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[VIDEO VAULT]

by Mark Burger

MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT

DVD PICK OF THE WEEK

VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): John Carpenter’s 1995 version of John Wyndham’s novel The Midwich Cuckoos isn’t quite the classic the 1960 version was, but is nonetheless an entertaining and worthy remake.

The California coastal town of Midwich is inexplicably gripped by a strange force that renders the inhabitants unconscious. Upon awakening, 10 women find themselves pregnant and give birth (on the same night) to children who soon enough assert their collective powers. The children are all blonde and display little emotion — and it’s best not to get them riled, lest they lash out.

There are some new wrinkles here, including a government cover-up (overseen by Kirstie Alley’s ruthless scientist) and a timely observation about the dissolution of the family structure, as a new – and advanced – generation methodically conquers the previous one.

Christopher Reeve, in his last feature before his tragic riding accident, is earnest and sympathetic as the town doctor, whose attempts to communicate with the children lead him to a fateful decision, and the cast includes Linda Kozlowski (especially good), Meredith Salenger, Mark Hamill, Carpenter regular Peter Jason, and youngsters Lindsey Haun and Thomas Dekker as two of the unearthly offspring. Look fast for a Carpenter cameo at a pay phone early on.

The collector’s edition Blu-ray ($34.93 retail) includes retrospective and vintage interviews, theatrical trailer and more. Rated R. ***

ALSO AVAILABLE

ALL HALLOWS’ EVE 2 (RLJ Entertainment): Horror fans should enjoy this well-made, fast-moving follow-up to the 2013 shocker (itself pretty good), an anthology of vignettes (some over 10 years old), that have been smoothly constructed as segments in a mysterious VHS tape that – surprise, surprise – is of supernatural origin. **½

THE ASSASSIN (Well Go USA Entertainment): Director Hou Hsaio-hsien’s first feature (originally titled Nie yin niang) in eight years won him the Best Director at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and stars Shu Qi in the title role, who is conflicted when ordered to kill military governor Chang Chen, to whom she was once betrothed. In Mandarin with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail).

“THE BIBLE STORIES” (Shout! Factory): A pair of Biblical mini-series’ originally aired on TNT, now on DVD ($14.93 each): Nathaniel Parker portrays the title role in David (1997), co-starring Leonard Nimoy, Jonathan Pryce, Sheryl Lee and Franco Nero, which earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Mini-Series or Special; and director Nicolas Roeg’s Samson and Delilah (1996) starring Eric Thal and Elizabeth Hurley in the title roles, with Dennis Hopper, Diana Rigg, Michael Gambon, Paul Freeman and Daniel Massey.

BOUND TO VENGEANCE (IFC Midnight/Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): A well-made, low-budget shocker (originally titled Reversal) starring Tina Ivlev as a woman who turns the tables on the sexual predator (Richard Tyson) who abducted her months before, then forces him to take her along as he releases his other victims throughout the city — but who’s really in control? The twist ending’s a little obvious, but otherwise pretty good. The DVD/Blu-ray combo retails for $29.99. **½

CLOSER TO THE MOON (IFC Films): Writer/director Nae Caranfil’s fascinating, fact-based, award-winning drama involves five Jewish members of the Communist Party who carried out a daring bank robbery in 1959 Bucharest, were captured, sentenced to death, but first forced to participate in filmed re-enactment of their crime for propaganda purposes. Mark Strong and Vera Farmiga are especially good as the principal robbers, with Harry Lloyd as a young waiter drawn into the “production.” ***

DESTROYER/EDGE OF SANITY (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): A Blu-ray double feature ($26.99 retail) of late-entry Anthony Perkins shockers: The R-rated Destroyer (1988), which marked director Robert Kirk’s debut feature, stars Lyle Alzado as an executed death-row prisoner who returns to life and terrorizes a film crew shooting in the prison (Perkins plays the oddball director); the unrated Edge of Sanity (1989) sees Perkins essaying the role(s) of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. According to Charles Winecoff’s (very good) biography Split Image: The Life of Anthony Perkins, the actor basically made these movies to support his family because he knew he was ill with AIDS. Both films: **

“THE FLASH”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (Warner Home Video): Grant Gustin stars as Central City forensic investigator and his fleet-footed superhero alter-ego, in all 23 episodes from the inaugural 2014-’15 season of the popular, award-winning CW series based on the DC Comics character, with Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Jesse L. Martin, Tom Cavanagh and Carlos Valdes in support. Emmy nomination for Outstanding Special Visual Effects. Both the DVD ($59.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($60.10 retail) boast special features for “Flash” faithful.

FLIGHT 7500 (LionsGate): A high-flying PG-13 whodunit from Grudge director Takashi Shimizu, with Leslie Bibb, Jamie Chung, Amy Smart, Scout Taylor-Compton, Ryan Kwanten, Jerry Ferrara, Johnathon Schaech and Nicky Whelan among those aboard a jet airliner where strange things start happening, available on DVD ($19.98 retail).

“GRACE AND FRANKIE”: SEASON ONE (Skydance Television/LionsGate): In the title roles, executive producers Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin (Emmy nominee for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series) play a bickering duo whose lives are turned upside-down when their respective husbands (Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) leave them – for each other (!) – in all 13 episodes from the inaugural 2015 season of the award-winning Netflix comedy series, available on DVD ($29.98 retail).

“HOUSE OF LIES”: THE FOURTH SEASON (Showtime Entertainment/CBS DVD/Paramount): Don Cheadle (Emmy nominee for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series) and Kristen Bell are up to their old (dirty) tricks, in all 12 episodes from the 2015 season of the award-winning Showtime series created by Matthew Carnahan and based on Martin Kihn’s non-fiction best-seller about the inner workings of the management consultancy. The two-DVD collection, replete with special features, retails for $29.99.

IN THE HEART OF THE SEA (Warner Home Video): Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Jordi Molla and Brendan Gleeson go a-whaling in Ron Howard’s PG-13-rated sea-faring saga based on Nathaniel Philbrick’s award-winning best-seller, about the true-life fate of the ship Essex – the story that inspired Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick, available on DVD ($28.98 retail), DVD/Blu-ray combo ($35.99 retail), and 3-D combo ($44.95 retail).

“THE MAKING OF TRUMP” (LionsGate): The title tells all in this History Channel documentary about the life and career of Donald Trump, available on DVD ($14.98 retail).

MOJAVE (LionsGate): Writer/producer/director William Monahan’s R-rated thriller pits Garrett Hedlund’s disillusioned filmmaker against Oscar Isaac’s enigmatic drifter, set against the backdrop of the titular desert, with Walton Goggins, Fran Kranz, Louise Bourgoin and Mark Wahlberg also on hand, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.99 retail).

“NYPD BLUE”: SEASON NINE (Shout! Factory): A five-DVD collection ($34.99 retail) of all 22 episodes from the 2001-’02 season of the long-running, much-acclaimed and sometimes controversial ABC police series, with Dennis Franz (Emmy nominee as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series) as hard-boiled detective Andy Sipowicz, teamed with new partner Mark-Paul Gosselaar and romancing fellow detective Charlotte Ross.

POINT BREAK (Warner Home Video): Undercover FBI agent Luke Bracey infiltrates a group of daredevil thieves headed by the charismatic Edgar Ramirez in this PG-13-rated remake of the 1991 action film, co-starring Teresa Palmer, Delroy Lindo and reliable Ray Winstone, available on DVD ($28.98 retail), DVD/Blu-ray combo ($35.99 retail), and 3-D combo ($44.95 retail).

RAGE OF HONOR (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): Sho Kosugi re-teams with his Pray for Death director Gordon Hessler for this R-rated 1987 martial-arts thriller, playing a vengeful narcotics agent who tracks his partner’s killers to Buenos Aires and does just what you’d expect, available on Blu-ray ($29.95 retail).

THE RED HOUSE (The Film Detective/Allied Vaughn): The digitally-restored Blu-ray bow ($14.99 retail) of director/screenwriter Delmer Daves’ atmospheric, eerie 1947 psycho-thriller about the secrets within the titular house, based on George Agnew Chamberlain’s novel, starring Edward G. Robinson, Lon McCallister, Rory Calhoun, Allene Roberts, Ona Munson (in her final film) and Judith Anderson (superb as Robinson’s spinster sister). Great Miklos Rosza score. ***

SPIDER BABY (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): Jack Hill’s low-budget 1968 cult favorite, billed as “the maddest story ever told,” concerns the antics of three in-bred, homicidal siblings (Jill Banner as “Spider Baby,” Beverly Washburn, and Hill perennial Sid Haig) and their weary chauffeur/protector (Lon Chaney, who sings the theme song!). Originally shot in 1964 as Cannibal Orgy, this sat on the shelf when the original distributor went bust. The oddball cast includes former “Charlie Chan” sidekick Mantan Moreland, Carol Ohmart, and Quinn Redeker, who played the first captain of “The Love Boat” and was a screenwriter of The Deer Hunter (1978). The special-edition DVD/Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interviews, and more. Definitely not for all tastes, but certainly original. **

ZOMBIE FIGHT CLUB (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Jessica C and Andy On team up to battle a rampaging horde of the undead in director Joe Chien’s action/horror blow-out (originally titled Shi cheng), in Mandarin with English subtitles – or you can watch it dubbed into English, available on DVD ($14.93 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.97 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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