June 24, 2009 12:00

video vault

DVD PICK OF THE WEEK CATLOW (Warner Home Video): Actor Sam Wanamaker directed this amiable 1971 adaptation of Louis L’Amour’s Western novel with Yul Brynner in the title role as a crafty rustler who graduates to grand larceny when he sets his sights on $2 million in Confederate gold. The tenacious Jedediah Catlow must contend with such obstacles as hostile Indians, the Mexican Army and his spitfire mistress (Daliah Lavi) — although not necessarily in that order. He’s also the quarry of lawman Ben Cowan (Richard Crenna), an old Civil War buddy torn between arresting Catlow and joining him, and Orville Miller (Leonard Nimoy), a ruthless bounty hunter who’s not torn at all: He wants Catlow dead. A flavorful score by Roy Budd augments the playful proceedings, as Catlow continually one-ups Cowan and evades Miller in his quest for the gold. There’s a comfortable interplay between Brynner and Crenna; the two appear to be enjoying themselves, while Nimoy (whose unexpected casting pays off) supplies the requisite menace.

There are the obligatory shootouts and fisticuffs, but rarely (if ever) is the outcome in doubt. This is hardly a great Western, much less a great movie, but it’s a rollicking and enjoyable romp through familiar territory all the same. Rated PG. **½

ALSO ON DVD BODY OF LIES (Warner Home Video): Ridley Scott’s sleek espionage thriller, adapted from the David Ignatius novel, stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a CIA operative attempting to ferret out a terrorist leader in Jordan. A burly Russell Crowe plays his sly supervisor and Mark Strong is a standout as a Jordanian agent who knows all. Overly talky at times, but tricky and absorbing, to say nothing of topical. Available as a single-disc DVD ($28.98 retail), a two-disc special edition ($34.99 retail), or as a Blu-ray disc ($35.99 retail). Rated R. ***

BTK (Barnholtz Entertainment/ LionsGate Home Entertainment): Billed as “a fictional story based on a real character,” this is the latest exploitation shocker about an actual serial killer from writer/producer/ director Michael Feifer, this one dramatizing the atrocities committed by the elusive and enigmatic “Bind/ Torture/Kill” murderer Dennis L. Rader, played with intensity and conviction by horror icon Kane Hodder. Rated R. **

DOC (MGM Home Entertainment/Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Stacy Keach portrays the hard-drinking, hard-living 19 th -century dentist and gunman John “Doc” Holliday in this high-minded, occasionally heavyhanded 1971 revisionist Western penned by Pete Hamill and directed by Frank Perry. Faye Dunaway plays Doc’s better half, Katie Elder, and the always-welcome Harris Yulin is excellent as a steely-eyed Wyatt Earp. Rated PG. **½

FRIDAY THE 13 TH (Warner Home Video): It’s the same old stalk-andslash formula, albeit on a bigger budget, for this unnecessary remake/ retread/reboot of the seminal 1980 slasher film. The story? Jason lives.

People die. Nothing new. Available on DVD as a single-disc theatrical cut ($28.98 retail), an single-disc “killer cut” that includes both the theatrical version and an unrated version ($28.98 retail), or the “killer cut” on Blu-ray ($35.99). Rated R.*

FRIDAY THE 13 TH DELUXE EDITIONS (Paramount Home Entertainment): For those who can’t get enough of that masked maniac Jason Voorhees, Paramount is periodically releasing deluxe editions of the original film series.

This selection includes Friday the 13 th — The Final Chapter (1984), Friday the 13 th Part V — A New Beginning (1985) and Friday the 13 th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986). Special features include audio commentaries, retrospective documentaries and more. Each film is rated R (big surprise) and each DVD retails for $16.99.

“GENERATION KILL” (HBO Home Entertainment): The critically-acclaimed, award-winning, seven-part HBO mini-series depicts the Iraq invasion as seen through the eyes (and sights) of an elite battalion of Marines and adapted from the non-fiction best-seller by Rolling Stone correspondent Evan Wright (played by Lee Tergesen). The DVD boxed set retails for $59.98, the Bluray boxed set for $79.98.

“THE HUNGER” -- THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (E1 Entertainment): All 22 episodes from the 1997-’98 season of the Showtime horror anthology series, its title taken from the 1983 film directed by Tony Scott (who, along with brother Ridley, served as the series’ executive producers). Firstseason guest stars included Daniel Craig, Bruce Davison, Karen Black, Sally Kirkland, Balthazar Getty and more. Emmy nomination for Outstanding Main Title Design. This boxed set retails for $39.98.

KILLER MOVIE (Peace Arch Home Entertainment): A masked killer stalks the cast and crew of a reality-TV series in this awardwinning slasher opus written and directed by reality-TV veteran Jeff Fisher. Well-made but slow-moving and clunky, there are some amusing digs at celebrity culture and the enthusiastic cast includes Leighton Meester, Kaley Cuoco, Nestor Carbonell, Jason London and Paul Wesley. A sequel is reportedly in the works. Rated R. **

MORGAN STEWART’S COMING HOME (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Jon Cryer headlines this 1987 teen comedy/ political satire as the rebellious son of a US senator (Nicholas Pryor) and his image-conscious wife (Lynn Redgrave). Viveka Davis is a charmer as the girl of Morgan’s dreams, and the much-missed Paul Gleason plays an unctuous political adviser. Innocuous and generic, but it kills time easily enough. The direction is credited to the ubiquitous and pseudonymous Alan Smithee. Rated PG-13. **

MOSCOW CHILL (MTI Home Video): Norman Reedus plays an American computer hacker mixed up with the Russian mob in this routine potboiler that marks the directorial debut of Chris Solimine, who also wrote the script with producer Andrei Konchalovsky. Rated R. **

NEW YORK YANKEES: PERFECT GAMES AND NO HITTERS (Major League Baseball Productions/A&E Home Video): The title tells all in this six-DVD boxed set ($49.99 retail) that features the full broadcasts of the Bronx Bombers’ no-hitters and perfect games, including Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, Dave Righetti’s 1983 no-hitter against Boston, Jim Abbott’s 1993 no-hitter against Cleveland, Dwight Gooden’s 1996 no-hitter against Seattle, David Wells’ 1998 perfect game against Minnesota, and David Cone’s 1999 perfect game against Montreal.

“RIFFTRAX” (Legend Films): Those veterans of “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” (Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett) are up to their old tricks with this new series of DVDs featuring irreverent offscreen commentary and based on the successful on-line MP3 series RiffTrax.com. The first 10 titles include Reefer Madness, Plan 9 from Outer Space, Night of the Living Dead, Little Shop of Horrors, Missile to the Moon, Swing Parade, House on Haunted Hill, Carnival of Souls and two volumes of “Rifftrax Shorts.” Each DVD retails for $9.95.

ROAD TO SUPER BOWL XLIII: PITTSBURGH STEELERS (NFL Films/Warner Home Video): The National Football League’s most successful Super Bowl franchise, the Pittsburgh Steelers, take down the Arizona Cardinals, 27-23, in one of the more suspenseful Super Bowl games of recent vintage, thereby notching the team’s unprecedented sixth championship. The specialedition DVD retails for $39.92 and the Blu-ray for $49.99.

“SUSPENSE”: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION (Infinity Entertainment Group/Falcon Picture Group): A collection of all 90 episodes from the CBS-TV anthology series that ran from 1949- ’54 (the final year earning an Emmy nomination as Best Mystery, Action or Adventure Program) and was based on a popular radio program that preceded it. As the title implies, mystery and suspense are the name of the game. Guest stars included such luminaries as Rod Steiger, Paul Newman, Jack Lemmon, Anne Bancroft, Charlton Heston, Lee Marvin, Walter Matthau, Eddie Albert, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Jack Palance, Hume Cronyn, Jack Klugman, Art Carney, Jack Warden and many others. This 12-disc boxed set retails for $49.98.

UMPHREY’S McGEE: LIVE (E1 Entertainment): A filmed concert of the improvisational rock ‘n’ roll band’s summer 2007 concert in Chicago, originally broadcast on PBS’ “Soundstage“ music series. This special-edition DVD, which features 13 songs (six more than were played on the TV special) and two bonus tracks, retails for $19.99.

WHAT’S UP, SCARLET? (Ariztical Entertainment): This featherweight romantic comedy stars executive producer/screenwriter Susan Priver as a professional matchmaker who meets hers in a struggling, foreignborn actress (Musetta Vander) who winds up staying at her house. The lesbian aspect of the story almost seems like an afterthought. Also on hand: Sally Kirkland (also an associate producer), Jere Burns and Carmen Argenziano. Rated R. *½

“ZANE GREY THEATRE” -- COMPLETE SEASON ONE (VCI Entertainment): All 29 episodes from the 1956-’57 season of the award-winning, prime-time CBS-TV Western anthology based (initially) on stories penned by Zane Grey. Dick Powell served as the host and appeared in several episodes, and Aaron Spelling was one of the writers. A number of series’ (including “The Westerner,” “Johnny Ringo” and “The Rifleman”) were spun off from this one. Guest stars included Robert Ryan, David Niven, James Whitmore, Ida Lupino, Jack Palance, Lee J. Cobb, Eddie Albert, Ernest Borgnine, Walter Brennan, John Ireland, Cloris Leachman, Ralph Bellamy, James Garner, Jack Lemmon, Sterling Hayden, Stuart Whitman, David Janssen and many more. This DVD boxed set retails for $39.99.

Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92.

Copyright 2009, Mark Burger

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