This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Pieta, Graceland, Mystery Science Theater 3000 …

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

This week: South Korean debauchery with 'Pieta,' Mystery Science Theater brings the snark with Vol. 27, and revisiting an early Ang Lee masterpiece.

► In South Korean director Kim Ki-Duk's PIETA, a sicko hitman who relishes roughing up non-payers gets a change of heart when he meets a woman who claims to be his mother. Of course, that doesn't stop weird shit from happening: "I came out of here?," he asks with his hand in her crotch. "Can I go back in?" Lots of awards in Korea and the top film (Golden Lion) at last year's Venice International Film Festival. Blu-ray extras include director's commentary and interviews with the cast.

► Drafthouse Films serves up more bad-assery with Ron Morales’ GRACELAND. A chauffeur (Arnold Reyes) to a corrupt Filipino politician is ambushed during a kidnapping attempt, and amongst the confusion his own daughter is taken. Extras galore include director commentary, deleted scenes and an alternate ending. You know Drafthouse doesn’t release a flick unless it has already killed during screenings.

► Plucked from Britain’s list of best unproduced scripts, WELCOME TO THE PUNCH has Mark Strong as a criminal so wily, his last robbery left a detective (James McAvoy) a head case. But when the crook’s son is placed in hospital after a failed heist, he may get a second chance to nail him. A lot of wild detours follow.

► You can’t come up with a more dubious title for a horror movie than EXORCIST CHRONICLES, but this thing exists. With people getting possessed at “an alarming rate” (as opposed to an acceptable rate), The Vatican sends a task force to a demon hot zone known as Dead Man’s Land, where they try to discover the source. Good vs. Evil ensues, with the Knights Templar at the center.

► Vol. 27 of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 goes way back with 1963’s ‘The Slime People’ from the first season, and 1961’s ’Rocket Attack U.S.A.’ from the second. The riffing isn’t quite as sharp in the first season, but things are clicking by Season 5’s gutbusting goof on ‘Village of the Giants’ (1965) and Season 8’s dissection of ‘The Deadly Mantis’ (1958). All have their moments, but the gang’s glee in ripping apart the abysmal ‘Rocket Attack U.S.A.’ is a work of art.

► I don’t care how many Oscars Ang Lee gets, I’ll always regard 1997’s THE ICE STORM as his masterpiece. His ability to scrape the human condition to the bone has rarely been more potent, as he targets the moral compass of a middle-class American family in the early ‘70s. With the sexual revolution in full swing, two neighboring families go through assorted meltdowns during Thanksgiving weekend. Great performances from Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver and Tobey Maguire here. Criterion blu-ray includes a new digital transfer, Lee commentary and deleted scenes.

► Adult Swim’s SUPERJAIL! is what you’d get if the writers from ‘Oz’ took a hit of acid before getting to work. Bizarre, psychedelic, and insanely violent, it’s set inside a prison built beneath a volcano where the Warden seems to control time and space in addition to the inmates. Season 3 has the prison going co-ed (it ends badly), experimenting with clones (ditto), and dealing with its first parolee in the charmingly-titled ‘Sticky Discharge.’ There will be a Season 4, eventually.

► Widely ignored upon its release in 1972, TOWER OF EVIL has gained some prestige through the years as one of the earliest slasher flicks. All the staples are there, including the biggie – have sex, get killed. Boobs and gore aplenty in this sleazy British gem from director Jim Donnelly, whose previous flick was the more well-known ‘The Valley of Gwangi.’

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