THE BAMBOO SAUCER (Olive Films): American and Soviet spies vie to reach a UFO that has crashed in Red China in this bizarre, botched low-budget 1968 Cold War thriller that wastes a cast of familiar faces: Dan Duryea (his last film), John Ericson, Lois Nettleton, Bernard Fox, Bob Hastings and James Hong. Rated G.
BLACK COFFEE (RLJ Entertainment/ One Village Entertainment): Writer/producer/director Mark Harris’ PG-rated romantic comedy ($27.97 retail) stars Darrin Dewitt Henson and Gabrielle Dennis as a couple whose relationship is threatened by her ex-husband (Lamann Rucker) and his ex-girlfriend (Christian Keyes).
BLACK WATER VAMPIRE (RLJ Entertainment/Image Entertainment): In the weary wake of The Blair Witch Project comes writer/director/editor/cinematographer Evan Tramel’s debut feature, yet another low-budget “found-footage” shocker in which dumb documentary filmmakers investigate a local legend to their everlasting regret. Great monster makeup, but unfortunately the monster doesn’t show up for a long time.
BOYS OF ABU GHRAIB (Vertical Entertainment): Writer/producer Luke Moran makes his directorial debut and stars in this well-intentioned, award-winning, but long-winded chronicle of one American soldier’s experiences as a guard in the titular Iraqi prison in 2003. “Inspired by true events” (obviously), the story ends just where it should be getting started. Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz were executive producers, with Sean Astin, Sara Paxton, John Heard, Scott Patterson, Michael Welch and Omid Abtahi on hand. Rated R.
THE BUNKER (Inception Media Group): Pro wrestlers Ken Shamrock and Mike Brown can’t add much muscle to this cheap, poor shoot-’em-up about a rogue unit of American soldiers in Vietnam, courtesy director/editor/co-screenwriter/producer Joe Black, who also did the casting – and who fails in every capacity. Vaguely insulting to Vietnam veterans, to boot.
CONCUSSION (RADiUS-TWC/Anchor Bay): Writer/director Stacie Passon’s award-winning debut feature is a sincere but contrived soap opera starring Robin Weigert (first-rate) as a lesbian who suffers a blow to the head and suddenly decides she wants to be an escort. Rated R.
“CRIME STORIES” (MHz Networks): Josef Bierbichler portrays a coolly methodical criminal attorney in this popular, six-part German mini-series (known there as Verbrechen nach Ferdinand von Schirach), based on the novel by Ferdinand von Schirach and inspired by actual cases. In German with English subtitles. The three-DVD collection retails for $39.95.
CRY DANGER (Olive Films): Crisp, twisty 1951 film noir with Dick Powell as an ex-con, framed for a robbery he didn’t commit, embarking on a methodical plan of retribution. The directorial debut of former editor Robert Parrish, with Rhonda Fleming, William Conrad (as the heavy, no pun intended), Richard Erdman, Regis Toomey and Jean Porter, the latter in a later interview asserting that Powell had a hand in directing, as well.
THE FAMILY (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Former mob boss Robert De Niro and his family (Michelle Pfeiffer, Dianna Agron and John D’Leo) are relocated to a sleepy French town by federal agent Tommy Lee Jones in this offkilter comedy wherein director Luc Besson’s hard-edged approach is sometimes at odds with lighter moments. The cast helps considerably, with Pfeiffer as lovely as ever and De Niro and Jones’ grizzled glances providing plenty of laughs. Martin Scorsese was executive producer. Rated R.
MACHINE HEAD (Anchor Bay): Cute college girls (including Nicole Zeoli, Sharon Hinnendael, Cristina Corigliano and twins Morissa and Alana O’Mara) spend spring break in a remote California house. Guess what happens next? Originally titled Spring Break Killer (how imaginative!), with Vinny Curran playing the title role. Rated R.
LA MAISON DE LA RADIO (Kino Lorber): Nicolas Philibert’s award-winning documentary ($29.95 retail) follows 24 hours – on and off the air – with the people and personalities of Radio France. In French with English subtitles.
MEET HIM AND DIE (RaroVideo): Ray Lovelock gains the trust of mafia boss Martin Balsam by aiding his escape from prison, but it’s all part of undercover cop Lovelock’s vendetta against those who shot his mother. This Italian-made 1976 crime melodrama (originally titled Pronto ad Uccidere and also released as Risking) features requisite car chases (replete with continuity errors), slow-motion shoot-outs and even a slow-motion love scene with sexy Elke Sommer as a sultry secretary. “Spaghetti crime” buffs should enjoy. The DVD retails for $29.95, the Blu-ray for $34.95.
SEAL TEAM 8: BEHIND ENEMY LINES (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Few surprises in this action opus set in the African congo, with top-billed Tom Sizemore calling the shots from a control room while aptly-named Lex Shrapnel sees action in the field. Rated R.
SHANGHAI CALLING (Anchor Bay): Writer/director Daniel Hsia’s award-winning feature debut occasionally echoes Local Hero (1983) as it follows ambitious Chinese American attorney Daniel Henney experiencing a major culture clash when transferred to the title town. Bill Paxton, Eliza Coupe, Zhu Zhu, Geng Le and Alan Ruck round out a friendly cast. Rated PG-13.
“SPACE VOYAGES” (Inception Media Group): This self-explanatory Smithsonian Channel documentary series ($19.98 retail) chronicles NASA history in four parts: “The Moon and Beyond,” “Into the Unknown,” “Open for Business” and “Surviving the Void.”
VERONICA MARS (Warner Home Video): Thanks to a well-publicized Kickstarter campaign, the award-winning mystery series (2004-’07) becomes a PG-13-rated feature film directed by series creator Rob Thomas and reuniting the cast: Kristen Bell (in the title role), Jason Dohring, Krysten Ritter, Francis Capra, Ryan Hansen, Tina Majorino and Enrico Colantoni. The DVD retails for $28.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98. Both contain extensive special features for “Mars” mavens.
WICKED BLOOD (Entertainment One): Abigail Breslin and Alexa Vega play sisters enmeshed in treachery and deceit in writer/director Mark Young’s contemporary, Southern-fried film noir, with Sean Bean, James Purefoy, Jake Busey, Lew Temple and cinematography by Greensboro’s Gregg Easterbrook. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $24.98. !