March is overflowing with underrated movies getting loving transfers to Blu-ray and 4K UHD. One of my top 10 films — a pop-rock musical set in an alternate-reality New York — drops in the middle of the month, and is bookended by fantastic retro horror, a rarely printed John Woo film, a ’90s time capsule, and a Hitchcockian cult classic from the 2000s.
Each month, in an effort to help you find your next favorite discs, we curate a list of our most anticipated releases. We haven’t had the opportunity to try these discs just yet, but if you want the formal thumbs up, no worries — in the coming months we will begin our rolling list of the best Blu-rays and 4K UHD discs of the year. But each of these releases has potential and comes from a label we’ve enjoyed in the past.
Our most anticipated disc of March 2023
Streets of Fire (4K UHD + Blu-ray) — March 14, 2023
Walter Hill’s lost masterpiece Streets of Fire doesn’t feel quite so lost these days. Thanks to a couple of limited Blu-ray releases, more regular appearances at repertory movie theaters, and a skyrocketing reputation on Letterboxd, the ’80s pop-rock musical has received the full cult-classic status it’s long deserved.
The film has Diane Lane belting rock anthems and Willem Dafoe with a fit I can only describe as rockabilly leather kink. But the reason to watch this film over and over and over is the first guitar-shredding 10 minutes — and the last. Hill shoots concerts as well as any of the best music documentarians, converting your living room into the best seat in the house.
This disc, from Shout Select, includes two feature-length documentaries and a bunch of other retro featurettes, like music videos and on-air promos.
The big Blu-ray and 4K UHD releases for March 2023
John Wick 1-3 Stash Book Collection — Feb. 28, 2023
The John Wick movies are an absolute blast, and I can’t wait for for the fourth one later in March. Until then, we have this awesome new steelbook set to tide us over, in a “stash book” box that is a replica of Wick’s own from John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum. The book looks like a massive Russian tome, with religious iconography on the cover and a few pages of text inside. Once you flip through enough of them, you’ll find three steelbooks hidden inside, along with a pair of photographs of John’s lost loved ones.
The set includes all three movies, behind-the-scenes footage, deleted scenes, and audio commentary from Keanu Reeves and director Chad Stahelski. —Pete Volk
The House That Screamed (Blu-ray) — March 7, 2023
I hadn’t heard of this film before popping it into my Blu-ray player; now I’m a convert. What looks like a tawdry schoolgirls-in-trouble thriller is actually a surprisingly restrained blend of Hitchcockian psychosexual mystery and gothic horror.
Director Narciso Ibáñez Serrador creates a 19th-century French boarding school that feels like the most beautiful and cozy prison. Doors and windows are always locked. Girls close to the headmistress serve as spies and enforcers. And the few men who have occasional reason to visit the grounds all carry questionable motives, which is a problem when girls start disappearing.
Phenomena (4K UHD + Blu-ray) — March 14, 2023
Dario Argento’s proto-slasher has a surprising amount in common with The House That Screamed: the European all-girls boarding school, the unnerving local men, and the new girl who seems all too aware that things are about to go very, very wrong. For all the similarities, the differences are just as stark: Jennifer Connelly plays the daughter of an internationally famous actor, she befriends a hyper-intelligent chimp, and she communes telepathically with a cloud-sized swarm of flies.
This special edition includes three cuts of the movie. I recommend starting with the longest cut, the Italian version. The shortest cut, the Creepers cut, removes so much of the film that ironically you’d have to have seen other versions for it to make an ounce of sense.
The Prince of Egypt (4K UHD + Blu-ray + Digital Copy) — March 14, 2023
Back in 2018, we spoke with director Brenda Chapman for The Prince of Egypt’s 20th anniversary. “We were trying to make films that weren’t feeling like they were just for children,” said Chapman. “We wanted to make films that everyone would go see. We wanted to say we can make a drama in animation and it not just be where parents drop their kids off at the theater like they used to, or just use them as babysitters. We wanted to do something that reached more adults.”
The result, a DreamWorks Animation musical adaptation of the Book of Exodus, is a beautiful and audacious epic condensed into a lightning-fast 99 minutes. Hopefully this 4K release will give it the attention to visual and audio fidelity it deserves.
The set includes a making-of, a couple of featurettes, and a director commentary featuring Chapman.
Last Hurrah for Chivalry (Blu-ray) — March 14, 2023
John Woo is finally returning to the Criterion Collection, albeit not with the films that fans would expect. Criterion DVDs of Woo’s iconic pairing, Hard Boiled and The Killer, have been out of print for years. Rather than move them to modern formats, Criterion has produced a surprise 2K digital restoration of Woo’s period film Last Hurrah for Chivalry. The drama precedes Woo’s gun-heavy action films, eschewing them for swords, and has been difficult to watch in the U.S. — let alone at high resolution.
The Criterion edition includes an audio interview with Woo and a brand-new English subtitle localization.
Red Eye (4K UHD + Blu-ray + Digital Copy) — March 21, 2023
After launching the Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream series, director Wes Craven took a brief detour into thrillers with the delightfully watchable Red Eye. On a cross-country flight, Cillian Murphy kidnaps Rachel McAdams by threatening to murder her father, Brian Cox. The only way out: political assassination!
The two-disc set includes new commentary from the film’s editor, Patrick Lussier; a couple of new featurettes; a making-of; a gag reel; and an old commentary from the late Wes Craven himself.
Party Girl (Blu-ray) — March 28, 2023
My first job out of college was as the PA on a canceled sitcom. Every day, I took the subway to the office in Queens, packed the snack room for the writers, and cleaned up after Parker Posey’s small but digestively active dog. At first, I hated it. How dehumanizing. But in time, I came to realize something very important about this gig. A privilege, if you will. I got to watch Parker Posey work, both behind the scenes and in front of the camera. And dear reader, she is as wonderful and confounding as every single one of her characters. Years later, I lived in a small apartment in her neighborhood. We ate brunch often at the same place. She left her purse there three times and I returned it to her, and every time, she went, “Oh, thank you! How’d I forget that?”
Why did I run into Parker Posey so much? Lower Manhattan operates by its own cosmic laws! Which is, in some small part, the point of this film.
Anyway, Party Girl is the ultimate Parker Posey movie, and it is in the running for the most ’90s movie committed to celluloid. It’s like Girls through the lens of Gen X. I adore it and am so happy to see it get a promising limited edition Blu-ray. Finally, I can check out its killer costume design in HD.
Violent Streets: The Umberto Lenzi/Tomas Milian Collection (Blu-ray) — March 28, 2023
I have never seen a crime movie more unapologetically brutal and nasty than Umberto Lenzi’s Almost Human. Where most genre entries center on the detective, Lenzi focuses the majority of this pitch-black film in the shadow of sociopath Giulio Sacchi (played by Tomas Milian). Sacchi stinks as a petty crook, so he makes the bold decision to instead skip right to crime boss. Turns out that’s not so difficult for a soulless killer with no sense of shame. Milian’s take on Sacchi is terrifying, echoing Pinkie in Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock, and seemingly set the groundwork visually and stylistically for De Niro’s Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, which would debut two years after this film.
Violent Streets contains Almost Human, along with four additional collaborations between the director and actor, a pair of commentaries, over a dozen interviews, a few soundtrack CDs, and more. It’s an excellent entry into the Poliziotteschi/Euro crime subgenre. Just be prepared to be shocked.