Video Vault – Jun 28, 2017
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
DEATH LINE (Blue Underground/CAV Distributing): Writer/director Gary Sherman’s audacious 1972 feature debut (released in the US as Raw Meat) still packs a wallop after all these years, delivering the exploitation goods while also incorporating social commentary and political satire into the mix.
In a remote corner of the London subway system exists a vagrant (Hugh Armstrong, billed simply as “The Man”) who preys upon unwary travelers. There are distinct hints of cannibalism and necrophilia as he goes about his bloody business, yet Armstrong manages to make the character somewhat sympathetic.
Donald Pleasence is splendid as the maverick Scotland Yard inspector, aided and abetted by faithful sidekick Norman Rossington. David Ladd and Sharon Gurney play American expatriates mixed up in the case, and Christopher Lee contributes a sharply amusing cameo as a British agent determined to suppress the gory details.
All told, a little gem – freakish, ghastly and vividly realized. This is one film that deserves its cult following, and rumors of a remake have long lingered. And, don’t forget: “Mind the doors!”
The limited-edition DVD/Bly-ray combo ($39.98 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interviews, theatrical trailers and more. Rated R. ***
BATTLE FOR INCHEON: OPERATION CHROMITE (CJ Entertainment): Director John H. Lee’s factual, formulaic dramatization (originally titled In-cheon sang-ryuk jak-jeon) of the circumstances surrounding the legendary and decisive Korean War battle, with Lee-Jung jae as a daring South Korean commando, Lee Bum-soo his relentless North Korean pursuer, and Liam Neeson as Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Punchy action scenes and dicey CGI effects vie for supremacy in this melodramatic epic, which was a huge hit in South Korea. The first US/South Korean production since the ill-fated (and similarly themed) Inchon in the late ’70s. In English and Korean with English subtitles, available on DVD ($17.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.99 retail). Rated R. **½
BLACKHEARTS (Soundview Media Partners/MVD Entertainment Group): This unusual, award-winning documentary follows three fans of “black metal” – a controversial genre of heavy-metal music heavily influenced by Satanism – as they gather in Norway to pay homage to the roots of the movement. In English, Greek, Norwegian and Spanish with English subtitles. **½
THE BLOOD OF FU MANCHU/THE CASTLE OF FU MANCHU (Blue Underground/CAV Distributing): A Blu-ray double feature ($29.98 retail) of the fourth and fifth installments of producer Howard Alan Towers’ film series based on Sax Rohmer’s classic character, both directed by Jess Franco, with Christopher Lee as Fu, Tsai Chin as his wicked daughter Lin Tang, Richard Greene as Nayland Smith and Howard Marion-Crawford as Dr. Petrie. Blood was also released as Kiss and Kill and Against All Odds, and Castle as Assignment Istanbul. Neither films are very good, but have their B-movie appeal. Special features include retrospective interviews and theatrical trailers. Both films: **
“BONES”: THE FINAL CHAPTER (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz wrap things up in all 12 episodes from the 2017 (and final) season of the award-winning Fox mystery series, available in a six-DVD collection ($29.98 retail). Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is also releasing the self-explanatory (and very large!) DVD collection “The Flesh and Bones Collection Seasons 1-12” ($169.98 retail).
CAR WASH (Shout! Factory): Director Michael Schultz’s 1976 comedy is a day in the life of a Los Angeles car wash, featuring an ensemble cast including Franklyn Ajaye, Ivan Dixon (his final film), Bill Duke (his first film), George Carlin, Professor Irwin Corey, Lorraine Gary, Antonio Fargas, Jack Kehoe, Melanie Mayron, Garrett Morris, Tracy Reed, The Pointer Sisters and Richard Pryor. Sometimes uneven, but spirited and even insightful at times. The title song, a huge hit, was inescapable. The “Shout Select” collector’s-edition Blu-ray ($27.99 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interviews and more. Rated PG. **½
DIRTY DANCING (LionsGate): Abigail Breslin and newcomer Colt Prattes step into the shoes of Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze in this musical remake of the enduring 1987 film, originally aired on ABC and co-starring Debra Messing, Bruce Greenwood, Sarah Hyland, Nicole Sherzinger, Katey Sagal, Tony Roberts and Billy Dee Williams, available on DVD ($19.98 retail)
GET OUT (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment): Writer/director Jordan Peele’s intelligent, diverting feature debut stars Daniel Kaluuya as a man who accompanies girlfriend Allison Williams (in her screen debut) to visit her family (Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford and Caleb Landry Jones) – only to discover that they have a very strange agenda. A smart, satirical take on race relations is smoothly combined with horror trappings, yielding an unexpected but deserving box-office hit, available on DVD ($29.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.98 retail). Rated R. ***
GOLDEN YEARS (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): Bernard Hill and Virginia McKenna star in this cheerful, well-paced comedy/drama as an elderly couple whose financial struggles prompt them to embark on a crime spree (a la Going in Style). An irresistible cast includes Brad Moore as a cocky detective, Alun Armstrong as a weary detective, Una Stubbs, Phil Davis, Sue Johnston, Ellen Thomas and a lively Simon Callow. ***
HANDSOME DEVIL (Breaking Glass Pictures): Writer/director John Butler’s award-winning comedy/drama stars Fionn O’Shea and Nicholas Galitzine as roommates at an Irish prep school whose friendship arouses curiosity, suspicion and hostility. A sincere, credible plea for tolerance, with good support from Michael McElhatton, Moe Dunford and especially Andrew Scott. ***
THE IRON IVAN (Synergetic Distribution/MVD Entertainment Group): Mikhail Porechenkov plays the title role in this fact-based, Russian-language dramatization of the life of “Iron” Ivan Poddubny (1871-1949), the legendary Ukranian-born wrestling champion whose career spanned 40 years, available on DVD ($19.95 retail).
LIFE (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds headline this well-made but derivative sci-fi saga as astronauts who create life from a Martian sample – and (very) quickly come to regret it. Even a twist ending can’t negate the sheer familiarity of this endeavor, available on DVD ($30.99 retail), Blu-ray ($34.99 retail) and 4K Ultra HD ($45.99 retail). Rated R. *½
“MIDSOMER MURDERS”: SERIES 19, PART 1 (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): Neil Dudgeon is back on the case as DCI John Barnaby, teamed with new partner Nick Hendrix (as DS Jamie Winter), in the first four feature-length episodes from the 2016-’17 season of the long-running, award-winning British crime series (aired by A&E in the US), set in the seemingly peaceful Midsomer County, available on DVD and Blu-ray (each $34.99 retail).
ROCK DOG (LionsGate): Writer/director Ash Brannon’s family-friendly, PG-rated animated musical/comedy, adapted from the Chinese graphic novel Tibetan Rock Dog, details the adventures of a canine (voiced by Luke Wilson) with musical aspirations, featuring a star-studded voice-over cast including J.K. Simmons, Matt Dillon, Eddie Izzard, Mae Whitman, Lewis Black, Kenan Thompson and Sam Elliott, available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.99 retail).
THE SHEIK (Kino Lorber): Rudolph Valentino scored big in the title role of this 1921 silent classic, based on Edith M. Hull’s best-selling novel, as a dashing Arab sheik who woos feisty British adventurer Agnes Ayres, available on DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) – both replete with special features.
THE SON OF THE SHEIK (Kino Lorber): Rudolph Valentino and Agnes Ayres reprise their roles – with Valentino also playing their offspring and Vilma Banky the son’s love interest – in this 1926 sequel to The Sheik, which marked Valentino’s final screen appearance before his untimely death, available on DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) – both replete with special features.
“SOUTH PARK”: THE COMPLETE TWENTIETH SEASON (Comedy Central Home Entertainment): Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Emmy- and Peabody-winning Comedy Central animated juggernaut continues in all 10 episodes from the 2016 season, nominated again for the Emmy as Outstanding Animated Program, with Parker and Stone each nominated for Outstanding Character Voice-over Performance, available on DVD ($29.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($42.99 retail).
“STRIKING OUT” (Acorn TV Original): A two-DVD collection ($39.99 retail) of all four episodes from the inaugural 2017 season of the Irish legal drama starring Amy Huberman as a young solicitor who forms her own practice in Dublin after departing a high-powered law firm. Emmet Byrne, Neil Morrissey, Rory Keenan and Fiona O’Shaughnessy round out the regular cast.
TRESPASS (Shout! Factory): Walter Hill’s punchy 1992 urban parable stars Bill Paxton and William Sadler as firefighters seeking hidden treasure in an abandoned St. Louis tenement who run afoul of gang leader Ice-T and his hair-trigger henchman Ice Cube. Originally titled The Looters, which was changed following the Los Angeles riots. Good action scenes and a good cast (including Art Evans, De’voreaux White, Glenn Plummer, Bruce A. Young, John Toles-Bay, Tommy “Tiny” Lister and Stoney Jackson), but a bit heavy on the irony. The “Shout Select” collector’s-edition Blu-ray ($27.99 retail) includes retrospective interviews, deleted scenes and more. Rated R. **½
“UNDER THE DOME”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (CBS DVD/Paramount): A 12-DVD collection ($39.98 retail) of all 39 episodes (plus bonus features) from the entire 2013-’15 run of the award-winning CBS science-fiction series based on Stephen King’s best-seller, in which the town of Chester’s Mill is suddenly and inexplicably surrounded by a gigantic clear dome, featuring an ensemble cast including Mike Vogel, Rachelle Lefevre, Britt Robertson, Natalie Martinez, Alexander Koch and Colin Ford. King and Steven Spielberg were among the executive producers.
(Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2017, Mark Burger) HYPERLINK “mailto:email@example.com”firstname.lastname@example.org