DVD & VHS This Week: May 21 - Mania.com


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DVD & VHS This Week: May 21

Unicorns, submarines, werewolves, snakes and bugs - plus, the animatronic wonders of Julie Strain, mankind's first totally artificial human

By John Thonen     May 21, 2002

© 2002 Artisan Home Entertainment


This August, Warner Brothers Home Entertainment will offer up two DOCTOR WHO DVDs, including "Tomb of the Cyberman," a four episode story arc with Patrick Troughton as the good doctor. These episodes had been missing for years before copies were found in 1992 in Hong Kong. The disc features a commentary track from two of the series' co-stars, behind the scenes featurettes, a trailer and a photo gallery. "The Ark In Space" features Tom Baker as the eponymous character and features commentary from Baker and producer Phillip Hinchcliffe, a trailer and photo gallery, interviews and deleted effects footage.

Walt Disney credited much of his early success to what he called "The Nine Old Men," who were the key animators for the studio in its golden days up through the 1950s. One of those nine, Bill Peet, passed away this past weekend at the age of 87. Peet worked for Disney from 1938 to 1964, laboring on everything from FANTASIA to THE SWORD IN THE STONE. Peet designed Dumbo and Captain Hook, among other creations, and told in his autobiography that he drew Hook, the villain of PETER PAN, to resemble Walt Disney himself.


AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN PARIS is a belated non-sequel to John Landis' AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. Director Anthony Waller had dazzled viewers with his near-brilliant MUTE WITNESS in 1994, but he rolled snake eyes with this one, failing in almost every way to capture the magic Landis had exhibited in the original film.

AND SOON THE DARKNESS is a 1970 British horror tale from director Robert Fuest, best remembered today for the campy ABOMINABLE DOCTOR PHIBES and the bizarre THE FINAL PROGRAMME. This one shows him more than capable of less flashy methodology in service of a horror tale, here about two nurses bicycling across Europe is a most effective little chiller.

BOA is the latest in the DTV, big snake films, which have been all the rage lately. Watch for our feature article on this tale of a giant, prehistoric snake unleashed beneath the Antarctic by a construction team building the ultimate, high security prison.

CREEPY CRAWLERS is a fairly decent bug film from director Ellory Elkayam, a New Zealander whose career, to date, has been exclusively devoted to this sub-genre having also directed the big bug short LARGER THAN LIFE and the upcoming oversized spider film, EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS. This tale of flying, carnivorous cockroaches offers familiar characters and there's little in the way of surprises, but it's all competently delivered, features decent CGI effects and is better acted than it deserves to be. Just keep in mind that this already played cable TV under the title THEY NEST.

EYEWITNESS is a reasonably effective variation on the "boy who cried wolf" premise, offering Mark Lester (who briefly found fame in the musical OLIVER) as a young boy who witnesses an assassination; but no one believes he saw anything, except the killers themselves.

FRIGHT is a minor British gem from schlock director Peter Collinson. Susan George is a babysitter terrorized by the estranged father of the child she is caring for. Ian Bannen is very effective as the escaped lunatic after his offspring and George is at her oh-so-sexy best in this simple but effective thriller.

HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER is so perfect a military thriller that it's hard to believe director John McTiernan could ever have made a disaster like his recent ROLLERBALL remake. This is the film which launched the Jack Ryan film series, the latest entry of which is the upcoming THE SUM OF ALL FEARS, but this is the best of them to date. Sean Connery is superb as the Russian submarine commander who is playing cat and mouse with the world as he attempts to defect to the U.S. with his sub and crew. The accents on the sub vary wildly, but the performances are always on the target and the suspense is palpable, though little in the way of action actually occurs in the film itself.

LEGEND has [IMG4R] its hardcore supporters, but I've always seen it as an ambitious and gorgeous looking mess, and quite atypical for its star Tom Cruise and director Ridley Scott. This fantasy about unicorns, fairies and demons does feature a bravura performance from Tim Curry, buried under about a ton and a half of latex as the father of all evil in the world. But little else about the film hits its target, excepting the stunning art design and Rob Bottin's remarkable makeup. The film purports to be about purity and innocence in the face of darkness and corruption, but it's cold and uninvolving to the extreme.

THE MAN WHO HAUNTED HIMSELF is a surprisingly good British thriller about a man who finds there are two of him in the aftermath of a near death experience following a car crash. Of course, the British have long been masters at such subtle terror tales. The surprise here is the performance of the always arch and often campy Roger Moore in the lead role. This is often slow going, but it's rewarding for those with the patience.

SPIRIT LOST is an admirable attempt to make a subtle, adult and non-exploitative black-oriented horror film. But it's a misfire in spite of its good intentions. James Avery, of TV's FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR, is the only recognizable face here and the story, about a couple menaced by a ghost who seems intent on seducing the woman, is unimaginative and presented seemingly without interest by its creators, so audience interest is unlikely.

TEENAGE EXORCIST stars Brinke Stevens, Eddie Deezen and Michael Berryman, and if you know who any of these people are, you're probably the type who can enjoy this deliberately awful horror comedy. The world is threatened by the forces of evil and only an idiot pizza delivery guy can save us. Grab a six pack and check this nonsense out.

13 EROTIC GHOSTS wasn't available for preview by yours truly, but it's apparently a 3-D knock-off of the recent remake of William Castle's THIRTEEN GHOSTS and features Julie Strain, the freakshow hottie who has had her body reworked by plastic surgeons until she has become the ultimate sex goddess. The 3-D gimmick makes this irresistible to this writer, so I'll try to let you know the results as soon as I can catch a look at this T&A spectacular.



a rare misfire from director Cameron Crowe and star Tom Cruise. The acting here is superb (excepting a weak Penelope Cruze) and the film look great, but it's uninvolving and gimmicky. Skip this one but check out the Spanish film, OPEN YOUR EYES, which inspired it instead.

ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST is a delayed release from Media Blasters' sub-label, Shriek Show, and was discussed here a few weeks ago. It's better known in this country as DR. BUTCHER M.D. and is very typical, Italian/cannibal/zombie fare, but not bad of its type.


Steve Martin's

Cruise and Cruz star in Crowe's VANILLA SKY

dark comedy NOVOCAINE isn't for all tastes, but perhaps this hidden goodie will lure a few more viewers to this box office dud. From the main menu screen, select "Special Features" and then highlight "Main Menu" at the bottom of the screen. Now, press your "Left" key on your remote, which highlights the image of a bunny. Then, press "Up" followed by "Down" and then "Enter" to see some alternate bunny footage from the film. Or, you can select "Deleted Scenes" and highlight "Special Features" and press "Left," then "Up" and then "Down" to find yet another bunny image and yet more bunny footage. Lastly, go to the "Trailers" menu, highlight "Special Features," then press "Right" to find yet another bunny. Now, Press "Up" followed by "Down" followed by "Enter" for a storyboard comparison to finished film for one sequence. Special thanks to the good folks at DVDREVIEW.COM for the above info, because I just don't have the patience to hunt out stuff like this.


Harry Potter gets stoned, the worst of Stephen King and even more horny vampires, plus some bottom shelf titles we missed in the past.

Vidiocy is our weekly Video & DVD column.


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jnager 3/13/2012 2:16:53 PM

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