video vault

by Mark Burger

DVD PICK OF THE WEEKHARDWARE (Severin Films):For a grisly, grungy, highly stylized brandof Halloween fright, screenwriter/directorRichard Stanley’s award-winning 1990sci-fi shocker comes to DVD ($29.95retail) and Blu-ray ($34.99) in an unratedversion more explicit than the onereleased to theaters.Set during the Christmas season in aravaged, decayed future, the film starsDylan McDermott as Mo, a soldierof-fortune who brings his sculptorgirlfriend Jill (Stacey Travis) somepieces of an android he came acrosson his journey home, unaware that the’droid in question is a MARK 13 — ahighly sophisticated (and highly lethal)piece of military hardware.It’s not long before the relentless robotrebuilds itself and goes on a bloodyrampage in Jill’s apartment building,utilizing its many battle components tobrutally slay anyone in its way.Hardware freely borrows from anynumber of sci-fi films and stories, yetalso boasts a gritty, claustrophobic toneand a genuine sense of despair. Manyhave cited the film as a perfect exampleof the “cyber-punk” sub-genre. It’s alsoa quintessential example of style oversubstance, but the style is both effectiveand impressive, especially given thefilm’s budget.The cast, which also includes JohnLynch and William Hootkins, does anadmirable job, but the star of the show isunquestionably the mechanized monster,and with a name like MARK, you knowhe’s bad news. ***ALSO ON DVDAN AMERICAN WEREWOLFIN LONDON (Universal Studios HomeEntertainment): A “Full Moon Edition” ofJohn Landis’ popular 1981 chiller about acollege student (David Naughton) who’sbitten by a werewolf… and we all knowwhat that means. Griffin Dunne, JohnWoodvine and gorgeous Jenny Agutterround out the cast of this successful,snappy and still-potent combination ofhorror and humor. This won the firstAcademy Award for Best Makeup. TheDVD retails for $19.98 and the Blu-rayfor $26.98. Rated R. ***ARMY OF DARKNESS (UniversalStudios Home Entertainment): A“Screwhead Edition” of Sam Raimi’slight-hearted, award-winning 1993horror romp, the third in the Evil Deadseries, with Bruce Campbell (also a coproducer)reprising his signature roleas the heroic Ash, this time battling theforces of evil in 1300 AD. Great fun forDead heads and, like its predecessors, acult favorite… although previous releasesof this film boast more special features.The DVD retails for $19.98 and the Blurayfor $26.98. Rated R. ***CARNIVOROUS (North AmericanMotion Pictures): In this sub-par shocker,a giant CGI serpent is roused by a voodoocurse and goes on the rampage. Thedialogue is unintentionally embarrassingand the actors (including DMX, also anexecutive producer) hardly appear to care.Even on bad-movie terms, this is terrible.Rated R. Zero stars.EAGLES OVER LONDON (SeverinFilms): Enzo G. Castellari’s 1969“spaghetti war” saga is set in WorldWar II-era England, with the Battle ofBritain imminent and a group of Nazisaboteurs at large. Frederick Stafford playsthe square-jawed officer on their trail,unaware that his new buddy (FranciscoRabal) is one of them! Hollywood veteranVan Johnson turns up as a British (!) airmarshal in charge of the nation’s defense.Resourcefully and amusingly made —check out those aerial dogfights! — butalso melodramatic and slow-moving,particularly for a Castellari film. Spottilyreleased in the US in 1973 as BattleSquadron. Rated PG. **GHOST HOUSE UNDERGROUND(LionsGate Home Entertainment): Justin time for Halloween, the latest quartetof independent shockers as selected byproducers Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert:Screenwriter/director Tom Shankland’s TheChildren stars Eva Birthistle and StephenCampbell Moore; Amy Hargreaves and ArtHindle star in Offspring, adapted from JackKetchum’s novel by the author himself;Amy Smart stars in screenwriter/directorEduardo Sanchez’ Seventh Moon; and ValKilmer stars in writer/director Mark A.Lewis’ The Thaw. Each film is rated R (bigsurprise), and each film retails for $19.98(DVD) or $29.99 (Blu-ray).“GHOST WHISPERER”: THEFOURTH SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment):Executive producer Jennifer Love Hewittcontinues to hear (and sometimes see) deadpeople, in all 23 episodes from the 2008-’09 season of the award-winning, primetimeCBS-TV series. Hewitt even directeda few episodes during the season. Thisboxed set retails for $63.98, and the selfexplanatory“Ghost Whisperer”, Seasons1-4 collection retails for $239.98.HORI SMOKU SAILOR JERRY(IndiePix): Writer/director Erich Weiss’debut documentary feature traces thelife and career of Norman “Sailor Jerry”Collins, one of the most renowned tattooartists of his time. This DVD, whichretails for $24.95, includes director’scommentary, deleted scenes and outtakes.HOW BRUCE LEE CHANGED THEWORLD (A&E Home Entertainment): Thetitle tells all in this documentary featurethat examines the worldwide impact thatmartial-arts superstar Bruce Lee (1940-1973) has had upon popular culture. Notso much a biography as a tribute — butan entertaining one. Among those whodiscuss Lee’s legacy are Jackie Chan, AngLee, John Woo, Quentin Tarantino, LLCool J, Eddie Griffin, the RZA, Sugar RayLeonard and others. ***“JONAS: ROCKIN’ THEHOUSE” (Walt Disney Studios HomeEntertainment): A collection of fiveepisodes from the popular, awardwinningDisney Channel series starringthe Jonas Brothers (Nick, Kevin and Joe)as the Lucas Brothers (Nick, Kevin andJoe). They sing, too! This DVD retailsfor $19.99.THE LAST STARFIGHTER (UniversalStudios Home Entertainment): A 25thanniversaryedition of director NickCastle’s jaunty 1984 sci-fi adventure,starring Lance Guest as a teenaged videogameenthusiast recruited to help savethe universe (including Earth) from aninterstellar threat. This was the first film torely almost entirely on computer-generatedspecial effects, and it marked the finalscreen appearance of the great RobertPreston, having a grand time sending uphis Music Man persona as a fast-talking,inter-galactic con artist. Rated PG. ***MAD MONSTER PARTY (LionsGateHome Entertainment): A special editionof the animated 1967 Rankin/Bassmusical comedy featuring the voices ofBoris Karloff (as Baron Frankenstein)and Phyllis Diller (as the Monster’sMate). Not quite as much fun as youmight remember as a kid, but still apleasing bit of nostalgia — especially forclassic monster mavens. **’½MANSON: 40 YEARS LATER (A&EHome Entertainment): For real-lifehorror, you won’t find much scarier thanCharles Manson and his “Family,” and thisdocumentary uses re-enactments to tracehis horrific murder spree in the late 1960s.Among those interviewed are prosecutorVincent Bugliosi (author of Helter Skelter,perhaps the most frightening true-crimebook you’ll ever read), Deborah Tate(sister of victim Sharon Tate) and formerManson Family member Linda Kasabian,giving her first interview in 20 years.In covering only the crimes and not thesubsequent trial, however, lends this asense of incompleteness. **’½“MEDIUM”: THE FIFTH SEASON(CBS DVD/Paramount HomeEntertainment): Patricia Arquette returnsas the real-life suburban psychic AllisonDubois (who serves as a show consultant),balancing life as a mom while helping tosolve crime, in all 18 episodes from the2009 season of the award-winning primetimedrama, which recently made the jumpfrom NBC to CBS. Arquette also directeda couple of episodes. This boxed set retailsfor $60.90, and a boxed set containingevery episode from all five seasons retailsfor $239.98.MY NAME IS BRUCE (ImageEntertainment): Cult icon BruceCampbell produces, directs and starsin this good-natured, lowbrow horrorspoof in which the residents of a smalltown, menaced by an ancient Chinesespirit, turn to Bruce Campbell to savethe day — unaware that he’s a drunken,sexist lout. Lots of in-jokes including thepresence of Ted Raimi (in a dual role)and Campbell’s Evil Dead co-star EllenSandweiss as his ex-wife. Rated R. ***POOH’S HEFFALUMP HALLOWEENMOVIE (Walt Disney Studios HomeEntertainment): A limited-edition DVDgift set ($29.99 retail) of the 2005 animatedfilm based on the classic character’s fromAA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh books andset, appropriately enough, during theHalloween season. This marked JohnFiedler’s final stint as the voice of Piglet.Bonus features include games and a Poohdoll dressed as Tigger. Disney also gearsup for the next holiday season with a10th-anniversary edition ($29.99 retail) ofWinnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving, whichmarked Paul Winchell’s final stint as thevoice of Tigger. Rated G.“SCARE TACTICS”: SEASONTHREE, PART ONE (Warner HomeVideo): Tracy Morgan takes over ashost for this uncensored collection of 13episodes from the reality/comedy seriesinvolving everyday people being scaredand pranked. This series ran on the SyFyChannel back when it was called the Sci-Fi Channel, and this two-DVD boxed setretails for $29.98.“TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE”:THE SECOND SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment): Thereare thrills and chills to spare in all 24episodes from the 1985-’86 season ofthe syndicated horror anthology seriesexecutive-produced by George A. Romeroand Richard P. Rubinstein. Guest starsincluded Darren McGavin, John Heard,Penelope Ann Miller, Joseph Cortese,Bill Macy, Adolph Caesar, MichaelWarren, Lisa Bonet, Fritz Weaver, PhyllisDiller, Susan Strasberg, Seth Green,Marie Windsor, Lorna Luft, Jerry Stiller,Lawrence Tierney and many others. Thisboxed set retails for $36.98.Mark Burger can be heard Fridaymornings on the “Two Guys NamedChris” radio show on Rock-92.Copyright 2009, Mark Burger !