This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Cannibal Holocaust, The Unknown Known
This week: Summer's here and pickings are slim this week, so why not gather the family for some 'Cannibal Holocaust'? The demented classic comes to blu-ray and 34 years later it's still hard to stomach.
► The notorious CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST comes to blu-ray in a three-disc set that includes commentary by director Ruggero Deodato and liner notes by Eli Roth, whose upcoming ‘The Green Inferno’ was heavily inspired by this sick classic. This is the granddaddy of ‘found footage’ movies, following a group of documentary filmmakers as they integrate themselves with tribes of South American flesheaters. It’s plenty gruesome, the worst being the vile scenes of animals actually being killed – truly sickening images I can never watch again (the previous DVD release had an option where you could skip those scenes). Hugely influential and surprisingly well-made. The reaction to this film in 1980 was legendary – because Deodato made his cast sign waivers not to appear in other media (to promote the idea they were actually murdered), the film was confiscated and he was charged with murder.
► Documentary filmmaker Errol Morris, who won an Oscar for 2003’s ‘The Fog of War,’ turns his attention to Donald Rumsfeld for the intriguing THE UNKNOWN KNOWN. As U.S. Secretary of Defense, Rumsfeld may have been the second most hated man of the Bush administration (besides Bush himself), but even viewed through a veil of contempt it’s fascinating hearing him rationalize and explain why he did what he did – pushing for Iraq to be invaded on flimsy grounds. Won’t make you hate him less, but it’s always worthwhile to see the man inside the monster.
► SyFy just seemed to drop HELIX onto the schedule out of nowhere, even with ‘Battlestar Galactica’s Ronald Moore on board as executive producer. All the better to start it cold and be pleasantly surprised. When researchers investigate a viral outbreak at a research facility in the Arctic, they discover a disease which has two possible results – quick death, or violent carriers looking to spread it further. Of course, things aren’t what they seem and there’s plenty of back story to fill in the gaps. Billy Campbell plays the lead investigator trying to figure it out. Season 2 is coming next winter.
► A big favorite at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, the Canadian-made AFFLICTED finds two friends who decide to document their travels for a web series. After one of them takes home a woman for the night, he wakes up with freakish strength and a craving for raw animal flesh. If you can get past yet another found footage horror flick, this one’s like a horror version of ‘Chronicle.’
► Andrew Davis’ 1983 slasher flick THE FINAL TERROR is one of the ultimate ‘before they were famous’ movies of the ‘80s. Besides Davis himself, who would go on to direct ‘The Fugitive,’ it has Daryl Hannah, Adrian Zmed, Rachel Ward and Joe Pantoliano among a group of campers hunted by a disguised killer in the forests. Filmed in 1981, not released for two years (trying to capitalize on ‘Splash’). Hardly among the slasher elite, but some inventive scares by Davis. Scream Factory blu-ray includes Davis commentary and cast interviews.
► A geek wins the porno lottery and gets to have sex with an adult film star after winning a contest in LUCKY BASTARD. Naturally, he blows his wad early, then freaks about the footage being released over the internet. Back to the studio he goes to dish some payback. Betsy Rue plays the porn star, to the delight of ‘My Bloody Valentine’ fans.
► Want to start a war? List the best episodes of THE TWILIGHT ZONE and watch the sparks fly among fans. This 55th anniversary collection includes plenty of essential episodes, but that’s like releasing a Rolling Stones ‘best of’ with just ten songs – greatness will be excluded. What’s here is phenomenal, though: Time Enough At Last, The Invaders, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet and 14 other classics. It’s truly some of the best sci-fi TV ever made, but the season-by-season boxed sets are still the way to go. There’s gold this collection doesn’t even hint at.
► I’ll always love the smart and terrific BRING IT ON if only for the immortal line “Cheerleaders are dancers who have gone retarded,” and for introducing “jazz hands” into our dialect. Back when Kirsten Dunst was kind of a big deal (2000), she stars as a cheerleading squad captain who discovers their killer routine was stolen from a hip-hop squad across town, forcing her to whip up something new before a national competition. A really fun and surprising comedy at the time, which of course led to lame sequels. Also: Eliza Dushku in her prime.
Also out this week:
Be sure to check out what's new on Netflix streaming for the month of July in our new video column below!
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!