Video Vault – Jul 18, 2018
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Given the unexpected critical and financial success of the 1942 horror classic Cat People , RKO persuaded producer Val Lewton and screenwriter DeWitt Bodeen to craft a follow-up … but The Curse of the Cat People (1944) is a very different, but effective, endeavor that works on its own terms.
Kent Smith and Jane Randolph reprise their roles as Oliver and Alice, now married and the parents of bright but withdrawn daughter Amy (Ann Carter). Amy spends much of her time daydreaming, and conjures up an imaginary – or is she? – friend in Irina (returning Simone Simon), Oliver’s late first wife, whom he and Alice never discuss, yet whose presence still haunts their union.
Whereas the first film dealt with more mature subject matter, including sexual repression, this film is more of a child’s fairy tale, beautifully shot by Nicholas Musuraca (also encoring from the first film). Original director Gunther von Fritsch’s meticulous methodology prompted Lewton to replace him with editor (and future Oscar winner) Robert Wise, making his directorial debut, yet the transition is seamless. The Curse of the Cat People doesn’t quite reach the classic status of its predecessor, but comes close.
The special-edition Blu-ray ($29.99 retail) includes audio commentaries, theatrical trailers, and more. ***
24 X 36: A MOVIE ABOUT MOVIE POSTERS (FilmRise/MVD Entertainment Group): Director/co-writer/editor Kevin Burke’s self-explanatory, award-winning feature documentary debut explores the illustrious history – no pun intended – of movie posters, featuring interviews with artists, film historians, and collectors. The second half of the film leans toward a plug for the Mondo series of original posters, but this is still great fun for movie buffs. ***
ANOTHER WOLFCOP (RLJE Films): Writer/director Lowell Dean’s goofy, gory, scattershot sequel to his award-winning 2014 debut feature with Leo Fafard encoring in the title role of the booze-soaked, lycanthropic lawman, with Yannick Bisson, Amy Matysio and Jonathan Cherry also back, and Kevin Smith in a cameo appearance, available on DVD ($27.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.97 retail), both with bonus features. **
BLOCKERS (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment): Director Kay Cannon’s feature debut is a forced, flimsy farce (originally titled The Pact) starring Leslie Mann, John Cena and Ike Barinholtz as parents bent on preventing their daughters (Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan and newcomer Gideon Adlon, respectively) from losing their virginity on prom night, available on DVD ($29.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($34.98 retail), each replete with bonus features. Rated R (also available in an unrated version). Rated R. *½
THE CASE OF THE SCORPION’S TAIL (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): A special-edition Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) of director Sergio Martino’s stylish if convoluted 1971 giallo thriller (originally titled La coda della scorpione) stars George Hilton as a hard-driving insurance investigator and Anita Strindberg as a sultry reporter investigating a series of murders that occur in the wake of a millionaire’s death in a plane crash. Suspects and/or potential victims include such familiar cult-film stalwarts as Evelyn Stewart (Ida Galli), Janine Reynaud, Alberto de Martino, and Luigi Pistilli. Special features include audio commentary, retrospective interviews, theatrical trailer, and more. **½
DON’T SWALLOW MY HEART, ALLIGATOR GIRL! (FilmRise/MVD Entertainment Group): Writer/director Felipe Braganca’s drama (originally titled Nao Devore Meu Coracao) is a bittersweet romantic drama detailing the relationship between teenager Eduardo Macedo (in his screen debut) and young Guarini girl Adeli Benitez (in her screen debut). In Portuguese with English subtitles, available on DVD ($19.95 retail).
THE DREW: NO EXCUSE, JUST PRODUCE (FilmRise/MVD Entertainment Group): In their feature documentary debut, NBA superstar Baron Davis and Chad Gordon produced and co-directed this winning, fast-moving chronicle of the Los Angeles-based pro-am basketball league “The Drew League” and its commissioner and driving force Oris “Dino” Smiley. Narrated by Xzibit, the title refers to the motto of the league, which Davis played in prior to his NBA career. ***
THE FABULOUS ALLAN CARR (The Film Collaborative/Automat Pictures): Jeffrey Schwarz’s winning, appropriately flashy documentary feature, inspired by Robert Hofler’s biography Party Animals: A Hollywood Tale of Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll Starring the Fabulous Allan Carr, explores the life and career of the flamboyant show-biz impresario (1937-’99), including such highs as the 1978 musical blockbuster Grease and the Tony-winning 1993 Broadway smash La Cage aux Folles, and such lows as the 1980 musical bomb Can’t Stop the Music (featuring the immortal pairing of The Village People and Bruce Jenner) and the much-derided 1988 Academy Awards telecast. Entertaining and informative, but also sympathetic to its mercurial subject. ***½
THE FRENCH WAY (Kit Parker Films/MVD Entertainment Group): As an expatriate nightclub owner in pre-World War II Paris, Josephine Baker plays matchmaker – and belts out some tunes along the way – for star-crossed lovers Micheline Presle and Georges Marchal in this 1945 romantic comedy (originally titled Fausse alerte), originally filmed in 1940 and long thought to be “lost,” but now available on Blu-ray ($29.95 retail).
FUTURE WORLD (LionsGate): Producer James Franco and screenwriter Bruce Thierry Chung co-directed this R-rated, post-apocalyptic thriller in which mercenary Franco and android sidekick Suki Waterhouse encounter young price Jeffrey Wahlberg during a perilous journey through a vast wasteland, with Milla Jovovich, Lucy Liu, Snoop Dogg, Margarita Levieva, Cliff “Method Man” Smith, Twin Shadow (in his screen debut), Rumer Willis, and Carmen Argenziano rounding out a star-studded cast. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $21.99.
“THE GOOD PLACE”: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (Shout! Factory): Kristen Bell headlines this award-winning NBC situation comedy as an average woman struggling to achieve up to the high moral and compassionate standards of the titular otherworldly realm, with Ted Danson as her proverbial “guardian angel,” in all 13 episodes from the 2017-’18 season, available on DVD ($19.97 retail), replete with special features.
I FEEL PRETTY (STX Films/Universal Pictures Home Entertainment): Producer Amy Schumer headlines writer/first-time directors Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein’s PG-13-rated comedy as an insecure woman who takes a blow to the head and suddenly believes herself beautiful, with Michelle Williams, Emily Ratajkowski, Lauren Hutton, Naomi Campbell, Rory Scovel, Tom Hopper, Aidy Bryant, and Busy Phillips (Silverstein’s real-life spouse) in support, available on DVD ($29.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($34.98 retail), both boasting special features.
THE JERICHO MILE (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Peter Strauss won an Emmy Award (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Special) for screenwriter/director Michael Mann’s well-rendered 1979 feature debut, originally aired on ABC, playing a convicted murderer who finds purpose in marathon running. Filmed on location at Folsom Prison, which lends considerable atmosphere, with a strong supporting cast including Brian Dennehy, Richard Lawson, Ed Lauter, Roger E. Mosley, Geoffrey Lewis, William Prince, Beverly Todd, William Prince, Richard Moll, playwright/actor Miguel Pinero, and Billy Green Bush (as the warden). Emmy winner for Outstanding Writing in a Limited Series or Special and Outstanding Film Editing for a Limited Series or Special, with an additional nomination for Outstanding Drama or Comedy Special. Both the DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) include audio commentary. ***
“ROWAN & MARTIN’S LAUGH-IN”: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON (Time Life): “Sock it to me!” A six-DVD collection ($39.95 retail) of all 24 episodes from the 1971-’72 season of the ground-breaking NBC comedy/variety series hosted by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, featuring regulars Lily Tomlin, Ruth Buzzi, Arte Johnson, Alan Sues and Gary Owens, and guest stars Gene Hackman, Vincent Price, Johnny Carson, John Wayne, Tony Curtis, Bob Hope, Liza Minnelli, Carroll O’Connor, Carl Reiner, Raquel Welch, Robert Goulet, and many others. Emmy winner for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Variety or Musical Series, with four additional nominations including Outstanding Variety Series – Musical and ones for Tomlin and Johnson (under Special Classification of Outstanding Program and Individual Achievement – Individuals).
THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Director Fritz Lang and producer/screenwriter Nunnally Johnson’s 1944 adaptation of J.H. Wallis’ novel Once Off Guard is a potent combination of morality play/film noir, with Edward G. Robinson first-rate as a buttoned-down college professor whose world comes undone when he becomes obsessed with femme fatale Joan Bennett (at her sultry best), with Raymond Massey, Dan Duryea, Edmund Breon, and Dorothy Peterson lending strong support. The score earned an Oscar nomination. Both the DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) include audio commentary and theatrical trailer. ***
ZOMBIE 4: AFTER DEATH (Severin Films/CAV Distributing): Claudio Fragasso (under his usual pseudonym “Clyde Anderson”) directed this gory 1989 shocker (originally titled Oltre la Morte), in which a voodoo curse rouses the undead on a remote tropical island. The rapidly-dwindling human contingent includes Candice Daly, porn star Jeff Stryker (under the pseudonym “Chuck Peyton”), Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Jim Gaines, and Massimo Vanni (under the pseudonym “Alex McBride”), the latter having previously appeared in Zombie 3 (1988) in a different role. Both the DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.95 retail) include retrospective interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and trailer.
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2018, Mark Burger)