La Planete Sauvage, The Funhouse, Tenebrae and Pulp Fiction rereleased
Blu-ray releases round-up
While inevitably the picture quality and audio track are vastly improved by the high definition offered by Blu-ray another bonus is the extra features you can cram on to the format. Trippy animated sci-fi allegory La Planete Sauvage (Eureka!) ●●●● is the perfect example with six shorts films from director René Laloux as well as an interview, Alain Goraguer’s soundtrack, dubbed and subtitled versions and even a 56-page colour booklet (Eureka!’s Masters of Cinema series are always exemplary packages).
It’s amusing to see once-reviled films like The Funhouse (Arrow) ●●● and Tenebrae (Arrow) ●●●● getting the full Blu-ray treatment. Both once languished on the ‘video nasties’ list but Arrow Video treat them like lost classics with lavish packaging and extras. Films like this were never going to look as shiny as the likes of Avatar but despite the graininess these are the sharpest versions on the market today. Funhouse is a fairly standard slasher set at a travelling fun fair from Tobe Hooper while Dario Argento tackles his critics head on in demented, bloody whodunnit Tenebrae. It’s not Argento’s most visually arresting film but still a treat, and as expected Goblin’s score sounds even more ominous in HD. Fifteen minutes of footage from Goblin’s Glasgow gig earlier this year included in the extras will be of particular interest to Scottish horror fans.
Staying in the world of ‘nasties’, very loose remake Mother’s Day (Studiocanal) ●●● is a brutal home-invasion thriller with Rebecca de Mornay as the psychotic matriarch of a criminal clan. While lots of interviews are included there’s nothing that revealing, though the audio-visual quality is excellent. The down and dirty über gory slasher Hatchet 2 (Arrow) ●●● stays true to its underground roots, it’s a great transfer that still looks like a gritty independent feature but again a bit sparse on extras compared to many Blu-ray releases.
Fully restored for Blu-ray the 40th anniversary package of Sam Pekinpah's Straw Dogs (FremantleMedia) ●●●● still retains its warm, grainy 1970s feel but is the cleanest, sharpest version yet. Dustin Hoffman is still compelling as a man pushed to the edge in rural Cornwall. Bundled up with new interviews, the original score, articles and a great (if very short) 1971 on location doc.
The 25th anniversary edition of Michael Mann’s Manhunter (Studiocanal) ●●●● is still a wonderfully visual adaptation of Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon with Brian Cox in scene-stealing form as Hannibal Lecter. Packaged with the original theatrical cut in full HD and the Director’s Cut which varies in quality (some of the restored footage is VHS quality). Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (Optimum) ●●● shares some of the pop video aesthetics of Manhunter, further enforced by David Bowie’s starring role. This story of life in a Japanese prisoner of war camp looks gorgeous (though there are a few seconds of flicker towards the end) and Ryûichi Sakamoto’s iconic score sounds truly wonderful. You’ve probably seen Pulp Fiction (Lionsgate) ●●●●● many times by now, but this Blu-ray is still definitely worth checking out the picture really pops and Tarantino’s all important soundtrack sounds fantastic. Plus it’s packed to the gills with extras – some you might have seen before (old interviews, acceptance speeches, behind the scenes) but also new cast interviews and ‘Critics Corner’ – adding up to over six hours of footage.