THIS WEEK’S THEATRICAL RELEASES:
Due this week are three remarkably uninspiring films:
In “Deliver Us From Evil,” New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana), struggling with his own personal issues, begins investigating a series of disturbing and inexplicable crimes, eventually joining forces with an unconventional priest (Edgar Ramirez), schooled in the rituals of exorcism, to combat the frightening and demonic possessions that are terrorizing their city. From Sony.
“Wish I Was Here” is Zach Braff’s light comedy about a struggling actor, father and husband, who at 35 is still trying to find his identity, and who courts chaos when he decides to home-school his two kids (ages 5 and 12). Stars Braff, ate Hudson, Josh Gad, Donald Faison, Pierce Gagnon, Joey King and Mandy Patinkin. From Universal.
“Life of Crime” is a misfired comedy, adapted from Elmore Leonard’s book “The Switch,” about a kidnapped wife whose wealthy husband doesn’t want to pay her ransom; when he uses the opportunity to take off with his sexy young mistress, the housewife decides it’s her turn to even the score. Stars Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins, Mark Boone Junior, Yasiin Bey, Isla Fisher, Will Forte and John Hawkes. From Lionsgate.
THIS WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS:
Shout! Factory and “Hellraiser” creator Clive Barker give us this week “Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut” (1990), a vivid leap into horror that asks the question: In the battle of man vs. monster, who’s really the monster? The original “Nightbreed,” written and directed by Barker from his 1988 novel “Cabal,” was released in 1990 by Morgan Creek Productions and 20th Century Fox and starred Craig Sheffer, Anne Bobby and David Cronenberg and centered on a tribe of monsters and outcasts known as the Nightbreed that hide from humanity. The film featured director Cronenberg in a tour-de-force performance as the evil psychotherapist Dr. Phillip K. Decker and Sheffer as Aaron Boone, a young man whom Decker sets up as a serial killer and who retreats to the world of the Nightbreeds (in the underworld city of Midian, beneath a cemetery in northern Alberta, Canada) to live among the monsters. Danny Elfman, who had just scored Tim Burton’s “Batman” and was about to score Warren Beatty’s “Dick Tracy,” created a beautifully eerie score using children’s voices, ethnic drums and instruments, and an orchestra. However, the studio wanted a typical “slasher” film and edited the film extensively: new scenes were shot to change the theme of the film and make the monsters and not the humans the evil beings, and several scenes were excised or rearranged — much to Barker’s disappointment. This original “Director’s Cut” — which jettisons 20 minutes of footage shot by Morgan Creek and adds 40 minutes of original excised footage — has been considered a “lost” holy grail to horror fanatics for years. Through the help of Barker, Seraphim Films and Morgan Creek Productions, Scream! Factory is finally bringing this uncut version to light.
I was anxiously awaiting the release of “Nightbreed” and while Barker’s vision is impressive — and the variety and sensuality of the imaginative-looking “monsters” is outstanding — I was sorely disappointed with the weak acting by the two leads; some very inane, un-realistic and cliche-ridden dialogue; and some cheesy and unbelievable plot developments. In particular, the movie takes a right-turn into farce when the police and locals mount an attack on the Midian stronghold. The highlights: Cronenberg, Elfman’s score, great production values and special effects and, as I mentioned, the fabulous monsters.
“Nightbreed” will be available in two versions: A 5,000 unit Limited-Edition three-Disc Blu-ray set and a Special Edition DVD & Blu-ray Combo. Limited Edition Set: Disc 1: Unrated director’s cut of the film on Blu-ray; Disc 2: The 1990 R-rated theatrical version of the film on Blu-ray; Disc 3: Exclusive-to-this-set bonus Blu-ray disc packed with extras; collector’s book with an essay and rare photos; slipcase includes newly designed artwork approved by Clive Barker; $79.97. Special Edition Set: Disc 1: Unrated director’s cut of the film on Blu-ray plus bonus features (Introduction by Barker and restoration producer Mark Alan Miller; commentary by Barker and Miller; “Tribes of the Moon: The Making of Nightbreed,” an hour-long featurette; “Making Monsters,” interviews with makeup effects artists Bob Keen, Martin Mercer and Paul Jones; “Fire! Fights! Stunts! 2nd Unit Shooting” interview with Andy Armstrong; original theatrical trailer); Disc 2: Unrated director’s cut of the film on DVD; slipcase includes artwork approved by Clive Barker; $29.93. From Shout! Factory.
For more very creepy goings-on, check out “The Vanishing” (1988), one of the most unbearably suspenseful and ultimately horrifying films of the past several decades. The plot: A young man embarks on an obsessive search for his girlfriend, who mysteriously disappeared while the couple were taking a sunny vacation trip. His three-year investigation draws the attention of her abductor, a mild-mannered professor with a diabolically clinical mind, who lures the young man into his web. An unorthodox love story and a truly unsettling thriller, Dutch filmmaker George Sluizer’s “The Vanishing” unfolds with meticulous intensity, leading to an unforgettable finale that has unnerved audiences around the world. In a new 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection. Also from Criterion comes “The Complete Jacques Tati” a 12-disc DVD set and seven-disc Blu-ray set with the director’s six hilarious features — “Jour de fete,” “Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday,” “Mon oncle,” “PlayTime,” “Trafic” and “Parade — along with seven delightful Tati-related short films. Though he made only a handful of films, director, writer, and actor Tati ranks among the most beloved of all cinematic geniuses. With a background in music hall and mime performance, Tati steadily built an ever more ambitious movie career that ultimately raised sight-gag comedy to the level of high art. In the surrogate character of the sweet and bumbling, eternally umbrella-toting and pipe-smoking Monsieur Hulot, Tati invented a charming symbol of humanity lost in a constantly modernizing modern age. $124.95.
“WKRP In Cincinnati” was a primetime comedy hit from 1978-82 that revolved around the antics and shenanigans among the eccentric staff of a struggling radio station in Cincinnati, Ohio, and starred Howard Hesseman, Loni Anderson, Tim Reid, Gary Sandy and Jan Smithers. Shout! Factory’s “WKRP In Cincinnati: The Complete Series” is a 13-disc set with all 90 episodes. Since the show used so much music, it had a complicated history of music rights restrictions. To make this the most comprehensive DVD release possible, Shout! Factory has done its best to include every scene uncut and with as much original music as possible, including tracks by artists such as The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC, Eric Clapton, Bob Marley, The Doors, Grateful Dead, Blondie, Tom Petty, The Cars, Elvis Costello, Marvin Gaye, Paul McCartney and Wings, Van Morrison, The Police, Otis Redding & more. On DVD, $139.99.