video vault

by Mark Burger

DVD Pick of the week: The Psycho Legacy (Shout! Factory)

In honor of Halloween and the 50 th anniversary of Alfred Hitchcock’s peerless shocker (see below), filmmaker Robert V Galluzzo’s self-explanatory documentary is a splendid exploration of one of the best-known movies ever made.

After an initially controversial reception, Psycho (1960) was quickly acknowledged as a classic, then unexpectedly become a Hollywood franchise more than 20 years later, with Anthony Perkins reprising his signature role of Norman Bates in Psycho II (1983), then Psycho III (1986) — which Perkins directed — and finally a 1990 made-for-cable sequel, “Psycho IV: The Beginning.” None of the follow-ups compared to the original, of course, but neither were they without interest… although the law of diminishing returns on sequels was accurate. (As for Gus Van Sant’s 2000 remake, little more comment is necessary.)

In the end, The Psycho Legacy becomes something of a tribute to Anthony Perkins, whose career was overshadowed by the role of Norman Bates. Yet he did recognize (and appreciate) the appeal of the character, which lasted decades after the original film. Subsequent generations of fans have embraced Psycho and Norman Bates as their own.

In Halloween parlance, The Psycho Legacy is all treat and no tricks. It’s the first, the last, and the best, word on the subject.


“ALL IN THE FAMILY”: SEASON SEVEN (Shout! Factory): All 25 episodes from the 1976- ’77 of the ground-breaking prime-time CBS-TV situation comedy starring Carroll O’Connor (Emmy winner as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series) as Archie Bunker, the lovable blue-collar bigot. Four additional Emmy nominations including Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Jean Stapleton). This remains one of the funniest and most relevant shows of its time, if not all time — and surpassed even the reputation of “Till Death Us Do Part,” the British sitcom upon which it was based. This three-DVD boxed set retails for $29.93.

“BORED TO DEATH”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (HBO Home Entertainment): All eight episodes from the premiere 2009-’10 season of the HBO comedy series created by Jonathan Ames, with Jason Schwartzman (playing Jonathan Ames) as a lovelorn writer and amateur private detective operating out of beautiful Brooklyn, NY. Ted Danson, Zach Galifiankis and Heather Burns round out the regular cast. Emmy winner for Outstanding Title Design. The DVD boxed set retails for $39.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $49.99.

THE EXPERIMENT (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Forest Whitaker and Adrien Brody bring conviction to their roles in this grim American remake of a 2001 German thriller, depicting a behavioral study in which the participants play prisoners and guards… only to take their roles too far. Rated R.

FINALE (Image Entertainment): Caroline Hauck portrays a grief-stricken woman who investigates a rash of small-town suicides — a Satanic cult. First-time writer/director John Michael Elfer’s award-winning debut feature doesn’t quite add up, but is partially redeemed by eerie imagery and a third-act rebound.

GAMERA VS. GUIRON/GAMERA VS. JIGER (Shout! Factory): A double-feature DVD ($19.93 retail) of Japanese monster movies, released in 1969 and 1970 respectively, featuring everybody’s favorite fire-breathing giant turtle, battling equally large foes both on and off the Earth. This DVD includes both the Japanese- and English-dubbed versions. Silly fun. And there’s more to come….

GAMERA VS. GYAOS/GAMERA VS. VIRAS (Shout! Factory): Another DVD twin-bill ($19.93 retail) showcasing the adventures of the giant turtle in feature films from 1967 (battling a giant flying reptile) and ’70 (battling aliens). Both Japanese- and English-dubbed versions are included for each film.

JONAH HEX (Warner Home Video): Josh Brolin plays the title role of a battle-scarred, psychic Civil War hero on a mission of vengeance, in this botched big-screen rendition of the DC Comics Hero. Running a scant 82 minutes, this bears all the scars (not unlike its protagonist) of extensive post-production work. It didn’t help. Derided by critics and ignored by audiences, even comic-book fans. Also on hand (and wasted): John Malkovich (as the bad guy), Aidan Quinn (as Ulysses S Grant), Megan Fox and an unrecognizable Michael Shannon. Rated PG-13.

MANSON, MY NAME IS EVIL (LionsGate Home Entertainment): An exploitation blend of fact and fiction, with Gregory Smith as a repressed juror who becomes transfixed by one of Charles Manson’s followers (Kristen Hager) during the infamous California murder trial. A few visual flourishes but otherwise a bummer. “Helter Skelter” this ain’t. Rated R.

NEIGHBOR (LionsGate Home Entertainment): An unrated director’s cut of a brutal black comedy, replete with in-jokes, starring America Olivo as a sexy psychopath who goes on a rampage in a suburban neighborhood. Protracted and unpleasant in the extreme, despite being filmed in and around Philadelphia.

PARASOMNIA (E1 Entertainment): A lonely student (Dylan Purcell) falls in love with a proverbial and literal “sleeping beauty” (newcomer Cherilyn Wilson), a girl who suffers from a rare sleep disorder and is being targeted by a sadistic mesmerist (Patrick Kilpatrick). Like most of writer/director William Malone’s films (House on Haunted Hill, fear dotcom), this gruesome shocker boasts expressionistic touches and nifty visuals (courtesy cinematographer Christian Sebaldt), a good score by Nicholas Pike and some intriguing ideas, but it doesn’t jell. Also on hand: Timothy Bottoms, “Dark Shadows” veteran Kathryn Leigh Scott, filmmaker John Landis, Jeffrey Combs (as a gum-chewing cop), Alison Brie, Marty Ingels and Sean Young, who dies before the opening credits. Rated R.

PSYCHO (Universal Studios Home Entertainment): A 50 th -anniversary Blu-ray special edition ($26.98 retail) of Alfred Hitchcock’s immortal 1960 classic — arguably the Master’s best-known film. Based on Robert Bloch’s bestselling novel, which was loosely inspired by real-life serial killer Ed Gein. Anthony Perkins, of course, heads the cast as the likable, quirky Norman Bates, who runs the Bates Motel on a lonely stretch of California highway. Stellar support from Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, Simon Oakland, John McIntire and Janet Leigh, who takes the most memorable shower in film history. Look fast for Ted Knight, too! Nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Leigh), Best Cinematography (black and white) and Best Art Direction/Set Decoration (black and white). One of those rare films that can be called perfect. Remember: “A boy’s best friend is his mother.” Rated R.

“SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Andy Whitfield plays the title role in all 13 episodes from the premier 2010 season of the Starz Original series, which dramatizes the decadence and danger of ancient Rome — and the real-life slave who led a slave uprising. John Hannah, Peter Mensah, Nick E Tarabay and Lucy Lawless round out the regular cast. Unfortunately, production on the second season has been suspended due to Whitfield’s health concerns. The DVD boxed set retails for $59.97, the Blu-ray boxed set for $79.97.

“THE TWILIGHT ZONE”: SEASON 1 (Image Entertainment): Rod Serling’s classic, award-winning TV series makes its Blu-ray debut ($99.98 retail), with all 36 episodes from the debut 1959-’60 season and a bevy of bonus features.


Factory): The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra pays unique tribute to video games with a symphonic performance of 16 themes, including Super Mario Bros., God of War, Halo, Warcraft and others. The special-edition DVD retails for $19.93, the audio CD for $14.98, and a DVD/Blu-ray combo for $29.93.

Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2010, Mark Burger including that of her own son — caused by