As we begin 2020, AndersonVision is still clearing up from the remodel and random remainders from the Holiday Gift Guide. What does that mean for you? Well, we’re going to be hauling ass to get through our last thoughts on 2019 releases before starting the Best of Lists and 2020 coverage.
Yes, that’s why The Grudge review is late.
January Stack of Movies
The Angry Birds Movie 2
The Angry Birds Movie 2 is something that I thought was a joke when first announced. Did the first movie really make enough money to warrant a sequel? The answer is that foreign markets loved kid movies based on cell phone games. Literally everyone and their mother has a role in it. So, the next time that comedian favorite tries to act edgy…see if they were in this movie. Then, ask them hard questions about the Hong Kong protestors on Twitter. They’ll love it.
The Blu-ray comes with an all-new mini movie, more with the hatchlings and a ton of special features. It’s enough to entertain the smallest of children for an afternoon.
Ad Astra irritated me so much that I watched it six times already. James Gray isn’t a Sci-Fi director, but he’s pretty good at making arthouse movies. Unfortunately, FOX/Disney isn’t in the business of making arthouse movies. Naturally, heads butt and attempts to tell a new kind of space movie happen. What results are lunar chases, Martian citizenship issues and Tommy Lee Jones angrily collecting a check in space. If you loved this movie, then defend it to me. You’re going to lose on Parasite, but stick up for this one.
Vice Squad is the kind of cult classic that I love seeing get a Shout/Scream/Sausage Factory release. The Gary Sherman filmography slowly makes its way to Blu-ray, but I’ll take what I can get when it hits. Shout/Scream has produced new special features including a new 4K scan of the transfer, new commentary, new interviews and a ton more! Plus, it’s the kind of film that will make Twitter scream about 1980s aesthetic while staring down World War III.
Overcomer caught my attention months back. Now, I spent a chunk of December re-watching the movie and trying to get a handle on it. The Blu-ray comes with a ton of exclusives to the Blu-ray. Lyric videos and looks at how they got some impressive shots for the film. While I wish that more people would check out the Kendrick Brothers’ movies, I get why they’re not connecting with outside audiences. Still, spend time with something different. Find your own Pile of Movies.
The Omen Collection
The Omen Collection is another one of those FOX to Shout port collections. As a collector of classic horror, it’s cool to have these studio releases packaged into 1080p so perfectly. I dig the new interviews, but I wish there was something new to hang your hat on. The Collector’s Box is neat and far more sturdy than the older FOX release. So go with that.
The Fly Collection
The Fly Collection is a structural port over from the massive DVD era release that FOX dropped on us ages ago. Now, we’re getting the older Fly sequels and the insanely good The Fly II in 1080p. You get new interviews on the special features, but the real treat is just having these movies in the HD era. Take a look at the Curse of the Fly and see the Hamster Man. I think that’s the sequel that has it. Oh well, Chris Walas deserves more love for the Brundlefly Jr. Still quite an effective release.
Big Trouble in Little China
Big Trouble in Little China finally gets a major release to Blu-ray. New commentaries, new interviews and all of the special features are brought over from the old release. I wish we got a remastered transfer, but the old Blu-ray release looks pretty amazing. Honestly, I thought about doing a full body retrospective on the film. But, which of you Zoomers got to time to listen to another love letter to John Carpenter?
The Anne Bancroft Collection
The Anne Bancroft Collection is one of those fun looks at an actor’s output. Warner Brothers was really great about releasing these sets in the DVD era. Now, Shout Factory is using their connections to reach out to MGM and others to put these together. You deserve a release like this. Hell, it’s one of your few chances to see Agnes of God and 84 Charing Cross Road in true HD. Everything else has had a release from Criterion, Olive and others. But, these are pretty awesome for a 2019 release.
Rock N Roll High School Steelbook
Rock N Roll High School is a personal favorite. Now, it’s getting a Steelbook from Shout Factory. That means nothing to me, but the collectors at Blu-ray.com act like it’s a big deal. The transfer seems new, but everything else is identical to the last release. Still, I love the hell out of it.
Chuck Berry Hail Hail Rock N Roll
Chuck Berry: Hail Hail Rock N Roll is a film that I used to watch all of the time on premium cable. It was directed by Taylor Hackford at the 80s height of beginning Boomer nostalgia. Sure, the music was great. But, the movie is shot with the passion of sneaking a camcorder into a free concert at a State Fair. Which is a shame, but what do you expect from an aging Chuck Berry and friends? I still enjoyed it, even if it didn’t age as well in my memory.
The Harder They Come
The Harder They Come gets a better release than what Criterion brought to the DVD generation. You’re getting both movies from Perry Henzell, as the longer delayed No Place Like Home gets a release. But, what matters more than anything is seeing this midnight movie classic with a stunning 4K scan. For a film that was shot in 16 mm, I never knew it could look this good.
Popstar Never Stop Stopping Steelbook
Popstar Never Stop Stopping gets a Steelbook release. Yeah? Honestly, between the cover art leak and the Mondo release of the Vinyl Soundtrack, I’ve been thinking about Popstar more than ever before. It’s cool that Universal is opening the coffers more to Shout Factory. I just hope that releases like this help loosen the grip on more classic horror. Bills need to be paid, but if you’re going to release a bigger cult classic, then give us something new to go along with it.
Rambo Last Blood 4K
Rambo gets a lot of love at AndersonVision. While many didn’t love this iteration, I felt torn. The version I saw had the opening that apparently only foreign markets got. I still don’t know why that got cut so late in the game, but here we are. As I move deeper into the January Pile of Movies, things kinda stand out to me. The Christmas season is getting a weirder blend of movies to appeal to an ever segmenting audience. The takeaway is that I hoped you guys like watching Old Man Rambo vs. the Cartels during the Holidays. That had to be fun.
Endless Love is the kind of movie that I could write a novella about at anytime. However, I’ve promised to reign things in going forward. If you want to watch the weirdest amount of youth fetishism that 1981 could provide this is your movie. Plus, you get to see young Tom Cruise before Mimi Rogers checked his Thetans. New interviews abound and you get the cleanest transfer I’ve ever seen this film have. If that wasn’t enough, you can tell that Shirley Knight is watching her daughter have teenage sex in the movie. Super creepy.
Quatermass and the Pit
Quatermass and the Pit proved one thing to me. Shout Factory should have been handling Hammer for years. My favorite thing about the January Stack of Movies is rediscovering old films that I love. Plus, the new commentary tracks and materials from the US cut make this quite a winner. If you dig this sort of thing, I’d recommend checking it out.
Spirited Away: Collector’s Edition
Spirited Away gets one of those new Collector’s Editions from Shout Factory and GKids. If the past 10 years has taught me anything, what Shout is doing here is nothing short of stunning to home entertainment collectors. The attention to packaging detail and supplementing special features that make watching a film more enjoyable should be learned by all studios. This is the only way I want to watch Spirited Away moving forward.
The Green Inferno
The Green Inferno is a cult classic about how much Eli Roth loves Italian cannibalism movies. The film has aged incredibly well and I’m still shocked it hasn’t inspired a ton of pale competitors. The Blu-ray comes with new interviews, but the bulk of material is ported over from the old Universal Blu-ray.
Snow Falling on Cedars
Snow Falling on Cedars has a brand new 4K transfer supervised by legendary cinematographer Robert Richardson. I love that Shout Factory is releasing the recent arthouse classics. I still remember when Scott Hicks was supposed to be the next big director in the 1990s. Then, time passed and Sam Mendes became a thing. Check it out.
This Island Earth
This Island Earth is far more famous for being the movie that MST3K chose to insult as a feature film. The Meta Luna Monster is a cool design and I’m glad the film is getting a little bit of respect here. The new 4K scan is so stunning that I think people are sleeping on it being one of the best looking Blus of 2019. Plus, you get new commentary, interviews and a ton more! You need to see this movie. Take that away from the January Stack of Movies.
The Blob (1988): Collector’s Edition
The Blob (1988) gets a non Twilight Time Blu-ray release from Shout Factory. The transfer is about the same, but you get a new audio commentary and interviews for this release. Plus, you get the special features from the TT release. The film still looks amazing for its age and I’m glad more people are getting a chance to see it in 1080p. Do you guys want me to do a comparative screen shot thing again? On any of the TT to Shout releases? Let me know!
Long Shot stuck around in my brain for a bit. Mainly because I love a film where Charlize Theron treats Seth Rogen for the schlubb he is in reality. I get that it’s still a romantic comedy, but out of those two…Theron is the alpha. The Blu-ray is quite loaded and Lionsgate saw fit to send me a little laptop privacy thing with my review copy. That’s cool, but I hate to tell you that my MacBook has seen the kind of horrors best saved for a Lovecraft novel. Check it out.
Hellboy didn’t get that great of a theatrical review at AndersonVision. However, repeated viewings of the 4K disc has inspired a slightly better take from me. You even get 4K exclusive special features. I dig the love that Lionsgate puts into their 4K releases. I just wish the film was a little more closer to the Mignola in terms of plot and a little more Del Toro in terms of cinematic play. Oh well, I’d still recommend it for the stunning 2160p transfer.
Ophelia is a film I’ve watched a few times in 2019. While it’s not one of my favorites of the year, I’m enjoying seeing what Daisy Ridley does outside of Star Wars. I love seeing films that play with established fiction. Lord knows Hamlet has been subject to that. Still, it’s nice seeing what lead to the end that ultimately cost her a chance at life. IFC and Shout have provided a substantial amount of special features.
Bliss is one of the most visually stunning films of the year. Murder, sex and high art swirl together into a muddy mix of violence and abject sexuality. At times, it almost feels like a vampire movie but goes somewhere else. Joe Begos has created a movie that makes me wants to see more of what he can do. Plus, Dora Madison has such a presence that I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. Quite the unsung gem of 2019.
Space 1999: The Complete Series
Space 1999 was never a show I was into as a kid. It only aired on deep cable channels in the middle of the night. However, I knew of the influence it had on Star Wars design. The Blu-ray set brings both seasons together and loads them down with special features. Still, it requires a certain patience that only comes with being a super fan of the show. If you’re curious about it, scan the internet for some clips before committing to the big set.