Video Vault – Dec 13, 2017
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
BETTER WATCH OUT (Well Go USA Entertainment): Writer/director Chris Peckover puts a wild, wicked spin on the holidays with this award-winning, instant black-comedy cult classic, originally titled Safe Neighborhood and filmed in Australia, which convincingly doubles for all-American suburbia.
Olivia DeJonge plays Ashley, the prototypical teen-aged babysitter, and Levi Miller plays Luke, her charge for the evening. Luke nurses a major crush on Ashley, and is determined to impress her – particularly when someone begins creeping around the house. But this, as it transpires, is no ordinary home invasion … not by a long shot.
To say more would spoil the surprises that follow, but suffice to say that Luke’s best friend (Ed Oxenbould) and Ashley’s ex- and current boyfriends (Dacre Montgomery and Aleks Mikic, respectively) are swept up in the mayhem that ensues, some of it quite nasty. Virginia Madsen and Patrick Warburton put in amusing appearances as Luke’s bickering parents.
The DVD retails for $24.98, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $29.98. Rated R. ***
“24: LEGACY” – SEASON ONE (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Corey Hawkins steps into the pivotal role of ex-Army Ranger Eric Carter, on the trail of terrorists, in all 12 episodes from the 2017 (and only) season of the Fox Network action series, spun off from “24,” with Miranda Otto, Gerald McRaney, Anna Diop, Teddy Sears and Jimmy Smits, available on DVD ($22.99 retail) – replete with special features.
BEATRIZ AT DINNER (LionsGate): Writer Mike White and director Miguel Arteta’s award-winning comedy/drama dissects the contemporary social strata, with Salma Hayek in the title role of a holistic healer who attends a wealthy client’s dinner after he car breaks down – only to engage in a battle of wills with the guests. Occasionally theatrical and undeniably edgy, but sometimes obvious – although the cast is a pleasure: John Lithgow, Connie Britton, Jay Duplass, Amy Landecker, David Warshofsky and Chloe Sevigny. Rated R. **½
CANDY APPLE (IndiePix Films): Writer/director/leading man Dean Dempsey’s award-winning, R-rated debut feature casts him as a struggling independent filmmaker trying to reconnect with his double-amputee father (Texas Trash, Dempsey’s biological father) while they struggle with their respective – and collective – demons, available on DVD ($24.95 retail).
DAWN OF THE DEAD (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Screenwriter James Gunn and director Zack Snyder (his feature debut) scored with this sharp, vividly realized, award-winning 2004 remake of George A. Romero’s 1979 cult classic, in which survivors of a zombie plague find sanctuary – if only for a time – in a shopping mall. A fine ensemble cast includes Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer, Kevin Zegers, Lindy Booth, Jayne Eastwood, Matt Frewer, Michael Kelly and Ty Burrell. The two-disc, collector’s-edition Blu-ray ($34.93 retail) includes the unrated director’s cut, audio commentary, retrospective interviews, featurettes, deleted scenes and more. Rated R. ***
FATHER GOOSE (Olive Films): Cary Grant stars in director Ralph Nelson’s 1964 comedy, based on S.H. Barnett’s short story A Place of Dragons, as a crusty but lovable beachcomber coerced by old friend Trevor Howard into serving as a lookout for the Allies during World War II — and winds up romancing Leslie Caron, the caretaker of seven young girls. Oscar winner for Best Adapted Screenplay, with additional nominations for Best Editing and Best Sound. The limited-edition “Olive Signature” Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) includes audio commentary, featurettes and more. ***
A FISH CALLED WANDA (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): A special-edition Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) of the surprise 1988 hit comedy, with screenwriter John Cleese playing an uptight London barrister mixed up with a trio of crafty thieves (Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline and Michael Palin) – who repeatedly double-cross one another in their unending quest for stolen diamonds. Nimble and enthusiastically performed, but just a tad overrated. Kline won the Oscar as Best Supporting Actor, with additional nominations for Best Director (Charles Crichton, helming his final film) and Best Screenplay. Special features include audio commentary, retrospective and vintage documentaries and featurettes, theatrical trailer and more. Rated R. ***
FREE TO ROCK: HOW ROCK & ROLL BROUGHT DOWN THE WALL (MVD Visual/MVD Entertainment Group): Kiefer Sutherland narrates this documentary that examines the impact that Western music had as a symbol of freedom to those behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, featuring appearances by former President Jimmy Carter, former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev, and such musical luminaries as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, Billy Joel, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Metallica and many others. The two-DVD collection ($19.95 retail) includes audio commentary, bonus footage, additional scenes and outtakes, and more.
HARMONIUM (Film Movement): Koji Fukada’s award-winning contemporary parable (originally titled Fuchi ni tatsu) sees Kanji Furutachi extending a helping hand to old friend and ex-convict Tadanobu Asano – only to have him completely disrupt his life. In Japanese with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail).
K-SHOP (Breaking Glass Pictures): In his award-winning debut feature, writer/editor/director Dan Pringle effectively combines with black comedy with social commentary in this irony-laced psychological thriller starring Ziad Abaza as an immigrant restaurateur so disgusted by racist, hard-partying locals that he begins killing them and serving them to his customers. Not for all tastes (obviously!) and a bit on the long side, but cult status is assured. Abaza’s transformation from idealistic college student to seething vigilante is most impressive. ***
MYSTERIES OF CHINA (Shout! Factory): Avery Brooks narrates this comprehensive IMAX documentary that chronicles the history of China, including its impact on civilizations the world over that resonate to this day, available on 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray combo ($29.93 retail), replete with bonus features.
ONCE UPON A TIME AT CHRISTMAS (LionsGate): Producer/director Paul Tanter’s yuletide shocker stars producer Simon Phillips as a one-eyed, axe-happy Santa Claus and Sayla Vee de Goede (blatantly aping Harley Quinn) as a psychopathic Mrs. Claus on the rampage in a sleepy town. Surprisingly well-made, but frequently illogical and stupid. Aside from Barry Kennedy (sheriff) and Jeff Ellenberger (deputy), the acting is atrocious. Tanter and Phillips also wrote the story. With Twice Upon a Christmas due in 2019, you can guess how it ends. Rated R. *
OPERATION PETTICOAT (Olive Films): Cary Grant and Tony Curtis are an irresistible duo in Blake Edward’s classic 1959 service comedy about the misadventures of the USS Sea Tiger, a rickety submarine pressed into service – and accidentally painted pink – during World War II, with a friendly supporting cast including Arthur O’Connell, Dina Merrill, Joan O’Brien, Gene Evans, Marion Ross, Gavin MacLeod, Virginia Gregg, Madlyn Rhue, and Dick Sargent. Both Jeff Chandler and Bob Hope turned down Grant’s role, which Hope later admitted was a mistake. The success of this film solidified Edwards’ directing career, and it earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. The limited-edition “Olive Signature” Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interviews, featurettes and more. ***½
RUMBLE: THE INDIANS WHO ROCKED THE WORLD (Kino Lorber): This award-winning documentary feature shines a long-overdue light on musical performers of Native American extraction – Robbie Robertson, Jimi Hendrix, Buffy Saint-Marie, Link Wray and Mildred Bailey among them – and their impact on the musical culture, featuring a star-studded line-up of interviews including Martin Scorsese, Jackson Browne, Tony Bennett, Steven Tyler, Quincy Jones and others. Absorbing and informative, and a must for music mavens. ***
SANTA & ANDRES (Breaking Glass Pictures): Carlos Lechuga’s award-winning drama has nothing to do with Christmas or Santa Claus, but instead details the unlikely relationship that develops between a young farm worker (Lola Amores’ Santa) tapped to watch over an embittered, blacklisted gay writer (Eduardo Martinez’s Andres) in strife-riddled ’80s Cuba. In Spanish with English subtitles, available on DVD ($19.99 retail).
SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS (VCI Entertainment/MVD Entertainment Group): At long last – the special-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.95 retail) of Greydon Clark’s memorably monikered 1977 drive-in favorite, in which high-school cheerleaders headed to a big game are waylaid by Satan worshipers (led by John Ireland and Yvonne De Carlo). A sometimes-clumsy combination of lowbrow teen comedy and horror hi-jinks – yet it delivers the exploitation goods. John Carradine, Jack Kruschen, Sydney Chaplin (in his final feature), and Clark’s real-life wife Jacqulin Cole round out an eclectic cast. Special features include audio commentaries and photo gallery. Rated R. **
“TALES OF THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: THE FINAL CHAPTERS” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): Those “heroes on the half-shell” are back for one more round of animated action, in this DVD selection ($13.99 retail) of 10 episodes from the 2017 (and final) season of the Emmy-nominated Nickelodeon fantasy series.
“THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES: THE BOB HOPE SPECIALS DELUXE COLLECTION” (Time Life): The title tells all in this 19-DVD selection ($249.95 retail) of 39 television specials hosted by the legendary Bob Hope (1903-2003), featuring a stellar line-up of guest stars including John Wayne, Steve McQueen, Bing Crosby, Angie Dickinson, Jack Benny, Ann-Margret, Lucille Ball, Redd Foxx, Barbra Streisand, Dean Martin, Raquel Welch and many others – plus “Bob Hope: Entertaining the Troops,” “Bob Hope: TV Legend,” “The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast” of Hope, 32-page memory book, and more.
THE TOWER (Music Box Films Home Entertainment): Adapted from Uwe Tellkamp’s international best-seller Der Turm and subtitled Tales from a Vanished Land, this award-winning, two-part 2012 mini-series dramatizes life in East Germany during the 1980s, as Communist domination crumbled, featuring an ensemble cast including Jan Josef Liefers, Sebastian Urzendowsky, Claudia Michelsen, Sergej Moya, Hans-Uwe Baur, and Steffi Kuhnert. In German with English subtitles, available on DVD ($19.95 retail).
THE VILLAINESS (Well Go USA Entertainment): Writer/director Byung-gil Jung’s award-winning action thriller (originally titled Ak-Nyeo) stars Ok-bin Kim as a former assassin drawn back into her violent ways when secrets from her past threaten to destroy her. In Korean with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.98 retail).
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2017, Mark Burger)