Criterion brings “BLUE VELVET” and “FUNNY GAMES” to Blu-ray in May; details and art

By MICHAEL GINGOLD

Two of the most disturbing and provocative films in history are coming to Criterion Collection Blu-ray; read on for the complete specs and cover art.

Criterion releases Michael Haneke’s original FUNNY GAMES May 14 and David Lynch’s BLUE VELVET (pictured) May 28; both titles will be issued on new DVDs as well. FUNNY GAMES, Haneke’s study of violence involving a family terrorized by a couple of cleancut young men, will be presented in a new 2K digital restoration supervised by the director, presented in 1.85:1 widescreen with 5.1 Surround DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray. Special features are:

  • New interviews with Haneke and actor Arno Frisch
  • New interview with film historian Alexander Horwath
  • Press conference from the 1997 Cannes Film Festival featuring Haneke and actors Susanne Lothar and Ulrich Mühe
  • Trailer
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Bilge Ebiri

Retail prices are $39.95 for the Blu-ray, $29.95 for the DVD. BLUE VELVET, Lynch’s classic plunge into darkness pitting Kyle McLachlan’s naive young hero against Dennis Hopper’s memorably maniacal antagonist, has been given a new 4K digital restoration in 2.35:1 widescreen, with 5.1 Surround DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray, both supervised by Lynch. The bonus features are:

  • “BLUE VELVET” REVISITED, a feature-length meditation on the making of the film by Peter Braatz, filmed on set during the production
  • “The Lost Footage,” 51 minutes of deleted scenes and alternate takes assembled by Lynch
  • MYSTERIES OF LOVE, a 70-minute documentary from 2002 on the making of the film
  • Alternate original stereo soundtrack
  • Trailer

And more. Retail prices are $39.95 for the Blu-ray, $29.95 for the two-DVD edition. Both titles can be pre-ordered at discounts at the Criterion website.

Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold (RUE MORGUE’s Head Writer) has been covering the world of horror cinema for over three decades, and spent 28 years as a writer and editor for FANGORIA magazine and its website. In addition to RUE MORGUE, he currently writes for BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH, SCREAM, IndieWire.com, TIME OUT, DELIRIUM and others. His book THE FRIGHTFEST GUIDE TO MONSTER MOVIES (FAB Press) is out this fall, and he has contributed liner notes and featurettes to a number of Blu-ray and DVD releases. Among his screenplay credits are SHADOW: DEAD RIOT and LEECHES!, and he is currently working on THE DOLL with director Dante Tomaselli.

VIDEOMAN EXLORES THE COLLECTOR MINDSET VIA GIALLO AND DOUR SOCIAL REALISM

By ALEX DELLER
Stefan Sauk, Lena Nilsson, Martin Wallström and Carolin Stoltz
Written and directed by Kristian A. Söderström
FrightFest Presents / Signature Entertainment

 

Writer/director Kristian A. Söderström has chosen an idiosyncratic path for his debut feature – one that leaves VIDEOMAN (a.k.a. VIDEOMANNEN) part-way between glum kitchen-sinker and giallo-streaked whodunit.

The film follows Ennio (Stefan Sauk, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO), a cantankerous, curmudgeonly, J&B-swigging git who’s spent a lifetime tracking down the kind of hard-to-find VHS tapes that’d get many a Rue Morgue reader hot under the collar. He deplores those who don’t share his passion, hectors anyone who doesn’t handle his rare VHS tapes with kid gloves and has ultimately found himself adrift in a world that doesn’t understand – or care­ – when he tells them it’s Ennio “like Morricone.”  Today he’s an anachronism, and has tumbled from running one Sweden’s most feted video stores to sleeping on the floor of a cramped basement for which he can never seem to find the rent.

Ennio’s in luck, however: he turns up an ultra-rare tape that completes his Video Invest collection, and promises even greater reward when mysterious collector Faceless (Carolin Stoltz) offers him a life-changing chunk of cash in exchange for it. Once the deal has been struck, however, Ennio finds the tape has disappeared, and, with the increasingly-sinister Faceless moving in, he doesn’t have much time to unmask the thief.

“With the increasingly-sinister Faceless moving in, Ennio doesn’t have much time to unmask the thief.”

In the midst of it all, Ennio strikes up a relationship with Simone (deftly and often heartbreakingly played by Lena Nilsson), an 80s-obsessed alcoholic who fears her best years are behind her. Simone is on autopilot, losing herself in bottomless glasses of wine and a desperate quest for Instagram acceptance while her work and home lives crumble. Despite Ennio’s inadvertent attempts to scupper things (he doesn’t realise bringing MANHATTAN BABY over for date night might be a no-no…) they find a shy, faltering kinship thanks to their shared lot in life and the fact that their outré interests set them apart: “normal people don’t have time to be passionate,” she tells him.

It’s these social-realist overtones that provide the strongest source of interest: the relationship between two lost, fractured souls who don’t particularly care for each others’ interests but are able to find a deeper understanding. It’s as if something penned by Alan Sillitoe was shot against the grim, grey architecture of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, or the cast of DISTANT VOICES, STILL LIVES somehow found themselves watching THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE between swigs of rum and pep. The giallo inferences, meanwhile, are limited to a couple of slow-motion chase sequences and some strange, dreamlike non-sequiturs that blur the line between reality and whisky-shattered delusion. Indeed, rather than offering tense plot twists or operatic setpieces, the shadow of giallo instead provides moments of dry humour – Ennio and a friend pitting Argento against Fulci or being aghast at how a fellow collector catalogues his collection – and helps frame the world the characters inhabit.

This all leaves VIDEOMAN in a strange, shadowy place: it’s a neatly-crafted love letter to VHS and a sharply-observed ode to the obsessive collector spirit, but rather than thrill us with bloody spectacle it chooses to dig deeper, suggesting that it’s human connections that make us who we are, rather than the collectable plastic flotsam we covet or the likes we chase on social media.

Alex Deller
Alex Deller writes about films and music. He doesn’t get much sleep.

Follow him on Twitter here: @dellerrr