Video Vault – Aug 8, 2018
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Vastly under-appreciated and even misunderstood, John Carpenter’s award-winning 1994 shocker scores as a nightmarish near-classic from a filmmaker we don’t hear enough from these days, his last feature being The Ward in 2010.
There are nods and references aplenty, including – but not limited to – Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, Franz Kafka, Carpenter himself, and particularly H.P. Lovecraft, which neatly feeds into Carpenter’s darkly humorous, trademark cynical sensibilities – perfectly embodied in Sam Neill’s terrific turn as insurance investigator and resident skeptic John Trent, tapped to locate the whereabouts of best-selling horror author Sutter Cane (Jurgen Prochnow), whose latest novel is literally driving readers insane.
Trent embarks on a horrific odyssey to ascertain the truth, one that takes him … well, into the mouth of madness – and beyond. Also along for the ride are Charlton Heston, still-formidable as Cane’s publisher, Julie Carmen, John Glover, David Warner, Bernie Casey, Carpenter regular Peter Jason, and Hayden Christensen (in his feature debut).
The collector’s-edition Blu-ray ($34.93 retail) includes audio commentaries, retrospective interviews, vintage featurette, and more. Rated R. ***
1/1 (Narrator Entertainment/Gravitas Ventures): Writer/director Jeremy Phillips’ brooding coming-of-age drama stars Lindsey Shaw (looking all the world like Kristen Stewart) as a disillusioned 20-year-old contemplating life in a dead-end Pennsylvania town. Alternately incisive and pretentious, with Phillips’ kinetic, frenetic visual style frequently overpowering the narrative – but Shaw’s performance is worth watching. **
BLUE DESERT (IndiePix Films): Eder Santos’s award-winning, existential science-fiction drama (originally titled Deserto Azul), inspired somewhat by Yoko Ono’s art book Grapefruit, follows everyman Odilon Esteves as he searches for the meaning of life and self in Brazil and the Chilean desert. In Portuguese with English subtitles, available on DVD ($19.95 retail).
THE BOXCAR CHILDREN – SURPRISE ISLAND (Legacy Classic/Shout! Kids Factory): This animated, family-friendly adaptation of Gertrude Chandler Warner’s best-selling children’s book series sees the orphaned Boxcar Children enjoying a summer-long adventure on their grandfather’s island, featuring a star-studded voice-over cast including Martin Sheen, J.K. Simmons, UNCSA School of Drama graduate Dane DeHaan, and Joey King, available on DVD ($16.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($22.97 retail).
DIGIMON ADVENTURE TRI. – COEXISTENCE (Toei Animation/Shout! Factory): Having been cast out of the Digital World, the DigiDestined team again fights for survival in the latest installment of the popular, award-winning anime franchise, available on DVD ($14.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($24.97 retail), containing both English- and original Japanese-language soundtracks.
FINDING YOUR FEET (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Director Richard Loncraine’s award-winning, bittersweet crowd-pleaser sees Imelda Staunton reuniting with estranged sister Celia Imrie after discovering husband John Sessions is cheating on her, then finding further inspiration when she joins her sister’s community dance class. Timothy Spall, David Hayman, Josie Lawrence, and Joanna Lumley round out an appealing cast. Rated PG-13. **½
IN SYRIA (Film Movement): Writer/director Philippe Van Leeuw’s award-winning drama (originally titled Insyriated) takes place over a 24-hour period, in which a Damascus apartment complex is besieged by snipers and soldiers, with Hiam Abbass in excellent form as a matriarch determined to protect her family from harm, matched by Diaond Abou Abboud as the young mother living next door, Juliette Navis as a guilt-riddled housekeeper, and Mohsen Abbas (in his screen debut) as Abbass’s father-in-law, who wearily observes the goings-on from behind a cloud of cigarette smoke. Intense and timely, but peaks during Abboud’s harrowing assault scene midway through. In Arabic with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail). ***
I WALK ALONE (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas first teamed up in Byron Haskin’s 1948 directorial debut, adapted from Theodore Reeves’s play Beggars are Coming to Town, in which they play former rum-runners whose reunion is fraught with tension and inevitable betrayal. A good, tough film noir, with Lizabeth Scott, Wendell Corey, Marc Lawrence, Mike Mazurki, and Mickey Knox lending solid support. Both the DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) include audio commentary and bonus trailers. ***
LOWLIFE (IFC Midnight/Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Writer/director Ryan Prows’s award-winning feature debut, which also marks the production debut of the L.A.-based comedy troupe Tomm Fondle (of which Prows is a member) is a Tarantino-esque in which disparate – and desperate – characters get mixed up with an illegal organ-trafficking ring, available on DVD ($16.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($22.97 retail), both boasting bonus features including audio commentaries and short films.
MAC AND ME (Shout! Factory): Yes, they’ll make a collector’s-edition Blu-ray ($22.97 retail) of just about anything – including this cloying, utterly disposable 1988 knock-off of E.T. (1982) starring Jade Calegory (in his first and only feature) as a pre-teen paraplegic who befriends a benevolent alien being known as a “Mysterious Alien Creature” (hence MAC). A cult favorite among bad-movie aficionados, with excessive McDonald’s product placements. Special features include audio commentary, retrospective interviews, original trailers, and more. Rated PG. ½
MARROWBONE (Magnolia Home Entertainment): Writer Sergio Sanchez’s award-winning, R-rated directorial debut (also known as The Secret of Marrybone) stars George MacKay, Mia Goth, Charlie Heaton, and Matthew Stagg as siblings contending with supernatural forces in a remote manor, available on DVD ($26.98 retail), Blu-ray ($29.98 retail), and 4K Ultra HD combo ($34.98 retail) – each boasting bonus features.
“OK K.O.! LET’S BE HEROES: T.K.O.” (Cartoon Network): A DVD collection ($14.97 retail) of 19 episodes plus two-part special from the inaugural 2017 season of the animated Cartoon Network fantasy series created by Ian Jones-Quartey, following the misadventures of the titular character K.O. (voiced by Courtenay Taylor) as he strives to become the “Greatest Hero Ever.”
OPERATION RED SEA (Well Go USA Entertainment): Director Dante Lam’s award-winning follow-up (originally titled Hong hai xing dong) to his 2016 blockbuster Operation MeKong sees the Chinese Navy’s elite Jialong (Sea Dragon) Assault Team back in action, rescuing hostages from a Middle Eastern nation while battling terrorists armed with nuclear weapons. In English, Arabic and Mandarin with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.98 retail).
PYEWACKET (IFC Midnight/Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Actor-turned-writer/director Adam MacDonald’s coming-of-age shocker stars Nicole Munoz as a rebellious, grief-stricken teenager who regrets putting a curse on widowed mother Laurie Holden when she conjures up the titular demon, available on DVD ($16.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($22.97 retail), both with bonus features.
“RIVERDALE”: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa created this award-winning CW drama/mystery series that puts a noir-ish spin on the familiar Archie Comics characters, in which the all-American town of Riverdale has a dark underbelly. K.J. Apa plays Archie, surrounded by an ensemble cast including Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Marisol Nichols, Cole Sprouse, Ashleigh Murray, Madchen Amick and Luke Perry, in all 22 episodes from the 2017-’18 season, available on DVD ($39.99 retail) – replete with bonus features.
SOMEONE’S WATCHING ME! (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Just before scoring with Halloween in 1978, John Carpenter wrote and directed this TV movie, originally aired on NBC, starring Lauren Hutton as a career woman battling a stalker who spies on her from a neighboring hi-rise apartment in Los Angeles. Echoing both Halloween and the same year’s Eyes of Laura Mars – for which he wrote the original script – this effective if mechanical Hitchcockian thriller finds Hutton and leading man David Birney on the bland side, but gets a boost from Adrienne Barbeau (Carpenter’s future wife) and Carpenter regular Charles Cyphers, enjoyably typecast as a skeptical cop. The collector’s edition Blu-ray ($29.99 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interviews, and more. **½
“SPIRAL”: SEASON 6 (MHz Networks): A four-DVD collection ($39.95) of all 12 episodes from the 2016-’17 season of the award-winning, French-language crime series (originally titled Engrenages) that examines every perspective of criminal investigations in Paris, featuring an ensemble cast including Caroline Proust, Audrey Fleurot, Philippe Duclos, Gregory Fitoussi, Fred Bianconi, and Thierry Godard.
STREET MOBSTER (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): Kinji Fukasaku’s 1972 Japanese-language crime thriller (originally titled Gendai yakuza: hito-kiri yuta) dramatizes the rise and fall of hard-boiled, hair-trigger gangster Bunta Sugawara. The collector’s-edition Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) includes audio commentary, theatrical trailer, and more.
THE THREE-WAY WEDDING (Film Movement): Writer/director Jacques Doillon’s 2010 romantic comedy (originally titled Le Mariage a Trois) stars Pascal Greggory as a struggling playwright who methodically manipulates leading lady/ex-wife Julie Depardieu (daughter of Gerard), her new lover and co-star Louis Garrel, and comely assistant Agathe Bonitzer in an effort to complete his latest work. This highly theatrical and picturesque effort recalls the works of Eric Rohmer and Woody Allen, yet is repeatedly hampered by a tone of smug self-indulgence – although Philippe Sarde’s buoyant score and Depardieu’s smart turn give it a boost. In French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail). **
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2018, Mark Burger)