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New DVD, Blu-ray and digital release highlights for the week of July 26-August 1, 2021

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L-r, Marcus (Noah Jupe), Regan (Millicent Simmonds), and Evelyn (Emily Blunt) brave the unknown in "A Quiet Place Part II."{ }(Photo: Paramount Pictures)

There's a nice mix of new and catalog titles (including at least one overlooked and somewhat forgotten genre gem). Digital even has a proper showing this week. It should also be noted that Paramount has released quite a few Miramax catalog titles on Blu-ray with digital copies. This includes the likes of "Cold Mountain," "Equilibrium," "Clerks," "Strictly Ballroom," "Mimic" and "My Left Foot." Many of these releases were available in budget releases with dubious quality. I'm particularly interested to see if they've sorted out the aspect ratio issues.

Digital

  • Batman: The Long Halloween - Part Two - The conclusion to DC's animated adaptation of the classic Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale 13-issue series that finds Batman early in his career as a crimefighter trying to stop a serial killer who times their murders to coincide with holidays . "Part One" was quite good. I hope the second half is equally as rewarding.

  • Hail to the Deadites - Once upon a time you could judge the quality of a video rental store by if they had "The Evil Dead" or its sequel "The Evil Dead 2" in their horror section. The bad stores had neither, the good stores had the sequel and the great stores had both. "Hail to the Deadites" is a documentary dedicated to fans of the Evil Dead franchise. These boys and girls have kept Bruce Campbell telling the same stories over and over and over again for 40 years. Those people are something kind of crazy. Full disclosure: I probably qualify as one of them.

  • Teen Titans Go! See Space Jam - I hope it's t he original "Space Jam" and not the current one. Spoiler: It is. Cyborg throws a watch party to educate his teammates in all things Nerdlucks.

  • Werewolves Within - Based on a video game that sees a pack of werewolves attack a small town. Reviews have been incredibly positive.

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  • A Quiet Place Part II - The sequel to "The Quiet Place" arrived in theaters a year later than expected and while the box office returns might not have been as robust as they might have been in a pre-pandemic setting, the film managed a worldwide total of $279 million. More importantly, it's a good film that doesn't simply mimic the formula of the first movie. Where "A Quiet Place" was more of a thriller with sci-fi and horror elements, "A Quiet Place Part II" is more of an action film. The focus has also shifted from the adults to the children. I'll most certainly be adding this to my personal collection and look forward to whatever might come next for the franchise.

  • American Gods: Season Three - Based on Neil Gaiman's 2001 novel, an exploration of an alternate American mythology, "American Gods" wraps up after three seasons.

  • The Bird with the Crystal Plumage 4K UHD - Written and directed by Dario Argento, "The Bird with the Crystal Plumage" tells the story of an American writer visiting Italy who witnesses an attack on a woman and becomes the target of the attacker's vitriol. It's a strong feature-length debut, a restrained effort with far less violence that the films Argento would later be known for. This 4K release is more robust than Arrow's excellent 2017 Blu-ray release. Better colors, more detail and a wealth of bonus features.

  • Brotherhood of the Wolf - In 2001 French writer/director Christophe Gans took aspects of his country's history and transformed them into a swashbuckling action/horror film with werewolves (and puppetry by Jim Henson's Creature Shop). Shout! Factory's Collector's Edition includes the longer director's cut.

  • The Dead Zone - Screenwriter Jeffrey Boam and director David Cronenberg adapt Stephen King's story about a schoolteacher (Christopher Walken) who wakes from a five-year coma with psychic powers that enable him to see the secrets or future of a person by simply touching them. Released in 1983 to critical acclaim, "The Dead Zone" is simply one of the best King adaptations ever made.
  • Keeping Faith: Season 3 - This incredibly popular Welsh series stars Eve Myles as Faith Howells, a lawyer, who sees her husband disappear just after she gives birth. Howells soon discovers that the life she thought she was living was a lie.

  • Vengeance Trails - Following the success of Sergio Leone’s “Dollars” trilogy, many Italian filmmakers, particularly genre directors/producers who had been working in exploitation and horror, turned to the Western as a new space to populate with anti-heroes with a predisposition for violence. This set includes Lucio Fulci’s "Massacre Time," Maurizio Lucidi’s "My Name is Pecos," Massimo Dallamano’s "Bandidos," and Antonio Margheriti’s "And God Said to Cain."

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