Mother's Day (2010), Hell on Wheels Season One, Walking Tall: The Trilogy
From a trio of Seventies gems that were in danger of slipping into obscurity to a very modern take on a memorable bit of '80s schlock to a 2011-2012 weekly cable TV series (set in 1865), this edition's lineup promises dramatizations of historical events as well as a just-plain-nutty mama setting a real bad example for her boys.
Mother's Day (2010; Anchor Bay)
Just in time for a certain holiday, Darren Lynn Bousman's (Saws II-IV) remake of the 1980 cult classic outshines the original in just about every way, owing in no small measure to the terrific cast. When three siblings botch a bank robbery and flee to their childhood home, they're surprised to find new owners, in the midst of a party. Hostages are taken, blood is spilled and Mom (Rebecca De Mornay) is called to lend a hand. From this point on it's De Mornay's house, we're just visiting, as she shows everyone where her tykes learned their manners.
Perhaps tainted by the stigma of the Troma name on the first Mother's Day, this new celebration was largely overlooked by audiences but is well worth 112 minutes of our time. Included here are a commentary by Bousman and co-star Shawn Ashmore in addition to a DVD copy, in case Mom isn't yet hooked up for high-def.
Hell on Wheels: The Complete First Season (Entertainment One)
Well in advance of Season Two's as-yet-unscheduled premiere, Entertainment One has tendered all ten episodes of AMC's second highest-rated original series (behind The Walking Dead but ahead of Mad Men!) The gritty, fact-based tale chronicles Union Pacific's westward expansion of what would be the first transcontinental railroad, with a fictional subplot involving one man's revenge against some soldiers from the victorious side of the recently ended Civil War.
With this colorful backdrop, Hell on Wheels (named for the moving town which supports the railroad workforce) plumbs the dramatic riches of the era to explore ever-popular greed and corruption, but also the challenges faced by immigrant laborers and newly-freed former slaves. Like most TV on Blu-ray, the quality likely exceeds that of the original broadcasts in many markets. Curious viewers can also delve into a featurette for every chapter, as well as close-ups of the major characters and more.
Walking Tall: The Trilogy (Shout! Factory)
In 1973, Joe Don Baker starred as real-life sheriff Buford Pusser who, after encountering firsthand the new brutality in his Tennessee hometown, picks up a giant wooden stick and wages a one-man war on crime, and audiences liked what they saw. Two years after Walking Tall, Bo Svenson would take over the role for Walking Tall Part 2, returning for Final Chapter: Walking Tall, a claim which was mostly true despite Svenson's reappearance for a single, brief season of a weekly TV series. C'mon, who doesn't like watching lowlife rednecks gettin' a little down-home justice?
Shout! Factory's affordable set not only allows us to watch all three movies in HD for the first time, but it also brings a new trilogy-spanning documentary with on-camera interviews from actors (including beleaguered supporting player Leif Garrett) and actual Pusser family members. One of those pricelessly dated behind-the-scenes featurettes is also here, created in 1977 to promote Final Chapter.
And on the subject of 1977, allow me to close by saying, May the Fourth be with us all!
(That won't be nearly as funny tomorrow, will it?)