By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
The Girl Can’t Help It (Comedy)
The 1956 comedy classic “The Girl Can’t Help It” arrives is a special Criterion Collection edition on Blu-ray and DVD Tuesday April 19.
In 1956, Frank Tashlin brought his talent for zany visual gags and absurdist pop-culture satire that he’d honed as a master of animation to the task of capturing, in glorious DeLuxe Color, a brand-new craze: rock and roll.
This blissfully bonkers jukebox musical tells the story of a mobster’s bombshell girlfriend—the one and only Jayne Mansfield, in a show-stopping first major film role—and the washed-up talent agent (Tom Ewell) who seeks to revive his career by turning her into a musical sensation. The only question is: Can she actually sing?
A CinemaScope feast of eye-popping midcentury design, “The Girl Can’t Help It” bops along to a parade of performances by rock-and-roll trailblazers—including Little Richard, Fats Domino, Julie London, Eddie Cochran, the Platters and Gene Vincent—who light up the screen with the uniquely American sound that was about to conquer the world.
This special Criterion Collection edition includes an audio commentary featuring film scholar Toby Miller, a new video essay by film critic David Cairns, an interview with filmmaker John Waters, a new conversation between WFMU DJs Dave “the Spazz” Abramson and Gaylord Fields about the music in the film, a new interview with Eve Golden, biographer of actor Jayne Mansfield, on-set footage, interviews with Mansfield (1957) and musician Little Richard (1984), and more.
The Criterion Collection’s Blu-ray edition of “The Girl Can’t Help It” will be available for the suggested retail price (SRP) of $39.95 and the DVD will be available for $29.95 (SRP).
Heavy Metal (Animation/Sci-fi)
The classic animated sci-fi film “Heavy Metal” arrives for the first time on 4K Ultra HD Tuesday April 19, from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
Based on the fantastical illustrated magazine of the same name, “Heavy Metal” was produced by Ivan Reitman who enlisted the help of some of Hollywood’s animation masters to create the otherworldly tale of a glowing green orb from outer space that spreads destruction throughout the galaxy. Only when encountered by its one true enemy, to whom it is inexplicably drawn, will goodness prevail throughout the universe.
Richly and lavishly drawn, the vignettes of the orb’s dark victories include the character voices of John Candy, Harold Ramis and a pounding soundtrack by Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Devo, Donald Fagen, Don Felder, Grand Funk Railroad, Sammy Hagar, Journey, Nazareth, Stevie Nicks, Riggs and Trust. Highly imaginative and full of surprising special effects, “Heavy Metal” set the standard for alternative contemporary animation.
“Heavy Metal” is directed by Gerald Potterton from a screenplay by Dan Goldberg and Len Blum. It is based on the art and stories by Richard Corben, Angus McKie, Dan O’Bannon, Thomas Warkentin and Bernie Wrightson.
This box set is presented within a limited edition SteelBook, including “Heavy Metal” on 4K Ultra HD disc and Blu-ray, plus the exclusive Blu-ray debut of “Heavy Metal 2000,” which includes special features including Julie Strain: Super Goddess, voice talent, animation tests and animatic comparisons.
Special features include “Imagining ‘Heavy Metal,’” a documentary, a deleted scene, alternate framing story with commentary, an all-new retrospective featuring reflections from Reitman, plus famous fans including Kevin Smith, Norman Reedus, and more.
The Humans (Drama)
Based on his 2015 Tony award-winning play of the same name, writer-director Stephen Karam’s debut drama “The Humans” arrives on Blu-ray + Digital and DVD Tuesday April 19, from Lionsgate.
Its star-studded slate includes Academy Award nominee Richard Jenkins (“The Shape of Water”), Tony award winner Jayne Houdyshell (“Only Murders in the Building”), Primetime Emmy nominee Amy Schumer (“Inside Amy Schumer”), Beanie Feldstein (“Booksmart, “American Crime Story: Impeachment”), Academy Award nominee Steven Yeun (“Minari”) and June Squibb (“Nebraska”).
“The Humans” will be available on DVD and Blu-ray + Digital for $19.98 (SRP) and $21.99 (SRP), respectively.
A Life Among Whales (Documentary)
Just in time for Earth Day, the deep-sea documentary “A Life Among Whales” arrives on DVD/Digital Tuesday April 19, from Indiepix Films.
Until recently, whaling was more or less universally accepted and whales were seen as resources to be exploited rather than thinking, feeling animals with their own intrinsic value. But thanks to the work of passionate conservators such as Dr. Roger Payne, a renowned whale biologist and activist credited with spearheading global public awareness of the plight of whales, the world no longer turns a blind eye to these beautiful ocean behemoths.
Weaving together a unique hybrid of natural history and biography, the award-winning “A Life Among Whales” is a fascinating exploration into Payne’s life and pioneering work in the 1960s and 1970s. The documentary features remarkable cinematography and captures Payne’s infectious spirt and fascinating discoveries.
Winner of the prestigious Silver Hugo Education Award, “A Life Among Whales” from director Bill Haney (“The Price of Sugar,” “American Violet”) is narrated by Payne himself. Haney chronicles the biologist’s remarkable career, kicked off by his controversial discovery in the early 1970s that whales “sing” songs. This revelation helped ignite the modern-day environmental movement and Payne’s pioneering spirit has constantly advanced the boundaries of science and activism over the ensuing four decades.
Bonus features include a director’s intro and whale songs—two tracks from Payne’s landmark album “Songs of the Humpback Whale” from 1970.
The horror film “V/H/S/94” arrives on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital and VOD Tuesday April 19, from RLJE Films.
After the discovery of a mysterious VHS tape, a brutish police S.W.A.T. team launches a high-intensity raid on a remote warehouse, only to discover a sinister cult compound whose collection of pre-recorded material uncovers a nightmarish conspiracy.
Written and directed by an ensemble filmmaking team including Jennifer Reeder, Chloe Okuno, Simon Barrett, Timo Tjahjanto, Ryan Prows and Steven Kostanski, the film stars Anna Hopkins (“The Expanse”), Christian Lloyd (“American Gods”), Kyal Legend (“Backstage”) and Budi Ross.
Bonus features on the Blu-ray and DVD editions include a behind-the-scenes featurette, the San Diego Comic-Con panel, a commentary with the filmmakers and producers, deleted and extended scenes, and more.