This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Evil Dead, 42, Bullet to the Head ...
This week: 'Evil Dead' returns from its ancient slumber, '42' fudges some of Jackie Robinson's legacy, and court is adjourned for 'Damages.'
► There will certainly be worse movies than EVIL DEAD this year, but probably none I despise more. The incessant ass-kissing to fans, the shameless hype (“the most terrifying film you will ever experience” … please), the endless assurances from director Fede Alvarez that he was making a respectful reboot of the original. Instead, the film is a stilted, uninvolving bummer lacking two key ingredients: A likeable (or at least memorable) cast, and a semblance of humor. (And that ending … ugh) Recall that the original was scary as hell but had several quirky moments to break the tension. Alvarez believes the gore is all that matters, and while what’s here is icky and effective, that stopped being the barometer for good horror when most of us turned 12. Such high hopes for this flick, but we should have known better.
► Oh, to get a proper Jackie Robinson movie one day. One that respects the man without piling on the bullshit for dramatic effect. 42 is so annoyingly earnest, it never hesitates fudging facts to get across what’s already obvious: Robinson was a game-changing figure in American history, do we really need to stretch the truth? At the end of his rookie season, the film tells us Robinson hit a home run against the Pirates to clinch the pennant, against a pitcher who beaned him in the head no less. Only … it was actually in the fourth inning, the Dodgers didn’t clinch anything that day, and the pitch hit him on the wrist. Hard to take serious a bio-pic this fast and loose with the facts. This story’s amazing enough – director Brian Helgeland should have just let history unfold as it happened. We already have ‘The Natural.’
► A whole lotta harping this year on the box office flops of Bruce Willis, Arny, and – with BULLET TO THE HEAD – Sylvester Stallone. To which I say: Check the calendar. Back in the ‘80s, when these guys ruled, were we lining up to see Robert Mitchum or Glenn Ford movies? They were the action stars of their time, but wisely knew when to hang it up. Not to say Stallone still can’t bring it in a low-brow revenge flick like this, but this is a senior citizen still making movies like ‘Footloose’ is the #1 song in America. It ended up being one of Sly’s all-time biggest flops – yes, even ‘Rhinestone’ made more 29 years ago.
► It all comes to end with the fifth and final season of DAMAGES, including the long-simmering feud between powerful attorney Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) and her one-time protégé Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne). They spar over the last ten episodes while dealing with the wrongful death of a cyberhacker (Ryan Phillippe). After it was cancelled by FX, the show got two more seasons on DirectTV to wrap everything up. Not quite the firecracker of a show it started out as, but Close’s Patty Hewes is a great character that’ll be missed.
► Made in Canada (woo hoo!), ORPHAN BLACK stars Tatiana Maslany as a woman who sees someone that looks exactly like her commit suicide in front of her. She assumes the dead woman’s identity, but soon learns a grim secret: She’s a clone, and there’s more like her out there. And someone’s trying to kill them all. One of those under-the-radar shows everyone’s raving about this year.
► Try as it might, HELL ON WHEELS just can’t crack the ‘cool kids’ club on AMC. Even so, this gets better ratings than both ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Mad men,’ so go figure. Season 2 finds former Confederate officer Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount) dealing with a new assortment of scumbags while helping build the country’s first transcontinental railroad. Season 3 starts Aug. 10, the night before ‘Breaking Bad’ returns.
► Just because we're in the golden age of television doesn't mean Cinemax can't go back to its raunchy roots with FEMME FATALES. Fondly recalling its 'Skinemax' days, this campy mix of pulp and sleaze offers a different heroine every episode, with stories ranging from ripe to ridiculous. Guest stars in Season 2 include Eric Roberts, Vivica A. Fox, Jeff Fahey and Jeffrey Combs. Back in the day, finding stuff like this on the dial late at night was like hitting the grade school jackpot.
► Boris Karloff gets top billing in the 1963 Italian horror anthology BLACK SABBATH (yes, the band took their name from this). In the creepy segment 'The Wurdalek,' he plays a man cursed to return from the dead and feed off his loved ones. In 'The Drop Water,' Jacqueline Pierreux is a nurse tormented by the ghost of the woman whose ring she stole off her body, and in 'The Telephone,' Michele Mercier is a call girl who gets a call from the pimp she helped put in prison, vowing to kill her. This is the gorier and more risqué Italian version (the lesbian subplot in 'The Telephone' is intact), and it's essential viewing for horror buffs.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!