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by Mark Burger

video vault

DVD Pick of the week: THE ICONS OF SUSPENSE COLLECTIONPRESENTS HAMMER FILMS (sony Pictures Home entertainmentRenowned for its gothic horror and fantasy films, Britain’sHammer studios also made a string of suspense thrillers, six ofwhich (all making their DVD debuts) are contained in this boxedset ($24.96 retail).The selection includes the uncut version of Joseph losey’s TheseAre the Damned (1963), released in the Us as The Damned, starringmacdonald carey, shirley Anne Field, Alexander knox, Vivecalindfors and oliver Reed; director Guy Green’s The Snorkel (1958),starring Peter Van eyck and co-written by Hammer stalwart Jimmysangster; writer/director Val Guest’s Stop Me Before I Kill! (1960),starring claude Dauphin and Diane cilento, based on the novelThe Full Treatment (the film’s original title); kerwin mathews, NadiaGrey and Donald Houston in Maniac (1963), penned by sangsterand directed by michael carreras; Patrick Allen, Felix Aylmer andGwen Watford in director cyril Frankel’s controversial Never TakeSweets from a Stranger (1960), adapted from Roger Garis’ play andreleased in the Us as Never Take Candy from a Stranger.Hammer favorite Peter cushing and Andre morell match witsin Cash on Demand (1961), a taut and tidy thriller in which mastercriminal morell blackmails officious bank manager cushing into a90,000-pound heist during the christmas season. Unless cushingobeys, morell will have his wife and son killed — and the clockis ticking. The two leads are in top form and well-supported byRichard Vernon as the bank’s assistant manager.ALSo oN DVDBIKINI JONES AND THE TEMPLE OFEROS (Retromedia entertainment/Infinityentertainment Group): Dumb fun from writer/director Fred olen Ray (operating under his“Nicholas medina” moniker), a low-budget, softcoreadventure spoof starring christine Nguyenas a sexy adventuress searching through the“kingdom of moronica.” The usual suspects areon hand: Heather Vandeven (2007 PenthousePet of the Year, for those keeping score), buxomRebecca love, Frankie cullen, Tony marino andmy pal, filmmaker Ted Newsom, the only memberof the cast to keep his clothes on (sorry, girls)— but who nevertheless provides a few showstoppingmoments.BIKINI ROYALE 2: THE RIGHT TO BARE ALL(Retromedia entertainment/Infinity entertainmentGroup): Beverly lynne’s back in action as sexysuper-agent Tanya X, who infiltrates — as onlyshe can — a brothel that’s the headquarters foran enemy spy ring. Yet another bit of silly spy-jinxfrom writer director “Nicholas medina” (see above),with the inimitable Ted Newsom (see above) reprisinghis role as gadget-master Newton. Also onhand: Tony marino (who resembles a beefier, morerandy Jimmy Fallon), Brandin Rackley, Ashley West,Jayden cole and sam silver. Hardly mature, butdefinitely not for the kids.BRITISH FILM NOIR DOUBLE FEATURE(VcI entertainment): A DVD twin-bill ($14.99retail) of British thrillers, both based on stageplays: James kenney reprises his stage roleopposite Joan collins and Hermoine Baddeleyin screenwriter/director lewis Gilbert’s TheSlasher (AkA Cosh Boy), and 1953’s TwilightWomen (AkA Women of Twilight) features loismaxwell, Freda Jackson and laurence Harvey.AN EDUCATION (sony Pictures Homeentertainment): Director lone scherfig’s awardwinningcoming-of-age drama, adapted by NickHornsby from lynn Barber’s memoir, stars careymulligan (Academy Award nominee for BestActress) as a bright, restless teenager who learnssome hard lessons about life and love when shefalls for an older man (Peter sarsgaard). Familiarscreen territory gets a boost from its cast, whichalso includes Alfred molina, Rosamund Pike,Dominic cooper, cara seymour, olivia Williamsand emma Thompson. Additional AcademyAward nominations for Best Picture and BestAdapted screenplay. Rated PG-13.FOOTPRINTS ON THE MOON: APOLLO 11,1969 (VcI entertainment): Rarely seen sinceits release in 1969, this feature documentary($14.99 retail) traces the journey of Americanastronauts Neil Armstrong, edwin “Buzz” Aldrinand michael collins as they become the firstmen to land on the moon.KEN ANDERSON FAMILY COLLECTION(VcI entertainment): A selection of four featurefilms presented by the prolific christian filmmakerken Anderson (1917-2006), who founded GospelFilms and had a hand in more than 200 faith-basedfilms. This boxed set, which retails for $24.95,includes Held for Ransom (1976), Patmos (1985),Touch of the Master’s Hand (1980) and The GoldenDolphin (1986). VcI is also releasing ken Andersonchildren’s classics collection, a self-explanatory,four-film boxed set ($19.99) of animated shorts:Secrets of Sinbad, Badrock Valley Gang, Tale of theComet and Danger on the Pioneer Express.“MAD MEN”: SEASON THREE (lionsGateHome entertainment): In and out of the office,things are heating up at the sterling and cooperadvertising agency in all 13 episodes from the 2009season of the critically-acclaimed, award-winningAmerican movie classics series. The ensemblecast includes Jon Hamm, elisabeth moss, Johnslattery, January Jones, Robert morse, Jared Harris,Talia Balsam (slattery’s real-life wife) and Vincentkartheiser. The four-DVD boxed set retails for$49.98, the three-disc Blu-ray boxed set for $49.99.PLANET 51 (sony Pictures Homeentertainment): The sci-fi references come fastand furious in this award-winning animated fantasyabout how the denizens of an alien worldreact when an earth astronaut (voice by DwayneJohnson) lands in their midst. Gary oldman, Johncleese, Jessica Biel, Justin long and seann Williamscott also lend their voices to this light-heartedromp, which sags in the middle but rebounds intime for the climax. Rated PG.PRECIOUS: BASED ON THE NOVEL “PUSH”BY SAPPHIRE (lionsGate Home entertainment):Powerhouse performances dominate director leeDaniels’ hard-hitting adaptation of the best-seller,with newcomer Gabourey “Gabby” sidibe as anobese, illiterate, pregnant Harlem teenager tryingto establish a semblance of normalcy in herlife, despite the manipulative machinations ofher volatile mother (mo’Nique). Nice supportingwork from Paula Patton, lenny kravitz and a deglammedmariah carey. Academy Award winnerfor Best supporting Actress (mo’Nique) and BestAdapted screenplay, with additional nominationsfor Best Actress (sidibe), Best Director, Best editingand the big one, Best Picture. Rated R.REVENGE: DIRECTOR’S CUT (sony PicturesHome entertainment): Tony scott directedthis 1990 melodrama, based on Jim Harrison’snovella, stars executive producer kevin costneras a former Navy flying ace who makes the mistakeof falling in love with the wife (madeleinestowe) of his old friend (Anthony Quinn), amexican crime czar. This unrated special editionactually runs 20 minutes shorter than theoriginal theatrical version, but this slick, shallow,robotic potboiler isn’t very good in any version,due in part to absolutely no chemistry betweencostner and stowe. miguel Ferrer, sally kirkland,James Gammon, Tomas milian, Joe santos, Johnleguizamo and Quinn try to give it a lift.SABU DOUBLE FEATURE (VcIentertainment): The title tells all in this DVD twinbill ($14.99 retail) starring matinee idol sabu(1924-’63): Savage Drums (1951) co-starring HBWarner and margia Dean, and 1956’s Jungle Hellco-starring David Bruce and culled from episodesfrom an unsold television series.SEA DEVILS (VcI entertainment): DirectorRaoul Walsh’s 1953 swashbuckling yarn starsa strapping Rock Hudson as a 19th-centurysmuggler enmeshed in political intrigue whenhe falls for a British spy (Yvonne De carlo) posingas a countess. Adapted from a Victor Hugonovel by screenwriter Borden chase, but thiscould’ve done with a bit more action. Gerardoury appears as Napoleon and future filmmakerBryan Forbes plays Hudson’s sidekick.SPAGHETTI WESTERN COLLECTION (VcIentertainment): A “quadruple-feature” ($24.95retail) of Italian-produced Westerns from thedrive-in era: ernest Borgnine and George Hiltonstar in A Bullet for Sandoval (1970); edd Byrnes,Gilbert Roland and George Hilton team up fordirector enzo G. castellari’s light-hearted AnyGun Can Play (1967); Anthony steffen co-wroteand stars in The Stranger’s Gundown (1969); and“montgomery Ford” (AkA Brett Halsey) and Budspencer star in 1968’s Today We Kill … TomorrowWe Die! (AkA Today It’s Me… Tomorrow You),co-written by Dario Argento. All four films arerated PG, and are also available as double-features($14.99 retail).WRONG SIDE OF TOWN (lionsGate Homeentertainment): Few surprises in this actionopus, with pro wrestler Rob Van Dam as a retiredNavy seAl whose skills come in handy when heand his friends are pursued by the minions of acrime boss (Jerry katz) whose brother he killedin self-defense. Rappers Ja Rule and omarionturn up briefly. Rated R.Mark Burger can be heard Friday morningson the “Two Guys Named Chris” radioshow on Rock-92.Copyright 2010, Mark Burger !

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