DVD Pick of the week

by Mark Burger


For drive-in devotees, this aptly-named DVD twin-bill ($14.99 retail) is an enjoyable tribute to B-movie auteur Greydon clark, who wrote and directed both films.

In The Bad Bunch (1973), clark’s first film, he explores racial intolerance in Vietnam-era America. He also stars as Jim, a veteran trying to re-adjust to civilian life, and Tom Johnigarn plays the brother of the GI who saved Jim’s life, yet deeply resentful and mistrustful of the white establishment. Veteran tough guys Jock mahoney and Aldo Ray play corrupt cops whose racial hatred ultimately sparks a bloodbath.

In Hi-Riders (1978), a group of fun-loving hot-rodders (including Darby Hinton and Diane Peterson) finds danger following a street race gone wrong. Between screeching tires, squealing brakes and the inevitable smash-ups, you’ll find old favorites mel Ferrer as the local sheriff and Ralph meeker as his sneaky deputy, Neville Brand as a crusty bartender and stephen mcNally as a vengeful town bigwig. They don’t have much to do, but it’s nice having them around. Neither film could be classified as high art, but both are fastpaced, touch upon social issues (albeit in an exploitation fashion), and deliver the action promised. special features include audio commentary on both films by clark. Rated R.

For an exclusive interview with Greydon Clark, click HERE

Also on DVD

THE BOXER (Alpha Home entertainment):

Robert Blake stars as Teddy “cherokee” Wilcox, an ex-con/Vietnam vet/prizefighter framed for the murder of his corrupt manager, in Franco Prospero’s 1972 “spaghetti” boxing melodrama, released in the Us in 1975 as Ripped Off (a better title), after Blake hit prime-time paydirt with “Baretta.” Blake’s typically pugnacious turn is matched by the always-welcome ernest Borgnine, as the hard-boiled police captain on his case. An impossibly glamorous catherine spaak plays the victim’s daughter (and Blake’s love interest), while the villains include Tomas milian as a sadistic hippie (!) and orazio orlando as a duplicitous newspaperman (uh-oh!). The original, R-rated version reportedly ran 83 minutes. Unfortunately, this 72-minute version appears to be the TV version, which excises violence pivotal to the plot. Bummer. Also known as Counter Punch and Murder in the Ring.

CARNERA: THE WALKING MOUNTAIN (monarch Home Video): speaking of boxers, Andrea Iaia (in his screen debut) plays real-life, Italian-born heavyweight boxing champion Primo carnera in writer/director Renzo martinelli’s biographical drama, co-starring F. murray Abraham, Burt Young, Paul sorvino (in a tiny role) and Antonio cupo (as max Baer). overlong, episodic and hampered by iffy dubbing, but well-intentioned and engrossing. Rated R.

“COMEDY PARADE” (Alpha Home entertainment): A collection (read: mixed bag) of rare, vintage comedy shorts from the 1930s, including What Ho-Romeo! starring Jack Benny and Hotel Anchovy, with the Ritz Brothers (Harry, Jimmy and Al).

EVIL TOONS (Retromedia entertainment/Infinity entertainment Group): A 20 th -anniversary edition of Fred olen Ray’s 1990 horror spoof (which was actually released in ’92), in which an ancient book of magic unleashes lascivious, lethal, animated riff on Who Framed Roger Rabbit? has its busty charms, thanks to monique Gabrielle, michelle Bauer and stacey Nix (better known as porn star Barbara Dare), and tongue-in-cheek turns by David carradine, Arte Johnson and Dick miller. This special edition includes audio commentary and other goodies. A guilty pleasure, to be sure. Rated R.

HOUSEWIVES FROM ANOTHER WORLD (Retromedia entertainment/Infinity entertainment Group): Yet another bit of softcore sci-fi from the indefatigable Nicholas medina (AkA Fred olen Ray), this one involving body-snatching babes (Heather Vandeven, christine Nguyen and buxom Rebecca love) attempting to stop construction of a new satellite — basically by seducing everyone in sight. Frankie cullen and Tony marino are the lucky guys they encounter, while the ubiquitous (and perennially clothed) Ted Newsom plays the bumbling boss mr. Roberts. This leaves the door wide open for a sequel or even (gulp!) a franchise. Too much simulated sex and not enough comedy, although there’s certainly an audience for this.

“THE JUDY GARLAND SHOW”: VOLUME FOUR (Infinity entertainment Group): In the latest selection of episodes from the title entertainer’s emmy-nominated, prime-time cBs-TV variety series (which ran 1963-‘64), guest stars include ethel merman, shelley Berman, chita Rivera, Vic Damone and louis Nye. This two-episode DVD retails for $19.98.

LEGEND OF THE WITCHES (VcI entertainment): Writer/director malcolm leigh’s 1969 British-made, black-and-white documentary feature explores the practice of witchcraft. Interesting topic hampered by slow pacing, despite some interesting historical tidbits and rare footage of an actual witches’ coven (in which the participants are frequently naked). This version runs under 80 minutes; supposedly there’s a longer version somewhere.

MACARTHUR PARK (sundance channel Home entertainment): An impressive feature debut for actor Billy Worth as screenwriter, producer and director, vividly depicting the everyday lives of the denizens of the title park, located on the mean streets of downtown los Angeles, based on characters created by ex-con Tyrone Atkins, who was himself a crack addict and “resident” of macArthur Park. Gutsy, intense and very wellplayed, particularly by Thomas Jefferson Byrd as the character based on Atkins. An eclectic cast includes ellen cleghorne, Glenn Plummer, Julie Delpy, lori Petty, cynda Williams, Brandon Adams, David Faustino, B-Real, sydney Tamiia Poitier, Balthazar Getty, miguel Nunez, sticky Fingaz and Rachel Hunter. Rated R.

PENNY SERENADE (Alpha Home entertainment): George stevens’ 1941 tearjerker is a fine showcase for cary Grant (who earned an Academy Award nomination as Best Actor) and Irene Dunne as a couple whose marriage is unexpectedly marred by tragedy. Nice supporting work by Beulah Bondi and edgar Buchanan, the latter as a family friend named “Applejack” (!).

“SCI-Q”: THE COMPLETE BOX SET (smithsonian Networks/Infinity entertainment Group): A fourvolume, 13-episode compilation ($29.98 retail) from the smithsonian channel’s science series, in which teenaged hosts examine and explore various scientific phenomena.

“SMITHSONIAN NETWORKS WILDLIFE COLLECTION” (smithsonian Networks/Infinity entertainment Group): The title tells all in this three-DVD boxed set ($29.98 retail) consisting of three wildlife documentaries: Wanted: Anaconda, The Big Blue and Pandas in the Wild.

SWORD OF LANCELOT (Alpha Home entertainment): The saga of camelot, as retold by producer/director/star cornel Wilde in this 1962 melodrama, also tellingly released as Lancelot and Guinevere, which shifts the story’s emphasis to lancelot (Wilde) and Guinevere (Wilde’s real-life wife, Jean Wallace), leaving king Arthur (Brian Aherne) in the background. Wilde’s strange French accent and Wallace’s pallid per formance are compounded by the fact that both performers are too old for their roles. George Baker, Adrienne corri, Graham stark and Walter Gotell round out the (mostly-ignored) supporting cast, and one of the most pivotal characters dies off-screen, mentioned only in a brief line of dialogue. even Harry Waxman’s cinematography and Ron Goodwin’s score can’t save it.

“TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE”: THE THIRD SEASON (cBs DVD/Paramount Home entertainment): spooky doings in all 22 episodes from the 1986-’87 season of the syndicated horror anthology series, on which George A. Romero and Richard Rubinstein toiled as executive producers under their laurel entertainment banner. Guest stars include Robert Forster, eG marshall, Jerry orbach, seymour cassel, William Hickey, margaret o’Brien, Renee Taylor, craig Wasson, Roy Dotrice, Talia Balsam and charles ludlam (in his final performance). Paul sparer provides the memorable narration. This three-DVD boxed set retails for $36.98.

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE (Warner Home Video): spike Jonze’s long-awaited adaptation of maurice sendak’s classic children’s novel stars newcomer max Records as a young boy named max who leaves home to visit the title island, where he encounters a group of strange creatures (voiced by the likes of Forest Whitaker, James Gandolfini, lauren Ambrose, chris cooper, Paul Dano and others), but ultimately realizes that there’s no place like home. Great makeup and even greater ambitions, but this weird fantasy never quite gains a foothold. This opened strong at the box-office but then stalled. Tom Hanks was one of the producers, and catherine keener (who plays max’s mom) was an associate producer. Rated PG.

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

demons upon a group of nubile girls. This low-rent Copyright 2010, Mark Burger