Tremors (Limited Edition)

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

MVD/Arrow;
Horror;
$49.95 Blu-ray, $59.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13.’
Stars Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Finn Carter, Michael Gross, Reba McEntire, Victor Wong, Bobby Jacoby, Ariana Richards, Charlotte Stewart, Tony Genaro.

The original Tremors was such an unassuming creature-feature at the time of its release in 1990 that it’s hard to believe it spawned a massive franchise of seven movies and a TV show over the course of 30 years.

Of course, while that first film was the only one released in theaters, the direct-to-video follow-ups have been hugely important in maintaining its status as an iconic cult hit while expanding on the mythology of the deadly Graboids. As a result, the first film holds up remarkably well to the passage of time, maintaining a timeless quality owing to its uncomplicated depiction of small-town American life, and subsequent films’ ability to maintain that charm despite the advent of technological progress.

This new Arrow Films boxed set is a definitive archive of the original Tremors, containing a sharp new transfer of the film and a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes material.

The film stars Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward as a pair of hard luck handyman servicing the small town of Perfection in the remote desert of Nevada. When the area is besieged by giant worm-like monsters called Graboids that tunnel though the ground to eat people and livestock, the surviving residents band together to defend their homes from the creatures.

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While the film was shot in 1989, it seems much closer to something one might find in the mid 1990s. It also feels like a throwback to 1950s monster movies, thanks to some nice visual effects work that makes use of practical methods such as miniatures and puppets, rather than the CGI that would come along later (and be used in some of the direct-to-video sequels). The performances, creature effects and offbeat tongue-in-cheek humor make the film, and the franchise, a lot of fun.

Among the more memorable characters are Burt and Heather Gummer, a couple of doomsday preppers played by Michael Gross and Reba McEntire. The role marked the acting debut of country music superstar McEntire, while Gross was just coming off playing the pacifist left-wing dad on “Family Ties,” so playing a paramilitary survivalist was an interesting change of pace for him. Given a chance to expand the role in subsequent sequels increased Burt’s popularity with audiences to the point where he eventually became the face of the franchise — including headlining the seventh movie that just came out in October. Gross is the only actor from the original to appear in all seven films and the TV show (though he wasn’t in every episode).

Also on hand is young Ariana Richards, who would turn up three years later in a similar running-from-monsters role in Jurassic Park. Richards would also return to Perfection in 2001 for the third “Tremors” movie.

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Among the tidbits gleaned from the copious retrospective bonus material, the film was developed under a variety of titles, such as Land Shark and later Beneath Perfection, the preferred title of the creators. To appeal to Japanese investors, Universal Studios changed it to the earthquake-flavored Tremors.

The movie comes with two new commentary tracks — one by director Ron Underwood and co-writers Brent Maddock and S.S. Wilson; the other by fan and Tremors expert Jonathan Melville, who also contributes an essay about the history of the film’s sequels to a nice booklet included with the set.

In addition to deleted scenes, the 1996 making-of featurette and EPK profiles from previous DVD and Blu-ray releases, there are also hours of new retrospective featurettes, starting with the half-hour “Making Perfection,” a new documentary produced by Universal. “Making Perfection” includes interviews with several of the filmmakers and cast from the original film, including Bacon, Gross and Richards, and even ropes in Jamie Kennedy, a co-star of the fifth and sixth films.

Other new featurettes include a discussion of the development of the movie with co-producer Nancy Roberts; an interview with cinematographer Alexander Gruszynski; and a discussion of the music of the film with its composers.

Most interesting is a look at the visual effects, which is accompanied by some test footage.

Also included is a montage of edits made to the film to sanitize it for broadcast TV.

The only drawback to the set is that the 4K Ultra HD box isn’t a combo pack. Both the 4K and Blu-ray sets include two discs — one with the film and most of the extras, and a second with a few more supplements. The first disc is either 4K or standard Blu-ray depending on the format indicated on the box, while the bonus disc in both versions is the same standard Blu-ray. The 4K does not include a standard Blu-ray version of the film, so collectors who want that 1080p copy for whatever reason will have to decide between buying both Arrow editions, or keeping their old Universal Blu-rays around.

Extras on that second disc include additional “Making Perfection” interviews, a gag reel, early short films from the creators of Tremors, and footage from a 2015 Q&A event with several cast members and filmmakers conducted at a 25th anniversary screening at the Arclight Hollywood.

Other goodies in the box include a two-sided 16×20-inch poster containing the film’s original poster art on one side and the DVD art on the other; a mini-poster highlighting Graboid anatomy; and lobby cards with images from the film.

 

‘Gamera’ Film Sets Coming to Blu-ray Jan. 26 From Arrow and MVD

Three “Gamera” kaiju film sets are coming to Blu-ray Jan. 26 from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

The Gamera: The Showa Era set includes four discs with Gamera: The Giant Monster, Gamera vs. Barugon, Gamera vs. Gyaos, Gamera vs. Viras, Gamera vs. Guiron, Gamera vs. Jiger, Gamera vs. Zigra and Gamera Super Monster. As giant monsters rampaged the Japanese cinematic landscape during the “kaiju boom” of the mid-1960s, Daiei Studios introduced a new character to the screen that would be embraced for generations: Gamera, the giant, flying, fire-breathing turtle, and friend of all children. Buried under the Arctic ice for several millennia, the colossal chelonian is unleashed upon Japan, leaving havoc in his wake. After becoming an unexpected box office sensation, Gamera returned several more times, leaping to the world’s defense against a motley assortment of evil creatures, from the death-ray-shooting flying terror Gyaos, to the knife-headed alien menace Guiron, to the underwater invader Zigra. The discs feature numerous extras, including commentaries, intros, making-of featurettes, galleries and more.

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Gamera: The Heisei Era features four discs with the films Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe, Gamera 2: Attack of Legion and Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris as well as a bonus disc with Gamera the Brave, a mix of family-friendly adventure and kaiju action that is the most recent Gamera film to date. After laying dormant for 15 years, Gamera was rebooted for the big screen in this trilogy masterminded by director Shusuke Kaneko (Necronomicon), writer Kazunori Ito (Ghost in the Shell) and SFX director Shinji Higuchi (who went on to co-direct Shin Godzilla). Trading the campy kid-friendly surrealism of the earlier films for a darker, more realistic tone and innovative special effects, the films in the “Heisei trilogy” are still regarded as three of the best — if not the very best — kaiju films ever made. The discs feature numerous extras, including commentaries, intros, making-of featurettes, galleries and more.

The limited-edition Gamera: The Heisei Era Steelbook release includes three discs featuring the trilogy.

Gamera: The Heisei Era steelbook

1950s Sci-Fi Classic ‘Giant From the Unknown’ Due on Disc Jan. 19 From MVD

The 1958 sci-fi classic Giant From the Unknown will come out on Blu-ray and DVD Jan. 19 from MVD Entertainment Group and Film Detective.

A 500-year-old Spanish conquistador rises from the dead in this cult classic following Dr. Frederick Cleveland and his daughter Janet, who are joined by scientific researcher Wayne Brooks in the pursuit of ancient artifacts from Spanish conquistador Vargas. When a lightning storm interrupts their search, the team finds much more than artifacts when the long-lost Vargas returns to life, with a murderous rage and an axe to grind. Giant from the Unknown features make-up design from horror mainstay Jack Pierce, known for his work on Frankenstein (1931) and The Mummy (1932).

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The release features a new 4K transfer from the original camera negative. Extras include audio commentary with author/historian Tom Weaver and guests; audio commentary with co-star Gary Crutcher; an all-new interview with actor/screenwriter Crutcher; an all-new interview with author/film historian C. Courtney Joyner; a collector’s booklet with still gallery and liner notes by Weaver; and the original trailer.

Music Doc ‘Peter, Paul and Mary: Peter, Paul and Mommy Too’ Due on DVD Jan. 15 From MVD

Peter, Paul and Mary: Peter, Paul and Mommy Too is available on DVD for the first time Jan. 15 from MVD Entertainment Group and Liberation Hall.

In this live performance from their 1990s PBS television special, Peter, Paul and Mary continue their folk music magic for children and their families. The film features the trio’s heartfelt renditions of such classics as “The Eddystone Light,” “The Fox,” “We Shall Overcome,” “Garden Song” and “Puff (The Magic Dragon).”

The program, nominated for an Emmy for Best Children’s Program, was filmed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Majestic Theater.

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Tracks include:

  • “Puff (The Magic Dragon)”
  • “The Fox”
  • “Somagawaza/Hey Motswala”
  • “Inside”
  • “Day Is Done”
  • “Garden Song”
  • “The Eddystone Light”
  • “I Know An Old Lady (Who Swallowed a Fly)”
  • “Somos El Barco”
  • “Pastures of Plenty”
  • “Medley: Home On the Range/Don’t Ever Take Away My Freedom”
  • “All Mixed Up”
  • “Right Field”
  • “Poem For Erika/For Baby”
  • “We Shall Overcome”
  • “It’s Raining”
  • “If I Had a Hammer”
  • “Blowin’ in The Wind”
  • “This Land Is Your Land”

Music Doc ‘Mean Man: The Story of Chris Holmes’ Due on Disc Jan. 15 From MVD

The music documentary Mean Man: The Story of Chris Holmes will come out on Blu-ray and DVD Jan. 15 from MVD Entertainment Group and Cleopatra Entertainment.

It’s the story of an iconic guitar player who has lived a life of extreme highs and lows. After losing the publishing rights to his own songs and combatting dangerous addictions, the legendary W.A.S.P. guitarist is shown starting over from scratch while living at his mother-in-law’s in Cannes, France. He is now ready to take on Europe with his new band. As the documentary follows him, he meets many fans, proving he still is the showman he was as a young and famous rockstar. This musical journey chronicles the rise, fall and rebirth of Holmes with archives, live performances and interviews.

Bonus features include behind-the-scenes extras and a slide show.

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Thriller ‘Suicide Club’ Due on DVD Jan. 19 From MVD

The thriller Suicide Club will be available on DVD Jan. 19 from MVD Entertainment Group and Wild Eye Releasing

In the film, a reclusive young woman discovers an online web community that promises to kill anyone who asks, but soon learns that if she does follow through, everyone around her is in danger.

Produced in 2017 by the team behind 12 Deaths of Christmas, Bad Nun and Mandy the Doll, the film stars Kate Lister (Unhinged, Mandy the Doll, Curse of the Scarecrow), Klariza Clayton (Dani’s House, “Skins”  and Andrew Hollingworth (House on Elm Lake, The Haunted Hotel).

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Suicide Club won the Best Feature Award at the 2017 Open World Toronto Film Festival.

Mexican Genre Film ‘Batwoman’ and ‘The Panther Women’ Double Feature Due on Disc Jan. 19 From MVD

The 1960s Mexican genre films Batwoman and The Panther Women will be available in a double feature in English on Blu-ray and DVD Jan. 19 from MVD Entertainment Group and VCI Entertainment.

In Batwoman, after the body of a professional wrestler is found off Acapulco’s coastline, the victim, by all appearances, is believed to have drowned. However, the autopsy reveals a very perplexing and disturbing prognosis, when it’s discovered the victim’s pineal gland has been surgically drained of all fluid. With this prognosis eerily imitating the findings in the autopsies of murdered victims in Hong Kong and Macao, the police turn the investigation over to Mario Roble, who enlists the help of a beautiful crime fighting luchador known as Batwoman. Their thorough investigation leads them to an evil neurosurgeon who is using the fluid in his endeavors to genetically engineer a half fish, half man hybrid.

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In The Panther Women, in an effort to resurrect the dead leader of their satanic cult, the Panther Women must perform blood sacrifices in order for him to arise from his cold grave. Using the wrestling ring as their sepulcher and their unsuspecting opponents as their blood sacrifice’s, these beautiful sirens of Satan perform their life-resurrecting rituals, shedding much innocent blood. However, the accomplishment of their goal is thwarted, after Captain Diaz becomes wise to their evil dealings and quest.

Director Rene Cardona was later known for his luchador (masked wrestler) adventure movies such as Santo vs. the Riders of Terror (1970) and Night of the Bloody Apes (1969).

‘JSA: Joint Security Area,’ ‘Southland Tales’ on Blu-ray in January From MVD and Arrow

JSA: Joint Security Area and Southland Tales are coming to Blu-ray in January from MVD Entertainment Group and Arrow Video.

On Jan. 19 comes JSA: Joint Security Area (2000), a thriller from Park Chan-wook. It follows a Swiss-Korean major as she leads an investigation into a shooting incident at the North/South Korean border that results in two Korean soldiers’ death. The film became the highest-grossing Korean film when it was released and won multiple awards for best film. In 2009, director Quentin Tarantino placed JSA among his top 20 films since 1992. Special features include new audio commentary by writer and critic Simon Ward; an isolated music and effects track; a newly recorded video interview with Asian cinema expert Jasper Sharp; two archival featurettes on the film’s production; a series of archival introductions to the film by members of the cast; a behind-the-scenes montage; opening ceremony footage; two music videos, “Letter from a Private” and “Take the Power Back”; the theatrical trailer; a TV spot; an image gallery; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Colin Murdoch; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Kieran Fisher.

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On Jan. 26, Arrow will release Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales, starring Dwayne Johnson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mandy Moore and Seann William Scott, among others. The story about a conspiracy involving an action film star stricken with amnesia, a porn star with reality TV dreams and a police officer was panned during its 2006 release. Yet, over the years, the film has maintained a strong, loyal fanbase that continues to grow, with many admiring the film’s attempt at doing something grand. Arrow gives the film a new lease on life with new 2K presentations of the film, approved by Kelly, in both the 145-minute theatrical cut and the 160-minute “Cannes cut.” Special features include audio commentary on the theatrical cut by Kelly; “It’s a Madcap World: The Making of an Unfinished Film,” a new in-depth retrospective documentary on the film, featuring contributions by Kelly and members of the original crew; an archival featurette on the making of the film, featuring interviews with the cast and crew; “This is the Way the World Ends,” an archival animated short set in the Southland Tales universe; the theatrical trailer; an image gallery; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jacey; and a limited edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Peter Tonguette and Simon Ward.

Animated Films ‘Boboiboy: The Movie’ and ‘Saving Sally’ Available on DVD From MVD

The Asian animated films Boboiboy: The Movie and Saving Sally are available on DVD From MVD Entertainment Group and Synergetic Distribution.

In Boboiboy: The Movie, alien treasure hunters named The Tengkotak have arrived on earth and kidnapped Ochobot in order to use him to locate an ancient and powerful Power Sphere. BoBoiBoy and his super friends must race against time to save Ochobot and uncover the secrets behind the Sfera Kuasa. The second film in the series, BoBoiBoy: Elemental Heroes, is slated for theatrical release in December 2020. The first film has been broadcast in more than 70 countries, but this is the first time it has been released in the United States.

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In Saving Sally, Marty, an aspiring comic-book artist, secretly loves his gadget inventor best friend, Sally, and fantasizes about saving her from the big bad world. The film won the Audience Award at Lund Fantastic, the Jury Award at Fantasporto, Special Mention at Brussels Fantasy, Best Family Film at Bentonville and Children’s Choice at Metro Manila.

Horror Film ‘The Hex’ Available on DVD From MVD

The horror film The Hex is available on DVD from MVD Entertainment Group and Cleopatra Entertainment.

In the film, a grieving girl unravels her murdered mother’s secrets connected to a witch doctor’s curse. She wants to put an end to this haunting hex by traveling to where it originated, but her journey casts her deeper into sinister depths.

Directed by Reine Swart (Z Nation, The Lullaby, Dominion, Detour), the film stars Coco Lloyd (Trypophobia), Mary-Anne Barlow (Wild at Heart, Prey) and Christopher Jaftha (Table Manners, Bedford Wives).

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Extras include the theatrical trailer and image slideshow.