The latest DVDs and Blu-rays are given the once-over by our writers. Read first before reaching for your credit card.
Here's one for connoisseurs of cult TV shows. Wonderfalls was cancelled after just one season way back in 2004, and only now, nearly ten years on, is it finally making its way onto DVD in the UK. But believe you me, it's been well worth the wait.
When we think of Fritz Lang, we tend to associate him first and foremost with the taut, clinically executed Hollywood thrillers that he helmed from the 1930s through to the 1950s. Metropolis aside, it's easy to overlook the silent films he made in Germany in the 1920s. But with the Masters of Cinema releases of Die Nibelungen and now Dr Mabuse, the Gambler, there is mounting evidence to suggest that this should change, and that those 1920s movies were as important to the overall shape of Lang's career as Hitchock's British films were to his. Because, for all their technical panache, Lang's Hollywood movies feel like the work of a talent on its guard, whereas his silent films are more experimental, risk-taking, ambitious and tonally varied: the result of inspiration rather than calculation.
With a $125 million reboot due next year, this Blu-ray release of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live action movies shows most excellent timing. Of the trio of films on this 3-disc set, it's the first that is the turtle classic. It introduces us to Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo and Raphael, four amphibians abandoned as little babies in the sewers of New Jersey and exposed to a “green colloidal gel” which increases their size (a lot) and their intelligence (a bit). Existing on a diet of takeaway pizza, they live out of sight with Splinter, the giant rat who has the thankless task of teaching them Eastern wisdom, only rising to the surface to fight crime and catch the occasional flick.
Kenji Mizoguchi (1898-1956) established himself in the 1930s as one of his country's most compelling and formally inventive directors, before having, like everyone else in Japan, a troubled 1940s. Fortunately, the 1950s saw him finding a secure berth with the up-and-coming production company Daiei. This limited edition, 4-disc Blu-ray box set collects together eight of the films Mizoguchi made at this time, the final flowering of his genius.
After the enormous success of Carrie (1976), Brian De Palma had a second bite at the telekinetic cherry with The Fury (1978), this time with all the trappings an A-list director might expect – a decent budget, a John Williams score and a starry cast including Kirk Douglas and John Cassavetes. Douglas plays Peter, an ex-CIA (or something) agent whose psychically gifted son, Robin (Andrew Stevens), is stolen from him by Childress (Cassavetes), the creepy head of a government black psi-ops organisation. Evading swarms of secret service suits, Peter searches tirelessly for his son, along the way encountering Gillian (Amy Irving playing a preppy, privileged version of Carrie White, who is deeply disturbed by her unfortunate habit of making people bleed unstoppably just by touching them).