Video Vault – May 31, 2017
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
TOUGH GUYS (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas teamed up one last time in this predictable but enjoyable 1986 comedy about two train robbers paroled after 30 years.
Harry (Lancaster) and Archie (Douglas) aren’t ready for the ’80s, and the ’80s certainly aren’t ready for them. Although some of the jokes, to say nothing of the fashions, are dated, Lancaster and Douglas’ effortless chemistry is on full display, and an irresistible supporting cast includes Charles Durning, Alexis Smith, Dana Carvey, Darlanne Fluegel and Eli Wallach, the latter hilarious as a near-sighted hit-man on their trail.
Amidst the comedic shenanigans, there’s a nice message about not taking our elders for granted – particularly when said elders are played by such luminaries as Lancaster and Douglas. Tough Guys isn’t perfect, but it’s undeniably a treat.
The DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) include audio commentary with director Jeff Kanew. Rated PG. ***
BLACKENSTEIN (Xenon Pictures/CAV Distributing): In the wake of Blacula (1972) came this low-budget 1973 shocker stars Joe DeSue (in his first and only film) as a wounded Vitenam veteran resurrected as a rampaging monster by John Hart’s mad scientist Dr. Stein. Laughably campy, it’s no surprise this became a cult favorite – and the laboratory sets were from the original Frankenstein (1931). This special edition includes theatrical and video release versions, retrospective interviews, theatrical trailer and more. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $24.98. Rated R. *½
THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN/MORE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN (Kino Lorber): A DVD double-feature ($29.95 retail) of director Abby Epstein’s acclaimed 2008 childbirth documentary The Business of Being Born and the four-part follow-up More Business of Being Born.
COPS VS. THUGS (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): Director Kinji Fukasaku’s award-winning 1975 crime thriller (originally titled Kenkei tai shoshiki boryoku) stars Bunta Sugawara as a hard-boiled detective caught up in an ongoing battle between warring criminal gangs. In Japanese with English subtitles, the collector’s-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.95 retail) includes illustrated booklet, theatrical trailer and more.
DARK HARVEST (InterVision/Severin Films/CAV Distributing): Writer/producer/editor/director James I. Nicholson’s first (and only) feature is an unspeakably cheap, dull, direct-to-video 1992 shocker wherein campers are preyed upon by bloodthirsty scarecrows. The bonus feature, writer/producer/director David Steensland’s 1986 debut, the horror anthology Escapes, is equally bargain-basement, but at least it tries – and Vincent Price adds some class as the host. The DVD retails for $19.99. Dark Harvest: Zero stars, Escapes: **
“DECOY” (Film Chest Media Group): A three-DVD collection ($19.98 retail) of all 39 episodes from the entire 1957-’58 season of the syndicated, fact-based crime series starring Beverly Garland as Gotham detective Casey Jones, the first series of its kind to feature a woman in the lead role, and filmed on location throughout New York City, with a stellar line-up of guest stars including John Cassavetes, Peter Falk, Edward Asner, Suzanne Pleshette, Larry Hagman, Albert Dekker, Al Lewis, Simon Oakland, Barbara Barrie, Martin Balsam and many others.
FUTURE SHOCK! THE STORY OF 2,000 A.D. (Severin Films/CAV Distributing): Director/editor Paul Goodwin’s feature-documentary debut chronicles the history of the British-based independent “2,000 A.D.” comics, which introduced such artists as Alan Moore, Mark Millar, Neil Gaiman – to say nothing of such now-classic characters as Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper – to the masses since its inception in the late 1970s, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail), both replete with special features including extended interviews, trailers and more.
GOOD MORNING (The Criterion Collection): Master filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu again explores the generation gap in his acclaimed 1959 comedy (originally titled Ohayo) starring Shitara Koji and Masahiko Shimazu as brothers who refuse to speak after their parents refuse to buy a television. A loose remake of Ozu’s own 1932 silent comedy I Was Born, But … (which is also included here). In Japanese with English subtitles, available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.95 retail).
HEAT (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): A “director’s definitive edition” of Michael Mann’s stylish, sweeping 1995 crime saga pitting obsessive cop Al Pacino against master thief Robert De Niro, with a star-studded supporting cast including Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Ashley Judd, Diane Venora, Amy Brenneman, Natalie Portman, Wes Studi, Ted Levine, Mykelti Williamson, Danny Trejo, Tom Noonan, William Fichtner, Dennis Haysbert, Henry Rollins, Xander Berkeley, Hank Azaria, Jeremy Piven, Tone Loc and an unbilled Bud Cort. Running nearly three hours, this is overlong but still riveting – and the dazzling shoot-out on the streets of Los Angeles is a classic sequence. Mann originally approached the same story in the little-seen 1989 TV movie L.A. Takedown. Both the DVD ($14.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($16.99 retail) include retrospective documentaries, deleted scenes and more. Rated R. ***½
THE HIGH SCHOOLER’S GUIDE TO COLLEGE PARTIES (FilmRise/MVD Entertainment Group): Writer/producer/cinematographer/director Patrick Johnson’s self-explanatory teen comedy about two buddies (Nate Rubin and Kris Kiley) who plan a holiday bash. Typical fare, but gets a lift from leading lady Brina Palencia and Adam Dietrich as a giggling drug dealer. *½
“HOUSE: TWO STORIES” (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): A limited-edition Blu-ray double-feature ($59.95 retail) of producer Sean S. Cunningham’s award-winning, R-rated 1985 horror hit House and the jokier 1987 sequel House II: The Second Story (rated PG-13), replete with special features including audio commentary, retrospective documentaries, trailers, 60-page collectible book, and more.
ILLICIT (Breaking Glass Pictures): Writer/producer/editor/director Corey Grant’s well-made but absurdly overlong marital melodrama sees parole officer David Ramsey and ex-model wife Shireen Crutchfield embarking on respective affairs – he was a female parolee (Michele Weaver) and she with a photographer (McKinley Freeman), both of whom turn out to be unstable. At least the third act boasts some laughs – most of them unintentional – and the cast tries hard. *
INJECTING ALUMINUM (Cinema Libre Studio): Writer/editor/director Marie-Ange Poyet makes her feature documentary debut with this exploration of the disease Maceophagic Myofascitis, caused by the common (and ongoing) practice of including aluminum adjuvants in various vaccines, available on DVD ($19.95 retail).
MAX 2: WHITE HOUSE HERO (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): The courageous canine introduced in the 2015 film returns to sniff out international intrigue when assigned to the Secret Service in this family-friendly adventure, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($24.95 retail)
“OUTSIDERS”: SEASON TWO (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): A four-DVD collection ($38.99 retail) of all 13 episodes from the 2017 (and possibly final) season of the WGN America drama series set in the Appalachian Mountains, where the inhabitants vie for power and supremacy. The cast includes David Morse, Gillian Alexy, Kyle Gallner, Thomas M. Wright, Christina Jackson, Ryan Hurst and Francie Swift. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has also released the limited-edition DVD collection of all 26 episodes from the entire run of the series ($55.99 retail).
THE RUINS OF LIFTA (First Run Features): Writer/producer/directors Menachem Daum and Oren Rudavsky’s feature documentary examines the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians on the outskirts of Jerusalem, available on DVD ($24.95 retail).
THE SHACK (LionsGate): A PG-13-rated adaptation of William Paul Young’s faith-based best-seller stars Sam Worthington as a disillusioned man who seeks solace and meaning in life, with Octavia Spencer, Radha Mitchell, Graham Greene, Alice Braga and Tim McGraw in support, available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.95 retail).
THOSE REDHEADS FROM SEATTLE (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): The Alaskan Gold Rush forms the backdrop of this 1953 musical, the first filmed in 3-D, with a star-studded cast including Rhonda Fleming, Gene Barry, Agnes Moorehead, Teresa Brewer and The Bell Sisters, available on DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.95 retail) – both replete with special features including audio commentary and theatrical trailer, restored in high-definition and 3-D.
VIXEN: THE MOVIE (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): Megalyn Echikunwoke voices the title role(s) of orphan Mari McCabe and her superhero alter-ego in this animated adaptation of the DC Comics character, introduced in a series of CW seed shorts that have been integrated into this feature-length narrative, also featuring the voices of Katie Cassidy, Stephen Amell, Emily Bett Rickards, Brandon Routh, Franz Drahmeh and Victor Garber, available on DVD ($18.94 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.98 retail).
WOLF GUY (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): A special-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.95 retail) of director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi’s 1975 adaptation of Kazumasa Hirai’s manga (originally titled Urufu gai: Moero okami-otoko), starring Shin’ichi “Sonny” Chiba as a werewolf who moonlights (get it?) as a crime-fighter battling political corruption. In Japanese with English subtitles, special features include retrospective interviews and more.
WORLDS APART (Cinema Libre Studio): A box-office smash in its native Greece, writer/producer/director Christopher Papakaliatis’ award-winning drama (originally titled Enas Allos Kosmos) focuses on a group of characters whose lives intersect amid political and economic upheaval. Occasionally meandering, but Yannis Drakoularakos’ cinematography is excellent and a fine ensemble cast includes J.K. Simmons, Andrea Osvart, Maria Kavogianni, Tawfeek Barhom, Niki Vakali, the late Minas Chatzisavvas (in his final role), and Papakaliatis himself. ***
XX (Magnet Label/Magnolia Home Entertainment): Four female directors – Karyn Kusama, Roxanne Benjamin, Jovanka Vuckovic and first-timer Annie Clark (AKA St. Vincent) – fashioned this R-rated horror anthology available on DVD ($26.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail), both replete with special features including behind-the-scenes featurettes, interviews and more.
(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