Video Vault – Dec 26, 2018
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
STARMAN (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): One of John Carpenter’s best films, this delightfully disarming 1984 science-fiction romance shines as brightly as ever, and was one of the few genre films to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor (Jeff Bridges, in the title role).
A benevolent alien from another world, Starman takes the human form of Scott Hayden, whom grief-stricken young widow Jenny (Karen Allen) is initially none too thrilled to encounter. But when Starman impresses upon her the importance of making a rendezvous with his kind at the Barringer Crater in Arizona, she accompanies him – first as a hostage, then a willing participant, and finally a love interest.
Bridges and Allen bring wonderful shading to their characters and establish an irresistible rapport, with first-rate support from Charles Martin Smith as a sympathetic scientist and reliable Richard Jaeckel as Smith’s antagonistic superior. The inherent sci-fi elements are perfectly seasoned with humor, humanity and romance, making this a legitimate classic.
Although not the blockbuster Columbia Pictures hoped for, the film became a huge hit on video and cable, spawning a short-lived (but much-beloved) television series. Rumors of a remake abound, but this would be a hard act to follow.
The collector’s-edition “Olive Signature” Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective and vintage featurettes, and more. Rated PG. ***½
“THE 2018 WORLD SERIES” (Major League Baseball/Shout! Factory): The official documentary following the Boston Red Sox as the team won a franchise-best 108 wins then cruised through the playoffs and the World Series to win its fourth championship in 14 years, available on DVD ($24.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.93 retail). MLB/Shout! Factory has also released the eight-disc collection “2018 World Series Collector’s Edition: Boston Red Sox,” which contains all five games of the World Series, Game 5 of the ALCS, Game 4 of the ALDS, and bonus features — and is available on DVD ($59.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($79.97 retail).
ALONG WITH THE GODS: THE LAST 49 DAYS (Well Go USA Entertainment): Yong-hwa Kim’s award-winning follow-up to his 2017 blockbuster (originally titled Singwa hamkke: Ingwa yeon), based on the popular South Korean fantasy series, reunites him with Jung-woo Ha, Ju Ji-hoon and Hyang-gi Kim in yet another tale of supernatural intrigue. In Korean with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.98 retail) – both with bonus features.
CANDYMAN (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): A collector’s-edition Blu-ray ($34.93 retail) of director/screenwriter Bernard Rose’s award-winning 1992 chiller, adapted from executive producer Clive Barker’s story The Forbidden, in which intrepid graduate student Virginia Madsen unwittingly unleashes the title fiend (Tony Todd in an iconic turn) upon an unsuspecting world. Atmospheric and effective, but not exactly unpredictable. Still, it found a cult following and launched a horror franchise. The two-disc collection boasts a bevy of special features including both the R-rated theatrical cut and unrated director’s version, audio commentaries, retrospective interviews, theatrical trailer, and more. **½
“DIGIMON ADVENTURE TRI.: THE COMPLETE SIX-FILM COLLECTION” (Toei Animation/Shout! Factory): The title tells all in this Blu-ray collection ($79.97 retail) of all six installments of the popular anime franchise: Reunion (2015), Decision (2016), Confession (2016), Loss (2017), Coexistence (2017) and Future (2018) – each boasting English-language soundtracks and bonus features. Toei Animation/Shout! Factory has also released Digimon Adventure Tri.: Future as a standalone DVD/Blu-ray combo ($24.97 retail).
DISTANT VOICES, STILL LIVES (Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment Group): Writer/director Terrence Davies’ award-winning, semi-autobiographical, PG-13-rated 1988 feature debut, a comedy/drama told in two parts (and shot two years apart), following a working-class British family in Liverpool during the 1940s and ’50s, with an ensemble cast headed by Pete Postlethwaite as the mercurial patriarch, with Freda Dowie, Lorraine Ashbourne (in her screen debut), Angela Walsh (in her screen debut), Dean Williams, and Michael Starke), available as a special-edition Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) including audio commentary, retrospective interviews, theatrical trailer, and more.
DOG DAYS (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): A common love of canines bonds together a disparate group of characters in Los Angeles in this PG-rated comedy/drama featuring a star-studded ensemble cast including Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, Adam Pally, Eva Longoria, Rob Corddry, Finn Wolfhard, Thomas Lennon, Mo Gaffney, Ron Cephas Jones, David Wain, and Ken Marino (who also directed), available on DVD ($29.98 retail).
“ERNIE KOVACS: THE CENTENNIAL EDITION” (Shout! Factory): The title tells all in this nine-DVD collection ($69.97 retail) that celebrates the comedic legacy of the legendary funnyman, including episodes from his local and national morning shows, episodes from his prime-time NBC series, five prime-time ABC specials, a collection of short films, tributes, commercials, and a treasure trove of bonus features.
GALVESTON (RLJE Films): Actress-turned-director Melanie Laurent helmed this adaptation of Nic Pizzolatto’s novel (scripted by the author under the pseudonym “Jim Hammett”) set in 1988, with Ben Foster as a disillusioned thief who takes flight with teen prostitute Elle Fanning. Suitably grim and drenched in noir-ish atmosphere, with Foster (who takes quite a beating) and Fanning bringing considerable conviction to stock roles, as Lili Reinhart, Robert Aramayo and Beau Bridges round out the cast, available on DVD ($29.96 retail), Blu-ray ($29.97 retail), and 4K Ultra HD combo ($35.97 retail).
NOT WITHOUT MY DAUGHTER (MVD Marquee Collection/MVD Entertainment Group): The Blu-ray bow ($24.95 retail) of director Brian Gilbert’s fact-based 1991 political melodrama, starring Sally Field as Betty Mahmoody, an American woman married to an Iranian (Alfred Molina, as the aptly named “Moody”) who desperately tries to escape Iran with their young daughter (Sheila Rosenthal, in an award-winning screen debut) when he demands they live there. Based on the non-fiction best-seller by Mahmoody and William Hoffer, this well-intentioned but one-note effort would have worked better as a television movie and tends to present the majority of its Muslim characters as wide-eyed fanatics. Jerry Goldsmith contributes a customarily good score. Special features include theatrical trailer, vintage featurette, and more. Rated PG-13. **
OUTRAGE CODA (Film Movement): Takeshi “Beat” Kitano returns as screenwriter, director and star of the award-winning third – and purportedly final – chapter of the high-octane action saga begun in 2010’s The Outrage, in which he portrays (naturally) a hard-bitten crime boss who returns to Japan to settle an old score. In Japanese and Korean with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.95 retail), each boasting bonus features.
RIVER RUNS RED (Cinedigm): Writer/producer/director Wes Miller’s thriller stars Taye Diggs (also an executive producer) as a judge whose son (Thomas Belk) is gunned down by local cops Luke Hemsworth and Gianni Capaldi, compelling him to take the law into his own hands. A potentially relevant story is reduced to a standard-issue – and none-too-smart – vigilante shoot-’em-up, with George Lopez (grizzled and miscast), Briana Evigan, and John Cusack (looking glum) wasted in support, available on DVD ($9.96 retail), Blu-ray ($19.99 retail) and 4K Ultra HD ($19.99 retail). *
“ROCKO’S MODERN LIFE”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Nickelodeon/Paramount): A self-explanatory, eight-DVD collection ($39.98 retail) containing all 53 episodes – plus bonus features — from the entire 1993-’96 run of the award-winning, animated Nickelodeon comedy series following the misadventures of the title character (voiced by Carlos Alazraqui), an Australian wallaby attempting to assimilate into American culture along with his wacky friends.
“SID CAESAR: THE WORKS” (Shout! Factory): The title tells all in this five-DVD collection ($59.97 retail) that pays tribute to legendary funnyman Sid Caesar (1922-2014), boasting episodes from his television series’ “The Admiral Broadway Review,” “Your Show of Shows” and “Caesar’s Hour,” the 1973 compilation film Ten from Your Show of Shows, the Emmy-winning 1967 CBS reunion special, the 2014 Paley Center for Media Tribute Program, bonus interviews, previously unreleased material, a collectible 20-page book, and more.
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Utilizing a significant (even unconscionable) amount of footage from its 1984 predecessor, editor-turned-first-time screenwriter/director Lee Harry’s cheap and cheesy 1987 follow-up stars Eric Freeman (in his screen debut) as the vengeful brother of the Santa-suited killer, newly released from an asylum and bent on continuing the holiday horror. Yes, they’ll make a collector’s-edition Blu-ray ($34.93 retail) for anything – this one including audio commentary, retrospective interviews and featurettes, and more. Rated R. *
TAILSPIN TOMMY IN THE GREAT AIR MYSTERY (VCI Entertainment/MVD Entertainment): Clark Williams flies high in the title role of this 12-part 1935 serial, the second in a series (following 1934’s Tailspin Tommy) based on Hal Forrest’s popular comic strip, this time becoming embroiled in a civil war in a Latin American island nation, with Noah Beery Jr. (reprising his role as comic sidekick Skeeter), Jean Rogers, Bryant Washburn, Delphine Drew, James Burtis, Paul Ellis and Harry Worth also aboard. Both the DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) are digitally remastered and restored in high definition.
TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE NEXT GENERATION (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Kim Henkel, the writer and associate producer of the original 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre, made his feature directorial debut with this idiotic 1994 spin-off/follow-up (also released as The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre), which featured early roles for future Oscar winners Matthew McConaughey (who looks like he’s having fun) and Renee Zellweger (who looks embarrassed). The satirical elements are dopey, the characters one-dimensional, and in many scenes it looks like fog machine is chugging away just off-camera. Quite possibly the worst of any of the Texas Chainsaw movies. The collector’s-edition Blu-ray ($34.93 retail) includes both the R-rated theatrical cut and unrated director’s cut, audio commentary, retrospective interviews, and more. No stars
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2018, Mark Burger)