STORY WRITTEN BY AMY LONGSDORF
For Digital First Media
The year’s most original horror shocker begins with the scary disappearance of a toddler in 1630s New England.
In “The Witch” (2016, Lionsgate, R, $20), a youngster seemingly vanishes into thin air and a family’s crops begin failing, leaving the members of a devout brood to turn on each other in increasingly terrifying ways.
Is evil really lurking in the woods? And has that sinister force found its way into the teenage Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy)?
With his debut, writer/director Robert Eggers uncorks a nail-biter that’s fluid and assured. There’s never a dull moment, thanks to suspense which grows more stomach-knotting with each passing scene. Extras: featurettes and Eggers commentary.
Also New To DVD
Joy (2015, Fox, PG-13, $30): The latest from David O. Russell (“The Fighter”) is a biopic about single mom Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence) who, in between taking care of her screwed-up family (Robert DeNiro, Isabella Rossellini, Virginia Madsen), invents a revolutionary, self-wringing mop. Even though nearly every scene features the members of Joy’s warring brood, Russell isn’t interested in them as characters; they’re only props to prove how exceptional Joy is. Still, the movie gives Lawrence a chance to shine. She creates a gutsy character who must repeatedly dig deep to save her invention. Lawrence is a joy to watch. Extras: featurettes.
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Dementia (2016, Shout Factory, unrated, $30): Cruelty begats more cruelty in this compelling, edge-of-your-seat thriller about an ailing Vietnam War veteran (Gene Jones) and his live-in nurse (Kristina Klebe). No sooner does Jones’ family leave him in the care of Klebe than bad stuff starts happening but is the failing Jones simply losing his faculties or does the seemingly sweet caregiver have a sadistic side? The situations in “Dementia” keeps twisting, making you see everyone involved from fresh perspectives. Despite a too-abrupt ending, this thriller delivers the goods. Extras: none.
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Too Late For Tears (1949, Flicker Alley, unrated, $30): Of the 21 crime thrillers which Lizabeth Scott shot between 1945 to 1957, this noir captures the actress at her most dastardly. Scott and Arthur Kennedy play a seemingly happy couple who, during an evening drive along the California coast, come into possession of $60,000. Kennedy wants to turn the booty over to the cops while Scott looks to stash it away for herself. Enter the money’s real owner (Dan Duryea) who begins to make life miserable for the greedy Liz even as he winds up falling in love with her. Beautifully restored for its Blu-ray bow, “Too Late” is noir at its wicked best. Extras: featurettes and commentary.
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I Could Go On Singing (1963, Twilight Time, unrated, $30): In her final film, now on Blu-ray, Judy Garland plays a singer who arrives in London with a desperate need to spend time with her illegitimate son, who’s being raised by his surgeon-father (Dirk Bogarde). It’s pure soap opera but Garland makes it go down easy, especially the light-hearted scenes in which Judy bonds with her teenaged offspring (Gregory Phillips) and the thrilling concert interludes. Best of all is a harrowing hospital sequence that’s as raw and revealing as anything John Casavettes shot. Extras: none.
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Blue Denim (1959, Fox Cinema Archives, unrated, $20): An unwanted pregnancy upends the lives of a pair of 15-year-olds (Carol Lynley, Brandon de Wilde) who are too scared to tell their parents (MacDonald Carey, Marsha Hunt) about their predicament. As the kids try to apply for a marriage license, and then raise money for an illegal abortion, their desperation is so palpable, it redeems a tale which starts out in sitcom territory. As flawed as “Blue Denim” is, it is strangely compelling, especially for the way it takes the kids’ dilemma so seriously. Extras: none.
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You’ll Like My Mother (1972, Shout Factory, PG, $30): Patty Duke stars in this underrated thriller as a pregnant widow who braves a Minnesota blizzard to visit her mother-in-law (Rosemary Murphy). Instead of a warm welcome, she gets the cold freeze. But a vicious storm leaves her snowed in at Murphy’s mansion where lots of strange things begin happening. Director Lamont Johnson makes great use of the sprawling estate, making every creak on the staircase feel like a sinister invitation. Extras: featurettes.
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Orange Is The New Black: Season Three (2015, Lionsgate, unrated, $35): Piper (Taylor Schilling) breaks bad! The most surprising aspect of the terrific third season is how committed Piper is to making money behind bars. The crazy scheme involving underwear — don’t ask — brings out the gangster in the Connecticut yuppie. Meanwhile, Alex (Laura Prepon) is back and, after patching things up with Piper, worries about being assassinated by a drug boss she betrayed. One of the standouts of the season is new inmate Stella (Ruby Rose), who casts a spell over many of her fellow cons. From the ongoing kitchen wars to Piper’s shocking betrayal, “Orange” is never less than riveting. Extras: commentaries and featurettes.
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Mr. Selfridge: Season 4 (2016, PBS, unrated, $40): It’s the final season for the PBS hit about the department store impresario (Jeremy Piven) with many vices, including women, booze and gambling. Set nine years after the events depicted in the third season finale, Harry Selfridge is back on top, at least until he gets mixed up with the Dolly sisters (Emma Hamilton, Zoe Richards). The most welcome development is the return of Lady Mae (Katherine Kelly), one of the only people in Harry’s inner circle capable of putting him in his place. Extras: featurettes.
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Cinema’s Exiles: From Hitler To Hollywood (2015, Warner Archive, unrated, $20): Originally broadcast on PBS, this superb documentary chronicles the fates of a handful of Jewish filmmakers and actors who fled Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1939. Stars in their native land, Fritz Lang, Peter Lorre and Ernst Lubitsch would find success working for the studios during Hollywood’s Golden Age. The story is told through home movies, film clips, interviews and rare archival footage. Some of the most fascinating segments involve the information about how the exiles, including Marlene Dietrich, smuggled funds to Jews back in Germany in order to help them escape. Extras: none.