10 of the best Blu-ray and 4K reissues coming in July 2020...
A Spielberg extravaganza, a Samurai classic and and oddity from the Pet Shop Boys are amongst the best Blu-ray and 4K reissues coming your way in July...
Ready Player One - Titans of Cult Limited Edition 4K Steelbook
First released in 2018, Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Ernest Cline's sci-fi novel is by far the most recent film to get the reissue treatment this month, but if you've yet to purchase a copy of Spielberg's visual extravaganza – or if you've been collecting the excellent Titans of Cult series – then their latest release could be right up your street.
On July 27th, they're set to deliver a stunning limited edition of Ready Player One which features a 4K UHD presentation of the film housed in an eye-catching Steelbook case and bundled with some exclusive extras, including an enamel pin badge and a glow-in-the-dark poster. There's also a bonus disc that offers all the same extras as the standard 4K version, including a mini-feature on the film's special effects and an hour-long 'making of' documentary on how Spielberg brought Cline's vision to life.
The work of writer and filmmaker Michael Crichton has certainly been enjoying something of a resurgence in recent years; Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy's adaptation of Westworld has been a huge hit for HBO, while the recent series of films based on Jurassic Park have been steadily transforming Crichton's 1990 sci-fi novel into one of the movie industry's biggest-hitting franchises.
Some of Crichton's lesser-known films have also benefited from renewed interest in his work, with Arrow Video presiding over a remastered version of The Andromeda Strain in 2017 and a newly-restored edition of his 1981 film Looker set to join our exclusive Premium Collection range this month.
Albert Finney stars as a Los Angeles plastic surgeon puzzled by a series of female clients requesting barely perceptible changes to their appearance, eventually discovering that they are all models working for the same marketing agency, Digital Matrix. The agency is using computer algorithms to measure the commercial effectiveness of their faces in advertising, with the ultimate aim of digitally constructing the 'perfect' female face. The contracts involved are lucrative for the women, but when several of them die in suspicious circumstances the surgeon decides to investigate, only to find himself framed as the prime suspect in their grisly deaths.
The Premium Collection edition features a director-approved restoration from the original film negatives and comes with a range of extras including an introduction and commentary from Michael Crichton, deleted scenes from the network television version and the usual Premium Collection inclusions such as art cards and lobby-style poster. Looker is set to arrive in stores on July 27th.
Pet Shop Boys in It Couldn't Happen Here
Arguably the most unusual Blu-ray release coming in July, It Couldn't Happen Here is nevertheless one of the more intriguing items in this month's round-up and one that's bound to be of interest to fans of The Pet Shop Boys.
Released in 1987 to coincide with the electro-pop duo's second album Actually, the initial premise was to create a series of glossy music videos for the album's singles and thread them together with a storyline, but the pair's decision to hire Jack Bond to direct led to something much more surreal.
It Couldn't Happen Here depicts a strange and decaying England packed with odd characters and brimming with high camp, with the duo's music sometimes presented front-and-centre, but often in much more deconstructed ways, from one of their hits playing on a distant radio to Neil Tennant dryly reading out some of his lyrics.
The film was a box office flop when first released – indeed, many fans may not even be aware of its existence – but a newly-restored version presided over by the folks at the BFI arrives on July 20th and offers a chance to own the film in physical form for the first time. As much of an oddity as it may be, it's well worth a look and a must-have for Pet Shop Boys completists.
The second feature film by Nicolas Roeg (after his Mick Jagger-starring debut feature Performance), Walkabout wasn't by any means a box office smash when it first emerged in 1971, but its enduring appeal has seen it become something of a cult favourite and it remains one of Roeg's most highly-regarded films to this day.
Set in the wilds of the Australian outback, Walkabout follows the story of two white children (a young Jenny Agutter and Roeg's son, Luc) who become stranded after their father drives them deep into the wilderness, ostensibly for a picnic, before suddenly going berserk and shooting at his children, eventually setting his car on fire and killing himself. Left on their own to navigate their way back to civilisation, they meet a young Aboriginal boy who helps guide them on their way. However, thanks to a combination of the children's naivety, cultural differences and the language barrier, their new friendship soon results in tragedy.
Roeg's stirring film is set to be given the reissue treatment this month by the folks at Second Sight Films, who have overseen a new 4K restoration of the film and are set to deliver a reissue on July 27th. Amongst the new Blu-ray edition's special features are new interviews with Luc Roeg and Jenny Agutter, a 2011 Q&A filmed at the BFI, and a new interview with Danny Boyle examining the director's legacy.
Stephen King and George A. Romero are two of the biggest names associated with horror, so it should come as no surprise to learn that when their 1982 collaboration Creepshow first hit cinemas in 1982 it shot straight to the top of the US box office, even though it was King's first ever screenplay. Billed as a 'horror-comedy anthology', Creepshow featured five separate short stories, the film was successful enough to warrant a sequel and in 1987 one duly arrived in the form of Creepshow 2.
Michael Gornick replaces Romero in the director's chair for the sequel, with Romero sliding over to screenplay duties and adapting three more spooky Stephen King stories. Arrow Video are set to release a newly-restored, Limited Edition version of the film on July 13th, which comes packed with a huge range of extras including an interview with George A. Romero, new interviews with actors Daniel Beer and Tom Wright, director commentary and two featurettes on the film's visual effects and special effects supremo Rick Baker.
Waiting for Guffman
Few 'mockumentaries' have managed to reach the high bar set by Rob Reiner's seminal 1980 comedy This Is Spinal Tap, but with one of its co-writers and stars at the helm, 1992's Waiting for Guffman is one that certainly merits attention. Co-written and directed by Christopher Guest, who also appears in the starring role, the film tells the story of eccentric, down-on-his-luck theatre producer Corky St. Clair and his bid to revive his career by directing a community theatre production in the small (and entirely fictional) town of Blaine, Missouri. Entitled 'Red, White & Blaine', the show has been commissioned to celebrate the town's 150th anniversary, but Corky also sees it as his ticket back to the big time and manages to persuade Broadway producer Mort Guffman to attend the show, for which Corky has assembled a ragtag cast of locals and misfits. But can they pull it off? And will Guffman really show up?
The second new addition to our exclusive Premium Collection range coming in July, Waiting for Guffman arrives in stores on July 27th and features extras including feature-length commentary from Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy, additional scenes (with optional Guest/Levy commentary) and theatrical trailer, as well as the usual selection of art cards, lobby poster and collectable slip case.
After the success of his 1995 thriller Se7en, David Fincher returned two years later with another taut, twisting thriller, this time starring Michael Douglas and Sean Penn. Douglas plays the older of two brothers, both scions of the wealthy van Orton family and both, in their own way, haunted by the suicide of their father. While the older, more uptight Nicholas has taken on the running of the business their father built, the younger Conrad favours the playboy lifestyle and returns from one of his adventures in time for his older brother's birthday, for which he has prepared a special gift. Conrad's present to his brother turns out to be an elaborate 'game experience' tailored to the individual, but when Nicholas reluctantly agrees to take part things soon begin to get strange – and very, very dangerous.
A proper edge-of-your-seat thriller whose twists and turns will keep you guessing until the final scene, a new, limited edition reissue of The Game from Arrow Academy arrives in stores on July 27th and includes a new 2K restoration of the film as well as a disc of bonus features, such as an archival interview with Douglas, a newly-filmed interview with co-writer John Brancato, and a 200-page hardback book.
Three Outlaw Samurai
One of this month's new additions to the Criterion Collection, Three Outlaw Samurai was first released in 1964 and besides being the debut feature from revered Japanese director Hideo Gosha it's also one of the most enduringly popular films in the 'chambara' (sword-fighting) genre. An origin-story spinoff from the Japanese TV series of the same name, Three Outlaw Samurai sees the Ronin meet for the first time as they are hired to track down and kill a group of peasants who have kidnapped the daughter of a corrupt magistrate.
The new Criterion Collection edition arrives in stores on July 20th and includes a high-definition restoration of the film, newly-translated English subtitles and an essay by film critic Bilge Ebiri.
Best known for films such as Get Carter and Flash Gordon, Mike Hodges may not have been the most prolific director of his era, completing just 11 feature films in career spanning more than 30 years, but in doing so he covered almost every conceivable genre from horror (Damien: Omen II) through comedy (Pulp) to gritty, real life drama (A Prayer for the Dying). Representing one of the weirder entries in that short-but-sweet filmography is 1989's Black Rainbow, a supernatural thriller starring Rosanna Arquette as a woman whose apparent psychic abilities cause her to witness a murder – several hours before it actually takes place – leading her to become another target for the killer.
A new director-approved restoration of the film has been overseen by Arrow Video, who are set to release a limited edition reissue of Black Rainbow on July 6th. Bonus features include an documentary charting the making of the film, archival interviews with the director and cast and, in the first pressing, a limited edition booklet featuring new writings on the film by Mike Hodges and author Alexandra Heller-Nicholas.
Buster Keaton: The Cameraman
Along with Charlie Chaplin, the inimitable Buster Keaton is one of a tiny handful of stars from the era of silent film whose legacy and influence have by far outlasted the medium which made them famous. One of Keaton's best-loved films, The Cameraman, is set to become one of this month's new additions to the Criterion Collection, with a newly-restored version headed to stores on July 20th. Keaton stars as a clumsy newsreel cameraman who has fallen so hopelessly for a woman working at MGM Studios that he resolves to get a job there in order to be near the object of his desires, but soon begins to cause a series of comedic mishaps that threaten to foul up his romantic overtures.
Criterion's new reissue benefits from a 4K restoration and a new score from composer Timothy Brock, as well as a range of extras including a new documentary on Keaton by Daniel Raim, a 2004 documentary specifically on his work for MGM, and a 2K restoration of Keaton's next film for the studio, Spite Marriage.