DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: LUGOSI: HOLLYWOOD’S DRACULA (Alpha Home Entertainment)
In the annals of typecasting, few actors were more associated with a single role than Bela Lugosi (1882-1956) was with the character of Count Dracula.This fascinating 1997 documentary from writer/director Gary Don Rhodes and co-producer Richard Sheffield (both of whom have written extensively about Lugosi), is narrated by Robert Clarke (who appeared with Lugosi in 1945’s The Body Snatcher) and Rue McClanahan (a Lugosi devotee), and offers a heartfelt appreciation of the man behind the cape.If Lugosi wasn’t constrained by the Dracula connection, he certainly was by his association with horror films. With only a few exceptions — Ernst Lubitsch’s 1939 comedy classic Ninotchka, for example — he was the go-to guy for horror films, regardless of budget or script.Unfortunately, in Lugosi’s personal life he fought demons (including drug addiction) more horrifying than any on-screen. Although the film doesn’t skirt over his personal problems, it’s made with a respect and admiration that, sadly, mostly seemed to elude Lugosi during his lifetime. The two-DVD special edition retails for $14.98.
“90210”: THE FOURTH SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment): This six-DVD collection ($47.99 retail) includes all 24 episodes from the 2011-’12 season of the awardwinning CW Television Network series, a contemporary updating of that ’90s perennial “Beverly Hills 90210.” The cast includes Shenae Grimes, AnnaLynne McCord, Tristan Wilds, Jessica Stroup and Lori Loughlin.
10 NIGHTS IN A BARROOM (Alpha Home Entertainment): William Farnum (quite good) plays a small-town Everyman for whom one drink is too many in this unbelievably hokey but sometimes effective 1931 cautionary melodrama, based on a popular temperance play that had previously been made three times (!) as a silent.
BEHIND THE GREEN LINES (Alpha Home Entertainment): Christy Cabanne directed this 1935 programmer with Norman Foster as a cop concerned when lawyer girlfriend Judith Allen begins winning cases for the criminals he’s caught. Based on a novel by police captain Cornelius W. Willemse, this gets a boost from Sidney Blackmer as Allen’s corrupt boss. Look fast for J. Carrol Naish.
THE COLLECTION (LionsGate): Dank, distasteful sequel to 2009’s The Collector again follows a masked madman (Randall Archer) as he terrorizes a young girl (Emma Fitzpatrick). Josh Stewart (not bad) reprises his role as the sole survivor from the first film, coerced into helping find the girl. For die-hard gorehounds only. Rated R.
“COUGAR TOWN” (LionsGate): Divorced mom (and executive producer) Courteney Cox does her best to navigate the turbulent waters of being single in the comedy series, which first aired on ABC before making the move to TBS. “The Complete Season One” includes all 24 episodes from the 2009- ’10 season, “The Complete Season Two” includes all 22 episodes from the 2010-’11 season, and “The Complete Season Three” includes all 15 episodes from the 2012 season. Each DVD boxed set retails for $19.98.
DANGEROUS LIAISONS (Well Go USA Entertainment): Director Jin-ho Hur puts an Eastern spin on the classic Pierre Choderlos de Laclos 18 th century novel of class obsession and romantic deception, with Cecilia Chung, Jang Dong-gun and Zhang Ziyi in the leading roles. The Chinese title is Wiheom-hyan gyan-gye. In Mandarin with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98.
DARK FEED (LionsGate): Sibling screenwriters Michael and Shawn Rasmussen’s make their producing/ directing debut with this routine chiller about a film crew shooting at an abandoned asylum, unaware of the contagious lunacy that lurks within. Ho-hum. Rated R.
INTERVIEW WITH A HITMAN (Well Go USA Entertainment): Luke Goss stars in the title role of writer/producer/director Perry Bhandal’s debut feature, as a hired assassin who exacts revenge on those who betrayed him. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98.
LEON ERROL COLLECTION (Alpha Home Entertainment): A DVD selection ($7.98 retail) of seven vintage comedy shorts starring popular vaudeville and screen funnyman Leon Errol (1881-1951), best known for the long-running series of Mexican Spitfire films in the 1940s.
MLB SUPERSTARS: IMPACT PLAY- ERS (MLB Productions/LionsGate): The title tells all in this sports documentary ($14.98 retail) showcasing such superstar baseball players as Prince Fielder, Matt Kemp, Justin Verlander, David Price and more.
MONEY AND MEDICINE (Docurama Films/Cinedigm): The title is apt in Roger Weisberg’s award-winning documentary feature ($29.95 retail), which examines the ongoing and escalating concerns about healthcare in this country.
THE REAL VIKINGS COLLECTION (LionsGate): A DVD selection ($14.98 retail) of three History Channel documentaries about the legendary warriors who plundered and pillaged Europe after setting forth from Denmark, Norway and Sweden: “Foot Soldier: The Vikings,” “The Vikings: Lost Worlds” and “Viking Terror.”
THE RETURN OF THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES (MPI Home Video): Buddy Ebsen returns as Jed Clampett in this embarrassing made-for-TV 1981 reunion film, also featuring series favorites Donna Douglas (as Elly Mae), Nancy Kulp (as Miss Jane Hathaway), Lloyd “Shad” Heller, Shug Fisher and Charles Lane, with Ray Young stepping in for Max Baer as Jethro and Imogene Coca playing “Granny’s Maw.” Werner Klemperer, Lurene Tuttle, Linda Henning (daughter of series producer Paul Henning) and King Donovan (Coca’s real-life husband) also appear. Even by the series’ lowest standard, this just ain’t funny.
THE SCAVENGERS (Alpha Archive Collection): Ex-smuggler Vince Edwards is unexpectedly reunited with wife Carol Ohmart — who vanished six years before — and both are soon enmeshed in intrigue, in this effective, low-budget, noir-ish programmer directed by John Cromwell and filmed on location in Hong Kong and the Philippines. Vic Diaz (in his screen debut) and Richard Loo round out a tight cast.
TOMORROW’S YOUTH (Alpha Home Entertainment): Familiar “Our Gang” member Dickie Moore stars in this 1934 divorce melodrama from Monogram Pictures, about how a young boy is affected by the break-up of his parents (John Miljan and Martha Sleeper). Unbelievably hokey at times yet frequently entertaining, with future Oscar winner Jane Darwell as a faithful maid and Franklin Pangborn (the butt of jokes throughout) as a fussy tutor.
THE WEST-BOUND LIMITED (Alpha Home Entertainment): Good action footage distinguishes this silent 1923 railroad melodrama, and as a bonus this DVD also includes the 1909 narrative short “A Corner in Wheat,” directed by DW Griffith.
THE WHALE (Docurama Films/Cinedigm): Ryan Reynolds narrates this award-winning, G-rated documentary about Luna, the killer whale that gained worldwide fame and sympathy when he became lost off the coast of British Columbia. Reynolds and then-wife Scarlett Johansson were also executive producers. The DVD retails for $29.95.
WIRETAPPER (Alpha Home Entertainment): Based on Jim Vaus Jr.’s autobiography Why I Quit Syndicated Crime, this 1955 faith-based melodrama stars Bill Williams as Vaus, whose electronic skills land him in a shaky alliance with the Los Angeles underworld until he is inspired by a sermon given by Billy Graham (who appears as himself). Georgia Lee plays Vaus’ wife, with familiar faces Douglas Kennedy, Stanley Clements and Paul Picerni also on hand.
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2013, Mark Burger.