This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Expendables 2, Tarantino XX, Game of Thrones ...
This week: Stallone gets the band back together for Expendables 2; the total Tarantino on Blu-ray; and legendary bomb Heaven's Gate gets the deluxe treatment.
► With EXPENDABLES 2, Sylvester Stallone has found his Rat Pack franchise: Get some buddies together, film whatever shit they think is cool, worry about it later. It didn’t work the first time (the fan-love for that dismal movie is baffling), and it’s even more dead on arrival this time. Stallone adds Chuck Norris and Jean Claude Van Damme to the mix, then rarely has any of these icons together or doing anything noteworthy. More Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t help – after awhile, it’s just random machismo masquerading as a movie. We need more of this?
► Depending on how much you love your QT, TARANTINO XX may be worth it just for the five hours of new bonus stuff, including a critical discussion of his work and a retrospective on his career which pays tribute to the late Sally Menke. All seven of his movies are here, including the one most people thought he directed 20 years ago - 'True Romance.' Ten discs in total with a fantastic Ken Taylor cover and fold-out. Still, this would have been a great opportunity to finally release 'Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair.’
► If you're like me, the first time you saw a dragon egg in 'Game of Thrones' you declared "Me want!" Well, Christmas has come early – HBO's new Collector's Edition of GAME OF THRONES: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON includes a dragon egg paperweight that you'll stare at endlessly waiting to hatch. All of the special features from the previous Blu-ray return, along with the first episode of Season 2. So really, you're paying $80 for a dragon egg, which seems stupid only if you're a low-life Lannister. As for the show ... ya, I've heard it's pretty good.
► Criterion shows some love to one of Hollywood’s all-time bombs this week with Michael Cimino’s HEAVEN’S GATE. Back in 1980, its $44 million budget crippled United Artists, and the butchered version sent to theatres (chopped from four hours to two) made less than $3 million. Cimino’s career never recovered, but he took solace in seeing his original version of the film earn a glowing re-evaluation in recent years. This is the restored 216-minute edition, including new interviews with Cimino and Kris Kristofferson.
► Sony gave up on releasing DIFF'RENT STROKES on DVD after two seasons. But this year, Shout! Factory came to the rescue, releasing Season 3 in July and Season 4 this week. Good thing too, because now we can see what assholes Arnold and Willis really were. In Season 4 alone, Willis rigs a band audition for his girlfriend, goes on a demented joy ride, and nearly goes to jail after joining the wrong crowd (oh, the dramatic foreshadowing). Meanwhile, Arnold steals an expensive comic to join Gooch's gang, and helps get everyone out of the condo so Willis can nail his girlfriend (a 16-year-old Janet Jackson) for the first time. No wonder there was a Diff'rent Strokes Curse - these little freaks had it coming.
► Comparisons to 'This is Spinal Tap' have dogged HARDCORE LOGO from the day it was released 16 years ago. And while this Canadian classic has plenty of laughs, it also has a dark lining leading up to an unforgettable final scene. Director Bruce MacDonald, in a ballsy move at the time, cast Headstones singer Hugh Dillon as the self-loathing lead singer of a forgotten punk band who reunite for a disastrous tour of Canada. This version includes the lesser sequel. Stick to the fantastic original, which also offers an early stand-out performance from Callum Keith Rennie.
► When Japanese monster movies were all the rage in the '60s, esteemed studio Shochiko - known mainly for their classy dramas - dove right in to hopefully find their own Godzilla. Instead, they gave us 'The X From Outer Space,' which we've all come to know and love as the Giant Chicken Monster Movie. It's included in Volume 37 of Criterion's Eclipse Series, WHEN HORROR CAME TO SCHOCHIKU, along with 'Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell,' the eerie 'The Living Skeleton,' and the doomsday flick 'Genocide.'
► British director Pete Walker made his mark in the '70s, but isn't as fondly remembered as contemporaries like Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper. Still, THE PETE WALKER COLLECTION shows him getting a head start on the slasher genre with his crude mix of horror and sexsploitation. Included is 'Die Screaming, Marianne' (1971), 'House of Whipcord' (1974), 'The Comeback' (1978), and closest thing he ever made to a classic, 1976's 'Schizo' with a young Lynne Frederick. All four flicks are remastered and making their Blu-ray debut.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!