New to Blu-ray/DVD: Mad Max: Fury Road, Lost After Dark, & Extinction


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Editor’s Notes: Mad Max: Fury Road, Lost After Dark, and Extinction are out on their respective formats September 1st. 

Mad Max: Fury Road

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Mad Max: Fury Road (Warner Home Video) is a 21st-century look back to the original Mad Max starring Mel Gibson. This one stars Tom Hardy as the title character, who is actually more supporting player than lead character. That honor goes to Charlize Theron, who plays the one-armed warrior Imperator Furiosa, a tough gal in the mold of Ripley from the Alien movies. She’s adept at hand-to-hand combat and is also pretty formidable behind the wheel of her big rig truck or wielding all manner of weaponry.

When we first see him, Max, bound by a metal face device and utilized as a human blood supply, is a prisoner of the War Boys of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). Initially enemies, Max and Furiosa eventually become allies against a mutual foe and a grudging respect develops between them.

The first half-hour of the film is essentially a chase, with an assortment of cars, trucks, motorcycles, and crazed War Boys wildly shooting flame throwers, lobbing hand grenades, and jumping, like pirates, from one vehicle to the next. The extended sequence is beautifully filmed and exciting to watch. Director George Miller knows how to tell his simple story in visual terms, downplaying dialogue for fear of bogging down the picture’s rocket-like pace.

Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies, X-Men: Days of Future Past) co-stars as a wild-eyed, maniacal War Boy who joins the cause of decency and is driven more by conscience than testosterone as one new danger after another manifests itself. Max and Furiosa are hard-as-nails fighters who hold on to their humanity in a world where savagery and rampant violence are the norm.

The 3D effects are pretty cool, with projectiles, fists, vehicles and everything else zooming toward the camera. In addition to its gimmickry, the 3D gives the road scenes a sense of depth, emphasizing the nearly endless expanse of flat, desert.

Bonus extras on the 3D Blu-ray/2D Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack include several behind-the-scenes featureless. Special features are in 2D Blu-ray.

Also available is a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack containing the same bonus features. Both editions contain digital HD copy.
Lost After Dark
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Lost After Dark (Anchor Bay) is for folks who love those 1980s slasher flicks, whether well made or schlocky. This film uses familiar elements of 80s horror to get the tone just right. It’s the high school Spring Ball, 1984. Adrienne (Kendra Timmins), a straight-A student, joins her quarterback boyfriend Sean (Justin Kelly) and some friends in sneaking out of the school dance to spend time at her cabin. Their party plans hit an obstacle when they run out of gas on a deserted road. Heading out on foot, they discover a rundown farmhouse where they hope to find help. Instead they find themselves at the mercy of Junior Joad (Mark Wiebe), a cannibal killer from an urban legend. After the brutal murder of one of their friends, the group’s quest for help becomes one of desperation and survival.

Clearly, director Ian Kessner is a fan of 80s-era horror, since he gets nearly everything right, including simulated splices, scratches, and reel changes (which occur only at the beginning). Those who know the genre will see references to Friday the 13th, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, He Knows You’re Alone, Maniac, Mother’s Day, Prom Night, and many others. The script works as both an homage to the past and an addition to the genre.

The movie never achieves the status of a Psycho, but that’s part of the fun. These slasher films were turned out practically weekly in attempts to duplicate the impressive box office of Friday the 13th and Halloween. They were embraced by those who liked their horror bloody and graphic, and “Lost After Dark” caters to the same audience.

Unlike the characters in Scream, those in Lost After Dark are not horror-flick savvy, so they don’t comment on their predicament with references to horror films. They are unaware of potential danger and make all the wrong decisions — just like typical 80s horror movie teens.

There are no bonus features on the widescreen Blu-ray release.
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Extinction (Sony Home Entertainment) takes place nine years after a zombie apocalypse. Feuding survivors Patrick (Matthew Fox) and Jack (Jeffrey Donovan) have taken refuge in the snowbound town of Harmony along with Jack’s 9-year-old daughter Lu (Quinn McColgan). The monsters have seemingly disappeared with no sign of other survivors, but the constant fear of the unknown is beginning to take a toll on this trio. When Patrick goes scavenging for food, he discovers the undead have returned and evolved into something terrifying and beyond imagination.

Zombie movies are as plentiful today as slasher films were back in the 1980s. Extinction foregoes the almost requisite scenes of plague outbreak and character intros, plunking the viewer right into the midst of a caravan of two buses filled with survivors desperate to reach the perceived safety of a military base. But the hopeful survivors are besieged by zombies who tear their way through the passengers, many of the attacked soon rising and searching for victims of their own.

The movie resembles in structure both I Am Legend and 28 Days Later, but still contains some memorable sequences and gruesome images, mostly in the early part of the film. When the picture begins to explore the dynamics among the three protagonists, however, it loses considerable steam and becomes overly talky. Zombie films are at their best when the zombies are on screen. Production design reflects budget restraints with many scenes clearly filmed on sound stages rather than actual locations. The zombies themselves are blind albinos, a nice variation of the traditional depiction. Extinction avoids many zombie flick cliches and contains some thoughtfully crafted suspense. In that bus sequence, for example, there’s an escalating sense of dread and tension as the camera shows the faces of the various passengers. When the attack does occur, it’s all the more horrifying because of the lead-up to it.

The only bonus extra on the DVD release is a behind-the-scenes making-of featurette.


About Author

For over 25 years, I was the Film and Home Entertainment Reviewer for "The Villadom TIMES," a New Jersey weekly newspaper, and have written for several other publications. I developed and taught a Film Studies program for two New York City high schools that included Film History, Horror/Fantasy, and Film Making.