Video Vault – Nov. 30, 2016
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
C.H.U.D. (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): The title is an anagram: “Contamination Hazard Urban Disposal.” It also has a second: “Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers.” The first causes the second in this 1984 horror cult classic, set in – and under – the streets of New York, where toxic waste has spawned a race of bloodthirsty creatures.
The sudden rash of mysterious deaths and disappearances unites an unlikely trio of heroes: Bohemian photographer John Heard, soup-kitchen supervisor Daniel Stern, and weary cop Christopher Curry, whose wife is among the missing. Not only must they contend with the creatures, but also the city’s bureaucracy, which is bent on covering up C.H.U.D. – by any means necessary.
Not only is C.H.U.D. fun but it’s smart and snappy, and the acting is uniformly fine – with a supporting cast peppered with familiar faces, many working on the New York stage at the time, including Kim Greist, J.C. Quinn, John Goodman, Graham Beckel, John Bedford Lloyd, Hallie Foote (daughter of Horton), Frankie Faison, Sam McMurray, George Martin and Jon Polito.
The two-disc special-edition Blu-ray ($34.95 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interviews, theatrical trailer, and more. Rated R. ***
“75TH ANNIVERSARY OF PEARL HARBOR” (LionsGate): A two-DVD set ($19.98 retail) of History Channel documentaries tracing the events of Dec. 7, 1941 and the Japanese attack on US forces: Live from Pearl Harbor (2001), Unsung Heroes of Pearl Harbor and The Other Tragedy at Pearl Harbor (all 2001), Deep Sea Detectives (2003), Tech Effect (2004) and What Went Down (2009).
AMONG THE BELIEVERS (First Run Features): This eye-opening, thought-provoking and (deservedly) award-winning documentary profiles Muslim cleric Maluana Abdul Aziz, who defies the Pakistani government by overseeing the Red Mosque, an indoctrination center for Muslim extremists. In English and Urdu with English subtitles. ***
ARMY OF ONE (Dimension Films/Anchor Bay Entertainment): Based on Chris Heath’s GQ article, director Larry Charles’ uneven, fact-based farce stars Nicolas Cage (resurrecting his nasal Raising Arizona twang) as an unemployed handyman obsessed with capturing Osama bin Laden after receiving a vision from God (in the form of Russell Brand) – but this doesn’t perk up until he actually gets to Pakistan. Wendi McLendon-Covey, Rainn Wilson, Denis O’Hare, Paul Scheer and Matthew Modine also appear. The DVD retails for $22.98, the Blu-ray for $26.98. Rated R. **
BURIAL GROUND (Severin Films/CAV Distributing): A special, uncut and uncensored edition of director Andrea Bianchi’s one and only zombie movie (originally titled Le Notte del Terrore and also released as The Nights of Terror and The Zombie Dead), this tacky and tasteless 1980 shlock shocker sees a group of wealthy and beautiful people made not-so-beautiful by a rampaging horde of the undead in a remote Italian villa. Bonus features include retrospective interviews, deleted and extended scenes, and more. The DVD retails for $19.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. *
“GUILT: SEASON ONE” (LionsGate): A DVD collection ($24.98 retail) of all 10 episodes from the inaugural 2016 season of the mystery series starring Daisy Head as an American exchange student who turns sleuth when her roommate is brutally murdered in their apartment and she falls under suspicion – only to discover that the case has potential repercussions at the highest level of government. Emily Tremaine, Cristian Solimeno, Naomi Ryan, Simona Brown, Sam Cassidy, Kevin Ryan and Billy Zane also star.
“HELL ON WHEELS”: SEASON FIVE, VOLUME 2 – THE FINAL EPISODES” (Entertainment One): The construction of the trans-continental Railroad forms the backdrop for AMC’s award-winning Western series starring Anson Mount as a Civil War veteran bent on avenging his wife’s murder by Union soldiers. The remaining seven from the 2016 season (plus bonus features) are available on DVD ($29.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($49.98 retail). Entertainment One is also releasing the self-explanatory “Hell on Wheels: The Complete Series” on DVD ($119.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($149.98 retail).
INDIGNATION (LionsGate): Writer/producer James Schamus makes his feature directorial debut with this R-rated adaptation of Philip Roth’s acclaimed novel, detailing the unexpected consequences of a passionate romance between college students Logan Lerman (also an executive producer) and Sarah Gadon in early ’50s Ohio, available on DVD ($19.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.99 retail).
“JERICHO” (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): A three-DVD collection ($59.99 retail) of all eight episodes from the inaugural 2016 season of the ITV Studios Western series starring Jessica Raine as a widowed mother whose resilience is tested when she tries to start a new life in the shantytown of Jericho in the rugged Yorkshire landscape, circa the 1870s. Clarke Peters, Hans Matheson, Sophie Thompson, Jeany Spark and guest star Mark Addy also appear.
KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE (RLJ Entertainment): The fists and feet are flying in this action-packed but otherwise routine and predictable reboot/remake of the 1989 martial-arts favorite, with Alain Moussi (in his screen debut) bent on avenging the death of brother Darren Shahlavi (in his final film) at the hands of brutish Dave Bautista (also an executive producer). Jean-Claude Van Damme, the “original” Kickboxer, plays Moussi’s mentor and earns an executive-producer credit, while real-life martial-artists-turned-actors Gina Carano and Georges St-Pierre lurk on the sidelines. The DVD retails for $29.96, the Blu-ray for $29.97. *½
LAST CAB TO DARWIN (First Run Features): Writer/producer/director Jeremy Sims’ award-winning adaptation of Reg Cribb’s play stars Michael Gaton (superb) as a small-town cabbie who drives across Australia to die with dignity after being diagnosed with terminal cancer – with Ningali Lawford-Wolf, Mark Coles Smith, Emma Hamilton and Jacki Weaver as those he befriends in this warm-hearted, flavorful comedy/drama. ***
LAST OF THE MISSISSIPPI JUKES (Mug-Shot Productions/MVD Entertainment Group): Noted music documentarian Robert Mugge celebrates the fading tradition of Mississippi juke joints in this 2003 documentary featuring performances by Alvin Youngblood Hart, Greg “Fingers” Taylor, the King Edward Blues Band, Steve Cheseborough and others, available on DVD ($19.95 retail).
“LEGEND OF BRUCE LEE”: VOLUME ONE (Well Go USA Entertainment): Danny Chan stars as the young Bruce Lee in all 10 episodes from the inaugural 2010 season of the English-language series dramatizing his life, co-starring Michelle Lang as Linda Lee and Ray Park as Chuck Norris, available in a three-DVD collection ($24.98 retail).
NEW ORLEANS MUSIC IN EXILE (Mug Shot Productions/MVD Entertainment Group): Filmmaker Robert Mugge turns his cameras on the musicians of New Orleans who continued to bring music to the masses after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, many while trying to rebuild their own lives. Dr. John, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Irma Thomas, Stephen Assaf, Marcia Ball are among the many luminaries who perform. The Blu-ray retails for $19.95.
PRIVATE VICES, PUBLIC VIRTUES (Mondo Macabro): An uncut and uncensored special-edition Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) of Milos Jancso’s controversial, fact-inspired 1976 fable (originally titled Vizi privati, Pubbliche virtu) about the dalliances and fetishes of the Crown Prince Rudolf (Lajos Balazsovits), whose lusty affair with comely young baroness Teresa Ann Savoy has unforeseen moral and political consequences. In English, French, German, Hungarian and Italian subtitles (or you can watch the English dub).
THE TRAIL OF DRACULA (InterVision/CAV Distributing): Writer David Mitchell and editor Jamie Lockhart co-directed this affectionate, entertaining documentary that examines the history and legacy of Bram Stoker’s classic vampire, interspersed with a variety of clips and interviews. The bonus bevy of movie trailers is a treat. ***
WE ARE F***ING TWISTED SISTER! (Music Box Films Home Entertainment): The title tells all in writer/producer/director Andrew Horn’s award-winning documentary, detailing the hard-rocking history of the heavy-metal band (currently on its farewell tour), replete with a bevy of bonus features – available on DVD ($19.70 retail) and Blu-ray ($21.75 retail).
ZOMBIE ARMAGEDDON: I HEARD THE DARKNESS (Alpha New Cinema): Writer/director Tye Wilson expands his 2008 short for this inauspicious feature debut (made in 2012), a talky and tedious low-budget shocker with Allen Thatcher (in his screen debut) as a weary soldier battling an outbreak of the living dead. *
– (Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2016, Mark Burger) HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”email@example.com