DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: THE LAST SHARK (RetroVision Entertainment)
Director Enzo G. Castellari’s 1981 shark saga, known on these shores as Great White, is the most notorious (and litigious) of all the Jaws rip-offs — and perhaps the funniest.The set-up’s very familiar: A coastal community is menaced by a great white shark, compelling nautical novelist James Franciscus (as “Peter Benton,” surely no coincidence that Jaws was written by Peter Benchley) and shark hunter Vic Morrow (with a Scottish brogue like no other) to hunt it down before more lives are lost.This shark doesn’t discriminate: It eats people, it eats surfboards, metal cables, parts of boats, a wooden pier, a helicopter and several slabs of beef. On three occasions do people bait the shark, and each time it goes disastrously wrong. The Last Shark may be laughable and silly, but it’s never dull — and in retrospect it’s hardly the worst Jaws knock-off.Previous bootleg transfers have been so murky that it was almost impossible to clearly see the underwater scenes, but this special edition boasts a wonderful transfer… although it also makes the special effects look cheesier than ever. Actual shark footage was also none-too-convincingly incorporated, which might explain why its size and appearance change from scene to scene! Rated PG.For an exclusive interview with RetroVision Entertainment founder Brannon Carty, turn to page 39.
42 (Warner Home Video): Writer/director Brian Helgeland’s dramatization of Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) breaking baseball’s color barrier in 1946 when he entered the big leagues is awash in golden hues of nostalgia, with domestic scenes that veer into soap opera, but works well on the baseball diamond and best when it musters righteous indignation over the racism Robinson faced.
Harrison Ford is excellent as Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey, with Christopher Meloni (as manager Leo Durocher), Lucas Black, Alan Tudyk, Hamish Linklater and John C. McGinley (as broadcaster Red Barber). Rated PG- 13.
“ALL NIGHT HORROR MARATHON” (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): The self-explanatory DVD collection ($9.99 retail): Debbie Reynolds and Shelley Winters headline Curtis Harrington’s 1971 adaptation of Henry Farrell’s What’s the Matter With Helen? (rated PG); director Gabrielle Beaumont’s tame 1980 shocker The Godsend (rated R); Bill Paxton, Michael Ironside and Marshall Bell (in the title role) in 1992’s The Vagrant (rated R); and Deborah Winters in 1987’s The Outing (rated R).
THE BERLIN FILE (CJ Entertainment): Director Ryoo Seung-wan’s awardwinning thriller stars Jung-woo Ha (very good) as an undercover North Korean agent embroiled — and implicated — in international intrigue in the title town. Convoluted storyline somewhat redeemed by terrific action sequences. The ending leaves it wide open for a sequel.
BERLIN JOB (Flatiron Film Company/ Cinedigm): Originally titled St. George’s Day, actor/producer Frank Harper makes his directorial debut with this crime saga about cousins (Harper and Craig Fairbrass) who plot a diamond heist after blowing a drug deal. Plenty of attitude but routine, including Harper’s noir-ish narration. The cast helps: Charles Dance, Vincent Regan, Luke Treadaway, Dexter Fletcher, Keeley Hazell, Sean Pertwee and Jamie Foreman — the last two especially good as cops on the trail.
“BLOOD ON THE DOCKS”: VOL- UME 1 (MHz Networks): Jean-Marc Barr and Bruno Solo play detectives working the mean streets of Le Havre in this DVD collection ($39.95 retail) of four feature-length mysteries from the French television series based on the best-selling novels by Graham Hurley. In French with English subtitles.
DIE, MONSTER, DIE! (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): The Blu-ray bow ($19.97 retail) of art director Daniel Haller’s directorial debut, a 1965 shocker based on HP Lovecraft’s The Colour from Outer Space starring genre icon Boris Karloff as a reclusive scientist who harbors dark secrets from his daughter (Suzan Farmer) and her American fiancée (Nick Adams). Not entirely successful but extremely atmospheric. Also known as Monster of Terror.
“EAST WEST 101”: SEASONS TWO AND THREE (MHz Networks): A DVD collection ($39.95 retail) of all 14 episodes from the 2009 and ’11 seasons of the award-winning Australian crime series starring Don Hany as Zane Malik, a Muslim detective working at the Major Crime Squad in Sydney. The regular cast also includes Susie Porter, Aaron Fa’aoso, Daniela Farinacci, Renee Lim and Hany’s real-life father Taffy as Malik’s father.
“THE FOLLOWING”: THE COM- PLETE FIRST SEASON (Warner Home Video): FBI agent Kevin Bacon matches wits with escaped serial killer James Purefoy in all 15 episodes from the inaugural 2013 season of the award-winning Fox Network series created by Kevin Williamson. The DVD boxed set retails for $39.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $49.99.
“HART OF DIXIE”: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (Warner Home Video): Displaced (and delectable) doctor Rachel Bilson continues adjusting to Southern comfort in all 22 episodes from 2012-’13 season of the CW Network series co-starring Jaime King, Cress Williams, Scott Porter and Tim Matheson. The DVD boxed set retails for $59.98.
THE HIGH BRIGHT SUN (VCI Entertainment): Lack of urgency hampers this 1965 political thriller with Susan Strasberg torn between Dirk Bogarde (British officer) and George Chakiris (pompadoured patriot) during political unrest in ’50s Cyprus. Denholm Elliott stands out as a seedy British agent. Released in the United States under the clumsy title McGuire, Go Home! (McGuire being Bogarde’s character).
THE INTERNSHIP (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): This featurelength commercial for Google stars Owen Wilson and producer/co-screenwriter Vince Vaughn as unemployed salesmen who become Google interns. Wilson and Vaughn’s yammering chemistry wears thin here, despite bright appearances by Rose Byrne, John Goodman and Will Ferrell. Rated PG-13 (also available in an unrated edition).
“THE MENTALIST”: THE COM- PLETE FIFTH SEASON (Warner Home Video): Simon Baker returns as criminologist Patrick Jane — drawing ever closer to Red John, the serial killer who murdered his family — in all 22 episodes from the 2012-’13 (and penultimate) season of the award-winning CBS mystery series, co-starring Robin Tunney, Tim Kang and Amanda Righetti. The five-DVD boxed set retails for $59.98.
MOTHER RILEY MEETS THE VAM- PIRE (VCI Entertainment): Producer/director John Gilling’s knockabout 1952 comedy marked the 17 th (and last) film in the long-running Old Mother Riley comedy franchise and the final film of Arthur Lucan, whose entire screen career was spent playing the role. Appropriately enough, the “Vampire” is a mad scientist played by Bela Lugosi. Also known as Vampire Over London, this was released in the US as My Son, the Vampire in 1963 (seven years after Lugosi’s death) with an Allan Sherman theme song.
SAVING GENERAL YANG (Well Go USA Entertainment): Ronny Yu directed this historical action saga starring Adam Cheng in the title role, a fierce warrior in Northern China, 986 AD, whose abduction compels his seven sons to join forces and mount a rescue attempt. In Mandarin with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98.
WOLVERINE VS. SABRETOOTH (Marvel Knights Animation/Shout! Factory): Two of Marvel Comics’ most popular X-Men characters duke it out in this self-explanatory animated action fantasy, the DVD of which retails for $14.97. !
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2013, Mark Burger.