DVD PICK OF THE WEEK:
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
(Scream Factory/Shout! Factory)
Director Philip Kaufman’s 1978 version of Jack Finney’s classic tale The Body Snatchers doesn’t quite hit the heights of Don Siegel’s 1956 version, but it comes extremely close – an excellent rendition in its own right, adding modern wrinkles and social satire to the original story of an alien invasion.
The setting this time is San Francisco, as the West Coast metropolis is suddenly blanketed by seed pods that not only adapt to Earth’s atmosphere but take over human beings while they sleep, turning them into soulless beings bereft of emotion.
Augmented by Michael Chapman’s menacing cinematography. Denny Zeitlin’s highly effective score and truly impressive (pre-CGI) special effects that stretch the boundaries of its PG rating, the film is also graced with a first-rate cast: Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright, Art Hindle and Leonard Nimoy, with cameos by Kevin McCarthy and Siegel, star and director of the original film, and Robert Duvall.
The collector’s edition Blu-ray ($34.93 retail) includes audio commentaries, retrospective interviews, theatrical trailer and more.
“THE AFFAIR”: SEASON TWO
(Showtime Entertainment/CBS DVD/ Paramount): A DVD collection ($42.99 retail) of all 12 episodes from the 2015 season of the award-winning Showtime series dramatizing the repercussions of an extra-marital affair – and a murder – on a suburban community, with an ensemble cast headed by Dominic West, Joshua Jackson, Ruth Wilson and Maura Tierney (Emmy nominee for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series).
THE BOY WHO CRIED WEREWOLF (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Director Nathan Juran’s final feature re-teams him with Kerwin Mathews (with whom he made the classics The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad and Jack the Giant Killer) in this goofy but watchable 1973 chiller featuring Scott Sealey (in his first and only feature) as a youngster whose warnings that divorced dad (Mathews) was bitten by a werewolf are ignored … until it’s too late. First-time screenwriter Bob Homel appears in his final feature role as a comic-relief hippie guru, with Elaine Devry, Robert J.
Wilke and future Police Academy perennial George Gaynes on hand. The new Blu-ray retails for $27.99. Rated PG.
“FEMALE PRISONER SCORPION: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION” (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): A limited-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($124.95 retail) of the four-film Japanese-language women-in-prison Sasori big-screen franchise based on Toro Shinohara’s comicbook series, starring Meiko Kaji in the pivotal role of Nami Matshushima: Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (1971), Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 (1972), Female Prisoner Scorpion: Beast Stable (1973) and Female Prisoner Scorpion: #701’s Grudge Song (also ‘73) – replete with special features include vintage and retrospective interviews, original trailers, and more.
HELLHOLE (Scream Factory/Shout!
Factory): A DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.99 retail) of producer Samuel Z. Arkoff’s swan song, a sleazy and cheesy 1984 shocker with Judy Landers as an amnesiac traumatized by her mother’s murder sent to a sanitarium run by sadistic Mary Woronov and staffed by Ray Sharkey (in a sweaty, unhinged turn), the very fiend who committed the murder. Terry Moore, Edy Williams, Richard Cox, Cliff Emmich, Dyanne Thorne and Marjoe Gortner also turn up, in and out of strait-jackets. Rated R.
INGRID BERGMAN: IN HER OWN WORDS (The Criterion Collection): Stig Bjorkman commemorates the 100 th birthday of Swedish star and three-time Oscar winner Ingrid Bergman (1915-’82) with this award-winning documentary feature (originally titled Jag ar Ingrid) narrated by Alicia Vikander. In Swedish, Italian and French with English subtitles, available on Scott Bakula and his crack team of crimesolvers are back on the case in all 24 epi DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) – both replete with special features.
“MURDOCH MYSTERIES”: SEASON 9 (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): Yannick Bisson’s back on the case as early 20th-century Toronto detective William Murdoch in all 18 episodes from the 2015-’16 season of the award-winning Canadian mystery series (also known as The Artful Detective), based on Maureen Jennings’ best-selling novels, co-starring Helene Joy (as Murdoch’s wife), Jonny Harris, Thomas Craig, Georgia Reilly and Mouna Traore, with a guest appearance by William Shatner as Mark Twain (!), available on DVD and Bluray (each $59.99 retail). RLJ Entertainment/Acorn has also released “Murdoch Mysteries: Seasons 5-8 Collection” on DVD and Blu-ray (each $149.99 retail).
“NCIS: NEW ORLEANS”: THE SEC- OND SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount): sodes from the 2015-’16 season of the CBS mystery series, the latest spin-off of the wildly popular “CSI” franchise, with series regulars Lucas Black, Zoe McLellan, Daryl Mitchell and CCH Pounder and guests stints by “CSI” alumni Mark Harmon, David McCallum, Emily Wickersham and Pauley Perrette, available on DVD ($55.98 retail), replete with special features.
THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): A twodisc collector’s-edition Blu-ray ($34.93 retail) of screenwriter Dan O’Bannon’s cult-classic 1985 directorial debut, a gory but satirical shocker in which brain-eating zombies terrorize the likes of Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa, Linnea Quigley, Jewel Shepard, Thom Mathews, Beverly Randolph and Brian Peck. Although not a huge theatrical hit, this found a major following on cable and home-video, launching a franchise that rivaled George Romero’s Living Dead films. Plenty of injokes, but the squeamish are forewarned.
Special features include multiple audio commentaries, retrospective interviews, trailers and TV spots, a feature-length documentary, and more. And, yes, a remake has been discussed … Rated R.
SESSION 9 (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): The Blu-ray bow ($27.99 retail) of writer/director Brad Anderson’s effective, atmospheric, award-winning shocker about a hazmat crew who suffer various delusions while cleaning up an abandoned mental hospital in Massachusetts. A firstrate ensemble cast includes David Caruso, Peter Mullan, Josh Lucas, Brendan Sexton III, Paul Guilfoyle, Larry Fessenden and Stephen Gevedon. Special features include audio commentary, retrospective documentary and more. Rated R.
SUMMER CAMP (LionsGate): Despite minimal theatrical exposure, screenwriter Alberto Marini’s feature directorial debut is a fast-paced, grisly delight for horror fans, with Jocelin Donahue, Diego Boneta, Andres Velencoso and scene-stealer Maiara Walsh as four counselors at the soon-toopen El Buho English summer camp in Spain, who encounter a mysterious (and man-made?) virus that turns them into bloodthirsty savages. A real find. ***
“SUPERGIRL”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): Melissa Benoist soars in the title role of the DC Comics superhero (“superheroine”?) in all 20 episodes from the inaugural 2015-’16 season of the award-winning CBS fantasy/adventure series, available on DVD ($49.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($54.97 retail), both replete with special features.
A TASTE OF HONEY (The Criterion Collection): Tony Richardson’s award-winning 1961 adaptation of Shelagh Delaney’s acclaimed stage drama (scripted by Richardson and the author) stars Rita Tushingham (in her star-making screen debut) as a lonely teenager coming of age in the working-class milieu of Great Britain. Although somewhat dated, this is one of the better “kitchen-sink” dramas of its era, with a fine supporting cast including Robert Stephens, Murray Melvin, Paul Danquah (in his screen debut) and Dora Bryan, the latter especially memorable as Tushingham’s angry, alcoholic mother. The DVD retails for $29.95, the Blu-ray for $39.95 – both replete with special features including retrospective and vintage interviews, and more.
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2016, Mark Burger.