Video Vault – Oct 3, 2018
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
THE HORROR OF PARTY BEACH (Severin Films/CAV Distributing): A guilty pleasure in the best – and perhaps worst – sense of the term, Del Tenney’s low-rent 1964 sci-fi shocker was paired with Tenney’s Curse of the Living Corpse and released, believe it or not, by Twentieth Century Fox. What’s more, this diabolical double feature proved a box-office bonanza.
Illegal dumping of radioactive waste off the coast of Connecticut is the culprit, giving rise to a race of voracious, bug-eyed beasts that prey upon beach bunnies and teenagers, thus interrupting the frivolity provided by the Del-Aires, including the immortal tune “The Zombie Stomp.”
A no-name cast includes John Scott as the square-jawed hero, Alice Lyon as his prim and proper love interest, as well as the daughter of resident scientist Allen Laurel. In one of the story’s most dated aspects, Eulabelle Moore (who died shortly after the film’s release) plays Laurel’s housekeeper “Eulabelle,” whose comic rants about voodoo make for a cringing stereotype – although, to be fair, it’s Eulabelle who accidentally figures out how to destroy the creatures.
The special effects are often hilarious, and the film is surprisingly gory for its time, but it has a crude momentum, augmented by Wilford L. Holcomb’s uncredited score. The Horror of Party Beach is considered by some to be one of the worst movies ever made, but it does boast a cult following – including Stephen King!
The DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail) includes retrospective documentary and interviews, and more. **½
AFRAID (Well Go USA Entertainment): Director Jason Goldberg’s intriguing but unsurprising debut feature stars Alanna Masterson and George Byrne (in his feature debut) as a couple – named “Alanna” and “George” – whose romantic getaway to a remote cabin is being filmed by surveillance cameras placed throughout the house. **
“BILLIONS”: SEASON THREE (Showtime Entertainment/CBS DVD/Paramount): U.S. Attorney Paul Giamatti’s pursuit of New York tycoon Damian Lewis continues in all 12 episodes from the 2018 season of the Showtime drama series, with Maggie Siff, Malin Akerman, Toby Leonard Moore, David Constabile, Condola Rashad, and Jeffrey DeMunn rounding out the regular cast, with guest star Clancy Brown as a possible new antagonist, available on DVD ($39.98 retail) – replete with bonus features.
DIAMONDS OF KILIMANDJARO (MVD Entertainment Group): Adventurers searching for diamonds in the jungle encounter a tribe of savage cannibals – much to their understandable dismay – in Jesus Franco’s 1983 shocker (originally titled El Tesoro de la Diosa Blanca and also released as Treasure of the White Goddess). The “MVD Classics” Blu-ray retails for $24.95.
FERAL (IFC Midnight/Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): A weekend camping excursion for a group of friends (including Scout Taylor-Compton and Olivia Luccardi) turns into a grisly fight for survival when they are afflicted with a virus that turns them into flesh-eating zombies in writer/producer/director Mark H. Young’s shocker, available on DVD ($16.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($22.97 retail).
GOLD (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Director Peter Hunt’s brawny 1974 adaptation of Wilbur Smith’s best-seller stars Roger Moore as the macho manager of a South African gold mine who woos Susannah York, the dissatisfied wife of his boss (Bradford Dillman), while also contending with the latter’s surreptitious conspiracy to destroy the mine. Good, old-fashioned, two-fisted melodrama boosted by a solid cast including Ray Milland, John Gielgud, Tony Beckley, and Simon Sabela. As this was produced during the Apartheid era, some observers complained (not inaccurately) about the subservient roles of black characters, but Sabela brings dignity to the role of Moore’s right-hand man, and the villains are all white. The song “Wherever Love Takes Me” earned an Oscar nomination. Both the DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) include audio commentary and original trailer. Rated PG. ***
THE GREAT SCOUT AND CATHOUSE THURSDAY (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Director Don Taylor’s bawdy but bumpy 1976 Western romp (at one point titled Wildcat) sees Lee Marvin (he’s the “Great Scout”) bent on retrieving a fortune in gold from shady ex-partner Robert Culp. Despite John Cameron’s jaunty score and a zesty cast including Kay Lenz (she’s “Cathouse Thursday”), Elizabeth Ashley, Strother Martin, Sylvia Miles and particularly Oliver Reed (surprisingly funny as Marvin’s Native American sidekick!), this is hit-and-miss all the way. The DVD retails for $19.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated PG. **
THE GUARDIANS (Music Box Films Home Entertainment): Screenwriter/director Xavier Beavois’s R-rated historical drama (originally titled Les gardiennes) stars Nathalie Baye, her real-life daughter Laura Smet, and Iris Bry (in her screen debut) as the tenacious women who kept the home fires burning – and the farms functioning – in rural France during World War I, available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.95 retail), each replete with bonus features.
HORRORS OF MALFORMED MEN (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): Teruo Ishii’s 1969 adaptation of Edogawa Rampo’s novel Panorama Island Otan (originally titled Edogawa Rampo Zenshu: Kyoufu Kikei Ningen) stars Teruo Yoshida as an escaped mental patient who assumes the identity of a dead lookalike (also played by Yoshida) but winds up stranded on an island lorded over by mad scientist Tatsumi Hijikata and his race of mutants. In Japanese with English subtitles, the special-edition Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) includes audio commentaries, retrospective interviews, theatrical trailer, and more.
HOW TO GET RID OF A BODY AND STILL BE FRIENDS (Indican Pictures): Writer/producer/director Russell Gannon’s fluffy, featherweight comedy stars Kristin Datillo, Kristen Lynn, and newcomer Nicole Burch as life-long friends who believe they’ve committed a murder and repeatedly try to hide the body. Reminiscent, obviously, of Weekend at Bernie’s (1989), but a breezy time-killer in its own right. **
IMPULSE (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Tim Matheson and Meg Tilly attractively play a couple who visit her hometown, where the residents are displaying psychotic behavior. Director Graham Baker’s so-so 1984 “Twilight Zone”-type shocker is not without its moments and gets a boost from a cast including Bill Paxton, John Karlen, Amy Stryker, Peter Jason, Claude Earl Jones, and especially Hume Cronyn as a folksy physician losing his mind. The DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) include audio commentary and trailer. Rated R. **
LOST CHILD (Breaking Glass Pictures): Producer/director/co-writer Ramaa Mosley’s award-winning drama stars Leven Rambin (first-rate) as a troubled veteran who returns to her childhood home in the Ozarks to confront her past and develops a friendship with an abandoned boy (newcomer Landon Edwards). Atmospheric and evocative, but slow-moving at times. The DVD ($19.99 retail) includes behind-the-scenes interviews. **½
“MODUS”: SEASON 2 (Kino Lorber): The disappearance of the U.S. President (Kim Cattrall) on a state visit to Stockholm baffles psychologist Melinda Kinnaman and police superintendent Henrik Norlen, prompting an intense international investigation through all eight episodes from the 2017 season of the popular Scandinavian crime series based on Anne Holt’s best-selling novels. In English and Swedish with English subtitles, available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.95 retail).
MY LIFE WITH JAMES DEAN (Breaking Glass Pictures): Johnny Rasse headlines writer/director/first-time editor Dominique Choisy’s comedy (originally titled Ma vie avec James Dean) as a first-time filmmaker who embarks on an eventful promotional tour along the French coast. In French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($19.99 retail).
PIRANHA II: THE SPAWNING (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): James Cameron made his feature directorial debut with this oddball 1981 follow-up (also released as Piranha II: Flying Killers) to the 1978 cult classic, wherein bloodthirsty piranha fish – yes, they can fly! – wreak havoc at a Caribbean resort. Plenty silly but plenty bloody too, with Cameron regular Lance Henriksen holding things together as the local lawman. Cameron’s widely publicized disputes with executive producer Ovidio G. Assonitis prompted him to demand more control over subsequent projects. The special-edition Blu-ray ($29.99 retail) includes retrospective interviews and theatrical trailer. Rated R. **
POOR BOY (Indican Pictures): Grubby brothers Lou Taylor Pucci and Dov Tiefenbach desperately but hopelessly chase their dreams in writer/producer/director Robert Scott Wildes’s atmospheric but aimless, achingly pretentious feature debut, populated by unlikable characters – including Michael Shannon as their estranged father, a booze-soaked rodeo clown (talk about heavy-handed!) who offers intermittent narration that’s as rambling as the rest of the movie. *½
PORCUPINE LAKE (Breaking Glass Pictures): Writer/producer/director Ingrid Verninger’s spotty but compassionate, well-acted coming-of-age drama stars newcomer Charlotte Salisbury (a real find) as a lonely adolescent who befriends a local girl (Lucinda Armstrong Hall) during a seemingly idyllic summer getaway in Ontario. The DVD ($19.99 retail) includes feature-length making-of documentary, interviews, and more. **½
“SUPERNATURAL”: THE COMPLETE THIRTEENTH SEASON (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): The Brothers Winchester (Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki) continue to wage war against the forces of evil in all 23 episodes from the 2017-’18 season of the award-winning (and very durable) CW fantasy series created by Eric Kripke, available on DVD ($49.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($54.97 retail) – both replete with special features.
TRAPEZE (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Director Carol Reed’s award-winning 1956 adaptation of Max Cato’s novel The Killing Frost stars Burt Lancaster as a veteran trapeze artist who takes gifted newcomers Tony Curtis, and Gina Lollobrigida under his wing – a mentorship complicated by the romantic triangle that ensues. Filmed at the actual Cirque d’Hiver in Paris, this colorful and entertaining melodrama boasts perfectly buff leads and some hair-raising stunts. Both the DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) include audio commentary and original trailer. ***
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2018, Mark Burger)