DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: TENTACLES (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory)
The success of Jaws (1975) spawned myriad knock-offs including this endearingly silly 1977 shocker produced and directed by Ovidio Assonitis (the latter under the pseudonym “Oliver Hellman”), whose previous money-spinner Beyond the Door (1975) was a Rosemary’s Baby/Exorcist hybrid.
The title tells all, as a giant octopus, enraged by illegal underwater radio frequencies, goes on a rampage along the Southern California coast, culminating in an attack on a sailboat regatta.
What elevates (or relegates) this to guilty-pleasure status is the high-profile cast: John Huston, Shelley Winters, Henry Fonda, Bo Hopkins, Claude Akins and Cesare Danova. What are they doing here? Collecting good paychecks (one hopes), adding star power to schlocky material, and probably guaranteeing a network TV sale. (NBC ran it twice in prime-time!) If nothing else, Tentacles boasts one of my fondest “bad movie” lines, when reporter Huston and police chief Akins discuss the unknown cause for these recent marine fatalities. Muses Akins: “Maybe, maybe, maybe … maybe this, and maybe that. All we’ve got is a bunch of maybes.” Maybe so!
The double-feature Blu-ray ($24.97 retail) also boasts the lovably cheesy cult-classic Reptilicus (1962), the first and only Danish monster movie. Rated PG.
“THE CAMPBELLS”: THE COM- PLETE SERIES (Timeless Media Group): A DVD boxed set ($59.97 retail) of all 100 episodes from the entire run (1986-’90) of the award-winning Scottish/Canadian drama series starring Malcolm Stoddard as a widowed physician who relocates with his children (John Wildman, Amber- Lea Weston and Eric Richards) to 1830s Canada.
DANCE WITH ME, HENRY (Olive Films): This 1956 comedy marked the 36 th and final screen pairing of Abbott and Costello, now on DVD ($24.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail).
“THE FACTS OF LIFE”: SEASON SIX (Shout! Factory): Mrs. Garrett (Charlotte Rae) and the girls (Lisa Whelchel, Nancy McKeon, Kim Fields and Mindy Cohn) are back, in all 26 episodes from the 1984-’85 season of the award-winning NBC sitcom, spun off from “Diff’rent Strokes,” now available in a three-DVD collection ($29.93 retail).
“FIREBALL XL5”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Timeless Media Group): A five-DVD collection ($29.93 retail) of all 39 episodes from the entire 1962-’63 run of the popular, British-made “Supermarionation” science-fiction adventure series, one of many produced by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, this one chronicling the inter-planetary exploits of the World Space Patrol (its flagship being the titular craft) in Galactic Corner 25.
LIMELIGHT (The Criterion Collection): Charlie Chaplin’s classic, bittersweet 1952 drama, in which he plays an alcoholic comic who takes troubled dancer Claire Bloom (luminous in her first major screen role) under his wing. Chaplin supervised every aspect of production as writer, producer, director, choreographer and composer. Hugely acclaimed overseas, the film suffered poor US distribution because Chaplin was tarred by the Hollywood Blacklist, but 20 years later the score won an Oscar because the film hadn’t been screened in Los Angeles until then (!). The cast includes Chaplin’s children (including son Sydney in an impressive screen debut), Nigel Bruce, Norman Lloyd and fellow comedy legend Buster Keaton, whose routine with Chaplin is a highlight. Overlong and overly sentimental, but that’s Chaplin. The DVD retails for $29.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Both contain extensive special features.
THE LOST MOMENT (Olive Films): Yank publisher Robert Cummings searches for the lost letters of a 19thcentury poet and becomes enmeshed in psychological intrigue in Venice, in actorturned-director Martin Gabel’s enjoyably florid 1947 adaptation of Henry James’ The Aspern Papers, with Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead and Eduardo Ciannelli also on hand. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95.
“LOVEJOY”: SERIES 6 (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): Ian McShane returns as the smooth-talking antiquarian/sleuth in all 10 episodes from the 1994 (and final) season of the BBC series adapted from Jonathan Gash’s best-selling novels. The three-DVD collection retails for $49.99. RLJ/Acorn has also released the self-explanatory “Lovejoy: The Complete Collection,” a 21-DVD collection retailing for $199.99.
MAHOGANY (Paramount): Diana Ross goes from rags to riches in the fashion world in this uproariously cliched 1975 melodrama, begun by director Tony Richardson but completed by producer Berry Gordy, with Billy Dee Williams, Jean-Pierre Aumont and a manic Anthony Perkins (aping Norman Bates as a loony fashion photographer) as the men vying for her attentions. Laughable in the extreme, but a box-office hit. Diana’a Oscar-nominated song “Do You Know Where You Going?” will be ringing in your ears long after the credits have rolled. The new “Couture Edition” DVD ($15.99 retail) includes collectible fashion cards. Rated PG.
“MATLOCK: GREATEST CASES” (CBS DVD/Paramount): The title tells all in this DVD compilation ($24.99 retail) of a dozen episodes from the long-running, award-winning courtroom series, airing first on NBC then ABC, starring Mount Airy’s own Andy Griffith in the title role.
“MR. ED”: THE FINAL SEASON (Shout! Factory): The last round-up for Wilbur Post (Alan Young) and his talking horse (voiced by Allan “Rocky” Lane) in all 13 episodes from the 1965-’66 season of the award-winning CBS sitcom based on stories by Walter L. Brooks, now available on DVD ($16.97 retail).
MY GIRL (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): The Blu-ray bow ($19.99 retail) of the award-winning 1991 coming-of-age tearjerker for a precocious pre-teen (appealing Anna Chlumsky). Dan Aykroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis, Richard Masur and Griffin Dunne represent the adult contingent, while a post-Home Alone Macaulay Culkin plays Chlumsky’s pal, whose onscreen fate was a point of controversy at the time. Rated PG-13.
“ROOTS & BRANCHES: 5 ELE- MENT QI GONG” (True Mind/TDC Entertainment): This two-DVD self-help documentary ($19.98 retail) explores a combination of the traditional Yang style of T’ai Chi with Classical 5 Element Chinese medicine.
“SGT. BILKO/THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW”: SEASON TWO (Shout! Factory): Phil Silvers returns in his signature role as the lovably scheming Master Sgt. Ernest G. Bilko in all 36 episodes from the 1956-’57 season of the CBS sitcom created by Nat Hiken, which won Emmy Awards for Best Series and Best Comedy Writing, with nominations for Silvers as Best Continuing Performance by a Comedian in a Series and Paul Ford (as clueless Col. Hall) as Best Supporting Performance by an Actor. The five- DVD collection retails for $34.93.
A TALE OF TWO CITIES (Alpha Home Entertainment): A DVD doublefeature ($7.98 retail) of Frank Lloyd’s silent 1917 adaptation of Dickens’ classic starring William Farnum, and the two-part 1953 TV version starring Wendell Corey aired on “ABC Album/ Plymouth Playhouse.”
TALES OF DRACULA (Alpha New Cinema): First-time director/executive producer Joe DeMuro’s affectionate, low-budget, black-and-white 2009 salute to classic horror films brings together Dracula (Wayne W. Johnson), a werewolf (Tom Delillo) and Frankenstein’s monster (DeMuro himself) – but is hindered by spotty pacing and a disappointing ending clearly designed to pave the way for a sequel … which has yet to materialize.
“YU-GI-OH! ZEXAL”: SEASON 1 (Cinedigm): The title tells all in this six-DVD collection ($44.99 retail) of all episodes from the inaugural 2011 season of the animated fantasy/adventure based on the popular Japanese tradingcard series, pitting a pair of mystical duelists against the forces of evil – and sometimes each other! !
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2015, Mark Burger.