DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: LIFEFORCE (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory)
They don’t come much loonier than this wild and wacky 1985 sci-fi saga directed by Tobe Hooper, based on Colin Wilson’s novel , and produced by the inimitable Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus of Cannon Films.Alien beings in suspended animation inside Halley’s Comet are revived and invade London, draining their victims of their “life force” (yep). Gorgeous Mathilda May, in her screen debut, plays the “Space Girl” who has no problem finding victims given that she spends much of the movie totally nude.Steve Railsback (American astronaut) and Peter Firth (British agent) earnestly lead the human contingent, while scientist Frank Finlay tries to offer explanations and exposition. Patrick Stewart, Aubrey Morris and Michael Gothard are also swept up in the dire proceedings. Everyone is very funny without meaning to be, but the actors go through their paces with utmost professionalism — and perhaps bewilderment. The score by Henry Mancini(!) is actually quite good.doesn’t make a bit of sense, and took both a critical and financial drubbing (Golan/Globus expected a blockbuster), but it does have a following. It’s entertaining, usually in spite of itself, but it entertaining. The “collector’s edition” DVD/Blu-ray combo retails for $29.93 and contains a bevy of special features. Rated R.
6 SOULS (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Julianne Moore stars in this R-rated chiller (originally titled ) as a psychiatrist endangered when she begins treating Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, a patient with multiple personalities — and all of them were murder victims. The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $29.99.
THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF THE LIVING CORPSE (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Zombie mania continues in this animated, R-rated horror fantasy based on the Dynamite comics series , about a self-aware corpse named Romero (ha!) who battles both the living and dead. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $24.99.
BLOOD FOR IRINA (Autonomy Pictures): editor Chris Alexander makes his feature debut as writer, producer, editor, composer, cinematographer and director of this award-winning vampire thriller starring Shauna Henry (in her screen debut) in the title role, as a bloodsucker desperate to maintain her existence. Available only on Blu-ray ($29.99 retail).
BLOOD RUNS COLD (Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment/ The Collective): Exhausted musician Hanna Oldenburg takes friends on a weekend getaway to a remote cabin in the woods, where they fall prey to a murderous, indestructible fiend. It’s admirable that this film (shot in Stockholm, Sweden) reportedly cost only $5,000 but, let’s face it, it’s nothing special.
COHEN & TATE (Shout! Factory): The Blu-ray bow ($19.97 retail) of screenwriter Eric Red’s 1988 directorial debut, starring Roy Scheider and Adam Baldwin as hit men who fall out when they kidnap a young boy (Harley Cross) who witnessed a murder. Heavy on atmosphere, with intermittent bursts of violence and at times uneven — but certainly deserving a better theatrical distribution than it received. Rated R.
THE DISCO EXORCIST (Wild Eye/MVD Visual): Michael Reed plays randy Rex Romanski, a ’70s-era swinger who dallies and does battle with wicked witch Ruth Sullivan in director Richard Griffin’s affectionately spoofy ode to grade-Z movies of yesteryear, complete with gratuitous sex, violence, drug use, fashions, hairstyles, slang and a grainy, grindhouse ambiance. Besides, any film where the disco ball starts shooting lethal lightning bolts has going for it. Reportedly, is planned.
HANGAR 18 (Olive Films): Sunn Classic Films, best known for such popular ’70s documentaries as and the franchise, capitalized on the UFO craze with this 1980 melodrama about the cover-up surrounding an alien spacecraft that crash-lands on Earth. Ham-fisted and low-budget, with laughably cheesy special effects, but buoyed (somewhat) by a polished cast of professionals including Darren McGavin, Robert Vaughn, Gary Collins (as an action hero?), James Hampton, Joseph Campanella, Pamela Bellwood, Steven Keats, Tom Hallick and William Schallert. Rated PG.
THE HOWLING (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): A new “collector’s edition” of director Joe Dante’s vastly entertaining 1981 chiller, loosely based on Gary Brandner’s novel, starring Dee Wallace as an LA newscaster who uncovers a modern-day sect of werewolves. Terrific Rob Bottin special effects and a stellar cast including some genre icons: Patrick Macnee, Kevin McCarthy, John Carradine, Slim Pickens, Belinda Balaski, Christopher Stone (Wallace’s husband), Dennis Dugan (now Adam Sandler’s in-house director), Kenneth Tobey, Dick Miller, Robert Picardo and gorgeous Elisabeth Brooks. Look for screenwriter John Sayles as a morgue attendant, Roger Corman outside a phone booth, and editor Forrest J. Ackerman in a bookstore. Pino Donaggio’s score is also a plus. Followed by several inferior sequels. The DVD retails for $19.93, the Blu-ray for $29.93 – and there are plenty of special features on both. Rated R.
“THE NEWSROOM”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (HBO Home Entertainment): Aaron Sorkin’s dramatization of contemporary network news in all 10 episodes from the opening 2012 season of the award-winning HBO drama series featuring a star-studded ensemble cast: Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Sam Waterston, Dev Patel, Alison Pill, Olivia Munn and, occasionally, Jane Fonda. The DVD boxed set retails for $59.99, the Blu-ray boxed set for $79.98.
THE RAMBLER (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Writer/ director Calvin Lee Reeder expands his 2008 short film for this R-rated feature, a salute to ‘70s cult cinema starring Dermot Mulroney in the title role, as an ex-con who embarks on an eventful cross-country journey in search of a fresh start. The DVD retails for $22.98, the Blu-ray for $24.99.
“RECTIFY”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Aden Young stars as a man trying to re-adjust to freedom after being wrongly incarcerated for 20 years, in all six episodes from the inaugural 2013 season of the Sundance Channel drama series created and written by Ray McKinnon (hey, I’ve interviewed him!). The regular cast includes Abigail Spencer, J. Smith-Cameron, Luke Kirby, Adelaide Clemens and the always welcome Hal Holbrook. The two-DVD boxed set retails for $29.98.
SHE CAT (Impulse Pictures): Ai Saotome is one tough cookie as a bisexual gynecologist(!) whose sordid past comes back to haunt her in this 1983 melodrama (originally titled ) from Japan’s venerable Nikkatsu Studios. The usual softcore shenanigans are interspersed with sleek trappings and gangster violence, making this better than most. In Japanese with English subtitles.
“THE TWILIGHT ZONE”: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (Image Entertainment): A five-DVD collection ($29.98 retail) of all 29 episodes from the 1960-’61 season of the immortal CBS fantasy anthology series created and hosted by Rod Serling, which won Emmy Awards that season for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama and Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography for Television, with an additional nomination for Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Drama. Guest stars include Cliff Robertson (a truly great guy), Art Carney, William Shatner, Agnes Moorehead, Don Rickles, Burgess Meredith and more.
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2013, Mark Burger.