Video Vault – Sep 12, 2018
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
THE TINGLER (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): One of William Castle’s best-loved gimmicks, “Percepto,” was touted in this goofy but unabashedly entertaining 1959 shocker, starring who else but Vincent Price as what else but a brilliant but misguided scientist?
Price’s Dr. Warren Chapin theorizes that each human being has a parasite – that would be “the Tingler” – attached to the spine that feeds on fear. Unless the host screams, the Tingler can grow so powerful it will crush the spine. Horror movies have been built around less, you know.
Needless to say, it’s only a matter of time before the Tingler gets loose and wreaks havoc, and to “enhance” the experience for viewers Castle rigged selected seats at selected theaters with buzzers that would give the audience a surprise jolt at appropriate moments during the film. Castle would also plant actors in the theater to faint, and station ambulances outside. Nobody pulled these gimmicks off with the kind of panache that Castle did.
The Tingler may not be a great movie, but it’s great fun – fast-paced, poker-faced, and imaginatively absurd … or absurdly imaginative, depending on your point of view.
The special-edition Blu-ray ($29.99 retail) include audio commentary, retrospective interviews, vintage featurette, and more. **½
“ADVENTURE TIME”: THE FINAL SEASONS (Cartoon Network/Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): A self-explanatory DVD collection ($24.98 retail) of all 53 episodes – plus a 44-minute special and a slew of bonus features – from the eighth, ninth, and tenth seasons (2017-’18) of the Emmy-winning, animated Cartoon Network series (originally titled “Adventure Time With Finn & Jake”), created by Pendleton Ward, which follows the misadventures of the human boy Finn (voiced by Jeremy Shada) and his adopted canine brother Jake (voiced by John DiMaggio) as they defend the Land of Ooo from evildoers.
ALTERED PERCEPTION (Synkronzed Films): Director Kate Reed Davies’s potentially intriguing but underwhelming (and talky) thriller sees four couples volunteering to participate in an experiment in which they take medication to combat their neuroses – with predictably dire consequences. The ensemble cast includes Jon Huertas and Jennifer Blanc-Biehn (both executive producers and story writers), Hallie Jordan (also an executive producer), Jade Tailor, Matthew Ziff, Nicholas Flynn, and Ehmrys Cooper. *
THE BALLAD OF GREGORIO CORTEZ (The Criterion Collection): Associate producer/composer Edward James Olmos portrays the titular character in director/screenwriter Robert M. Young’s award-winning, fact-based 1982 adaptation of Americo Paredes’s book “With a Pistol in His Hand,” a Mexican-American farmer pursued by a posse after the shooting death of a lawman in 1901 Texas. Low-key but effective, this is a revisionist Western with a social conscience, bolstered by a familiar (and mostly grizzled) cast including James Gammon, Bruce McGill, William Sanderson, Pepe Serna, Tom Bower, Brion James, Barry Corbin, Jack Kehoe, Rosana DeSoto, and Ned Beatty. Originally broadcast by “American Playhouse” and later released to cinemas. Both the DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) include audio interviews and more. Rated PG. ***
BETWEEN LAND AND SEA (Film Movement): Ross Whitaker’s documentary chronicles a year in the life – and on the waves – of Lahinch, a bucolic burg on the Irish coast with a passionate surfing community, available on DVD ($24.95 retail).
BOOM FOR REAL: THE LATE TEENAGE YEARS OF JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT (Magnolia Home Entertainment): Director Sara Driver’s fact-paced and appropriately colorful documentary feature examines the New York art scene of the late 1970s, and how it formed the basis for the work of the legendary Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-’88), featuring interviews with friends, admirers, and fellow artists. ***
“THE COMPLETE SARTANA” (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): A limited-edition Blu-ray collection ($99.95 retail) of all five spaghetti Westerns featuring the popular title character, a mysterious gunslinger whose abilities go beyond a quick draw: If You Meet Sartana Pray for Your Death (1968) was directed by Gianfranco Parolini (AKA Frank Kramer) – who died in April – and starred Gianni Garko as Sartana, then Giuliano Carnimeo (AKA Anthony Ascott) assumed the directorial reins for the remaining films: 1969’s I Am Sartana, Your Angel of Death with Garko, 1970’s I Am Sartana: Trade Your Guns for a Coffin (AKA A Fistful of Lead) with George Hilton as Sartana, 1970’s Have a Good Funeral, My Friend … Sartana Will Pay with Garko, and 1970’s Light the Fuse … Sartana is Coming with Garko. Special features include audio commentaries, retrospective interviews, collectible booklet, and more.
CRADLE WILL ROCK (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Tim Robbins wrote, produced and directed this sprawling, award-winning 1999 comedy/drama that explores the controversial 1937 stage production of Marc Blitzstein’s musical The Cradle Will Rock, which brought the Federal Theatre Project under fire due to its supposed Communist leanings. Highly theatrical and not always cohesive, this was a box-office flop but is well worth watching, thanks in large part to a stellar cast including Hank Azaria (as Blitzstein), Angus Macfadyen (as director Orson Welles), Cary Elwes (as producer John Houseman), John Cusack (as Nelson Rockefeller), Ruben Blades (as Diego Rivera), Joan Cusack, Emily Watson, Bill Murray, Susan Sarandon, Vanessa Redgrave, John Turturro, Bob Balaban, Philip Baker Hall, Jack Black and “Tenacious D” partner Kyle Gass, Cherry Jones, Jamey Sheridan, Harris Yulin, Barbara Sukowa, Barnard Hughes (in his final film), and Tim’s father Gil Robbins (in his final film). Both the DVD ($11.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.95 retail) include audio commentary, production featurette, and original trailer. Rated R. ***
“CRIMINAL MINDS”: THE THIRTEENTH SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount): A six-DVD collection ($55.98 retail) of all 22 episodes (plus special features) from the 2017-’18 season of the award-winning CBS crime drama dramatizing the activities of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), as they try to decipher – and track down – the most dangerous criminal minds in the nation. Joe Mantegna heads an ensemble cast including Paget Brewster, A.J. Cook, Matthew Gray Gubler, Kirsten Vangsness, Daniel Henney, and Aisha Tyler.
FILMWORKER (Kino Lorber): Tony Zierra’s absorbing, enlightening documentary feature – subtitled Stanley Kubrick’s Unsung Assistant — examines the life and career of actor Leon Vitali, who subjugated his own ambitions to work at the feet of filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, initially as an assistant on his later films (The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut), and then to preserve Kubrick’s work and legacy after his 1999 death. ***
GOLDEN TEMPLE AMAZONS (MVD Entertainment Group): An “MVD Rewind” Blu-ray ($24.95 retail) of a 1986 adventure (originally titled Les amazones du temple d’or), co-directed by James Gartner (KA Jalain Payet) and an uncredited Jess Franco, starring Joan Virly (AKA Analia Ivars) as a woman raised by an Amazonian tribe bent on avenging her parents’ deaths.
GOLDSTONE (Lightyear Entertainment/MVD Entertainment Group): Writer/cinematographer/director Ivan Sen’s award-winning, R-rated crime drama stars Aaron Pederson as an indigenous detective who teams with local cop Alex Russell to investigate a seemingly routine case that has widespread – and dire – implications of corruption that stretch far beyond the Australian outback, with Jackie Weaver, David Wenham, Cheng Pei-Pei, and David Gulplil in support, available on Blu-ray ($24.95), replete with bonus features.
“PAW PATROL: HALLOWEEN HEROES” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): A self-explanatory DVD collection ($10.99 retail) of seven “spooky” episodes from the award-winning animated Nickelodeon children’s series created by Keith Chapman, detailing the adventures of a group of courageous canines.
RIDGE RUNNERS (Indican Pictures): Writer/editor/director Hunter West’s award-winning debut feature stars Jennica Schwartzman (also a producer) as a disillusioned small-town Arkansas cop whose search for a missing girl leads her to uncover a sex-trafficking ring. Occasionally hindered by a low budget and adherence to genre cliches, but well-shot by cinematographer Erin McDuff (making her feature debut), with a chilling turn by Jason Thompson as the ringleader — and the film’s intentions are nothing if not noble. **
SHOW YOURSELF (Summer Hill Entertainment): Writer/producer/director Billy Ray Brewton’s award-winning, character-driven psychological thriller stars associate producer Ben Hethcoat as a struggling screenwriter who encounters strange visions when he takes his best friend’s ashes to scatter in the woods where they used to camp. Effective, lean and moody, this builds in intensity throughout – and ranks as a little gem. ***
“SILICON VALLEY”: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON (HBO): Hi-tech hi-jinks abound in this award-winning HBO comedy series set amid the cutthroat business of Silicon Valley, featuring an ensemble cast: Thomas Middleditch, Josh Brener, Martin Starr, Kumail Nanjiani, Zach Woods, Matt Ross and Amanda Crew. Four Emmy nominations: Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series, Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series, and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. All eight episodes from the 2018 season, plus bonus features, are available on DVD ($19.98 retail).
“SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS: THE LEGEND OF BOO-KINI BOTTOM” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): Getting the jump on the Halloween season, this all-new, stop-motion animated comedy spun off from the long-running, award-winning Nickelodeon children’s series pits the title character (voiced by Tom Kenny) and friends against the Flying Dutchman (voiced by Brian Doyle-Murray), available on DVD ($10.99 retail).
WINNING FORMULA (Indican Pictures): This award-winning farce stars Claudia Pickering (also making her feature debut as writer/producer) and Prudence Vindin (in her feature debut) as bubble-headed best friends from Australia whose back-packing excursion across the United States goes haywire when they find themselves $10,000 in debt. Some scattered laughs, but everyone seems to be trying too hard, especially Pickering and Vindin, whose frenzied attempts to be ingratiating are more often irritating. *½
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2018, Mark Burger)