Dressed to Kill: Unrated (NR) (Blu-ray)
MGM/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Brian De Palma was the reincarnation of Hitchcock, a true master of suspense. And the movie-going public crucified him for daring to breathe such rarified air. His 1980 effort, Dressed to Kill, is an obvious Psycho pastiche, one that I'd wager is better than the original. Angie Dickinson is a bored housewife with untapped dangerous desires that take her down a dark path. Michael Caine is her psychoanalyst with a disturbing secret that may get them both killed. Then there's a young Nancy Allen, the hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold trying to piece it all together, while trying not to be the next victim of the culprit's straight-razor. Dressed is a remarkably tense, terse thriller that is laden with so much psychopathia sexualis that it's no wonder it was butchered by the MPAA upon original release. This restored director's cut reinstates the movie to a new cinematic glory. — Louis Fowler
Wrekin Hill Entertainment
In a world without pretension, Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be an Oscar frontrunner for his brilliant work in Hesher. Instead, this unsettling black comedy is getting the straight-to-DVD snub. Gordon-Levitt stars as Hesher, a mysterious butt-rocker in a black van who's prone to fits of violence, vandalism and general inappropriateness. He crosses paths with the bullied and grieving T.J. (Devin Brochu, in an unusually spot-on portrait of overwhelmed adolescence) and moves into his guest room, an intrusion T.J.'s family is too damaged to resist. The film smartly sends up supernatural psychotherapist tropes (e.g., E.T. or It's a Wonderful Life) while eliciting compassion for the characters. First-time director Spencer Susser somewhat botches the endgame, but Hesher is the character of the year, a disturbed live-wire who could say or do literally anything from scene to scene. — Daniel Barnes
Spartacus: Gods of the Arena (NR)
Anchor Bay Home Entertainment
My favorite historical soft-core, pay-cable series, Spartacus, is back with a six-episode prequel that ups the sex and violence to obscene levels, making you feel like a godless Roman spectator. Which is surely the intent. A few years before the House of Batiatus is slaughtered in a gladiator-led slave revolt, the wily lanista Batiatus (John Hannah) is desperately trying to squirm out from under his father's shadow and carve a name for himself in the arena, be it through murder, blackmail or worse. Meanwhile, his scheming wife Lucretia (Lucy Lawless) turns their abode into a whorehouse, using the sinewy warriors as sex slaves for visiting Roman dignitaries. Then there are the epic battles to the death, filled with parodic splashes of CGI blood that soak every inch of the frame. It's dirty and sleazy and will make you dumber. It's also one of the best shows on TV. — Louis Fowler
The costumes were amazing and added to the brilliant production.
The striking colors and textures are reminiscent of Southern Colorado and New Mexico. Lovely work.