July 2020

All right, we’ve got some interesting Blu-ray and 4K news for you today, but first...

Bill & Ted Face the Music is now officially available via multiple digital/streaming services. Amazon currently has it on their Prime Video service for a $19.99 rental and a $24.99 digital purchase, both in full 4K (click here for that).

The good news is that Rotten Tomatoes shows an 82% “fresh” score this afternoon, and word I’ve heard from friends who have seen it is that it’s a worthy and enjoyable sequel. And I would expect nothing less from Dean Parisot, the director of Galaxy Quest. So great news indeed.

Now then, our friends at Arrow Video have just announced their November slate of Blu-ray and 4K titles, and there are some good ones.

For the US, Canada, and the UK, they’ve got Lake Michigan Monster and Burst City coming to Blu-ray (on November 2 and 9, respectively). For the US and Canada only, they have Silent Running coming to Blu-ray on November 17. Then for the UK only, they have Abel Ferrera’s King of New York coming to Blu-ray and 4K on November 16, followed by David Cronenberg’s Crash on Blu-ray and 4K on November 30. [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents

All right, I’m busy working on a review of Studio Canal’s new 4K Ultra HD release of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, which is available now (click here). Note however the disc only has 2.0 audio. It’s a release that superfans of the film will certainly want, but for almost everyone else, the terrific Shout! Factory release is still going to be the preferred version (though sadly it’s essentially out of print). I hope to have the review up soon.

Meanwhile, Tim has posted reviews of another pair of 4K titles from our friends at Blue Underground and director Lucio Fulci, the horror/gaillo titles The House by the Cemetery (1981) and The New York Ripper (1982). Looks like both discs are worth your time, if you’re a fan of the filmmaker (though I will confess that graphic horror and gore isn’t really my thing).

In any case, if you’re wondering why we’ve blacked out the cover artwork (save for the title logos), it’s this: Google advertising routinely flags images that are sexually suggestive or violent. Not that either of these is especially bad, but it’s not a person that makes these decision, it’s an AI that tends to flag things randomly. When it does flag something, it turns off advertising and then it’s a whole stupid process of requesting a review. Given our limited resources, we really can’t waste time dealing with it. So there you go.

Yes, it turns out the Internet is just as stupid as everything else in 2020. [Read on here...]

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We have some new release news, announcements, and an interesting rumor to report on today. But first, we’ve got some new disc reviews here at The Bits for you, including...

Tim’s look at Terence Fisher’s 1962 Hammer Studios production of The Phantom of the Opera, available now as a new Collector’s Edition Blu-ray from our friends at Scream Factory. He’s also taken a look at John Harrison’s Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, also available on Collector’s Edition Blu-ray from Scream.

[Editor’s Note: While you’re listening to the audio commentary with Harrison and George Romero on that disc, know that I was in the booth as it was being recorded back in November of 2001. You can see my coverage of the day here on The Bits, complete with pictures. John’s become a friend over the years, and let me tell you, George was every bit as warm and lovely a human being as you’d hope. It makes me very happy to see this film and commentary get another appearance on disc for fans to rediscover.]

Not done yet with reviews... I’ve just posted my thoughts on David Twohy’s Pitch Black, soon to arrive on 4K Ultra HD from our friends at Arrow Video. The film really does benefit from both the new 4K scan of the original camera negative and the HDR grade, though the audio is the same 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix found on the previous Blu-ray. The disc is also loaded with extras, including nearly all the legacy content and new material too. It’s a worthy upgrade for fans. Note however that the title shipped without a slipcover due to a production problem. So if you happen to be surprised that your copy doesn’t have a slipcover, that’s why. [Read on here...]

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Well... it’s Friday. And thank goodness. I don’t know about you, but this week has been trying. On top of everything else, we’ve had 90 and 100 degree heat here in SoCal with like 80% humidity. Human beings weren’t designed for that kind of sticky.

I am working on my review of Pitch Black in 4K Ultra HD from Arrow Video. I hope to have it up soon, but at the very latest it will be up on Monday. There’s a lot of extras and I’m going back to look at the past Blu-ray and DVD versions to compare. I will say that the 4K remaster is beautiful and it really holds up. There’s tons of detail and the HDR grade is subtle but really adds to the film’s striking cinematography and overall look. The disc is also loaded—it appears that virtually everything from past releases as carried over, plus there’s new content too.

Meanwhile, we do have one new disc review here: Dennis has reviewed Sebastian Munoz’ The Price, new on Blu-ray from Artsploitation Films. You’ll find that here.

And I believe Tim is working his way through Arrow’s new Gamera: The Complete Collection Blu-ray set, which is a mighty beast. So he’ll have a look for you at that as well sometime soon. [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents

All right, we have a new update on the health of the home entertainment market from the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) for the first half of 2020. And the numbers are not entirely unexpected...

According to the DEG, total home entertainment spending (all categories) was up about 26% for the first half of 2020 (through the end of June) compared to the same period last year.

Total digital spending was up 36% during that period (the specific breakdown was +33% for electronic sales, +33% for VOD, and +37% for subscription streaming). That’s the good news.

The bad news—which by now should not be unexpected—is that packaged goods (read: discs) were down 17.2% in the first half of this year from the same period in 2019. Specifically, Q2 2020 was down 11.11% from Q2 2019, this after a 22.4% decline in Q1 2020 (as we reported here back in early July). [Read on here...]

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Okay, we’ve got some significant release and industry news to report today. But first, new disc reviews...

Tim has just posted a review of Pierre B. Reinhard’s Revenge of the Living Dead Girls (1987) on Blu-ray from Severin Films.

And Dennis has turned in his thoughts on Budd Boetticher’s World War II drama The Red Ball Express (1952), now available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.

Also, I’ve just gotten my hands on Arrow Video’s new Pitch Black 4K Ultra HD, so I’m going to have a review of that up by Friday.

But tomorrow is likely to be an interesting news day, as that’s when the industry’s mid-year numbers get released. So I’ll have more on that tomorrow afternoon. [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents

Today’s post is a quick one as I’m working hard to finish this review of Studio Canal UK’s version of Flash Gordon (1980) on 4K Ultra HD.

The set is spectacular. More on that soon.

Don’t forget, we posted our review of Arrow Video’s version of Flash Gordon (1980) in 4K Ultra HD on Friday.

Note that we also hope to have a review of Arrow’s new Pitch Black 4K Ultra HD sometime later this week as well, so be sure to watch for that.

In the meantime, we have more great 4K news for you today...

Our friends at Kino Lorber Studio Classics have just revealed that they’re going to be releasing Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) on 4K Ultra HD sometime in 2021, licensed from Focus Features—a great sign that more deep catalog Focus titles may be coming to the format as well. [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents

Afternoon, folks! Today’s update is a quick one, but we’ve got a couple good things for you.

First, Tim and I have completed a review of Arrow’s new Flash Gordon: Limited Edition in 4K Ultra HD. The new 20th anniversary restoration (licensed from Studio Canal) is fantastic. I’ve never seen the film looking better.

Arrow’s release is a 2 disc set with Flash Gordon in 4K on one disc and the Life After Flash documentary on the other. Studio Canal’s UK release is more elaborate and I’ll be working on a review of that over the weekend, so watch for that here at The Bits on Monday.

Meanwhile, Warner has finally made Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket official for release on 4K Ultra HD and Digital on 9/22. As was the case with 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining, the film has been remastered in 4K from the original 35mm camera negative under the supervision of Kubrick’s longtime personal assistant, Leon Vitali. The presentation will include HDR10 high dynamic range along with the existing English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents

Afternoon, folks!

Today’s post is a quick one, but we’ve got a couple good things for you. First, a couple title announcements...

Universal has announced a direct-to-video sequel to American Pie for release on DVD and Digital on 10/6: American Pie Presents: Girls’ Rules. Apparently, it’s on its way to Netflix as well.

Also, MVD Entertainment Group has set Seniors, A Documentary for DVD and VOD on 9/29.

Powerhouse Films and Indicator in the UK have their Samuel Fuller at Columbia: 1937-1961 Limited Edition box set on sale right now for just £34.50 in honor of Fuller’s birthday. It includes the films It Happened in Hollywood (1937), Adventure in Sahara (1938), Power of the Press (1943), Shockproof (1949), Scandal Sheet (1952), The Crimson Kimono (1959), and Underworlds USA (1961). [Read on here...]

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