video vault

by Mark Burger


(A&E Home Entertainment)

True-crime aficionados should find this mini-series, originally broadcast on Lifetime in 2008, an engrossing, well-rendered adaptation of David Reichert’s best-selling book Chasing the Devil, which detailed the efforts to track down the killer of young women in Washington State — a case that took the better part of two decades to solve.

Tom Cavanagh, better known for his comedic roles (including the title role in the NBC sitcom “Ed”), gives an effective dramatic performance as Reichert, the tenacious sheriff whose efforts to crack the case were repeatedly hampered by false leads, dead ends, and interference both within and without the police force.

The cast includes James Russo (briefly seen as a red herring), Sharon Lawrence, Gordon Currie, Amy Davidson and James Marsters in a Hannibal Lecter-esque cameo appearance as imprisoned serial killer Ted Bundy, who offered Reichert his own insight into the case. In an odd twist, John Pielmeier, who adapted Reichert’s book for the teleplay, portrays suspect Gary Ridgway, who would ultimately become the prime suspect — but not before dozens of women had been slain.

ALSO Available

ALONZO BODDEN: WHO’S PAYING ATTENTION? (Entertainment One): The popular actor and comedian rocks New York City in this stand-up comedy special. The DVD, which includes bonus segments, retails for $19.98.

ANTARCTIC MISSION”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Entertainment One): Environmentalist and author David Suzuki narrates this documentary series that explores the natural majesty of the Antarctic, as well as the mounting threat that climate change will potentially bring to the region. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $24.98.

THE BLEEDING (Anchor Bay Entertainment):

There’s plenty of vampiric and vehicular violence in this action shocker pitting vengeful veteran Shane Matthias against a roving band of bloodsuckers, led by a bewigged Viggie Jones. The flashbacks, voiceover narration, endless exposition and unnecessary slow motion tend to make the 83-minute running time feel longer than it is. Also on hand: Michael Madsen (as a boozy cowboy reverend), Armand Assante (who always seems to deserve better), DMX, Kat Von D, Rachelle Leah and William McNamara. Rated R.

“DALLAS”: THE MOVIE COLLECTION (Warner Home Video): A DVD boxed set ($29.98 retail) containing the made-for-TV movies based on the long-running, award-winning prime-time CBS soap opera starring the inimitable Larry Hagman as unscrupulous Texas oilman JR Ewing: Dallas: The Early Years (1986) is a prequel set before the series; the self-explanatory JR Returns (1996) and The War of the Ewings (1998) reunited series regulars Patrick Duffy, Ken Kercheval, Linda Gray, Victoria Principal, Steve Kanaly and Charlene Tilton; and Dallas

Reunion: Return to Southfork (2004) a retrospective of the series.

HIGHWAY HELL (Alpha Home Entertainment): “Going my way, mister?” A roadside prostitution ring is the focus of this campy, low-budget, cautionary 1937 melodrama, also released as Hitchhike to Hell. Vintage exploitation with a “message.”

JAMES BROWN — BODY HEAT: LIVE IN MONTEREY 1979 (MVD Visual): After a selfimposed hiatus from touring, the Godfather of Soul (1933-2006) made a California comeback in 1979, performing such hits as “Get Up Offa That Thing,” “Georgia on My Mind,” “Please Please Please,” “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” and others. This DVD retails for $19.95.

KENNY CHESNEY SUMMER IN 3-D (Image Entertainment): The award-winning country superstar performs in concert, available in standard DVD ($19.98 retail) or 3-D Blu-ray ($24.98).

THE KING’S SPEECH (The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay Entertainment): The much (and deservedly) acclaimed historical drama, centering on King George VI (Colin Firth), whose ascension to the English throne is complicated not only by the abdication of his brother Edward VIII (Guy Pearce) and the darkening storm clouds of World War II, but also by a severe, disheartening stuttering affliction. A class act all the way, with a splendid cast that includes Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Gambon, Timothy Spall, Derek Jacobi, Winston-Salem’s own Jennifer Ehle, Anthony Andrews and Claire Bloom. Winner of four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director (Tom Hooper), Best Actor (Firth) and Best Original Screenplay (David Seidler), with additional nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Rush), Best Supporting Actress (Carter),

Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Editing, Best Original Score and Best Sound Mixing. Rated R.

THE LAST CONTINENT (Entertainment One):

Donald Sutherland narrates biologist/filmmaker Jean Lemire’s feature documentary which chronicles his journey aboard the Sedna IV to the Antarctic, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) or Blu-ray ($24.98 retail).

PRAYERS FOR BOBBY (A&E Home Entertainment): A sympathetic but heavy-handed TV adaptation of Leroy Aaron’s best-selling non-fiction book, with Sigourney Weaver as a devoutly religious mother trying to come to grips with her son’s (Ryan Kelley) homosexuality. Emmy nominations for Outstanding Madefor-TV Movie and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Made-for-TV Movie (Weaver).

PROM WARS (E1 Entertainment): An energetic young cast (including Alia Shawkat, Kevin Coughlin, Rachelle Lefevre and Raviv Ullman) brings spunk to predictable proceedings, as students from rival boys’ schools vie for the attention of students from the local private girls’ school, culminating (of course) in the big prom. In terms of teen sex comedies, this is several notches above the norm, for the simple reason that it’s funny. Rated R.

“REBOOT”: SEASONS 1 & 2 (Rainmaker Entertainment Inc./Shout! Factory): A four- DVD boxed set ($29.93 retail), replete with special features, featuring all 23 episodes from the 1994-’96 seasons of the award-winning, syndicated sci-fi action series, TV’s first fully computer-generated animated series, set in the futuristic city of Mainframe.

“A ROYAL ROMANCE: WILLIAM & KATE” (Inception Media Group): Originally titled “Destiny,” this unauthorized documentary

($14.98) examines the relationship between England’s Prince William and his betrothed, Kate Middleton.

SHARKTOPUS (Anchor Bay Entertainment):

A shark/octopus hybrid — which seems to change in size from scene to scene — goes on a rampage in Puerto Vallarta. Intentionally campy sci-fi schlock from producers Roger and Julie Corman tries too hard to be a cult item and fails as a result. Only a slumming Eric Roberts, as the resident mad scientist, brings anything to this feeble fishiness. Roger Corman has a cameo, too.

ULTIMATE DEATH MATCH (IMD/MVD Visual): Shawn Cain produced, directed and stars in this poorly made, low-budget action outing in which an illegal wrestling tournament is broadcast on the internet. Real-life wrestler Al Snow provides a few chuckles as the announcer, but this is the sort of bargain-basement trash that Troma Films does so much better.

THE ULTIMATE WAVE TAHITI (Image Entertainment): The surfing and underwater footage are the whole show in this award-winning IMAX documentary, which follows champion surfer Kelly Slater as he rides the waves of Teahupo’o. Much of its splendor will be lost on the small screen. The DVD retails for $19.98, the 3-D Blu-ray for $24.98.

WHITNEY CUMMINGS: MONEY SHOT (Image Entertainment): Comedienne Whitney Cummings riffs on romance, relationships and other important topics, in this stand-up comedy special, which retails for $14.98.

Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2011, Mark Burger