video vault

by Mark Burger

DVD Pick of the week: Starcrash (Shout! Factory)

This Italian-made 1978 science-fiction farrago from writer/ director Lewis Coates (nee Luigi Cozzi) is one of the goofiest space operas made in the wake of Star Wars’ success. It’s frequently laughable and often silly, but it’s also lovably cartoonish and clearly made with affection.

Bikini-clad space warrior Stella Star (Caroline Munro) and her co-pilot Akton (Marjoe Gortner) are tapped to wage war against the maniacal Count Zarth Arn (Joe Spinell, at his eyerolling nuttiest), who is hell-bent on conquering the universe.

The special effects, including stop-motion robots, laser swords (hmmm… where’d they get that idea?) and lots of blinking lights, are a hoot… and occasionally pretty good! This interstellar mania is made even more entertaining by its admirably straight-faced cast, which also includes Christopher Plummer (dignity intact) as the Emperor and a young David Hasselhoff as his son, Simon. Adding another (misplaced?) touch of class is the score by John Barry.

High art it’s not, but Starcrash is not without its loony charms, as its cult following will happily attest. Both the special-edition DVD ($19.93 retail) and Blu-ray ($26.97 retail) include a bevy of special features that are sure to please the Starcrash faithful. Rated PG.


BEATDOWN (lionsGate Homeentertainment): Yet another action melodramain which a noble young hero (Rudy Youngbloodthis time) is compelled to enter an undergroundmartial-arts tournament in order to payoff mob debts. There’s an entire, rather dubiousgenre that has adhered to this formula in recentyears. This one is acted with more convictionthan the material warrants and boasts flashycinematography by Joe Passarelli, but it’s nothingspecial. As usual, the fighters includes actualpros: Michael “The Count” Bisping, Heath “TheTexas Crazy Horse” Herring, Bobby lashley andothers. Rated R.“BROTHERS & SISTERS”: THECOMPLETE FOURTH SEASON (Walt Disneystudios Home entertainment): The day-to-daylives of the members of the Walker family arethe focus in all 24 episodes from the 2009-’10season of the award-winning, prime-timeABC-TV series. The star-studded ensemble castincludes sally Field, Calista Flockhart, RachelGriffiths, Ron Rifkin, Patricia Wettig and Roblowe (who makes his exit). This six-DVD boxedset retails for $45.99.CA$H (lionsGate Home entertainment):sean Bean has fun playing twisted twinsin this overlong thriller featuring ChrisHemsworth and Victoria Profeta as a couplewhose unexpected cash windfall turns out tobe loot from a recent bank robbery. Basicallya three-hander, although kathleen Wilhoite,Mike starr and Glenn Plummer (playing“Glenn the Plumber”) drop by briefly. Notbad, but best suited to the small screen.Rated R.’ “COUGAR TOWN”: THE COMPLETEFIRST SEASON (Walt Disney studios Homeentertainment): Courteney Cox plays a divorceenewly testing the waters of dating andromance, in all 24 episodes from the 2009-’10season of the prime-time ABC-TV situationcomedy. Cox and her real-life husband DavidArquette are among the executive producers.This boxed set retails for $39.99.“GHOSTWRITER”: SEASON ONE(sesame Workshop/shout! Factory): A five-DVDboxed set ($39.97 retail) containing all 34 originalepisodes from the 1992-’93 debut seasonof the award-winning BBC series (broadcast inthe Us on PBs) following the adventures of aninquisitive young boy (sheldon Turnipseed)who begins receiving strange messages on hiscomputer. samuel l Jackson appeared in thefirst season periodically as Turnipseed’s father.Other series regulars included Marcella lowery,David lopez and Tram-Anh Tran.“GREY’S ANATOMY”: THE COMPLETESIXTH SEASON (Walt Disney studios Homeentertainment): ellen Pompeo’s back in the titlerole of Dr. ellen Grey, in all 24 episodes from the2009-’10 season of the award-winning, primetimeABC-TV medical drama set at seattle GraceHospital. Other regular cast members includePatrick Dempsey, sandra Oh, Chyler leigh, ericDane and katherine Heigl (who bids farewell). Twoemmy nominations with a win for OutstandingMakeup (Non-Prosthetic) for a single-Cameraseries (for the episode “suicide is Painless”). TheDVD boxed set retails for $59.99.HENSON’S PLACE: THE MANBEHIND THE MUPPETS (lionsGate Homeentertainment): An excellent, thoroughly entertaining1984 TV documentary, originally broadcaston “The Jim Henson Hour,” tracing the career ofJim Henson, the talented (and much-missed)creator of the Muppets, who built a remarkableshow-biz empire around them.“LOST”: THE COMPLETE SIXTH ANDFINAL SEASON (Walt Disney studios Homeentertainment): It’s the end of the line on the“lost” island, in all 16 episodes from the 2010season of the award-winning, prime-time ABCTVfantasy series. The ensemble cast includesTerry O’Quinn, Naveen Andrews, Matthew Fox,evangeline lilly, Michael emerson and emile deRavin. An emmy winner for Outstanding singleCamera Picture editing for a Drama series (forthe episode “The end”), with 11 additionalnominations including Outstanding Dramaseries, Outstanding lead Actor in a Dramaseries (Fox), Outstanding supporting Actor ina Drama series (both O’Quinn and emerson)and Outstanding Guest Actress in a Dramaseries (former regular elizabeth Mitchell). TheDVD boxed set retails for $59.99 and the Blurayboxed set for $79.99. Walt Disney studiosHome entertainment is also releasing the selfexplanatory“lost: The Complete Collection,”which retails for $229.99 on DVD and $279.99on Blu-ray.“MADELINE’S HALLOWEEN & OTHERSPOOKY TALES” (shout! Factory): Getting thejump on the season, this special-edition DVD($12.99 retail) includes five Halloween-themedepisodes from the emmy Award-winning,animated children’s series, based on ludwigBemelman’s best-selling novels, which originallyaired on the Family Channel from 1993-’95.SHRINK (lionsGate Home entertainment):kevin spacey produced and stars in this satireof psychoanalysis, as a beleagured, burnedoutHollywood psychiatrist trying to put hislife back on track after his wife’s death. Also onhand: the always welcome Robert loggia (asspacey’s father), Pell James (also a co-producer),Mark Webber, saffron Burrows, keke Palmer,Ashley Greene, Gore Vidal, Clayton Rohner,Dallas Roberts, Jesse Plemons and an unbilledRobin Williams as a movie star convinced he’sa sex addict. There are too many characters tokeep track of; this works best when spacey’sworking it. Rated R.SIX GUN (lionsGate Home entertainment):low-budget, knobby-kneed Western with TommyHill as a bounty hunter-turned-rancher whoembarks on one last, fateful job. Rated PG-13.“STARSTRUCK” (Walt Disney studiosHome entertainment): An extended specialedition of the top-rated Disney Channel teenromantic comedy with music. The cast includesDanielle Campbell, sterling knight, BrandonMychal smith, Chelsea staub and MaggieCastle. The single-disc DVD retails for $26.99,the two-disc DVD and CD for $29.99.SUBURBIA (shout! Factory): A “Collector’sedition” re-release of writer/director Penelopespheeris’ 1984 saga of disaffected youth, capturinga time, a place and an attitude, with thelA punk scene of the early 1980s as a backdrop.executed with punch and verve and nerve,with a mostly-unknown cast (including ChrisPederson, Bill Coyne, Jennifer Clay and AndrePece) adding a raw authenticity. Remember: “Ihate buses.” Rated R.TAMARA (lionsGate Home entertainment):This unsurprising but tolerable shocker, whichpreceded the similarly-themed Jennifer’s Body,stars Jenna Dewan (in an effective performance)as a high-school outcast who dies ina practical joke engineered by her classmates,then returns from the dead to exact revenge.Rated R.