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[VIDEO VAULT]

by Mark Burger

MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT

DVD PICK OF THE WEEK

GHOST STORY (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): This 1981 adaptation of Peter Straub’s best-seller is noteworthy for its vintage cast: Fred Astaire, John Houseman, Melvyn Douglas and Douglas Fairbanks Jr., as members of the “Chowder Society,” telling ghost stories — yet tormented by a shared secret from their past that has, at long last, reached from beyond the grave to claim vengeance.

Craig Wasson plays Fairbanks’ twin sons, drawn into the terror by Alice Krige, surely among the most seductive specters ever seen, while Patricia Neal lends a touch of warmth in a too-small role as Astaire’s worried wife.

Occasional bursts of grue seem a concession to ’80s gore, yet this is solid scare fare, augmented by Jack Cardiff’s cinematography and Philippe Sarde’s score – to say nothing of the aforementioned cast. This was the final feature for both Douglas (who died before its release) and Fairbanks (who lived until 2000).

The special-edition Blu-ray ($29.99 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interviews and more. Rated R. ***

ALSO AVAILABLE

THE BEAST (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): Walerian Borowczyk’s controversial, sexually explicit 1975 take on Beauty and the Beast (originally titled La bete) – ladled with black comedy and social satire – was a box-office smash in Paris but banned and/or censored in other countries (in the US, it was rated X and released in truncated form as Devil’s Ecstasy). In French and Italian with English subtitles. The special-edition DVD/Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) includes short films, retrospective documentaries and interviews, and more.

BLOOD RAGE (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): A special-edition Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) of the R-rated slasher opus, featuring Mark Soper as twin brothers (one a psychotic) and Louise Lasser (!) as Mom, filmed in 1983 but not released until 1987 (re-edited) as Nightmare at Shadow Woods. This boasts both versions, for proper comparison.

CONTRACTED: PHASE 2 (IFC Midnight/Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Gruesome special effects are the whole show in director Josh Forbes’ debut feature, a sequel to the 2013 shocker that sees returning Matt Mercer afflicted with a virus that threatens to infect Los Angeles. The DVD/Blu-ray combo retails for $29.99. *½

“CRIMINAL MINDS”: THE TENTH SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount): A DVD collection ($55.99 retail) of all 23 episodes (plus special features) from the 2014′-15 season of the award-winning CBS crime drama dramatizing the activities of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), with series regulars Joe Mantegna, Thomas Gibson, Shemar Moore and AJ Cook joined by Jennifer Love Hewitt.

DISHONORED BODIES (TLA Releasing): A DVD anthology ($24.99 retail) of nine gay-themed, Spanish-language short films by writer/directors Juanma Carrillo and Felix Fernandez.

“THE DRIVER” (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): David Morrissey stars in this three-part 2014 BBC mini-series as a disillusioned London cabbie tapped by local godfather Colm Meaney to be his gang’s driver – which, naturally, throws his life into chaos. The DVD retails for $39.99.

“EDGAR ALLAN POE’S BLACK CATS” (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): A special-edition Blu-ray double-feature ($69.95 retail) of two chillers based (rather loosely) on Poe’s classic tale: Sergio Martino’s memorably titled Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972) starring early scream queen Edwige Fenech and Anita Strindberg; and Lucio Fulci’s The Black Cat (1980), starring Patrick Magee, Mimsy Farmer and David Warbeck. Both films are fully restored and bonus features are bountiful.

HEIST (LionsGate): Shades of Speed in this generically-titled action melodrama in which Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Dave Bautista commandeer a city bus after robbing Robert De Niro’s casino — which doesn’t sound like a good idea, does it? Third-billed Kate Bosworth has one scene as De Niro’s estranged daughter, while Morris Chestnut, Gina Carano, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and DB Sweeney also appear. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $24.99. Rated R. **

HIDDEN (Warner Home Video): Alexander Skarsgard, Andrea Riseborough and Emily Alyn Lind star in the Duffer Brothers’ grimy, appropriately claustrophobic and allegorical thriller as a family eking out an existence in an underground bunker following a global catastrophe. A nice try that nevertheless leaves one wanting for more. Rated R. **

THE IMAGE REVOLUTION (Shout! Factory): Writer/director Robert Meaney’s feature documentary examines the rise, fall, and resurrection of Image Comics, home to such popular franchises as Spawn, Haunt, Witchblade and The Walking Dead. The DVD ($19.99 retail) includes extended interviews.

IMMORAL TALES (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): A special-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.95 retail) of Walerian Borowczyk’s controversial, four-part 1974 anthology (originally titled Contes immoraux and originally rated X) exploring sexuality and depravity over four different eras, some involving historical characters. In French, Italian and Hungarian with English subtitles.

“INSIDE AMY SCHUMER”: SEASON 3 (Comedy Central/Paramount): A DVD collection ($21.99 retail) of all 10 episodes (plus bonus features) from the 2015 season of the comedy/variety series, winner of the Peabody Award and Emmy Awards for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series and Outstanding Original Music & Lyrics (for the song “Girl You Don’t Need Makeup”), with additional nominations including Outstanding Lead Actress, Directing, Writing, and Guest Actor (Paul Giamatti) in a Comedy Series.

INVADERS FROM MARS (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): The special-edition Blu-ray ($24.97 retail) of Tobe Hooper’s 1986 remake of the 1953 sci-fi B-movie classic about a young boy (Hunter Carson) who sees a spaceship land in his backyard. Not as good as the original, but has its moments and good effects work by John Dykstra and Stan Winston. A star-studded cast includes Karen Black (Carson’s real-life mother), Timothy Bottoms, Laraine Newman, Bud Cort, James Karen and Louis Fletcher. All things considered, among the better efforts by the indomitable Golan/Globus duo at Cannon Films – yet it still flopped. Rated PG. **½

KNIFED UP: THE EVOLUTION OF COSMETIC SURGERY (Moguldom Studios/Cinedigm): The title tells all in the debut of Todd 1 (AKA Todd A. Brown), a documentary that examines the advancements – and consequences – of plastic surgery, specifically among black women in today’s society. The DVD retails for $19.97.

LAND OF STORMS (TLA Releasing): Writer/director Adam Csaszi’s award-winning feature debut (originally titled Viharsarok) stars Andras Suto as former soccer player coming to terms with his sexuality. In German and Hungarian with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $24.98.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION (Paramount): The latest in the R-rated, found-footage fright franchise – the fifth, for those counting at home – sees a new family spooked by specters, available on DVD ($29.99 retail), DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.99 retail), and 3-D combo ($52.99 retail).

THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Robert Quarry’s back to his bloodthirsty tricks – with no explanation how he came back to life – in this surprisingly, savagely effective 1971 sequel to the 1970 hit, with Bob Kelljan again directing and scripting, the latter with real-life wife and co-star Yvonne Wilder. Mariette Hartley plays the Count’s love interest, Roger Perry returns from the first film (in a different role), Michael Pataki, Walter Brooke and George Macready also appear, and Rudy DeLuca and Craig T. Nelson (in his screen debut) are a hoot as a detective duo. The special-edition Blu-ray retails for $26.99 and includes audio commentary and more. Originally rated “GP” (pre-PG), now rated R. ***

THERESA IS A MOTHER (Garden Thieves Pictures): C. Fraser Press makes her debut as writer, leading lady and co-director (with producer/husband Darren Press) in this award-winning comedy about a failed singer/songwriter and single mother forced to take her children (real-life daughters Schuyler Iona, Maeve and Amaya Press) to live with her estranged parents (Edie McClurg and Richard Poe), now available on DVD ($24.99 retail).

TIGER HOUSE (Magnet Label/Magnolia Home Entertainment): Kaya Scodelario wages a one-woman war against a gang of thugs (including Dougray Scott and Ed Skrein) who have taken her boyfriend’s family hostage in this R-rated thriller that marks director Tom Daley’s feature debut, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.98 retail).

THE TRANSPORTER REFUELED (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): “Game of Thrones” veteran Ed Skrein climbs into the driver’s seat for this amusing reboot/rehash of the motorized action franchise, with Ray Stevenson stealing plenty a scene as Skrein’s retired-diplomat dad, who keeps getting abducted. The DVD retails for $29.98, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $39.99. Rated PG-13. **½

“TRUE DETECTIVE”: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (HBO): It’s an all-new mystery and an all-new, star-studded cast (Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams, Taylor Kitsch) in all eight episodes from the 2015 season of the acclaimed crime series, available on DVD ($59.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($79.98 retail), both replete with special features.

WYRMWOOD: ROAD OF THE DEAD (IFC Midnight/Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): From Down Under (Australia), sibling writer/producers Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner’s debut feature (Kiah also edited, directed and served as production designer) sees hard-boiled hero Jay Gallagher battling a zombie plague while trying to lead survivors to safety, available on DVD ($16.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.97 retail).

ZERO TOLERANCE (LionsGate): Dustin Nguyen and Shajak Boonthanakit barrel through Bangkok seeking a killer in writer/producer/director Wych Kaosayananda’s R-rated action thriller (originally titled Angel), available on DVD ($19.98 retail).

(Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2016, Mark Burger) HYPERLINK “mailto:marksburger@yahoo.com”marksburger@yahoo.com

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