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This Week on Blu-ray: September 4 - 11

Posted September 2, 2012 10:09 AM by Josh Katz

Show all Blu-ray releases this week

This week sees the Blu-ray release for one of the screen's most enduring cult classics: Re-Animator. Based on a story from author H.P. Lovecraft, this horror film takes a graphically perverse look at twisted medical student Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) and his attempts to bring the dead back to life. What really sets Re-Animator apart, however, isn't the gore (though it is plentiful) but rather the picture's irreverent sense of humor, a staple of director Stuart Gordon, who also brought the same blackly comic tone to From Beyond and Stuck. Credit must also go to Combs, whose fastidiously proper energy made Herbert West an unlikely horror icon.

Re-Animator is still a splatter film; it's just a frighteningly accomplished one that prompted Michael Reuben to write, "if Re-Animator were just an exceptionally gory film (which it is), it wouldn't have nearly the reputation it does. Director Stuart Gordon's debut feature shattered all conventions when it came to showing disgusting imagery, but there's been plenty more splatter where that came from, and very little has had Re-Animator's staying power...As a good theater director, Gordon insisted on rehearsing his cast for several weeks before production began, an almost unheard-of luxury in modern filmmaking. By the time the company arrived on their dilapidated set, everyone knew what story they were telling. They were ready to make the gore count for something. As Gordon says in his commentary, actors are 'the best special effect there is.'"

Another cult favorite is A New Leaf, which comes to Blu-ray courtesy of Olive Films. The directorial debut of comedienne Elaine May, the picture ranks as one of the most cynical "romantic" comedies ever made; it stars the great Walter Matthau as feckless playboy Henry Graham, who is forced to marry a rich woman in order to maintain his decadent lifestyle. He settles on Henrietta Lowell (May), a daffy oddball whose beyond-eccentric demeanor would drive any husband insane....except that if Henry gets his way, Henrietta won't be around long enough to annoy him. May's film was the victim of some chaotic post-production maladies - the studio ultimately reedited it without May's input - yet it still remains inventively, wonderfully funny.

In his Blu-ray review, Jeffrey Kauffman praises A New Leaf, calling it "so charming so much of the time that it's easy to forgive some of its stumbles. Matthau is his usual winning (if curmudgeonly) self throughout the film, and while May might drive some viewers batty with her incredibly mannered performance, the two together make for a decidedly "odd couple" who are almost always a pleasure to watch...If May's writing outshines her direction, that's no wonder, as she was certainly one of the comic geniuses of her generation. A New Leaf isn't a perfect film, but it's gently humorous almost every step of the way and it also has a goofily manic energy that is quite unique in American comedy films of this era."

We end the week with two TV-on-Blu-ray titles. This week doesn't have the same variety of television releases that last week did, but some gems do arrive on Tuesday; most notable are Fringe: The Complete Fourth Season and Bored to Death: The Complete Third Season. Fringe's fourth season had to overcome a real challenge: the show's creative staff had to satisfy (Spoiler Alert) Season Three's twisty cliffhanger, which saw Joshua Jackson's Peter Bishop erased from time in order to unite two rival universes, and for the first half of Season Four, Fringe doesn't seem quite up to the challenge. The chemistry between the characters is off, and the uneasy tension between Earths One and Two isn't as dramatically propulsive as it should be. Yet the late-stage emergence of a classic Fringe villain galvanizes the second half, and the fourth season ultimately provides a satisfying lead-in to the fifth - and final - season.

The third season of Bored to Death proved to be the iconoclastic HBO comedy's last one, but the series could not have gone out on a stronger note. The daffy, unexpectedly touching relationship between best friends George Christopher (Ted Danson), Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman), and Ray Hueston (Zach Galifianakis) still gives Bored to Death its off-center energy, but Season Three also includes quirkier mystery plots for its heroes to unravel and an understated - but very real - sense of menace complicating their lives. Coupled alongside terrific New York City location footage and wonderful guest spots from the likes of John Hodgman, Oliver Platt, Isla Fisher, Casey Wilson, Mary Steenburgen, and Stacy Keach, Bored to Death appears primed to become a beloved "cancelled too soon" favorite.

Source: | Permalink | United States [Country settings]

News comments (19 comments)

  Sep 02, 2012
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Just Safe for me this week.
  Sep 02, 2012
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Zero point zero...

  Sep 02, 2012
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  Sep 02, 2012
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Fringe, Airport, Sleepwalkers and maybe Re-Animator for me.

Top reviewer
  Sep 03, 2012
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The Harry Potter Wizards set and the big Titanic on the 10th for me.

  Sep 03, 2012
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I might get Fringe sometime. I dunno, Season 4 was pretty dull.

  Sep 03, 2012
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Will get Sleepwalkers and 2 Broke Girls.
Snake in my Boots
  Sep 03, 2012
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Re-Animator. So excited.

  Sep 03, 2012
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Umberto D.
Darth Lover
  Sep 03, 2012
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They forgot about Titanic. How did they forget that?

  Sep 03, 2012
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safe will be my only by this week my pockets are still recovering from boardwalk empire season 2!

  Sep 03, 2012
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I'm going through and giving everyone's comment a 'plus', since others think it's a fun idea to only give a 'minus'. I plan to do this weekly in order to keep balance due to those who love to distribute negativity for no actual constructive purpose.

  Sep 03, 2012
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Just The Five Year Engagement for me this week. I got a lot last week and am awaiting my Big Bang Theory Season's 1-5 set from Amazon Uk. May pick up The Hand That Rocks The Cradle when it drops a little in price.

  Sep 04, 2012
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Re-animator. I wonder if best buy will have it in stock?

Top contributor
  Sep 04, 2012
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I can't believe they forgot about Titanic either. I've been trying to forget about that sh*tty movie since the day I saw it.
  Sep 04, 2012
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Titanic will be released on Sept. 10. It should have been included in the article. I have to wonder however at the person who writes the "This Week" item. He dates it from Tuesday to Tuesday rather than Tuesday to the following Monday. I guess he lives in a state with an eight day week.

  Sep 04, 2012
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Pretty dismal release week.
"I agree, eiknarf"
I know you do.

  Sep 06, 2012
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Just Airport (1970) for me - very much a product of its time and considered by many as the first indication of the idea for disaster genre blockbusters that followed soon after... this one with a "soap-opera" kind of approach - using Todd-AO 6-Track 70mm the reviews mention the clarity of visual and sound blu-ray transfer are amazing for a film of its vintage... SOLD!
  Sep 06, 2012
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Actually I'd trace the disaster movie in the sky craze back to John Wayne's High and The Mighty with its iconic whistling score. It predates Airport by about ten years or so. (When is it coming to blu?).

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