Video Vault – Jan 4, 2017
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
“THE TWILIGHT ZONE”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (CBS DVD/Paramount): You simply can’t go wrong with Rod Serling’s immortal television anthology. Nearly 60 years after its premiere, it remains small-screen entertainment at its most thought-provoking. Even at its worst, “The Twilight Zone” was pretty great.
From 1959-’64, 156 episodes were broadcast on CBS, combining science-fiction and fantasy with moral allegory and themes that still resonate to this day, as well as a powerhouse line-up of guest stars including Cliff Robertson, William Shatner, Charles Bronson, Elizabeth Montgomery, Lee Marvin, Burt Reynolds, Telly Savalas, Dennis Hopper, Inger Stevens, Buster Keaton, Burgess Meredith and countless others. Everyone, it seems, has a favorite episode – and many more than one. (The Invaders, written by Richard Matheson and starring Agnes Moorehead, and Nothing in the Dark, with Robert Redford and Gladys Cooper, are way up there for me.)
Thanks to syndication, “The Twilight Zone” has never been off the air since leaving prime-time. Serling won consecutive Emmy Awards (1960 and ’61) for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama and was nominated again in ’62. The series also won a ’61 Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography on Television, and retains a massive following the world over.
The Blu-ray boxed set ($126.99 retail) includes a bevy of bonus features, including audio commentaries, retrospective interviews, Rod Serling audio lectures, isolated music scores, and more.
50 YEARS WITH PETER, PAUL AND MARY (Peter, Paul and Mary/MVD Entertainment Group): Producer/director Jim Brown’s warm, loving music documentary chronicles the history of folk singers and social activists Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey and the late Mary Travers, featuring vintage concert footage and extensive interviews. Splendidly steeped in nostalgia. ***½
99 WOMEN (Blue Underground): A three-disc “unrated director’s cut” DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.98 retail) of producer Harry Alan Towers’ and director Jess Franco’s unabashedly trashy 1969 “babes-behind-bars” exploitation schlock set in an island prison for women, lorded over by sadistic lesbian warden Mercedes McCambridge and corrupt governor Herbert Lom. Maria Schell, Luciana Paluzzi, Rosalba Neri and Maria Rohm (Towers’ real-life wife) comprise a cast that deserves better. Still, this has a cult following and isn’t without its campy attributes. Special features include retrospective interviews, theatrical trailer, a CD of Bruno Nicolai’s score, collectible booklet, and more. **
ANOTHER MAN WILL (RLJ Entertainment): The 20-year marriage of Thomas “Nephew Tommy” Miles and Nadine Ellis hits the skids in this writer/director David E. Talbert’s romantic comedy/drama adapted from his play, available on DVD ($14.98 retail).
CHEERS FOR MISS BISHOP (Olive Films): Martha Scott plays the title role in this 1941 adaptation of Bass Streeter Aldrich’s novel Miss Bishop, as a dedicated schoolteacher whose devotion to her students came at the expense of her own romantic fulfillment. William Gargan, Edmund Hwem, Sidney Blackmer, Sterling Holloway, Marsha Hunt, Don Douglas, Mary Anderson and Rosemary DeCamp (her screen debut) also appear, and Edward Ward’s score earned an Oscar nomination. The DVD retails for $14.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95.
FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS (Paramount): In the title role, Meryl Streep headlines director Stephen Fears’ fact-based, award-winning, PG-13-rated comedy whose dream of becoming opera star is hampered by a distinct lack of talent, with Hugh Grant as her devoted husband, available on DVD ($29.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.99 retail).
“GUNSMOKE”: THE TWELFTH SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount): James Arness saddles up again as Dodge City’s marshal Matt Dillon, in all 29 episodes from the 1966-’67 season of the long-running, award-winning CBS Western series. “Volume One” ($45.98 retail) contains the first 15 episodes on DVD and “Volume Two” ($45.98 retail) the remaining 14.
JOHNNY GUITAR (Olive Films): Sterling Hayden plays the titular gunfighter in Nicholas Ray’s 1954 adaptation of Roy Chanslor’s Western novel, but Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge dominate the proceedings as rivals vying for his affections, with Ward Bond, Scott Brady, John Carradine, Royal Dano, Paul Fix and Ernest Borgnine in support. Originally branded with negative reviews, this has undergone a critical reassessment and is now considered a classic by some. It’s certainly offbeat, with considerable sexual subtext rare for that time. Both the “Olive Signature” DVD ($34.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) include audio commentary, retrospective interviews, and more. ***
“MADAM SECRETARY”: SEASON TWO (CBS DVD/Paramount): Tea Leoni returns as Elizabeth McCord, the US Secretary of State, in all 23 episodes from the 2015-’16 season of the CBS political drama co-starring Tim Daly, Bebe Neuwirth, Zeljko Ivanek and Keith Carradine (as the President), available on DVD ($64.99 retail).
MAXIMUM RIDE (Paramount): Lousy scripting, uninspired direction and low-rent special effects doom this potential fantasy/adventure franchise about six orphans with superpowers on a quest to uncover their past. Allie Marie Evans, as the heroine Max, is better than the material. Based on executive producer’s James Patterson’s best-selling novels. Rated PG-13. *
THE MONKEY KING 2 (Well Go USA Entertainment): Director Soi Cheang’s follow-up to his popular 2014 action fantasy (originally titled Xi you ji zhi: Sun Wukong san da Baigu Jing) sees Donnie Yen assume the title role, a legendary warrior who protects traveling monk William Feng Shaofeng from the nefarious White Bone Spirit (Gong Li). Another installment is in the works, so Monkey business will continue. In Mandarin with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail).
MORPHINE: JOURNEY OF DREAMS (Cinema LLC/MVD Entertainment Group): Producer/director/editor Mark Shuman’s entertaining and thorough music documentary traces the history of the Boston-based “Low Rock” band whose rise in the ’90s was cut short by the tragic death of guitarist Mark Sandman, featuring interviews with fellow band members Dana Colley, Billy Conway and Jerome Dupree, plus such admirers as Joe Strummer, Steve Berlin and Henry Rollins. ***
NESTOR (Candy Factory Films): Filmmaker Daniel Robinson’s the whole show in this interesting, if repetitious, experimental feature, which follows the day-to-day drudgery of a bearded, solitary, isolated filmmaker struggling to recall his identity and purpose. **½
“THE RED SKELTON HOUR IN COLOR” (Time Life): The title tells all in this selection of never-before-released episodes from the long-running (20 seasons!), award-winning CBS comedy/variety series hosted by Red Skelton, featuring such guest stars as John Wayne, Tim Conway, Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Phyllis Diller, George Gobel, Mickey Rooney and others. A three-DVD collection ($29.95 retail) boasts 12 episodes and a single DVD ($12.95 retail) boasts four episodes.
“THE SHANNARA CHRONICLES”: SEASON 1 (Paramount): This popular IGN fantasy series, based on Terry Brooks’ best-selling novels, follows three heroes (Austin Butler, Poppy Drayton and Ivana Baquero) as they battle the forces of evil to save the Four Lands, in all 10 episodes from the inaugural 2016 season, available on DVD ($22.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.99 retail), both replete with bonus features.
SKY RAIDERS (VCI Entertainment): Billy Halop aids World War I flying aces and aviation pioneers Donald Woods and Robert Armstrong keep plans for their new high-speed fighter out of the hands of an enemy spy ring headed by Eduardo (billed as “Edward”) Ciannelli in this 12-part 1941 serial directed by Roy Taylor and Ford Beebe, available on DVD ($19.99 retail).
“TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: EARTH’S LAST STAND” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): Those “heroes on the half-shell” are back in action in seven episodes from the 2005-’06 season of the long-running animated fantasy series, available on DVD ($14.99 retail).
TRUE NEW YORK (First Run Features): A DVD compilation ($24.95 retail) of five award-winning short films that offer inside glimpses into Gotham: Jordan Roth’s C-Rock, Joshua Z. Weinstein’s Taxi Garage, Yoni Brook’s A Son’s Sacrifice, Sam Cullman and Benjamin Rosen’s Black Cherokee, and Jeremy Workman’s One Track Mind.
THE ULTIMATE LEGACY (Cinedigm): The third in the faith-based film series based on Jim Stovall’s best-selling novels sees Logan Bartholomew reprising his Ultimate Life role as Jason Stevens, still seeking his purpose in life. Brian Dennehy, Lee Meriwether, Bill Cobbs and Ali Hills also encore, joined by Raquel Welch and Doug Jones, available on DVD ($14.93 retail).
WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): It’s Fatal Attraction all over again when childless couple Morris Chestnut and Regina Hall hire Jaz Sinclair as their surrogate … but she turns out to be a dangerous psychopath. Don’t you hate when that happens? This PG-13-rated thriller is available on DVD ($26.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.99 retail).
(Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2017, Mark Burger) HYPERLINK “mailto:email@example.com”firstname.lastname@example.org