video vault

by Mark Burger


(Alpha New Cinema)

An affectionate, low-budget black-and white horror spoof that marks a tour-de-farce for writer, producer, director, editor, special effects wizard and leading man Joshua Kennedy — who was all of 16 when he made it. Hey, Orson Welles was 26 when he made Citizen Kane, so give the kid a shot.

As perhaps the youngest war veteran in cinema history, Kennedy’s Daniel Davis returns to his hometown of Vandorf only to discover it in the throes of an insidious invasion by the title terrors, taking revenge on humanity for pollution and global warming. Monsters, mayhem, and an environmental message — all in a zippy 45-minute running time.

The special effects are wonderfully cheesy — one of the monsters is of the “garden hose-and-beach ball” variety — and the film is packed with in-jokes, stock music (courtesy Herman Stein, composer of the original Creature from the Black Lagoon) and stock footage (Peter Cushing even makes an appearance!). This Halloween hoot is good fun for nostalgia buffs of all ages, even if most of the cast looks too young to either vote or drive.

The DVD also includes a bonus second feature, the farcical black-and-white silent short Hitler vs. Frankenstein. **’

THE AVENGING HAND (Alpha Home Entertainment): Noah Beery plays a jolly Chicago mobster mixed up in murder while vacationing in London in this light-hearted, low-budget 1937 whodunit.

BLOOD OATH (Troma Entertainment):

No surprises here, as a group of hikers in the Tennessee woods discovers — the hard way — that an old campfire tale about a murderous backwoods clan is true in this low-budget shocker from director/executive producer David Buchert. Well-versed in the slasher genre, this incorporates a lot of familiar trappings into the narrative but does nothing new with them. Contemporary scream queens Tina Krause and Tiffany Shepis drop in (and get knocked off) quickly. Filmed in 2007. Rated R.

“BONES”: THE COMPLETE SIXTH SEASON (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Crime and romance intersect in all 23 episodes from the 2010-’11 season of the award-winning prime-time Fox Network series starring David Boreanaz as a cocky FBI agent and Emily Deschanel as a forensic anthropologist who strike sparks and crack cases with equal aplomb. The DVD boxed set retails for $39.99, the Blu-ray boxed set for $49.99.

“CHUCK”: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON (Warner Home Video): Further spy-jinks with Zachary Levi as the unlikely super-agent, in all 24 episodes from the 2010-’11 season of the popular, award-winning NBC action/ comedy series, co-starring Yvonne Strahovski as Chuck’s mentor-turned-fiancee. The DVD boxed set retails for $59.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $69.97. Both include featurettes, deleted scenes and other bonus materials.

THE DEAD AND THE DAMNED (Inception Media Group): A meteor crashes near a California gold rush town in the 1840s, turning the residents into bloodthirsty zombies. Director/ co-screenwriter Rene Perez’s low-budget horror Western, also (and more aptly) known as Cowboys & Zombies, is a fast, flip time-killer. Rated R.

“GHOST HUNTERS”: SEASON 6, PART 2 (Image Entertainment): A collection of the second 13 episodes from the 2010 season of the popular, award-winning SyFy documentary series following the members of the Atlantic Paranormal Society as they investigate ghostly goings-on. The DVD boxed set retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $29.98.

GREEN LANTERN (Warner Home Entertainment Group): Ryan Reynolds is the lord of the ring in this splashy but predictable big-screen adaptation of the DC Comics character, backed by Blake Lively, Tim Robbins, Angela Bassett and Peter Sarsgaard, who steals the show as an egghead scientist who really does become an egghead after a dose of alien DNA. Available as a single-disc DVD ($29.95 retail), a DVD/Blu-ray combo ($35.99 retail), or a 3-D combo pack ($40.99 retail). Rated PG-13.

GRIM (Troma Entertainment): Writer/ producer/director/editor/cinematographer Adrian Santiago’s low-budget melodrama sees Christopher Dimock (as Nicholas Grim) taking revenge upon the thugs who murdered his family in post-apocalyptic rural Texas. The Western trappings aren’t unwelcome, and the gore effects are pretty good, but hindered by slow pacing.

THE HOWLING REBORN (Anchor Bay Entertainment): The eighth(!) in the series is as much inspired by the Twilight films as its predecessors, with Landon Liboiron as an all- American teenager whose adolescent angst has lycanthropic origins. A few slick moments but otherwise sub-standard, with leaden narration by Liboiron. Ostensibly based on

Gary Brandner’s novel Howling II. The series peaked with Joe Dante’s original 1981 film then quickly went to the dogs. Rated R.

KILLER YACHT PARTY (Troma Entertainment): The title tells all in this generic, small-scale shocker/whodunit in which cardboard characters are slaughtered at sea. Made in 2006 under the title Dead in the Water, which this is.

MANIAC COP (Synapse Films): The Blu-ray release ($24.95 retail) of the 1988 shocker about one of New York’s Finest (Robert Z’dar) on a murderous rampage. A star-studded B-movie cast includes Tom Atkins, Bruce Campbell, Richard Roundtree, William Smith, Sheree North and Laurene Landon. Directed by William Lustig, written and produced by Larry Cohen. Rated R.

“NO ORDINARY FAMILY”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (LionsGate Home Entertainment): A typical all-American suburban family begins to display atypical superpowers after a plane crash in the Amazon, in all 20 episodes from the 2010-’11 (and only) season of the prime-time ABC fantasy series starring Michael Chiklis, Julie Benz, Kay Panabaker, Jimmy Bennett and Stephen Collins. The four- DVD boxed set retails for $29.98.

“PERRY MASON”: THE SIXTH SEASON, VOLUME ONE (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment): Raymond Burr returns as the indefatigable — and unbeatable — defense attorney in all 29 episodes from the 1962-’63 season of the long-running, award-winning CBS legal drama based on Erle Stanley Gardner’s best-selling stories. The DVD boxed set retails for $54.99.

“SANCTUARY”: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON (Entertainment One): Amanda Tapping and her crack scientific team continue their exploration of the evolutionary process in all 20 episodes from the 2010-’11 season of the awardwinning SyFy series. The DVD boxed set retails for $59.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $64.98.

STAG NIGHT (LionsGate Home Entertainment): An above-average cast (Breckin Meyer, Vinessa Shaw, Kip Pardue, Karl Geary, Scott Adkins) lends some heft to this grimy, gory shocker about partygoers encountering peril in the New York subways. Something of a latter-day version of the 1972 British chiller Death Line (AKA Raw Meat). At least it’s quick. Rated R.

“TRUE BLOOD”: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON (HBO Home Entertainment): Sex and the supernatural make popular bedfellows in all 12 episodes from the 2010 season of the award-winning HBO horror series based on the “Sookie Stackhouse” novels by Charlaine Harris. The cast includes Anna Paquin (as Sookie) and real-life husband Stephen Moyer, Alexander Sarsgard, Ryan Kwanten, James Frain and Evan Rachel Wood. Four Emmy nominations including one for Alfre Woodard as Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. The DVD boxed set retails for $55.99, the Blu-ray boxed set for $79.98.

“V”: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (Warner Home Video): Earthlings and extraterrestrials wage war for the future of our planet in all 10 episodes from the 2011 (and final) season of the award-winning prime-time ABC sci-fi series with Elizabeth Mitchell, Morris Chestnut, Morena Baccarin, Joel Gretsch and Jane Badler, reprising her role from the original ‘80s series. The DVD boxed set retails for $39.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $49.99.

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