DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: SECONDS (The Criterion Collection)
What would you give to start life over? More importantly, what would you give up?That’s the existential question posed in director John Frankenheimer’s riveting 1966 adaptation of David Ely’s novel, a brilliant combination of psychological thriller and science-fiction that flopped in its initial release but has steadily, deservedly gained in stature since.Disillusioned middle-aged businessman Arthur Hamilton (John Randolph) would give anything for a fresh start, and a mysterious corporation offers him such an opportunity. He is surgically transformed into Antiochus Wilson (Rock Hudson) — handsome, young and virile… but unable to assimilate in his new identity. His growing disenchantment culminates in an absolutely terrifying ending that remains as excruciating (and resonant) now as then.This may be Hudson’s finest hour, and he’s matched by a superb cast including Randolph, Jeff Corey, Will Geer, Richard Anderson, Murray Hamilton, Wesley Addy and Salome Jens, as Wilson’s love interest. James Wong Howe’s surreal cinematography earned an Oscar nomination and Jerry Goldsmith’s score is customarily superb.The DVD retails for $29.95, the Blu-ray for $39.95.Both contain extensive special features including an archival commentary by Frankenheimer (who died in 2002). This is one of his great films — and he made a few. Rated R.
ABSENCE (Cinedigm): The “foundfootage” gimmick is trotted out for this minor chiller with Erin Way as a woman whose baby mysteriously vanishes before birth, then goes on a vacation to recover with husband Eric Matheny and brother Ryan Smale (he works the camera). A potentially interesting idea and a few jolts, but execution is weak and the dialogue worse.
CAT. 8 (Sonar Entertainment/ Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment): With laptop in hand, scientist Matthew Modine tries to save the world when a government project goes wrong and exposes the Earth to devastating solar radiation in this enjoyable sci-fi/ disaster melodrama, originally broadcast as a miniseries on ReelzChannel. In support, Maxim Roy, Ted Whittall and Susan Hogan (as the vice-president) play it straight, lending heft to hokum in crackerjack fashion.
DO NOT DISTURB (Image Entertainment): Writer/producer/director BC Furtney’s unimpressive debut feature is a one-note black comedy about a deranged Hollywood screenwriter (Stephen Geoffreys) who commits murder to find inspiration. This plays like bad theater with gore added. Tiffany Shepis, Ezra Buzzington and the late Corey Haim co-star.
“ENTOURAGE”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (HBO Home Entertainment): A DVD ($249.99 retail) or Blu-ray ($299.99) collection of all 96 episodes from the entire run (2004-’11) of the critically acclaimed, award-winning HBO comedy series starring Adrian Grenier as hot young Hollywood star Vincent Chase and Kevin Dillon, Kevin Connolly and Jerry Ferrara as his buddies. Jeremy Piven won three consecutive Emmy Awards (Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, 2006-’07-’08) as super-agent Ari Gold.
ERRORS OF THE HUMAN BODY (IFC Films): Eron Sheean’s awardwinning feature debut stars Michael Eklund as a disillusioned scientist who falls victim to his own research in genetic mutations — with the expected dire results. Style trumps substance in this cautionary thriller with echoes of Frankenstein and David Cronenberg’s work, but a likely cult contender.
THE GREAT GATSBY (Warner Home Video): F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic American novel again misfires onscreen in an overblown, overpowering Baz Luhrmann adaptation that captures the glamour but tramples the subtleties of the story. Leonardo DiCapiro, however, is quite good as Gatsby. Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Isla Fisher, Joel Edgerton and Jason Clarke co-star, although some get lost in the shuffle. Available as a two-disc DVD ($28.98 retail), a DVD/ Blu-ray combo ($35.99 retail), and a Blu-ray 3-D combo ($44.95 retail). Rated PG-13.
PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED (Image Entertainment): A re-release of Francis Coppola’s wistful 1986 comedy, with Kathleen Turner in the title role of a woman who passes out at her 25 th high school reunion and wakes up a teenager again — and determined to live her life differently. The terrific Turner earned an Oscar nomination as Best Actress, but Nicolas Cage as her high school sweetheart/ husband seems to be on a different wavelength. A pleasing cast includes Catherine Hicks, Joan Allen, Barry Miller, Jim Carrey, Wil Shriner, Maureen O’Sullivan, Leon Ames (in his final film), Barbara Harris, Don Murray, Helen Hunt, and Sofia Coppola as Peggy Sue’s little sister. Additional Oscar nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design. The DVD retails for $9.98, the Blu-ray for $17.97. Rated PG-13.
STRANDED (Image Entertainment): A shape-shifting alien threatens the crew of a US space station (including Christian Slater and Brendan Fehr) in this sci-fi shocker directed by Roger Christian. The DVD retails for $27.97, the Blu-ray for $29.97.
SUPER ERUPTION (Arc Entertainment): Richard Burgi, Juliet Aubrey and MyAnna Buring try to prevent Yellowstone National Park from destruction by a heretofore undetected underground volcano in this silly, sloppy disaster movie with a sci-fi bent, a 2011 Syfy Channel premiere. Rated PG-13.
SUPER STORM (Anchor Bay Entertainment): An inter-galactic disturbance threatens the Earth in this 2011 Syfy Original Movie originally titled Mega Cyclone. In harm’s way are David Sutcliffe, Erica Cerra, Brett Dier, Leah Cairns and “X-Files” favorite Mitch Pileggi. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $24.99.
“THE TWILIGHT ZONE”: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON (Image Entertainment): A five-DVD collection ($29.98 retail) of all 18 episodes from the 1962-’63 season of the immortal CBS fantasy series created and hosted by Rod Serling, which earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Television. Guest stars include Robert Duvall, Burt Reynolds, Martin Balsam, Dennis Hopper, Jack Klugman, James Whitmore, Burgess Meredith, Jack Weston, Anne Francis, Bill Bixby and more.
“THE WALKING DEAD”: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Mainstream “zombie-mania” continues in all 16 episodes from the 2012-’13 season of the award-winning AMC series, in which human survivors attempt to fend off the onslaught of the living dead. The cast includes Andrew Lincoln, David Morrissey, Michael Rooker, Norman Reedus, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Melissa McBride and the great Scott Wilson. Emmy nomination for Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Miniseries, Movie or Special. The DVD boxed set retails for $69.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $79.99, and a limited-edition Blu-ray with a “zombie head tank” for $149.99. All three contain extensive special features for “Dead” heads.
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2013, Mark Burger.