Warner Bros., $12.95; Blu-ray, $27.98
Director William Friedkin was riding the hot streak of "The French Connection" and "The Exorcist" when he attempted his most ambitious project to that point: a remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot's brilliant 1953 French thriller "The Wages of Fear," about four desperate men hired to transport trucks full of explosive nitroglycerin up bumpy mountain roads. Friedkin's "Sorcerer" was a big enough flop to slow his career momentum considerably, and legal complications kept the film off DVD and Blu-ray — until now. The movie that many consider one of the most neglected masterpieces of the 1970s "New Hollywood" era has finally been restored and is able to be widely seen again. No bonus features, but the Blu-ray set comes packaged in a 40-page DigiBook.
Available on VOD beginning April 25
Writer-director Jeremy Saulnier's film had a quiet debut at Cannes last May, not drawing much in the way of critical attention; but by the time it made it to Toronto, the buzz started to build for this twisty revenge thriller, which then became a full-on sensation when it hit Sundance. Now Radius-TWC is making "Blue Ruin" available on VOD the same day it opens theatrically, so film buffs who've been salivating over the festival reports can see this remarkably assured film. Macon Blair stars as a loner named Dwight who tries to settle old scores, then discovers it's not so easy to commit an act of violence and have that be the end of it. At first semi-comic and later nail-biting, "Blue Ruin" is a smart revamp of a venerable B-movie genre.
Big Bad Wolves
Magnolia/Magnet, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98
When no less of a pulp movie kingmaker than Quentin Tarantino declares a bloody suspense movie to be the "best film of the year," genre fans take notice. But while this Israeli thriller is an impressively nasty piece of work, a lot of it feels like shock-for-shock's-sake. When a schoolteacher is suspected of raping and murdering young girls, a rogue cop and a victim's father team up to torture a confession out of him; and when he proves hard to break, the cop begins to suspect that they may be beating up on an innocent man. Though "Big Bad Wolves" fearlessly explores what it means to be "evil," after a point, the violence becomes a little too show-off-y. Devotees of extreme cinema won't be disappointed, though. The DVD and Blu-ray add featurettes.
Bettie Page Reveals All
Music Box, $29.95; Blu-ray, $34.95
Available on VOD beginning April 22
Mark Mori's documentary about legendary pinup queen Bettie Page looks cheap and lacks creativity, but it covers the subject well. Mori tells the story of how a sweet-faced Southern girl charmed millions in the 1950s with the cheerfulness she brought to nudie photos; and then was rediscovered and turned into a cult fashion icon by nostalgists in the 1970s and 1980s, long after Page had retired. Mori's biggest coup is an extended audio interview that the normally reclusive Page consented to before she died, which allows her to speak for herself rather than having her life defined exclusively by pop culture experts. The "Bettie Page Reveals All" DVD and Blu-ray include a wealth of bonus footage.