Video Vault – Oct 17, 2018
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Director John Boorman’s 1977 follow-up to the groundbreaking 1973 horror classic ranks as one of the most misguided sequels ever – a film that could simply be described as wrong.
Four years after, the Vatican dispatches Father Philip Lamont (Richard Burton) to investigate the circumstances of the exorcism that killed Father Merrin (Max Von Sydow, reprising his role) and to determine whether Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) has any recollection. Obviously she does, otherwise there wouldn’t be a story. (Oddly enough, there is no mention of Jason Miller’s Father Karras.)
Boorman and screenwriter William Goodhart were inspired by the teachings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest who theorized that good and evil can exist within the same consciousness. It’s an interesting idea, but it simply doesn’t belong here. The film is plenty weird, but it’s not scary in the least.
As for the cast, Blair appears confused (who can blame her?), Burton alternates between a glassy-eyed daze and glassy-eyed resignation, Louise Fletcher (as Regan’s psychiatrist) alternates between flirting with Burton upon their first meeting – where did that come from? – and completely ignoring any sign of the supernatural, no matter how blatant.
In support, Kitty Winn reprises her role as Regan’s minder Sharon, except that the character now makes no sense. The same, and worse, applies to James Earl Jones as a scientist who survived a Merrin exorcism as a boy in Africa and whose current experiments with locusts is a pivotal (and lamentable) plot point. In his final feature, Paul Henreid retains his dignity as the Cardinal who gives Lamont his marching orders, and Ned Beatty (who previously appeared in Boorman’s 1972 classic Deliverance) turns up in the meaningless role of “Ecumenical Edwards.”
Critical and audience reaction was so savage that Boorman recut the film while it was in release (!), but it didn’t help. Still, it could be said that Exorcist II: The Heretic is a one of a kind. What “kind” that would be is anybody’s guess.
The two-disc collector’s-edition Blu-ray ($34.93 retail) includes both theatrical versions, audio commentaries, retrospective interviews, and more. Rated R. *
CHOLESTEROL: THE GREAT BLUFF (Icarus Films Home Video): Anne Georget’s adroit, thoughtful documentary feature revisits – and rethinks (to an extent) – the scientific findings regarding cholesterol and health. In English and French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($26.99 retail), which also includes Georget’s 2011 documentary Branding Illness. ***
CIRCLE OF DUST – FULL CIRCLE: THE BIRTH, DEATH & REBIRTH OF CIRCLE OF DUST (FiXT/MVD Entertainment Group): The title tells all in this two-DVD rock documentary ($22.95 retail) that traces the history of the ’90s industrial rock project created by Klayton (AKA Scott Albert), featuring exclusive interviews, vintage concert and VHS footage, mini-documentary, and more.
“DC’S LEGENDS OF TOMORROW”: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): The superheroes of DC Comics continue their battle against evil in all 18 episodes from the 2017-’18 season of the award-winning CW fantasy series, featuring an ensemble cast including Arthur Darvill, Caity Lotz, Victor Garber, Franz Drameh, Amy Louise Pemberton, Dominic Purcell, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, and former big-screen Superman Brandon Routh (“Atom”), available on DVD ($29.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.99 retail) – both boasting bonus features.
DEATH RACE: BEYOND ANARCHY (Universal 1440 Entertainment/Universal Studios Home Entertainment): The latest in the deathless futuristic action franchise pits an undercover operative (the wooden Zach McGowan) against the formidable “Frankenstein” (embodied by Velislav Pavlov and voiced by Nolan North) in the titular competition, which doesn’t commence until nearly 80 minutes into this overlong, overbearing wallow in degradation and violence – without any of the satirical elements that distinguished earlier installments. Danny Trejo and Fred Koehler encore from previous installments, while Danny Glover (who deserves better) adds a misplaced touch of class in the pedestrian proceedings. Universal Studios Home Entertainment is also releasing the self-explanatory “Death Race: 4-Movie Collection” (Death Race, Death Race 2, Death Race 3: Inferno and this film), which retails for $29.98. The DVD retails for $14.99 and the DVD/Blu-ray combo retails for $22.98 – both boasting bonus features. *
FAHRENHEIT 451 (HBO Home Entertainment): Winston-Salem native Rahmin Bahrani does triple duty as executive producer/co-screenwriter/director of this well-intentioned but pretentious adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s classic novel, with Michael B. Jordan (also an executive producer) and Michael Shannon as futuristic firemen charged with burning books in a dystopian Cleveland of the futute, with Sofia Boutella, Martin Donovan, Khandi Alexander, and Keir Dullea in support. Five Emmy nominations including Outstanding Television Movie, available on DVD ($14.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.98 retail). **
HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Director William Malone’s flashy, award-winning 1999 remake of the 1959 William Castle chiller lives fast and dies hard, with Geoffrey Rush (great fun) in the old Vincent Price role of an eccentric mogul who offers $1 million to anyone who can spend the night in the titular enclave, with Famke Janssen, Chris Kattan, Peter Gallagher, Taye Diggs, Ali Larter, and Bridgette Wilson on the guest list. The first half is a delight, but the second half supplants campy wit with blood and guts … and at least one decapitated head. The collector’s-edition Blu-ray ($34.93 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective and vintage interviews, deleted scenes, theatrical trailer, and more. Rated R. **
HOUSEWIFE (RLJE Films): Director/co-writer Can Ozuduru’s award-winning, kinky, giallo-styled shocker stars Clementine Poidatz in the title role of a traumatized woman who seeks help from charismatic, enigmatic cult leader David Sakurai, whose introduction to the strains of K.C. and the Sunshine Band’s “I’m Your Boogie Man” proves ironically fateful. Not for all tastes and certainly not for the squeamish, but a definite cult contender, bolstered by Tayman Tekin’s stylish cinematography and Antoni Maiovvi’s score. **½
“THE ORIGINALS”: THE COMPLETE FIFTH AND FINAL SEASON (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): This prime-time prequel to “The Vampire Diaries” chronicles the “first” vampire family and their bloodthirsty doings in the steamy French Quarter of New Orleans, dramatized in all 13 episodes from the 2018 season of The CW’s supernatural series, starring Joseph Morgan (double trouble as a hybrid vampire/werewolf), Daniel Gillies, Phoebe Tonkin, Charles Michael Davis and Danielle Rose Russell, available on DVD ($24.98 retail), replete with special features. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is also releasing the self-explanatory “The Originals: The Complete Series” on DVD ($89.99 retail).
THE OUTSIDER (Distrib Films/Icarus Films Home Video): Christopher Barratier’s fact-based drama (originally titled L’outsider and also released as Team Spirit), based on Jerome Kerviel’s non-fiction best-seller L’Engrenage: Memoires D’Un Trader, stars Arthur Dupont as Kerviel, the rogue trader blamed for France’s greatest financial scandal. In French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($26.99 retail).
PIN CUSHION (Cleopatra Entertainment/MVD Entertainment Group): Writer/director Deborah Haywood’s award-winning debut feature details the complicated relationship that develops between mother (Joanna Scanlan) and daughter (Lily Newmark) when they move to a new town, available on DVD ($19.95 retail).
PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH (RLJE Films): Screenwriter S. Craig Zahler adds some snap to the latest installment of the long-running fright franchise, which offers a new perspective on the diabolical legacy of puppetmaster Toulon (Udo Kier), here portrayed as a villain — with Thomas Lennon, Michael Pare, Jenny Pellicer, Nelson Franklin, Charlyne Yi (less annoying than usual), and “scream queen” Barbara Crampton (who appeared in the original film) representing the rapidly-dwindling human contingent. Fun trash with plenty of gore and a wide-open ending, available on DVD ($29.96 retail), DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.97 retail), and 4K Ultra HD combo ($35.97 retail) – each boasting bonus features. **
SCHLOCK (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): At long last (?), a limited-edition Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) combo of John Landis’ 1972 debut feature, an affectionate and (very) low-budget sci-fi/horror parody, in which the missing link – called a “Schlockthropus” (played by Landis in a gorilla suit designed by future Oscar winner Rick Baker) – goes on the rampage in Southern California. After Landis’ success with Kentucky Fried Movie (1977) and National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978), this periodically turned up in re-release (as Banana Monster) on the midnight-movie circuit. Special features include audio commentary with Landis and Baker, archival and retrospective interviews, and more. Rated G. **½
A SWINGERS WEEKEND (Cleopatra Entertainment/MVD Entertainment Group): Writer/director Jon E. Cohen’s award’s winning debut feature takes place during an eye-opening weekend getaway for three couples looking to spice up their love lives. Broad and breezy, with a likable cast on hand: Erin Karpluk, Michael Xavier, Erin Agostino, Randal Edwards, Jonas Chernick, and Mia Kirshner (sporting both a blonde hairdo and a British accent!). **½
TROUBLE IS MY BUSINESS (Random Media): Actor Tom Konkle makes his feature debut as director/executive producer/co-editor/screenwriter with this award-winning film-noir in which he plays an appropriately cynical, fedora-clad, two-bit private detective in ’40s Los Angeles embroiled in deception, seduction and murder, as he crosses paths with femme fatale/screenwriter Brittany Powell (in a dual role) and top-billed Vernon Wells as a corrupt cop. Affectionate and engaging, but overlong and hampered by tame shoot-outs. Both the DVD ($14.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.95 retail) include both the black-and-white and color versions of the film. **
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2018, Mark Burger)