DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
DOLEMITE (Vinegar Syndrome): Lest anyone think that a bad movie can’t be entertaining, this 1975 “blaxploitation” cult classic is cheap, cheesy, rife with stereotypes, and frequently hilarious.
The film marked the (unforgettable) screen debut of comedian Rudy Ray Moore, who wrote the story and produced. His “Dolemite” persona was the ultimate fast-talking, lady-killing, streetwise super-pimp. Sporting the most outrageous (and eyeball-scorching) threads, spouting vulgar rhymes with unbridled gusto, and meting out retribution with ruthless efficiency â€“ Dolemite is so skilled in the martial arts that opponents drop even when his punches and karate chops completely miss â€“ this is a vanity project like no other.
Released from prison, Dolemite immediately goes gunning for the man who set him up, gangster Willie Green (D’Urville Martin, who also made his feature debut as director here). With the help of “Queen Bee” (Lady Reed) and his all-girl kung-fu army (seriously!), Dolemite is bent on taking back what’s his â€“ and nothing’s gonna stand in his way.
Can you dig it?
The special-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.98 retail) includes both widescreen and full-screen formats (in the latter, the boom mike is repeatedly visible!), audio commentary, retrospective interviews, exclusive documentary, and more. Rated R. **
13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI (Paramount): Michael Bay’s fact-based, R-rated account of six former soldiers recruited to the protect the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya during the terrorist strikes of Sept. 11, 2012, based on Mitchell Zuckoff’s best-seller 13 Hours, with John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Toby Stephens, Pablo Schreiber, David Denman and Max Martini, available on DVD ($29.99 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.99 retail).
THE ABANDONED (IFC Midnight/Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Producer/director/story writer Eytan Rockaway’s feature debut (originally titled The Confines) stars Louisa Krause as an unstable woman who takes a job as security guard for an abandoned apartment complex â€“ and comes to regret it. Jason Patric, Mark Margolis and Ezra Miller co-star in this chiller, available on DVD ($14.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($22.97 retail).
ANOMALISA (Paramount): Writer Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson co-directed this quirky, imaginative, stop-motion animated comedy about a middle-aged author (voiced by David Thewlis) at odds during a speaking engagement in Cincinnati, where he encounters a lonely lass (voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh) whom he flips for. All the other characters (male and female) are voiced by Tom Noonan, a wacky idea that gets funnier all the time. Despite an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature, this didn’t connect at the box-office â€“ but cult status is assured. A real one of a kind â€“ which is a Kaufman specialty. The DVD retails for $29.99, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $39.99. Rated R. ***Â½
THE DAMNED: DON’T YOU WISH THAT WE WERE DEAD (Cleopatra/MVD Entertainment Group): Wes Orshoski’s rock documentary chronicles the 35-year history of the revolutionary UK punk band The Damned, available as a DVD/Blu-ray combo ($24.95 retail).
“DETECTORISTS”: SERIES 2 (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): With metal detectors in hand, Toby Jones and writer/director Mackenzie Crook continue their treasure-hunting across England, in all six episodes from the 2015 season of the award-winning BBC comedy series co-starring Rachel Stirling and her real-life mother Diana Rigg. The two-DVD collection retails for $39.99.
“ELEVENTH HOUR” (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): A two-DVD collection ($29.99 retail) of the four-part 2006 ITV mini-series with Patrick Stewart as a brilliant scientist who spearheads the efforts of the British government’s Joint Sciences Committee to investigate scientific crises, aided and abetted by wise-cracking bodyguard Ashley Jensen. This inspired the 2008-’09 CBS series.
ETERNITY: THE MOVIE (Sidecar Productions/Indican Pictures): Writer/editor/director Ian Thorpe’s award-winning feature debut chronicles the rise and fall of Barrett Crake and Myko Olivier as an ’80s-era pop duo called “Eternity”. Essentially a one-joke movie, but the period trappings and friendly cast (including Eric Roberts, Jon Gries, Martin Kove and son Jesse, and newcomer Nikki Leonti) keep it painless and watchable. Crake and Oliver’s resemblance to Hall and Oates is doubtless intentional. **
THE FUNHOUSE MASSACRE (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): A Halloween party at a giant funhouse turns dire (as per the title) when a group of escaped serial killers (including Jere Burns and Clint Howard) crash the party in this award-winning, R-rated shocker featuring Ben Begley, Scottie Thompson, Courtney Gains and genre icon Robert Englund, available on DVD ($14.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.97 retail).
HIRED TO KILL (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): Directors Nico Mastorakis and Peter Rader’s 1990 shoot-’em-up sees muscular mercenary Brian Thompson hired by George Kennedy to pose as a fashion photographer and lead an all-girl army on a mission to rescue imprisoned political leader Jose Ferrer and assassinate current dictator Oliver Reed. The special-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.95 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interviews, theatrical trailer, and more.
“HUMANS”: SERIES 1 (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): In the near future, humanoid servants tend to the needs of mankind â€“ but not without moral implications and potential risk â€“ in all eight episodes from the inaugural 2015 season of the acclaimed British science-fiction series, aired by AMC in the US and based on the Swedish series Real Humans, with an ensemble cast featuring Tom Goodman-Hill, Gemma Chan, Katherine Parkinson, Neil Maskell, Will Tudor, Colin Morgan, Emily Berrington and William Hurt, available on DVD and Blu-ray (each $39.99 retail).
KILL YOUR FRIENDS (Well Go USA Entertainment): Director Owen Morris’ feature debut stars Nicholas Hoult as a hot-shot record executive who will stop at nothing â€“ even murder â€“ to advance his career in this black comedy based on John Niven’s best-seller and scripted by the author, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail).
“THE LIFE OF VERDI” (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): Originally broadcast on PBS’s “Great Performances” and narrated by Burt Lancaster, this award-winning, Italian-language 1982 documentary mini-series (originally titled Verdi) follows the life and career of the famous Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), as portrayed by Ronald Pickup. The four-DVD collection retails for $49.99.
LOVE FINDS YOU IN VALENTINE (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Law student Michaela Monroe inherits her family’s ranch in Nebraska and tries to reconnect with her parents’ past while patching things up with estranged grandfather Edward Asner and falling for foreman Diogo Morgado in this adaptation of Irene Brand’s Love Finds You in Valentine, Nebraska, which is very much in the Nicholas Sparks vein and awash in soap-opera trappings â€“ although Monroe and Morgado are a photogenic screen duo. Lindsay Wagner co-stars as Morgado’s salt-of-the-earth mother. *Â½
MALONE (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): After riding high atop the box-office for years, Burt Reynolds couldn’t seem to buy a hit in the late ’80s, and so it was with this predictable but competent 1987 adaptation of William Wingate’s novel Shotgun, in which he plays a burned-out CIA agent who encounters a right-wing conspiracy (fronted by smooth Cliff Robertson) in rural Oregon. Cynthia Gibb, Scott Wilson, Kenneth McMillan, Tracey Walter, Dennis Burkley, Philip Anglim and Lauren Hutton round out a capable cast. The Blu-ray retails for $29.95. Rated R. **Â½
MONSTERLAND (RLJ Entertainment): As the Monster Apocalypse rages around him, lone survivor Josh LaCasse takes his seat at an abandoned movie theater and watches an anthology of horror shorts unreel before him. The better segments tend to occur earlier â€“ especially Sander Maran’s Curiosity Kills, which is the standout â€“ but genre fans should enjoy the campy humor, constant stream of in-jokes, CGI and stop-motion special effects, and a generous helping of blood and guts. **Â½
PRELUDIO (Kino Lorber): Kino Lorber’s new “Sol y Luna” label of acclaimed Spanish-language features includes writer/producer/director Eduardo Lucatero’s award-winning 2010 romantic drama depicting a chance encounter between a man named El (Luis Arrieta) and a woman named Ella (Ana Serradillo) â€“ filmed in one continuous take. The DVD retails for $19.95.
THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Wes Craven’s atmospheric 1988 adaptation of Wade Davis’ autobiographical book stars Bill Pullman as an anthropologist who gets mixed up in political and supernatural skullduggery when investigating voodoo practices in Haiti. One of Craven’s best, early post-Elm Street chillers, with a solid cast including Zakes Mokae (first-rate as the heavy), the always welcome Paul Winfield, Cathy Tyson, Brent Jennings, Michael Gough, Paul Guilfoyle and Badja Djola. The special-edition Blu-ray ($34.93 retail) includes audio commentary and retrospective documentary. Rated R. ***
TOUCHED WITH FIRE (LionsGate): Co-producer Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby headline writer/editor/composer/director Paul Dalio’s R-rated drama (originally titled Mania Days) as poets whose respective bi-polar disorders not only inform their work but brings them together — until it threatens to tear them apart. Spike Lee was an executive producer. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $24.99.
A WAR (Magnolia Home Entertainment): Writer/director Tobias Lindholm’s Oscar-nominated (Best Foreign Language Film) is a timely and effective drama (originally titled Krigen) starring Pilou Asbaek as a Danish officer whose actions to save his men under fire result in the deaths of several civilians, thereby placing him the proverbial cross-hairs of a military tribunal to determine if he’s guilty of war crimes. Asbaek and Tuva Novotny (as his wife) give quietly powerful performances. In Danish with English subtitles (or you can watch an English-dubbed version), available on DVD ($26.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail). ***
“WHEN CALLS THE HEART: HEART OF A HERO” (Shout! Factory): Erin Krakow, Daniel Lissing, Lori Loughlin and Jack Wagner are on hand for this feature-length episode from the 2016 season of the award-winning Hallmark Channel series based on Janette Oke’s 1983 novel, set in an early 20th-century Canadian mining town. The DVD retails for $14.93.
(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