House: Season Six (Blu-ray)
Special Features: B
Blu-ray Geek Factor: 7 (out of 10)
This season started with Hugh Laurie strapped to a hospital bed, sweating through drug withdrawal to the tune of Radiohead's "No Surprises." Nice!
Laurie is every bit as good on this show as you've heard. The epic season opener gives him the chance to be McMurphy from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The twists don't stop there, and the series remains a terrific showcase for Laurie's unbelievable talent for playing a hilarious, miserable bastard.
Special Features: An exclusive short called "Before Broken" is a cool companion piece to the season opener. Commentaries and featurettes, including one about Laurie's moment in the director's chair, make this quite enjoyable. This is also available on DVD.
The Long Good Friday (Blu-ray)
Special Features: F (Nuthin'!)
Blu-ray Geek Factor: 5 (out of 10)
One of the great moments of 1980 cinema is the look on Bob Hoskins' face in this film during his final car ride, having himself a bit of a stare-down with the one and only Pierce Brosnan in one of his very first roles.
Hoskins plays Harold Shand, a London gangster on the verge of closing a big international deal when things start going very wrong on Good Friday. Shand spends the movie trying to track down the source of his latest problems, leading to the infamous meat locker interrogation scene, the best use of a meat locker this side of Rocky.
Helen Mirren is on board as Harold's worried wife, scared one moment and solid as a rock the next. Personally, I was introduced to Bob Hoskins as the rock manager who discovers Bob Geldof all screwed up in his hotel room in Pink Floyd's The Wall. It wasn't until a few years later that I saw his Shand performance, and realized it was one of the decade's best.
Special Features: No special features, and for those of you who like your video transfers perfect, this Blu-ray has a rather shaky print. Still, it's the best version of the film on video as far as picture quality is concerned if you take away the occasional dust and scratches.
Time Bandits (Blu-ray)
Special Features: C+
Blu-ray Geek Factor: 6.5 (out of 10)
Not only do we have executive producer and Beatle George Harrison to thank for the above movie starring Bob Hoskins, and Monty Python's The Life of Brian (simply one of the funniest movies ever made), Harrison's Handmade Films produced this gem from director Terry Gilliam.
It tells the story of a crew of robber dwarves, former assistants in the creation of the universe, who have stolen a map from the Supreme Being and are using holes in time to steal stuff from the likes of Napoleon. Director Terry Gilliam really hit his stride here before his ultimate masterpiece, Brazil.
Watching this new Blu-ray, I realized I hadn't seen the film in decades. I never knew Jim Broadbent was the host of the fake game show "Your Money or Your Life," and I had forgotten how funny Michael Palin was as a lovestruck man with a "personal" digestive problem. John Cleese as a conceited Robin Hood just might stand as the best representation of that character in cinema history.
It's remarkable how much darkness Gilliam managed to inject into what is supposed to be a children's film (the extremely dark ending is a classic).
Special Features: Like the Good Friday disc, this Blu-ray is sloppy in spots, but is fine viewing overall. It only has one special feature, but it's a good one. An interview with Gilliam reveals how he got away with the ending, his realization that he perhaps stole a bit from The Wizard of Oz, and the fact that this was his most financially successful film in America.
The Evil Dead (Blu-ray)
Special Features: B+
Blu-ray Geek Factor: 7.75 (out of 10)
Those of you worried that a tidied-up picture for Blu-ray might hurt the effectiveness of this low-budget horror great, fret not. Director Sam Raimi has supervised a superior transfer of film that not only maintains the integrity of the video, but also does some amazing things with sound. This is, without a doubt, the best version of The Evil Dead currently available to consumers.
This one features Bruce Campbell, with bangs, as Ash, who starts off as a secondary character but slowly starts becoming the Ash we all know and love. He goes to the forest with friends, plays a reel-to-reel in a rundown cabin, and milk-spewing demons ensue.
It's still quite terrifying after 30 years.
Special Features: A new commentary featuring Raimi and Campbell that is not scene-specific. It's just the guys talking about behind-the-scenes stuff, and while not as entertaining as past Dead commentaries, still essential for fans. The Blu-ray package comes with a separate DVD containing deleted scenes and featurettes from prior editions, all of which are worth watching.