin Scott and executive producer Spike Lee return with another moralistic horror anthology full of killers, curses, slumlords and bigots. The cast is headed by horror legends Tony Todd and Lynn Whitfield.
THE TAX COLLECTOR (2020)
The latest from writer/director David Ayer (Sabotage, Fury, Suicide Squad) stars Bobby Soto (A Better Life) and Shia LaBeouf as enforcers for an L.A. gang. Many seem to have enjoyed LaBeouf’s performance, which was so dedicated it involved getting a full chest tattoo.
VALLEY GIRL (2020)
Yep, Marth Coolidge’s 1983 cult favorite has been remade. It still takes place in the ‘80s, but this time it’s a jukebox musical. It stars Jessica Rothe (who was so great in the Happy Death Day movies), Josh Whitehouse, Chloe Bennet, Mae Whitman and Judy Greer. Original stars Deborah Foreman and E.G. Daily make appearances. (DVD)
THE WONDERLAND (2019)
A shy girl named Akane meets the alchemist Hippocrates and his student Pipo, who brings her through a basement to a magical world. A new anime film from Miss Hokusai director Keiichi Hara. Includes an English dub as well as the original Japanese soundtrack with English subtitles.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
THE WORLD IS FULL OF SECRETS (2018)
In 1996, teenage girls at a sleepover tell each other the scariest stories they’ve ever heard. Carlos Aguilar of the Los Angeles Times called it “bare-bones in scale but enormous in effect… explores the intersection between the occult and mankind’s brutal cruelty in relation to women… grips us with its minimalist, calibrated and cerebral scare tactics.” With commentary by director Graham Swon.
Expected later this week:
STAR TREK: PICARD SEASON 1
After decades retired to his vineyard on earth, the iconic Star Trek: The Next Generation captain decides to recruit a ragtag crew for a personal mission to right his greatest failure. It’s mostly about the old man (80-year old Patrick Stewart playing 94) meeting and inspiring new people, but he also encounters some previous Trek characters, both major and minor, and his quest is grounded in his great respect for Commander Data (Brent Spiner), who sometimes appears to him in dreams. One way this differs from previous Star Trek shows is that it’s one large story told over ten episodes.
PIERROT LE FOU (1965) (CRITERION)
Criterion’s new edition of the John-Luc Godard anti consumerist satire features a new 2K digital restoration with archival extras from the 2007 edition including an interview with Anna Karina, video essay by Jean-Pierre Gorin, excerpts from 1965 interviews with Godard, Karina and Jean-Paul Belmondo, and the fifty-minute French documentary Godard, l’amour, la poésie.