DVD & VHS This Week: July 23 - Mania.com



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DVD & VHS This Week: July 23

This week we travel in H.G. Wells' Time Machine to an era when great books are made into good movies, and even further into the future when good movies are remade as mediocre ones (maybe Devo was right)

By John Thonen     July 23, 2002

VIDEO NEWS


Kane Hodder reprises the role he's made famous in 2002's JASON X

weren't waiting for the return of Jason Voorhees, but New Line is betting that the video rental audience is as they announce the October 8th release of their recent theatrical dud JASON X. The "Platinum Edition" DVD will offer a commentary with director Jim Isaac, writer Todd Farmer and producer Noel Cunningham along with two featurettes; one on the making of the film and the other on the nine-plus lives (and counting) of Jason himself. There will also be trailers and DVD-ROM content and the "Jump to Death" sequence, allowing one to select and view your favorite slaying from you favorite slayer. New Line will also be releasing a DVD of the previous film in the series, JASON GOES TO HELL, which, some of you may recall, was announced as the final chapter in the Jason saga. Well, final except for the new one, and maybe JASON VS. FREDDY.


A recent article in VIDEO BUSINESS magazine put down some figures to back up just how successful the DVD system has been. It seems that, just last week sometime, the billionth DVD was shipped out to a retail store. With DVD barely five years old, it has reached this lofty plateau in half the time it took VHS to do the same. In fact, DVD sales this year were up 80% over the previous year's sales. "This is a format that has truly reinvigorated our industry on both the hardware and software ends of the business and is changing the way Hollywood makes movies and the way people watch them at home," the president of Buena Vista Home Entertainment was quoted as saying in the article. Add to these figures the fact that 8.1 million DVD players sold during the first half of this year, and that projections of another 12 million will sell before the end of the year, and you can understand why that DVD section at your local store just keeps getting bigger, and the VHS one smaller.


THIS WEEK'S NOTABLE NEW RELEASES


BLOOD THEATER

an example of the kind of thing that really bothers the Vidiot. Oh sure, things like racism and religious intolerance upset me, but not like this. This is a horror movie which I not only haven't seen - I never even heard of the damn thing! So, what I do know is that it was apparently made in the early '80s and has been released under this title and also as MOVIE HOUSE MASSACRE. The wonderful Mary (EATING RAOUL) Woronov has a small part in it and the one or two references I could find to it suggested that it's pretty amateurish and really bad. My apologies to one and all, but that's all I know on this one.


BATTLE QUEEN 2020 represents a new, cinematic low point for Roger Corman's New Concorde/New Horizons video label. They've unleashed some real dreck in the past few years, but this Canadian-lensed, post-apocalyptic tale may well be their nadir. It's all got something to do with the bad guys of the arctic wasteland that is Earth, living off enslaved survivors by draining their pituitary fluid, and only the titular Julie Strain (pun intended) can save mankind. The best effect in the movie is Strain herself, who has to be in her '50s, but has a body that most Playmates would envy. But seeing her naked is the only reason to see this film, and even her massive investment in silicone isn't worth suffering through this.


CROSSROADS is

CROSSROADS

the kind of film I'd love to hate. It's a vehicle for the hugely successful, modestly talented teen pop idol Britney Spears, and it has a storyline which would seem to have been created by a committee at best and a computer at worst. But Spears is a perfectly "OK" actress, she's easy on the eyes and the movie is so innocuous that it's kind of hard to hate it. It's not remotely worth going to any kind of effort to see, but if you can't find the remote and just don't want to get out of your Barcalounger, you could do worse.


DAGON is one of the best horror films of the past several years and is proof that director Stuart (RE-ANIMATOR) Gordon hasn't lost his touch. Check out Jason Henderson's movie review in the archives of this site, and Cinescape's chat with Gordon, coming soon elsewhere on the site, for more info, but rent it. Really!


HITCH-HIKE is a DVD "Special Edition" released from Anchor Bay which fans of Euro-trash exploitation films will want to be sure to pick up. The story is pretty much what you'd expect. A couple (Franco Nero and Corrine Clery) pick up a hitcher (LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT's David Hess) on the road and he turns out to be a psycho. The rest of the film is basically rape, violence, nudity and a surprising amount of sincere-sounding dialogue about these same topics, which make a good effort to convince the viewer that he isn't watching a crappy exploitation film. But believe me, you are.


HOOKERS IN A HAUNTED HOUSE

HOOKERS IN A HAUNTED HOUSE

is the latest sexploitation title from the Vidiot's friends at Retromedia. It's professionally made, not too well acted, offers naked women in a decidedly not scary haunted house and there's lots of bad jokes. I haven't actually seen it, but trust me, that's what it's about.


MAD MONSTER PARTY

MAD MONSTER PARTY

is a movie which, if you're over the age of forty, you probably grew up watching on TV. It's an animated puppet story about Dr. Frankenstein's planned retirement and the revolt it brings on among the monsters of the world when he announces his replacement as their leader will be his nerdy nephew. Boris Karloff voices the Doctor and Phyllis Diller is the Monster's Bride in this amusing children's fantasy.


TARZAN & JANE

TARZAN & JANE

is the latest direct-to-video (DTV) follow-up to a Disney Studios theatrical hit and, like most of them, this feels like a factory product. The animation is pretty much TV grade, there's a lame Phil Collins/Mandy Moore duet, and the storyline involving British visitors who make Jane realize there are aspects of her old life she misses - resolves happily ever after. Well, at least until they crank out another sequel.


THE TIME MACHINE is

THE TIME MACHINE

such an earnest and honest attempt to make a good film that one almost feels bad about pointing out its failures. But they are just too numerous to ignore. The film largely ignores all but the basics of the H.G. Wells classic novel, and cribs only a few moments from George Pal's fondly remembered 1960 version. The result is a film which loses the intellectual and social vision of Wells and the sense of wonder of Pal. An attempt is made to give the film an emotional core through a lengthy and effective prologue dealing with the central character's loss of his true love, but even this backfires thanks to the way it's so quickly dismissed in the remainder of the film. Nice effects, so-so Stan Winston Morlock makeup, overdone CGI Morlocks, an uninteresting cast and a total waste of Jeremy Irons. Make your own journey back in time and rent Pal's film instead.


STRAIGHT ON TILL MORNING

STRAIGHT ON TILL MORNING

is a Hammer film which is totally unlike any other Hammer film you've ever seen. A troubled and na´ve young girl runs away from home in hopes of finding a Prince Charming to make her a whole woman by impregnating her. Instead, she ends up with a handsome, but sadistic, young man who makes her his virtual slave. Well acted and produced, this is not a pleasant story, but remains a fairly fascinating one. The title, by the way, refers to part of the directions to Neverland from PETER PAN.


TRANCERS 6 / TRANCERS is a fun little double feature DVD from Full Moon. TRANCERS is a 1985 item, and probably the best film Full Moon head Charles Band ever made. The first film launched an uneven series about time traveling future cop Jack Deth and TRANCERS 6 is the latest entry in that series. Be sure to check out the review of the latter film soon elsewhere on this site, and watch for Cinescape's look at the entire TRANCERS series.


THE BARGAIN BASEMENT


Sorry, no new Easter eggs to share this week, but here's one of the Vidiot's very sporadic recommendations of retail websites which offer a unique selection of titles at tempting prices. This time, it's BIJOUFLIX.COM.


This site delivers pretty much everything you ever hoped the Internet might offer for movie geeks like ourselves. First, every month they offer free, streaming video samples from some of the films they sell. They also have an excellent online catalog of their products which tell you a great deal about each film, even offering negative information about some titles. Now that's an honest retailer. Many of the films listed on the site are available as full length, streaming videos for the incredibly paltry admission of $1.00 a viewing. This group includes titles such titles as FIRST SPACESHIP ON VENUS, WHITE ZOMBIE, HORROR HOTEL and even John Carpenter's DARK STAR. Lastly, BIJOUFLIX.COM sells VCDs of the esoteric titles in their catalogs. If you're unfamiliar with VCDs, they are essentially CD burns with video information. The picture quality isn't up to DVD standards, but it easily matches VHS and the discs can offer extra features and options such as direct scene access (which VHS can't). Most importantly, they are inexpensive to make and the site typically sells their often rare or obscure titles for around $10.00. Check out BIJOUFLIX.COM and be sure to let them know the Vidiot sent you.


COMING ATTRACTIONS


It's living dead week next time as vampires, zombies, ghosts and ghouls start early preparations for the Halloween season.



Vidiocy is our weekly Video & DVD column.

Questions? Comments? Let us know what you think at feedback@cinescape.com.

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