video vault

by Mark Burger


(Anchor Bay Entertainment)

Roger Corman: the man, the myth, the legend. He’s made a lot of movies and launched a lot of careers, and he’s the subject of director Alex Stapleton’s entertaining, enlightening documentary, subtitled Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel.

Corman’s place in Hollywood history would be assured as much for his classic films (including Masque of the Red Death, Pit and the Pendulum, The Intruder and the original Little Shop of Horrors, to name a few) as for the legion of talent he fostered over the years, many of whom share their memories, including Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Jonathan Demme, Peter Bogdanovich, William Shatner, Pam Grier, Joe Dante, the late David Carradine and others.

Eschewing a more critical examination of Corman’s work in favor of affectionate tribute, the film celebrates his maverick, inventive spirit. Yet although Corman embraced exploitation, the longevity of his career appears due to his shrewd business sense. He may not have made the big-budget classic some observers wish he had, but he made a slew of low-budget ones that endure to this day. Rated R.

ADVENTURES IN LALALOOPSY LAND: THE SEARCH FOR PILLOW (LionsGate Home Entertainment): The popular brand of Lalaloopsy dolls takes the inevitable next step in franchising with a feature-length animated children’s adventure. The DVD retails for $16.98.

BETTY WHITE: CHAMPION FOR ANIMALS (Image Entertainment): The title tells all in this documentary about the beloved, award-winning actress and comedienne’s lifelong affection for, and activism on behalf of, animals the world over. The DVD retails for $19.98.

BLADES OF BLOOD (LionsGate Home Entertainment): In this adaptation of the South Korean comic series Like the Moon Escaping from the Clouds, Seung-won Cha and Jepmgmin Hwang play warriors embroiled in political upheaval. The DVD retails for $26.98. Rated R.

BUZZKILL (Indican Pictures): Daniel Raymont stars in this grating black comedy as a selfconsumed, self-pitying writer on a road trip whose path repeatedly crosses with that of a serial killer (Darrell Hammond) known as the “Karaoke Killer.” The ending echoes Robert Altman’s The Player (1992) but little else does. Krysten Ritter, Reiko Aylesworth, Larry Hankin and Mike Starr round out a wasted cast.

“CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG”: BIG RED COLLECTION (LionsGate Home Entertainment): A six-DVD boxed set ($29.98 retail) boasting over 50 stories featuring the title character, culled from the award-winning Scholastic Media animated series and based on the popular series of children’s books.

“GHOST HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL”: SEASON 2, PART 1 (Image Entertainment): Spooky doings for the title team continue in this collection of the first 13 (how appropriate!) episodes from the 2009-’10 season of the popular SyFy documentary series, now available on DVD ($24.98 retail).

THE GIRL IN ROOM 2A (Mondo Macabro): An uncut version of a confused 1973 exploitation shocker (original title: La Casa Della Paura) starring one-time Miss Italy Daniela Giordano as a woman stalked by a murderous cult when she moves into the title room of an old boarding house. Various victims and red herrings include Raf Vallone (a career low), Angelo Infanti, Jack Scanlon, Rosalba Neri, Brad Harris, Karin Schubert and Frank Latimore. For die-hard horror/giallo fans only, although the film’s never looked better.

THE HILLS HAVE EYES PART 2 (Horizon Movies/Kino Lorber): Writer/director Wes Craven (wisely) disowned this poorly executed 1985 sequel to his 1977 drive-in classic, in which the malevolent desert mutants (including Michael Berryman and John Bloom) lay waste to a group of friends who have unwisely entered their territory. The kind of sequel that regurgitates footage from the first film to pad its running time — yet it still feels unfinished — and the kind of sequel that diminishes its predecessor. Rated R.

A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Adam Wingard’s moody, unsettling thriller stars Amy Seimetz as a recovering alcoholic terrified that her serialkiller ex-boyfriend (AJ Bowen) is closing in on her. Guess what…? The title’s almost too strong for this film, which saves its principal violence following a third-act twist. Not bad at all. Rated R.

“NURSE JACKIE”: SEASON THREE (LionsGate Home Entertainment): It’s never a clean bill of health for Edie Falco (Emmy nominee for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series), playing the title role in all 12 episodes from the 2011 season of the critically acclaimed Showtime comedy series about a nurse in New York City who balances work, marriage and an escalating drug dependency. Additional Emmy nomination for Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series. The DVD boxed set retails for $39.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $39.99.

THE REEF (Image Entertainment): Wellmade if obvious sea-faring thriller, as a group of friends fight for survival when their boat sinks in shark-infested waters off the Australian coast. Rafael May’s score is a plus, as is some of the shark footage. Rated R.

SNOW WHITE: A DEADLY SUMMER (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Evidently getting the jump on the pair of bigbudget Snow White films, Dave DeCoteau’s contemporary riff on the classic tale sees rebellious teenager “Snow” (Shanley Caswell) forced to attend a disciplinary summer camp (“Camp Allegiance”) with skeletons in the closet. Maureen McCormack(!) plays the wicked stepmother, with Carolyn Purdy- Gordon, Eileen Dietz (of Exorcist fame), Tim Abell and Eric Roberts also on hand. “Deadly” is right. Rated PG-13.

THE SON OF NO ONE (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Writer/producer/director Dito Montiel’s crime drama involves a young detective (Channing Tatum) whose decision to investigate an unsolved murder in Queens has unexpected consequences. An all-star cast includes Al Pacino, Katie Holmes, Ray Liotta, Juliette Binoche and Tracy Morgan. The DVD retails for $26.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98. Rated R.

SPLINTERED (Well Go USA Entertainment): A group of friends goes looking for a nocturnal beast that supposedly prowls the woods of North Wales. Does this sound like a good idea? Adequate atmosphere and gore effects, but otherwise a dreary downer — yet it won some awards at film festivals (wouldn’t you like to know what lost?). Dedicated to executive producer Clive Parsons, who died in 2009.

SUPER HYBRID (Anchor Bay Entertainment): A shape-shifting alien takes the form of a killer car in this entertainingly silly, fast-moving sci-fi shocker. Among those caught in the headlights are Oded Fehr and Shannon Becker. Rated PG-13.

VIRGIN WITCH (Redemption Films/Kino Lorber): Real-life sisters Ann and Vicki Michelle play sisters who visit a remote country manor for a photography shoot and are drawn into a witches’ cult. This silly 1972 softcore shocker, a quintessential example of early-’70s British exploitation fare, offers an eye-popping showcase for the gorgeous Michelle sisters (both frequently undressed) and is good for some unintentional laughs — although it’s neither scary nor particularly scintillating. That’s Michael Caine’s first wife, the late Patricia Haines, as the lesbian fashion impresario who lures the girls astray. Rated R.

WAR HORSE (DreamWorks Studios): Steven Spielberg’s equestrian epic, based on the Tony Award-winning play (based on Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 best-seller) follows a horse’s experiences through World War I and beyond. The human cast includes Emily Watson, Peter Mullan, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Thewlis, Julian Wadham, Liam Cunningham and newcomer Jeremy Irvine. Six Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Original Score (it’s a Spielberg movie, so naturally John Williams scored it), Best Cinematography (it’s a Spielberg movie, so naturally Janusz Kaminski shot it), Best Sound Editing, Best Art Direction/ Set Decoration and Best Sound Mixing. Available as a single DVD ($29.99 retail), a DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.99 retail) or a fourdisc combo ($45.99 retail). Rated PG.

“WEEDS”: SEASON SEVEN (LionsGate Home Entertainment): The heat’s still on for Mary-Louise Parker in all 13 episodes from the 2011 season of the award-winning Showtime comedy series about a suburban widow who makes ends meet by dealing marijuana. The DVD boxed set retails for $39.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $39.99.

Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2012, Mark Burger