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by Mark Burger

PICK OF THE WEEK:

DELICATESSEN (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Newly re-released as a special edition DVD, replete with commentaries and documentaries, directors Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro’s outrageously enticing and award winning art-house hit became an immediate, international cult sensation upon its release in 1991. Count me in. Set in a bizarre (as if there is any other kind) post apocalyptic future, the story focuses on the oddballs who commingle in and around the title establishment and ad joining boarding house. The cast includes the memorably-mugged Dominique Pinon as Louison, a former circus clown who becomes a most unlikely, but undeniably appealing, hero; Marie- Laure Dougnac as Julie, the cello-playing naïf who catches his eye; and Jean-Louis Dreyfus as her father, the butcher who runs the Delicatessen and keeps his customers satisfied with a ready supply of fresh meat. No one really questions how he is able to come by so rare a commodity… nor do they seem to notice that some of their neighbors have gone missing. Almost impossible to describe, Delicatessen is madcap mania at its best. Cows (sacred and otherwise) are slaughtered left and right as the film imaginatively combines political satire, raunchy slapstick, black comedy and unabashed absurdity, rendered in dazzling fashion by cinematographer Darius Khondji. The film won four Cesar Awards (France’s equivalent of the Oscar), including best first work and best writing (for Caro, Jeunet and Gilles Adrien), and deservedly put its makers on the map. It’s a one of a kind, but definitely not for all tastes. No pun intended. Well, maybe just a little…. In French with English subtitles. Rated R. ***’½

ALSO ON DVD

“6 FILMS TO KEEP YOU AWAKE” (LionsGate Home Entertainment): The worldwide popularity of horror films is celebrated in this six-film selection of films by six of Spain’s most popular filmmakers in that genre: Alex de la Iglesia’s The Baby’s Room, Paco Plaza’s The Christmas Tale, Enrique Urbizu’s A Real Friend, Jaume Balaguero’s To Let, Mateo Gil’s Spectre and Narciso Ibanez Serrador’s Blame. This boxed set retails for $27.98.

“BEST OF COMEDY CENTRAL PRESENTS: UNCENSORED II” (Comedy Central Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment): A selection of stand-up comedy appearances featuring the likes of Dave Atell, Mike Birbiglia, Frank Caliendo, Zach Galifianakis, Patton Oswalt and others. This DVD retails for $19.99.

BRAM STOKER’S “DRACULA’S GUEST” (LionsGate Home Entertainment): A (very) loose adaptation of Bram Stoker’s short story, this shocker sees the Count (beefy Andrew Bryniarski) kidnapping the young fiancée (Kelsey McCann) of a fellow named Bram Stoker (Wes Ramsey). A laudable effort to create a Gothic atmosphere on a low budget, but uneven performances and weak scripting serve to drive a stake through its ambitions. Rated PG-13. *’½

“COMEDY CENTRAL’S ‘TV FUNHOUSE’” (Comedy Central Home Entertainment/ Paramount Home Entertainment): All 8 episodes from the 2000-’01 season of the short-lived Comedy Central series, created by Robert Smigel and Dino Stamatopolous, which spoofs children’s shows of the 1950s and ’60s. Doug Dale plays the friendly host of a kiddie show starring puppet animals and live animals, during which he also presents cartoons and short films. Each episode is presented uncut and uncensored. This boxed set retails for $26.98.

DUNGEON GIRL (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Having long exhausted whatever good will remained from The Boogey Man (1980), writer/producer/director Ulli Lommel’s latest low-budget waste of time sees a young girl (Wendy Jean Linn, in her screen debut) held captive by a voyeuristic maniac (Gunter Ziegler). Gwen Trevathan, also in her screen debut, provides Linn’s narration, while Lommel himself turns up as a TV minister. Although meant to be evocative, this instead is a pretentious, ponderous bore — and another loser from Lommel. Rated R. No stars

GAMES GIRLS PLAY (MPI Home Video): Christina Hart plays a teenaged temptress at large in London in this low-budget, soft-core romp from 1974. The dopey digs at détente are dated, and although the girls are cute, that’s not enough. Also known as The Bunny Caper and Sex Play (!), this marks a severe career dip for director Jack Arnold (better known for stuff like The Creature from the Black Lagoon). This DVD includes an exclusive interview with Hart. Rated R. *

THE HIVE (RHI Entertainment/Genius Products): A massive, malevolent swarm of CGI killer ants goes on the rampage in this middling sci-fi melodrama that has a few neat ideas but tends not to follow through on them. *’½

“JOHN OLIVER: TERRIFYING TIMES (EXTENDED AND UNCENSORED)” (Comedy Central Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment): A stand-up comedy showcase for British-born comedian John Oliver, now a political correspondent (of sorts) for Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central. This DVD retails for $19.99.

THE LEGEND OF THE LONE RANGER (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Routine to the point of tedium, this 1981 Western adventure traces the origins of the Masked Man (played by Klinton Spilsbury in his only film to date) in lackluster fashion. With the help of faithful Tonto (Michael Horse), our hero seeks to avenge his brother’s death at the hands of outlaw Butch Cavendish (Christopher Lloyd), whose latest scheme involves blackmailing the US government by kidnapping President Ulysses S Grant (Jason Robards, in quick-check mode). Also on hand: Matt Clark, John Hart (who played the Lone Ranger on TV in the ’50s), Richard Farnsworth (as Wild Bill Hickok) and Tom Laughlin (of Billy Jack fame). An uncredited James Keach dubbed Spilsbury (never a good sign), while Merle Haggard provides narration and sings the theme song, “The Man in the Mask.” Somehow, it took five credited screenwriters to write this. The film’s box-office failure drove nails into the coffins of Lew Grade’s film empire, and the Western genre as a whole during the 1980s. Rated PG. *’½

LINDA LOVELACE FOR PRESIDENT (MPI Home Video): The title tells all in this lowbrow 1975 comedy with the Deep Throat star establishing the “Upright Party” and campaigning for the highest office in the land. Amid the bad puns, of which there are plenty, lurks a cast of familiar (if slightly embarrassed) faces including Micky Dolenz, Joe E. Ross, Joey Forman, Val Bisoglio, Vaughn Meader, Marty Ingels, Art Metrano, Chuck McCann (billed as “Alfredo Fetchuttini”) in a dual role, and the immortal Scatman Crothers. This originally received an X rating (!) but, despite Lovelace’s penchant for disrobing on-camera, it’s hardly pornographic. Stupid, yes. Pornographic, not really. Nevertheless, nowhere else can you experience Lovelace’s surreal (but not bad) rendition of “Nearer My God to Thee.” *’½

“MANEATER SERIES COLLECTION” — VOLUME 2 (RHI Entertainment/Genius Products): A DVD triple bill of modern-day monster movies: Michael Madsen in Croc, James Van Der Beek in Eye of the Beast, and director David DeCoteau’s Grizzly Rage. This boxed set retails for $26.95.

THE ORPHANAGE (New Line Home Entertainment): Guillermo del Toro produced and Juan Anontio Bayona makes his directorial debut with this effective, haunting, award winning psychological thriller with Belen Rueda as a young woman who returns to the abandoned orphanage where she grew up in order to reopen it as a school, only to become perturbed when her ailing young son (Roger Princep) becomes consumed with an imaginary friend… and then disappears without a trace. Rated R. ***

PHANTASM IV: OBLIVION (Anchor Bay Entertainment): The lethal silver spheres are still aloft, but the luster’s a little tarnished in the fourth, last (to date), and least in the Phantasm franchise, again written, produced and directed by Don Coscarelli, with long-time favorites A. Michael Baldwin (also a co-producer) as Mike, Reggie Bannister as Reggie, Bill Thornbury as Jody and, of course, the inimitable Angus Scrimm as the Tall Man. This special edition of the 1998 sequel, which bypassed theatrical release and includes a considerable amount of unused footage from the original 1979 film, includes a commentary with Baldwin, Bannister, Coscarelli and Scrimm. This marked the final film of composer Fred Myrow, whose memorable theme was a staple of the series. There are ongoing rumors about a remake and/or a continuation of the series, but no one’s saying for sure just yet. Rated R. **

“ROUTE 66” – COMPLETE FIRST SEASON TELEVISION SERIES (Roxbury Entertainment/ Infinity Entertainment Group): All 30 episodes from the 1960-’61 series of the critically acclaimed CBS-TV prime-time drama starring Martin Milner and George Maharis as two friends who drive along Route 66, which stretches from Illinois to California, meeting new people and finding adventure along the way. The first season’s line-up of guest stars include Darren McGavin, Lee Marvin, Walter Matthau, Keir Dullea, George Kennedy, Lew Ayres, Suzanne Pleshette, EG Marshall, Leslie Nielsen, Jack Lord, Jack Weston, Jack Warden, Sylvia Sidney, Beatrice Straight, Robert Duvall, Murray Hamilton, Inger Stevens, Nehemiah Persoff, Edward Asner and Harvey Korman. This eight-disc boxed set retails for $49.98.

SEMI-PRO (New Line Home Entertainment): A crass but undeniably funny sports spoof, loosely based on the final season of the ABA (American Basketball Association) in the 1970s, with Will Ferrell as the owner, coach and star forward of a ragtag franchise trying to stay afloat as a merger with the NBA looms. An enjoyable cast includes Woody Harrelson, Andre Benjamin (AKA Andre 3000), Maura Tierney, Will Arnett, David Koechner, Jackie Earle Haley, Andy Richter and Patti LaBelle (as Ferrell’s mom!). Rated R (also available in an unrated “Let’s Get Sweaty” two disc edition). ***

SON OF RAMBOW (Paramount Home Entertainment): Director Garth Jennings’ comedy sleeper stars newcomer Bill Milner as a young boy who comes of age when he befriends a cocky classmate (fellow newcomer Will Poulter) and becomes entranced by the Sylvester Stallone action flick First Blood. Sometimes heavy handed, but charmingly played and often inspired. Rated PG-13. **’½

“TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES” — THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (Warner Home Video): All 9 episodes from the 2008 (debut) season of the award winning FOX prime-time series, based on the Terminator series of films created by James Cameron. Lena Headey plays Sarah Connor, the protective mother of John Connor (Thomas Dekker), the teenager who will become mankind’s savior in an impending, apocalyptic war against cyborg technology. This boxed set, which includes bonus footage, retails for $29.98.

“’TIL DEATH DO US PART” — THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (BCI): All 13 (how appropriate) episodes from the 2006 true-crime anthology series, aired on Court-TV and hosted by John Waters (as “The Groom Reaper”), which dramatizes actual incidences of marriages gone fatally wrong in a fashion not unlike a mystery guessing-game. This boxed set retails for $29.98.

Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2008, Mark Burger

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