DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: WITHOUT WARNING (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory)
At last, Greydon Clark’s low-budget 1980 sci-fi cult favorite makes its long-overdue debut on home-video.An alien being (Kevin Peter Hall) comes to Earth to hunt humans in a rustic region of California populated by a star-studded cast of aging veterans: Jack Palance, Martin Landau, Neville Brand, Cameron Mitchell, Larry Storch and Ralph Meeker (his last film). The obligatory teens pursued and preyed upon include Christopher S. Nelson, Tarah Nutter, Lynn Theel and David Caruso (his first film). Needless to say, most of them aren’t around at the fade-out.Without Warning is enjoyable, meat-and-potatoes B-movie fare “” and it’s never lazy. Clark keeps the momentum moving forward, pausing occasionally to allow the actors to chew the scenery in amusingly hammy fashion (Landau and Palance seem in competition to out- and over-act each other). The special effects “” particularly the alien’s flying “implements” “” are silly but oddly effective. It’s prime drive-in fare from a wistfully wacky, long-ago era, ripe for rediscovery by a new generation of fans. Is it a guilty pleasure? You bet “” and remember: “We ain’t alone!” The DVD/Blu-ray combo ($26.99 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interviews and more. Rated R.
“BITTEN”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (Entertainment One): Kelley Armstrong’s best-selling Otherworld novels come to television in this award-winning Syfy series starring Laura Vandervoort as the world’s only female werewolf. All 13 episodes of the debut 2014 season are available on DVD ($39.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($49.98 retail), both replete with special features.
THE BLACK TORMENT (Redemption/Kino Lorber): Sibling screenwriters Derek and Donald Ford penned this 1964 Gothic thriller, produced and directed by Robert Hartford-Davis, with John Turner as an English nobleman suspected of murder and Heather Sears as his worried bride. Turner’s bellowing performance is somewhat balanced by Sears’ subdued turn with stalwarts Peter Arne, Raymond Huntley, Francis De Wolff and Patrick Troughton on hand. It has a nice atmosphere, though uneven, but it does boast a following.
CABIN FEVER: PATIENT ZERO (RLJ Entertainment/Image Entertainment): Sean Astin plays the title role in the third installment of the horror franchise where vacationers in the Caribbean are infected with a virulent flesh-eating virus. Black comedy elements have fallen by the wayside, and though the special effects are appropriately stomach churning, the change of scenery doesn’t help.
GODZILLA (Warner Home Video): The second big-budget Hollywood version of Japan’s greatest monster sees The Big Guy battling an alien threat. The filmmakers, including uncredited screenwriter Frank Darabont, evince a firmer grasp of the Godzilla legend than the 1998 film, but keeping the title character “” the star of the show, after all “” off-screen so much is a mistake. The monster scenes deliver, but there should have been more of them. The human contingent (a secondary consideration) includes Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor- Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, David Strathairn, Juliette Binoche and Sally Hawkins. Available as a two-disc DVD ($28.98 retail), a DVD/Blu-ray DVD combo ($35.99 retail) and a 3-D Blu-ray combo ($44.95 retail). Rated PG-13.
GRAVE HALLOWEEN (Anchor Bay): Steven R. Monroe directs this technically competent but repetitious, one-note shocker that sees Kaitlyn Leeb leading a team of student filmmakers to Aokigahara (“the Sea of Trees”) at the base on Mount Fuji, notoriously nicknamed “Suicide Forest,” to investigate her own biological mother’s suicide. Cassi Thomson, Graham Wardle and Hiro Kanagawa are also in harm’s way. Rated R.
I’LL FOLLOW YOU DOWN (Well Go USA Entertainment): Time travel figures prominently in writer/director Richie Mehta’s science-fiction saga featuring genre veterans Gillian Anderson (“The X Files”), Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense), Rufus Sewell (Dark City) and Victor Garber (“Alias”). The DVD retails for $24.98; the Blu-ray for $29.98.
MEMORY OF THE DEAD (Artsploitation Films): Long on style but short on logic, ValentÃn Javier Diment’s Argentinalensed shocker (originally titled La memoria del Muerto) is a high-strung, garish, and gore-soaked black comedy with widow Lola Berthet gathering her late husband’s friends together at a memorial “” a ruse to sacrifice them so he can be resurrected. It has definite cult possibilities. In Spanish with English subtitles.
“THE ORIGINALS”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (Warner Home Video): This prime-time prequel to “The Vampire Diaries” chronicles the “first” vampire family and their bloodthirsty doings in the steamy French Quarter of New Orleans, as dramatized in all 22 episodes from the inaugural 2014 season of the CW’s popular supernatural series. The regular cast includes Joseph Morgan (double-trouble as a hybrid vampire/ werewolf), Daniel Gillies, Claire Holt, Phoebe Tonkin, Charles Michael Davis and Danielle Campbell. The DVD boxed set retails for $59.98; the Blu-ray boxed set for $69.97. Each contains a myriad of special features.
P-51 DRAGON FIGHTER (Monarch Home Entertainment): During World War II, Allied forces in North Africa combat firebreathing CGI dragons under Nazi control in writer/producer/cinematographer/director Mark Atkins’ high-concept action fantasy, hampered by silly dialogue and a B-movie budget. Leading man Scott Martin was also a producer and earns a story credit, while Robert Pike Daniel turns up as a surprisingly accommodating Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.
THE PARANORMAL DIARIES: CLOPHILL (RLJ Entertainment/Image Entertainment): An atmospheric but endlessly talky pseudo-documentary about an investigation into the supposedly haunted history of St. Mary’s Church in the English district of Clophill. It is co-directed by writer/producer/editor/executive producer Kevin Gates and co-producer Michael Bartlett, who also play featured roles. There are a few chills, but overall boring.
“REVOLUTION”: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (Warner Home Video): In a world without technology, the battle for survival and dominance of the Earth continues “” and concludes “” in all 22 episodes from the 2013-14 final season of the award-winning NBC sci-fi series starring Billy Burke, Tracy Spiridakos, Giancarlo Esposito, Zak Orth, Stephen Collins and Elizabeth Mitchell. Fans were not happy to see the series end. The DVD collection retails for $59.98, the Blu-ray collection for $69.97. Each collection contains extensive special features.
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT(Anchor Bay): A 30th-anniversary special-edition Blu-ray ($19.99 retail) of the controversial “” and not particularly good “” 1984 “holiday-themed” slasher opus starring Robert Brian Wilson (his only feature film) as a disturbed teenager who goes on a murderous rampage dressed in a Santa Claus suit. This film inspired several sequels, a 2012 remake, and remains a cult favorite. Go figure “¦ Ho ho ho!
STAGE FRIGHT (Blue Underground): Director Michele Soavi’s award-winning 1987 feature debut pits a group of actors rehearsing a musical about a masked killer who are stalked and slain by the actual murderer, who conveniently escaped from a nearby asylum, when they’re locked overnight in the theater. Garish, gory, highly stylized and not a little campy “” Stage Fright is a must for fans of Italian giallo thrillers. Actor George Eastman (AKA Luigi Montefiore) scripted the film (billed as “Lew Cooper”) and Simon Boswell contributes a pounding score. The cast includes David Brandon as the demanding director, Barbara Cupisti, American expatriate Mickey Knox and John Morghen (AKA Giovanni Lombardo Radice). The DVD retails for $19.98; the Blu-ray for $29.98. Both collections contain special features including retrospective interviews.
“THE VAMPIRE DIARIES”: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON (Warner Home Video): Bloodsucker brothers Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder continue vying for the affections of Nina Dobrev in all 23 episodes from the 2013-14 season of the award-winning CW Television Network series based on L.J. Smith’s best-selling novels. The DVD boxed set retails for $59.98; the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $69.97. Both contain extensive special features. !
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. ‘© 2014, Mark Burger.