|by Peter Sobczynski
Obsessed ballerinas, cannibalistic maniacs, jailbait rockers and mutant aliens doing horrible things to Joanie Cunningham--these are but a few of the sights in store for you in this week’s batch of new DVD/Blu-ray releases. Oh yeah, there is also yet another chance to relive this year’s Stanley Cup championship in all its high-def glory as well,so suck on that, Philadelphia.
NEW AND NOTABLE
2001 MANIACS: FIELD OF SCREAMS (First Look Films. $24.98): No, this is not a documentary following the bleacher crowd at Wrigley Field as they watch the Cubs give up five runs in the first inning to the goddamned Houston Astros. Instead, this is a gory and fairly stupid horror comedy (a sequel to the alleged cult favorite “2001 Maniacs,” itself a remake/homage to the actual cult favorite “2000 Maniacs”) in which the degenerate residents of Pleasant Valley, a small Southern town populated by cannibalistic loons who arise once every century to avenge themselves upon the Northerners who wiped them out during the Civil War, road trip to Iowa and terrorize a pair of spoiled heiress sisters (Hint--their last name is “Sheraton”) and the reality TV crew that is following them. According to the packaging, John Landis claims the film to be “one of the rare sequels that surpasses the original” but considering that he is the guy responsible for “Beverly Hills Cop III” and “Blues Brothers 2000,” you might want to take that recommendation with several grains of salt.
THE BANNEN WAY (Sony Home Entertainment. $19.95): In this direct-to-video item that probably won’t be winning any prizes for originality anytime soon, a hunky con man (Mark Gantt) with a dad who’s a cop (Michael Ironside), an uncle who is a crime kingpin (Robert Forster) and a girlfriend who wants him to go straight (Vanessa Marcil) decides to do one last job in order to pay off his debts and start a new life. Needless to say, things don’t go quite as planned though it is doubtful that few will find it interesting enough to see how everything turns out.
BLACK NARCISSUS/THE RED SHOES (The Criterion Collection. $39.95 each): If you still needed a reason to justify going out and investing in a Blu-ray player, perhaps the arrival of two of the most visually spectacular films ever made--both from the legendary filmmaking duo of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger--in glorious HD transfers and with all of the extensive extras from their original DVD incarnations (including commentaries featuring avowed Powell fan Martin Scorsese, who actually teams up with the late master on the “Black Narcissus” track) will do the trick. For those of you who have somehow made it through life to this point without seeing them, “Narcissus” (1947) tells the story of a group of nuns (including Deborah Kerr and Jean Simmons) whose attempt to establish a convent in the Himalayas winds up driving them all mad thanks to isolation, jealousy and cultural differences while “The Red Shoes” (1948) is a grim but gorgeous fairy tale about an obsessed ballet dancer (Moira Shearer) who finds herself torn between a nice composer, a nasty and perfectionist producer and her all-consuming desire to be the best dancer no matter what the physical or emotional cost. Seriously, these are two of the greatest films of all time and two of the best Blu-rays to come out so far this year.
COP OUT (Warner Home Video. $28.98): Despite being a longtime fan of cult filmmaker Kevin Smith--the kind willing to muster up defenses for such efforts as “Mallrats” and “Jersey Girl” when needed--I remain absolutely dumbfounded by this utterly awful homage to Eighties-era action-comedies featuring Bruce Willis and Tracey Morgan as a pair of wacky New York cops whose investigation into the theft of a valuable baseball card inspires equal measures of wackiness and gunplay. Frankly, Smith’s ridiculously thin-skinned response to the shellacking he received from critics (many of who had previously praised him over the years) was infinitely funnier than anything that he put on the screen this time around. Presumably, this will just turn out to be a strange misstep and Smith will return to form with his next film--alas, since he has claimed that he will never allow critics to see his films in advance again because of the reaction to this one, I guess I’ll never know.
FORBIDDEN WORLD/GALAXY OF TERROR (Shout! Factory. $19.93 each.): Well, if the Powell-Pressburger discs can’t convince you to make the switch to Blu-ray, perhaps the arrival of these two extra-cheesy sci-fi/horror cheapies from legendary producer Roger Corman will do the trick. Both films were clearly attempts to cash in on the success of “Alien” and feature slimy creatures, bare breasts, plenty of blood, questionable special effects and even more questionable plot developments that no one would ever dare to get away with nowadays. Both are okay if you are into that sort of thing--not so much if you aren’t--but “Galaxy of Terror” is the more notorious of the two because of the gruesome fate that awaits co-star Erin Moran and because the production designer was a then-unknown Canadian by the name of James Cameron, (There are even rumors that he directed a few scenes as well.) Both discs are filled with bonus features including commentaries, interviews with members of the cast and crew, behind-the-scenes featurettes and, in the case of “Forbidden World,“ a copy of the unrated directors cut of the film.
JERSEY SHORE UNCENSORED: SEASON ONE (Paramount Home Video. $19.99): I don’t know about you but just writing those words makes me yearn for a drink and a shower. Other TV-related DVDs arriving this week include “DeGrassi: The Next Generation” (Echo Bridge. $21.99), “Matlock: The Fifth Season” (CBS DVD. $49.99), “My Boys: The Complete Second and Third Seasons” (Sony Home Entertainment. $39.95) and “Super Friends: Season One, Volume 2” (Warner Home Video. $26.98)
THE LOSERS (Warner Home Video. $28.98): After being betrayed and left for dead in Central America in the wake of a covert mission gone bad, a group of former CIA black ops warriors (led by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) are recruited for a top-secret mission by a mysterious babe (Zoe Saldana) that will allow them to get back on the baddie (Jason Patric) who double-crossed them in the first place. No, this isn’t “The A-Team” but trust me, it is bad enough that you will hardly notice the difference. The film is loud, garish, stupid, brutish, racist, sexist and utterly devoid of wit, intelligence, grace, dignity or any other commonly held humanistic ideals, so enjoy it if you are into that sort of thing.
MOTHER (Magnolia Home Entertainment. $26.98): Having already subverted the serial killer and monster movie genres with his cult favorites “Memories of Murder” and “The Host,” Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho tackles the innocent-man-wrongly-accused template with this fascinating and gripping thriller. When her simple-minded son is accused of murdering a local schoolgirl and winds up being convicted thanks to a bad lawyer and a police force that just wants to wrap things up quickly, a woman sets off on her own to investigate the crime in order to prove his innocence and makes a number of stunning discoveries. Although the final twist may not be that surprising in the long run, this is still an excellent movie anchored by Kim Hye-Ja’s amazing performance in the title role--both engaging and domineering in equal measure, she deserves a place on the list of the all-time most memorable movie mothers.
NHL STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS 2010 (Warner Home Video. $24.98): Mwah-ha-ha!!!!!!!!
THE RUNAWAYS (Sony Home Entertainment. $27.96): The rise and fall of the seminal 70’s all-girl rock band is chronicled in this biopic featuring Dakota Fanning as lead singer/sexpot Cherie Currie, Kristen Stewart as tough-as-nails guitarist Joan Jett and Michael Shannon as flamboyant music producer Kim Fowley. The performances are good (Shannon is a scream as Fowley) and the group’s music still kicks all kind of ass but the story follows the standard biopic boilerplate to the letter and unfortunately comes to an end just as the story is about to finally get interesting. On the whole, it is watchable enough but anyone looking for something with a little more insight should dig up a copy of the immortal “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains” and watch that instead.
THE WRONGED MAN (Sony Home Entertainment. $24.96): If you prefer your innocent-man-wrongly-accused stories to be told in a somewhat more straightforward manner than “Mother,” you might want to check out this made-for-TV movie recounting the true story of a man (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali) who spent 20 years in prison for a rape that he didn’t commit and the legal secretary (Julia Ormond), herself a former rape victim, who works to prove his innocence and get him set free. If nothing else, the film answers that nagging question “Hey, whatever happened to Julia Ormond?”
CATS AND DOGS (Warner Home Video. $24.98)
EVIL ALIENS (Image Entertainment. $17.98)
TIN MAN (Vivendi Entertainment. $19.97)
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originally posted: 07/23/10 04:15:32
last updated: 07/23/10 04:35:03