Video Vault – Jul 11, 2018
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
“THE INVADERS”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (CBS DVD/Paramount): Although it only ran two seasons on ABC, created by Larry Cohen and produced by Quinn Martin – which bore some similarities to his “The Fugitive” – holds a space place in the hearts of science-fiction buffs.
Roy Thinnes stars as David Vincent, an architect who witnesses a UFO landing and becomes convinced an alien invasion is in progress. He’s not mistaken, and his repeated attempts to convince others of the aliens’ existence forms the backbone of the series, which clearly reflects the Cold War paranoia of the era.
The special effects have certainly dated, lending the series some contemporary camp appeal, Thinnes brings conviction to his role, and a star-studded line-up of guest stars – some friend and some foe – includes Gene Hackman, Roddy McDowall, Suzanne Pleshette, William Windom, Peter Graves, Barbara Hershey, Sally Kellerman, Arthur Hill, Michael Rennie, Suzanne Pleshette, Ed Asner, Ed Begley, Ted Knight, Barbara Barrie, Ralph Bellamy, Anne Francis, Don Gordon, and Kent Smith, the latter becoming a second-season semi-regular as Edgar Scoville, a wealthy industrialist who heads a contingent of humans known as “The Believers.”
The 12-DVD collection ($39.98 retail) includes all 43 episodes from the entire 1967-’68 run of the series, plus bonus features including audio commentaries, interviews, and episode introductions.
THE ADDICTION (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): Abel Ferrara’s award-winning 1995 take on the vampire genre is an evocative (and sometimes off-putting) character study of graduate student Lili Taylor, afflicted with bloodlust after a nocturnal encounter with bloodsucker Annabella Sciorra. Ken Kelsch’s black-and-white cinematography is a plus, as is Christopher Walken’s cameo as a fellow vampire, and the supporting cast includes Edie Falco, Kathryn Erbe, Fredro Starr, Paul Calderon, and Michael Imperioli. An immediate cult classic, with a climactic bloodbath that is not for the squeamish. The special-edition Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective documentary and interviews, original trailer, and more. **½
A BILL OF DIVORCEMENT (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Director George Cukor and executive producer David O. Selznick’s 1932 adaptation of Clemence Dane’s play stars John Barrymore as a patriarch who returns home after 20 years in an asylum and tries to make amends with estranged wife Billie Burke and willful daughter Katharine Hepburn (in her screen debut). Understandably dated, but the performances hold up. The DVD retails for $19.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. ***
DETECTIVE BUREAU 2-3: GO TO HELL, BASTARDS! (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): Director Seijun Suzuki’s 1963 shoot-’em-up (originally titled Kutabare akuto-domo: Tantei jimusho 23), based on a novel by Haruhiko Oyabu, sees hard-boiled private eye Jo Shishido infiltrating a crime ring to locate a shipment of stolen weapons. In Japanese with English subtitles, the special-edition Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) includes bonus features.
DOGS OF DEMOCRACY (EPF Media/MVD Entertainment Group): First-time filmmaker Mary Zournazi’s heart-warming award-winning documentary feature focuses on the many stray dogs in Athens, Greece, and how their presence symbolizes the political turmoil that has so disenchanted the population, some of whom have lost their homes but still care for the canines. In English and Greek with English subtitles. ***
DON’T GROW UP (Shudder!): A group of juvenile delinquents is swept up in an inexplicable epidemic that turns adults into rampaging zombies in director Thierry Poiraud’s R-rated shocker (originally titled Alone), available on DVD ($26.98 retail), Blu-ray ($29.98 retail), and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($32.98 retail).
THE ENDLESS (Well Go USA Entertainment): Aaron Moorhead and writer Justin Benson produced and co-directed this award-winning sci-fi shocker in which they portray brothers who revisit the UFO cult they were members of as youngsters, only to confront the possibility of an actual, impending alien visitation, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.98 retail), each replete with bonus features including audio commentary.
ESCAPE PLAN 2: HADES (Summit Entertainment/LionsGate): Sylvester Stallone and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson reprise their roles in this unnecessary and underwhelming sequel to the 2013 action thriller, depicting the vicious and violent goings-on at the titular prison. Dave Bautista, Jesse Metcalfe, Jaime King, Wes Chatham, Titus Welliver, and Huang Xiaoming skate through this cartoonish outing, which leaves the door wide open for another sequel. It may be faint praise, but this hardly Sly’s worst film … although it’s not very good. Both the DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.98 retail) include bonus features. Rated R. *½
FUNERAL DAY (In Due Time Productions/Random Media): Actor Jon Weinberg makes his feature debut as producer/director of this award-winning, featherweight comedy of neuroses in which he plays a self-pitying hypochondriac who, following the death of his best friend, becomes convinced that he’s dying and tries to find meaning and purpose in his life. A friendly cast includes Tyler Labine, Suzy Nakamura, Dominic Rains, Sarah Adina and Tygh Runyan. **
GREASER’S PALACE (Scorpion Releasing): Robert Downey (Sr.)’s audacious but uneven 1972 cult classic is a modern-day, satirical retelling of the New Testament, with Allan Arbus as a zoot-suit-clad messiah working miracles in the American Southwest, backed by a supporting cast including Albert Henderson, Luana Anders, Toni Basil, Pablo Ferro, Herve Villechaize, Downey’s then-wife Elsie, and look fast for young Robert Downey Jr. Both the special-edition DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) include retrospective interview and liner notes penned by the late Jonathan Demme. Rated R. **½
GRIMSEY (TLA Releasing): The feature debut of filmmakers Richard Garcia and Raul Portero stars Garcia as a man scouring Reykjavik (including the titular island) for his estranged lover, aided by tour guide Portero, whom he eventually takes a shine to. Brooding and picturesque, with the emphasis primarily on mood instead of narrative. In Icelandic and Spanish with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.99 retail). **
HAMLET (Omnibus Entertainment/Film Movement): Maxine Peake reprises her acclaimed stage performance as the title character in this minimalist and modernized adaptation of William Shakespeare’s classic play, co-directed by Sarah Frankcom (making her feature debut) and Margaret Williams, available on DVD ($24.95 retail).
THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): Producer Sean S. Cunningham and first-time writer/director Wes Craven scored with this savage, still-potent, and still-controversial 1972 exploitation cult classic, inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s 1960 classic The Virgin Spring (!), in which suburbanites Cynthia Carr (in her first and only feature) and Gaylord St. James (AKA Richard Towers) wreak violent vengeance upon the gang of sadistic hippies (led by Fred Lincoln and newcomer David Hess) who raped and murdered their daughter (Sandra Cassell) and her best friend (Lucy Grantham). The limited-edition two-disc Blu-ray ($49.95 retail) includes audio commentaries, vintage and retrospective featurettes and interviews, outtakes, trailers, and more. Rated R. ***
“NELLA THE PRINCESS KNIGHT: ROYAL QUESTS” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): A DVD selection ($12.99 retail) of eight episodes from the animated Nickelodeon children’s series following the adventures of the title character (voiced by Akira Golz) as she tries to protect her magical kingdom.
PLAY THE DEVIL (Breaking Glass Pictures): Writer/producer/director Maria Govan’s award-winning melodrama uses Trinidad and Tobago’s annual carnival as the backdrop for this coming-of-age parable starring Petrice Jones as a conflicted student torn between his dysfunctional family and the attentions of a wealthy older man (Gareth Jenkins, in his screen debut). Vaguely reminiscent of Moonlight (2016), laden with symbolism, and beautifully shot by cinematographer James Wall – but ultimately inconclusive. **½
THE RETURN (Kino Lorber): Writer/director Andrey Zvyagintsey’s award-winning 2003 debut feature (originally titled Vozvrashchenie) stars newcomers Vladimir Garin (who tragically died shortly after making the film) and Ivan Dobronravov as brothers whose relationship is tested when their estranged father (Konstantin Lavronenko) suddenly re-enters their lives. In Russian with English subtitles, available on DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail), both with bonus features.
SEARCHING FOR VICTOR “YOUNG” PEREZ: THE BOXER OF AUSCHWITZ (EPF Media/MVD Entertainment Group): This low-key documentary follows actor Tomer Sisley as he researches the life of the Jewish boxing champion Victor “Young” Perez, who was deported to Auschwitz during World War II and forced to fight for the enjoyment of his captors. In French with English subtitles. **½
SHEIKH JACKSON (Cleopatra Entertainment/MVD Entertainment Group): Writer/director Amr Salama’s comedy/drama stars Ahmad El-Fishawl as a Muslim cleric whose faith in shaken by the untimely 2009 death of his childhood idol Michael Jackson. In Arabic with English subtitles, available on DVD ($14.95 retail).
“STRIKING OUT”: SERIES 2 (Acorn TV Original): A two-DVD collection ($39.99 retail) of all six episodes from the inaugural 2018 season of the award-winning Irish legal drama starring Amy Huberman as a solicitor who forms her own private practice in Dublin after departing a high-powered law firm and dumping her unfaithful fiancee (Rory Keenan). Moe Dunford, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Neil Morrissey, Emmet Byrne, and Fiona O’Shaughnessy round out the regular cast.
THE SWEET ESCAPE (Distrib Films/Icarus Films Home Video): Bruno Podalydes wrote, directed, and stars in this French-language comedy/drama (originally titled Comme un avion) as a an artist in the throes of a mid-life crisis who impetuously decides to embark on a boating excursion, available on DVD ($26.98 retail).
TERMINAL (RLJE Films): Filmed in Budapest and set in an indeterminate time and place, writer/director Vaughn Stein’s cheeky, flashy, ultimately fragmented, noir-ish thriller stars Margot Robbie (also a producer), Max Irons, Simon Pegg, Dexter Fletcher, and Mike Myers (!) as the deceptive, duplicitous denizens congregated in and around a mostly-empty train terminal. Christopher Ross’s sleek, stylized cinematography is certainly eye-catching – but little else stands out in this twisty but fatally self-indulgent exercise in style, available on DVD ($29.96 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.97 retail), each boasting bonus features. *½
“WILL & GRACE (THE REVIVAL)”: SEASON ONE (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment): Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally return to their beloved sitcom roles in all 16 episodes from the 2017 season of the NBC comedy series, which picks up 11 years since the original Emmy-winning series ended, available on DVD ($29.98 retail), replete with bonus features including deleted scenes, gag reel, featurettes, and more.
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2018, Mark Burger)