(The Film Detective/Allied Vaughn)
(The Film Detective/Allied Vaughn): The making of this low-budget 1963 shocker is probably more interesting than the actual film. Boris Karloff owed producer/director Roger Corman a couple days of work, so Corman filmed the actor’s scenes on existing sets, then tried to fashion a story around it.
Not surprisingly, The Terror is a hit-and-miss affair, but there’s plenty of interest along the way, starting with Jack Nicholson — in an early lead â€“ as a weary 18th-century French soldier smitten with a mysterious beauty (Sandra Knight, Nicholson’s then-wife) who turns out to be the late spouse of Baron von Leppe (Karloff) … or is she?
Corman handed the directorial reins to several assistants, including Francis Ford Coppola, Monte Hellman and screenwriter Jack Hill, and Nicholson reportedly directed a scene or two. The patchy narrative sometimes contradicts itself, but there are some surreal moments, including a memorable final scene. It’s remarkable how watchable, if not inspired, the film is. Dorothy Neumann, Jonathan Haze, and the always-welcome Dick Miller (as the Baron’s loyal manservant) acquit themselves as well as can be expected under the circumstances.
Long available on various public-domain labels, the new Blu-ray ($14.99 retail) has been fully restored in the original aspect ratio.
BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Warner
Bros. Home Entertainment): Executive producer Ice Cube and original director Malcolm D. Lee reunite for this PG-13- rated comedy/drama, the fourth in the Barbershop franchise (including Beauty Shop), with series regulars Anthony Anderson, Eve, Troy Garrity, Sean Patrick Thomas, Deon Cole and the alwayswelcome Cedric the Entertainer joined by newcomers Regina Hall, J.B. Smoove, Nicki Minaj and Common as they try to save both the barbershop and the neighborhood, available on DVD ($28.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail).
“BLAZE AND THE MONSTER MACHINES: FIRED UP!” (Nickelodeon/
Paramount): A DVD collection ($14.99 retail) of four episodes from the popular, animated Nickelodeon children’s series about heroic monster trucks.
DEMENTIA 13 (The Film Detective/Allied Vaughn): Writer/director Francis Coppola made his mainstream feature debut under the auspices of producer Roger Corman (Coppola was his assistant) with this atmospheric, surprisingly violent (for its time) 1963 exploitation shocker about a (very) dysfunctional family whose reunion in Ireland comes replete with madness and murder. The above-average cast includes William Campbell, Luana Anders, Bart Patton and then-wife Mary Mitchel, and ever-hammy Patrick Magee. Long available on countless public-domain labels, the new Blu-ray ($14.99 retail) has been fully restored in the original aspect ratio.
GUN THE MAN DOWN (Olive Films):
Director Andrew V. McLaglen’s 1956 debut feature stars James Arness as an vengeful outlaw who tracks down the partners (Robert J. Wilke and Don Megowan) and girlfriend (newcomer Angie Dickinson) who betrayed him. Executive producer John Wayne liked Arness so much he suggested he be cast as Matt Dillon in “Gunsmoke,” for which McLaglen directed almost 100 episodes. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95.
“IZOMBIE”: THE COMPLETE SEC- OND SEASON (DC Entertainment Vertigo/Warner
Bros. Home Entertainment):
A four-DVD collection ($39.99 retail) of all 19 episodes from the 2015-’16 season of the award-winning CW horror series, based on the DC Comics Vertigo comic books, starring Rose McIver as a medical resident whose skills come in handy â€“ to a point â€“ after being infected with a zombie virus, and whose visions also come in handy when solving crimes. The regular cast includes Malcolm Goodwin, Robert Buckley, Rahul Kohli and David Anders.
THE MARTIAL ARTS KID (Traditionz Entertainment): Given the title, writer/producer/director Michael Baumgarten’s award-winning drama clearly emulates The Karate Kid (1984), as rebellious teen Jansen Panettiere (Hayden’s little brother) learns responsibility and self-esteem â€“ and gets a cute girlfriend (Kathryn Newton) â€“ when he moves in with his uncle and aunt (co-producers Don “The Dragon” Wilson and Cynthia Rothrock, both in fine fettle), who run a karate school. Too leisurely paced, especially considering the predictable storyline, but acceptable family fare, available on DVD ($13.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.99 retail).
MIDNIGHT SPECIAL (Warner Bros.
Home Entertainment): UNCSA School of Filmmaking graduate reunites with Michael Shannon for this award-winning PG-13-rated drama about a father who takes drastic measures to protect his son (Jaeden Lieberher), who possesses mysterious powers that make him a target of religious extremists, with Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver and Sam Shepard in support, available on DVD ($28.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.98 retail).
THE NEW WORLD (The Criterion Collection): A special edition of Terrence Malick’s 2005, PG-13-rated historical drama about the founding of the Jamestown settlement by the English in 1607, starring Colin Farrell (as Capt. John Smith), Q’orianka Kilcher (as Pocahontas), Christian Bale, August Schellenberg, Wes Studi, John Savage, and Christopher Plummer (who stated he disliked working with Malick). Emmanuel Lubzeki’s cinematography earned an Oscar nomination (he’s since won three â€“ the last three years!). Both the DVD ($39.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($49.95 retail) include Malick’s 173-minute director’s cut, the 150-minute first cut and the 135-minute theatrical version, plus a myriad of bonus features.
NO MEN BEYOND THIS POINT (Samuel Goldwyn Films/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Executive producer/writer/director Mark Sawers’ award-winning mock documentary is set in a world where women, who began reproducing without men in the 1950s, have taken over the world while their male counterparts face extinction. Interesting and ambitious social commentary with some incisive observations but occasionally top-heavy with irony. Stick with it, especially the great last scene.
“OPRY VIDEO CLASSICS” (Time Life): A self-explanatory eight-DVD collection ($119.99 retail) boasting 120 country music recordings from the Ryman Auditorium at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, with an all-star line-up of legendary artists including Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Conway Twitty, Charley Pride, Ernest Tubb, Crystal Gayle, the Statler Brothers, the Carter Family, Chet Atkins, Tex Ritter and many more.
THE PROFESSOR: TAI CHI’S JOUR- NEY WEST (First Run Features): Barry Strugatz’s feature documentary examines the life and legacy of martial artist Cheng Man-Ching (1902-’75), who was a pioneer in bringing Tai Chi and Chinese culture to the West during the 1960s, available on DVD ($24.95 retail).
SONS OF BEN (Gravitas Ventures):
Director/producer/story writer Jeffrey C. Bell’s entertaining debut documentary features follows the efforts of the titular group of Philadelphia sports fans to lobby for a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise in the City of Brotherly Love, and how those efforts impacted their lives in unexpected ways. One needn’t be a sports fan or a Philadelphia native to enjoy this film, although yours truly happens to be both.
UNDERDOGS (The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay Entertainment):
Juan Jose Campanella’s PG-rated 2013 animated foosball comedy (originally titled Metegol) boasts a star-studded voice-over cast including Ariana Grande, Matthew Morrison, Nicholas Hoult, Bella Thorne, Bobby Moynihan, John Leguizamo and Mel Brooks, available on DVD ($19.98 retail).
WEIGHT (First Run Features): Subtitled “A Powerlifter in Brooklyn,” editor/ cinematographer/producer/director Andrew Filippone Jr.’s documentary follows weightlifter and gym owner Paul Steinman after he fails at the 2012 American Open and strives to compete the next year. The DVD retails for $24.95. !
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Â© 2015, Mark Burger.