DVD Pick of the week

by Mark Burger

DVD Pick of the week

Dolan’s CaDillaC (National entertainment media)

Adapted from stephen king’s short story, which appeared in the 1993 anthology Nightmares & Dreamscapes (and was itself inspired by edgar Allan Poe), this wicked little number about revenge ranks as one of the better king adaptations in recent years.

Christian slater plays Jimmy Dolan, a ruthless las Vegas crime boss who sanctions the murder of elizabeth Robinson (emmanuelle Vaugier), who was going to testify against him in court. Haunted by her death, her schoolteacher husband (Wes Bentley) is compelled to exact an elaborate form of retribution, one that involves Dolan’s custom-made, bulletproof cadillac sUV and Dolan’s periodic business treks from Vegas to los Angeles.

(Those familiar with king’s original story or Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado have a head start as to where this story’s going.)

Sprinkled with dark humor and existential overtones, this retains the spirit of the king story — and doesn’t suffer too much as a result of feature-length expansion. The film also offers its onscreen adversaries meaty roles; slater clearly revels in playing Dolan’s vicious sadism and Bentley (in maybe his best performance since American Beauty) perfectly personifies Robinson’s grief-fueled obsession. Rated R.


“THE ABBOTT AND COSTELLO SHOW”: THE COMPLETE SERIES — COLLECTOR’S EDITION (e1 entertainment): A nine-DVD boxed set ($59.98 retail) containing all 52 episodes from the syndicated TV comedy series that ran 1952- ’53 and, like the title said, showcased the inimitable duo of Bud Abbott (1895-1974) and lou costello (1906-’59), based on their popular radio show. Bonus features include retrospective interviews, a collectible booklet, and more. Gone but not forgotten, Bud and lou still make me laugh.

ART OF WAR (A&e Home entertainment): James lurie narrates this imaginatively rendered documentary about sun Tzu’s 2,400-year-old “bestseller,” and how it has applied (and been applied) to such later conflicts as the civil War, World War II and Vietnam.

BLUE GOLD: WORLD WATER WARS (PBs Home Video): There’s an unmistakable, persuasive urgency to this award-winning documentary feature from sam Bozzo (who served as writer, producer, editor, cinematographer and director!), which examines the commoditization of much of the world’s water supply — and the potential consequences therein. Based on the book by maude Barlow and Tony clark, and smoothly narrated by malcolm mcDowell.

THE CARETAKER (mTI Home Video): Routine, slow-moving scare fare in which a group of (overaged) high-schoolers decide to skip their homecoming dance and party at an abandoned house. And it’s also Halloween night… care to guess what happens next? shawn Andrews, Judd Nelson, Jennifer Tilly, and Jonathan Breck are the familiar faces here. Rated R.

“THE ESSENTIAL GAMES OF THE DETROIT TIGERS” (major league Baseball Productions/ A&e Home entertainment): With baseball season upon us, the title of this four-DVD boxed set ($29.95 retail) tells all, as it showcases four 5 of the 1968 World series and the clinching Game 5 of the ’84 World series.

FANTASTIC MR. FOX (Twentieth century Fox Home entertainment): Wes Anderson’s animated adaptation of the classic Roald Dahl story retains both the charms of the story while maintaining Anderson’s trademark quirkiness. George clooney provides the voice of mr. Fox, heading a star-studded line-up of vocal talent that includes meryl streep (mrs. Fox), michael Gambon, Willem Dafoe, Bill murray, owen Wilson, Anderson himself and brother eric. oscar nominations for Best Animated Feature and Alexandre Desplat’s original score. Rated PG.

‘GIGGLE, GIGGLE, QUACK’… AND MORE STORIES BY DOREEN CRONIN (scholastic storybook Treasures): Abigail Breslin and Randy Travis are among the narrators in this collection of animated stories by the noted children’s author, including the title tale, “Duck for President,” “Diary of a Worm” and others. This special-edition DVD retails for $14.95.

“HANNAH MONTANA: MILEY SAYS GOODBYE?” (Walt Disney studios Home entertainment): Will she or won’t she? miley cyrus and her TV alter-ego, Hannah montana, weigh the decision to stay in Hollywood or return home to Tennessee. This collection of six episodes from the popular, award-winning Disney channel series retails for $19.99.

HORROR OF THE BLOOD MONSTERS (Alpha New cinema): With a title like that, you know it’s bad… and is it ever! John carradine leads an expedition to a distant planet after a wave of vampire-like murders grip planet earth in this bargain-basement 1970 drive-in cult classic comprised of stock footage, scenes from a Filipino horror film called Tagani, and then additional scenes filmed by the one and only Al Adamson (who also appears briefly as an earth vampire). Not surprisingly, the result is a mess — but not without its unintentional laughs. Robert Dix and Vicki Volante play earth scientists who make romance amid flashing light bulbs, while the outer-space contingent includes Jennifer Bishop, Bruce Powers and Joey Benson. This played in theaters and on TV under a variety of titles (including Vampire Men of the Lost Planet and Space Mission to the Lost Planet) over the years, terrorizing audiences everywhere. Rated PG.

I SELL THE DEAD (IFc Films/mPI media Group): Writer/director Glenn mcQuaid’s engaging, awardwinning horror satire stars Dominic monaghan and larry Fessenden (who also produced) as a pair of 19 th century grave robbers who encounter all sorts of supernatural phenomena while digging up work. Great fun for horror buffs, with plenty of in-jokes and sly nods to the classics of yesteryear, and a genre-friendly cast that also includes Ron Perlman and Angus scrimm (of Phantasm fame). This scored with audiences at the RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-salem in 2009, and cult status is likely.

“MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: VOLUME XVII” (shout! Factory): The latest selection from the long-running (11 years!), Peabody Award-winning comedy series that so memorably poked fun at Hollywood’s worst movies. This four-DVD boxed set ($59.97 retail) includes The Crawling Eye (which was the very first “msT3k” episode), The Final Sacrifice, The Beatniks and Blood Waters of Dr. Z.

THE NAKED KISS (Alpha Home entertainment): saucy dialogue, heady innuendo and bizarre plot twists distinguish samuel Fuller’s savage 1964 melodrama with constance Towers (her finest hour) as a one-time prostitute whose arrival in a small town causes ripples that get bigger and bigger and bigger. A true original that recalls an early, black-and-white version of Blue Velvet. Is it the work of a madman or a genius? With Fuller, perhaps both! Great use of Beethoven’s Fifth symphony, cool cinematography by stanley cortez, and acted with verve by the likes of Anthony eisley, michael Dante, Virginia Grey, Patsy kelly and edy Williams.

OLD DOGS (Walt Disney studios Home entertainment): John Travolta and Robin Williams play best buds saddled with the latter’s heretofore unknown kids by his ex-wife (kelly Preston, Travolta’s real-life wife) — leading to a succession of increasingly forced and feeble slapstick situations. The kids are played by conner Rayburn and newcomer ella Bleu Travolta (Travolta and Preston’s real-life daughter). every emotion in the film is telegraphed by a song, which is one of its problems. Another is that it’s appallingly, painfully unfunny. The ill-used supporting cast includes matt Dillon, seth Green, Ann-margret, Rita Wilson, lori loughlin, Dax shepard, Justin long, luis Guzman and Bernie mac (in his final role). The film is dedicated to mac and Jett Travolta, Travolta and Preston’s late son. Available as a single-disc DVD ($29.99 retail), a two-disc Premium edition ($39.99 retail), or as a Blu-ray/ DVD combo ($44.99 retail). Rated PG.

“THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW JERSEY”: SEASON ONE (Bravo media): meet Jacqueline, Danielle, caroline, Teresa and Dina — five Garden state gals whose lifestyles are explored in all 10 episodes from the 2009 season of the popular Bravo reality series, the fourth in the network’s “Real Housewives” franchise. This three-DVD boxed set retails for $29.95.

STATEN ISLAND, NY (National entertainment media): luc Besson was a producer of screenwriter James Demarco’s directorial debut, an episodic, non-linear crime saga set in New York city’s fifth (and largely forgotten) borough. The (mostly-unrestrained) cast includes ethan Hawke, seymour cassel, Julianne Nicholson and Vincent D’onofrio (apparently channeling orson Welles and marlon Brando). The first half is fun but it doesn’t last. Rated R.

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