DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: MAD MAX (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory)
The original 1979 post-apocalyptic action extravaganza that put Mel Gibson, director George Miller, and even Australia (as a filmmaking mecca) on the map.
Set in a bleak future where civilization hangs by its last thread, Gibson’s Max Rockatansky is a rough-and-tumble cop who embarks on a high-speed mission of vengeance when a gang of bikers (including Hugh Keys-Byrne, who appears in the new Max Mad: Fury Road) murders his family.
There’s not much nuance to be found here; this is a pure, unapologetic exploitation film – and works just fine on those terms, although it did win awards. The US release was hampered by clunky dubbing (as if domestic audiences wouldn’t understand Aussie accents), but found its cult following – spawning two sequels, the new remake, and a spate of imitations from around the world.
The new collector’s edition Blu-ray ($19.97 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interviews, documentaries and more. Rated R.
ABSTRACTION (Breaking Glass Pictures): Prince Bagdasarian makes his feature debut as writer, director, producer and editor of this award-winning, modernday neo-noir starring Hunter Ives and story writer/producer Richard Manriquez as small-time criminals mixed up in an art heist. Korrina Rico, Ken Davitian, Jim Lewis and Eric Roberts round out a diligent cast. The pace is a little slow, but stick around for some neat twists.
“BARNEY MILLER”: THE COM- PLETE SEVENTH SEASON (Shout! Factory): A DVD collection ($24.97 retail) of all 22 episodes from the 1980-’81 season of the ABC comedy series with Hal Linden in the title role of the captain of New York City’s 12 th Precinct, backed by Max Gail, Ron Glass, Steve Landesberg, Ron Carey and James Gregory. That season, the series earned four Emmy nominations: Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Linden), Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Landesberg) and Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series.
“THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW: TOGETHER AGAIN” (Time-Life/StarVista Entertainment): A DVD selection ($12.95 retail) of three episodes from the long-running, award-winning CBS comedy/variety series selected by Carol, featuring series favorites Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner and Tim Conway, and guest stars Roddy McDowall, Richard Crenna, Ken Berry, Ruth Buzzi and Gloria Swanson.
DRINK ME (TLA Releasing): A boring, artsy, gay-themed vampire film with Emmett Friel and Darren Munn as a London couple whose idyll is interrupted by bloodsucker Sebastian Ellis-Stanton. Writer/producer/director Daniel Mansfield seems primarily concerned with the actors’ physiques.
EXTRATERRESTRIAL (IFC Midnight/ Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): A weekend camping excursion turns terrifying when a UFO crashes nearby in this award-winning sci-fi shocker from “The Vicious Brothers” (Colin Minahan and Stuart Ortiz), available on DVD ($14.93 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.97 retail).
FIREWALKER (Olive Films): Chuck Norris and Lou Gossett are a dire duo as soldiers of fortune in this clumsy 1986 action comedy produced by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus’ infamous Cannon Films, one of several directed by beloved super-hack J. Lee Thompson. Melody Anderson, John Rhys-Davies, Sonny Landham and Will Sampson (in his last film) also appear. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated PG.
GINGERCLOWN (LionsGate): Writer/ producer/director Balazs Hatvani’s feature debut is a colorful, cartoonish, but ultimately disappointing shocker in the Joe Dante ve, with teens breaking into an abandoned amusement park – with predictably dire results. Touted as the first 3-D movie shot in Budapest, although it’s 2-D here. The monsters are voiced by Lance Henriksen, Brad Dourif, Sean Young, Michael Winslow and Tim Curry. Rated R.
GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS: UNDERGROUND (LionsGate): The second, R-rated spin-off from the 2005 action drama sees Scott Adkins as a former member of the London-based band of football rowdies who returns to to avenge his brother’s death. The DVD retails for $19.98.
GUN WOMAN (Scream Factory/ Shout! Factory): Writer/director Kurando Mitsutake’s award-winning action blowout stars Asami in the title role of an assassin on a rampage of revenge. In English and Japanese with English subtitles, available on DVD ($14.93 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.97 retail).
HARLEY DAVIDSON AND THE MARLBORO MAN (Shout! Factory): A truly atrocious 1990 buddy movie set in a vague future with an even more vague storyline, basically an excuse for Mickey Rourke and Don Johnson to pose in the title roles. Somehow it’s got a cult following. The new Blu-ray retails for $24.97. Rated R. No stars
“THE JEFFERSONS”: SEASON SEVEN (Shout! Factory): Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford return as George and Louise “Weezie” Jefferson, in all 20 episodes from the 1980-’81 season of the long-running CBS sitcom spun off from “All in the Family.” Sanford won the Emmy Award as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and Marla Gibbs (as housekeeper Florence) earned an Emmy nomination as Outstanding Sup porting Actress in a Comedy Series. The three-DVD collection retails for $24.97.
THE LAST SUPPER (Random Media/ Cinedigm): Lu Chuan’s historical spectacle (originally titled Wang de Shengyan) stars Ye Liu as a mighty emperor who, on his deathbed, recalls the triumphs and tragedies of his life – including his betrayal of a powerful lord (Daniel Wu) and a fierce general (Chen Chang) to consolidate his position of power. In Mandarin with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $14.93, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $19.93.
“MAMA’S FAMILY”: MAMA’S FAVORITES, SEASON FOUR (StarVista Entertainment/Time Life): A self-explanatory DVD collection ($12.95 retail) of six episodes from the 1988- ’89 season of the sitcom spun off from “The Carol Burnett Show,” as personally selected by executive producer and star Vicki Lawrence.
“MR. BEAN: THE WHOLE BEAN – 25TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION” (Fabulous Films): A self-explanatory DVD collection ($24.97 retail) of all 14 episodes, plus special features, from the entire run (1990-’95) of the awardwinning, internationally beloved British comedy series starring Rowan Atkinson as the indefatigable, indomitable, perennially accident-prone Mr. Bean.
“A MUSICARES TRIBUTE TO PAUL McCARTNEY” (Shout! Factory): The title tells all in this star-studded musical tribute when Paul McCartney was honored as the 2012 MusiCares Person of the Year, featuring performances by James Taylor, Alicia Keys, Coldplay, Norah Jones, Neil Young with Crazy Horse, Dave Grohl, Allison Krauss & Union Station, and many more. The DVD retails for $16.98, the Blu-ray for $21.98.
PARANORMAL EXTREMES: TEXT MESSAGES FROM THE DEAD (Alpha New Cinema): Indefatigable low-budget auteur Ted V. Mikels keeps making ‘em cheap and cheesy, this time with a selfexplanatory, shot-on-video, low-rent shocker with Colie Knoke (in her screen debut) as a girl in Las Vegas haunted by her late beau (Joself Niznik). Mikels also cameos as a ghost.
QUICKSAND (Film Chest Media Group): A digitally-remastered DVD ($11.98 retail) of director Irving Pichel’s serviceable, noir-ish 1950 melodrama starring Mickey Rooney as a young mechanic led astray by blonde bombshell Jeanne Cagney.
WHITE HAIRED WITCH (Well Go USA Entertainment): Fan Bingbing plays the title role in this martial-arts fantasy based on Liang Yusheng’s novel Baifa Monu Zuan, a powerful sorceress who does battle with corrupt soldiers in the last days of the Ming Dynasty. In Mandarin with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98. !
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2015, Mark Burger.