The following article was written by my friend and colleague Alonso Duralde. You can learn more about him HERE.
What’s New on DVD/Blu-ray/4K in December: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Clue, Columbo, and More
NEW RELEASE WALL
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (The Criterion Collection): In recent years, we’ve seen filmmakers from Roberto Benigni to Robert Zemeckis try and fail to come up with a new spin on the classic Carlo Collodi puppet-who-becomes-a-boy story, but del Toro’s staggeringly original take finally emerges from the huge shadow of the beloved Disney adaptation. Working in stop-motion animation for the first time, the director brings his trademark sense of wonder and horror to the tale, and the results are unforgettable.
The Creator (20th Century/Disney): This rare non-IP science-fiction movie delivered on the visuals, even if the screenplay and performances didn’t always keep pace.
Dumb Money (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): This The Big Short–style comedy takes several angles to look at the pandemic phenomenon of everyday investors boosting the fortunes of GameStop when Wall Street speculators were preparing to feed on the company’s corpse.
The Exorcist: Believer (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment): Having worked his way through a revamp of John Carpenter’s Halloween, David Gordon Green sets his sights on another influential horror franchise.
Five Nights at Freddy’s (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment): One of the fall’s sleeper hits was this video-game adaptation, starring Josh Hutcherson as the night watchman at a long-closed and extremely creepy Chuck E. Cheese–esque pizza emporium.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (Lucasfilms/Disney): Harrison Ford takes one more lap as the legendary adventurer, well supported by a game Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
The Mandalorian: The Complete First Season / The Mandalorian: The Complete Second Season (Disney): The barrage of Star Wars and MCU series on Disney+ threaten to be too much of a good thing for fans, but this Jon Favreau effort is solidly entertaining and old-fashioned – and spawned the “Baby Yoda” phenomenon.
PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie (Paramount Home Entertainment): The popular kiddie franchise removes the stench of “copaganda” by turning the canine characters into superheroes.
The Persian Version (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Maryam Keshavarz’s autobiographical comedy captures her life as the daughter of Iranian immigrants but also poignantly tells her mother’s tumultuous story.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Madness (Paramount Home Entertainment): Studio animation is going to some uncharted places in a post–Spider-Verse universe, and this Seth Rogen–produced spin on the venerable franchise takes full advantage of those visual liberties.
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (Shout Studios): “Weird Al” turns his own biography into a parody, just as he’s done for decades with other people’s songs, and the results are bold and brilliant.
What Happens Later (Decal Bleecker): Rom-com royalty Meg Ryan works both sides of the camera as she directs and co-writes this tale of estranged lovers (played by Ryan and David Duchovny) stranded together in a snowbound airport.
Fremont (Music Box Films): You’ve heard of a message in a bottle – but a message in a fortune cookie? That’s the missive sent out by Donya (Anaita Wali Zada), a former Afghan translator for the military who now finds herself stagnating in small-town life. Babak Jalali’s acclaimed, black-and-white comedy offers a drily witty exploration of the universal desire to find a place in the world.
Story Ave (Kino Lorber): Luis Guzmán stars as an MTA conductor who becomes an unlikely mentor to a talented young artist (Asante Blackk) from the South Bronx looking for a better life.
Masaaki Yuasa: Five Films (GKIDS): This gorgeous new box set pays tribute to the anime innovator behind 2004’s provocative Mind Game, featured here alongside more recent critical and box-office hits from the animator, including Inu-Oh, Ride Your Wave, Lu over the Wall, and The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl. This collection features new art from Yuasa as well as a 60-page book celebrating his work and offering never-before-seen selections from his personal sketchbook.
Before, Now & Then (Film Movement): A woman in late-1960s Indonesia grapples with enjoying the material comforts of life with her wealthy second husband versus the intense personal and spiritual connection she feels for her deceased first spouse.
Never Too Late for Love (Icarus Films): Italian screen legend Stefania Sandrelli stars opposite filmmaker Gianni Di Gregorio in this comic romance about a professor who clashes with the locals when he moves into his family’s run-down country estate.
The Road Dance (Music Box Films): This Scottish import tells the sweeping love story of a village girl who falls in love with a poet just as WWI threatens to tear both their worlds apart.
The Wandering Earth II (Well Go USA International): Scientists strive to save the Earth from the sun’s deadly rays in this sequel to the Chinese box-office smash.
A Disturbance in the Force (Allied Vaughn): To understand the whys and wherefores of the legendary fiasco that is the Star Wars Holiday Special, one must dig into the status of George Lucas’ interstellar saga in the period before the release of The Empire Strikes Back, but one must also understand the landscape of 1970s television, specifically the variety show. This documentary (and Steve Kozak’s book of the same name) provides a fascinating glimpse as to how this singularly bizarre piece of entertainment was foisted upon an unsuspecting world.
Into the Weeds (Film Movement): Environmental activists take on the goliath that is Monsanto as they seek to prove that one of the world’s most popular weed-killers also causes cancer.
Mondo New York (Night Flight/MVD Rewind): Ann Magnuson, Lydia Lunch, and Joey Arias are among the legends featured in this provocative documentary about NYC’s legendary underground art scene of the 1980s.
Radical Wolfe (Kino Lorber): Examines the life of essential American novelist and New Journalist – and famously snappy dresser — Tom Wolfe.
Strange/Strange Too (Rhino): Available on DVD for the first time, this set celebrates the collaborations of Depeche Mode and director Anton Corbijn.
Subject (Greenwich Entertainment): What happens to people who participate in high-profile documentaries? Are they satisfied with how they were represented, and are they ready to have intimate moments of their lives shared with mass audiences? That’s the provocative topic of this film, which catches up with the subjects of films like Hoop Dreams, The Staircase, Capturing the Friedmans, Cameraperson, and more.
Shaw Brothers Classics, Volume 4 (Shout Studios): More classic martial-arts action from the studio that did it better than most. This 12-disc collection includes Rebel Intruders, Two Champions of Shaolin, Legend of the Fox, Black Lizard, House of Traps, Masked Avengers, Sword Stained with Royal Blood, Five Element Ninjas, Shaolin Prince, Shaolin Intruders, Holy Flame of the Martial World, and Opium & The Kung Fu Master.
Abigail (Dark Star Pictures): The teenage girl who’s new in town (in 1970s Alabama) helps her shy neighbor overcome his bullies, but she may have some dark secrets of her own.
The Blue Jean Monster (88 Films): A dead Hong Kong cop gets a shot at revenge against the bank robbers who killed him when he returns as a vampire.
Far from the Apple Tree (Redemption): A student begins cataloguing a notorious artist’s video footage, only to find clips of the artist’s daughter – who’s a dead ringer for the student.
The Fifth Thoracic Vertebra (IndiePix Films): A monster spawned from mold consumes its victims – bones, memories, emotions, and all – in this creepy creature-feature that won awards at festivals around the globe.
The Ghost Station (Well Go USA Entertainment): Urban legends inspired this South Korean thriller about the membrane between the living and the dead.
House of the Long Shadows (KL Studio Classics): Leave it to Cannon Films to assemble an all-star cast of horror legends – Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, John Carradine – and then pair them with Desi Arnaz, Jr., in this creepy comedy.
The Inspector Wears Skirts (88 Films): Jackie Chan and Raymond Chow produced this action-comedy, starring Sibelle Hu and Cynthia Rothrock in a tale of female police officers showing their mettle even as their male co-workers harass them.
Last Man Standing (Shout Studios): Bruce Willis plays a Depression-era gunman caught between rival organized-crime families in Walter Hill’s remake of Kurosawa’s Yojimbo.
The Long Arm of the Law I & II (88 Films): New 2K restorations of these two influential Hong Kong action thrillers.
The Lost (Ronin Flix): An early feature from the director of I Know Who Killed Me and All Cheerleaders Die, in a new 2K restoration.
The Man Who Wasn’t There (KL Studio Classics): This Steve Guttenberg comedy gets the full 3D treatment (as it did in theaters) for its first-ever Blu-ray release.
Pet Sematary: Bloodlines (Paramount Home Entertainment): This prequel to the Stephen King tale of terror provides some backstory to the town and its unique doggie burial grounds.
Savage Guns: Four Classic Westerns, Volume 3 (Arrow): This new compilation of spaghetti Westerns includes Four of the Apocalypse, Wrath of the Wind, El Puro, and I Want Him Dead.
Showdown at the Grand (Shout Studios): Terrence Howard plays a theater owner whose real life becomes an action movie when he assembles a ragtag team to fend off corporate developers.
Silver Bullet (Scream Factory): Stephen King takes a crack at the werewolf mythos with this 1985 fur-and-fangs sagam, now available in 4K.
Sinner: The Secret Diary of a Nymphomaniac (Kino Cult): Jess Franco mixes exploitation with Citizen Kane as a woman digs into the life of the deceased titular character in order to clear her husband’s name.
Suspect Zero (KL Studio Classics): Aaron Eckhart and Ben Kingsley star in this gripping psychological thriller from the director of Shadow of the Vampire.
The Terror/The Little Shop of Horrors (Film Masters): New restorations of two Roger Corman classics (the former celebrating its 60th anniversary) provide film fans a sharp presentation of these cult classics after years of crappy public-domain releases.
There’s Nothing Out There (Ronin Flix): This 1990 horror spoof gets a new two-disc Blu-ray release.
Clue (Shout Selects): This spoof of old-dark-house whodunnits, based on the popular board game, went from box-office flop during its original 1985 release to beloved and oft-quoted audience favorite. Only now, however, does this cult classic seem to be getting the respect it deserves in the home-video marketplace, with this first-ever 4K release that features a brand-new remaster as well as interviews with writer-director Jonathan Lynn and others. It’s a long-awaited release that’s hotter than the flames on the side of my face.
Avatar Collector’s Edition / Avatar: The Way of Water Collector’s Edition (both Disney) / Titanic (Paramount Home Entertainment): Were it any month but December, we could say it’s Christmas for James Cameron fans, with brand-new 4K releases of many of his major films (as well as a 4K limited edition collector’s box of his Oscar-winning Titanic) hitting shelves, with The Abyss, Aliens, and True Lies coming to physical-media 4K in the spring.
The Ballad of Little Jo (KL Studio Classics): Suzi Amis gives an unforgettable performance as woman living as a man in the Old West in this understated indie from Maggie Greenwald.
Blast of Silence (The Criterion Collection): This stylish, Christmas-set noir is a legendary American low-budget classic, getting the respect it deserves in this new Criterion release.
The Color Purple (Warner Bros Home Entertainment): With the musical making its way into theaters, what better time to appreciate a 4K reissue of Steven Spielberg’s poignant adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel?
The Conformist (Raro Video): This Blu-ray offers a new 4K restoration of the Bertolucci classic.
The Day of the Locust (Arrow Video): John Schlesinger’s adaptation of Nathanael West’s novel about Hollywood’s fringe players comes out in a new collection loaded with new commentaries and interviews.
Days of Heaven (The Criterion Collection): One of the most stunningly beautiful films ever made – Nestor Almendros’ golden-hued compositions would forever change cinematography – gets its first 4K release.
Elegant Beast (Radiance): This new 4K restoration of the 1962 Japanese satire includes new interviews, commentaries, and a video essay.
The Exiles (Milestone): One of the great Los Angeles movies (filmed in the much-changed Bunker Hill neighborhood) and a landmark of indigenous cinema, Kent Mackenizie’s indie classic comes to Blu-ray in an extras-packed release that includes four of the director’s short films.
Face/Off (KL Studio Classics): John Travolta and Nicolas Cage star in John Woo’s bonkers thrillride.
The Facts of Murder (Radiance): A robbery investigation turns into something far more complicated and far more sinister in this influential 1959 Italian crime drama, making its Blu-ray debut.
Goodbye, Dragon Inn (Metrograph Pictures): Tsai Ming-Liang’s look at the last night of a dying movie theater – that has become a furtive cruising area for gay men – ranks among the director’s masterpieces.
I… for Icarus (KL Studio Classics): Yves Montand stars in this chilling conspiracy thriller, featuring a score by the great Ennio Morricone.
JFK (Shout Studios): Oliver Stone’s assassination-investigation lollapalooza gets its first 4K release with this lavish four-disc set.
The Last Tycoon (KL Studio Classics): Robert De Niro and Elia Kazan team up to bring F. Scott Fitzgerald’s portrait of Hollywood (adapted by Harold Pinter) to the big screen.
Made in Hong Kong (Metrograph Pictures): Fruit Chan offers a gritty portrait of restless youth in post-Handover Hong Kong in this atmospheric 1991 film, newly restored to 4K.
The Man in the Iron Mask (Shout Select): The movie that finally toppled Titanic from its perch atop the box office after several months was another Leonardo DiCaprio movie, a swashbuckler based on the Alexandre Dumas novel.
Mille Millairds de Dollars (KL Studio Classics): Patrick Dewaere plays a journalist who uncovers a global conspiracy in this all-star international thriller.
The Monster Squad (KL Studio Classics): Wolfman does indeed have nards (now in 4K) in this beloved 1987 kid movie.
Oldboy (Decal Neon): On the heels of the 20th anniversary reissue of Park Chan-wook’s atmospheric creeper comes this 4K release.
OSS 117: The Pride of French Intelligence (Music Box Films): Before The Artist, Jean Dujardin and director Michel Hazanavicius collaborated on a pair of breezy Francophone spy spoofs, both included here.
Point Break (Shout Select): Whether you find Kathryn Bigelow’s surfin’ crime drama deep or absurd, it’s unquestionably entertaining, and now it’s out in 4K.
The Quatermass Experiment (KL Studio Classics): Also known as The Creeping Unknown, this British sci-fi thriller about astronauts bringing back something dangerous ranks among the UK’s greatest genre films of the post-war period.
The Red Balloon & Other Stories (The Criterion Collection): Albert Lamorisse’s tale of a boy and his balloon is one of a quintet of his whimsical yet lived-in films featured in this new collection.
Running Scared (KL Studio Classics): The 1980s were lousy with buddy-cop movies, but one of the very best was this pairing of Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines as two of Chicago’s finest. (Bonus: this is the movie that gave us Michael MacDonald’s “Sweet Freedom.”)
Stand by Me (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): A new steelbook 4K of Rob Reiner’s sentimental Stephen King adaptation.
Tokyo Pop (Kino Lorber): An indie comedy about an American outsider (Carrie Hamilton) in Japan, from the director of the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Valmont (KL Studio Classics): Milos Forman’s take on Les liaisons dangereuses has grown its fan base over the years, with many film lovers preferring it over Stephen Frears’ concurrent adaptation.
The Warriors (Arrow Video): A new 4K of Walter Hill’s updating of Greek tragedy, transposed to a very art-directed version of New York City gang life.
Young Guns (Lionsgate): The ultimate Brat Pack Western, reissued in 4K.
Columbo: The 1970s, Seasons 1-7 (KL Studio Classics): Peter Falk’s persistently inquisitive police detective became go-to comfort viewing for many Americans during the 2020 lockdown, and this new set highlights one of American TV’s most iconic and beloved series. This box set features a 4K remaster of the show’s first seven seasons (including early work from the likes of Steven Spielberg and Jonathan Demme) along with an episode guide booklet. Oh, and just one more thing – it also includes the original TV movie Prescription: Murder, as well as the show’s 1971 pilot “Ransom for a Dead Man.”
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet: The Official Restored Complete Series (MPI Entertainment): This landmark release includes 50 discs – that’s five-oh – with all 435 episodes of the legendary sitcom’s epic run from 1952 to 1966, along with hours of bonus footage, including Nelson family home movies, promo spots, and much more.
Battle Kaiju Series 02: Ultraman vs. Alien Baltan (Mill Creek Entertainment): More giant-monster action from Ultraman as he faces down another intergalactic foe.
Monk: The Complete Second Season (KL Studio Classics): New 4K remasters of the second season’s 16 episodes, along with character featurettes, profiles, and more.
The Questor Tapes (KL Studio Classics): Gene Roddenberry wrote this 1974 TV movie about a sentient, super-intelligent robot (Robert Foxworth) tracking down his elusive inventor.
Shaun the Sheep: The Complete Series (Shout Studios): This delightful seven-disc collection offers the complete adventures of everyone’s favorite wool-bearing farm animal.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Season Two (Paramount Home Entertainment): Featuring more than two hours of special features, this collection of the acclaimed Trek prequel series is also available in Blu-ray and 4K collector’s editions.