· TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE was originally a low budget TV anthology series which, while largely forgotten today, helped pave the way for a multitude of horror, fantasy and sci-fi TV series we enjoy today. TALES was popular enough to spawn a feature film version, which offers three stories of terror and a twisted wrap-around story to encompass them. The DVD debuts on 9/25, with an audio commentary that includes Debbie Harry, Christian Slater, James Remar, Rae Dawn Chong, Julianne Moore and Steve Buscemi. George Romero, who was involved creatively with both the series and the film, will also be featured on the commentary.
· TREMORS 3: BACK TO PERFECTION, which is the second sequel to the fondly remembered 1990 original, will arrive on video on October 2nd from Universal. This time around only Michael Gross's survivalist character, Burt Gummer, returns from previous outings. However, Gummer does return to the tiny Nevada town where it all started, only to find it turned into a tourist trap catering to a public fascinated with the giant, worm-like "Graboids" which once nearly destroyed the town. Naturally, the Graboids make a return visit and it's up to Burt to save the day. Making matters worse, the Graboids are continuing to mutate - a key element in the first sequel - so even veteran creature killer Gummer can't be sure what he's going up against. With luck, this might be as good as the last follow-up and TREMORS can continue as a rare, DTV (direct-to-video) franchise that is actually worth watching.
· TRON was neither a commercial nor critical success when originally released by Disney back in 1982. Poorly paced and dramatically turgid, the film should be forgotten by now. But instead, its story of a man sucked into a computer world seems prophetic and the film has developed something of a following based only on its imaginative premise. With Disney now talking of a sequel, the original returns to video in early 2002, with a new transfer to replace the abysmal 1998 video release. The new release celebrates the film's 20th anniversary and will feature a commentary from the director - who is also slated to do the sequel, TRON 2.0 - as well as a documentary on the film's making and some deleted scenes. Whatever its faults, and there are many, TRON is a milestone in fantasy filmmaking and was clearly the harbinger of computer-based filmmaking which is so dominant today.
This Week's Releases
· CONFESSIONS OF A PSYCHO CAT/ HOT BLOODED WOMAN: SPECIAL EDITION is another double feature offering from Image, this time featuring a couple of great titles that probably stink, but are tempting nonetheless.
· DEADLY INVASION was originally a TV movie that came at the end of the "killer bee" craze. In spite of scaring up multiple TV movies, and at least 2 theatrical releases, the whole killer bee thing only managed one film that earned any real buzz (1976's THE SAVAGE BEES with Michael Parks). Robert Hays and a young Ryan Phillippe head the cast of this unspectacular tale about a national scare that eventually lost its sting.
· GOLIATH AND THE DRAGON / THE CONQUEROR OF ATLANTIS: SPECIAL EDITION is another Image double feature. The first, and best known, feature offers a truly terrible Italian Peplum featuring gruff American Broderick Crawford as the bad guy and some of the worst effects ever seen in an Italian film. Second on the disc is a little known Italian number from 1965 which, while unseen by this reviewer, is also apparently a sword and sandal tale with a few sci-fi and fantasy elements tossed in to try and enliven a familiar formula.
· HELLINGER is the kind of movie that makes you embarrassed to admit to your friends that you're a horror movie fan. This shot-on-video atrocity involves a young woman being tormented by a possessed cleric. There's tons of cheesy looking gore, bad sound, bad acting, bad lighting, bad... well, it's just bad. This is a release from Brain Damage video, and the company name would seem to describe the condition needed to enjoy this dreck.
· THE HYPNOTIST is a rare foray into live action releases [IMG2R]from anime powerhouse ADV. The critically praised tale involves a detective's attempts to solve a series of inexplicable suicides. The detective gradually learns that a popular hypnotist has put each of the victims under his spell and begins to suspect that subconscious messages from the entertainer are behind the deaths.
· JEWEL RAIDER is an unseen and unknown skin flick that has managed the impressive trick of being a TOMB RAIDER rip-off that hits video while its better-known predecessor is barely out of the theaters. Promo material promises "cutting-edge martial arts, spectacular weaponry and unbridled eroticism" in an adventure about Laura "Croff's" search for an alien artifact. Odds are the actual film will deliver little, if any of the superlatives its makers have ascribed to it, but I can't help but admire them for getting their undoubtedly cheesy clone on the market so quickly.
· KILLER INSTINCT is yet another teens and terror outing, this one involving an abandoned asylum. This is a Trimark release, so production quality should be competent, but the story sure seems uninspired.
· THE LAST WARRIOR is a busted TV pilot for a prospective post-apocalypse series starring Dolph Lundgren. Lundgren fans, and there must be some out there, will likely be satisfied by this tale of a Green Beret leading a disparate group of survivors across a California ravaged by a massive earthquake. Others will likely find the proceedings tough going and hope the film will be THE LAST LUNDGREN.
· THE PERFECT NANNY is the latest in a spate of films wherein trusted family members or employees turn out to be psychos. A good cast and some honest suspense elevate this one a little above its brethren, but it's still nothing special.
· STAR TREK: VOLUME 29 continues the rollout of the episodes of the "classic" Trek series, a pop phenomena surpassed only by STAR WARS. Two episodes are featured, the first being "Elaan of Troyius," a take-off on the Helen of Troy myth. Kirk and company find themselves transporting an alien female who is irresistible to men. The Next Generation series virtually remade this episode as "The Perfect Mate," starring the undeniably perfect Famke Janssen. Episode two is "The Paradise Syndrome," a rare example of Kirk putting something above his duty to ship and crew. Here he willingly falls under the spell of the peaceful Indian people who live on a planet soon to be destroyed by an asteroid. He becomes part of their culture and even marries local hottie Sabrina Scharf.
· STAR TREK: VOLUME 30 offers up two more episodes. "The Enterprise Incident" is a D.C. Fontana script that finds Kirk dead at Spock's hand and the Enterprise about to be captured by Romulans. Check out Shatner, made up as a Romulan, to see a rare glimpse of him without his hairpiece of the era. "And the Children Shall Lead" is an intriguing episode about an Enterprise visit to a space colony where all the adults have been killed, and their children seem quite unbothered by their deaths. The episode is hurt a bit by the miscasting of celebrity lawyer Melvin Belli as the evil gorgon; it's otherwise a strong episode and may well have inspired Stephen King's CHILDREN OF THE CORN.
· HAND MAID MAY #1: MAID TO ORDER is yet another anime tale of robot women, though this one has a bit of twist in that it involves a one foot tall cyborg maid whose efficiency and always cheerful attitude could drive anyone nuts. Contains 4 episodes.
· INMU: FEAST OF VICTIMS #1 is apparently an anime tale of sex and rape which stars real life porno star Asia Carrera. Also available is Volume 2 and a box set of both volumes. I'm clueless on this. I don't know if she just provides the character's voice, or if she's real and the rest of the film is animated, or what the deal is. It does sound very "adults-only," and features an interview with the attractive Ms. Carrera.
· MAGIC USERS CLUB #3: BELIEVE IN YOUR SELF gives us the teenage magicians dealing with their travails as defenders of Earth against alien invaders while also dealing with the problems other teens experience.
· NADIA: THE SECRET OF THE BLUE WATER - THE DARK KINGDOM is the latest entry in this stunning, Jules Verne inspired series, tracing the adventures of young Jean Ratlique and Nadia. This is an outstanding series with broad age range appeal, beautiful animation and even thematic depth. Of course, there are also sea monsters, hurricanes, battleships and the granddaddy of all submarines, the Nautilus.
· NIEA UNDER 7 #1: POOR GIRL BLUES is an intriguing sounding anime about a financially challenged student whose already troubled life is complicated even further by the presence of a young alien in her closet.
· PARASITE EVE bears little resemblance to the video game that spawned it, nor to the book that that gave birth to the game. It is horrific and sexy in its depiction of the title being, a creation of biological science that could spell the end for mankind.
· RG VEDA involves six warriors attempting to fulfill an ancient prophecy and bring down an evil despot.
· SAILOR MOON S #4 features 6 episodes of the inexplicably popular series about skinny cartoon girls with short skirts and panties who battle to save the world from the likes of the evil Eugeal and Professor Tomoe.
· TOKIO PRIVATE POLICE: COMPLETE takes place in Japan in the year 2034, when crime is rampant and the police force is little more than a skeleton group of inept fools. Enforcement of the law and protection of the citizens has become the job of private security companies whose members have their own personal issues to deal with in addition to a metropolis overrun by crime.
· VOOGIE'S ANGEL is a fighting force comprised of five cybernetically enhanced women who are mankind's last hope to reclaim the surface of the Earth after having been driven to hide on the ocean floor by invading aliens.
Easter Egg Hunt
· RAVENOUS is one of the most original and effective horror films of the past decade, but was sadly missed by most fans during its brief theatrical release. Yet another reason to check out the film, or to see it again, can be found in an Easter Egg surprise in the "extra features" section. If you highlight the "stills" selection and then press the up arrow, you'll highlight a knife and fork. If you click on this icon you'll find a map of the Donner Party, the notorious, real life story of Wild West cannibalism that provided inspiration for RAVENOUS. If you follow the map's trail you'll find a listing for "Fort Bridger, July 30." Click on the knife and fork here and you'll see DVD production credits. Move on down the trail to "Truckee Lake, October 30" and press the up arrow and you'll find an ad for Ravenous Beef Jerky.
· BATTLEFIELD EARTH is a movie that left star/producer John Travolta with egg on his face, so the presence of Easter Eggs is no surprise. Unfortunately, they're not enough to make sitting through the movie itself an acceptable waste of your precious time on Earth. Still, if you go to "special feature" and press the right arrow, you can select a spaceship icon and get some footage of extras being made up as background Psychlos for the film.
Also, if you go back to the second page of "special features" and then go to "more" and press the remote's right button, you can select the spaceship again to see some footage of man-animals in their unnatural habitat. The last of the goodies is in the "languages" section. Press the right button again and choose a spaceship-shaped symbol to be treated to a stunt man testing out a bungee cord for a stunt sequence.
Summer nears its end with a host of little known or largely forgotten video releases which will offer us a wicker man, an amphibian man, a bat man, a bunch of wolf men, a couple of crazy men, and an undeniable wo-man. It's a "B" movie spectacular, full of breasts, beasts and blood. Don't miss it! Same Vidiot time, same Vidiot channel.
Vidiocy is our weekly Video & DVD column.