Video Vault – Mar 27, 2019
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
10 TO MIDNIGHT (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): “Forget what’s legal. Do what’s right.”
That’s the motto of this memorable 1983 Charles Bronson vehicle that represents both the actor’s best teaming with director J. Lee Thompson – nine films in all! – and probably the best film he made for the inimitable Golan/Globus duo at Cannon Films, for whom he primarily worked during the decade.
Loosely based on the Richard Speck killings, the film follows Bronson’s L.A. homicide detective Leo Kessler, saddled with new partner Paul McAnn (Andrew Stevens), as he pursues sexual psychopath Warren Stacy (Gene Davis). When Stacy avoids prosecution, Kessler plants evidence … only his scheme backfires. Stacy goes free, and begins stalking Kessler’s daughter Laurie (Lisa Eilbacher) who, conveniently enough, has fallen for McAnn.
It’s a combination slasher film/police procedural, served up with all the exploitation trimmings, including gratuitous gore and nudity – much of it provided by Davis, who commits his murders stark naked. Yet its examination of the legal system is rather effective in its blunt, knee-jerk manner. The cast is solid down the line, with Wilford Brimley as Bronson’s boss, Geoffrey Lewis as a sleazy attorney, and Davis is particularly strong, making Stacy both fearsome and pathetic. As for Bronson, he’s Bronson – and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
The title, incidentally, means nothing.
The collector’s-edition Blu-ray ($34.93 retail) includes audio commentaries, retrospective interviews, theatrical trailer, and more. Rated R. ***
BEYOND ATLANTIS (VCI Entertainment/MVD Entertainment Group): Treasure hunters Patrick Wayne and John Ashley (who also produced) encounter denizens from the lost city of Atlantis in producer/director Eddie Romero’s low-budget 1973 Filipino fantasy, featuring such familiar folk as George Nader, Sid Haig and Vic Diaz, which always seemed to pop up in drive-in double- and triple-bills even while haunting the airwaves of late-night television. Hokey but amusing, often in spite of itself. The special-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.95 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interviews, original trailer, and more. Rated PG. **
BEYOND THE NIGHT (Breaking Glass Pictures): Imagine a combination of Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) seasoned with M. Night Shymalan and Stephen King, and you’ve got a pretty good grasp of writer/director Jason Noto’s moody, melancholy, effectively low-key thriller (originally titled The Awakening), in which recently widowed combat veteran (Zane Holtz) returns home to Pennsylvania with his withdrawn young son (talented newcomer Azhy Robertson), who inexplicably provides the key to the unsolved disappearance of local crime lord Chance Kelly’s daughter years before. A real sleeper, with a solid ensemble cast that also includes Tammy Blanchard, Skipp Sudduth, Neal Huff and Enid Graham, available on DVD ($19.99 retail), replete with bonus features. ***
BLUE MOVIE (Cult Epics/CAV Distributing): After being released from a five-year prison stint, Hugo Metsers tries to get into the swing of things – literally and figuratively – as he revels in the permissive sexual mores that he encounters with his new neighbors in his apartment building, in producer Pim de la Parra and director Wim Verstappen’s 1971 Dutch-language softcore romp, which kicked off the “Dutch Sex Wave.” Less titillating in retrospect than a (dated) cultural artifact, the special-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($34.95 retail) boasting bonus features. **
THE CAPTAIN (Music Box Films Home Entertainment): Writer/director Robert Schwntke’s fact-based, award-winning World War II drama (originally titled Der Hauptmann) stars Max Hubacher as the main character, a German deserter who dons a captain’s uniform and becomes corrupted by the power it affords him. In German with English subtitles, available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.95 retail), each boasting bonus features including audio commentary, featurettes, cast and crew interviews, and more.
DARK RIVER (FilmRise/MVD Entertainment Group): Writer/director Clio Barnard’s dour, award-winning drama, inspired by Rose Tremain’s novel Trespass, stars Ruth Wilson as a woman who confronts her past – and her disturbed brother (Mark Stanley) – when she returns to her childhood home following the death of their father (Sean Bean). Wilson and cinematographer Adriano Goldman do fine work, but the slow-moving narrative flounders. **
“DESIRE: THE SHORT FILMS OF OHM” (TLA Releasing): A self-explanatory DVD compilation ($24.99 retail) of gay-themed short films written and directed by the titular auteur, born Ohm Phanphiroj, the former fashion editor/photographer-turned-filmmaker: The Desire Trilogy, Journey, and The First Conversation Between Frank and I.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER: THE STORY OF ROGER AILES (Magnolia Home Entertainment): Producer/director Alexis Bloom’s award-winning, self-explanatory, and very timely documentary feature chronicles the rise and fall of FOX News founder Roger Ailes (1940-2017), whose career crashed and burned amidst multiple allegations of sexual harassment, in a chilling and concise manner that resonates long after the end credits. ***
DRACULA’S FIANCEE (Redemption/Kino Lorber): Jean Rollin’s 2002 chiller (originally titled La fiancee de Dracula) stars Jacques Regis as a fearless vampire slayer who battles supernatural forces at a cursed convent called “the Order of the White Virgins.” In French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) – both of which also include Rollin’s 1989 fantasy Lost in New York (Perdues dans New York) and audio commentary.
HE LOVES ME (TLA Releasing): Konstantinos Menladu wrote, produced, edited and directed this romantic drama starring newcomers Hermes Pittakos and Sanuye Shoteka as a gay couple who embark on a seaside vacation in a last-ditch effort to salvage their relationship, available on DVD ($24.99 retail).
HONEYGLUE (Breaking Glass Pictures): Writer/producer/director James Bird’s 2015 drama details the relationship that develops between a terminally ill woman (producer Adriana Mather) and a gender-defying artist (newcomer Zach Villa). Sincere and acted with compassion by a cast that includes Christopher Heyderdahl, Jessica Tuck, Booboo Stewart and Amanda Plummer, but rambling, inconsistent, and so frequently self-indulgent that the dramatic momentum falters. Rated R. **
THE LAST MAN (LionsGate): Writer/producer/director Rodrigo H. Vila’s R-rated science-fiction parable stars Hayden Christensen as a disillusioned veteran in a crumbling future who believes the end of the world is nigh thanks to the warnings of street prophet Harvey Keitel, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($21.99 retail).
LOSIN’ IT (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): This typical 1983 teen comedy is notably only for ita squandered talent – director Curtis Hanson, screenwriter B.W.L. Norton, cinematographer Gil Taylor and stars Tom Cruise and Shelley Long – as it treads over all-too-familiar territory, with Cruise and buddies Jackie Earle Haley, John Stockwell and John P. Navin Jr. looking for fun in late ’50s Tijuana, available on DVD ($11.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.95 retail). Rated R. *½
MAD DOG AND GLORY (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): The Blu-ray bow ($29.95 retail) of director John McNaughton’s engagingly edgy 1993 comedy, with Robert De Niro as a lonely Chicago cop detective who saves the life of gangster (and sometime stand-up comic) Bill Murray and is “gifted” with Uma Thurman – only to fall in love with her. Very much in the Damon Runyon spirit, with a fine supporting cast including Kathy Baker, David Caruso, Tom Towles, Mike Starr, Jack Wallace, and Richard Belzer. Special features include audio commentary, archival featurette and interviews, and more. Rated R. ***
“OUR CARTOON PRESIDENT”: SEASON ONE WITH WORLD CLASS AMENITIES (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Media Distribution): Jeff Bergman provides the voice for President Donald Trump in all 18 episodes from the inaugural 2018 season of the animated Showtime comedy series that offers a satirical take on the current administration, available in a three-DVD collection ($24.99 retail) replete with bonus features.
PAWPARAZZI (LionsGate): In this family-friendly, G-rated comedy, Kristy Swanson provides the voice for a pampered Hollywood pooch who accompanies starlet owner Sara Fletcher on an independent film shoot that quickly goes haywire, available on DVD ($14.98 retail).
THE POSSESSION OF HANNAH GRACE (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Satanic panic grips alcoholic ex-cop Shay Mitchell when she takes a job at the city morgue and, on the first night, the titular victim (Kirby Johnson) of a botched exorcism turns up on the slab … but doesn’t want to stay there. Flashy but empty-headed, with only a couple of jolts and a lot of filler in-between – as well as an obvious twist at the end. Originally titled Cadaver, available on DVD ($30.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.99 retail), both boasting bonus features. Rated R. *
STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): Fashion photographer Edwige Fenech and sometime-boyfriend Nino Castelnuovo investigate a series of brutal killings at a Milanese fashion house in story writer/director Andrea Bianchi’s 1975 giallo thriller (originally titled Nude per l’assassino), available in a collector’s-edition Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) that includes both the original Italian-language and English-dubbed soundtracks, retrospective featurettes and interviews, and more.
SUMMER LOVERS (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Writer/director Randal Kleiser’s 1982 romantic drama stars Daryl Hannah and Peter Gallagher as American tourists in Greece who indulge in an alternative lifestyle when they encounter alluring French archaeologist Valerie Quennessen. What could have been raunchy softcore exploitation is given a measure of charm by its three leads, all of whom are gorgeous (clothed or otherwise), breathtaking locations, and a memorable ’80s soundtrack. Sadly, this was lovely Quennessen’s last film before her untimely death in 1989. Both the DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) include audio commentary and original trailer. Rated R. **½
THEN CAME YOU (Shout! Studios/Shout! Factory): Maisie Williams stars as a free-spirited but dying girl who befriends timid airport-baggage handler Asa Butterfield and persuades him to enjoy life to the fullest – which includes wooing and winning Nina Dobrev, the flight attendant he worships from afar. David Koechner, Tyler Hoechlin, Peyton Roi List, Tituss Burgess, Margot Bingham, and Greensboro’s own Ken Jeong round out the cast of this coming-of-age comedy/drama, available on DVD ($16.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($22.97 retail), each with bonus features.
“WOKE”: SEASON ONE (Dekkoo Films/TLA Releasing): A DVD collection ($24.99 retail) of all 10 episodes from the inaugural 2017 season of the award-winning, French-language drama series (originally titled “Les Engages”), created by Sullivan Le Postec, focusing on the day-to-day activities of the staff of a LGBTQ support center, with an ensemble cast including Mehdi Meskar, Eric Pucheau, Denis D’Arcangelo, Claudine Charreyre, and Romain Ogerau.
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2019, Mark Burger)