Blu-ray breakdown: The best movies newly available on disc

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Marvel

Despite increasing attention on streaming and digital movies, DVD and especially Blu-ray aficionados still have much they can enjoy. Companies like the Criterion Collection, Arrow, Kino Lorber, Shout! Factory, and Olive Films are putting out the highest-quality transfers of great titles imaginable, with astounding arrays of extras that you won’t get with a stream or on pay-per-view.

What’s more, there’s no better way to take full advantage of your 4K TV, because you don’t need to worry about a service throttling your video stream due to bandwidth constraints or online congestion. Can’t get high-speed internet to your home? Does your internet connection slow to a crawl every evening, when the whole neighborhood is jumping on Netflix? None of that matters if you’re using a disc player.

We will curate the best of the new releases for your perusal, whether you’re an avid collector who buys discs, you’re on a Netflix disc-rental plan, or you frequent your local Redbox location. The focus here is on Blu-ray discs, but many of these films are also available in Ultra HD Blu-ray (4K). This first batch is a mix of cheery and chilling, set to satisfy the need for bright tales and creepy dread alike.

[ Further reading: The best Ultra HD Blu-ray players ]

Ant-Man and the Wasp

(2018)

antmanwasp blu jma Marvel

The twentieth movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, Peyton Reed’s flick is like a much-needed breather after Avengers: Infinity War. This breezy, colorful adventure manages to sprinkle in light-hearted laughs throughout, as well as a gleefully picturesque use of San Francisco locations.

Paul Rudd returns as Ant-Man, under house arrest and in trouble for his behavior in Captain America: Civil War. The Wasp, a.k.a. Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and her father Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) are trying to rescue wife/mother Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the quantum realm, but unfortunately a new adversary, the phasing “Ghost,” is after them.

  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Release date: October 16
  • Company: Disney/Marvel
  • Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; Spanish, French, Portuguese (all Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Region A
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Running time: 118 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13 for some sci-fi action violence
  • Digital Copy: Yes
  • DVD: No
  • Bonus Features: Director’s introduction; four behind-the-scenes featurettes; a gag reel and outtakes; deleted scenes; “digital exclusives.”
  • SRP: $30.02

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP [Blu-ray] $21.99MSRP $22.00See iton Amazon

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

(1956)

invasionofbodysnatchers blu jma Olive Films

This classic, black-and-white sci-fi movie, based on a novel by Jack Finney, has been given the special treatment in an Olive Signature Edition. Kevin McCarthy stars as a man who attempts to stop the efforts of “pod people” from copying human beings and taking over the world, all without falling asleep.

It’s a simple, primal, brutally effective story, and many have read into it themes of communism, or perhaps even the communist witch-hunts. However, it’s a versatile enough story that it can mean anything—even just plain, mindless fun.

  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Release date: October 16
  • Company: Olive Signature
  • Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Region A
  • Subtitles: English
  • Running time: 80 minutes
  • MPAA rating: NR
  • Digital Copy: No
  • DVD: No
  • Bonus Features: Two audio commentary tracks, one with historian Richard Harland Smith and one with actors Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter, moderated by filmmaker Joe Dante; a two-part visual essay by director Don Siegel’s son Kristoffer Tabori; a featurette with filmmakers Dante and Larry Cohen discussing the film; a featurette on producer Walter Wanger; two featurettes with actors McCarthy and Wynter and filmmakers John Landis, Mick Garris, and Stuart Gordon; a 1985 archival interview with McCarthy; a featurette on the film’s locations; a featurette about the film’s title; a gallery of production documents; a trailer. A liner notes essay is by author and film programmer Kier-La Janisse.
  • SRP: $39.95

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Olive Signature) [Blu-ray] $22.97MSRP $22.97See iton Amazon

Trilogy of Terror

(1975)

trilogyofterror blu jma KL Studio Classics

In this above-average made-for-TV horror anthology movie, Karen Black stars in three different segments, each based on a classic Richard Matheson story. In the first, she plays a buttoned-up college professor who is seduced—and blackmailed—by one of her students. In the second, she plays twin sisters that are forever at each other’s throats, one prissy and religious and the other a sexy, carefree flirt. In the third, and the one segment adapted by Matheson himself, she plays a woman who purchases a Zuni warrior doll and must defend herself when it comes to life, attacking her with its razor-sharp spear and mouth full of spikey shark’s teeth!

  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Release date: October 16
  • Company: Kino Lorber
  • Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Region A
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Running time: 72 minutes
  • MPAA rating: NR
  • Digital Copy: No
  • DVD: Available separately
  • Bonus Features: Two commentary tracks: one by film historian Richard Harland Smith, and one by Karen Black and writer William F. Nolan; featurettes on composer Bob Cobert, writer Matheson, and Black; a liner notes essay by critic Simon Abrams. The cardboard slip cover features new art by Jacob Phillips.
  • SRP: $29.95

Trilogy of Terror [Blu-ray] $19.22MSRP $29.95See iton Amazon

Distant Voices, Still Lives

(1988)

distantvoices blu jma Arrow Academy

This forgotten gem from the 1980s gets a Blu-ray release at long last. A feature directing debut by the acclaimed English filmmaker Terence Davies, Distant Voices, Still Lives is a two-parter (part one is “Distant Voices” and part two is “Still Lives”). Both parts tell the story of a family living in Liverpool during the 1940s and 1950s, with their trials and tribulations, weddings and funerals.

Pete Postlethwaite plays the father, sometimes tender, but frequently cruel, but not everything is grim and depressing here. Davies uses popular music and the concept of memory to tell his story, deliberately allowing artificiality and staginess in his scenes, but always in a way that flows softly and lyrically. It’s a beautifully poetic movie and a small masterpiece.

  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Release date: October 23
  • Company: Arrow Academy
  • Audio: English LPCM 2.0
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Region A
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Running time: 85 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • Digital Copy: No
  • DVD: No
  • Bonus Features: Director’s commentary track; a Q&A with the director; an interview with the director; an introduction by Mark Kermode; an image gallery; vintage documentaries about Liverpool; trailers.
  • SRP: $39.95

Distant Voices, Still Lives (Special Edition) [Blu-ray] $21.42MSRP $21.72See iton Amazon

Ash vs Evil Dead: The Complete Collection

(2015-2017)

ashvsevildead blu jma Starz / Anchor Bay

This incredible series, part Exorcist and part Three Stooges, brings back Bruce Campbell’s iconic “Ash” character, 30 years later, from Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead movie trilogy. With his legendary chainsaw arm, he once again finds himself fighting “Deadites” (spawned from the Book of the Dead) in spectacularly gory ways, alongside his new pals Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo). Lucy Lawless, Ted Raimi, and Lee Majors co-star. This six-disc Blu-ray set includes all 30 episodes (Raimi directed the pilot).

  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Release date: October 16
  • Company: Lionsgate/Starz
  • Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 7.1; Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0; French Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Region A
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish (French subtitles are available only on Seasons 2-3)
  • Running time: 860 minutes
  • MPAA rating: NR
  • Digital Copy: Yes
  • DVD: Available separately
  • Bonus Features: Commentary tracks on selected episodes; many short behind-the-scenes featurettes.
  • SRP: $49.99

Ash Vs. Evil Dead Season 1-3 Collection [Blu-ray] MSRP $49.99See iton Amazon

Shampoo

(1975)

shampoo blu jma Criterion Collection

Warren Beatty co-wrote, produced, and stars in this shaggy-dog comedy set over the course of one day (the eve of the 1968 presidential election), which follows hairdresser George as he juggles his many lovers while trying to raise money for his own salon. Hal Ashby directs in a kind of hazy frenzy, and Oscar-winner Robert Towne worked on the screenplay, in which George replies to just about everything with a noncommittal “great!”

The supporting cast steals the show, with Goldie Hawn, Carrie Fisher, Julie Christie, and Lee Grant (who won an Oscar), plus Jack Warden (who received a nomination).

  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Release date: October 16
  • Company: The Criterion Collection
  • Audio: Uncompressed monaural soundtrack; Alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Region A
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Running time: 110 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • Digital Copy: No
  • DVD: Available separately
  • Bonus Features: New conversation between critics Mark Harris and Frank Rich; excerpt from a 1998 appearance by producer, cowriter, and actor Warren Beatty on The South Bank Show; liner notes essay by Rich.
  • SRP: $39.95

Shampoo (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] $21.12MSRP $21.42See iton Amazon

Unfriended: Dark Web

(2018)

unfriendeddarkweb blu jma Universal Pictures Home Entertaiment

This sequel to the surprise 2015 hit is, like its predecessor, impeccably designed to appear as if taking place in real time: in a single shot, entirely upon a computer screen, using various windows, live chats, videos, timers, and more. Streaming playlists and various mouse clicks provide the tense soundtrack.

Unfriended: Dark Web goes into much more vicious, brutal territory than the first movie’s simple ghost story, but it’s effective in startling ways. Betty Gabriel, so haunting in Get Out, has a smallish role here. Screenwriter Stephen Susco (The Grudge, Texas Chainsaw 3D, etc.) makes his directing debut.

  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Release date: October 16
  • Company: Universal
  • Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.75:1
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Region A
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Running time: 88 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • Digital Copy: Yes
  • DVD: Available separately
  • Bonus Features: Three alternate endings
  • SRP: $22.99

Unfriended: Dark Web [Blu-ray] $19.93MSRP $19.95See iton Amazon

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

(2018)

mamamiaherewegoagain blu jma Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Ten years after the original hit, this sequel flips back and forth in time to deepen the relationships from the first film, and of course, features lots of ABBA music. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again scored much better with critics than the original Mamma Mia! (2008), even though this one earned a few million less at the box office.

Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, and Cher are among the cast, with an appearance by Meryl Streep. Ol Parker (Imagine Me & You, Now Is Good) directed and co-wrote the screenplay.

  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Release date: October 23
  • Company: Universal
  • Audio: English Dolby Atmos; English Dolby TrueHD 7.1; Spanish & French Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Region A
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
  • Running time: 114 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • Digital Copy: Yes
  • DVD: Yes
  • Bonus Features: Deleted/extended songs and scenes, with optional director commentary; sing-a-longs; many behind-the-scenes featurettes and interviews; a feature commentary track with the director; a second feature commentary track with producer Judy Craymer.
  • SRP: $34.98

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again [Blu-ray] $12.99MSRP $16.87See iton Amazon

Sorry to Bother You

(2018)

sorrytobotheryou blu jma20th Century Fox

Oakland rapper Boots Riley’s feature-writing and directing debut is one of the year’s most outrageously original movies, often squeamishly so. It takes place in an alternate reality version of Oakland, California, where Cassius Green (or “Cash is green”) (Lakeith Stanfield) gets a job as a telemarketer and advances through the ranks when he begins using his “white voice.”

But freakishly disturbing things are brewing behind the scenes, and a revolution is stirring in the streets, and Cash must decide what he truly stands for. The movie takes some hard, bumpy turns that can leave viewers unsettled, but it’s certainly different, and not easy to forget. Tessa Thompson, Terry Crews, Danny Glover, and Armie Hammer co-star, with the voices of Patton Oswalt and David Cross.

  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Release date: October 23
  • Company: Fox Home Entertainment
  • Audio: English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Region A
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
  • Running time: 101 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • Digital Copy: Yes
  • DVD: Yes
  • Bonus Features: Director’s commentary track; featurettes; image gallery.
  • SRP: $34.99

Sorry To Bother You [Blu-ray] $19.96MSRP $29.98See iton Amazon

Sisters

(1973)

sisters blu jma Criterion Collection

This early thriller from Brian De Palma is one of his purest dives into the twisted place where murder, obsession and voyeurism tangle up. Margot Kidder gives an amazing, sensual performance as Danielle, a French-Canadian model, whose sordid past comes to light after a reporter witnesses a man being killed in her apartment and begins investigating her.

Every view is stolen through windows or doorways or binoculars, De Palma makes stunning use of split-screen (which would become a trademark of his), and characters watch lurid TV shows about invading others’ privacy. Elevating it all is an assaultive score by Bernard Herrmann, a veteran of Hitchcock films. Jennifer Salt, Charles Durning, and William Finley co-star.

  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Release date: October 23
  • Company: The Criterion Collection
  • Audio: English LPCM Mono
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Region A
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Running time: 93 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • Digital Copy: No
  • DVD: No
  • Bonus Features: Digital transfer supervised by director De Palma; new interview with actor Jennifer Salt; interviews from 2004 with De Palma, actors Bill Finley and Charles Durning, editor Paul Hirsch, and producer Edward R. Pressman; audio from a 1973 discussion with De Palma at the American Film Institute; appearance from 1970 by actor Margot Kidder on The Dick Cavett Show; photo gallery and radio spots; a liner notes booklet with an essay by film critic Carrie Rickey and excerpts from 1973 interview with De Palma.
  • SRP: $39.95

Sisters (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] $21.42MSRP $21.72See iton Amazon

Creepshow

(1982)

creepshow blu jma Warner Brothers

After a failed effort to make a big-screen film of The Stand, director George A. Romero and author Stephen King teamed up for this garishly fun horror anthology, inspired by the EC Comics both creators loved as kids. King wrote the screenplay, consisting of three original stories, and two others that were adapted from stories published elsewhere.

Among the stories are “The Crate,” starring Hal Holbrook and Adrienne Barbeau, about a mysterious crate under the stairs that probably shouldn’t be opened; “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill,” about a backwoods hillbilly (played by King) that unwisely messes with a meteor that has crashed to earth; and “They’re Creeping Up on You,” about a cleanliness-obsessed man (E.G. Marshall) who deals with a cockroach attack. Ed Harris, Leslie Nielsen, and Ted Danson appear in other segments. King’s son Joe and FX man Tom Savini appear in the wraparound sequence, in which a father angrily takes away his son’s horror comic.

  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Release date: October 23
  • Company: Shout! Factory
  • Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA; English 2.0 DTS-HD MA
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Region A
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Running time: 120 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • Digital Copy: No
  • DVD: No
  • Bonus Features: New scan from the original camera negative, supervised by director of photography Michael Gornick; commentary track by director Romero and special make-up effects creator Tom Savini; commentary track by Gornick; commentary track by first assistant director John Harrison and construction coordinator Ed Fountain; a round-table discussion; interviews; featurettes; behind-the-scenes footage; a look at the locations; deleted scenes; trailers; TV spot; radio spot; still galleries.
  • SRP: $39.93

Creepshow [Collector's Edition] [Blu-ray] $39.93MSRP $39.93See iton Amazon To comment on this article and other TechHive content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.

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