The Spool / Columns
What’s New on DVD/Blu-ray in October 2023
Barbie, Freaks, ALF, and much more!

Barbie, Freaks, ALF, and much more!


Barbie (Warner Bros.): It’s the movie of the year that caught almost everyone by surprise – instead of turning a venerable IP into a shameless cash grab, Warner Bros. gave the keys to Barbie’s pink, plastic convertible to director and co-writer Greta Gerwig, who crafted a brilliant commentary about gender, ambition, the positive and negative sides of the Barbie doll’s metatext, and much, much more. More than just a box-office hit, Barbie is a movie that seeps into the consciousness, one that audiences will be quoting and debating for generations to come.

Also available:

Blue Beetle (Warner Bros.): Another example of a lighthearted DC Comics superhero saga that lands better than a grim-and-gritty one, this breezy adventure offered a powerhouse ensemble of Latine actors (Elpidia Carrillo! Adriana Barrazza!) and – close to my own nerd heart – the first big-screen live-action Ted Kord and his Flying Bug aircraft.

EO (Janus/Criterion): If you’re going to borrow from the classics, they might as well be the great ones, and Jerzy Skolmowski takes a page from Au Hasard Balthazar while adding his own unique perspective in this moving Oscar nominee.

Evangelion:3.0+1.11 Thrice Upon a Time (GKids): That’s a lot of title, but if Evangelion is your anime jam, this beautifully mounted box set is the stuff dreams are made of.

Haunted Mansion (Disney): Director Justin Simien harkens back to the live-action Disney adventure-comedies of the 1960s and ’70s with this creepy and kooky family tale, and that’s a good thing.

John Wick: Chapters 1-4 (Lionsgate): All the ka-blam, in one convenient box set.

Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes and Huntsmen, Part 2 (Rooster Teeth/WB Animation): The crossover continues.

The Last Voyage of the Demeter (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment): A couple of pages in Bram Stoker’s Dracula get to stretch out to feature length, as we follow a mysterious coffin’s voyage from the Carpathian mountains to England.

Meg 2: The Trench (Warner Bros.): The giant sharks have returned, and Jason Statham is there to punch them in the face.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part One (Paramount Home Entertainment): Maybe it was the Barbenheimer juggernaut, but audiences didn’t flock to this action extravaganza, which played like the Platonic ideal of a summer movie. (And that’s a good thing, too.)

Nanny (The Criterion Collection): Nikyatu Jusu’s taut Sundance hit about the simmering rage of an immigrant Senegalese nanny in New York City gets the full Criterion treatment, including new interviews, a 2019 short by Jusu, and an essay by Angelica Jade Bastién.

Prey (20th Century Studios): This effectively stripped-down Predator prequel, featuring 18th-century Indigenous warriors battling a fearsome alien, comes to 4K and Blu-ray, complete with a Comanche language option.

Showing Up (A24): Michelle Williams and director Kelly Reichardt team up once again, this time for an insightful look at the travails of an artist chasing a work-life balance and coping with family troubles, a recalcitrant landlord, and a wounded bird.

Strays (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Talking-dog movies were never this bawdy, with Will Ferrell and Jamie Foxx leading an all-star voice cast.

Talk to Me (Lionsgate): This Australian horror hit tested audiences’ ability to watch young people harm themselves.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (Paramount Home Entertainment): One of the better entries in the robots-in-disguise saga hoped to kick off a new universe involving a certain military superteam. Leads Dominique Fishback and Anthony Ramos singlehandedly elevated the entire franchise.


home video october 2023

Happer’s Comet (Factory 25): A night in the life of a group of suburbanites reveals rich inner lives and anxieties – and also a desire to go rollerblading in Tyler Taormina’s acclaimed sophomore feature. Once again, the writer-director demonstrates a singular talent for turning the quotidian into the dreamlike.

Also available:

3 Days in Malay (Well Go USA Entertainment): Louis Mandylor directs and stars in this WWII saga about US soldiers defending a Malaysian airfield from Japanese troops.


No Bears (Janus/Criterion): For someone who’s officially not supposed to be making movies at all, Jafar Panahi crafts another tale about being a filmmaker at odds with his own government. Playing “himself” as a director hiding out in a small town and trying to direct his latest film remotely, Panahi gets embroiled in local intrigue that mirrors his position in Iran. No Bears is a film of subtle but devastating power.

Also available:

Astrakan (Altered Innocence): Young orphan Samuel must confront the darkness instilled in him by a traumatic past – as well as the one within his new foster family – in this French import featured at New Directors/New Films 2023.

Eismayer (Dark Star Pictures): A super-macho Austrian military officer’s closeted existence is threatened by the arrival of a handsome, openly gay soldier.

The Innocent (Janus/Criterion): Louis Garrel co-wrote, directed, and stars in this drama about a young man upset over his mother’s impending nuptials to a convict.

Io Sto Bene (IndiePix): An elderly man who has spent his entire life away from Italy, his home country, has a memorable encounter with a young Italian artist looking to launch her career.

The Night of the 12th (Film Movement): A police investigator is haunted by an unsolved crime in this César-winning drama.

Passion (Film Movement): The debut feature from Drive My Car director Ryusuke Hamaguchi makes its to North American home video.

Ride On (Well Go USA Entertainment): Jackie Chan returns to the Western genre in this contemporary comedy about a faded stuntman trying to save his horse from foreclosure.

7 Days in Heaven (Cheng Cheng Films): Essay Liu adapted her essay about her father’s funeral for this trenchant look at the Chinese way of death.


The Storms of Jeremy Thomas (Cohen Media Group): Mark Cousins (The Story of Film) accompanies legendary producer Jeremy Thomas to the Cannes Film Festival for a look at the state of cinema – and if you don’t know Thomas’ name, you know his work, which includes such legendary films as The Last Emperor, Crash, Sexy Beast, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, Bad Timing, The Great Rock and Roll Swindle, and the afore-mentioned EO, among many others.

Also available:

Flying Boat (Outsider Pictures): From contemporary air-to-air footage to archival clips from the 1930s, this documentary celebrates the history of the seaplane.

The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg (First Run Features): Jerry Aronson’s 1993 doc on the legendary Beat poet, updated with a director’s cut in 2005, returns to DVD with more than six hours of bonus footage.

The Lost Weekend: A Love Story (Briarcliff Entertainment): May Pang reveals the details of her 18-month love affair with John Lennon.

Neither Confirm nor Deny (Greenwich Entertainment): U.S. spies and Russian officials play cat-and-mouse over the location of a sunken Soviet submarine.

Robert Irwin: A Desert of Pure Feeling (Greenwich Entertainment): Explores the life and work of the experimental/environmental artist.

Speed Is Expensive (Virgil Films): Ewan McGregor narrates this documentary about Philip Vincent, creator of one of the world’s most legendary motorcycles.

Squaring the Circle: The Story of Hipgnosis (Utopia): A rare look inside Hipgnosis, the studio that created some of the most iconic album covers of all time.

Your Friend, Memphis (Greenwich Entertainment): A young man with cerebral palsy is determined to make his way in the world, despite the expectations of others, in this SXSW hit.


home video october 2023

Paramount Scares Vol. 1 (Paramount Home Entertainment): It’s your one-stop shopping for a Halloween movie marathon, as the studio highlights an array of their spookiest titles — Rosemary’s Baby, Pet Sematary (1989), Crawl, Smile, the 4K debut of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – in a collectors’ set that includes a Fangoria pin, stickers, and (sshhh!) a mystery movie.

Also available:

Alien Outlaw / The Dark Power (both Kino Cult): New Blu-rays of two mid-1980s films from North Carolina horror auteur Phil Smoot. Both feature early cinematography from Paul Hughen, who would go on to shoot The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett.

American Ninja / American Ninja 2: The Confrontation (KL Studio Classics): Michael Dudikoff is a blond, blue-eyed master of Asian martial arts in this pair of hacky hits from Cannon Pictures. KL Studio Classics also highlights Cannon’s white-guy ninjas this month with Enter the Ninja and the John Frankenheimer–directed The Challenge.

Beast from Haunted Cave / Ski Troop Attack (Film Masters): A new 4K restoration of Monte Hellman’s 1959 creature feature, plus the war picture Roger Corman shot (with most of the same cast and crew) on the same set after Beast wrapped.

Black Sabbath (KL Studio Classics): Boris Karloff goes giallo as he hosts this compilation of short tales of terror (by Tolstoy, Chekhov, and de Maupassant) directed by Mario Bava.

The Boogeyman (20th Century Studios): Sophie Thatcher and Chris Messina star in this new Stephen King adaptation.

Cujo (KL Studio Classics): Speaking of Stephen King, his tale of a killer St. Bernard makes its 4K debut.

Day of the Panther / Strike of the Panther (Umbrella Entertainment): Two from Oz-ploitation master Brian Trenchard-Smith, featuring Australian martial-arts star Edward John Stazak.

East End Hustle (Canadian International Pictures): A crew of sex workers go to war with their former pimp in this seminal Canadian exploitation classic. 

Emanuelle’s Revenge (Cinephobia Releasing): Did you know they were still making Emanuelle movies in 2023? They totally are.

Godmonster of Indian Flats (AGFA/Something Weird): This 1973 monster saga is so nutty that it crosses over into the “outsider art” zone.

Godzilla (1998) (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Did the world need a 4K of Roland Emmerich’s kaiju extravaganza to celebrate the film’s 25th anniversary? Well, we’re getting one.

The Goldsmith (Cinephobia Releasing): Three would-be criminals break into the home of an elderly goldsmith and his wife, who are not as helpless as the intruders seem to think.

Inn of the Damned / Night of Fear (Umbrella Entertainment): A double feature of Ozploitation horror classics (the former co-stars Dame Judith Anderson and Alex Cord!) that you won’t soon forget.

The Iron-Fisted Monk (Arrow Video): Sammo Hung made his directorial debut with this 1977 saga of a man (Hung) taken in and trained by Shaolin monks after his uncle is murdered.

It! The Terror from Beyond Space (KL Studio Classics): This delightfully-titled 1958 space saga is thought to have been a key influence on Alien.

King of Killers (Lionsgate): Frank Grillo and Shannon Kook star in this tale of the world’s greatest assassins who hunt down a rival, only to discover they’re his prey.

Lorna… The Exorcist (Kino Cult): Jesús Franco applies his spooky, sexy aesthetic to the movie everyone else was also ripping off in 1974.

Lycan Colony (Visual Vengeance): You’ve got to give it up to a horror-movie release that includes its own Rifftrax version as a Blu-ray extra.

Night of the Demons / Night of the Demons 2 / Night of the Demons 3 (all Scream Factory): Too many demons for just one night with this cult franchise; all three are released as Collector’s Editions, with the first movie making its 4K debut.

Psycho Paul’s Film Festival (VHShit Fest): Filmmaker Psycho Paul crafts his own That’s Entertainment! featuring his own singularly deranged brand of horror cinema.

Shaw Brothers Classics, Vol. 3 (Shout Factory): The hits keep coming in this series of box sets saluting one of the greatest martial-arts studios of all time; this go-round offers Killer Clans, The Shaolin Avengers, The Web of Death, The Vengeful Beauty, Death Duel, Life Gamble, Soul of the Sword, The Deadly Breaking Sword, Clan of the White Lotus, Shaolin Abbot and Shaolin Rescuers.

Sri Asih: The Warrior (Shout Studios): Reincarnation! Goddesses! Volcanoes! This Fantastic Fest fave has it all.

Vampires and Other Stereotypes (Visual Vengeance): A New York City rave opens a portal to hell in this shot-on-video cult fave.


home video october 2023

Freaks (The Criterion Collection): More than 90 years after its original release, Tod Browning’s masterpiece still has the power to shock and enthrall audiences. The titular sideshow attractions are the heroes here, with the purportedly “normal” people paying the price for underestimating and exploiting them. This Criterion set includes two other Browning “sideshow shockers” – The Unknown and The Mystic – as well as restorations, audio commentaries, an essay by Farran Smith Nehme and a podcast episode from film critic and disability expert Kristen Lopez.

Also available:

The Best of Times (KL Studio Classics): Robin Williams and Kurt Russell play aging high-school alums determined to get a replay of the big game they think ruined their lives.

A Bronx Tale (Tribeca): This coming-of-age story, Robert De Niro’s first outing as a director, makes its 4K debut.

Cat City (Deaf Crocodile): Don Bluth meets Danger Mouse meets Euro-disco in this bizarre and beloved 1986 Hungarian animated feature.

The Dead Mother (Radiance): Spanish filmmaker Juanma Bajo Ulloa’s 1993 thriller gets an extras-packed Blu-ray release.

The Desperate Hours (Arrow): Humphrey Bogart is riveting as an escaped convict holding a suburban family (led by Fredric March) hostage in this classic thriller.

Don’t Look Now (The Criterion Collection): Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie are rivetingly sexy in Nicolas Roeg’s terrifying thriller, now available in 4K.

The Edge of the World (Milestone Cinematheque): Michael Powell’s breakthrough feature focuses on two families living on a remote Scottish island, torn between whether to stay put or to go out and see the world.

The Mist (Lionsgate): Frank Darabont’s divisive Stephen King adaptation gets the 4K treatment.

The Muppets Take Manhattan (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): The Muppets conquer Broadway (and spawn the Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies cartoon), now in 4K.

My Father’s Glory / My Mother’s Castle (Film Movement Classics): New 4K restorations of Yves Robert’s adaptations of Marcel Pagnol’s memoirs make their North American Blu-ray debut.

The Others (The Criterion Collection): Nicole Kidman is stunningly ethereal in Alejandro Amenábar’s unforgettable ghost story.

Red Dragon (KL Studio Classics): Brett Ratner’s take on the Thomas Harris novel, previously brought to the screen as Manhunter, allowed Anthony Hopkins to offer a grand slam of Hannibal Lecter portrayals (although Brian Cox’s take on the character has its fans); 4K debut.

Robin Hood / The Black Pirate and The Three Musketeers / The Iron Mask (both Cohen Film Collection): Douglas Fairbanks shows why he was one of the cinema’s first action stars in two rousing new DVD releases.

Salvation! (Kino Classics): Beth B.’s satire of televangelism co-stars Viggo Mortensen and Exene Cervenka.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Disney): The Disney studio’s celebration of its centenary just had to include a 4K release of this ground-breaking feature film that changed Disney – and animation – forever.

The Twilight Saga: The Complete Collection – 15th Anniversary (Liongate): It’s been a decade and a half, but you can still relive the glory days of Team Edward vs. Team Jacob.

Two Small Bodies (Kino Classics): Suzy Amis and Fred Ward star in Beth B.’s powerful two-hander about a woman whose children have gone missing and the cop who believes she’s responsible.

Videodrome (The Criterion Collection): The squishy VHS tapes in this David Cronenberg chiller remain resolutely analog, but the movie is now available in 4K.

The Way We Were (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): This first-ever 4K of the Barbra Streisand-Robert Redford romantic classic features a longer cut, with more of the Cold War–era political storyline restored.

The Wicker Man (Lionsgate): Christopher Lee leads a seemingly innocuous religious sect in this effective thriller, making its US 4K debut.


home video october 2023

ALF: The Complete Series (Deluxe Edition) (Shout Factory): This falls into the not-my-nostalgia category, but if you love the wacky misadventures of alien Gordon Shumway, you’ll treasure this 24-disc box set. And when they say “Complete,” they mean it – the set includes the entire run of the sitcom (restored to original broadcast length), the 47 episodes of ALF: The Animated Series and ALF Tales!, as well as the Project: ALF movie that wraps up the whole story. All this plus commentary tracks for selected episodes and a new look-back with the show’s creators.

Also available:

Agatha Christie’s Criminal Game: The ’70s (MHz Choice): Agatha Christie mysteries, adapted for French television, with lots of groovy 1970s fashions? Oui, s’il vous plaît.

The Boys: Season Three (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Those sociopathic superheroes are at it again. 

The Crown: The Complete Fifth Season (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): We’re up to the Princess Diana years on this addictive recent-history soap.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: The Complete Series (Mill Creek Entertainment): Collects all three seasons of the 2021 reboot.

NCIS: Hawai’i – Season Two (Paramount Home Entertainment): Just another day of forensic investigation in paradise.

Nona and Her Daughters (MHz Choice): Miou-Miou and Virginie Ledoyen star in this series about a 70-year-old feminist who gets pregnant, and the return of her adult daughters to their childhood home.

Rabbit Hole: Season One (Paramount Home Entertainment): Kiefer Sutherland returns to the spy game.

Scooby-Doo! And Krypto, Too! (DC/WB Animation): It’s the canine crossover we’ve always wanted in the owned-by-Warner-Bros. extended universe.

Titans: The Fourth and Final Season (Warner Bros.): The heroes no longer known as “Teen” see themselves out.

The Walking Dead: The Complete Collection (Lionsgate): All of it. Except for the new series that are about to come out, which will be added to future Complete Collections.

Wallace and Gromit: The Complete Cracking Collection (Shout Factory): All of it, and we’re pretty sure they mean all of it. And it’s all brilliantly hilarious.

Yellowjackets: Season Two (Paramount Home Entertainment): More answers lead to more questions in the second season of this shocker about women dealing with a horrifying incident from their adolescence.