Blu-ray Today: Terry Gilliam Fishin’ for Compliments, Miyazaki for Completists


The Fisher King (The Criterion Collection) – Terry Gilliam gained popular acclaim with his dark hybrids of fantasy and satire, but he had to do a movie explicitly clarifying the fantasy elements as schizophrenic hallucination in a realistic universe before he would be taken ultra-seriously – and win an Oscar for one of his cast members, Mercedes Ruehl. Jeff Bridges plays a Howard Stern-ish shock jock who quits after inadvertently inspiring a crazed listener to kill; Robin Williams is a seemingly crazy man in search of the Holy Grail who somehow persuades Bridges’ character to come along for the ride. You could call it a brilliant deconstruction of both Williams’ and Gilliam’s usual shtick as childish delusions that are actually dangerous, or you could see it as making both a lot less fun. It’s fascinating regardless.

The Criterion edition includes new interviews with Gilliam; producer Lynda Obst; screenwriter Richard La Gravenese; and actors Jeff Bridges, Amanda Plummer, and Mercedes Ruehl, as well as a newly shown interview with Williams and Criterion-exclusive commentary by Gilliam. Deleted scenes with optional commentary are also included, as are new featurettes on Bridges, all the trailers, and much more.

Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro – Hayao Miyazaki’s first feature as director featured the popular manga character Arsene Lupin III, a master thief whose successful casino heist leads him to a counterfeiting operation in a fictional tiny European country. Though this Blu-ray is not a Disney/Ghibli release, it is timed and packaged to be somewhat of a piece with them, featuring multiple audio options that include both the 1992 dub (in regular and “family friendly” and the 2000 redub, plus interviews with respective actors Bob Bergen and David Hayter. Trailers, storyboards and more round out the extensive extras for a movie that Steven Spielberg has apparently called one of the greatest adventure films of all time.

3-D Rarities – Old and obscure 3-D show reels, cartoons, shorts, stills and even View-Master galleries fill this disc that’s probably for owners of 3-D TVs only. And if you’re one of them, this is some bragging-rights stuff that maximizes the gimmick.

Horsehead – Allow me to quote from my original review: “Horse-human hybrid creatures, furry men, incest, abortion, nudity, drugs and the guy who sang ‘One Night in Bangkok’ in a leading role? If you are a TR reader, I think they made this movie for you.” Four additional short films and a making-of featurette are included. I’ll let you watch, I will invite you, for the ponies we use WILL excite you.

The Island of Dr. Moreau – 1977 version, starring Michael York and Burt Lanacaster. Probably primarily responsible (more so than the original book, I’d imagine) for Devo’s “Are we not men” catchphrase and the name of Irish-American rap group House of Pain.

Dog Soldiers – Army vs. werewolves in Scotland, in the movie that put director Neil Marshall on the map and starred Sean Pertwee. This new deluxe treatment from Scream Factory includes new interviews with just about everyone, Marshall’s short “Combat,” audio commentary, still galleries and more. While it’s basically the Aliens formula with a few more in-jokes, I remember this being quite fun despite the wolves’ relatively inarticulate heads.

Needful Things – A fun Stephen King adaptation in which a devilish Max von Sydow shows up in perennially besieged Castle Rock with an antique store that sells heart’s desires, for a price that will ratchet up tensions and turn the townspeople violently against one another. Sadly, this Blu-ray is not the extended TV version some fans have been wanting, and the transfer is apparently not the bets, though there is an all-new commentary from director Fraser Heston. Probably one to rent first, if any places still do that nowadays without asking for a piece of your soul in return.

Pound of Flesh – Jean Claude Van-Damme goes in search of his stolen kidney, so he can give it to his niece. I shit you not.

Contamination – Gory 1980 Alien rip-off from Starcrash director Luigi Cozzi. Probably undeserving of its new hi-def transfer and deluxe packaging, but it got all the bells and whistles anyway.

Those strike me as today’s highlights. Anything else to see here?