DVD Pick of the week: SUGAR BOXX
Those popular “women-in-prison/babes-behind-bars” films of yesteryear are successfully spoofed in this high-spirited, delightfully lowdown B-movie extravaganza.
Geneviere Anderson plays an alluring, ambitious newshound determined to uncover the dirty doings reputed to go on at Sugar State Women’s Prison in the Florida Everglades – and what better way to do so than by posing as an inmate herself?
Writer/director Cody Jarrett knows well the trappings, and incorporates them with an appropriately sleazy flair, augmented by a hilarious score by Michael Cudahy and Aeriel Stiles and David E. Diano’s intentionally cheesy cinematography (even the film stock looks cheap!).
This film’s got it all: Gratuitous violence, gratuitous nudity, and just a touch of political and social commentary – to justify (read: excuse) the raunchiness. An enthusiastic cast includes Linda Dona (as the snarling warden), Thelma “Rain” Brown (doing a mean Pam Grier imitation), Jacqueline Scott and cult favorites Kitten Natividad, the late Tura Satana, and filmmaker Jack Hill, who essentially pioneered the women-inprison genre in the early ‘70s. Rated R.
“AMERICAN PICKERS”: VOLUME 2 (A&E Home Entertainment): A selection of eight episodes from the popular History Channel reality series following a group of “pickers” who seek valuable objects as they travel the country. The two-DVD boxed set retails for $19.95.
“AMERICA’S GAME – 2010 GREEN BAY PACKERS” (NFL Films/Vivendi Entertainment): John Slattery narrates this documentary ($19.97 retail) that recounts the Packers’ 2010 season, which culminated in a victory in Super Bowl XLV over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
BODY PUZZLE (RaroVideo): Lamberto Bava’s late-entry 1992 giallo stars Joanna Pacula as a young widow being stalked by a killer (Francois Montagut) while square-jawed detective Tomas Arana tries to crack the case. Erika Blanc and Giovanni Lombardo Radice (AKA John Morghen) show up in support. Not nearly as gory as others of its ilk, and more akin to a TV cop thriller than a big-screen shocker.
BORN TO SPEED (Alpha Home Entertainment): Johnny Sands picks up where his late father, a champion race driver, left off in this zippy 1947 programmer with vintage racing footage.
DOLPHIN TALE (Warner Home Video): Factbased, feel-good family fare about the efforts to save a dolphin that has washed ashore near Clearwater, Fla. and must have part of its tail amputated. An appealing cast of humans includes Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Harry Connick Jr., Nathan Gamble, Kris Kristofferson, newcomer Cozi Zuehlsdorff and Winston- Salem’s own Austin Highsmith. Available as a single DVD ($28.98 retail), a DVD/Blu-ray combo ($35.99 retail), or a 3-D Blu-ray combo ($40.99 retail). Rated PG.
FREERUNNER (Image Entertainment): It took six screenwriters to cook up this flashy but shallow and stupid action melodrama with executive producer Sean Faris as a title character, a fleet-footed speedster forced into participating in a life-or-death sprint across the city lest he and his fellow free runners are blown up by a nasty crime boss (Tamer Hassan). Rated R.
“FUTURAMA”: VOLUME 6 (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): A selection of 13 episodes from the Emmy-winning, animated Fox Network comedy series featuring Billy West as the voice of Fry, an all- American pizza-delivery boy who awakens 1,000 years in the future. The DVD boxed set retails for $29.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $39.99.
“THE GAME”: THE FOURTH SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment): It’s another season for the San Diego Sabers and the women in their lives, in all 13 episodes from the award-winning BET comedy series (spun off from “Girlfriends”). The cast includes Tia Mowry, Pooch Hall, Brittany Daniel, Wendy Raquel Robinson and Coby Bell. The two-DVD boxed set retails for $39.99.
KLOWN KAMP MASSACRE (Troma Entertainment): Writer/director duo Philip Gunn and David Valdez make their feature debut with this slasher spoof, in which the title tells all … more or less. Cheap and cheesy, raunchy and rude, loaded with gags and gore, this doesn’t quite make it to the finish line, although the final twist is fun. Gotta love that title! **
LAW OF THE TIMBER (Alpha Home Entertainment): Marjorie Reynolds inherits a lumber company targeted by saboteurs in this talky 1942 programmer, based on James Oliver Curwood’s The Speck on the Wall, that kills an hour easily enough.
MacGILLIVRAY FREEMAN’S ARABIA (Image Entertainment): Helen Mirren narrates Greg MacGillivray’s self-explanatory IMAX documentary, an exploration of the natural and cultural wonders of Arabia. The DVD retails for $19.98, the 3-D Blu-ray for $24.98.
MEDEA (Entertainment One): The legendary Maria Callas plays the title role (her only dramatic turn) in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1969 adaptation of the classic Greek tragedy by Euripides. In Italian with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $29.98, the Blu-ray for $39.98.
“MICHAEL FEINSTEIN: THE SINATRA LEGACY” (Image Entertainment): The title tells all in this concert documentary in which Feinstein pays tribute to Ol’ Blue Eyes with such favorites as “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Once in a Lifetime” and (of course) “New York, New York.” The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $24.98.
NOW OR NEVER (Alpha Home Entertainment): It’s a case of mistaken identity for stuntman-turned-action star Richard Talmadge, in a dual role as a diamond thief and his innocent double, in this low-budget 1935 programmer showcasing Talmadge’s trademark stunts – including some early slowmotion. Two of his real-life brothers, Otto Metzetti and Victor Metz, also appear.
“PAWN STARS”: VOLUME 3 (A&E Home Entertainment): A two-DVD boxed set ($19.95 retail) of 16 episodes from the popular History Channel reality series in which three generations of Las Vegas pawn brokers seek and find items of vast diversity.
“PETER CETERA WITH SPECIAL GUEST AMY GRANT: LIVE” (Image Entertainment): The title tells all in this concert documentary ($14.98 retail) boasting the combined talents of Grammy winners Cetera and Grant.
“PRODUCE YOUR OWN DAMN MOVIE!” (Troma Entertainment): Filmmaker and Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman hosts this two-DVD documentary ($14.95 retail) based on his book, in which he explores and explains the rudiments of low-budget moviemaking — in his own inimitable fashion, of course. Among the show-biz luminaries he interviews are Roger Corman, David Cronenberg, Joe Dante, Mick Garris, Monte Hellman, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Avi Lerner, Troma alumnus James Gunn and others.
TOO FAT FOR 40 (SModCo/Shout! Factory):
Filmmaker Kevin Smith regales his fans at the Count Basie Theatre in his hometown of Red Bank, NJ. The DVD retails for $19.93, the Blu-ray for $26.97. SModCo/Shout! Factory is also releasing season one of “Smodimations,” the animated comedy series featuring Smith and his producer Scott Mosier. The DVD retails for $19.93. A deluxe DVD collector’s edition including “Smodimations,” “Too Fat for 40” and “Hollywood Babble-On,” retails for $16.99 (DVD) or $37.98 (Blu-ray), available exclusively through Shoutfactory.com.
TRAILING DOUBLE TROUBLE (Alpha Home Entertainment): Ray “Crash” Corrigan, John “Dusty” King and Max “Alibi” Terhune return as the Range Busters in this 1940 Western quickie, in which they find an orphaned infant (played by King’s real-life daughter) whose father has been murdered. After a bit of fightin’, singin’ and shootin’, the bad guys lose and the good guys win.
“VIETNAM IN HD” (A&E Home Entertainment): The six-hour A&E documentary mini-series examines the Vietnam War from 1965, when the first major build-up of American troops began, to the fall of Saigon 10 years later. Narrated by Josh Brolin and featuring the voices of Jennifer Love Hewitt, Blair Underwood and Zachary Levi. The DVD boxed set retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray boxed set for $34.95.
Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. ‘© 2011, Mark Burger