DVD This Week: September 3 - Mania.com


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DVD This Week: September 3

Slashers, outer limits, and star treks

By John Thonen     September 03, 2002


One of the next big titles coming to home video will be this summer's hit, MEN IN BLACK II. The current word on the DVD release is that it will be a 2-disc set. Disc one will feature the film in either anamorphic or full screen image along with a commentary track with director Barry Sonnenfeld, theatrical trailers and an "Alien Broadcast" and "Telestrator Diagrams." Disc two features an alternate ending, a blooper reel, production featurettes, alien creature featurettes, multi-angle deconstructions, one sheets, filmographies, DVD ROM content and a Will Smith music video.

EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS failed to find sufficient two-legged freaks who were willing to pay to see it during its brief theatrical run earlier this summer, but hopes are that it will perform better on home video, where star Kari Wuhrer spends most of her time anyway. Scheduled to arrive on DVD on 10/29, the film's disc will feature a commentary track with male star David Arquette and director Ellory Elkayem, deleted scenes, alternate ending and Elkayem's short film, "Larger Than Life" - a nifty little B&W tale of a woman menaced by a rapidly growing spider in her home which landed the young director a job on this Dean (STARGATE) Devlin produced tale of arachnophobia.


ALIEN BLOOD is [IMG2R]a currently unseen (by this author) indie effort which has received a lot of positive buzz for originality and top quality CGI effects. We'll get back to you on this one.

APRIL FOOL'S DAY [IMG3L]seemed like a moderately fresh breath of air back in 1986 in that, while still basically a slasher film, it was at least different from the horde of them which had been assaulting fans at the time. Today, the film's slightly tongue-in-cheek manner and genuine "who-dunnit" plot make one more aware that this film may have been the real forerunner of SCREAM. It's all about a bunch of college kids on an isolated island where their long-time friend has planned a series of elaborate April Fools gags. But somebody is pulling some stunts of their own, and they aren't all that funny. The '80s look of the film can be a bit distracting, but this is, otherwise, still a pretty fun film.

BLADE II is a considerable improvement over the somewhat disappointing initial film in what seems, now, to be an ongoing franchise. In case you haven't see either film, Blade (Wesley Snipes) is a hybrid vampire (a daywalker) who can live beneath the sun and who exists almost solely to hunt and kill vampires. The first film took itself, and the Blade character in particular, so seriously that there was little fun to be had, in spite of its comic book origins. Director Guillermo del Toro (MIMIC) brings humor, horror and tremendous action set pieces to the show this time, and the result is highly entertaining.

THE BROTHERHOOD III: YOUNG DEMONS [IMG4R]is the latest in the direct-to-video series from director David DeCoteau. The BROTHERHOOD films are unrelated in plot or characters, but each involves attractive young people in a school setting who are threatened by a supernatural force of some type; vampires, warlocks, and now demons. The surprise success of the first film has allowed an increase in budget, which is evident in the film, but the formula is getting a little too familiar. As an example, this was actually filmed as LORDS OF THE KNIGHT but was then retitled to make it part of the BROTHERHOOD series. Good looking guys and girls (the guys frequently in their underwear), a series of deaths, a little blood, a suggestive, but non-explicit, sex scene. That's the formula, and if you've seen one of these, you've seen them all.

DEVIL DOLL: special edition is a re-release of the semi-classic British film about a ventriloquist and his not so dumb dummy. This was amusingly spoofed by the MST3K crew, which might suggest it's trash, but it's well worth seeing even without their gags.

DON'T LOOK NOW [IMG5L]remains, nearly 30 years after its initial release, one of the most chilling horror films ever made. Visually gifted director Nicolas Roeg was never better, creating here an atmosphere you can almost reach out and touch. Stars Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie have rarely been better, and their sex scene remains legendary for its eroticism. But the real star of the film is the streets and canals of Venice, which Roeg presents as beautiful, but with an eerie, otherworldly quality which perfectly fits the film's story of a couple whose daughter recently died, but who may be trying to reach them through an eccentric psychic.

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE New Blood: Jason kills overage youths. That about covers it as, if you've seen one of these, you've seen them all. This one involves Jason and a teenage CARRIE clone, played by pretty Lar Park Lincoln. Fans of this series have a fondness for this one as it's the first actor/stuntman Kane Hodder essayed the behind-the-hockey-mask role, but that's about all there is to recommend it.

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan: Jason kills overage youths. That about covers it as, if you've seen one of these, you've seen them all. This is quite possibly the dullest, and certainly the most deceitful, of the series as Jason doesn't reach Manhattan (an arrival heavily promoted in the film's advertising) until about the last fifteen minutes, and it's much too late at that point as all that comes before his debarking is frightfully dull.

HELLION: THE DEVIL'S PLAYGROUND (a.k.a. CUBBYHOUSE) [IMG6R]is an, as yet, unseen horror tale from Australia about a haunted children's playhouse. Josh from BLAIR WITCH PROJECT headlines an otherwise unknown cast.

THE HILLS HAVE EYES PART 2 is the totally fouled up sequel to Wes Craven's brilliant original film about an everyday American family menaced by a deranged, near mutant family in the American southwest. There was no good reason for a follow-up to start with, but this is just a disaster, a badly troubled production which Craven has said was never actually finished. However, the producers managed to cobble something sort-of watchable by adding copious flashbacks to the first film, including one by a dog. Rent the original instead, as this is just the pits.

MY BLOODY VALENTINE comes from the golden days of the "slasher" movie genre when all you needed to get one theatrically released was to link it to some kind of well-known holiday and maybe Jamie Lee Curtis. This one lacks Tony's busty baby, but it does involve Valentine's Day along with coal miners, a wrongdoing twenty years ago, a crazed with vengeance killer and, of course, teenagers. It's a pretty standard formula but, if you can get past the familiarity, this one is pretty well done. The plot has some twists, the gore is red and gooey and the director (Canadian journeyman George Mihalka) creates some genuine mood and suspense. It's not a classic of its sub-genre (are there classics of this sub-genre?) but it ain't half bad.

MY BOYFRIEND'S BACK [IMG7L]is an odd little misfire of a black comedy about a murdered teen who comes back from the grave. Good cast, but not nearly as clever as it thinks it is.

THE NINTH CONFIGURATION: special edition is a very strange, but not ineffective film directed by EXORCIST author William Peter Blatty. This one offers a top-notch cast and is often unsettling and hilarious, sometimes all at once. This is a rare chance to see the original, director's cut, of the film.

THE OUTER LIMITS: ORIGINAL SERIES SEASON #1 is [IMG8R]a well deserved collection of episodes from the classic 1960s anthology series. While the special effects are generally from poverty by today's standard, many of these shows are highly imaginative and feature actors who later became top stars.

THE OUTER LIMITS: THE NEW SEASON: SEX & SCIENCE FICTION is a theme based collection of episodes from the modern cable-TV anthology series.

THE OUTER LIMITS: THE NEW SEASON: TIME TRAVEL & INFINITY is also a theme based collection of episodes from the modern cable-TV anthology series.

THE PROWLER: special edition is [IMG9L]a film which got lost in the aftermath of the slasher movie cycle in the '80s. Which is too bad as it's one of the best of that era, and certainly one of the most gruesome.

THE PUPPET MASTERS is a familiar, but well-executed and performed, alien invasion tale loosely adapted from the works of sci-fi master, author Robert A. Heinlein. Heinlein's book probably influenced the classic INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS and certainly influenced the 1958 unauthorized version of the book, THE BRAIN EATERS. This version has some serious plot holes, but it's very well cast Donald Sutherland, Will Patton, Keith David, Yaphet Kotto, pert and pretty Julie Warner and the effects are pretty convincing and some suspense is generated by having Heinlein's almost epic invasion story brought down to a smaller, more human scale. Not bad.

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW is the latest re-release of the now classic, originally ignored and disliked, sci-fi/horror/comedy/musical which virtually defines the term "cult film."

SHOCK WAVES: special edition [IMG10R]is a much deserved re-release of the best underwater Nazi zombie movie ever made. Peter Cushing and John Carradine are on board for this surprisingly effective, shot in Florida, horror tale. The DVD also features a nice commentary track with the director and the ubiquitous Fred Olen Ray, who earned one of his earliest credits with this film.

STARGATE SG-1 Season 2 Boxed Set is a collection of episodes from the amazingly mediocre cable-TV series spun off from the hit movie.

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION - The Complete Fourth Season [IMG11L]is the latest collection of episodes from the fondly remembered TV series.

THE TOOLBOX MURDERS is a memorable bit of sleaze from the heyday of slashers-with-power-tools-movies. Quite demented, with an amazingly over-the-top performance by Cameron Mitchell and a truly sadistic murder sequence involving a nail gun.

THE TOXIC AVENGER (4-DVD set) is a boxed set of Troma's popular TOXIC AVENGER film series. The first and third entries in this franchise of bad taste and inexcusably gross gags are the only genuinely entertaining titles in the series, but this set does have a fourth disc of extras.


This just in from DVDReview.COM: there's a hidden goodie on last week's release of the special edition of JOHN CARPENTER'S THE FOG. You start from the "Main Menu" and then select "Special Features." Now, once you get there, press "Right" twice and you'll highlight a pair of eyes. If you then press "Enter" you'll be treated to some "Behind the Scenes" footage on the film's special effects.


Next week, more movies. What'd you expect, recipes?

Vidiocy is our weekly Video & DVD column.

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