Video Vault – Oct 24, 2018
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
CREEPSHOW (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): The titans of terror Stephen King and George A. Romero joined forces for this deliriously entertaining, star-studded 1982 horror anthology that pays homage to such beloved, if once-controversial, comic books as Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror, Creepy, and Eerie.
The stars shine in the fast-paced, fun-filled vignettes: “Father’s Day” (Ed Harris, Viveca Lindfors, Carrie Nye), “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” (with a scenery-chewing King in the title role), “Something to Tide You Over” (Leslie Nielsen, Ted Danson, Gaylen Ross), “The Crate” (Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Fritz Weaver),” and the capper, “They’re Creeping Up on You” (E.G. Marshall and a lot of cockroaches).
Clearly made with love and affection, and boasting makeup maestro Tom Savini’s spectacular effects, Creepshow is a ghoulish, giddy, even witty valentine to the genre, replete with in-jokes and visual puns, with the classy cast in high spirits throughout.
Although only a moderate box-office success, the film was an immediate cult classic, spawning the pretty good Creepshow 2 in 1987 and the dreadful, belated Creepshow III in 2006, and its enduring popularity on cable very likely inspired HBO’s subsequent and long-running “Tales from the Crypt.”
The collector’s-edition Blu-ray ($34.93 retail) includes audio commentaries, retrospective featurettes and interves, deleted scenes, theatrical trailers, and more. Rated R. ****
3RD NIGHT (Monarch Home Entertainment): Writer/producer/editor/director Adam Graveley’s competent, award-winning debut feature is a slow-burning thriller with Jesse McGinn and Robert Hartburn (in his screen debut) as a young couple spied upon and stalked by an unknown assailant who vows to strike on the third night after they move into a new house. **
“AMERICAN HORROR STORY: CULT”: THE COMPLETE SEVENTH SEASON (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): The award-winning FX horror anthology series continues, set against the backdrop of the 2016 Presidential election, with returning cast members Sarah Paulson (Emmy nominee as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie), Adina Porter (Emmy nominee as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie), Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Mare Winningham, John Carroll Lynch, Cheyenne Jackson, Francis Conroy, Jamie Brewer, Chaz Bono and Emma Roberts joined by series newcomers Billie Lourd, Alison Pill, Dermot Mulroney, Rick Springfield, and Lena Dunham. The three-DVD collection ($29.98 retail) includes all 11 episodes from the 2017 season.
ANT-MAN AND THE WASP (Marvel Entertainment/Disney): Paul Rudd (also a co-writer) and Evangeline Lilly reprise the title roles in director Peyton Reed’s award-winning, PG-13-rated follow-up to the 2015 blockbuster based on the Marvel Comics characters, with Michael Pena, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Wood Harris, and Michael Douglas also encoring, joined this time by Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Pfeiffer, Walton Goggins, and Randall Park. Rest assured, Marvel Comics founder Stan Lee makes his obligatory cameo appearance, available on DVD ($29.95 retail), Blu-ray ($39.95 retail), 3-D Blu-ray ($49.95 retail), and 4K Ultra HD combo ($49.95 retail) – each replete with special features.
THE CATCHER WAS A SPY (Paramount): Paul Rudd plays it cool (and very low-key) in the title role of a retired baseball player who became a top operative for the O.S.S. (Office of Strategic Services) during World War II in this atmospheric, engrossing adaptation of Nicholas Dawidoff’s non-fiction best-seller (subtitled The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg), backed by a stellar cast including Jeff Daniels, Sienna Miller, Paul Giamatti, Guy Pearce, Giancarlo Giannini, Tom Wilkinson, Shea Whigham, Hiroyuki Sanada, and especially Mark Strong. Rated R. ***
CYNTHIA (Indican Pictures): Scout Taylor-Compton and Kyle Jones headline this award-winning but wildly uneven and frequently clumsy black-comedy shocker as a couple whose determination to have a baby yields an extra “surprise” in the delivery room – one which follows them home and proves quite adept at wreaking havoc, with genre favorites Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Lynn Lowry, and James Karen also on hand. *½
DEVIL’S GATE (IFC Midnight/Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): FBI agent Amanda Schull and small-town cop Shawn Ashmore investigate strange doings at Milo Ventimiglia’s North Dakota farm in writer/director Clay Straub’s feature debut, which features echoes of H.P. Lovecraft, M. Night Shymalan and Stephen King. Taut, tightly compressed, and well-acted (Bridget Regan and Jonathan Frakes also appear), but also convoluted – especially in the third act. Still, worth a look for genre fans. The DVD retails for $16.97, the Blu-ray for $22.97. **½
GHOST STORIES (IFC Midnight/Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): The title tells all in this horror anthology with Andy Nyman as a professor attempting to debunk three unexplainable incidents. Nyman and Jeremy Dyson co-wrote the film and debut as co-directors, with Martin Donovan, Paul Whitehouse, Alex Lawther, and Nicholas Barnes rounding out the cast, available on DVD ($16.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($22.97 retail).
GONJIAM: HAUNTED ASYLUM (Well Go USA Entertainment): Writer/director Jung Bum-Shik’s entertaining if repetitious variation (originally titled Gon-ji-am) on The Blair Witch Project (1999) sees a group of filmmakers whose live online broadcast from within the confines of an abandoned haunted asylum soon reveals that rumors of it being haunted are entirely well-founded, augmented nicely by first-timer Yoon Byung-Ho’s impressive cinematography. In Korean with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.98 retail). **½
“GRAVITY FALLS”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Shout! Factory): A self-explanatory collection of all 40 episodes from the entire 2012-’16 run of the animated, Emmy-winning Disney Channel comedy/adventure series detailing the misadventures of twin siblings (voiced by Jason Ritter and Kristen Schaal) during summer vacation in the titular town, also featuring the voices of Linda Cardellini, Kevin Michael Richardson, and creator/executive producer Alex Hirsch, plus guest appearances by Mark Hamill, J.K. Simmons, Nick Offerman, Will Forte, Nathan Fillion, Jennifer Coolidge, and others. Both the seven-disc DVD ($59.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($99.99 retail) boast such bonus features as audio commentaries, retrospective documentary, deleted scenes, and more.
MOLLY (Artsploitation Films): In her feature film debut, Julia Batelaan plays the titular heroine in this PG-13 rated, post-apocalyptic science-fiction blow-out that also marks the feature debut of producers/co-directors Colinda Bongers and Thijs Meuwese (who also penned the screenplay), available on DVD ($14.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.99 retail), each boasting bonus features.
MY MAN GODFREY (The Criterion Collection): This classic 1936 screwball comedy stars Carole Lombard as a free-spirited socialite who hires homeless vagrant William Powell (in the title role) as her manservant, sending shockwaves through New York City’s upper crust – particularly when they fall in love. Tactfully using the Great Depression as a backdrop, this sparkling adaptation of Eric Hatch’s novel 1101 Park Avenue boasts delightful chemistry between Powell and Lombard (who’d previously been married!) and earned six Oscar nominations: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director (Gregory La Cava), Best Supporting Actor (Mischa Auer), Best Supporting Actress (Alice Brady), and Best Screenplay. Both the DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) include 1938 radio broadcast, theatrical trailer, vintage newsreels, and more. ***½
A QUIET PLACE (Paramount): Producer/screenwriter/director John Krasinski and real-life wife Emily Blunt portray a couple desperately trying to protect their family from ravaging monsters – which hunt by sound – in a ruined, post-apocalyptic world. Well-rendered and suspenseful, despite an overblown climax, this award-winning sci-fi smash boasts a standout performance by Millicent Simmonds (who is actually deaf) as the couple’s hearing-impaired oldest child, available on DVD ($29.98 retail), DVD/Blu-ray ($34.99 retail), and 4K Ultra HD combo ($34.99 retail). Rated PG-13. ***
THE SONG OF SOLOMON (Unearthed Films/MVD Entertainment Group): Writer/producer/director/co-star Stephen Biro’s gore-soaked shocker stars Jessica Cameron as a possessed woman destined to give birth to the Anti-Christ, prompting several priests to helplessly, hopelessly attempt to exorcise her. Nasty, unrelenting, and ultimately numbing, but cult status is likely. Both the DVD ($21.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.95 retail) include bonus features. *
TRUTH OR DARE (Cinedigm): History repeats itself, which is most unfortunate for a group of college kids who decide to spend Halloween weekend in a house where a series of murders occurred 35 years before. Not to be confused with the theatrical feature of the same name (and similar storyline), this reasonably well-made and well-played shocker is sometimes clunky but performed with conviction by an ensemble cast including Cassie Scerbo, Luke Baines, Mason Dye, Harvey Guillen, and (briefly), the original Nightmare on Elm Street “scream queen” Heather Langenkamp.
THE UNBORN (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Under the auspices of executive producer Roger Corman, producer Rodman Flender’s 1991 feature directorial debut is a nasty, effective little number starring Brooke Adams and Jeff Hayenga as a couple whose desperation to have a child prompts them to visit the experimental fertility clinic run by avuncular James Karen (a scientist more misguided than mad). Despite low-budget special effects, this benefits from a genuinely creepy sense of unease and a solid cast including K Callan and early roles for Kathy Griffin, and Lisa Kudrow. The special-edition Blu-ray ($29.99 retail) includes audio commentary and theatrical trailer. Rated R. ***
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2018, Mark Burger)