January, we hardly knew ye! Although that month is already wrapping up, we are heading into February with an assortment of classic and recent titles that now available for your home viewing pleasure. Here’s a rundown of the most notable new releases that are now available!
Stage Fright (1950)
After he’s accused of murdering his lover’s husband, Londoner Jonathan Cooper (Richard Todd) turns to the only person who believes he’s innocent, drama student and ex-girlfriend Eve Gill (Jane Wyman). As Eve plays detective to find the real killer, her search leads to a fateful confrontation with the victim’s wife, famed and ruthless stage actress Charlotte Inwood (Marlene Dietrich). Michael Wilding, Kay Walsh, Alastair Sim, and Sybil Thorndike also star in Hitchcock’s flavorful thriller.
Black Magic (1949)
Costume drama stars Orson Welles as the infamous 18th-century hypnotist and charlatan Cagliostro, following his misadventures as he honed his gifts at mesmerism to pursue revenge against the nobleman who killed his parents, and to exert his influence over the court of Louis XVI of France. Akim Tamiroff, Valentina Cortese, Frank Latimore, Nancy Guild co-star.
Going Ape! (1981)
Tony Danza stars as Foster Sabatini, son of a famed circus performer, who stands to inherit $5 million from his recently deceased father. All Foster has to do to claim the money is take care of his departed dad’s three trouble-prone orangutans for two years. What could possibly go wrong? Just about everything as the apes wreak hilarious havoc on Foster’s life, in this zany comedy. Jessica Walter, Stacey Nelkin, and Danny DeVito also star.
The Piano (Criterion Collection)(1993)
Holly Hunter stars as Ada McGrath, a non-speaking mail-order bride who travels with her 6-year-old daughter (Anna Paquin) from 1850s Scotland to the New Zealand wilderness to join a frontiersman (Sam Neill). When her prized possession, a piano, is sold to coarse settler George Baines (Harvey Keitel), she strikes a sexual deal with Baines to get it back. Jane Campion’s compelling, erotic drama won Academy Awards for Best Actress, Supporting Actress, and Screenplay.
Dick Johnson Is Dead (Criterion Collection)(2020)
Documentarian Kirsten Johnson was looking for a way to process the inevitable passing of her father Richard–a retired psychiatrist, now widowed and diagnosed with dementia. With his agreement, she found it–and staged and filmed a succession of increasingly outlandish and darkly comic scenarios where Dick would meet his demise. The results and the therapeutic benefit for both are on display in this critically hailed effort.
Much has been recounted and dramatized of how Helen Keller overcame the blindness and deafness that struck her in infancy to achieve a childhood education. The accomplishments from the balance of her long life advocating for women, workers, and the poor as well as the disabled, and consideration of her personal history and some of its controversies, receive their just due in this compelling “American Masters” presentation.
From the late ’40s through the balance of her life, her blues-inflected vocal stylings powerfully lifted gospel music onto the charts and into the churches. Danielle Brooks delivers a remarkable performance as the legendary Mahalia Jackson, from her early career struggles and determination to stay with the gospel form, through her breakout success and her contributions to the burgeoning civil rights movement; Joaquina Kalukango, Jamall Johnson, Rob Demery, Jim Thorburn also star.
Annie Live! (2021)
The family-favorite musical received a stellar NBC broadcast production in December 2021, with Celina Smith as the young comic-strip heroine who makes her way into the home and heart of tycoon Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks (Harry Connick, Jr.), to the chagrin of conniving orphanage owner Miss Hannigan (Taraji P. Henson). Nicole Scherzinger, Titus Burgess, Megan Hilty also star; score includes “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” “Tomorrow.”
Finding Alice: Season 1 (2021)
Alice Dillon (Keeley Hawes) had barely set up housekeeping in the elaborate new smart home her developer husband Harry Walsh (Jason Merrells) had designed for them when she found him dead at the bottom of the stairs. The tragicomic course of her having to deal with her new normal–and learning of sundry skeletons in Harry’s closet–is tracked in this effective ITV dramedy; Joanna Lumley, Nigel Havers, Gemma Jones, Kenneth Cranham, Isabella Pappas, Dominique Moore also star. 6 episodes on 2 discs.
Insomniac flight attendant Marlene (Sandra Hüller) felt compelled to check into a rustic country inn…and once there, fell comatose after a nervous collapse. Her daughter Mona (Gro Swantje Kohlhof) came to the little town in search of answers–and uncovered a shocking nexus between her mother’s instability and the foreboding village’s shrouded past. Stylish, unnerving effort also stars Marion Kracht, Agata Buzek, Max Hubacher.
The Deeper You Dig (2019)
Catskills goth teen Echo Allen (Zelda Adams) had the misfortune of being fatally sideswiped by drunk driver Luke Miller (John Adams), who then buried her to cover up the crime. Echo’s spirit, however, won’t rest easily–and torments Luke as she attempts to reach out to Ivy (Toby Poser), her lapsed psychic mother, who’s on her own pursuit of the truth. Moody and singular chiller, co-directed by its husband/wife/daughter principals, also stars Shawn Wilson, Joan Poser.
In the year 2035, the CIA’s operating system is attacked by a malevolent virus, and short-timing operative DT Gagano (Daniel Tadesse) is dispatched into a virtual reality realm to deal with it. The only thing worse than having to fight your way through a world of oddball avatars, however, is getting trapped there–and his unlikely guide out is a human fly named Jesus. Hallucinatory kitchen-sink fantasy actioner from filmmaker Miguel Llanso (“Crumbs”) co-stars Agustín Mateo, Gerda-Annette Allikas.
Blood for Dracula (1974)(4K Ultra HD)
Campy, outrageously gory vampire saga stars Udo Kier as the undead Count Dracula, who leaves his home in 1920s Transylvania for Italy on a quest for the blood of virgins…but finds only a dearth of chaste signorinas. Vittorio De Sica is a nobleman whose sexy daughters catch Drac’s eye, and Joe Dallesandro is the family gardener, who plans to save the girls by deflowering them. With Milena Vukotic, Dominique Darel, Stefania Casini; Paul Morrissey directs. AKA: “Andy Warhol’s Dracula.”
Tom and Jerry Cowboy Up! (2022)
You won’t so much find dogies as you will a certain cat and mouse in this feature-length animated adventure set way out west, where Tom and Jerry have to table their rivalry and help a ranch family hold off a ruthless land-grabber out to claim their homestead. Will the posse they round up–consisting of Jerry’s three nephews and a crazy coterie of prairie dogs–be enough to make the difference? With the voices of Kaitlyn Robrock, Sean Burgos, Kath Soucie.
Eyes of Fire (1983)
Rarely seen shocker is set in the American West in the mid-18th century and focuses on preacher Will Smythe (Dennis Lipscomb), who faces accusations of adultery and polygamy that cause him and many of his followers to be driven out of town. In the punishing wilderness, the group must contend with a malevolent spirit that only one of their number (Karlene Crockett) has the power to defeat. With Guy Boyd, Rebecca Stanley, Rob Paulsen.
Back in Thatcher’s Britain, prim censor Enid Baines (Niamh Algar) was earnest in her governmental duties trimming horror movies–“video nasties”–into worthiness for public consumption. However, a film crossed her desk that hewed far too close to the circumstances of her sister’s childhood disappearance…and her obsession with finding out why might dislodge her grip on reality. Distinctive genre-celebrating chiller also stars Michael Smiley, Nicholas Burns, Adrian Schiller.
New York Ninja (2021)
Shot in 1984 by director/star John Liu and abandoned after principal photography, this singular project edits the surviving footage, set to a newly created soundtrack featuring voice dubs from genre stars. After his pregnant wife is slain by a human-trafficking ring, a TV news crewman (Liu, dubbed by Don Wilson) dons white ninja garb and unleashes his martial arts skills on those responsible. Also with the voices of Michael Berryman, Cynthia Rothrock, Linnea Quigley, Leon Isaac Kennedy, Ginger Lynn.
As St. Louis faces a reign of terror at the hands of a deranged veteran (Nick Panouzis) on a violent murder spree, the cops on the case face the chilling prospect that his attacks aren’t merely random, but targeted at the direction of a well-heeled vigilante cabal with their own twisted agenda. Controversial regionally-made thriller also stars Turk Cekovsky, Terry TenBroek, Barron Winchester.
Stan Ivar and Wendy Schaal star in this sci-fi shocker about a space expedition to Saturn’s moon of Titan that results in the discovery of the bodies of some German astronauts. Our heroes quickly discover that a monstrous alien creature is on the loose and seeking to destroy them. Can the brutal beastie from the stars possibly be stopped? Klaus Kinski, Lyman Ward co-star.
Rural lore of every culture–and the fear it can invoke–has long offered creative fuel for fright filmmakers the world over. This exceptional and exhaustive documentary delves into the folk horror phenomenon, from its dominance as a cycle in British cinema through the ’60s and ’70s, through its exploration by European, Asian, and American directors, with observations by over 50 creators and academics and clips from over 200 genre entries from “The Wicker Man” to “Midsommar.”
Steel and Lace (1991)
After the acquittal at trial of her businessman rapist (Michael Cerveris), courtesy of a false alibi backed by his cronies, concert pianist Gaily Morton (Clare Wren) committed suicide. Her scientist brother Albert (Bruce Davison) did more than just grieve…he resurrected her as a powerful cyborg, and sent her after both attacker and perjurers as a means of getting justice. Action/fantasy video store staple co-stars Stacy Haiduk, David Naughton, David L. Lander.
Low-end horror filmmaker José (Eusebio Poncela) was struggling with both current project and substance abuse when he received a parcel from eccentric young casual acquaintance Pedro (Will More). The contents–an audio cassette and Super 8 reel–will send him on a feverish odyssey which might well find him literally consumed by his work. Unnerving rediscovered opus also stars Cecilia Roth, Marta Fernández Muro.
American Rust (2021)
In a dying Southwest Pennsylvania factory town, local police chief Bud Harris (Jeff Daniels) knew he had trouble when an ex-cop was found murdered at an abandoned plant. It got worse as Billy Poe (Alex Neustaedter), the teenage son of his lover, Grace (Maura Tierney), became one of the persons of interest. Miniseries take on the Philipp Meyer novel from Showtime co-stars David Alvarez, Julia Mayorga, Bill Camp, Mark Pellegrino, Rob Yang. 8 1/4 hrs. on three discs.
The Convenient Groom (2016)
Well-known relationship expert Dr. Kate Lawrence (Vanessa Marcil) is about to announce her engagement when her would-be husband (Aaron Craven) dumps her. To help Kate maintain her image, her old friend Lucas (David Sutcliffe)–who’s harbored a longtime crush on her–volunteers to pretend to be her fiancé. Will Kate’s fans learn the truth, and will Lucas be there when she needs him most? Karen Holness co-stars in this seriocomic Hallmark Channel movie, based on the book by Denise Hunter.
The Moon and Sixpence (1959)
Aging London stockbroker Charles Strickland (Laurence Olivier) abruptly abandoned career–and distraught wife (Geraldine Fitzgerald)–to pursue a Bohemian painter’s existence in Paris. His quixotic search for excellence would eventually bring him to Tahiti, while leaving behind wrecked lives for those in his orbit. Acclaimed broadcast take on the Somerset Maugham novel that won Emmys for Olivier and director Robert Mulligan also stars Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Jean Marsh, Denholm Elliott.