Video Vault – May 24, 2017
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
WILLARD (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): At long last, director Daniel Mann’s well-remembered 1971 sleeper hit, adapted from Gilbert Ralston’s novel Ratman’s Notebooks (itself a surprise best-seller), makes its debut as a special-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.99 retail).
In the best Norman Bates tradition, Bruce Davison portrays Willard Stiles, the put-upon protagonist harangued by his ailing mother (a perfectly dotty Elsa Lanchester) at home, and his bellicose boss Al Martin (Ernest Borgnine at his nasty best) at work – all the while pining away for compassionate co-worker Joan (Sondra Locke).
Into Willard’s life come Socrates and Ben, a pair of rats he befriends, and with Socrates and Ben come an entire army of rats – an army that will do Willard’s bidding. The versatile Davison, who was typecast as twitchy young men in the wake of Willard‘s success, is quite empathetic in the title role, smoothy transitioning from mild-mannered weakling to power-crazed sociopath.
Special features include an audio commentary and retrospective interview with Davison (still a very busy character actor), as well as the theatrical trailer and TV spot – which remain particularly vivid and effective after all these years.
Scream Factory/Shout! Factory has also released the 1972 Ben – which earned an Oscar nomination for Best Song (performed by Michael Jackson!) – in a special-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.99 retail). Like most sequels, it’s no equal – but it delivers rats in droves! Rated PG. ***
APOCALYPSE CHILD (Candy Factory Films): Sid Lucero stars in this award-winning character study as a laid-back Filipino surfing instructor who’s always believed he’s the illegitimate son of Francis Ford Coppola, conceived during the production of Apocalypse Now (1979). In English and Tagalog with English subtitles. **½
BEYOND THE GATES (IFC Midnight/Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Estranged brothers Graham Skipper and Chase Williamson discover an interactive VCR board game that’s actually a portal to a supernatural netherworld, in writer/producer Jackson Stewart’s feature directorial debut, available on DVD ($14.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($22.97 retail), both with bonus features.
“BORIS KARLOFF COLLECTION” (VCI Entertainment): A two-DVD selection ($14.99 retail) of four Boris Karloff films made at the end of his career for Mexican producer Luis Enrique Vergara: 1968’s Dance of Death (House of Evil) and Torture Zone (Fear Chamber) and 1971’s Cult of the Dead (Isle of the Snake People) and Alien Terror. These films, all made on the cheap and considered by some to be among the actor’s worst films, were barely distributed following his death in February 1969 and Vergara’s that December. Still, for die-hard Karloff devotees …
“THE BRIDGE”: SERIES 3 (MHz Networks): With Swedish detective Kim Bodnia sidelined for much of the season, Danish detective Sofia Helin teams with his replacement Thure Lindhardt in the 10-episode 2015 season of the acclaimed, award-winning Scandanavian mystery series (originally titled Bron/Broen) created by Hans Rosenfeldt, which takes place in and around the Oresund Bridge, which links the two countries, available in a four-DVD collection ($39.95 retail).
DHEEPAN (The Criterion Collection): Jacques Audiard’s timely, award-winning 2015 drama stars screenwriter Anthonythasan Jesuthasan (himself a refugee from Sri Lanka) as a war-weary soldier who “recruits” a wife (Kalieaswari Srinivasan) and daughter (Claudine Vinasithamby) and attempts to start life over as caretaker for an apartment complex in Paris overrun by thugs and drug dealers, which puts him on a collision course with yet more violence. In French and Tamil with English subtitles, both the DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) include audio commentary, interviews, deleted scenes and more. Rated R. ***
THE MAFIA KILLS ONLY IN SUMMER (Icarus Films): Popular Italian TV personality “Pif” (Pierfrancesco Diliberto) makes his award-winning feature debut as writer, director and star of this fact-based comedy (originally titled La mafia uccide solo d’estate) about the rise and fall of the Cosa Nostra from the 1970s-’90s. This later spawned a popular TV sitcom. In Italian with English subtitles, available on DVD ($26.98 retail).
MAIKO: DANCING CHILD (First Run Features): Director and first-time writerr Ase Sevenheim-Drivenes’ feature documentary follows prima ballerina Maiko Nishina as she decides to start a family, which could interrupt her career. In English, Japanese and Norwegian with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail).
A MERMAID’S TALE (LionsGate): Caitlin Carmichael plays the youngster who discovers and befriends an actual mermaid (screen newcomer Sydney Scotia) in this PG-rated, family-friendly comedy/fantasy co-starring Jerry O’Connell, Barry Bostwick and Nancy Stafford, available on DVD ($19.98 retail).
MONDO WEIRDO/VAMPIROS SEXOS (Cult Epics/CAV Ditributing): A limited-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.95 retail) of writer/editor/producer/director Carl Andersen’s 1990 black-and-white black comedy Mondo Weirdo: A Trip to Paranoia Paradise (originally titled Jungfrau am Abgrund) plys Andersen’s 1988 debut feature Vampiros Sexos (also released as I Was a Teenage Zabbadoing) – plus bonus features. In English and German with English subtitles.
“ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK”: SEASON 4 (LionsGate): Life goes on within the walls of Litchfield Penitentiary in all 13 episodes from the 2016 season of the acclaimed, award-winning Netflix drama series created by Jenji Kohan and based on Piper Kerman’s best-selling 2010 memoir, featuring an ensemble cast including Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, Natasha Lyonne, Uzo Aduba, Danielle Brooks, Taryn Manning, Samira Wiley and Kate Mulgrew. Emmy nomination for Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series, available on DVD ($34.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.98 retail) – both boasting bonus features.
“PLASMATICS – LIVE! ROD SWENSON’S LOST TAPES: 1978-1981” (Pandemonium/MVD Entertainment Group): A selection of music videos and never-before-seen footage showcasing Wendy O. Williams and the punk group Plasmatics during the height of their popularity, filmed by band impresario Rod Swenson, available on DVD ($19.95 retail).
RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Milla Jovovich rides back into action in the sixth (and supposedly last), R-rated installment of the popular post-apocalyptic zombie film series based on the Capcom video game, with Jovovich’s real-life husband Paul W.S. Anderson aboard as writer/producer/director and encore performances from franchise veterans Ali Larter, Shawn Roberts and Iain Glen, available on DVD ($26.99 retail), Blu-ray ($34.99 retail) and 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray combo ($45.99 retail).
SERIAL MOM (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): A collector’s-edition Blu-ray ($34.93 retail) of John Waters’ 1994 comedy starring Kathleen Turner in the title role of an all-American suburban matriarch with homicidal tendencies. Given the subject matter, this is rather conventional (!) for Waters, but entertaining and fun, buoyed by a cast including Sam Waterston (playing it perfectly straight as Turner’s deadpan husband), Ricki Lake, Matthew Lillard (in his screen debut), Justin Whalin, Mary Jo Catlett, Suzanne Somers (as herself), an unbilled Bess Armstrong, and Waters perennials Traci Lords, Mink Stole, Mary Vivian Pearce and Patricia Hearst – and listen for Waters as the voice of Ted Bundy. Special features include audio commentary, retrospective interviews, promotional featurette and more. Rated R. ***
“SHAQUILLE O’NEAL PRESENTS ALL-STAR COMEDY JAM LIVE FROM SIN CITY” (CODEBLACK Films/LionsGate): The title tells all in this stand-up comedy special hosted by Lovell Crawford, as Cocoa Brown, Donnell Rawlings, Earthquake and K-Dub rock Las Vegas, available on DVD ($19.98 retail).
STARLIGHT (Cleopatra Entertainment/MVD Entertainment Group): The members of a struggling circus troupe are haunted by secrets and unfulfilled desires that threaten to destroy them in this ensemble drama featuring Beatrice Dalle, Tcheky Karyo, Denis Lavant and Iggy Pop, available on Blu-ray ($19.95 retail).
A STREET CAT NAMED BOB (Cleopatra Entertainment/MVD Entertainment Group): Luke Treadaway headlines director Roger Spottiswoode’s award-winning adaptation of James Bowen and Garry Jenkins’ best-selling book, as a recovering drug addict who found purpose in life by caring for a stray cat he named Bob (who plays himself in the film), available on Blu-ray ($24.95 retail).
“THE SWASHBUCKLER DOUBLE FEATURE” (The Sprocket Vault): a DVD twin-bill ($19.99 retail) of low-budget adventures, both featuring Robert Clarke: The Black Pirate (1954), filmed on location in San Salvador, sees pirate captain Anthony Dexter terrorizing the populace (including heroic Clarke and village priest Lon Chaney); Tales of Robin Hood (1951) is an unsold TV pilot with Clarke in the title role, later released to theaters. Sprocket Vault releases are sold exclusively through Amazon, or visit the official website: HYPERLINK “http://thesprocketvault.com/”http://thesprocketvault.com/. Both films: *½
THREE BROTHERS (Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment Group): A special-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.95 retail) of Francesco Rosi’s acclaimed, PG-rated, Italian-language 1981 drama (originally titled Tre fratelli) stars Phillipe Noiret, Michele Placido and Vittorio Mezzogiorno in the title roles of siblings dealing with the death of their beloved mother. Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film. Bonus features include an archival interview with Rosi and original theatrical trailer.
“WELCOME TO THE LOUD HOUSE”: SEASON 1, VOLUME 1 (Nickelodeon/Paramount): A self-explanatory two-DVD collection ($16.99 retail) of the first 26 episodes from the inaugural 2016 season of the animated Nickelodeon comedy series about a middle child with five older sisters and five younger sisters, inspired by creator/executive producer Chris Savino’s own upbringing in a family of 10.
XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE (Paramount): After a 15-year hiatus, producer/star Vin Diesel swings back into action as the titular super-spy, with Samuel L. Jackson also encoring as spy-master Augustus Gibbons in this PG-13-rated action blowout, available on DVD ($29.98 retail), DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.99 retail), 3-D Blu-ray combo ($44.99 retail), and 4K Ultra HD ($49.99 retail).
(Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2017, Mark Burger) HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”email@example.com