Video Vault – Oct 10, 2018
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
“UNIVERSAL CLASSIC MONSTERS: COMPLETE 30-FILM COLLECTION” (Universal Studios Home Entertainment): For nostalgia mavens, this Blu-ray boxed set ($149.99 retail) speaks for itself, delivering a delirious selection of horror and science-fiction classics released by the one major – and still-extant – studio most renowned for the genre.
The bountiful selection includes: Dracula (1931), the Spanish-language version of Dracula (also ’31), Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), Werewolf of London (1935), Dracula’s Daughter (1936), Son of Frankenstein (1939), The Invisible Man Returns (1940), The Invisible Woman (1940), The Mummy’s Hand (1940), The Wolf Man (1941), The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), The Mummy’s Ghost (1942), The Mummy’s Tomb (1942), Invisible Agent (1942), Phantom of the Opera (1943), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), Son of Dracula (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944), The Mummy’s Curse (1944), The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944), House of Dracula (1945), She-Wolf of London (1946), Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) both in 2-D and 3-D, Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955), Revenge of the Creature (1955) both in 2-D and 3-D, and The Creature Walks Among Us (1956).
If that’s not the key to a happy Halloween, I don’t know what is – plus there’s a cornucopia of bonus features includes audio commentaries, documentaries and featurettes, theatrical trailers, and more.
ALL STYLES (Shout! Factory): “So You Think You Can Dance” champ Du-Shuant “Fik-Shun” Stegall makes the move into acting, playing a college student who forms a dance crew and winds up in the national finals pitted against his high-school crew in co-writer/director Angela Tucker’s hip-hop extravaganza, available on DVD ($14.98 retail).
APOCALYPSIS (Indican Pictures): The end is nigh – or is it? – in filmmaker Eric Leisen’s low-budget supernatural conspiracy thriller (originally titled Theosis), set in an alternate reality where pale (and pallid) heroine Maria Bruun begins having visions of the impending apocalypse, while firebrand computer-hacker friend (whiny-voiced Chris O’Leary, in an inauspicious screen debut) tries to warn the populace. This stilted, poorly paced, and woefully acted allegory might have had potential, but is way beyond the grasp of the filmmakers, with Leisen’s visual effects ranging from barely passable to outright laughable. No stars
“THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES”: THE OFFICIAL FIFTH SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount): Jed (Buddy Ebsen) and the rest of the Clampett clan (Donna Douglas, Max Baer Jr., and Irene Ryan) continue to wreak corn-pone comedy havoc upon Southern California, in all 30 episodes from the 1967-’68 season of the award-winning CBS series created by Paul Henning, featuring guest appearances by Gloria Swanson, Ted Cassidy, Robert Strauss, and even John Wayne (!). The four-DVD collection retails for $29.98.
“BORIS KARLOFF COLLECTION” (VCI Entertainment/MVD Entertainment Group): A self-explanatory two-DVD selection ($19.95 retail) of four horror features that marked the final work of the legendary Boris Karloff (1887-1969), filmed back-to-back in 1968 for Mexican producer Luis Enrique Vergara, with Jack Hill directing Karloff’s scenes, and all released after the actor’s death: Dance of Death (House of Evil), Torture Zone (Fear Chamber), Cult of the Dead (Isle of the Snake People or simply Snake People), and Alien Terror (The Incredible Invasion). These are widely, and accurately, considered among Karloff’s worst films, but of course boast a cult following for “Karloff kompletists.”
THE BRIDE (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Director Franc Roddam’s ambitious but failed 1985 variation on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein casts a glowering Sting as a lusty Baron Frankenstein, a hesitant Jennifer Beals as his “perfect creation,” and Clancy Brown playing the ostensible “monster,” whose friendship with circus dwarf David Rappaport provides the film’s highlights. This big-budget misfire boasts a sweeping Maurice Jarre score, Stephen H. Burum’s evocative cinematography, and a classy cast including Geraldine Page, Anthony Higgins, Cary Elwes, Timothy Spall, Alexei Sayle, Phil Daniels, Guy Rolfe, and Quentin Crisp … not that it matters. Still, like so many genre films, it’s got a following. The special-edition Blu-ray ($29.99 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interviews, and TV spot. Rated PG-13. *½
“THE GIFTED”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Stephen Moyer and Amy Acker play parents who take flight with their children after learning of their super-powers – and the government’s efforts to capture them — in in all 13 episodes from the inaugural 2017-’18 season of the Fox fantasy series spun off from Marvel Comics’ X-Men franchise (each episode’s title contains a capital letter “X”), available in a three-disc DVD collction ($29.98 retail).
“I MARRIED JOAN”: CLASSIC TV COLLECTION VOL. 4 (VCI Entertainment/MVD Entertainment Group): A DVD selection ($19.95 retail) of 10 episodes from the NBC comedy series (which ran 1952-’55) starring Joan Davis in the title role of the screwball wife of uptight judge Jim Backus.
IZZY GETS THE F*CK ACROSS TOWN (Shout! Studios/Shout! Factory): Writer/producer/director Christian Papierniak’s award-winning – and rather self-explanatory – comedy stars Mackenzie Davis in the title role of a burned-out punk rocker bent on sabotaging her ex-boyfriend’s engagement party – if she can get to the other side of Los Angeles in time. Carrie Coon, Haley Joel Osment, Alia Shawkat, Annie Potts, Alex Russell, Brandon T. Jackson, Lakeith Stanfield, and Rob Heubel also appear. Both the DVD ($16.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($22.97 retail) boast bonus features including audio commentary, behind-the-scenes featurette, and more.
“THE LOVE BOAT”: SEASON FOUR (CBS DVD/Paramount): Set sail again aboard the Pacific Princess, with her crew (Gavin MacLeod, Bernie Kopell, Fred Grandy, Ted Lange, Lauren Tewes, and Jill Whelan) and an array of guest stars (including Olivia de Havilland, Tom Hanks, Robert Vaughn, Anne Baxter, McLean Stevenson, and more) in all 28 episodes from the 1980-’81 season of the long-running, award-winning ABC comedy series. “Volume One” ($29.98 retail) features the first 14 episodes and “Volume Two” ($29.98 retail) the remaining 14.
THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK (Shout! Factory): Leonardo DiCaprio’s post-Titanic fame gave a box-office boost to director/screenwriter Randall Wallace’s well-produced but clunky and clichéd 1998 adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas classic, with DiCaprio as both the venal King Louis XIV and his lookalike twin brother Philippe, the latter aided by the multi-national contingent of musketeers (Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Gerard Depardieu, and Gabriel Byrne) to claim his rightful place on the throne. Judith Godreche, Anne Parillaud, Peter Sarsgaard, and Hugh Laurie also appear. The “Shout Select” 20th-anniversary edition Blu-ray ($34.93 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interviews and featurettes, and more. Rated PG-13. *½
THE ROW (LionsGate): The Phi Lambda college sorority is rocked by a series of gruesome murders in this R-rated shocker starring Lala Kent (in “scream queen” mode) as a freshman pledge and Randy Couture as her cop father, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($21.99 retail), both boasting special features.
“SANDO” (Acorn TV): Sacha Horler plays the titular character, one Victoria Sandringham, trying desperately to win back her family, her furniture empire, and her self-esteem, in all six episodes from the inaugural 2018 season of the irreverent Australian comedy series created by Charlie Garber and Phil Lloyd, with Kew Boyland, Phil Lloyd, Dylan Hesp, Adele Vuko, Sierra Lewis and Uti Latukefu rounding out the regular cast, available on DVD ($39.99 retail) – replete with bonus features.
SAVING FAITH (LionsGate): This faith-based, family-friendly G-rated holiday drama stars Jenn Gotzon as the owner of a historic theater in Tennessee who tries to stave off foreclosure by hosting a Christmas show. Donny Richmond, Victoria Jackson, Jim E. Chandler (Gotzon’s real-life husband) and Henry Cho co-star, with guest appearances by country-music stars Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Phil Vassar, and Michael W. Smith, available on DVD ($19.98 retail), replete with bonus features including cast and crew interviews, “Not Alone” music video, and more.
SCREAM FOR HELP (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): This little-seen 1984 misfire from the inimitable Michael Winner follows affluent teenager Rachael Kelly (in her first and last feature to date) as she tries to prove that stepfather David Allen Brooks is plotting to kill her and wealthy mother Marie Masters, with Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones providing a “memorable” (i.e. blaring) score, available on special-edition Blu-ray ($29.99 retail) including audio commentary, retrospective interviews, theatrical trailer, and more. Rated R. *½
“SESAME STREET – ELMO’S WORLD: ELMO EXPLORES” (Shout! Factory Kids/Sesame Workshop/Shout! Factory): A DVD selection ($14.98 retail) of episodes from the long-running (1998-2009) Sesame Workshop spin-off of “Sesame Street,” following the misadventures of the titular furry red monster.
THE SEVENTH SIGN (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): This award-winning 1988 chiller – a surprise box-office hit and cable-TV favorite — stars Demi Moore as an expectant mother inexorably drawn into a supernatural odyssey leading up to the Biblical prophecy of Judgment Day. Atmospheric, provocative and sometimes effective, but oddly truncated and uneven – although it boasts a fervent following and a strong supporting cast: Michael Biehn (as Moore’s husband), Jurgen Prochnow, Peter Friedman, and Lee Garlington. The special-edition Blu-ray ($29.99 retail) includes retrospective interviews and TV spots. Rated R. **½
SLEEP NO MORE (RLJE Films): In director Philip Guzman’s surreal shocker, a group of graduate students participate in a sleep-deprivation experiment that becomes a waking nightmare for all of them, available on DVD ($27.97 retail).
“TOP WING” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): “Bird” is the word in this DVD collection ($10.99 retail) of seven episodes from the award-winning, CG-animated Nickelodeon children’s series about the adventures of a flock of rescue birds enrolled at the Top Wing Academy.
THE TOYBOX (Steel House Productions/Skyline Entertainment): A summer road trip turns into a fight for survival for Denise Richards, Mischa Barton and company, when their recreational vehicle turns against them in producer/editor/director Tom Nagel’s award-winning supernatural shocker, available on DVD ($14.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.99 retail), each boasting bonus features.
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2018, Mark Burger)