Video Vault – Sep 6, 2017
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU (Olive Films): The 1977 version of H.G. Wells’ classic science-fiction tale isn’t as shocking as the original Island of Lost Souls (1932) nor as campy and overblown as the 1996 version, but stands on its own merits as an entertaining diversion.
Burt Lancaster, in a rare genre foray, brings his authoritative charisma to the title role of the brilliant but mad scientist, who has succeeded – to an extent – in turning man into beast on his remote island paradise.
Michael York plays Andrew Braddock, a young sailor marooned on the island, whose revulsion at Moreau’s experiments is balanced by a growing attraction to the alluring Maria (Barbara Carrera). Others of note in the small cast are reliable Nigel Davenport as Moreau’s cynical right-hand man, Montgomery, and veteran Richard Basehart as Sayer of the Law, leader of the “humanimals” of Moreau’s creation.
Directed with gusto by Don Taylor, the film’s chief selling point was and is the (practical) makeup appliances devised by Oscar winner John Chambers (Planet of the Apes), which remain fascinating and effective, and the story incorporates an interesting debate of evolution within the fantasy framework.
The DVD ($19.95 retail) includes audio commentary and theatrical trailer. Rated PG. ***
AFTER THE STORM (The Film Movement): Hirozaku Kore-eda’s award-winning, well-acted domestic drama (originally titled Umi yori mo mada fukaku) stars Hiroshi Abe as a failed writer who gets a chance to reconcile with his estranged family during a raging storm. In Japanese with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.95 retail) – both replete with special features. ***
AMSTERDAMNED (Blue Underground/CAV Distributing): Hard-boiled cop Huub Stapel pursues a mysterious killer who strikes in and around the canals of Amsterdam in this slick, super-charged 1988 thriller. Dick Maas’ screenplay is merely routine, but the action scenes are a knockout – and made this an international cult favorite. The collector’s-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.98 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interviews, and more. In Dutch and French with English subtitles (or you can watch it English-dubbed). Rated R. **½
BAND AID (Shout! Factory): Writer/producer Zoe Lister-Jones makes her feature directorial debut with this award-winning comedy in which she and Adam Pally play a couple who try to salvage their marriage by starting a band, available on DVD ($16.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.97 retail).
BAYWATCH (Paramount): Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron hit the beach in this R-rated big-screen action/comedy based on the popular TV series, with regulars David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson making cameo appearances. Despite considerable hype, this did only middling box-office, so a potential film franchise is undecided. The DVD retails for $29.98, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $39.99, and the 4K Ultra HD for $48.99 – the latter two including the unrated version.
BLUEBEARD (Well Go USA Entertainment): Writer/director Soo-youn Lee’s crisp, well-made thriller stars Jin-woong Cho as a divorced doctor enmeshed in a series of unsolved murders gripping the city. Appropriately twisted and twisty … although, in the end, maybe one twist too many. Still, worth a look – and Cho is first-rate. In Korean with English subtitles, available in a DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.98 retail). **½
“THE CHURCHILLS” (Athena): Noted historian David Starkey hosts this three-part 2012 documentary mini-series chronicling the lives and careers of prime minister Winston Churchill and his ancestor John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, available on DVD ($34.99 retail).
“FLIPPER” (Olive Films): The box-office success of the 1963 feature film inspired producer Ivan Tors to bring the titular dolphin to the small screen in an NBC family series starring Brian Kelly as widowed ranger Porter Hicks, with Luke Halpin and Tommy Norden as his young sons. “Season One” includes all 30 episodes from the 1964-’65 season, “Season Two” all 30 episodes from the 1965-’66 season. Each season retails for $34.95 (DVD) and $39.95 (Blu-ray).
HELL UP IN HARLEM (Olive Films): Despite (seemingly) being killed at the end of Larry Cohen’s Black Caesar (1972), box-office success dictated this 1973 follow-up, again written/produced/directed by Cohen, with the indomitable Fred Williamson encoring as vengeful Harlem godfather Tommy Gibbs, with Julius W. Harris, Gloria Hendry, James Dixon and D’Urville Martin also reprising their roles. Not as fresh as the original, but still jam-packed with action. Both the DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) include audio commentary with the always-engaging Cohen. Rated R. **½
HOW TO BE A LATIN LOVER (LionsGate): Over-the-hill gigolo Eugenio Derbez (also a producer) is forced to reassess his priorities in this PG-13-rated comedy boasting a star-studded supporting cast including Salma Hayek, Rob Lowe, Kristen Bell, Rob Corddry, Linda Lavin, Michael Cera, Renee Taylor, Rob Riggle and Raquel Welch, available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.99 retail) – each replete with special features.
“JUST SHOOT ME!”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Shout! Factory): The title tells all in this 19-DVD collection ($79.97 retail) of all 148 episodes from the entire 1997-2003 run of the award-winning NBC situation comedy set against the backdrop of high-fashion publishing, which earned six Emmy nominations and seven Golden Globe nominations, featuring Laura San Giacomo, Wendie Malick, David Spade, Enrico Colantoni and George Segal. Bonus features include audio commentary on selected episodes and retrospective interviews.
LOVE, SWEAT AND TEARS (Kino Lorber): Executive producer Scott Jacobs’ makes his directorial debut with this feature documentary following “America’s menopause romance doctor,” Pamela Dee Gaudry (also an executive producer), as she guides women through the turbulent waters of menopause, featuring interviews with medical specialists and such celebrities as Jenny McCarthy, Lynne Koplitz and Joan Rivers (in her final documentary appearance), available on DVD ($29.95 retail).
MR. MOM (Shout! Factory): Michael Keaton plays the title role in this award-winning but oh-so-predictable 1983 farce, scripted by John Hughes and directed by Stan Dragoti, playing a stay-at-home dad trying to raise his kids when wife Teri Garr unexpectedly finds success in the corporate world. Martin Mull, Christopher Lloyd, Jeffrey Tambor, Graham Jarvis, and sexy Ann Jillian try to give the proceedings a boost. The “Shout! Select” Blu-ray ($27.99 retail) includes retrospective interviews, the TV pilot starring Barry Van Dyke, and original trailer. Rated PG. *½
ONCE UPON A TIME IN VENICE (RLJ Entertainment): Bruce Willis ambles through this rambling, ramshackle, Tarantino-esque romp as a Venice Beach private eye swept up in shady doings – and the abduction of his dog. Written and produced by siblings Mark and Robb Cullen (with the former directing), this is colorful but forced fare, and an uphill battle for its cast: John Goodman, Thomas Middleditch, Famke Janssen, Jason Momoa, Christopher McDonald, Adam Goldberg, Ken Davitian, Elisabeth Rohm, Wood Harris, Kal Penn, and David Arquette – available on DVD ($29.96 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($34.97 retail). *½
“THE ORIGINALS”: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): This prime-time prequel to “The Vampire Diaries” chronicles the “first” vampire family and their bloodthirsty doings in the steamy French Quarter of New Orleans, dramatized in all 13 episodes from the 2017 season of The CW’s supernatural series, starring Joseph Morgan (double trouble as a hybrid vampire/werewolf), Daniel Gillies, Claire Holt, Phoebe Tonkin, Charles Michael Davis and Danielle Campbell, available on DVD ($24.98 retail), replete with special features.
“PAW PATROL: THE GREAT PIRATE RESCUE” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): A DVD collection ($14.99 retail) of six “sea-worthy” episodes from the award-winning animated Nickelodeon children’s series, created by Keith Chapman, detailing the adventures of a group of courageous canines.
“ROWAN & MARTIN’S LAUGH-IN”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (Time Life): “Sock it to me!” A four-DVD collection ($24.95 retail) of all 14 episodes from the inaugural 1967-’68 season of the ground-breaking, often controversial NBC comedy/variety series hosted by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, featuring regulars Goldie Hawn, Henry Gibson, Ruth Buzzi, Judy Carne, Arte Johnson, Jo Anne Worley and Gary Owens, and guest stars Tim Conway, Cher, Flip Wilson, Sammy Davis Jr., Leo G. Carroll and many others. Emmy winner for Outstanding Variety or Musical Series and for Johnson (Special Classification Achievements – Individuals), with eight additional nominations including ones for Hawn and Buzzi.
THE SUMMER OF ALL MY PARENTS (First Run Features): Alma Jodorowsky and Luna Lou play sisters in director/screenwriter Diasteme’s coming-of-age drama (originally titled Juillet Aout, which translates into July-August), in which they spent their summer vacation with their divorced parents. The first half is more engrossing, but Jodorowsky and Lou (in her feature debut) are excellent. In French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail). **½
VARIETE (Kino Classics): E.A. Dupont’s rediscovered silent 1925 adaptation (also known as Variety) of Felix Hollander’s novel Der Eid des Stephan Huller stars Emil Jannings as a carnival barker who comes to ruin when he becomes infatuated with dancer Lyda de Putti. Both the DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) also include Dimitri Buchowetzki’s silent 1922 version of Shakespeare’s Othello, starring Jannings in the title role and de Putti as Emilia. In German or English subtitles.
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2017, Mark Burger)