DVD This Week: September 17 - Mania.com



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DVD This Week: September 17

Monsters, demons and panic all come to DVD

By John Thonen     September 17, 2002

VIDEO NEWS


The FX cable network's groundbreaking Emmy-nominated cop show, THE SHIELD, will soon join 24 as a TV series released to DVD after the airing of only its first season. The series is packed with profanity, nudity, sex and police corruption, plus a riveting performance from Michael (THE COMMISH) Chiklis as a renegade L.A. cop. The four-disc set will be released by Fox Home Entertainment, a sister company to FX, and will offer all thirteen episodes of the show along with commentary tracks for all episodes from the series' creator, Shawn Ryan, and a number of the cast members. Also featured will be a production featurette, deleted scenes and audition footage.


This past [IMG3R]week saw the passing of Oscar winning actress Kim Hunter at the age of 79. Film buffs will most likely always remember Hunter as Stella in the 1951 version of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, in which she co-starred with Marlon Brando. However, sci-fi fans best know the actress for her appearances as Zira, the gentle chimpanzee scientist, in the first three of the PLANET OF THE APES movies. Hunter's career was sidetracked for a time in the '50s when she was blacklisted by HUAC as a communist sympathizer during the infamous "witch-hunts" of that era. Other notable genre credits for the actress include Val Lewton's eerie THE SEVENTH VICTIM, her 1943 film debut THE KINDRED and the Dario Argento directed "Black Cat" segment of TWO EVIL EYES.


Having already performed admirably at the box office, claiming nearly 82 million in tickets in the U.S. alone, BLADE 2 has continued to put the "bite" on consumer wallets. Last week, the vampire hunting sequel topped both the DVD and VHS rental charts, racking up nearly 10 million dollars in activity in its first week of release.


THIS WEEK'S NOTABLE NEW RELEASES


24: Season One is [IMG4L]a 6-disc collection of the first season episodes from the groundbreaking TV series. The show chronicles one day in the life of a government agent, with each one-hour episode corresponding to the same period of time for the agent.


40 DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS stars Josh Hartnett as a young man who, after a painful breakup with his girlfriend, decides to forego sex for Lent. Hilarity, presumably, ensues.


EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS is a re-release of the semi-classic '50s tale of invading UFOs. The story is well-presented and the cast effective, but it's Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion effects that are the show here, particularly during the climactic battle in Washington D.C.


ESSENCE OF ECHOES is another serial killer tale, though with a bit of a twist. This killer has been artificially created from the DNA of the world's worst serial killers. Boy, I bet it was a bitch getting funding for that project.


FRAILTY is

Bill Paxton directs FRAILTY

proof that horror fans must want the dreck that passes for genre theatrical offerings these days. If they didn't, they'd have turned out for this theatrical flop, which is quite probably the best horror film of the past five years. Bill Paxton stars, and directs, as a widowed farmer with two young boys who feels he has been given the ability to see demons who walk amongst us. And the responsibility to dispatch them with his trusty ax. The disc also includes deleted scenes, three commentaries, a production featurette and trailers.


MONSTERS INC. is the second, after SHREK, computer animated blockbuster family film of the year and, like that predecessor, this gentle fantasy deserves every bit of the audience success and critical acclaim it has received. Hilarious, touching, moving, totally entertaining fun for one and all.


PANIC ROOM is pretty lightweight stuff for its director, David (SEVEN) Fincher, and its star, the amazingly gifted Jodie Foster. It's a home invasion story which finds a recently separated woman and her daughter who are trapped in the title location a high-tech, ultra secure room as three men try to find valuables hidden in the home by a previous tenant. It all takes place in but a few hours and is fairly conventional story-wise, as thrillers go. But the direction and cast are of a caliber far above the plot, and the film delivers suspense and thrills galore.


IT CAME FROM THE BOTTOM SHELF


CAMPFIRE STORIES unceremoniously crept into video stores a couple of weeks ago, sporting a box cover heavily touting the presence of Jamie-Lynn Sigler, teen temptress of HBO's THE SOPRANOS. Sigler is indeed present in the cast, as is rock-singer turned actor David Johannson, but I doubt she puts the credit on her resume. This shot-on-video snore-fest would appear to have been created as a pilot for a TV series adaptation of the old Campfire Stories comic book, but comes off as a very "poor man's" version of TALES FROM THE CRYPT instead.



The ultimate rock band, rock & roll vampire hunters, Italian cowboys, Orson Welles. All this and more, if the Vidiot is back next week.



Vidiocy is our weekly Video & DVD column.

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