The best Blu-ray & 4K reissues coming in April 2020
A complete Star Wars box set, a forgotten classic from Saul Bass and a true epic from the master of slow cinema Bela Tarr, all coming your way in Apr
Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga Complete Box Set
George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Richard Marquand, Rian Johnson, J.J. Abrams
There really is no need for an introduction to our first pick this month and yes, we know, there have already been plenty of Star Wars box sets and reissues over the years, but it all comes down to this: Everything, the whole 40-year, 9-chapter saga, in one box.
The journey that began long, long ago (1977 to be exact) in a galaxy far away finally reached its conclusion with the The Rise of Skywalker, the third in JJ Abrams' new trilogy and the final instalment in what is, quite simply, one of the most successful film franchises in history.
The new box set containing all 9 chapters arrives in stores on April 20th and is housed in an impressive box set packed with a range of bonus material and no few than three full-length documentaries on the films, their legacy and the technical wizardry behind them. One for the completists.
Saul Bass is probably best known to most as the graphic designer behind the iconic film posters created for the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, Otto Preminger and Stanley Kubrick, as well as the stylish title sequences co-created with his wife Elaine for classic films such as Vertigo, West Side Story, Anatomy of a Murder and many, many more. Despite an illustrious and hugely influential career in his field, Bass only ever directed one feature film; this 1974 sci-fi horror oddity named Phase IV. Set largely in the Arizona desert, the film revolves around a team of scientists trying to figure out the reasons behind a major evolutionary shift in ants, only to discover that he insects have developed a hive mind consciousness with sinister plans for the human race.
A box office flop when originally released, the film has nevertheless attained something of a cult status and a newly-restored version is set to arrive in stores on April 6th. The reissue also includes the original Saul Bass ending (with optional commentary), as well as a range of other extras including a collection of six short films made by Bass between 1964 and 1984. The first run also includes a limited edition booklet featuring new essays on the film, 'Killer Bug' movies and the career of Saul Bass.
If you're new to the work of legendary Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr, Satantango (or 'Satan's Tango', in English) might not be the easiest way to start; with a runtime of 7h 30m, Tarr's sixth feature film is an epic in the true sense of the word, but one that rewards anyone patient enough to last the distance.
Set in a desolate village in rural Hungary, where the local communal farm has collapsed, the story revolves around a group of villagers planning to make off with the collective's money, only to postpone their thievery when news arrives that a mercurial former resident of the village, long thought to be dead, is set to return. Far from being their saviour, however, he is instead an informer for the Communist state with nefarious plans of his own.
To celebrate the film's 25th anniversary, the film has been given a new 4K restoration and a new Blu-ray reissue is set to arrive in stores on April 27th. There isn't much in teh way of bonus features but, honestly, seven and a half hours of feature should be enough for anyone. A modern masterpiece well worth owning.
The Elephant Man: 40th Anniversary Edition 4K Ultra HD Collector's Edition
Despite the fact that The Elephant Man was only David Lunch's second feature film as a director (following his weird and wonderful 1977 debut Eraserhead), the biopic of John Merrick starring John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins still managed to earn no fewer than eight nominations at the Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor nomination for its leading man Hurt.
Released in 1980, the film document's Merrick's struggles with daily life in Victorian society, his facial disfigurement forcing him to work as a circus sideshow and endure a life of cruelty and social ostracism until he is offered help by a well-meaning surgeon.
Lynch's film celebrates its 40th birthday this year and to mark the occasion a special anniversary $K UHD edition of the film is set to be released this month by StudioCanal. The film has been the subject of a new 4K restoration overseen by Lynch himself and the reissue includes of range of extras such as interviews with Lynch and John Hurt, a new BFI Q&A with producer Jonathan Sanger and a mini-feature on the real John Merrick, as well as a 64-page booklet and a collection of art cards. The anniversary edition is set to arrive in stores in the form of this stunning pop-up box set on April 6th.
The Man With the X-ray Eyes
Labelled by some as 'The Pope of Pop Cinema', director Roger Corman was not only the man behind string of low-budget movies during the 1960s and 70s, but also the founder of production companies such as New World Pictures and Millennium, earning his place as the king of low-budget cinema. This particular entry in Corman's often nightmarish fillmography arrived in 1963 and revolves around the story of a doctor who invents a serum which gives him the power to see through matter. Initially, he is able to use his new abilities to save patients and help others, but as his power increases his life - and his grip on reality - both begin to slide away from him.
A newly-restored, limited edition reissue of The Man With The X-Ray Eyes comes to Blu-ray on April 20th courtesy of the folks at Second Sight Films and includes a range of extras such as director commentary, a new interview with Roger Corman and the original prologue to the film, as well as a poster and a soft-cover book with new writings on Corman's work.
Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker
Thanks to the success of the Naked Gun films, there can be few people who grew up in the 1980s and 90s who are unaware of Detective Frank Drebin, the hapless cop played to comedic perfection by Leslie Nielsen, but it all began in 1982 with Police Squad! Incredibly, given the later success of the Naked Gun films, only six episodes of the police procedural spoof were ever made and the show was cancelled by ABC after just four of those had aired. More incredibly still, the reason given by network chief Tony Thomopoulos for its cancellation was that "the viewer had to watch it in order to appreciate it."
Still, the original series retains a timeless ability to raise a laugh and the whole series, complete with a range of extras, arrives in stores on both Bluray and DVD on April 20th, giving you another opportunity to enjoy one of the funniest exchanges Leslie Nielsen ever delivered:
"Who are you? How did you get in here?"
"I'm a locksmith. And, I'm a locksmith."
Clan of the White Lotus
If the white-bearded, bushy-eyebrowed villain of this 1980 Kung Fu classic seems familiar, it's because the Pai Mei featured here is the very same one resurrected years later by Quentin Tarantino in Kill Bill: Vol. 2.
One of the many martial arts films produced by famed Hong Kong studio Shaw Brothers, Clan of the White Lotus (released in North America as Fist of the White Lotus) is actually the third in a trilogy of films to feature Pai Mei, but it's in Clan of the White Lotus that Pai Mei carries out the murderous massacre of the Shaolin monks later recounted by David Carradine's Bill in Tarantino's film. Played by the film's director Lo Lieh, the film also co-stars Gordon Liu who, in a move unlikely to be coincidence, Tarantino cast as Pai Mei in his own film many years later.
The film is one of several Shaw Brothers classics given the restoration treatment by 88 Films in recent months and the new Blu-ray edition is set to arrive in stores on April 20th. The reissue isn't packed with extras, but does include the original English dub and Cantonese audio with newly-translated English subtitles, as well as a limited edition slipcase with reversible artwork.
Cinema of Conflict - Four Films By Krzystof Kieslowski
Bets-known to most for his superb Three Colours trilogy, Polish filmmaker Krzystof Kieslowski was undoubtedly one of Eastern Europe's most pioneering auteurs and this month the folks at Arrow Video have put together a new box set featuring a collection of four films represnting the earlier part of his career, before his subsequent success in France and while he was still working behind the Iron Curtain.
The new box set includes The Scar (1976), Camera Buff (1979), No End (1984) and Blind Chance (filmed in 1981, but not released in Poland until 1987), and is set to arrive in stores on April 20th.