MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
DR. TERROR’S HOUSE OF HORRORS (Olive Films): At long last, one of the great horror anthologies arrives on home-video stateside. Alas, there are no special features (not even a trailer), but the widescreen format does full justice to Alan Hume’s superb cinematography.
The framing story takes place in a cramped railroad car, where travelers Christopher Lee, Roy Castle, Neil McCallum, Alan Freeman and Donald Sutherland are joined by the mysterious Dr. Schreck (Peter Cushing) â€“ “Schreck” is German for “terror” â€“ who proceeds to foretell their fates with his deck of Tarot cards, which he calls his “house of horrors.”
The subsequent stories â€“ Werewolf, Creeping Vine, Voodoo, Disembodied Hand and Vampire â€“ are simple, direct, entertaining and, though somewhat quaint in retrospect, plenty spooky all the same. Director Freddie Francis (himself an Oscar-winning cinematographer) keeps things well-paced and straightforward, helped immeasurably by the cast. Genre icons Cushing and Lee are in top form, Sutherland stands out in an early screen role, and the supporting cast is studded with familiar British faces: Michael Gough, Max Adrian, Jeremy Kemp, Bernard Lee (“M” in the Bond films), Jennifer Jayne, Ann Bell and Ursula Howells.
The DVD retails for $19.95, the Blu-ray for $24.95. ***Â½
AGENT CODY BANKS/AGENT CODY BANKS 2: DESTINATION LONDON (Olive Films): Frankie Muniz plays the titular teen spy in the PG-rated 2003 comedy and its PG-rated 2004 sequel, with Cynthia Stevenson and Keith David in both as Cody’s mom and the CIA director, respectively. Each Blu-ray retails for $29.95.
ASSASSINATION (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): In their final screen pairing, Charles Bronson plays a veteran Secret Service agent and real-life wife Jill Ireland the new First Lady, whom he protects from assassins. William Prince, Stephen Elliott, Michael Ansara, Randy Brooks, Jan Gan Boyd and Kathryn Leigh Scott co-star â€“ to little effect. One of many films Bronson made for the Golan-Globus team at Cannon Films, and one of the weakest — although he and Ireland still strike sparks. Released in 1987, this marked director Peter Hunt and screenwriter Richard Sale’s final feature. The DVD retails for $19.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated PG-13. *
CHERRY FALLS (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): The Blu-ray bow ($26.99 retail) of director Geoffrey Wright’s 2000 chiller, set in the titular town where a serial killer preys on virgins. After haggling with the MPAA over the film’s rating, this was never released to theaters and premiered on cable. Brittany Murphy, Michael Biehn, Jay Mohr, Gabriel Mann, Jesse Bradford, DJ Qualls and Candy Clark head the cast, and special features include audio commentary, retrospective and vintage interviews, and more. **Â½
DEAD PIGEON ON BEETHOVEN STREET (Olive Films): The director’s cut of Samuel Fuller’s wild and woolly 1974 film-noir whodunit (originally titled Toe Taube in der Beethovenstrasse and made for German TV) with Glenn Corbett as an American private eye seeking his partner’s killer in Germany, with Christa Lang (Fuller’s real-life wife), Anton Diffring and Stephane Audran also involved. Self-indulgent and flaky â€“ from the get-go — Fuller fans have a big head start. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. **Â½
THE FOURTH WAR (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Director John Frankenheimer’s engrossing if formulaic 1990 Cold War thriller sees American colonel Roy Scheider (Vietnam veteran) and Russian colonel Jurgen Prochnow (Afghanistan veteran) matching wits along the Czech border, much to the consternation of Scheider’s second-in-command (a terrific Tim Reid) and his general (a customarily solid Harry Dean Stanton). Bill Conti’s score is also a plus. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated R. **Â½
IN A LONELY PLACE (The Criterion Collection): Director Nicholas Ray’s acidic, noir-ish 1950 adaptation of Dorothy B. Hughes’ best-seller stars Humphrey Bogart, terrific as a burned-out, volatile Hollywood screenwriter suspected of murder and Gloria Grahame as his neighbor, a frustrated starlet desperate for success. Despite critical favor, this was considered a disappointment but has since undergone a positive reassessment. Available as a special-edition DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.95 retail), both replete with special features including audio commentary, interviews and a radio broadcast of the story. ***
LA JAULA DE ORO (Kino Lorber): Kino Lorber’s new “Sol y Luna” label of acclaimed Spanish-language features includes writer/director writer/producer/director Diego Quemada-Diez’s award-winning debut feature (also known as The Golden Dream) about a group of teenagers who flee the slums of Guatemala for greener pastures in the United States. The DVD retails for $24.95.
“KILLER DAMES: TWO GOTHIC CHILLERS BY EMILIO P. MIRAGLIA” (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): A self-explanatory, limited-edition special-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($69.95 retail) of a pair of Italian giallo thrillers: 1971’s unforgettably titled and R-rated The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (originally titled La notte che Evelyn usci dalla tomba) and 1972’s The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (originally titled La dama rossa uccide sette volte). Both films are replete with special features including audio commentaries, retrospective and archival interviews and more.
LEGEND OF THE LOST (Olive Films): John Wayne, Sophia Loren and Rossani Brazzi brave the sands of the Sahara in Henry Hathaway’s picturesque but plodding 1957 adventure. Better they stayed in Timbuktu. The DVD retails for $19.95. *Â½
LIKE CATTLE TOWARDS GLOW (TLA Releasing): First-time feature filmmakers Denis Cooper and Zac Farley wrote, produced, edited and directed this collection of vignettes about characters coming to terms with their sexuality â€“ often in extreme ways. In English and French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.99 retail).
THE NASTY TERRIBLE T-KID 170: JULIUS CAVERO (Love Machine Films/MVD Entertainment Group): Writer/director/editor Carly Starr Brullo-Niles’ debut documentary chronicles the life and “career” of Bronx-born graffiti artist Julius Cavero, available on DVD ($24.95 retail). **
REMEMBER (LionsGate): Director Atom Egoyam’s in top form with this crackling, award-winning thriller starring Christopher Plummer (also superb) as an elderly man who embarks on a journey to find four men with the same name â€“ one of them a guard at Auschwitz some 70 years before â€“ but whose mission of retribution is complicated by his rapidly fading memory. To say more would spoil the many surprises in first-time screenwriter Benjamin August’s taut, twist-laden storyline. Martin Landau, Dean Norris, Bruno Ganz, Jurgen Prochnow, Heinz Lieven and Henry Czerny round out a fine cast. One of the year’s best movies, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.99 retail). Rated R. ***Â½
RISE OF THE LEGEND (Well Go USA Entertainment): Inspired by the legend of martial-arts master Wong Fei Hung, director Chow Hin Yeung’s award-winning action drama (originally titled Huang feihong zhi yingxiong you meng) stars Eddie Peng as Fei, who returns home to battle the crime boss (Sammo Hung) responsible for his father’s murder. In Chinese with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail).
“SCREAM: THE TV SERIES” â€“ SEASON 1 (Dimension TV/Anchor Bay Entertainment): The terror begins anew in Lakewood, as a YouTube video gone viral leads to a brutal murder, forcing the residents to revisit the the town’s terrifying past, in all 10 episodes from the inaugural 2015 season of the MTV series spun off from Wes Craven’s big-screen franchise. Bella Thorne, Willa Fitzgerald, Carlson Young, Jason Wiles and Bex Taylor-Klaus head the regular cast, with Mike Vaughn providing the voice of the killer. The DVD collection retails for $34.98.
“TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: BEYOND THE KNOWN UNIVERSE” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): A two-DVD collection ($19.99 retail) of the first 12 episodes from the 2015-’16 season of the award-winning, animated Nickelodeon fantasy series that continues the adventures of those subterranean superheroes.
TRIPLE 9 (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment): An Atlanta bank robbery propels the plot of this R-rated contemporary film noir boasting an all-star cast including Kate Winslet, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Aaron Paul, Anthony Mackie, Norman Reedus, Clifton Collins Jr. and Gal Gadot, available on DVD ($29.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.98 retail).
TROUBLEMAKERS: THE STORY OF LAND ART (First Run Features): James Crump’s feature documentary profiles artists Robert Smithson, Michael Heizer and Walter De Maria, who turned their talents into creating massive earthworks in the desert of the American Southwest in the 1960s and ’70s, available on DVD ($24.95 retail).
WHAT’S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN? (Olive Films): Danny DeVito (typecast) and executive producer Martin Lawrence (miscast) match wits in this overlong, intermittently amusing 2001 comedy based on a Donald E. Westlake novel, with John Leguizamo, Glenne Headly, Carmen Ejogo and the much-missed Bernie Mac also on hand. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated R. **
THE WHOOPEE BOYS (Olive Films): Michael O’Keefe and Paul Rodriguez are an unremarkable duo in this silly 1987 comedy featuring Denholm Elliott, Marsha Warfield, Dan O’Herlihy and the inimitable Eddie Deezen, now available on DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail). Rated R. *Â½
“THE WONDER YEARS”: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON (Time Life): Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) embarks on the great adventure known as high school, in all 24 episodes from the 1991-’92 season of the award-winning ABC situation comedy, available in a four-DVD collection ($39.95 retail).
ZAPPED! (Olive Films): A silly 1982 comedy in which high-school science nerd Scott Baio develops telekinetic powers (a la Carrie), and lowbrow hi-jinks ensue. Willie Aames, Heather Thomas (her screen debut), Robert Mandan, Sue Ane Langdon, Roger Bowen, Felice Schachter (her screen debut) and the invaluable Scatman Crothers do what they can. The DVD retails for $14.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated R. *Â½
THE ZERO BOYS (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): A special-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.95 retail) of Nico Mastorakis’ predictable but watchable 1986 thriller about a group of friends (Kelli Maroney and Daniel Hirsch among them) whose outdoor survival games take a turn for the deadly when they are stalked by unseen killers. Special features include audio commentary, retrospective interviews and more. Rated R. **
ZOOLANDER NO. 2 (Paramount): A “Magnum Edition” of writer/producer/director Ben Stiller’s sequel to the 2001 comedy, in which he reprises his role as super-vain super-model Derek Zoolander. Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Jerry Stiller (Ben’s dad) and Christine Taylor (Ben’s wife) also encore, along with Kristen Wiig, Penelope Cruz, Fred Armisen, screenwriter Justin Theroux and a slew of celebrity cameos. The DVD retails for $29.99, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $39.99.
(Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2016, Mark Burger) HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”email@example.com