‘HEAT’ and ‘SERIAL MOM’ get the home releases they deserve


Preston Barta // Features Editor

Rated R, 170 minutes.
Director: Michael Mann
Cast: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val KilmerJon VoightTom SizemoreDiane VenoraAmy BrennemanAshley JuddMykelti WilliamsonWes StudiTed LevineDennis HaysbertWilliam Fichtner and Natalie Portman
Available today on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.

It’s truly remarkable how much of an impact this expertly directed, written and acted crime-thriller made. HEAT — starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Val Kilmer in a story of cops and robbers — released over two decades ago, but remains a better and more inventive feature than most of today’s releases.

It’s about as perfect as movies come and is a timeless experience to behold, not only for its gripping narrative (clocking in at a near three hours) but also to see how much of an influence it has made on today’s greatest filmmakers, such as Christopher Nolan with INCEPTION and Ben Affleck with THE TOWN.

The legendary diner scene alone, where acting-heavyweights De Niro and Pacino face off for the first time in cinema history (only starring together in THE GODFATHER: PART II before) is enough to call HEAT the ultimate game of cat and mouse. It’s only icing on the cake that the rest is just as dark, human and thoroughly engaging.

Grade: A+

Extras: The Director’s Definitive Edition of HEAT comes loaded with bonus content. The two-disc release includes audio commentary with writer-director Michael Mann, filmmakers’ panels (one with Christopher Nolan moderating a Q&A with the cast and filmmakers is especially fascinating — even though some do not provide deep answers to Nolan’s deep questions), a three-part making-of, deleted scenes, a conversation with Pacino and De Niro, and a special featurette on revisiting the film after 22 years.

Rated R, 94 minutes.
Director: John Waters
Cast: Kathleen Turner, Sam Waterston, Ricki LakeMatthew LillardJustin WhalinMink Stole and Mary Jo Catlett
Available today on Blu-ray through shoutfactory.com.

What if June Cleaver was a serial murderer? This is the idea behind John Waters’ kooky, ridiculously charming and fun SERIAL MOM.

Kathleen Turner turns in one of her best performances as Beverly Sutphin, a Betty Crocker-like suburban housewife who smiles her way through the day, only to drop those who mess with her or her own (Sam Waterston, Ricki Lake and Matthew Lillard) like flies.

Best known for making the original HAIRSPRAY and CRY BABY, Waters has an offbeat style that works flawlessly for ’90s filmmaking. His tongue-in-cheek portrayal of conventional gender roles, suburban life and the media is delightfully subversive. And for a movie that didn’t receive the credit it so deserved in 1994, it’s nice to have a collector’s edition packaging from Scream Factory to make up for it.

Grade: B+

Extras: Scream Factory’s release features a new conversation with Waters, Turner and Mink Stole; “SERIAL MOM: Surreal Moments;” “The King of Gore: Herschell Gordon Lewis and David Friedman;” a making-of; audio commentary with Waters and Turner; and a theatrical trailer.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.