Video & DVD This Week: October 2nd -


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Video & DVD This Week: October 2nd

MONSTER MANIA and other horror compilations, a great direct-to-video sequel, and a muscle-bound robot kick off the month of All Hallows Eve

By John Thonen     October 02, 2001

© 2001 Image Entertainment


Many had felt that the JURASSIC PARK series had already overstayed its welcome and that without the direct involvement of the director of the first two dino-hits, Steven Spielberg, audiences would pass on a third helping. Instead, JURASSIC PARK III surprised many when it racked up a substantial box office tally. So, it's no surprise that the film will be getting a high caliber DVD release. Universal has announced they will be releasing two versions of the film, one in widescreen and one in full screen, both of which will feature a nice gallery of extras. These goodies will include a "making-of" featurette, a tour of ILM as the effects house creates the digital behemoths, an educational segment hosted by paleontologist Jack Horner on the dinosaurs featured in the film itself, and a tour of Stan Winston's Studios, where animatronic versions of the film's dinosaurs were produced. In addition, Universal will also release a new JURASSIC PARK box set of the three films, with a fourth disc of unseen footage tossed in for good measure. In an uncommonly generous move, the studio will offer this bonus disc and a slipcase for all four discs as a separate item for those who already own the earlier box sets of the first two films.

MGM has announced plans for a Special Edition release of MAD MAX, the film that launched Mel Gibson's career and gave birth to a hugely successful film trilogy. When originally released in this country, the film was totally re-dubbed with American actors for fear audiences wouldn't be able to understand the Aussie accents. This same version is the one that was released to video and even today plays on TV. MGM's upcoming re-release will feature the original audio track along with a featurette on Gibson, a "making-of" documentary and a commentary track from the film's effects coordinator, cinematographer and production designer.


BRIDE OF MONSTER MANIA is the second entry in a series of


compilation releases Image Entertainment has heading our way this month. This one takes a look at women in horror films, running the gamut from the helpless, screaming damsels of early horror to the sexual predators of the Hammer era and on to the self-reliant, kick-ass semi-Amazons of the '80s and '90s. There's lots of clips, plus Elvira herself as a host. Many of the clips come from trailers and promotional shorts, so the quality is varied, but overall, this is a well thought out and enjoyable collection.

BOOGEYMEN is another clip collection, this time from Universal, which concentrates on the villainous killers and monsters of the past 20 years worth of horror film history. Jason, Freddy, Michael, and Chucky headline a cornucopia of boogeymen in a compilation featuring more consistent quality in its clips than that found in BRIDE OF MONSTER MANIA, but which is sorely lacking that collection's entertainment value. Each baddie gets one clip a piece no matter who they are or how popular they may have been and the makers get so desperate to pad out their concept that the likes of the DENTIST and LEPRECHAUN series are included. In general, a pretty weak offering, but nearly redeemed by Robert Englund's fan boy styled commentary, which he approaches as if sitting in his basement with a couple of horror movie fans talking about the onscreen mayhem.

GODMONSTER OF INDIAN FLATS: SPECIAL EDITION is the DVD release of one of the oddest and most justifiably obscure monster movies ever made. For those of you who thought it couldn't get any stupider than those giant bunny rabbits in NIGHT OF THE LEPUS, meet the 8-foot, mutant sheep of Indian Flats. The locals even go so far as to present the four-legged Q-Tip as "The 8th Wonder of the World," and charge admission. As is becoming increasingly common these days, the Special Edition moniker here is justified by barely related material; in this case, a collection of exploitation shorts involving geeks, bigfoot, strippers and rats. This kind of stuff is strictly a matter of taste, but I found it an absolute hoot.

HELTER SKELTER MURDERS is an interesting little oddity about the Manson Family murders. Filmed in 1970, barely a year after the murders and while the trial itself was still in progress - the filmmakers actually had access to Manson himself for interviews (he is also seen performing two of his songs) to guide them in making this noir-ish tale and they even shot on the Spahn Ranch, where Manson and his followers lived. It's hard to give this a whole-hearted recommendation, as much of it is hard to follow and the directorial style is all over the place, but when it hits its mark, this is compelling and hard-hitting stuff with a feel of reality that other Manson based films never really grasped.

MONSTER MANIA appears after BRIDE OF MONSTER MANIA in our alphabetical look at the week's releases, but this is really Image Entertainment's kick-off release for their new horror based, clip compilation collection. This one is hosted by Jack Palance and is roughly the umpteenth time such a look at the history of horror films has been done which isn't to say it isn't fun. There're clips from all the expected films, plus less common moments, such as a few seconds of Thomas Edison's 1910 FRANKENSTEIN and home movies from Boris Karloff.

THE MUMMY RETURNS is, of course, the latest film in the vein of TOY STORY and FINAL FANTASY, where everything on the screen is created by computer and no actual human beings are involved before the camera. As such... What! You mean those are actually actors in this thing?! OK, this is a big, stupid cartoon of a movie in which about half of what we see is real people acting like cartoon characters and the other half is CGI cartoons which look just like CGI cartoons. The acting is largely non-existent, the effects are consistently cheesy and the whole thing moves so fast you'll either gets sucked into the proceedings or get motion sickness. Either you put your brain in neutral and enjoy the ride, or you forget the whole thing. Personally, I think they ought to put Elmer Fudd in the next one.

ROBOCOP is a no frills re-release of Paul Verhoeven's ultra-violent, highly influential tale of law enforcement in the near future. This gets my vote as Verhoeven's finest moment as, unlike most of his films, this one features a cast capable of adding depth and heart to the director's often cold as steel looks at mankind. This is truly a seminal classic of cinematic futurism that could nearly stand on a level with BLADE RUNNER, yet is so different in tone and execution that most dismiss it as just a juvenile comic book.

SCHIZO is a rather obscure little item from Britain's Pete Walker, a director of some skill whose films generally wallow in his predilection for gore and sadism. None of which makes Mr. Walker a good candidate as a babysitter, but has managed to make most of his films pretty damn watchable. And this one is no exception. Following the brutal murder of her mother, before her very eyes, a young girl grows into a beautiful skater who finds herself being stalked following the announcement of her forthcoming marriage. Keep an eye out for the knitting needle scene, and for the trick ending.

THE TERMINATOR: SPECIAL EDITION tends to be forgotten in the wake of director James Cameron's sequel, T2. This Special Edition release should go a long way in reminding us all that this is probably the most perfect "B" movie ever made and, unlike JAWS or RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, this really is a "B" movie - a low budget film with second-string performers and jerry rigged effects. In addition to the still exciting feature, the DVD sports two documentaries on the film, storyboards, script-to-screen comparisons, and deleted scenes with commentary. It's a very nice package for a film that stands firmly as a classic of its type.



release that, I will confess, I awaited with some trepidation. I loved the original film nearly as perfect a "B" movie as TERMINATOR and found the first sequel to be one of the best direct-to-video titles ever. However, this third entry was to focus on the character of Burt Gummer, an arrogant and inept survivalist who played a supporting role in the first two films. I'd always found the character to be more irritating than entertaining. A whole film of Burt? It could never work. Boy, was I wrong. This latest installment is even more fun than its worthy predecessor and only falls a little short of its illustrious progenitor. We're back in the little town of Perfection, most of the surviving townspeople are back albeit 10 years older and not only does Burt have his hands full with the Graboids of the first movie, and their Shrieker offspring from the second movie, but yet another life form has evolved. All the humor, quirky characterizations, action, and family-friendly scares of the previous films are on hand and, somehow, the proceedings manage to once again seem fresh rather than recycled. This one is a genuine winner.


I took some well deserved flack from some readers last week over my oversight in not listing the DVD release of the first season of THE SIMPSONS, almost inarguably the best TV show of the past decade. In way of small penance for my unforgivable error, here's a Simpson's Easter Egg recently unveiled over at the DVD Review website. It seems that on disc three, under "Extra Features," if you go to the second screen of extras and select "Art of the Simpsons"  and then highlight the "Extra Features" menu and then press the "Left" arrow on your remote you'll highlight the comic book in Bart's hand. If you then press enter, you'll get a gallery of magazine covers which featured the Simpsons over the years. Then, if you go to the second page of the "Extra Features" on this same disc and highlight "Some Enchanted Evening Script" menu and press the "Left" arrow on the remote, you'll highlight Bart's T-Shirt and gain access to an ABC news show on the then brewing controversy over Bart Simpson as a role model for our children.


Next week, we'll be taking a look at dead kids, Keanu Reeves, Chris Tucker and other non-human life forms. Don't miss out.

Vidiocy is our weekly Video & DVD column.


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