October 23, 2021

SURVIVE THE GAME: Chad & Bruce...Together Again

SURVIVE THE GAME (Blu-ray Review)
2021 / 97 min

FROM LIONSGATE

Review by Tiger the Terrible­čś╝

At the very least, Survive the Game isn’t yet another Bruce Willis smash & grab where he shows up for a few minutes in exchange for a paycheck and prominent billing. While I’m certain he’s still here for the paycheck - sometimes looking a bit drunk - his character actually sticks around for awhile. Still, he’s third banana to a couple of younger, hunker stars - Chad Michael Murray and Swen Temmel - neither of whom would’ve been fit to polish John Maclane’s badge back in the day.

Not to be confused with Survive the Night - an equally low-wattage action flick teaming Willis & Murray - this one features dedicated cop Cal (Temmel) trying to rescue wounded partner David (Willis) from a gang of drug dealers. They’re holding David hostage in an old farmhouse owned by Eric (Murray), still brooding over the death of his family, meaning he doesn’t care whether he lives or dies. Still, he insists on helping Cal because the farm is all he has left. Meanwhile, inside the house, David spends a majority of the film tied to a chair and taunting lead henchman Frank (Michael Snow), yet-another graduate from the Hans Gruber School of Villainy.


Once again, Bruce questions his life choices.
The Die Hard references are appropriate, since Survive the Night follows the same blueprint, albeit on a much smaller scale. We have the out-numbered protagonists and severely overconfident bad guys, most of whom are just cannon fodder. Cal & Eric fight & grimace their way through a variety of the dumbest thugs I’ve seen in recent memory, which turns out to be a terrific source of unintentional humor. My favorite scene has the two dispatching a few baddies in a barn, and even though gunfire is exchanged, none of the thugs holding vigil just outside the door hear a thing!

The film is loaded with similarly hilarious implausibilities, such as a scene where Frank shoots Eric’s neighbor and could also take-out Eric, standing ten feet away. Instead, he watches dumbfounded as Eric scampers off, and then orders his men to go after him. Elsewhere, Willis provides a lot of embarrassingly bad wisecracks and threats before managing to fight his way to freedom. Bruce sure as hell ain’t the action hero he used to be and in-no-way are we convinced this old man could take on guys half his age.


However, the ridiculous action and phenomenally stupid characters are part of what makes Survive the Game sort-of a hoot. Despite the dead-serious tone - or perhaps because of it - a lot of this is actually pretty funny, compounded by an abrasive techno score to remind us how cool everything is supposed to be.


EXTRA KIBBLES

TRAILER

DIGITAL COPY

October 21, 2021

CORRIDOR OF MIRRORS and the Bond Connection

CORRIDOR OF MIRRORS (Blu-ray Review)
1948 / 96 min

FROM COHEN MEDIA GROUP

Review by Mr. Paws­čś║

Though relatively obscure, Corridor of Mirrors might be of some historical interest for a few reasons.

First, this is the first feature film directed by Terrence Young, probably best known - to those who pay attention to this sort of thing - as the guy responsible for some of the Connery-era James Bond films, not-to-mention one of the 60s' best thrillers, Wait Until Dark. As such, it’s a fairly impressive debut. Speaking of Bond, Miss Moneypenny herself, Lois Maxwell, also appears in a supporting role. 


Additionally, this is Christopher Lee’s very first film, though it isn’t a significant part. In fact, if you turn away for a minute you might even miss him, playing a snarky nightclub patron. Of course, Lee has a Bond connection as well.


But perhaps most significantly, the main protagonist is played by Edana Romney, who also co-wrote the film and formed a production company just to get it made with herself in the starring role. I don’t know if she intended it to be a springboard for bigger & better things - which didn’t happen - but a woman taking creative control of her own career was fairly rare in those days.


The movie itself is a gothic romance with sinister undertones. When we meet Mifanwy (Romney), she’s on her way to “meet” her lover, which turns out to be a wax figure in a museum featuring notorious criminals & killers. As narrated by Mifanwy, the story flashes back to when she first meets Paul Mangin (Eric Portman), a wealthy, enigmatic, sophisticated artist who’s both respected and resented by the upper-class community. Mifanwy becomes immediately smitten - practically enchanted - and the feeling appears mutual.


"Mmmm...Smells like Teen Spirit."
However, the more time they spend together, the more Paul appears to be grooming her for some mysterious purpose. Though she realizes she’s being manipulated - even being instructed what to wear, with dresses he designed specifically for her - Mifanwy finds herself unable to resist him, though she’s free to leave whenever she wants. Then she meets Veronica (Barbara Mullen), a woman she discovers has been confined in Paul’s mansion for years, who warns her that he has dark motives. When confronted, Paul claims Mifanwy is the reincarnation of his former lover, who betrayed him centuries earlier.

Not quite a horror film or thriller, Corridor of Mirrors often feels like both, largely thanks to its fluid pace, atmospheric production design and underlying theme of dangerous obsession. Though this may have been intended as a star vehicle for Romney - and she is good - it's Portman who steals the entire movie, exuding a constant level of subtle menace beneath all that regal charm.


And just when the viewer thinks they know where the story is going, it turns out we don’t. The narrative serves up a pretty nifty twist at the end, one that would seem right at home in a film noir thriller. It’s a nice capper to a dark, engaging film that’s worth rediscovering. And if nothing else, it’s a chance to see the humble beginnings of a few British cinema legends.


EXTRA KIBBLES

TRAILER

October 20, 2021

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly of THE STAND (2020)

THE STAND (Blu-ray Review)
2020-2121 / 508 min.

FROM PARAMOUNT

Review by Carl, the Couch Potato­čś╝

Stephen King’s The Stand is the greatest novel ever written. Anyone who disagrees either hasn't read it or is simply wrong. Those of us with nothing but gushing praise have been waiting decades for a worthy film adaptation. And considering its epic scope, that was always gonna be a tall order. The 1994 ABC miniseries was a damn good try. But while certainly faithful to the book, it never escaped the inherent smallness and standards of network television. 

So we kept waiting, and for years were teased with on-again-off-again stories of a real movie...maybe more than one in order to encompass the apocalyptic grandeur of the novel. 


Of course, TV has changed a lot since the ‘90s. Suddenly, another miniseries seemed like a good idea again. So here we are with a new version of The Stand, unbound by any restrictions regarding violence, gruesome imagery, sex or language (all of which the book had in abundance). Nothing would make me happier than saying it gave me the same out-of-body experience as the novel, but I’m afraid my wait for a definitive adaptation continues (which will probably never happen at this point).


That’s not to say 2020’s The Stand is an abject failure. On the contrary, there are some truly great moments spread throughout these nine episodes, including one aspect that actually improves on the novel. But for everything it does right, there are times we’re wondering what the hell they were thinking. Taking a cue from Sergio Leone, here’s the good, the bad and the downright ugly of The Stand:


THE GOOD: First off, it makes good on the promise of retaining the nastier aspects of the book. Its unflinching depiction of Captain Trips - the virus which wipes out most of the population - is unsettling and suitably grotesque. Elsewhere, the graphic violence is offered at a level the first miniseries could only hint at. There are also some really good performances, including Alexander Skarsgard as the menacing Randall Flagg (though he’s not as much fun as Jamie Sheridan was in the role). Owen Teague is terrific as Harold Lauter, a dangerously unstable teenage loser who was cartoonish in the 1994 version, but is truly creepy here. I also gotta say that James Marsden looks and sounds exactly as I envisioned main hero Stu Redman when reading the book. The story as-presented requires patience, but the final three episodes are genuinely gripping, gruesome and feature surprising story changes. King himself wrote a new ending, which I must admit is a significant improvement over the unnecessarily protracted coda of his book.


Flagg knows who stole the cookies from the cookie jar.
THE BAD: Fans of the book will definitely cry foul at many of the narrative details (or lack thereof). Not necessarily what’s done differently - like relocating Larry Underwood’s (Joven Adepo) terrifying journey through the dark of New York’s Lincoln Tunnel to an underground sewer - but skimming over many characters’ side-stories during their cross-country journeys (a huge part of what made the book so epic). On a related note, some major characters have been greatly reduced, such as deaf-mute Nick Andros (Henry Zaga), who’s damn-near a peripheral character here and almost inconsequential to the story. But the biggest shame is what they did to Lloyd Henried (Nat Wolff). As Flagg’s loyal right-hand man, he was one of the book’s more intriguing characters. But instead of a troubled soul, he comes across like an obnoxious YouTuber. 

THE UGLY: By far, the biggest bone of contention is the inexplicable decision to present much of the story out of sequence. As Episode 1 begins, the plague has already wiped out most of the population, and only through flashbacks do we learn how the primary players end up in Las Vegas or Boulder. Not only does that negate any suspense over whether or not they survive their treks, the best aspect of the novel was how Captain Trips spread across the country. Witnessing the end of the world first was always an essential element of its ominous tone. There’s absolutely no convincing narrative reason to rearrange the order of so many key moments. Thankfully, the last half of the series pretty much leaves the flashbacks behind and sticks to King’s sequence of events. 


But even with its major issues, The Stand is watchable, perhaps more so for fans of the book than those who’ve never read it because we can fill in all the pieces the narrative chooses to leave out. And despite the jumbled sequencing and glaring omissions, it is a relatively faithful adaptation, with just enough alterations to keep things interesting. In that respect, this version is best viewed as more of a companion piece than a definitive adaptation, which we’ll just have to keep waiting for.


EXTRA KIBBLES

“AN APOCALYPTIC EPIC: ADAPTING THE STAND” - Pretty decent featurette featuring interviews with most of the cast, as well as some behind-the-scenes footage.

GAG REEL

October 19, 2021

THE POOP SCOOP: Upcoming Kibbles!

Clint Eastwood’s CRY MACHO on Digital 11/5 and 4K, Blu-ray & DVD 12/7
In 1979, Mike Milo (Clint Eastwood), a one-time rodeo star and washed-up horse breeder, takes a job from an ex-boss (Dwight Yoakam) to bring the man’s young son (Eduardo Minett) home from Mexico. Forced to take the backroads on their way to Texas, the unlikely pair faces an unexpectedly challenging journey, during which the world-weary horseman finds unexpected connections and his own sense of redemption. Experience an uplifting and poignant story of redemption when “Cry Macho” arrives for Premium Digital Ownership at home on November 5. The film is directed by Oscar winner Clint Eastwood (“Million Dollar Baby,” “Gran Torino”) from a screenplay by Nick Schenk and N. Richard Nash, based on the novel by Nash, and stars Eastwood, newcomer Eduardo Minett, Natalia Traven (“Collateral Damage,” TV’s “Soulmates”) and Dwight Yoakam (“Logan Lucky,” “Sling Blade”). The film will also be available on 4K, Blu ray and DVD beginning on December 7.

MALIGNANT Premium Digital Ownership 10/22 and 4K, Blu-ray & DVD 11/30
Director James Wan returns to his roots with this new original horror thriller. A woman is paralyzed by shocking visions of grisly murders, and her torment worsens as she discovers that these waking dreams are in fact terrifying realities. Discover terrifying realities when “Malignant” arrives for Premium Digital Ownership at home on October 22. Director James Wan (“The Conjuring,” “Aquaman,” “Furious 7”) returns to his roots with this original horror thriller.  The film is also from a screenplay by Akela Cooper (“M3GAN,” TV’s “Luke Cage”), story by Wan, Ingrid Bisu and Cooper, and stars Annabelle Wallis (“Annabelle,” “The Mummy”), Maddie Hasson (TV’s “Impulse,” TV’s “Mr. Mercedes”) and George Young (TV’s “Containment”). The film will also be available on Blu-ray and DVD beginning on November 30. “Malignant” will also be available on Movies Anywhere. Using the free Movies Anywhere app and website, consumers can access all their eligible movies by connecting their Movies Anywhere account with their participating digital retailer accounts.

 

THE RED SHOES in 4K Coming 12/14
The Red Shoes, the singular fantasia from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, is cinema's quintessential backstage drama, as well as one of the most glorious Technicolor feasts ever concocted for the screen. Moira Shearer is a rising star ballerina torn between an idealistic composer and a ruthless impresario intent on perfection. Featuring outstanding performances, blazingly beautiful cinematography by Jack Cardiff, Oscar-winning sets and music, and an unforgettable, hallucinatory central dance sequence, this beloved classic, dazzlingly restored, stands as an enthralling tribute to the life of the artist. FEATURES A 4K TRANSFER OF THE 2009 RESTORATION with uncompressed monaural soundtrack; DOLBY VISION/HDR PRESENTATION; 4K/BLU-RAY COMBO; numerous supplemental features. 

 

MANIAC COP 2 and 3 4K UHD coming 11/16
MANIAC COP 2: The “Maniac Cop” is back from the dead and stalking the streets of New York once more. Officer Matt Cordell was once a hero, but after being framed by corrupt superiors and brutally assaulted in prison, he sets out on a macabre mission of vengeance, teaming up with a vicious serial killer to track down those that wronged him and make them pay… with their lives! Now Blue Underground’s stunning restoration of MANIAC COP 2, scanned in 4K from the original camera negative and supervised by Director of Photography James Lemmo (VIGILANTE), is presented with Dolby Vision HDR and a new Dolby Atmos audio mix for this definitive presentation! MANIAC COP 3: When Officer Kate Sullivan storms a hostage situation, the whole incident is captured on tape by an unscrupulous media crew who edit the footage to show Kate killing a helpless victim. Now in a coma, Kate's only hope is Detective Sean McKinney, who desperately tries to clear her name. But unbeknownst to him, “Maniac Cop” Matt Cordell takes it upon himself to exact revenge upon those responsible for smearing her name. Now Blue Underground’s killer restoration of MANIAC COP 3: BADGE OF SILENCE, scanned in 4K from the original uncensored negative, is presented with Dolby Vision HDR and a new Dolby Atmos audio mix for this definitive presentation!

October 18, 2021

The Heart-Wrenching RATCATCHER

RATCATCHER (Blu-ray Review)
1999 / 93 min

FROM CRITERION COLLECTION

Review by Fluffy the Fearless­čś┐

Something tells me Ratcatcher will never air on The Hallmark Channel.

At first, we assume young Ryan Quinn is the protagonist, since the opening 10 minutes follows him as he breaks from his mother’s protection to play near a creek with James Gillespie (William Eadie), another kid from the same decrepit Glasgow neighborhood. However, James accidentally drowns him, then runs away from the scene, hoping no one saw him.


James’ life sucks, though we get the impression that, until the drowning, he was blissfully unaware how awful things really were. His family lives in the worst neighborhood in town, exacerbated by a local garbage strike. The government is slowly trying to relocate families to more livable housing, but until then, the Gillespies dwell in squalor. There’s no toilet, vermin are everywhere and their street is clogged with mountains of trash. Since Dad (Tommy Flanagan) is constantly drunk, Mom does most of the parenting, which includes regularly brushing lice from her kids’ heads. But for the most part, the family remains optimistic life will change for the better once they’re relocated.


Outside of the house, we meet the kids James usually hangs out with (none of whom appear to be going to school), including a local gang who bully others and regularly team up to rape Margaret Anne (Leanne Mullen), an older girl with whom he forms an intimate (non-sexual) bond. Then there’s Kenny, a slow-witted animal lover whose pets generally end up dying, such as his mouse, Snowflake, which he tries sending to the moon by tying a balloon to its tail. 


All the while, Ryan’s death weighs heavily on James, as does the growing hopelessness he feels as life trudges on as usual. Aside from brief comfort in Margaret Anne’s company, he finds respite taking solitary bus trips to a housing development still under construction. Wandering the rooms and halls, taking-in all the accoutrements the Gillespies don't have, he briefly imagines living in comparative luxury before being forced to return to reality, which is becoming increasingly unbearable. 


Losing the remote is hell.
From the opening scene, Ratcatcher is relentlessly bleak, its pessimistic tone broken only once, when the narrative pauses to depict Snowflake’s whimsical balloon voyage to the moon, where he frolics with its fellow rodents. Initially, it seems wildly out-of-place compared to the rest of the film’s stifling oppressiveness. However, with hindsight, the denouement ultimately reveals this seemingly innocuous scene to be an ominous piece of foreshadowing. 

But despite the somber narrative and depressing aesthetics - aided immeasurably by suitably drab cinematography - Ratcatcher is engaging. Mostly devoid of feel-good moments, we’re nevertheless invested in the Gillespies. James, in particular, more than earns our empathy, even though he’s not always a particularly nice kid. But writer-director Lynne Ramsay certainly demonstrates a knack for creating vivid, authentic sounding child characters, meaning James behaves and reacts much like any real kid would under such circumstances.


Ramsay would go on to greater notoriety with such dark excursions as We Need to Talk About Kevin and You Were Never Really Here, but she earned her stripes as modern cinema’s preeminent Debbie Downer with this, her debut feature. As such, Ratcatcher may not be an entertaining film, though it’s certainly a compelling one.


EXTRA KIBBLES

DIRECTOR INTERVIEWS - Two separate interviews with director Lynne Ramsay, from 2022 & 2021.

3 SHORT FILMS - “Small Deaths,” “Kill the Day” and “Gasman,” all made prior to Ratcatcher...and just as uplifting.

AUDIO INTERVIEW - With cinematographer Alwin H. K├╝chler.

SUPPLEMENTARY INSERT - “A Flashlight Camera,” an essay by author/critic Girish Shambu; “Spine Number 162,” an essay by writer-director Barry Jenkins (Moonlight).

October 17, 2021

DEMONS I & II: Nostalgic Nastiness

DEMONS I & II (Blu-ray Review)
1985 & 1986 / 180 min (2 movies)

FROM SYNAPSE FILMS

Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat­čÖÇ

On this side of the pond, Demons and Demons 2 were perennial home video favorites among the hard core horror crowd, achieving a sizable cult following along the way. Venture into any mom & pop video store during the ‘80s and chances were the boxes and tapes for these two titles were among the most battered & tattered, the likely result of word-of-mouth advertising (“Dude, you gotta check this shit out!”). Whether or not these Italian splatterfests were actually any good was always a matter of perspective.

From a narrative standpoint, there’s only marginally more plot and character development than you'd find in a video game. In 1985’s Demons, several people are invited to the premiere of a new horror movie at a local theater. This movie-within-the-movie starts turning patrons into bloodthirsty monsters, save for a few characters we’re expected to root for because they’re the last ones left. The plot of Demons 2, which followed a year later, is nearly identical, only set in a high-rise apartment building. Since this one ignores the apocalyptic implications of the original’s climax, it could arguably be considered more of a reboot than an actual sequel (a few of the same actors return, playing completely different characters). 

The only thing scarier than a theater full of demons? Those concession prices.
In either case, once the basic scenario is quickly established, the story, characters and logic take a backseat to a non-stop parade of violent mayhem. Despite a team of screenwriters, the complete lack of story expansion suggests they were making things up as they went along (which would explain a previously never-seen helicopter crashing through the theater roof in Demons, thus giving survivors a way out).

However, ‘good’ is in the eye (and ears) of the beholder. Taken as pure sensory experiences, Demons and Demons 2 work quite well. Both films are visual & sonic assaults (’80s style!), so frantically paced that one can probably overlook the piecemeal plot, daffy dialogue and atrocious acting. The horrific make-up effects - especially the demon transformation sequences - are pretty impressive even by today’s standards. And admittedly, there are some nice atmospheric touches that give both settings a creepy vibe, especially in the first film. The visceral thrills are given considerable punch by the booming soundtracks, both combinations of synths (of course) and songs by notable rock artists of the day. Watching a dude ride a motorcycle through a zombie-filled theater while Saxon roars from the speakers is a ridiculously rousing highlight.


Since both films are definitely products of their time, this two-fer from Synapse Films is a pretty cool collection of nostalgic nastiness for anyone who first discovered their gory glories while perusing the horror section of their local video store. In addition to a good selection of new & vintage bonus features, some aesthetic goodies are tossed in that should please die hard fans. 


EXTRA KIBBLES

Demons

3 VERSIONS OF THE FILM - Full-length English & Italian versions; Edited U.S. version.

FEATURETTES -  “Produced by Dario Argento” (visual essay discussing Argento’s career as a producer); “Dario and the Demons: Producing Monster Mayhem”; “Dario’s Demon Days” (interview with Argento); “Defining an Era in Music” (interview with composer Claudio Simonetti); “Splatter Stunt Rock” (interview with stunt coordinator Ottaviano Dell’Acqua).

2 AUDIO COMMENTARIES - 1) A new one by podcaster Kat Ellinger & Heather Drain; 2) By director Lamberto Bava, FX artist Sergio Stivaletti, composer Claudio Simonetti & actor Geretta Giancarlo (listed as Geretta Geretta on the cover) 

TRAILERS

MOVIE TICKET REPLICA - Like the one from the film, with disc transfer specs on the reverse side.

FOLD-OUT POSTER - Demons-inspired artwork by Wes Benscoter.

Demons 2

ENGLISH & ITALIAN LANGUAGE VERSIONS

FEATURETTES - “Creating Creature Carnage” (interview with Sergio Stivaletti); “The Demons Generation” (interview with Roy Bava, Lamberto’s kid); “Screaming for a Sequel: The Delirious Legacy of Demons 2” (interview with director Lamberto Bava); “A Soundtrack for Splatter” (interview with composer Simon Boswell); “Together and Apart” (visual essay by author Alexandra Heller-Nicholas...who’s really reaching here).

AUDIO COMMENTARY - New commentary by critic Travis Crawford.

PARTY INVITATION REPLICA - With disc transfer specs on the reverse side.

TRAILERS

KITTY CONSENSUS:
PURR-R-R...LIKE A GOOD SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS.

October 16, 2021

NO MAN OF GOD: Bill & Ted's Okay Adventure

NO MAN OF GOD (Blu-ray Review)
2021 / 100 min

FROM RLJE FILMS

Review by Tiger the Terrible­čś╝

Ted Bundy was executed over 30 years ago and we’ve been getting countless books, movies & TV shows about him ever since. Some have been serious examinations of his psyche and notorious history, others were pure exploitation. So not only has he more-or-less remained in our public consciousness, every aspect of his story has pretty much been covered.

No Man of God treads familiar ground, with FBI profiler Bill Hagmaier (Elijah Wood) conducting numerous interviews with Bundy (Luke Kirby) during the years leading up to his execution. In addition to gaining valuable insight on what makes serial killers tick, he’s hoping Bundy to disclose all of his victims to account for many girls who’re still missing.


Ted Bundy...grumpy Gus.
Much of the narrative consists of these interviews, which are based on the actual transcripts. At first, they're verbal cat & mouse games similar to Silence of the Lambs (though not nearly as compelling). Bill eventually earns Ted’s trust, even developing sort of a friendship. However, we ultimately don’t learn anything new about Bundy, his crimes or these conversations. The performances are good and Kirby looks a lot like Bundy, but there’s nothing about the film that feels...well, necessary.

Competently made, No Man of God is a film with no highs or lows. The conversations are somewhat interesting without ever being revealing. It never explores Bundy’s story in much depth (luridly or otherwise), nor do we learn much about Hagmaier beyond a few confessions to his subject. In the end, this Bill & Ted adventure is watchable but unremarkable.


EXTRA KIBBLES

FEATURETTE - A brief doc featuring interviews with the two stars.

DIGITAL COPY

KITTY CONSENSUS:

NOT BAD. LIKE CAT CHOW.

October 14, 2021

THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN: The Dark Side of '50s Sci-Fi

THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN (Blu-ray Review)
1957 / 81 min

FROM CRITERION COLLECTION

Review by Mr. Paws­čś║

The Incredible Shrinking Man was sort-of a rarity at the time...a sci-fi film that belied its sensationalistic title & concept with an intelligent story, believable characters and a bleak, understated denouement. Along with Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the film could also be considered one of the earliest examples of ‘body horror.’ 

On paper, the plot certainly smells like teen drive-in fodder - and was often dismissed as such back then - with Scott Carey (Grant Williams) exposed to a mysterious mist while on vacation, which slowly renders him increasingly smaller. Aside from a specialist briefly explaining that Carey’s molecules have somehow been re-arranged, no real reason is given...nor would one really suffice. Besides, what ultimately drives the story is Scott’s distressing psychological descent into...not quite madness, but initial self-loathing, then anger - while alienating his wife - before becoming completely isolated, both by design and through dire circumstances. 


By the final act - now motivated by pure survival instinct - Scott grudgingly accepts his fate and an uncertain future, completing a psychological journey not unlike the five stages of grief.


"I knew we should've gotten a dog."
Of course, what we mostly remember are Scott’s violent clashes with Butch, his beloved cat (!), and the angry spider in his basement, the latter being a fight to the death that - tellingly - Scott instigates. Those scenes remain great fun, with special effects that are still pretty impressive for a 64-year-old film. However, the real horror is what Scott has become, which renders his voiceover coda especially poignant...even if it does sometimes sound a bit overwrought. 

We learn from this disc’s bonus features that Universal originally wanted a happier ending. But considering the consistently somber tone and the protagonist's relentless downward spiral, that would have been a cheap, pandering move. A major reason the film is an unqualified classic is that it
doesn't let the viewer off the hook, leaving them more distressed over Scott's fate than he appears to be. Viewed in the context of when it was made, The Incredible Shrinking Man is actually pretty damn dark.

So it’s about time the film got a decent home video release. The Incredible Shrinking Man has been available on DVD for years, usually squeezed onto a disc with other nostalgic B-movies from the same era. But not only is it being served-up on Blu-ray for the first time with a wonderful 4K restoration, Criterion has thrown-in a big batch of new & vintage bonus features which nicely sum-up the film’s production, influence and legacy. From a historical perspective, this is an essential title for any collection and still a hell of a lot of fun.


EXTRA KIBBLES

“AUTEUR ON THE CAMPUS: JACK ARNOLD AT UNIVERSAL” - Excellent documentary of the director’s work for Universal.

“THE INFINITESIMAL: REMEMBERING THE SHRINKING MAN” - Interview with author-screenwriter Richard Matheson’s son, Richard Christian Matheson, who  discusses his father’s work during that period.

“TERROR AT EVERY TURN” - SFX featurette.

“LET’S GET SMALL” - Charming conversation about the film between director Joe Dante and comedian Dana Gould.

1983 INTERVIEW WITH JACK ARNOLD

AUDIO COMMENTARY - By historian Tom Weaver & music expert David Schecter.

TEASER & TRAILER - Narrated by Orson Welles, whose voiceover can also be heard on the main menus screen (a nice touch).

8 MM HOME-CINEMA VERSIONS - I actually think this was my first introduction to the movie...back when I was just a young ‘un!

“THE LOST MUSIC OF THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN” - Lost or unused music pieces, hosted by David Schecter.

SUSPENSE: “RETURN TO DUST” - 19 minute radio play with a similar concept.

ESSAY - By author Geoffrey O’Brien (located in the insert, along with cast & crew credits).

KITTY CONSENSUS:

MEE-OW! LIKE TAUNTING A MOUSE TO DEATH.