Streaming and cable channels are falling over one another right now trying to outdo their competition’s Halloween scheduling. Whether it’s AMC’s FearFest or House of Halloween on HBO Max, plenty of frightful viewing is available.
But if terror isn’t your primary fancy, there are classics by Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma and cult favorites with stars like Julia Roberts and Malcolm McDowell which have received the special edition treatment in recent weeks that are worth bringing home. Below are a handful of the best to seek out this fall.
“RAGING BULL” [CRITERION]
Martin Scorsese created one of the truly great and visionary works of modern cinema with this stunningly visceral portrait of self-destructive machismo, led by Robert De Niro, who pours his blood, sweat and brute physicality into the Oscar-winning role of Jake La Motta. The “Raging Bull” biopic tells the tale of the rising middleweight boxer from the Bronx whose fury and ambition propels him to success within the ring but whose just as intense unbridled paranoia and jealousy tatter his relationships with everyone in his orbit.
Criterion, recognized as the gold standard in home video, has released a director-approved special edition of “Raging Bull” in a new 4K digital master. The 4K UHD disc of the film is presented in HDR and one disc is on Blu-ray with the film and a bevy of special features. Included are three audio commentaries, featuring Scorsese and editor Thelma Schoonmaker, director of photography Michael Chapman, producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler, casting director Cis Corman, music consultant Robbie Robertson, actors Theresa Saldana and John Turturro, and sound-effects supervising editor Frank Warner and boxer Jake La Motta and screenwriters Mardik Martin and Paul Schrader.
The 1980 film runs 129 minutes and is in black and white and color with 2.0 surround and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
“BLOW OUT” [CRITERION]
Also on Criterion is the riveting “Blow Out,” brilliantly crafted by Brian De Palma. It sees John Travolta give one of his greatest performances as a film sound-effects man who believes he has accidentally recorded a political assassination. To uncover the truth, he enlists the help of a possible eyewitness to the crime – played by Nancy Allen – who may be in danger herself. Another main character in the film is a gritty, early-1980s Philadelphia where it was shot, adding to the paranoia of the thriller.
The director-approved Blu-ray special edition sees one disc a 4K UHD version of the film presented in Dolby Vision HDR and one Blu-ray with the film and special features, led by an interview with De Palma conducted by filmmaker Noah Baumbach and an interview with Allen. Also included is “Murder à la Mod,” De Palma’s low budget directorial debut that came out in 1968.
The 1981 “Blow Out” is 108 minutes in 2.0 surround with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio.
“FLATLINERS” [Arrow Video]
While certainly not remembered as the best movie on their respective resumes, Julia Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland and Kevin Bacon star in the Oscar nominated “Flatliners,” which debuted at No. 1 and grossed over $60 million at the domestic box office in 1990. Directed by Joel Schumacher, the film tackles the existential question that, at one time or another, haunts us all: what awaits us after we die? At the University Hospital School of Medicine, five ambitious students subject themselves to a daring experiment where they temporarily induce their own deaths, hoping to glimpse the afterlife before being brought back to life.
A brand new 4K restoration from the original negative, approved by director of photography Jan de Bontis in 4K with an HDR10 compatible UHD Blu-ray presentation in Dolby Vision. Special features kick off with a new audio commentary by critics Bryan Reesman and Max Evry as well as a full slate of interview featurettes. Among the latter are “The Conquest of Our Generation” with screenwriter Peter Filardi and “Visions of Light” with de Bont and chief lighting technician Edward Ayer. The first pressing of the new set includes an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Amanda Reyes and Peter Tonguette.
“Flatliners” runs 114 minutes and is in color with lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 surround soundtracks presented in its original 2.39:1 aspect ratio.
“CAT PEOPLE” [SCREAM FACTORY]
“Cat People” is the provocative and memorable 1982 cult hit that’s a remake of the 1942 Jacques Tourneur horror/noir classic of the same name. Presented by Scream Factory, the cult classic horror and sci-fi sub-brand of Shout Factory, the film stars Nastassja Kinski as Irena, a beautiful young woman who discovers love for the first time only to find that the experience brings tragic consequences. The passion of this woman’s first romantic love is so strong it bypasses the chaos around her, including the extraordinary demands of her brother – played by Malcolm McDowell – as it pushes her on to her own bizarre destiny.
Directed by Paul Schrader, the collector’s edition of “Cat People” comes in a 4KUHD + Blu-ray combo pack from with special features and a new 4K scan from the original camera negative that has it looking better than any other print to date. Also on the bonus item docket is an audio commentary and the short “More Than a Remake” with Schrader. Added interview featurettes are “Unleashing the Animal Within” with Kinski, “Making Memories” with actress Annette O’Toole, “Caging the Animal” with actor John Heard, “Reconnecting with Cat People,” with actor Malcolm McDowell and more.
The collector’s edition of “Cat People” is 118 minutes in Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
VINYL OF THE WEEK
Keep an eye on this spot as each week we’ll be looking at new or soon-to-be-released vinyl from a variety of artists. It might be a re-pressing of a landmark recording, special edition or new collection from a legendary act. This week, it’s a contemporary holiday set making a vinyl debut.
VARIOUS ARTISTS: “HOLIDAYS RULE”
Yes, it’s way, way too early for holiday music – you’ll find no argument here about that. However, that doesn’t mean it’s off the table to begin building up the catalog for the upcoming season of festivities, frustrating weather and regifting. And there’s no better place to start than with the new Craft Recordings first-ever vinyl pressing of “Holidays Rule,” a deliciously diverse collection of seasonal music featuring glittering contributions from across the musical spectrum.
“Holidays Rule” delves into a rich assemblage of Americana, alt-pop, folk, electronica, country, American standards, singer-songwriter, New Orleans gospel, garage rock and more to create a melting pot of sounds that still feel like a cohesive album, rather than a holiday hodgepodge. Originally released in 2012, the set boasts 17 recordings of timeless holiday classics from artists including Paul McCartney, The Shins, The Civil Wars, Rufus Wainwright teaming with Sharon Van Etten, soul icon Irma Thomas with The Preservation Hall Jazz Band and many more.
Some of the numerous highlights include fun. whipping up a distinctly postmodern take on the rollicking “Sleigh Ride” and Paul McCartney’s velvety rendition of the fireside classic “The Christmas Song.” The Shins, meanwhile, take McCartney’s own “Wonderful Christmastime” in a cheekily retro direction, turning the track into a musical homage to the Beach Boys, while Wainwright and Van Etten deliver a fittingly seductive “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”
The 2LP “Holidays Rule” is pressed on translucent red vinyl and housed in a gatefold jacket. There’s also a limited clear-with-red-and-green splatter variant is available that’s limited to 300 copies which has already sold out of the Craft Recordings store but can be found on the secondary market. Lacquers for the vinyl were cut by Dave Cooley at Elysian Mastering from the original hi-resolution sources and were mastered by Gavin Lurssen at Lurssen Mastering.
Look for the “Holidays Rule” online and from all respectable retailers who carry vinyl.
To contact music columnist Michael Christopher, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, check out his website at thechroniclesofmc.com.
Source: Berkshire mont
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