The home video market is flooded with a load of new DVD and Blu-ray releases every single week. The sad fact is that the majority of these releases are not worth your time. So every week I sift through the junk and find the home video releases worth talking about.

The Weekly Binge: Blu-ray and DVD Releases for July 31st, 2012
Volume 1, Issue 3

Note that the prices listed are based on Amazon’s pricing at the time of posting.

This Week’s Best Pick:
The Bunny Game (Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack)

I first heard about The Bunny Game when I was preparing a lecture on the horror genre for my Film 102 class this past semester. It is a film that some say is one of the forefathers of the “Extreme New Wave”, which is essentially the continuation of the torture porn genre with a fancy, Cahiers du cinéma inspired name. My second encounter with The Bunny Game was thanks to a review from Brutal as Hell writer Annie Riordan. She calls the film “so sickening, so disturbing and so unforgivingly raw that it ultimately leaves an unforgettable afterimage of ethereal beauty on your burned out eyeballs, once it’s done wringing your soul out like an old dishrag that is”. What more could one ask for? This is a personal pick, as all of these are, and is definitely not for everyone. The easily offended will want to stay away, I’m sure. Hell, even those that aren’t easily offended will probably want to skip by this release, but I am excited for it.

The special features on this disc are a director’s commentary, a making-of featurette, and two trailers of the film. Aside from the $24.99 Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, the film is also being released as a stand-alone DVD for $14.99.

The Best of the Rest:

Hatfield & McCoys Blu-ray ($24.99) or DVD ($19.99)
This is the home video release of the History Channel miniseries that played a few weeks back. At first, I had no interest in this as I’m not a huge viewer of films set in the old west. But then the commercials kept playing, and the miniseries started looking better and better. Finally, I decided I had to watch this, but then went off on vacation without setting my DVR, so I completely missed it! Oh well. Luckily it is now out on Blu-ray and DVD for me to grab. This is the story of two friends after their return from the Civil War. Unfortunately the two families start to have minor arguments and disagreements that get blown up over time, and the two families find themselves on the brink of another Civil War. The cast is what has me interested in this, though, with Bill Paxton and Kevin Costner taking the two lead male roles. Both the DVD and Blu-ray are two-disc sets, clocking in at 290 minutes worth of runtime. There looks to be only one special feature, but its a 30-minute making-of featurette that sounds fun to watch. Check out the review for more info.

Forever Marilyn – Blu-ray ($73.86)
If this Blu-ray set of Marilyn Monroe films wasn’t so pricey, I’d already have bought it. This is a collection of seven of the infamous star’s most popular films on Blu-ray (though the Amazon reviews may tell you otherwise, since most are titled “{INSERT FILM HERE} IS NOT INCLUDED, SO NO BUY”). The films include Gentleman Prefer Blondes (1953), Some Like It Hot (1959), The Seven Year Itch (1955), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), The Misfits (1961), There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954), and River of No Return (1954). It should be noted that all seven of these films were also released individually, most today, so if you only like a couple of these, definitely go that route. Aside from The Seven Year Itch disc, there is not much in terms of special features. That disc, though, is pretty loaded, including a commentary track, deleted scenes, a Hays Code featurette (the predecessor to the MPAA ratings system), and a few features about the film itself (this according to the Film Viral review of the set). The collection only has 3.2 out of 5 stars from 14 reviews on Amazon right now, but that is mostly people complaining that their favorite film is missing, so take that for what it’s worth.

Mystery Science Theatre 3000: XXIVDVD ($41.99)
I’ll start this the same way I started the last blurb: if this set wasn’t so expensive, I’d own it already. I know that with most of these releases, the average price per film is only about $10, but that’s a bit much for a DVD nowadays (when one can buy many Blu-rays for that same price, if not less), so I have only one of these MST3K releases (that being the Gamera set). This collection looks interesting, though, because it contains four films that all speak to me: a couple alien films, a dragon fantasy film, and a Mexican wrestling horror film. Unlike some of the other MST3K releases, volume XXIV contains a good load of special features, which are detailed in the Inside Pulse Movies review by Joe Corey. If these sets ever found a 50% off sale, I’d pick up a great many of them, and this one would definitely be on that list.

The Whisperer in DarknessBlu-ray ($30.00) or DVD ($19.99)
The main reason I enjoy writing this article every week is because it opens my eyes to a load of horror films I may not have otherwise heard about. The Whisperer in Darkness is another example of that, and one that I absolutely must find. This was filmed in “Mythoscope”, which means that it was created to represent the black and white 1930s horror films as fully as possible. Though the film was created in 2011, it looks – and according to some Amazon reviews, feels – like it is straight out of the 1930s, which is exciting. The DVDTalk review of the Blu-ray explains why this is a Blu-ray to own, thanks to high quality audio and video, plus a nice set of special features. This is one I’m hoping Netflix will carry, but if not, I’ll just have to buy it.

This Week’s Honorable Mentions:

Criterion Release: La Havre – The Criterion Collection releases La Havre this week, which is not just a Blu-ray upgrade, but a brand new release from the company. This French film (from Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki) was just released last year, but it made such a splash that it finds itself Criterion spine #619, which says a lot. Check out more about this release at Available on Blu-ray ($27.99) or DVD ($22.83).

Total Recall (Mind Bending Edition) – This release is timed to the Total Recall remake, which is coming out this Friday (August 3rd). According to the review, this looks to be the definitive version of the film in HD, which should excite fans. The best part of this, though, has to be the incredibly low price. Available on Blu-ray for $7.99.

Cyrus/Lars and the Real Girl/Juno – 20th Century Fox is releasing a load of double and triple features on Blu-ray this week, but this is the one that caught my attention most. Lars and the Real Girl and Juno are two incredible films, with Lars and the Real Girl being criminally underrated. Ryan Gosling is impeccable as Lars Lindstrom, a man who falls in love and has a relationship with a plastic sex doll. The only film I haven’t seen from this triple feature is Cyrus, but with Jonah Hill, John C. Reilly, and Marisa Tomei, I feel confident purchasing this release. Available on Blu-ray for $20.67.

C&L Female Stars Collections – I have never heard of C&L before this article, but they caught my eye with nine different DVD collections, each one specific to a female movie star from yesteryear. Each collection contains six of that actresses more popular films, and is priced at $39.99. Here are the options:
Vivien Leigh Collection (Gone With The Wind, Anna Karenina, Waterloo Bridge, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Hamilton Woman, Caesar And Cleopatra)
Ingrid Bergman Collection (Autumn Sonata, Anastasia, Gaslight, Casablanca, For Whom The Bell Tolls, Arch Of Triumph)
Natalie Wood Collection (Miracle On 34th Street, Splendor In The Grass, The Searchers, Rebel Without A Cause, The Silver Chalice, Olivia Hussey’s Romeo and Juliet)
Elizabeth Taylor Collection (National Velvet, Giant, Ivanhoe, The Last Time I Saw Paris, Cat On A Hot Roof, The Taming Of The Shrew)
Audrey Hepburn Collection (Roman Holiday, Sabrina, War And Peace, Funny Face, The Nun’s Story, The Unforgiven)
Marilyn Monroe Collection (The Seven Year Itch, Niagara, There’s No Business Like Show Business, River of No Return, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How To Marry A Millionaire)
Greta Garbo Collection (Mata Hari, Queen Christina, Grand Hotel, Camille, Ninotchka, Anna Christie)
Grace Kelly Collection (The Swan, Rear Window, High Society, High Noon, The Country Girl, To Catch A Thief)
Deborah Kerr Collection (From Here To Eternity, The King And I, Julius Caeser, Quo Vadis, Black Narcissus, Bonjour Tristesse)

Check out the rest of this week’s releases on Amazon right here.

Planning on picking up any of these releases this week, or did you purchase any of last week’s releases? If so, let me know. Did I miss something important? Let me hear about it in the comments section below.