This weekend’s home entertainment offerings include this summer’s stealth horror film hit, Alexander Aja’s Crawl, plus a dark comedy that claims to subvert toxic masculinity, but the best stuff for this week comes from TV in the form of the superb TV ghost story series, The Haunting of Hill House, and new Blu-ray releases of classic 1960s tokusatsu series from Eiiji Tsuburaya, Ultra Q and Ultraman.

Theatrical Films

This week’s top release is Alexander Aja’s Crawl (Paramount, “R,” 87 min., $29.98, BD $39.98), a clever, eco-driven survival horror film that takes place after Florida is ravaged by one of those huge modern hurricanes with lengthy torrential rains that create massive flooding.  Meanwhile the protagonists of Crawl are trapped in the crawl space under their cabin by a horde of ravenous alligators with the water constantly rising.  Inexplicably Paramount refused allow critics to review Crawl before its release, which definitely hurt the box office (it has a fine 82% positive rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes), but Crawl still made $90 million against a production cost of just $13.5 million.

The critics also liked Riley Stearns’ The Art of Self-Defense (Universal, “R,” 105 min., $22.98, BD $22.98), a caustic dark comedy starring Jesse Eisenberg that is a weird sort of meditation on toxic masculinity that echoes (and parodies) Fight Night.

Less successful was the action buddy comedy Stuber (Fox, “R,” $19.96, BD $19.96), which features the “odd couple” pairing of Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani.  The two stars do show some promise as a comic duo, but the screenplay takes a good premise nowhere, and the results are far less than they might have been.


This week’s best bet is The Haunting of Hill House Season 1 (Paramount, 589 min., $49.99), which collects Netflix’s contemporary adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House.  This series got rave reviews across the board, but the one made the biggest impression was Stephen King’s (“This is great. Close to a work of genius really.  I think Shirley Jackson would approve.”).  This scary ghost story won” Fangoria’s Chainsaw Award” for the best TV series of 2018, so you know it’s not just a critics’ darling.

For lovers of bizarre television there is Twin Peaks: The Television Collection (Paramount, 2533 min., $55.98, BD $76.99), which collects for the first time all 29 episodes of David Lynch’s original groundbreaking 1990 series as well as the 18 episodes of the 2017 Twin Peaks Limited Event series—time to break out the cherry pie again.

Those who enjoy comedy will have to make do with the animated SpongeBob SquarePants:  The Complete Tenth Season (Nickelodeon, 250 min., $19.98), or the CBS sitcom Mom: Season 6 (Warner Archive, 400 min., $24.98).

Anyone who enjoys the special effects-laden tokusatsu  TV series will be happy to learn that two of the most important and influential series created in the 1960s by Tsuburaya Productions are now available in remastered Blu-ray editions at a very reasonable cost.  The 1966 series that launched it all, Tsuburaya’s 28-episode black-and-white science fiction anthology, Ultra Q: The Complete Series (Mill Creek, 716 min., $49.98), which was basically a half-hour TV kaiju show that followed the adventures of a photo journalist, who was constantly covering the appearance of aliens and giant monsters (all created by Tsuburaya, who was also responsible for Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, etc.). 

Equally compelling was Tsuburaya’s first color series, Ultraman: The Complete Series (Mill Creek, 988 min., BD $49.98), which collects the 40-episode 1966-67 tokusatsu series Ultraman, which was hugely popular in Asia and was also syndicated in the U.S. from the 1970-1990.


This week’s most intriguing release is a new Blu-ray of Genius Party and Genius Party Beyond (Shout Factory, 188 min., Subtitles Only, BD $26.99), an eclectic collection of 12 thought-provoking, and often visually arresting animated short films done in different styles by 12 different directors at Studio 4*C, and originally released in Japan in 2007 (Genius Party) and 2008 (Genius Party Beyond).

Also of interest are: Mr. Tonegawa: Middle Management Blues Complete Collection (Sentai Filmworks, 600 min., BD $89.98), which collects all 24 episodes of the 2018 Madhouse anime based on the highly-regarded seinen manga by Tensei Hagaiwara that is a sort of wild parody of intense internal struggles among the many layers of management in corporate Japan: and Golden Kamuy, Season 2 (Funimation, 300 min., BD/DVD Combo $64.98), which collects episodes 13-24 of 2018 anime from Geno Studio that is based on the manga by historical adventure/treasure hunt manga by Satoru Noda.

Also due on Tuesday is Ulysses, Jeanne D’Arc and the Alchemist Knight Complete Collection (Funimation,  300 min., BD/DVD Combo $64.98), which collects the 12-episode 2018 name-dropping historical fantasy series from AXsiZ based on the light novels by Mikage Kasuga.