This week on DVD/Blu-ray: Eight foul-mouthed and gory greats from an Academy Award-winning auteur; an overlooked Western well worth a second chance; four horror films that make today's genre output seem tame by comparison; a sprawling documentary courtesy of Ken Burns; and a charming directorial debut from one of the "X-Men" (or Women, rather).
With Quentin Tarantino's latest, "Django Unchained," set to shock audiences this holiday season, Lionsgate and Miramax are cashing in by releasing eight films from Tarantino's oeuvre in a 10-disc collection that boasts five hours of never-before-seen special features. Slyly titled "Tarantino XX" as a nod to the foul-mouthed auteur's 20 trailblazing years in the business, the release includes every feature he's helmed ("Reservoir Dogs," "Pulp Fiction," "Jackie Brown," "Kill Bill: Vol. 1," "Kill Bill: Vol. 2," "Death Proof" and "Inglourious Basterds"), plus the Tarantino-scripted "True Romance," directed by the late Tony Scott.
Extras: "Critic's Corner," a discussion piece that explores Tarantino's films and his impact; the in-depth featurette "20 Years of Filmmaking," which features interviews with co-workers, critics, stars and other master filmmakers (plus a tribute to his greatest collaborator, his late editor Sally Menke); a discussion with the cast of "Jackie Brown" moderated by Elvis Mitchell; and a collection of "Django Unchained" trailers.
Michael Cimino's epic 1980 Western "Heavens's Gate" was box-office poison upon its initial release, nearly putting its studio United Artists out of business thanks to toxic reviews and rumors of a troubled production. Cut to 2012, and the film's suddenly considered a masterpiece following its recent Venice Film Festival bow in a digitally restored director's cut. The Criterion Collection here releases the cut that made critics do a 180, along with some great extras well worth your time. The film stars Kris Kristofferson as a Harvard graduate who relocates to Wyoming as a federal marshall only to become embroiled in a battle based on the bloody real-life Johnson County War of 1892. Isabelle Huppert co-stars in her first English-language speaking role.
Extras: New illustrated audio interview with Cimino and producer Joann Carelli; new interview with Kristofferson, soundtrack arranger and performer David Mansfield and second AD Michael Stevenson; a trailer and TV spot; and a booklet featuring an essay by critic Guilia D'Agnolo Vallan.
If you're not familiar with the work of horror filmmaker Pete Walker, then consider this box set your introduction to some of the most striking and disturbing films of the genre to come out of Britain in the '70s. And if you're already a fan, then you'll love this release, made possible by the deranged (and we mean that fondly) folks over at Kino Lorber's specialty label, Redemption Films. Like all of Walker's work, these four horror features find the director using exploitation devices to confront the inherent hypocrisy of "civilized" foundations ranging from organized religion to the nuclear family unit. This heady stuff is for the brainiac and the gore hound.