Happy Chinese New Year, everyone! Or as they say in China, “Happy New Year!’ I’m celebrating the Year of the Pig by ordering a lot of pork dishes from our favorite delivery place (China Ling!) and settling in to watch some of the thousands of great Chinese movies on DVD, and I suggest you do the same. If you have any trouble choosing, you can always consult my book VideoHound’s Dragon: Asian Action & Cult Flicks, available now. Don’t worry – unlike buying pants and shoes at this time of year, buying my book will actually bring GOOD fortune.
Sorry, that was a pretty blatant plug in that last paragraph. But deserved – the food is great, not expensive, and their delivery is amazingly fast. Feel free to plug your own stuff in the comments below if you feel the need.
SPOTLIGHT OF THE WEEK
A couple of weeks ago, we opened our Prize Closet for a giveaway of Purgatory House, a supernatural drama written by and starring then 14-year old Celeste Davis. Well, Davis isn’t the only tween filmmaking prodigy out there.
(O) PATHOGEN (Cheesy Nuggets) A 68-minute zombie horror feature, written, directed and edited by 14-year old Texas tween Emily Hagins from 2004 to 2006, and now apparently self-released on DVD by the Hagins family. While Pathogen has a technically deficient shot-on-video look and sound to it, Hagins demonstrates a firm grasp of montage and blocks her shots in an imaginative – but not distractingly flashy – fashion. She’s also come up with an original variant on the Romero ghouls, as the Austin outbreak (which we’re told spreads across the continent, while the film’s focus stays local) is caused when nanites developed to fight cancer get loose in the water supply, causing severe illness before killing and re-animating. But the biggest triumph for her is that she manages to get some moments of genuine emotion and fright from an amateur cast made up for the most part of her fellow awkward, giggle-prone tweens. We’ve had plenty of movies about adults and teens under attack by monsters, but this is the first I’ve seen where a handful of younger kids are under siege. Surrounded by zombies, they laze around self-consciously on couches and scrounge for junk food when they’re not busy decapitating their former friends and neighbors. And yes, if the film was rated, Emily would need an accompanying adult to see it. It feels like a rough draft much of the time, but I’ve seen much worse from “professional” movies, and it’s intriguing to think what this girl could do with a bit of money and a solid crew. You can get your own copy for only $8 direct from Cheesy Nuggets.
(O) ALIAS SMITH AND JONES Season One (Universal) Very popular 1971 TV knock-off of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid about a pair of reformed outlaws who are recruited as secret agents for the government. Includes commentrak.
(O) ANATOMY OF A PSYCHO (Alpha) 1961 Psycho knock-off, with the equally crazed brother of an executed killer seeking revenge.
(O) APARTMENT ZERO (Anchor Bay) Psychological thriller about a roommate with a dark secret. Special edition includes two commentraks.
(O) BABEL (Paramount) People from all over the world are linked by a tragic accident in Morocco.
(O) BENDITO INFIERNO (First Look) Sexy angel Victoria Abril and sexy devil Penelope Cruz battle for the soul of a boxer in this Spanish comedy (AKA Don’t Tempt Me).
(O) THE BLACK COIN (Alpha) 15 chapter 1936 chapterplay.
(O) BLOODY TIES (Tartan) Korean crime thriller, with Making-Of.
(O) DARK CASTLE HORROR COLLECTION (Warner Bros.) Includes House of Wax, Gothika, House on Haunted Hill, Thirteen Ghosts and Ghost Ship.
(O) THE DEADLY NECKLACE / THE SPECKLED BAND (Alpha) Sherlock Holmes double feature.
(O) DEAD MARY (Genius) A college reunion at a lakeside cabin is ruined by demonic possession. Includes Making-Of and music video.
(O) DREAM FOLLIES / DREAMLAND CAPERS (Image) Twin bill of early 1950s burlesque movies from the vaults of Something Weird Video, one of which features the first film appearance of Lenny Bruce.
(O) DUEL AT THE SUPREME GATE (BCI Eclipse) 1968 Hong Kong kung fu action.
(O) DYNAMITE DAN (Alpha) 1924 boxing thriller featuring Boris Karloff in a supporting role.
(O) ELIMINATION PURSUIT (BCI Eclipse) 1983 Taiwan kung fu action (AKA Three Famous Constables) with Tin Peng and Pearl Cheung.
(O) 49th PARALLEL (Criterion) 1941 Powell & Pressburger war thriller about the crew of a sunk Nazi submarine that tries to escape to sanctuary across the Canadian border into the USA. Includes commentrak, bonus short, BBC documentary and more.
(O) FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION (Warner Bros.) Just in time for Oscar season we have the latest mockumentary from Christopher Guest and his gang, in which everyone involved in the indie project “Home For Purim” goes overboard when they hear rumors of an Academy Award nomination. With commentrak and more.
(O) FULL MOON CLASSICS Volume 1 (Full Moon) The “classics” include Arcade, Bad Channels, Shadowzone, Netherworld and Seedpeople. Delayed from two weeks ago.
(O) GOTH GIRLS (Doorway) Erotic horror anthology, plus outtakes.
(O) GYPSY VAMPIRE / SATURN AVENGER VS. THE TERROR ROBOT (Alpha) Conrad Brooks trash double feature. A tale of a vampire trying to resurrect his long dead wife, and a space opera spoof.
(O) HARD (Westlake) Gay-themed serial killer thriller with commentrak, deleted footage, auditions and more.
(O) HELL-FIRE AUSTIN / TEXAS GUN FIGHTER (Alpha) Ken Maynard western double feature.
(O) INDEPENDENCE DAY (Fox) Special Anniversary “Yet Another” Edition of the 1996 war of the worlds hit.
(O) ISLAND OF TORTURE (Doorway) Mad scientist conducts sinister experiments on a savage island.
(O) KADOKAWA HORROR COLLECTION (BCI Eclipse) J-horror box includes Inugami, Shikoku, Shadow of the Wraith and Isola.
(O) LETHAL CHIBA (BCI Eclipse) Sonny Chiba action box set includes Killing Machine, Executioner and Executioner 2: Karate Inferno.
(O) LIGHTS OUT & OTHER SUPERNATURAL TALES Volume 1 (Alpha) Two episodes of the early supernatural TV anthology, plus two episodes of The Veil with Boris Karloff and a 1961 pilot entitled Witchcraft.
(O) LIGHTS OUT Volume 2 (Alpha) Four episodes.
(O) THE MAILMAN (Anchor Bay) Psycho thriller involving a maniac working as – or killing – a mail carrier.
(O) MAN OF THE YEAR (Universal) TV poli-jokester Robin Williams runs for president as a hoot and gets elected. Widescreen and “fullscreen” editions include interview featurettes.
(O) NATIONAL LAMPOON’S TV THE MOVIE (Xenon) Spoof harks back to the days of The Groove Tube.
(O) NIGHT OF THE LIVING DORKS (Anchor Bay) Imported German zombedy © with interviews, behind-the-scenes, deleted footage and more.
(O) OPEN WATER 2: ADRIFT (Lionsgate) Based on the true story of another group of people that couldn’t get back in the boat. Includes Making-Of.
(O) OUTLAW DEPUTY / WEST OF RAINBOW’S END (Alpha) Tim McCoy western double feature.
(O) PARTY GIRL (Alpha) 1930 roadshow effort directed by Victor Halperin (White Zombie) in which Douglas Fairbanks gets involved in the escort business.
(O) PENN & TELLER: BULLSHIT! Complete Season 4 (Showtime/Paramount) Censored and uncensored editions of the acclaimed documentary series that takes a hard, reasonable look at society’s many delusions.
(O) REQUIEM FOR A VAMPIRE (Alpha) A health inspector, a reporter, and a couple of goth teens team up to investigate a phony blood bank run by a vampire family. With interviews, bloopers and music video.
(O) ROAD TO RUIN / NO GREATER SIN (Alpha) Two 1930s cautionary roadshow exploitation features.
(O) ROCKY KING, DETECTIVE (Alpha) Four episodes of the successful crime thriller starring Roscoe Karns, broadcast live on the Dumont network from 1950 to 1956.
(O) SLAVEZ OF HORROR ISLAND (Doorway) B&D horror fantasy.
(O) SUNSET OF POWER / OUTLAWED GUNS (Alpha) Buck Jones western double feature.
(O) TARZAN AND THE GOLDEN LION (Alpha) 1927 jungle adventure with James Pierce as the Ape Man meeting up with Boris Karloff.
(O) THREE STOOGES: Hapless Half-Wits (Sony) Remastered B&W and digitally colorized shorts include “Beer Barrel Polecats”, “I’ll Never Heil Again”, “Dopey Dicks” and “Brideless Groom”.
(O) TNT JACKSON / BLACK GODFATHER (Alpha) ‘70s blaxploitation action twin bill.
(O) THE TRUSTED OUTLAW / FIGHTING CHAMP (Alpha) Bob Steele western double feature.
(O) THE TWELVE CHAIRS (First Run) Eight years before Mel Brooks’ version, the same Russian story about a hunt for hidden jewels was adapted for this Cuban comedy. Includes featurettes on Cuban cinema.
(O) THE TWILIGHT SAMURAI (First Run) Acclaimed Japanese action drama.
(O) VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA Season 2 Volume 2 (Fox) 3-disc set with interview.
(O) WALKING TALL: THE PAYBACK (Sony) Rural action direct-to-DVD sequel with Kevin Sorbo. Includes six deleted scenes.
(O) WALLABY JIM OF THE ISLANDS (Alpha) 1937 salty adventure.
(O) THE WANDERING SWORDSMAN (Image) 1970 Hong Kong Shaw Bros. action feature with David Chiang as a fearless outlaw hero, directed by Chang Cheh.
(O) THE WELL (Image) Racially charged 1951 drama about a little girl trapped in a well.
(O) WILDERNESS (First Look) Four British juvenile delinquents are dropped on an island for some kind of survivalist rehabilitation, but find themselves fighting for their lives when their team leaders are slaughtered by an outsider.
(O) ZEROPHILIA (TLA) Teen comedy about a college student who discovers an ability to change genders. With featurettes, deleted footage and interview.
BLU-RAY DISC CORNER
(O) THE PRESTIGE (Buena Vista) Includes behind-the-scenes featurettes.
(O) VERTICAL LIMIT (Sony)
(O) BABEL (Paramount)
NOT ON DVD CORNER
We welcome the input of Maniacs who want to share input on this section, where we highlight a different genre feature that has yet to come to digital disc format – just send your suggestions to DVD Shopping List in an email identified with “NOT ON DVD” in the subject line.
(O) NIGHT OF THE CREEPS (Lionsgate?) Last week we featured Fred Dekker’s Monster Squad here, and as Lionsgate is still keeping mum about a rumored release later this year, it’s still on the NOD list. Same goes for this Dekker flick, a rowdy little aliens & zombies horror comedy that inspired the recent Slither. Sinister slugs from outer space get loose in a small college town, kill and inhabit residents, and turn them into their living dead slaves. I saw this at a film fest last October and it still holds up, despite the dated goofy ‘80s outfits and such. This one’s got a petition running, too.
Be sure to check back next week—and every week—for Mania’s DVD Shopping List! And don’t forget Anime Avalanche every Monday!
DVD Shopping List (© 2007 Brian Thomas) is our weekly DVD column. Brian Thomas is the author of the massive book VideoHound’s Dragon: Asian Action & Cult Flicks, available now!
Questions? Comments? Let us know what you think at DVD Shopping List.