DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS (VCI ENTERTAINMENT)
Billed as “Funnier than The Omen … Scarier than Silent Movie,” Greydon Clark’s lowbudget 1977 drive-in favorite certainly boasts a title that’s hard to forget – or ignore.
While driving to a big game, a group of bubbly – and bubble-headed – high-school cheerleaders and their chaperone (Jacqulin Cole) are waylaid by a Satanic cult whose members include John Ireland as a grumpy sheriff (named “B.L. Bubb” – get it?), Yvonne De Carlo as his wife, Jack Kruschen as the horny high-school janitor, and Sydney Chaplin (son of Charlie) in his final film. John Carradine pops up as an ersatz “Greek chorus” as a hobo whose warnings go unheeded.
The cheerleaders run, the Satanists chase them, and occasionally some cut-rate special effects spice up the proceedings. It’s fun watching old pros Ireland, De Carlo, Kruschen and Carradine go through their paces, and Clark’s real-life wife, Cole (AKA Jacqueline Cole), enjoys her best-ever role as the clueless but lovable Ms. Johnson.
It’s not particularly funny or really scary, but it’s safe to say it’s a one of a kind.
Something called Satan’s Cheerleaders, you might expect more … but would you expect anything less?
The special-edition DVD ($19.97 retail) includes audio commentary. Rated PG. !
ALLELUIA (Doppelganger Releasing): Fabrice Du Welz’s award-winning thriller, loosely based on the real-life “Lonely Hearts” case of the 1950s, stars Lola Duenas and Laurent Lucas as a psychotic couple preying on lonely, wealthy women in the age of internet dating. In French and Spanish with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $29.95, the Blu-ray for $34.95.
“HAVEN”: SEASON FIVE, VOLUME ONE (Entertainment One): Emily Rose, Lucas Bryant and Eric Balfour continue their battle against supernatural forces in the first 13 episodes from the 2015 season of the Syfy series based on Stephen King’s novella The Colorado Kid, available on DVD ($39.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($49.98 retail) – both replete with special features.
LAST SHIFT (Magnet Label/Magnolia Home Entertainment): Rookie cop Juliana Harkavy’s first night on the job, at a police station due for closure, turns out to be anything but routine in this gruesome but well-made shocker. Worth a look for fright fans. Rated R.
LOST SOUL: THE DOOMED JOUR- NEY OF RICHARD STANLEY’S “THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU” (Severin Films): David Gregory’s fascinating, award-winning feature documentary revisits the tumultuous production of the 1996 version of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau, during which screenwriter and original director Richard Stanley was ultimately replaced by John Frankenheimer (this writer’s favorite director). What went wrong? Everything, including the casting of Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer. Having interviewed Frankenheimer (who died in 2002), I can attest that Moreau wasn’t his favorite experience, either. The DVD retails for $19.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95, the three-disc combo for $34.95.
MARK OF THE DEVIL (Arrow Films/ MVD Entertainment Group): A specialedition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.95 retail) of a brutal 1970 “historical” shocker (originally titled Hexen bis auf Blut gequalt) – inspired by Michael Reeves’ Witchfinder General/The Conqueror Worm (1968) – starring Herbert Lom as a ruthless witch-hunter in 18th-century Austria, Udo Kier (in a rare heroic role) as his apprentice, and Reggie Nalder as a sadistic rapist called “Albino.” Advertised as “positively the most horrifying film ever made,” vomit bags were handed out at theaters! (Yours truly owns one.) Director Michael Armstrong clashed with producer Adrian Hoven, who took over directing. Pure exploitation, a box-office hit, and a cult classic – in that order.
MOSQUITO (Synapse Films): A 20thanniversary special edition of a clunky, low-budget 1995 shocker as oversized mosquitoes put the bite on humans. In zombie genre, this pretentious low-budget shocker boasts a few twists but is bogged down by dull narration and uninterest one scene, Texas Chainsaw Massacre icon Gunnar Hansen battles one of the big bugs with – what else? – a chainsaw. Good for a few laughs. The DVD retails for $19.95, the Blu-ray for $24.95. Special features include audio commentary, documentary, and more. Rated R.
“OLYMPUS”: SEASON ONE (Shout! Factory): Tom York plays the aptly-named Hero, on a quest to become immortal, in all 13 episodes from the inaugural 2015 season of the Syfy fantasy series, available on DVD ($19.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.99 retail).
A PLAGUE SO PLEASANT (Wild Eye Releasing): An expressionistic take on the ing characters – dead or alive. A movie unpleasant.
“SCREAM FACTORY DOUBLE FEA- TURES” (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): To celebrate the Halloween season, a blast of Blu-ray twin-bills (each retailing for $24.97): William Marshall in 1972’s Blacula/1973’s Scream, Blacula, Scream (both rated PG), 1987’s The Outing/1980’s The Godsend (both rated R), 1988’s Cellar Dweller/Catacombs (both rated R), 1976’s Food of the Gods/1972’s Frogs (both rated PG), 1977’s Empire of the Ants (rated PG)/1981’s Jaws of Satan (rated R), 1984’s Ghoulies (rated PG-13)/1988’s Ghoulies II (rated R), 2002’s mini-series version of Carrie/the belated 1999 sequel The Rage: Carrie 2 (rated R), and 1979’s Love at First Bite (rated PG)/1985’s Once Bitten (rated PG-13).
SHARKNADO 3 (Cinedigm): Subtitled “Oh Hell No!,” the third in the popular Syfy TV-movie franchise reunites Ian Ziering and Tara Reid, joined this time by Bo Derek, David Hasselhoff, Frankie Muniz and a slew of celebrity cameos as yet another “shark storm” threatens the East Coast. The DVD retails for $14.93, the Bluray for $19.97.
STING OF DEATH (Alpha Home Entertainment): This 1955 episode, the highestrated of the short-lived ABC anthology “The Elgin Hour,” stars Boris Karloff as a retired detective (Sherlock Holmes, perhaps?) investigating fatal bee attacks in an adaptation of H.F. Heard’s A Taste of Honey (later the basis for the 1966 film The Deadly Bees). The low-budget seams show, but director Daniel Petrie (later a multiple Emmy winner) and the cast (especially Karloff) keep things buzzing … pun intended.
“SUPERNATURAL”: THE COM- PLETE TENTH SEASON (Warner Home Video): The Brothers Winchester (Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki) continue their battle against the forces of evil – of which there are plenty, given the show’s run! – in all 23 episodes from the 2014-’15 season of the award-winning CW series created by Eric Kripke, available on DVD ($49.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($54.97 retail) – both replete with special features.
TREMORS 5: B LOODLINES (Universal Studios Home Entertainment): Michael Gross returns as survivalist Burt Gummer, paired with new sidekick Jamie Kennedy, battling Graboids, Shriekers and Assblasters in Africa in the latest, serviceable installment of the 25-year sci-fi spoof franchise. If the first film was a Jaws send-up, this one picks up pointers from Jurassic Park. The DVD retails for $19.98, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $22.98. Rated PG-13.
“THE WALKING DE AD”: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON (Anchor Bay Entertainment): The dead won’t stay that way in all 16 episodes from the 2014-’15 season of the award-winning AMC ratings juggernaut based on Robert Kirkman’s Image Comics series, featuring an ensemble cast headed by Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Lauren Cohan and Steven Yuen, available on DVD ($69.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($79.99 retail), both with special features. !
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2015, Mark Burger.