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by Mark Burger

DVD Pick of the week: Exorcismus

(IFO Midnight/MPI Media Group)

It’s inevitable that any film about an exorcism will be invariably compared to William Friedkin’s 1973 classic The Exorcist , but this British import adds some new twists to the concept and shapes up as a solid Halloween diversion.

Sophie Vavasseur gives an intense, credible performance as Emma Evans, a typical teenager whose expected adolescent angst is compounded by hallucinations, blackouts and seizures. As Emily’s behavior begins to alter, it has severe physical and psychological effects on both her and her family. Eventually, her uncle (Stephen Billington), a priest and failed exorcist himself, is forced to accept that she’s in the throes of demonic possession.

Not unlike Friedkin’s film, Exorcismus is rooted in the world of everyday reality, with a nice chill in the atmosphere that builds steadily. David Munoz’ script offers some surprises as to the origins of this possession (it’s not a random manifestation), while Doug Bradley, best known as Pinhead in the Hellraiser films, makes a brief appearance as an exorcist.

ALSO Available

BETTE MIDLER: THE SHOWGIRL MUST GO ON (Image Entertainment): The “Divine Miss M” takes the stage at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas for an evening of song, dance, comedy… and more song, dance and comedy — in this HBO special that earned an Emmy nomination as Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special. Midler is also credited as producer, director and executive producer. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $24.98.

“BODY OF PROOF”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): After her career as a surgeon ends in a car accident, Dana Delany’s Megan Hunt reinvents herself as a medical examiner whose expertise leads her into solving mysteries on a weekly basis, in all nine episodes from the premiere 2011 season of the prime-time ABC mystery series. The DVD boxed set retails for $29.99.

“GHOST HUNTERS”: SEASON 6, PART 1 (Image Entertainment): A collection of the first 12 episodes from the 2010 season of the popular, award-winning SyFy documentary series following Grant Wilson, Jason Hawes and the Atlantic Paranormal Society as they investigate ghostly goings-on. The DVD boxed set retails for $34.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $29.98.

“GREY’S ANATOMY”: THE COMPLETE SEVENTH SEASON (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): A DVD boxed set ($45.99 retail) containing all 22 episodes from the 2010-’11 season of the prime-time ABC medical drama detailing the lives of Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and the staff of Seattle Grace Hospital. Patrick Dempsey, Justin Chambers, Chandra Wilson and Sandra Oh co-star. Two Emmy nominations with a win for Loretta Devine as

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series.

“THE GUARDIAN”: THE FINAL SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment): Simon Baker lays down the law as hotshot Pittsburgh attorney Nick Fallin, battling the legal system as a child-advocate lawyer in all 22 episodes from the 2003-’04 season of the award-winning CBS drama series co-starring Dabney Coleman as Nick’s father and law partner. The DVD boxed set retails for $49.98.

HATCHET II (Dark Sky Films/MPI Media Group): Writer/director Adam Green’s sequel to his 2007 horror hit sees deformed madman Victor Crowley (stunt coordinator Kane Hodder, also playing Crowley’s father) again butchering those who trespass upon the Louisiana swamp he calls home. The original film wasn’t bad, but this one is just leftovers. Tony Todd and John Carl Buechler reprise their roles from the first film, while Danielle Harris replaces Tamara Feldman and Parry Shen plays the brother of his character in the original. Plenty of gore for those who care. This earned notoriety for being yanked out of AMC Theaters days after its release. That’s Green vomiting in the gutter (appropriately enough) in an early scene.

“HAWAII FIVE-O”: THE 11 TH SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment): Jack Lord lays down the law as the Aloha State’s top cop, Steve McGarrett, in all 21 episodes from the 1978-’79 season of the long-running prime-time CBS crime drama. This marked James MacArthur’s final year with the series. Guest stars include Samantha Eggar, Tab Hunter, James Olson, Cyd Charisse, James Darren, Nehemiah Persoff, Robert Vaughn, John Saxon, Cameron Mitchell, Fritz Weaver, Robert Loggia, Victoria Principal, Harry Guardino, William Smith, Jeff Daniels and others. The six-DVD boxed set retails for $49.99.

(CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment): Alex O’Loughlin takes on the role of Steve McGarrett in all 24 episodes from the premiere 2010-’11 season of the the popular reboot of the prime-time CBS crime series, with Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park and Teylor Grubbs on hand. Guest stars include William Sadler, James Marsters, Norman Reedus, Peter Stormare, James Russo, Taryn Manning, Balthazar Getty, DL Hughley, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Robert Loggia, Agnes Bruckner, Sheila Kelley, Nas, Ray Wise, Dane Cook and Jean Smart, in a recurring role as the governor. Emmy nomination for Outstanding Stunt Coordination. The six-DVD boxed set retails for $64.99.

THE HILLS HAVE EYES (Image Entertainment):

Indeed they do, and that gaze is anything but friendly. A special-edition re-release of Wes Craven’s grim, gruesome, award-winning, lowbudget 1977 shocker in which a family on vacation is targeted by a group of sadistic, in-bred cannibals in a remote corner of the California desert. Not for the squeamish. The DVD retails for $9.98, the Bluray for $17.97.

INCENDIES (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Denis Villeneuve’s ambitious, somewhat convoluted drama stars Melissa Desmoreaux-Poulin and Maxim Gaudette as siblings who embark on a journey to uncover the early life of their recently-deceased mother (the excellent Lubna Abazal) in the Middle East — and discover much about her and themselves along the way. Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign-Language Film. In French and Arabic with English subtitles. The DVD/Blu-ray combo retails for $45.99. Rated R.

“THE MENTALIST”: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON (Warner Home Video): Simon Baker “goes mental” in all 24 episodes from the 2010- ’11 season of the prime-time CBS mystery series, solving cases on in partnership with the

California Bureau of Investigation (CBI) while in pursuit of the serial killer who murdered his family. Robin Tunney, Amanda Righetti, Tim Kang and Owain Yeoman round out the regular cast. The five-DVD boxed set retails for $59.98.

“PRIVATE PRACTICE”: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): A five-DVD boxed set ($39.99 retail) boasting all 22 episodes from the 2010- ’11 season of the award-winning prime-time ABC medical drama spun off from “Grey’s Anatomy.” Kate Walsh heads the regular cast, which includes Tim Daly, Amy Brenneman, Taye Diggs and KaDee Strickland.

RIVER OF DARKNESS (Green Apple Entertainment): A cheap, drab shocker (reminiscent of The Fog and Dead & Buried) with pro wrestler Kurt Angle as a small-town sheriff battling evil spirits (played by fellow wrestlers Kevin Nash, Bill Laing and Psycho Sid Vicious). Rated R.

SPOOKY BUDDIES (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): The five talking puppies get into the Halloween spirit with the sixth installment of the popular family franchise, featuring the voices of Tim Conway, Ryan Stiles, Debra Jo Rupp and UNCSA alumnus Diedrich Bader. Available as a single-disc DVD ($29.99 retail) or a DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.99 retail). Rated G.

WRECKED (IFC Midnight/MPI Media Group):

Adrien Brody plays an amnesiac who awakens in his car, trapped in a deep ravine, in this psychological thriller. The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98. Rated R.

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

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