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DVD & VHS This Week: May 14

It's an all-star week as Nicole Kidman, Johnny Depp and Ed Wood all hit the video highway on their way to your local movie outlets

By John Thonen     May 14, 2002


Nicole Kidman in THE OTHERS
© 2001 Dimension Films

VIDEO NEWS


Movie re-titling is a practice as old as film itself, but it's usually a marketing con job pulled by some scurrilous, fly-by-night distributor to trick unsuspecting rubes into paying to see a movie they've already seen simply by changing its name and advertising. Two upcoming video releases revive the technique, but may catch some off-guard as, this time, the con is from a fairly respectable, independent video label. First up will be next week's release of CREEPY CRAWLERS, a Spartan Home Entertainment release of an OK bug movie which many already caught under the name THEY NEST on the USA network. Then, a month later, Spartan will release BLOOD MOON, which premiered a couple of months back on the Sci-Fi Channel under the more accurate title of WOLF GIRL. Both movies are adequate entertainment and certainly worth a look if you missed their cable TV debuts, but a second viewing should be by choice based on the merit of the films, and not the deceptions of the distributor.


HORRORDVDS.COM recently posted news of a slew of upcoming genre releases from several distributors. The recent zombie/video game flick RESIDENT EVIL will hit video July 30th  from Paramount, while MGM will be rolling out a series of double-feature discs including THE OBLONG BOX / SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN, DERANGED / MOTEL HELL, WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH HELEN / WHOEVER SLEW AUNTIE ROO, THE ATTIC / CRAWLSPACE and PREMATURE BURIAL / MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH. Also coming soon will be John Carpenter's THE FOG, with Carpenter and producer Debra Hill commentary, and Wes Craven's LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, also with director & producer commentary.


THIS WEEK'S NOTABLE NEW RELEASES


DEMONS IN MY HEAD is a movie I really wanted to like. There's no particular reason, other than that I just like the title and thought it belonged on a good move. Can't win them all. This is a British, largely plotless, film involving a meteor with headphones and an alternate dimension plus women with large breasts. Wow, summed up like that, it kind of sounds OK. Trust me. It isn't.


EPOCH played [IMG4R]on the Sci-Fi Channel a couple of months ago and set some sort of record for the network in terms of viewership. Not surprising really. It boasts a pretty cool idea, a surprisingly strong cast and some well executed CGI effects. There's lots of good ingredients here, albeit, hampered a bit by a lame-ass script. Still, this tale of a towering alien rock, which juts up out of the desert overnight, creating an international incident, intriguing scientists, scaring the military and somehow healing the sick, remains an above-average TV movie. It's just that annoying feeling that with just a little more effort, it might have been something genuinely special that bugs me.


FROM HELL

Inspector Abberline (Johnny Depp) finds himself assigned to the Ripper investigation in FROM HELL

is far from a disaster, but it is a significant misfire, and it's hard to say exactly why. The film's production values are magnificent, creating a very palpable 18th Century England for this re-telling of the Jack the Ripper mystery. The cast is strong, with a host of British character actors lending able support to a well-cast Johnny Depp. The Hughes Brothers directorial team were long-time "Ripper" buffs and had lent the story a unique perspective by concentrating on its setting in the London slums rather than the upper class elements of most Ripper stories. Yet somehow, the film is a noble assembly of parts which never gel as a whole, never become more than what they are individually. FROM HELL is far from unwatchable and probably shouldn't be missed by fans of period horror, but you'll probably turn off the video and say to yourself, "Not half-bad, but it could have been better."


THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EDWARD D. WOOD, JR. is one of several documentaries that popped up when Tim Burton announced his plans to do a movie biography on Wood. Thankfully, it's also one of the better ones. I doubt Wood long known as the world's worst moviemaker needs any introduction to CINESCAPE readers. So, suffice it to say that, this is a solid documentary with lots of interviews with former Wood cronies and footage from that director's films. It's fun, it's informative and it's surprisingly respectful of Wood and his crew. If you don't already know a fair bit about the legendary Wood, this is a great place to start.


HOBBS END is an, as yet, unseen item about a young widow who has isolated herself in a cabin in the American Northwest in order to deal with her grief. Instead, she finds herself involved with a man whom she learns is a deadly serial killer. The premise of this one sounds OK, and I'll check it out ASAP, but I am starting to get tired of these serial killer tales and hope this one at least has something new to offer.


NIGHT OF THE GHOULS is, since we're speaking of Ed Wood, the final effort of the master of disaster, one which spent nearly forty years unseen because Wood didn't have the money for the lab bill. Thankfully, the good folks at Englewood Video ponied up the cash and have now brought this mess-terpiece to the DVD world courtesy of their distribution deal with Image. There's spiritualists, a haunted house, skeletons, bad acting, dreadful dialogue, sub poverty row production values and more on display here. This one's not to be missed by any serious connoisseur of bad cinema.


THE OTHERS [IMG3R]was a sleeper hit at the box office, but many have tended to lump this gothic tale in with THE SIXTH SENSE, as both found mass popularity thanks to a twist ending. It's an unfair comparison as THE OTHERS is, in many ways, the superior film; one boasting subtle visual and aural effects, supreme mood and atmosphere. While THE SIXTH SENSE eventually gave us flashes of gore and a murder mystery sub-plot, nothing really happens in THE OTHERS. This film is driven solely by superb acting, particularly by Nicole Kidman, and its powerful visuals. It's a masterful demonstration of cinematic skills beyond anything demonstrated in a horror film since the heyday of Bava and Argento.


STAR WARP'D is yet another STAR WARS parody, one already well-covered by CINESCAPE's own Andy Hershberger just a few days ago. As usual with Hershberger's reviews, I couldn't have said it better myself. Which, I've got to tell you, pisses me off a bit. Anyway, check out his review if you want to know more about this one.


THE X FILES: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON finds this rollout of the episodes of the once popular series nearing the midpoint at the same time as the series is limping to its overdue end. Lots of great episodes in this collection, which comes from the years when the show was at its pinnacle. But you have to wonder, will there be any customers for the DVD release of season nine?


EASTER EGG HUNT


The recently released NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE is a decent little DVD time-killer on its own, but the ever popular DVD REVIEW website just unveiled a pair of hidden goodies that add to the disc's tasteless allure. If you go to the second page of "Special Features" and then select "Theatrical Trailers," and then "Special Features" from the new menu screen and then press your "Right" control key, you'll see a belly button ring. Press enter to see footage of the real-life marriage proposal of the film's main stars, which occurred during the film's production. Now, pick "Scene Selections" and highlight the duck at the bottom of the  screen. Press "Down" and then "Enter" to subject yourself to nine different takes of the lesbian kissing sequence between the CRUEL INTENTIONS-inspired Mia Kershner and the school's undercover narc, who sure ain't no Selma Blair.


COMING ATTRACTIONS


Next week's releases offer up a pair of Tom Cruise movies as well as a nice assortment of icky little bugs and slimy snakes, which are really pretty similar to Tom Cruise when you think about it. Or at least when Nicole Kidman thinks about it.





Vidiocy is our weekly Video & DVD column.

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