The Arts

Video Vault – Jan 25, 2017



406x600_58PHANTASM (Well Go USA Entertainment): Filmmaker Don Coscarelli scored an instant cult classic with this inspired 1979 shocker that remains one of the era’s best-loved excursions into horror.

Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) is an all-American, small-town teenager who believes something weird is going on – and it emanates from within the local mausoleum, lorded over by the mysterious and malevolent “Tall Man” (Angus Scrimm, who became an immediate genre icon).

As Mike attempts to convince older brother Jody (Bill Thornbury) and ice-cream-vendor friend Reggie (Reggie Bannister) of the threat, he finds himself the target of the Tall Man and his evil minions, who are armed with silver spheres that fly through the air and cause serious damage.

Is the mausoelum the passage to another planet, another dimension, or the gateway to hell itself? The answers aren’t forthcoming (although the sequels tried to clear things up), but it scarcely matters. Phantasm is fast-moving, full-throttle fun – a true one-of-a-kind in the genre.

The re-mastered DVD ($24.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.98 retail) each contain audio commentary, vintage interviews, deleted scenes and more. Well Go USA Entertainment has also released the final installment, Phantasm: Ravager, with Coscarelli producing and scripting with director David Hartman (making his feature debut), featuring Bannister, Baldwin, Thornbury and Scrimm (in his final film), available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail). Rated R. ***


THE ACCOUNTANT (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): Ben Affleck plays the title role in director/executive producer Gavin O’Connor’s overlong action thriller, as a mathematics savant who’s also a highly skilled assassin. Take away the savant aspect and this is a standard-issue shoot-’em-up, despite a talented cast including Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jean Smart, Jeffrey Tambor and John Lithgow, available on DVD ($28.98 retail), Blu-ray ($35.99 retail), and Ultra HD Blu-ray ($44.95 retail). Rated R. **

BLACK GIRL (The Criterion Collection): Writer/director Ousmane Sembene’s award-winning debut feature (originally titled La Noire de …) stars Mbissine Therese Diop (in her screen debut) in the title role of a Senegalese immigrant who secures a job in France but finds herself subject to racial intolerance and emotional abuse. In French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) – both replete with special features including a retrospective interview with Diop, theatrical trailer and more.

COFFEE AND CIGARETTES (Olive Films): Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Roberto Begnini, Iggy Pop, Steve Coogan, Steve Buscemi, Tom Waits, Alfred Molina, and Jack and Meg White are among the eclectic, star-studded ensemble assembled for Jim Jarmusch’s award-winning, R-rated, black-and-white series of vignettes, available on DVD ($24.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail).

CRITICSIZED (Monarch Home Entertainment): Screenwriter/producer/director Carl T. Smith’s grisly, award-winning shocker sees homicide detective Callum Blue trailing serial killer Kerr Smith, whose crimes are tied to a series of negative movie reviews (uh-oh …!). **

DOG EAT DOG (RLJ Entertainment): Director Paul Schrader’s surreal, self-indulgent, Tarantino-esque adaptation of Edward Bunker’s novel, in which the unholy (but entertaining) trio of Nicolas Cage, Willem Dafoe and Christopher Matthew Cook play ex-cons who botch a kidnapping – and pay dearly for it. Think Three Men and a Baby gone berserk – and bloody. Schrader also appears as a crime boss. The DVD retails for $29.96, the Blu-ray for $29.97. **½

FLIGHT 313: THE CONSPIRACY (Monarch Home Entertainment): Former pilot-turned-writer/producer/editor/director Tristan Loraine helmed this drama (originally titled A Dark Reflection) starring Georgina Sutcliffe as a reporter investigating reports of unsafe air quality in passenger jets – and an ensuing corporate cover-up. Credible and well-intentioned, but talky and lacking in urgency. **

FLYTRAP (Indie Rights): Writer/director Stephen David Brooks’ award-winning and very offbeat sci-fi/black comedy stars co-producer Jeremy Crutchley as an expatriate British astronomer whose cross-country drive to California is cut short when he is held captive by a mysterious woman (Ina-Alice Kopp) who claims to be from another planet. **½

INFERNO (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Tom Hanks, director Ron Howard and screenwriter David Koepp reunite for the latest big-screen adaptation of executive producer Dan Brown’s best-selling novel, placing an amnesiac Prof. Robert Langdon (Hanks) in constant jeopardy as he tracks down the source of an apocalyptic virus, with Felicity Jones, Omar Sy, Irrfan Khan, Sidse Babett Knudsen and Ben Foster caught up in the conspiracy. Better paced than The Da Vinci Code (2006) and Angels & Demons (2009), this was a box-office disappointment in the US but more successful overseas. The DVD retails for $30.99, the Blu-ray for $34.99, and the 4K Ultra HD for $45.99 – each replete with special features. Rated PG-13. **½

THE INTERVENTION (Paramount): Actress Clea DuVall makes her feature debut as writer/executive producer/director in this perceptive, well-acted comedy/drama about friends who reunite to convince one couple (Cobie Smulders and Vincent Piazza) to divorce. Melanie Lynskey, Natasha Lyonne, Jason Ritter, Ben Schwartz and Alia Shawkat round out a solid ensemble cast. Rated R. ***

MIA MADRE (Music Box Films Home Entertainment): Nanni Moretti’s fanciful, Fellini-esque, award-winning comedy/drama (also known as My Mother) stars Margherita Buy as an overworked director contending with an ailing mother (Guilia Lazzarini) and a temperamental American star (a hilarious John Turturro) while working on her latest film. Moretti co-stars as Buy’s brother. In Italian with English subtitles, available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.95 retail). Rated R. ***

MY WAY (RSB Project LLC/MVD Entertainment Group): This award-winning music documentary follows Rebekah Starr as she pursues her dream to become a star against the odds, featuring interviews with rock stars Rikki Rockett, Steven Adler and Chip Z’Nuff. **½

THE PASSING SEASON (Candy Factory Films): Writer/producer/director/editor Gabriel Long’s award-winning feature debut stars Brian J. Smith as a hockey player coming to terms with the end of his career. Although well-intentioned, this modest character study rambles interminably and feels much longer than its 66-minute (!) length. *½

RETAKE (Breaking Glass Pictures): Screenwriter/producer/director Nick Corporon’s gay-themed drama stars stars Tuc Watkins as a lonely man who hires male hustler Devon Graye to accompany him to the Grand Canyon to replicate a past romance, available on DVD ($21.99 retail).

SAD VACATION: THE LAST DAYS OF SID AND NANCY (MVD Visual/MVD Entertainment Group): Huey Morgan narrates writer/executive producer/director Danny Garcia’s aptly named, self-explanatory, in-depth documentary feature tracing the two-year relationship between Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols and groupie Nancy Spungen, which ended when she was stabbed to death – supposedly by Sid – in Room 100 of the Chelsea Hotel in New York City, sparking a media firestorm that ended with Sid’s death the following January from an overdose. Less music documentary than true-crime documentary, told in absorbing and appropriately sordid fashion, this is a fascinating companion piece to Sid and Nancy (1986). ***

SOMETHING WILD (The Criterion Collection): Not to be confused with Jonathan Demme’s 1986 comedy, this 1961 adaptation of Alex Karmel’s novel stars Mary Ann stars Carroll Baker as a traumatized rape victim rescued from suicide by mechanic Ralph Meeker, who turns out to be a deranged obsessive. Baker was married at the time to director Jack Garfein. The special-edition DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) each boast retrospective interviews.

TRAIN TO BUSAN (Well Go USA Entertainment): Sang ho-Yeon’s award-winning blockbuster shocker (originally titled Busanhaeng) sees a group of people fleeing a zombie outbreak aboard a bullet train bound for the Safe Zone … which they hope is actually safe. In Korean with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail).

USS INDIANAPOLIS: MEN OF COURAGE (LionsGate): Nicolas Cage plays the captain in director Mario Van Peebles fact-based, R-rated World War II saga about the disaster which befell  the titular vessel after delivering components for the atomic bomb, leaving survivors adrift at sea – and vulnerable to sharks – after being torpedoed. Thomas Jane, Tom Sizemore, James Remar, Matt Lanter and Van Peebles’ son Mandela also appear, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.99 retail).

THE WHOLE TRUTH (LionsGate): Attorney Keanu Reeves agrees to defend widowed friend Renee Zellweger’s son (Gabriel Basso), accused of murdering his father (Jim Belushi), in director Courtney Hunt’s R-rated courtroom drama, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.99 retail).

(Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2017, Mark Burger) HYPERLINK “”