DVD Pick of the week: The Exterminator
The Big Apple rarely seemed more rotten than as depicted in writer/director James Glickenhaus’ 1980 vigilante thriller, which proved quite popular with audiences (if not critics).
Robert Ginty portrays a disillusioned Vietnam veteran who goes on a rampage after his best friend (Steve James) is beaten by muggers. He’s determined to eradicate the criminal element in New York City, and clearly he’s got his work cut out for him!
This is prime exploitation moviemaking, with plenty of sleaze and sadism on display throughout. Yet it’s surprisingly well-made, with nice work from top-billed Christopher George as the maverick cop on the Exterminator’s trail and Samantha Eggar (slumming a bit) as a sympathetic doctor who manages not to get caught in the crossfire.
The Exterminator is no work of art, but on a raw, kneejerk level it delivers. If it’s gory action you seek, look no further. This being the unrated director’s cut, it’s even more gruesome. Consider this a guilty pleasure. I do. The DVD/ Blu-ray combo, which includes an audio commentary by Glickenhaus, retails for $29.95.
BASEBALL’S GREATEST GAMES (A&E Home Entertainment): With the baseball post-season looming, this self-explanatory selection features the original broadcasts of some of the best games ever played: “The 1960 World Series Game 7,” “The 1975 World Series Game 6,” “1979 Wrigley Field Slugfest” (which the Philadelphia Phillies won), “1985 NLCS Game 5,” “1986 World Series Game 6,” “1991 World Series Game 7,” “1992 NLCS Game 7,” “1993 World Series Game 6” (which broke my heart), “2003 ALCS Game 7” and “2004 ALCS Game 4,” each of which retail for $12.95. The most recent, “Derek Jeter’s 3,000 th Hit,” retails for $19.95.
DOUBLE CROSSED (Screen Magic Films/MVD Entertainment Group): An overlong low-budget urban shoot-’em-up starring Miguel A. Nunez Jr. (who also produced) as a Los Angeles hit-man whose team of female assistants (Noelle Perris, Avnit Gordon and Tamara Mitchell) is assigned to kill off a Las Vegas rival (Emilio Roso), at which point the title tenet comes into play.
EVERYTHING MUST GO (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Will Ferrell is at his best as an alcoholic businessman who loses his job and his wife on the same day, then reassesses his life while holding an ongoing yard sale. Adapted from a Raymond Carver short story, this wonderfully sarcastic character study marks a fine feature debut for screenwriter/director Dan Rush. An excellent cast includes Rebecca Hall, Michael Pena, Laura Dern and Christopher CJ Wallace, but this is Ferrell’s show and one of the year’s best comedies. Rated R.
GETTYSBURG (A&E Home Entertainment):
The title tells all in this historical dramatization of the bloody Civil War conflict between Union and Confederate forces in Gettysburg, PA in the summer of 1863. Ridley and Tony Scott
were among the executive producers. Six Emmy nominations including Outstanding Nonfiction Special. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $34.95. A&E is also releasing the self-explanatory Civil War documentary “Lee & Grant,” which examines the careers of Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant and retails for $24.95 (DVD only).
THE GREENING OF SOUTHIE (A&E Home Entertainment): An elementary documentary that follows step by step (and brick by brick) the construction of the Macallen Building in South Boston, the first residential “green building” in the city’s history.
JEWS AND BASEBALL (Docurama Films): The title tells all in this informative sports documentary tracing the impact of Jews (and not just players) on the national pastime since its inception. Among those profiled are Sandy Koufax, Hank Greenberg, Al Rosen, Moe Berg and Kevin Youkilis. Narrated by Dustin Hoffman.
KJB: THE BOOK THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (LionsGate Home Entertainment): John Rhys-Davies hosts this documentary that explores the historical and theological impact of the 16th-century publication of the King James Bible. Informative but not preachy.
MANAGING MENOPAULSE NATURALLY: WHAT EVERY WOMAN NEEDS TO KNOW (True Mind): The title of this health documentary ($19.98 retail) tells all.
MESRINE (Music Box Films Home Entertainment): Vincent Cassel portrays the real-life criminal mastermind Jacques Mesrine in this epic, award-winning crime saga based on Mesrine’s autobiography (penned while he was incarcerated) and directed by Jean-Francois Richet. So epic, in fact, that it was divided into two feature-length films: Mesrine: Killer Instinct (L’instinct de morte) and Mesrine: Public Enemy #1
(L’ennemi public no. 1). Gerard Depardieu, Cecile de France, Ludivine Sagnier, Roy Dupuis and Elena Anaya round out the cast(s). Each film is available separately on DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.95 retail). In French with English subtitles. Rated R.
“MICKEY SPILLANE’S MIKE HAMMER”:
THE COMPLETE SERIES (A&E Networks Home Entertainment): Years before Stacy Keach made the fedora his own, the great Darren McGavin embodied the tough, two-fisted Gotham gumshoe in a syndicated half-hour crime series that ran from 1958-’59, with guest stars including Angie Dickinson, Mike Connors, Lorne Greene, DeForest Kelley, Barbara Bain, Ted Knight, Doris Dowling and Dennis Patrick. This 12-DVD boxed set ($89.95 retail) includes all 79 episodes.
“MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000:
MANOS, THE HANDS OF FATE SPECIAL EDITION” (Shout! Factory): A self-explanatory two-DVD boxed set ($24.97 retail) in which the award-winning “MST3K” crew demolishes the low-budget 1966 shocker considered (and revered) by some as the worst film ever made. It’s got plenty of competition on that score!
“NURSE JACKIE”: SEASON TWO (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Edie Falco’s back, dispensing medical wisdom and (more frequently) wisecracks as the title character in all 12 episodes from the 2010 season of the critically acclaimed Showtime comedy series, which earned two Emmy nominations including one for Falco as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. The DVD boxed set retails for $39.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $39.99.
PRIEST OF LOVE (Kino Lorber): Ian McKellen portrays DH Lawrence in this florid 1981 drama based on Henry T. Moore’s biography and Lawrence’s own writings, which dramatizes the controversial writer and artist’s tumultuous
and their life as his novel The Rainbow is banned, then culminating in the publication of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and his death from tuberculosis in 1930. This sincere, good-looking film never comes together. Also on hand: Ava Gardner, John Gielgud, Penelope Keith, Mike Gwilym and Julian Fellowes, future Oscar-winning screenwriter of Gosford Park. Rated R.
SET UP (LionsGate Home Entertainment):
Ryan Philippe goes on the run after he doublecrosses vengeful Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson during a diamond heist in this overly familiar shoot-’em-up that quickly flattens, despite a few nods to Tarantino. Jackson is also credited as a producer (one of many), while Bruce Willis coasts through as a mob boss. When a movie with Bruce Willis can’t get a theatrical release, you know you’re in trouble. Rated R.
TRANSGRESSION (One 7 Movies/CAV Distributing): College student Pierfrancesco Campanella (who also scripted!) goes crazy after taking drugs in this bizarre, twisted 1988 exploitation item that combines gratuitous violence and sexuality with a few Felliniesque nods and some unintentional chuckles.
Originally titled La Trasgressione, this is for undiscriminating grindhouse devotees only. In Italian with English subtitles.
“TREASURES 5: THE WEST, 1898-1938” (Image Entertainment): The history of cinema gets a little bigger with this selection of Westernthemed silent and sound short films, feature films, travelogues, newsreels and promotional films that have been restored and are presented by the National Film Preservation Foundation in this three-DVD boxed set ($59.98 retail).
Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2011, Mark Burger relationship with wife Frieda (Janet Suzman)