by Mark Burger

Cult possibilities are high indeed for this lively, layered black comedy from writer/producer Ryan Levin and director Jack Perez.

Kevin Corrigan gives an appropriately quirky yet sympathetic performance as Ken Boyd, a small-town misfit recently released from a mental institution after attempting suicide. His attempts to lead a “normal” (so to speak) life are complicated not only by the domineering, disapproving mother (Karen Black) and the unexpected appearance of Amy (Ariel Gade), the daughter he’s never met before, but also by a series of vicious murders — the victims coincidentally being those who bullied and tormented Ken in the past.

The film neatly expands the parameters of its genre beyond delivering the gory goods. There’s unexpected character development, a generous dose of sardonic humor and surprising dramatic resonance, as well as the mounting suspicion that Ken may not be murderer. The filmmakers and actors, including Barry Bostwick as the local sheriff and Leo Fitzpatrick as Ken’s only friend, all bring a little extra to the party, and it shows. Rated R.

(To read an exclusive interview with actress Karen Black, turn to Page 41.)

4:44: LAST DAY ON EARTH (IFC Films/MPI Media Group): Apocalypse now for Willem Dafoe and girlfriend Shanyn Leigh in this end-of-the-world drama from writer/director Abel Ferrara, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) or Blu-ray ($29.98 retail).

THE AMERICAN DREAM (One Village Entertainment/Image Entertainment): Malcolm Goodwin and Jamil Walker Smith play best friends who film themselves as they prepare for deployment to Afghanistan, in this award-winning drama, originally titled Make a Movie Like Spike (as in “Lee”). Smith also makes his feature debut as screenwriter and director. The film’s second half, focusing on their active duty, is superior to a gimmicky, self-indulgent first half.

“AMERICAN PICKERS”: VOLUME 3 (A&E Networks Home Entertainment): A two-DVD collection ($19.95 retail) of eight episodes from the popular History Channel reality series following Antique Archaeology founder Mike Wolfe and his partners as they seek rare and valuable items across the nation.

“BRAD MELTZER’S DECODED”: SEASON TWO (A&E Networks Home Entertainment): Scholar and author Brad Meltzer investigates various historical mysteries in all 13 episodes from the 2012-’12 season of the popular History Channel reality series. This DVD boxed set retails for $29.95.

DAWN RIDER (Vivendi Entertainment): Christian Slater avenges his father’s murder in this routine remake of a 1935 John Wayne Western, “updated” with four-letter words. Jill Hennessy plays Slater’s gutsy love interest, and a surprisingly burly Donald Sutherland plays a bounty hunter. Rated R.

THE DECOY BRIDE (IFC Films/MPI Media Group): Alice Eve, Kelly Macdonald and David Tennant head the cast of this romantic comedy about the upcoming nuptials of a film star and an author complicated not only by the ever-present paparazzi but also second thoughts. The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98.

DOOMSDAY PROPHECY (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Inevitable disaster epic with dodgy CGI catastrophes threatening the planet. Only distinguishing performance is by Bruce Ramsay as a federal agent. Rated PG-13.

“DORA THE EXPLORER: DORA’S RESCUE IN MERMAID KINGDOM” (Nickelodeon/Paramount Home Entertainment): The title tells all in this DVD collection ($16.99 retail) of selected episodes from the long-running, award-winning animated Nickelodeon children’s series, with Kathleen Herles providing the voice of the adventurous title character.

“DYNASTY”: THE SIXTH SEASON, VOLUME ONE & TWO (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment): All 30 episodes from the 1985-’86 season of the long-running primetime ABC soap opera are included in this DVD package ($72.99 retail). John Forsythe, Linda Evans, Joan Collins, Diahann Carroll and Heather Locklear head the glamorous cast. Four Emmy nominations including an appropriate one for Nolan Miller: Outstanding Costume Design for a Series.

FATHER OF INVENTION (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Kevin Spacey plays a one-time infomercial guru tries to rebuild his life after being paroled from prison in this uneven comedy with an all-star cast: Heather Graham, Camilla Belle, Virginia Madsen, Johnny Knoxville, John Stamos, Craig Robinson and Red West. Spacey, also a producer (one of many), is fine as always, but the film lets him down. Rated PG-13.

“HEY DUDE”: SEASON 3 (Shout! Factory): The fun continues at the Bar None Dude Ranch in all 13 episodes from the 1990 season of the popular live-action Nickelodeon comedy series. Cast regulars include Christine Taylor, David Brisbin, David Lascher and Joe Torres. The two-DVD boxed set retails for $19.93.

JOHN CARTER (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): Taylor Kitsch plays the title role in this lumbering adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ fantasy novel as a Civil War veteran who is whisked away to Mars, which is currently enmeshed in its own civil war. Kitsch and leading lady Lynn Collins are both attractive but can’t overcome the sheer clumsiness of this endeavor, which also stars — and wastes the talents of — Willem Dafoe, Dominic West, Samantha Morton, Ciaran Hinds, Mark Strong, Thomas Haden Church, Bryan Cranston, Polly Walker and Daryl Sabara as young Edgar Rice Burroughs. In case you hadn’t heard, this was one of the year’s biggest box-office letdowns. Followups are highly unlikely. Available as a single DVD ($29.99 retail), a DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.99 retail), or a 3-D DVD/Blu-ray combo ($49.99 retail). Rated PG-13.

“LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT” — THE SEVENTH YEAR (Shout! Factory): Top cops Vincent D’Onofrio, Kathryn Erbe, Julianne Nicholson and long-time “L&O” favorite Chris Noth are back on the case, in all 22 episodes from the 2007-’08 season of the award-winning crime series. This was the first season that the series was broadcast on USA Network. Guest stars include Christopher Lloyd, Steve Guttenberg, Jessica Walter, Olivia d’Abo, Mary McCormack, Peter Coyote and Tony Goldwin. The DVD boxed set retails for $49.97.

“LOUIE”: SEASON 2 (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Comedian and creator Louis C.K. plays “himself” — a struggling stand-up comedian in New York City trying to balance personal and professional life, in all 13 episodes from the 2011 season of the award-winning FX Network comedy series. The DVD boxed set retails for $29.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $39.99.

MIRROR MIRROR (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): The first of this year’s big-screen variations on the classic fairy tale Snow White (celebrating its 200th birthday this year), with Lily Collins as Snow White and Julia Roberts as the evil Queen under the direction of Tarsem Singh. The DVD retails for $29.98, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $39.99. Rated PG.

“RAGS TO RICHES”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Image Entertainment): Joseph Bologna plays a wealthy widower who adopts five orphaned girls in all 20 episodes from the 1987- ’88 (and only) season of this award-winning NBC comedy/musical series set in the early 1960s. The boxed set retails for $29.98.

“ROCKO’S MODERN LIFE”: SEASON THREE (Shout! Factory): A two-DVD collection ($19.93 retail) of all 13 episodes from the 1995-’96 season of the award-winning, animated Nickelodeon comedy series created by Joe Murray about the misadventures of an Australian wallaby (the titular Rocko, as voiced by Carlos Alazraqui) and his zany friends.

MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2012, Mark Burger.