DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: THE EDITOR (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory)
The Canadian-based Astron-6 team strikes again with this zesty send-up of ‘70s/’80s Italian horror and giallo thrillers – replete with gratuitous gore, gratuitous nudity (male and female), hyper-active zoom lens, intentionally off-kilter dubbing, outrageous ‘70s hairstyles and threads, and color-saturated style to spare.
The in-jokes come fast and furious as gruesome murders plague a low-rent studio specializing in schlock horror. The principal suspect is Rey Ciso (Adam Brooks, also co-writer, co-director, producer, co-cinematographer and, aptly, editor – as “Rey Cisco”!), a down-on-his luck editor relegated to exploitation after a tragic production accident left him with four wooden fingers.
In keeping with the motif, narrative coherence takes a backseat to visual panache and inspired spoofery. Cowriter Conor Sweeney plays a hunky actor with a bad mustache, co-director/co-writer/ producer/co-cinematographer Matthew Kennedy the cocky cop on the case, and the fun cast includes such favorites as Paz de la Huerta and cult icon Udo Kier. Cult status is assured.
The DVD/Blu-ray combo ($26.97 retail) includes audio commentary, documentary, deleted scenes and more.
THE ANOMALY (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Producer/director Noel Clarke stars in this existential sci-fi opus in the Phillip K. Dick/Matrix mode, as an exsoldier who jumps from reality to reality every 10 minutes. Long on style and action (well handled by Clarke), the fast pacing and futuristic trappings can’t obscure an incoherent storyline. Ian Somerhalder, Alexis Knapp, Luke Hemsworth and Brian Cox (wasted) pop up from time to time – literally.
“AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Nickelodeon/ Paramount): A self-explanatory DVD collection ($30 retail) of all 61 episodes from the entire 2005-’08 run of the Emmywinning, animated Nickelodeon fantasy series depicting conflict and conquest in a mystical Asian kingdom
BACKCOUNTRY (IFC Midnight/Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Actor-turnedwriter/director Adam MacDonald’s R-rated feature debut pits campers Missy Peregrym and Jeff Roop against a rampaging black bear. The DVD retails for $14.93, the Blu-ray for $24.97.
CRYSTAL LAKE MEMORIES: THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF “FRIDAY THE 13TH” (RLJ Entertainment/Image Entertainment): Based on the best-selling book, Daniel Farrands’ self-explanatory documentary offers a sprawling, indepth look at the Friday the 13 th franchise phenomenon. Running over six hours (!), this is everything you’d ever want to know – and more … and it’s better than any of the Friday the 13 th films! The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98.
DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT (Film Chest Media Group): A digitallyrestorted DVD edition ($9.98 retail) of producer/director S.F. Brownrigg’s 1973 debut feature, a crude but competent low-rent shocker in which the lunatics really do take over the asylum. Also known as The Forgotten, this continued to play double-bills and drive-ins until the early ‘80s. Rated R.
THE GALLOWS (Warner Home Video): Writer/producer/directors Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff trot out the standard “foundfootage” trappings in this atmospheric but empty-headed shocker about four teens (Reese Mishler, Pfeifer Brown, Ryan Shoos and Cassidy Gifford) trapped in their haunted high school 20 years after a stage production of The Gallows went tragically wrong. Horror fans have been here before – many times. The DVD retails for $28.98, the DVD/Blu-ray combo ($35.99 retail). Rated R.
GRAVY (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): You’ll never guess what (or who) is on the menu — or maybe you will – in director/co-writer James Roday’s horror spoof, set in a Mexican cantina on Halloween and boasting an star-studded cast including luscious Lily Cole, Lothaire Bluteau, Sutton Foster, Sarah Silverman, Jimmi Simpson, Michael Weston, Dule Hill, Molly Ephraim, Paul Rodriguez and Gabourey Sidibe, available on DVD ($14.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.97 retail).
THE HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS (Arrow Video/MVD Distribution Group): A special-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.95 retail) of Takashi Miike’s award-winning 2001 musical send-up of horror films (originally titled Katakuri-ke no kofoku), in which a family opens a country inn – but can’t seem to keep their customers alive. In Japanese with English subtitles.
THE LEGACY (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Real-life couple Katharine Ross and Sam Elliott headline this elegantly silly 1978 chiller as American tourists whose weekend at an English estate takes them into supernatural territory. A polished, poker-faced cast helps: John Standing, Charles Gray, Lee Montague, Margaret Tyzack, Ian Hogg and Roger Daltrey as a rock star (imagine that!) – albeit an expendable one. The special-edition Blu-ray ($26.99 retail) includes retrospective interviews and more. Rated R.
LEGIONS OF THE DEAD: MORITURIS (Synapse Films): A midnight rave goes wrong when zombies crash the party in producer/director/story writer Raffaele Picchio feature debut, in Italian and Romanian with English subtitles, available on DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.95 retail).
MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE (Severin Films): Yes, they’ll make a special edition of anything … even this painfully stilted, technically hopeless, no-budget 1966 shocker about a crazed cult at large in Texas. Hailed (?) by some as “the worst movie ever made,” it has its fans. Heaven help us. The DVD retails for $19.95, the Bluray for $24.95. Zero stars
QUEEN CRAB (Wild Eye Releasing): A cranky – and oversized – crustacean wreaks havoc in writer/producer/director Brett Piper’s affectionate, intentionally campy send-up of stop-motion sci-fi shockers of yesteryear. Cult status is likely … and a sequel wouldn’t surprise, either!
STUDENT BODIES (Olive Films): Noted comedy writer Mickey Rose’s only directorial effort yielded this so-so 1981 slasher send-up that’s (a bit) better than its reputation, and leading lady Kristen Riter (in her only film) is a cutie. One thing’s for sure: You’ll never think about horse-head bookends the same way again. Writer/ producer Michael Ritchie adopted the “Alan Smithee” pseudonym. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated R.
THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUN- DOWN (RLJ Entertainment/Image Entertainment): This remake/sequel/rehash of the fact-based 1976 cult chiller, filmed on location in Texarkana, veers from send-up to slasher to straight mystery as the masked killer stalks again. Amid the gore, some moments stand out – and Michael Goi’s award-winning cinematography is first-rate. The cast includes Addison Timlin, Veronica Cartwright, Gary Cole, Anthony Anderson, Joshua Leonard, Ryan Murphy, Denis O’Hare (as original filmmaker Charles B. Pierce Jr.), the late Ed Lauter, and the late Edward Herrmann. The first film in ages to have the Orion Pictures logo at the beginning. (Welcome back.) Rated R.
THE UN WANTED (Kino Lorber): J.Sheridan La Fanu’s classic tale Carmilla forms the basis for writer/director Bret Wood’s Southern-Gothic chiller with Christen Orr in the title role of a mysterious drifter seeking her mother’s whereabouts in rural Georgia, available on DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.95 retail).
“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 2014-’15 season of award-winning CW series based on L.J. Smith’s best-selling novels, available on DVD ($49.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($54.97 retail), replete with special features.
THE WALKING DECEASED (Arc Entertainment): A spoof of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” was inevitable, but writer/ producer Tim Ogletree and director Scott Dow’s debut feature (originally titled Walking With the Dead) does a pretty good job, with plenty of in-jokes and affectionate references. Rated R. !
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2015, Mark Burger.