DVD This Week: July 2 (Mania.com)

By:John Thonen
Date: Tuesday, July 02, 2002

VIDEO NEWS


Blade 2 has been announced for DVD release September 3rd as a feature laden, double disc package. In addition to the film itself, disc one will feature two commentary tracks, one with director Guillermo Del Toro and writer David Goyer and the second with star Wesley Snipes and producer Peter Frankfurt. Disc two will feature roughly three hours of additional material including: an interactive reproduction of Del Toro's production notebook, a production workshop, an interactive series of documentaries on the production and script, the theatrical press kit, and art gallery, deleted and alternate scenes, theatrical trailers, a pair of music videos and a guide for the upcoming BLADE 2 video game.


BACK TO THE FUTURE 1, 2 & 3 will, in the future, be back again. Got that? The hugely popular time travel trilogy of the adventures of teenager Marty McFly will hit DVD December 17. Just in time for an obscure gift-giving holiday some of you may be familiar with. It would appear that the films will, at this time anyway, only be made available in this 3-disc set, and not individually. Which means you'll have to put up with the mediocre middle installment in order to again sample the pleasures of the first and final entries. In a conciliatory gesture to the digitally uneducated DVD owners out there, Universal will offer two versions of the set, one in anamorphic widescreen and the other in fullscreen, but accompanying features will remain the same on both. Those features will include: audio commentary with star Michael J. Fox, producer Bob Gale and director Robert Zemeckis, test footage of the film's overboard, a featurette on the film's making, a photo gallery, outtakes and deleted scenes, a Huey Lewis and The News music video, and trailers. In what is becoming an annoyingly common ploy, some additional extras will only be available through DVD-ROM access of Universal's "Total Axess" web site rather than being featured on the discs themselves.


THIS WEEK'S NOTEWORTHY NEW RELEASES


CASTLE OF BLOOD


CASTLE OF BLOOD comes to us from the good folks at Synapse who are advertising the release as the "Uncensored International Version," which I don't believe has ever been legally available in this country. This 1964 Italian film is the best thing its director, Antonio Marghertti, ever did and a genuine classic of '60s Euro horror. The film features the iconic presence of Barbara Steele in a unique haunted house story which somehow manages to peripherally incorporate Edgar Allan Poe into its storyline. Wonderfully atmospheric, and offering an unforgettable ending, this one should be seen by any fan of Mario Bava or '60s Euro horror in general.


CHILDREN OF THE CORN 666 / CHILDREN OF THE CORN: REVELATION is one of several budget-priced two-disc double features Dimension is rolling out this week. This one features two of the lesser entries in one of the worst film franchises in history. Nancy (ROBOCOP) Allen and Stacy (TITUS) Keach each pick-up a quick paycheck in the first disc, which brings back creepy child actor Paul Popowich from the first film in the series, who is now kind of a creepy adult actor. But it's no help. Disc two comes from director Guy Magar, whose credits include the overlooked RETRIBUTION and several strong X-FILES episodes, but for this one he has to make cornstalks scary, and I don't think even Hitchcock could pull that one off. This twin pack wouldn't be worth the trouble to pick up even if it were budget-priced at "free."


DRACULA 2000 / TALE OF THE MUMMY is another Dimension two-disc double feature. DRACULA 2000 wastes a decent cast, assembled by producer Wes Craven no less, in a lame attempt to make Dracula hip for the MTV generation. It's not as bad as THE FORSAKEN, but that's about all the praise I can muster for it. TALE OF THE MUMMY comes from the always stylish, but generally vacuous, directorial mind of Russell Mulcahy. There's a nice opening with Christopher Lee (who once played the Mummy) and several imaginative set pieces wherein the original wrapper's bandages are used as extensions of his murderous powers. But that's about it, as the film itself is basically structured as a slasher movie rather than a gothic horror tale.


HALLOWEEN: H20 / MOTHER'S BOYS is yet another Dimension two-DVD double feature, and probably the best of the bunch being released this week. HALLOWEEN: H20 is no classic, but it's probably the best in the series since the original and Jamie Lee Curtis is really good in it. Plus, there is an undeniable pop culture frisson tingling when her character, the much put-upon Laurie Strode, strides, axe in hand, calling her brother's name. MOTHER'S BOYS is an interesting companion to H20 as it's also a showcase for the underrated Ms. Curtis, but this time in a very different role. She's Jude Madigan, a troubled woman who abandoned her family but now wants them back, at any cost. Curtis is pretty chilling as a mother who sees her children as possessions and who isn't above a bit of incest to lure them back to her bosom.


HELLRAISER: BLOODLINE / HELLRAISER: INFERNO is another two-DVD set from Dimension, this one featuring the two worst (to date anyway) installments in the rather lame HELLRAISER series. BLOODLINE is almost worth seeing, as it's a fascinating, almost incomprehensible mess of a movie as a result of studio tampering, multiple directors and an original director who disowned it. INFERNO is a fairly typical direct-to-video sequel, offering a director, writer and cast who are simply going through the motions in a professional but disinterested manner. It's noteworthy only for having one of the least likable protagonists in film history.


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JIMMY NEUTRON: BOY GENIUS is kind of a minor entry in the recent spate of CGI animated films, falling well short of being another SHREK, MONSTERS, INC. or TOY STORY. But that's not to say it's not an enjoyable bit of nonsense in its own right. I personally don't care for its style of animation, which reminds me too much of videogames, and there's not a lot here for adults, but this story of a bumbling boy genius who saves mankind from aliens should satisfy the child in all of us. An admirable accomplishment in my book.


LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END STREET has already been discussed here back when it was originally to have been released a few weeks back. This is harsh stuff about a filmmaker who decides to make snuff movies. It's all done with a minimalist style and is wildly perverse and graphic. THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT is Sunday school material next to this one. This is the original, uncut version and the DVD is packed to the brim with extras, including directorial commentary from a filmmaker who hid under a pseudonym when he made the film and has rarely talked about it since.


THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK was a drive-in sensation in the early '90s, and has a kind of semi-documentary feel that might qualify it as the progenitor of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. It's basically a semi-professional film about a legendary Bigfoot type creature, sightings of which are still being reported today. The film is structured as a series of vignettes where those who have encountered the beast recount their stories, and many of the people seen in the film are actual area citizens telling their own story, rather than actors. This is a crude, but effective film, which has some moments that are genuinely scary.


MIMIC / MIMIC 2, yeah, double feature, two-DVD set, Dimension. You've got the idea by now. Guillermo Del Toro's original is a much underrated terror tale of giant, intelligent, genetically enhanced cockroaches which boasts some great effects, a strong cast and an admirable willingness to break the rules. MIMIC 2, on the other hand, is a very typical (see description of INFERNO above) sequel, whose main purpose seems to be to ruin the memory of the first film.


THE SENTINEL / THE FUNHOUSE is also a two-DVD set, though from Goodtimes. However, like those double features from Dimension, this offers a not-bad movie paired with a just watchable one. THE SENTINEL earned some controversy when released in 1977 due to its, admittedly, gruesome climactic scenes, which featured real life freaks-of-nature as the denizens of Hell, set free when the title character neglects her post as guardian of the gates of that netherworld. Overall, it's well done and features a good cast, but the results are nothing special. Tobe Hooper seems poised for a comeback with his upcoming Spielberg-produced TV-movie, TAKEN. So, it's a good time to check out his underrated FUNHOUSE, a rather conventional slasher tale, set in a carnival, which is elevated to considerable effectiveness by Hooper's crisp direction and the kind of perverse undertones which his best works feature.


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SHALLOW HAL is the first offering of the kinder, gentler and more mature Farrelly Brothers, whose previous works have included DUMB AND DUMBER and THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY. That's not to say that this story of a man who judges women only by their physical appearance doesn't feature some crude and offensive humor. It does. But the movie is about how Hal learns to see women for their inner beauty so effectively that a 300 lb. behemoth appears to his eyes as svelte and lovely Gwyneth Paltrow. And the film uses this concept as not only a source of jokes, but also for a genuine and honest examination of the need to look beyond our obsessions with physical perfection. Not many filmmakers have succeeded at being offensive and philosophical at the same time, or at being crude yet subtle. With this effort, the Farrellys try to walk that tightrope to have their cake and eat it too. And they manage to pull it off pretty damn well.


STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION - Season Three gift set is a Trekkie's wet dream. This seven-disc set features all 26 episodes from the series' third season along with interviews, an in-depth look at ship's doctor Beverly Crusher and behind-the-scenes footage related to season three.


TEENAGE CAVEMAN is the latest in the "Creature Feature" series of films which effects master Stan Winston has produced with actress Colleen Camp and Lou Arkoff, son of legendary schlock-meister Same Arkoff. Initially produced for HBO and now hitting home video, some of the earlier entries in the series SHE CREATURE, EARTH VS. THE SPIDER had some merit, in spite of their often inappropriate titles. Each title is taken from one of Sam Arkoff's past productions, though with entirely different stories grafted on to the exploitation oriented names. TEENAGE CAVEMAN has no such merits. Directed by Larry Clark, of KIDS and ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE fame, the idea of taking his ability to depict teenagers accurately and honestly might have seemed like the right way to offer something new in post-apocalyptic storytelling, but it's not. Lot's of skin, simulated sex and profanity, plus some Winston designed monsters. There's nothing else here folks.


EASTER EGG HUNT


If you've already picked up a copy of MGM's recent Special Edition DVD of BLUE VELVET (and you should have), there's some fun hidden goodies to be found on the disc. From the "Main Menu," select "Special Features" and press "Down" to highlight a picket fence symbol. If you now press "Enter," the menu will change and if you press "Enter" again you'll see a short interview on the filming of the film's robin. Now, go back to where you started on the "Main Menu" and again select "Special Features" and on that sub-menu select "Documentary" and press "Up" to highlight the word "Special," giving you a glimpse at some additional interview footage. Now, highlight "Documentary The Mysteries of Love" and in that sub-menu select "The Orgins" and press "Up." You've now highlighted "Mysteries of Love" which shows some interview footage with Isabella Rossellini about the misogynist theme many have read into the film. Thanks to the DVD REVIEW website for the above goodies.


COMING ATTRACTIONS


Next week; Gary Sinise proves he's no Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jan Michael Vincent proves he used to know how to act, Bruce Willis proves he's not the star of a movie even if the ads say he is and Ray Harryhausen proves he's better than a computer.



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