Blu-ray & DVD Review Round-Up: SUSPIRIA, SKINNER, THE DARK HALF, MIDSOMMAR, GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS & THE QUEST

This time around: Dakota Johnson feels like dancing in the remake of Suspiria, Ted Raimi is Skinner, Stephen King and George A. Romero tackle The Dark Half, we learn that Godzilla is King of The Monsters, Florence Pugh gets caught-up in a hellish pagan festival in Midsummer and Jean-Claude Van Damme and Roger Moore go on The Quest

Blu-ray Review: Suspiria

2 out of 5 stars

Dario Argento’s Suspiria was perfectly fine as it was. Atmospheric, eerie and great to look at, there was nothing about the 99 minute film that screamed ‘remake me’. Well, apparently Luca Guadagnino thought otherwise and decided that 99 minutes wasn’t long enough for a witches in a dance school horror movie and decided to up the running-time to a whopping 152 minutes. 

The 2018 remake of Suspiria isn’t bad – it’s just so bloody boring. It has all the right elements – good visuals, a strong cast (props to Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton) and an atmospheric score. It’s just that a film like this shouldn’t be two and a half hours long! 

Special Features 

You get a few short (and relatively pointless) featurettes. Considering the length of the movie (and the inclusion of a certain character), you would expect much, much more.

Blu-ray Review: Skinner

1.5 out of 5 stars

Director Ivan Nagy’s Skinner, is a grimy slasher from 1993 which riffs on the serial killer film craze of the 1990s. Nagy’s film stars the odd trifecta of Ted Raimi, Traci Lords and Ricki Lake and while it’s not very good, there’s a certain curiosity factor that keeps you watching. Nagy was no genius behind the camera, but Skinner does have a few interesting visual flourishes which at times belie its low-budget.  

Looking at Skinner through the prism of the 21st Century, there’s a lot wrong with it, but it’s certainly makes for intriguing time-capsule piece. 

Special Features

The extras on this blu-ray from 101 Films are more entertaining than the movie itself. You get interviews with Ivan Nagy (who talks about his relationship with Heidi Fleiss), screenwriter Paul Hart-Wilden and editor Jeremy Kasten. You also have some outtakes. Good stuff. 

Blu-ray Review: The Dark Half

3 out of 5 stars

George A. Romero’s 1993 adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Half is a flawed film, but it’s also a very enjoyable one. Timothy Hutton plays Thad Beaumont, a writer who decides to ‘kill-off’ his publishing pseudonym, George Stark. However, Beaumont’s plan goes awry when a physical incarnation of Stark begins killing people – putting Beaumont in the frame for the crimes.  

Romero manages to deliver some surprises, even though you know what you’re getting from a Stephen King adaptation. The Dark Half also features some curious special effects and a good performance from Timothy Hutton playing the dual roles of Beaumont and Stark. 

Special Features

This a Eureka release – so therefore it’s a brilliant package. You get a commentary from the late George A. Romero, a ‘making of’, deleted scenes, a Romero interview and more. Brilliant. 

Blu-ray Review: Godzilla: King Of The Monsters

2.5 out of 5 stars

You kind of know what you’re going to get from a Godzilla movie – and Godzilla: King Of Monsters doesn’t disappoint on a monster mash-up extravaganza. It’s got a good ridiculously good cast – Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, O’Shea Jackson Jr. , David Strathairn and Ken Watanabe – but none of them get that much to do on a dramatic level. At least they all got a nice paycheck. 

It’s a fun enough movie, but it’s gravity and physics defying action make it all a little soulless. It’s also way, way too dark! 

Blu-ray Review: Midsommar – Director’s Cut

4 out of 5 stars

Ari Aster’s Midsommar is a mind-bending, genre-defying piece of cinema. Yes, superficially it has all the traits of a horror film, but Aster’s movie is much more than that. It’s richly textured and incredibly well acted. Everyone is great, but the stand-outs are Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor. It’s a career making turn from Pugh, showing that the actress has the talent to go the distance. 

Misdommar owes a debt to the classic, The Wicker Man, and there are many similarities, but this is as much as mediation on grief and an analysis of relationships as it is a horror film. 

The director’s cut runs around 2 1/2 hours and while the whole thing works, it does feel a little long. Having said that, a good movie is a good movie, no matter how long it is. 

Special Features

You get a strong 25 minute documentary. They big take away is that Aster pronounces it Mid-so-mar!

Blu-ray Review: The Quest

2.5 out of 5 stars

Jean-Claude Van Damme scored his first directing credit with this 1996 action film. Set in the 1920s, Van Damme is the small time New York crook who finds himself lost at sea and involved in a martial arts contest to win a golden dragon. Some days can just go so wrong. 

Roger Moore (damn good as always) is the suave con-man who takes the Muscles from Brussels under his wing in this exceptionally silly, but strangely good looking slice of hokum. 

Is The Quest great cinema? No. Is it entertaining? Yes. 

Special Features

The Quest‘s co-stars Jack Mcgee and Mike Lambert dish the behind-the-scenes dirt and you get an audio commentary from Arne Venema and Mike Leeder. Good stuff.