Video Vault – Sep 18, 2019
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
VICE SQUAD (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): No less than Martin Scorsese sang the praises of this lean, mean 1982 crime drama that delivers the exploitation goods while telling a credible, exciting story.
Season Hubley stars as Princess, a struggling single mother who makes ends meet by turning tricks on the side. When she assists the police in apprehending Ramrod (Wings Hauser), a murderous pimp, he promptly escapes custody and embarks on a violent rampage in pursuit of Princess.
The tightly-compressed narrative takes place on a single night and rarely lets up, with director Gary A. Sherman pulling no punches in depicting the seamier side of Los Angeles, augmented by John Alcott’s terrific cinematography and Joe Renzetti’s score.
Hubley is tough but tender as the beleaguered Princess and Gary Swanson (in his screen debut) is earnest as the detective bent on recapturing Ramrod, but it’s Hauser who steals the show with a ferociously effective portrayal of evil. The scene in which he savagely beats one of his girls (then-MTV veejay Nina Blackwood, in her screen debut) is still hard to watch.
The collector’s-edition Blu-ray ($29.99 retail) includes audio commentaries, retrospective interviews, theatrical trailer, and more. Rated R. ***
45 DAYS AWAY FROM YOU (Dekkoo Films/TLA Releasing): Rafael Gomes wrote, produced, and directed this intimate drama (originally titled 45 Dias Sem Voce) starring Rafael de Bona (in his feature debut) as a lovelorn gay bachelor who embarks on a globe-trotting journey to mend a broken heart. In Portuguese with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.99 retail).
THE ASSAULT (LionsGate): Director/screenwriter Jacob Cooney’s muddled, noir-ish crime drama (originally titled Blue Line) stars Jordan Ladd as small-town wife who embarks on a crime spree with local stripper Nikki Moore, ultimately deciding to rob the former’s abusive husband (Tom DeNucci). Top-billed Tom Sizemore plays the cop on the case, who falls for Moore. Rated R. *½
BLUE (Zeitgeist Films/Kino Lorber): Derek Jarman’s award-winning, R-rated final feature, released in 1993 (the year before his death), sees the filmmaker exploring both the color blue and his approaching death from AIDS, featuring narration by Tilda Swinton, Nigel Terry, John Quentin, and Jarman himself, available on Blu-ray ($24.95 retail), replete with bonus features.
BOOKSMART (Annapurna Pictures/Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Actress Olivia Wilde’s award-winning, R-rated feature directorial debut stars Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein as high-school seniors determined to party hearty on the last day of school, with Jason Sudeikis, Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, Jessica Williams, Billie Lourd, Diana Silvers, and Skyler Gisondo in support, available on DVD ($29.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.99 retail), each replete with bonus features including audio commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes, and more.
THE CASE OF HANA & ALICE (GKIDS/Shout! Factory): Writer/producer/director Shunji Iwai’s 2014 anime feature (originally titled Hana to Arisi satsujin jiken and also released as The Murder Case of Hana & Alice) follows a young girl (Hana, voiced by Yu Aoi) who teams with a reclusive classmate (Alice, voiced by Anne Suzuki) to investigate a local legend about a student who disappeared the year before. In Japanese with English subtitles, available on Blu-ray ($26.99 retail), replete with bonus features including interviews, theatrical trailers, and more.
CASSANDRO THE EXOTICO! (Film Movement): Filmmaker Marie Losier’s award-winning feature documentary chronicles the life and career of Saul Armendariz, an “exotico” wrestler who performs in drag under the moniker of “Cassandro,” as he embarks on his farewell tour. In English and Spanish with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail).
THE GARDEN (Zeitgeist Films/Kino Lorber): In Derek Jarman’s award-winning, feature-length 1990 meditation, the filmmaker explores his past, present, and future in a surreal series of near-silent vignettes reflecting his attitudes and moods after being diagnosed with AIDS, with an ensemble cast including Tilda Swinton, Pete Lee-Wilson, Michael Gough, Vernon Dobtcheff, Spencer Leigh, Philip MacDonald (in his only feature), Johnny Mills (in his only feature), and Roger Cook (in his feature debut, playing Christ), available on DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail), each with bonus features including audio commentary, retrospective interviews, and more.
THE GLIKSMANS (Indican Pictures): Writer/producer/director Michael Skolnick’s feature debut is a fast-paced farce following the misadventures of the titular couple (Jon Jacobs and Bryna Weiss) on an average day in Southern California, with Ed Asner, Cloris Leachman, Richard Portnow, and Ron Jeremy popping up periodically. Agreeably scatter-brained, with animated interludes thrown in for good measure. **½
HELLMASTER (Vinegar Syndrome): Writer/producer/director Douglas Schulze’s underwhelming 1992 debut feature (originally titled Them and also released as Soulstealer) stars John Saxon as a mad scientist who creates a race of bloodthirsty freaks that terrorize a college campus while ex-reporter David Emge tries to destroy them. Michael Goi’s stylish cinematography is compromised by a low budget and a muddled storyline. The collector’s-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($21.99 retail) includes audio commentary, alternate director’s version, and more. *½
THE INTRUDER (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Producer/director Deon Taylor’s predictable, sub-standard psycho-shocker stars Michael Ealy and Meagan Good as a couple who buy their dream house in the Napa Valley, but former owner Dennis Quaid keeps lurking around. Quaid has some fun, but Ealy and Good are weak. Both the DVD ($30.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.99 retail) boast bonus features including audio commentary, alternare ending, deleted scenes, and more. Rated PG-13. *
THE IRON ORCHARD (All About the 360): Lane Garrison headlines this award-winning, R-rated adaptation of Tom Pendleton’s novel as an ambitious oilman determined to make his fortune in Depression-era Texas, available on DVD ($14.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.99 retail).
MAYDAY (LionsGate): Air marshal Michael Paré has his hands full on a flight from Los Angeles to London when passengers a crew begin vanishing mysteriously. Producer/director/story writer Massimiliano Cerchi’s cut-rate shocker plays like the enjoyably hokey 1973 TV movie The Horror at 37,000 Feet and the Left Behind films, with the villain’s identity no surprise at all. Rated R. *½
MONTESSORI: LET THE CHILD BE THE GUIDE (First Run Features): Filmmaker Alexandre Mourot’s self-explanatory feature documentary debut (originally titled Le maitre est l’enfant) examines the educational philosophies espoused and practiced by Maria Montessori (1870-1952), with actress Anny Duperey reading from Montessori’s writings. In English and French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail).
PETER, PAUL, AND MARY AT NEWPORT BEACH 1963-’65 (Shout! Factory): The legendary, award-winning folk trio of Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stuckey, and Mary Travers take the stage at the Newport, RI folk festival, performing such favorites as “If I Had a Hammer,” “Puff the Magic Dragon,” “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Early in the Morning,” “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” “Wasn’t That a Time,” and many more, available on DVD ($19.99 retail) and CD ($15.98 retail).
PHANTOM LADY (Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment Group): Robert Siodmak directed this well-paced, noir-ish 1944 adaptation of the William Irish (Cornell Woolrich) novel starring Alan Curtis as a businessman accused of murdering his wife and Ella Raines as the devoted secretary who aids him. Not so much a whodunit as a “whydunit,” as the actual culprit is evident literally upon introduction. The cast includes Franchot Tone, Fay Helm, Regis Toomey, Andrew Tombes, Elisha Cook Jr. (as a distracted drummer), and Thomas Gomez (as a typically hard-boiled cop). The special-edition Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) includes the original radio broadcast and the documentary Dark and Deadly: Fifty Years of Film Noir. **½
PRINCESS MONONOKE (Studio Ghibli/GKIDS/Shout! Factory): A limited-edition Blu-ray ($49.97 retail) of Hayao Miyazaki’s award-winning, PG-13-rated 1997 animated fantasy epic (originally titled Mononoke-hime) depicts the war waged between the spirits of the forest and the humans who consume its resources, featuring a star-studded voice-over cast including Gillian Anderson, Claire Danes, Billy Crudup, Billy Bob Thornton, Jada Pinkett Smith, Keith David, Corey Burton, and Minnie Driver. Special features include a collectible 40-page book, CD soundtrack, original theatrical trailers and television spots, feature-length storyboards, and more.
“SEAL TEAM”: SEASON TWO (CBS DVD/Paramount): David Boreanaz leads the crack Tier One Navy SEAL team, in all 22 episodes from the 2018-’19 season of the CBS action series created by Benjamin Cavell, co-starring Max Theriot, Jessica Paré, A.J. Buckley, Neil Brown Jr., Judd Lorand, and Toni Trucks. Emmy nomination for Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Limited Series, or Movie. The six-DVD collection ($55.98 retail) includes bonus features.
THE SECOND TIME AROUND (First Run Features): Writer/producer/director Leon Marr’s final film is a pleasing romantic drama starring Stuart Margolin as an eccentric widower and Linda Thorson as a lonely widow who unexpectedly fall in love. Nice to see Margolin and Thorson in starring roles, with solid support from Don Francks (in his final film), Jayne Eastwood, Laura de Carteret, and Louis Del Grande. ***
SIX HOT CHICKS IN A WAREHOUSE (Indican Pictures): The title tells all – more or less – in writer/producer/director Simon P. Edwards’s award-winning, gore-soaked shocker starring Oliver Malam as a demented, drug-addled photographer who drugs six models and forces them to battle each other to the death. Stylish but nasty and pointless. *
WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND — LOOKING BACK AT STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE (Shout! Studios/Shout! Factory): Producer Ira Steven Behr and executive producer David Zappone make their feature co-directing debut this self-explanatory documentary that delves into the history of the award-winning Star Trek spin-off that ran 1993-’99, available on DVD ($12.69 retail), Blu-ray ($22.99 retail), and special-edition two-disc Blu-ray ($29.95 retail), each replete with bonus features.
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2019, Mark Burger)