video vault

by Mark Burger

DVD Pick of the week: Kaboom (IFC Films/MPI Media Group)

Gregg Araki’s latest outing finds the filmmaker in a loose, lusty mood with a freewheeling portrait of reckless, restless youth. This is what Rules of Attraction should have been.

Thomas Dekker plays Smith, an 18-year-old college freshman wrestling with adolescent angst by way of sexual experimentation (with both sexes), substance abuse, self-analysis and other teenaged pursuits. Sometimes he even goes to class, but what he really learns happens outside the classroom.

What first seems a saucy satire of teen sex comedies is only a warm-up, as Araki revels in irreverence and, indeed, self-indulgence, with the film proceeding on a wacky, sometimes nightmarish course — throwing in a couple of murders, a dose of witchcraft, a cult conspiracy and, with a final detour into scifi, a denouement best described as a cosmic joke… and it’s on us, the audience.

Haley Bennett, Juno Temple, Chris Zylka, James Duval, Roxane Mesquida and Kelly Lynch (as Smith’s mom) round out the cast, and it’s interesting to note that each character has some semblance of an arc; they’ve all got something to do. Kaboom isn’t for everyone — to say the least! — but it’s a delirious head trip for those willing to take the ride. Just hang on tight.

ALSO Available

“ANCIENT ALIENS”: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (A&E Home Entertainment): Have extraterrestrials been visiting Earth for millions of years? I grew up in New Jersey, so my guess is yes. This DVD boxed set ($29.95 retail) includes all 13 episodes from the 2010 season of the History Channel series.

“BILLY THE EXTERMINATOR”: THE COMPLETE SEASON TWO (A&E Home Entertainment): Louisiana exterminator Billy Bretherton’s buggin’ out again, as he battles vermin of all shapes and sizes in all 17 episodes from the 2010 season of the popular A&E reality series. This DVD boxed set retails for $24.95.

BLOOD NIGHT: THE LEGEND OF MARY HATCHET (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Writer/producer/director Frank Sabatella’s homage to ’80s slasher films involves kids partying in celebration of an urban legend that — big surprise — turns out to be true. Fairly well made and appropriately gory, but few surprises. Top-billed Bill Moseley (who doesn’t show up until the last third) and Danielle Harris also earn associate-producer credit. Rated R.

EYES OF THE CHAMELEON (Troma Entertainment): Director/editor Ron Atkins’ lowrent, low-octane psycho-thriller with Ann Teal (also the screenwriter and executive producer) as an unlikable heroine staggering through Las Vegas and slowly (too slowly) losing her grip on reality. The “twist” ending is ridiculous and easy to predict, although there’s a hilarious (unintentionally?) funeral oration in one scene.

THE HITMAN DIARIES: CHARLIE VALENTINE (LionsGate Home Entertainment): A fine performance by Raymond J. Barry distinguishes this familiar but entertaining, and awardwinning, crime drama about a veteran killer going for one last score… which always means trouble. Also on hand: Michael Weatherly (as Charlie’s estranged son, a chip off the old block), Tom Berenger, James Russo, Vernon Wells, Steven Bauer, Maxine Bahns and Keith David. Rated R.

MONGOLIAN DEATH WORM (LionsGate Home Entertainment): It’s Sean Patrick Flanery, Victoria Pratt and George Kee Cheung against the title terrors in this campy shocker, boosted by Flanery’s animated turn as a hotshot treasure hunter. Tremors it’s not, but it kills time painlessly enough. Producer Andrew Stevens turns up in a cameo and is devoured in seconds.

NIGHT FLIGHT (Warner Home Video): On a dark and stormy night, brave pilots attempt to navigate the weather and the Andes Mountains to transport much-needed medical supplies across South America to polio-ravaged Rio de Janeiro. This starstudded 1933 MGM adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s best-seller Vol de Nuit, directed by Clarence Brown for executive producer David O. Selznick, has been out of circulation for nearly 70 years. The special effects are dated (but effective) and almost none of the actors appear remotely Latino, but great fun thanks to that cast: John and Lionel Barrymore (their last screen pairing), Clark Gable, Helen Hayes, Myrna Loy and Robert Montgomery — although the latter pair have only brief roles. Barking orders from headquarters as “Riviere,” John Barrymore is in particularly good form.

SUCKER PUNCH (Warner Home Video): A sucker’s bet. Zack Snyder’s noisy, annoying fantasy stars Emily Browning as a young girl incarcerated in an asylum, where she rallies her fellow inmates (Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung) to rebel while simultaneously imagining them fighting a massive world war. Yet another one of those movies in which much of the onscreen action takes place in a character’s head — a cliché that is rapidly becoming an indicator of laziness. Impressive visuals but senseless and stupid. Scott Glenn, Carla Gugino and Jon Hamm are also swept up in the barrage. A waste of talent and one of the year’s worst movies. Rated PG-13 (also available in an R-rated director’s cut).

TETSUO: THE BULLET MAN (IFC Midnight/ MPI Media Group): Filmmaker Shinya Tsukamato completes his controversial action trilogy, begun in 1979 with Tetsuo: The Iron Man and continued in Tetsuo II: Body Hammer (1992), with his first English-language outing, starring Eric Bossdick as a mild-mannered American in Tokyo who begins to transform into a metallic monster bent on revenge. The DVD retails for $24.98.

THERE’S NOTHING OUT THERE! (Troma Entertainment): A 20 th anniversary two-disc special edition of Victor Kanefsky’s 1991 feature debut, an energetic and good-natured horror spoof, in which a group of (patently over-aged) high school students battle an alien menace while partying in the woods. Fastmoving and funny, with plenty of in-jokes for genre fans.

“TYLER PERRY’S HOUSE OF PAYNE”: VOLUME EIGHT (LionsGate Home Entertainment): A three-DVD boxed set ($29.98 retail) containing 24 episodes from the 2010-’11 season of the award-winning Fox family sitcom starring Allen Payne.

THE WILD WEST COLLECTION: RIO CONCHOS/TAKE A HARD RIDE (Shout! Factory): A double-barreled DVD twin-bill ($14.97) of big-screen Westerns featuring football greatturned-movie star Jim Brown: 1964’s Rio Conchos (**’½) marked his film debut and costars Richard Boone, Stuart Whitman, Anthony Franciosa and Edmond O’Brien; and 1975’s Take a Hard Ride (***), a delightful late addition to the spaghetti Western cycle, directed by Antonio Margheriti (Anthony M. Dawson) and co-starring Fred Williamson, Lee Van Cleef, Jim Kelly, Barry Sullivan, Catherine Spaak and Dana Andrews. Both films were scored by the great Jerry Goldsmith.

WOMEN IN TROUBLE (Screen Media Films): Writer/producer/director Sebastian Gutierrez aspires to Almodovar territory with this offbeat comedy following the disparate lives of different women in LA, including a world-weary porn star played by Gutierrez’s off-screen leading lady, Carla Gugino. Hit-or-miss throughout, but blessed with a bright cast including Marley Shelton, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Adrianne Palicki, Connie Britton, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elizabeth Berkley, Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon, Sarah Clarke, Josh Brolin, Rya Kihlstedt, Simon Baker, Caitlin Keats, Cameron Richardson, a hilariously bewigged Xander Berkeley and Gutierrez’s daughter Isabella. The first in a proposed trilogy showcasing Gugino, the next being Elektra Luxx. Rated R.

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