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DVD Reviews For 9/17: Yes, Beth, "Titanic" Is Included.
by Peter Sobczynski

Even better, "Megaforce" is now available. Did you hear me? FREAKING "MEGAFORCE" IS NOW ON DVD!!!!!


THE COMPLETE HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR (Synapse Films $39.95): Back in 1980, with their days as a leader of big-screen horror already behind them, Britain's Hammer Studios made an attempt to shift their focus to television with an anthology seres of new tales of terror that would feature such beloved veterans as Peter Cushing and Denholm Elliot and up-and-comers like the then-unknown Pierce Brosnan. Alas, only thirteen episodes were produced before the show folded and the studio went into hibernation. All thirteen can be found on this 5-disc set and while none of them will make anyone forget the glories of their classic films, they are all reasonably entertaining and may even surprise contemporary viewers with the amount of sex and violence on display. Other TV-related titles now available include "2 Broke Girls: The Complete 1st Season" (Warner Home Video. $44.98), "30 Rock: Season 6" (Universal Home Entertainment. $49.98), "Appropriate Adult" (Inception Media. $24.98), "The Big Bang Theory: The Complete 5th Season" (Warner Home Video. $44.98), "Blue Bloods: The Second Season" (Paramount Home Video. $55.98) "Bored to Death: The Complete Third Season" (HBO Home Entertainment. $39.98), "Castle: The Complete Fourth Season" (Walt Disney Home Entertainment. $44.99), "Criminal Minds: The Complete 7th Season" (Paramount Home Video. $55.98), "Fringe: The Complete Fourth Season" (Warner Home Video. $59.98), "The Good Wife: The Complete 3rd Season" (Paramount Home Video. $55.98), "Grey's Anatomy: The Complete 8th Season" (Walt Disney Home Entertainment. $45.99), "Haven: The Complete 2nd Season" (E1 Entertainment. $44.98), "How to Make It in America: The Complete Second Season" (HBO Home Entertainment. $39.98), "Hung: The Complete Third Season" (HBO Home Entertainment. $39.98), "Kojack: Season 5" (Shout! Factory. $44.99), "The Office: Season Eight" (Universal Home Entertainment. $49.98), "Parks & Recreation: Season Four" (Universal Home Entertainment. $39.98), "Person of Interest: The Complete First Season" (Warner Home Video. $59.98), "Private Practice: The Complete 5th Season" (Walt Disney Home Entertainment. $39.99), "Spartacus: Vengeance: The Complete Second Season" (Anchor Bay Home Entertainment. $49.98), "Terra Nova: The Complete Series" (Fox Home Entertainment. $49.98), "Up All Night: Season One" (Universal Home Entertainment. $39.98) and "The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Third Season" (Warner Home Video. $59.98).

THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT (Universal Home Entertainment. $29.98): Jason Segel and Emily Blunt by a crazy-in-love couple who get engaged only to face a series of hurdles that puts off their nuptials for something between 4-6 years and threaten to separate them for good. The two stars are as charming as can be but the premise is so oddly dated (there is no particularly good reason why they need to get married or nor one explaining why they cannot simply do it regardless of their circumstances) that viewers will feel as though they have been caught in some kind of strange pop-cultural time warp.

HIGH SCHOOL (Anchor Bay Home Entertainment. $26.98): In this aggressively unfunny high school stoner comedy, the school brain tokes up for the very first time only to discover that the evil principal is having a mandatory drug test the very next day and in order to save his scholarship, he hooks up with the class pothead to get the entire student body high in order to skew the results and save his bacon. Less "Superbad" than just super-bad, this film has the moral and ethical integrity of a porn film--not to mention similar aesthetics--and should only be watched if you want to see Adrien Brody, who turns up as a psycho pot dealer for reasons that escape me, turn in the single most embarrassing performance of his career.

LOLA VERSUS (Fox Home Entertainment. $29.95): Greta Gerwig stars in this uber-quirky film in which she plays a free-spirited type who is dumped by her fiancee three weeks before her wedding date and, with the big 3-0 approaching, decides to reevaluate her entire life through what the back of the DVD package describes as "an emotional year-long adventure of self-discovery filled with love, loss, hilarity and heartbreak." In other words, the film features Gerwig at her absolute Gerwiggiest--whether you take that as a recommendation or as a dire warning is entirely up to you.

THE LOVED ONES (Paramount Home Video. $29.98): This Australian import starts like any number of films celebrating the joys and agonies of teen angst as young Brent (Xavier Samuel) politely turns down an invite to the upcoming prom from Lola (Robin McLeavy), the quiet and unassuming class outcast, because he is already planning to take his own girlfriend. Alas, Xavier realizes too late that whatever Lola wants, Lola gets as he wakes up in her basement as the guest of honor of her own personal prom--an event where power drills have replaced corsages as the accepted party favor and where the torture is for once not limited to having to listen to "Wonderful Tonight" during the big slow dance. This grisly horror-comedy from writer-director Sean Byrne has been winning raves throughout the genre film community since it premiered in 2009 so don't let its direct-to-video status in this country (Paramount bought the rights, indicated they would give it a theatrical push and then did virtually nothing with it afterwards) scare you of because while it may not be the flat-out masterpiece that some of its proponents have suggested, it certainly beats most of the recent home-grown horrors one could mention and the performance by McLeavy is one of the best from an actress in the horror field since Angela Bettis' somewhat similar turn in the cult favorite "May."

MEGAFORCE (Hen's Tooth Video. $19.95): First it is announced that Hal Needham, the stuntman-turned-director responsible for such epics as "Smokey & the Bandit," "Hooper," "Smokey & the Bandit II," "The Cannonball Run," "Stroker Ace" and "The Cannonball Run II" will be receiving a special award at the next Academy Awards for his contributions to cinema and now his infamous 1982 camp classic is making its long-awaited DVD debut. For once, I am virtually speechless--giddy beyond words but speechless nevertheless. For those who have never experienced the glories of this particular title, picture in your mind a standard tale in which a rag-tag band of misfits struggle to stand their ground against an elite and technologically superior force that has them outmanned and outgunned. Now imagine that tale, only this time with the elite force as the good guys and the disheveled losers with pop guns as the enemy. Throw in Barry Bostwick in a silver lame jumpsuit and a flying motorcycle, the bald chick from the first "Star Trek" movie, Henry Silva as the bad guy and the deathless catchphrase "Deeds, Not Words" and you have one of the most cheerfully insane films of the decade. Like many great works of art, its genius was not recognized in its time and it was a massive flop upon its original release but it has developed a genuine fan base over the ensuing decades that will no doubt be happy to get rid of the fuzzy bootleg DVD they bought at a sci-fi convention. I know I will.

MY SUCKY TEEN ROMANCE (MPI Home Entertainment. $24.98): I never saw "Pathogen," a 2006 micro-budget zombie film that went into the annals of screen history because it was written and directed by a 13-year-old by the name of Emily Hagins--although I heard it was a reasonably good movie, it seemed like one of those instances where the backstory was better than the actual film. However, based on her latest effort--an entertaining horror/rom-com whose plans to spend the weekend meeting guys at the local sci-fi convention are thrown into disarray when she is bitten by a vampire and she and her friends must prevent the gathering from being overrun by genuine bloodsuckersX--I may have to seek it out after all. As someone who has seen more than his share of crappy genre films, I can spot a genuinely good one when I see it and this one passes that test--despite an obviously paltry budget and a cast of non-professionals, the film is a lot of fun to watch, especially when it is taking dead aim at mainstream vampiric monstrosities like the "Twilight" films. It may look really cheap and cheesy but trust me, this one delivers the goods and indicates that Hagins is an enormously promising filmmaker worth keeping an eye on in the future.

A NEW LEAF (Olive Films. $24.95): Elaine May made her directorial debut with this 1971 dark comedy starring Walter Matthau as a self-centered playboy who has burned through his entire inheritance and stands to lose everything until he hits upon a seemingly foolproof idea--he will woo and marry a rich botanist with no social skills (played by May herself), kill her off and inherit her fortune. However, in a development that will no doubt shock many of you, things don't go entirely has planned as Matthau finds himself constantly stymied in his attempts to woo and kill his unwitting target. When May turned her original version of the film over to the honchos at Paramount, it clocked in at nearly three hours and they responded by chopping out nearly half the footage (most of it involving a sub-plot that found Matthau having to go on a virtual killing spree to keep his original plan from falling apart), a move that inspired May to sue the studio even as the film went on to become a decent-sized box-office hit. Inevitably, the end result is a bit choppy and uneven in places but there are still a lot of big laughs to be had and the chemistry between Matthau and May is so winning that is is still worth a look. Besides, if enough people do, maybe it will inspire Sony to get off their collective duff and offer up the Blu-Ray of May's 1987 classic "Ishtar" that was supposed to have come out more than a year ago until it was dropped from the schedule at the last second with little explanation.

NYMPHO DIVER: G-STRING FESTIVAL (Impulse Pictures. $19.99): Yes, I actually have a job where I get to watch movies with titles likes this one, a strange 1981 Japanese import about a remote seaside village that recruits a group of beautiful young women with tiny bathing suits to help with the diving duties. Oddly enough, I learn that movies about girl divers, known as "ama," were actually a thing in Japan, though my guess is that the appearance of the pervy monk was a unique touch on the part of director Atsushi Fujiura. If your taste for weirdo sex films from the land of the rising sun is not slaked by this epic, "Female Teacher: Dirty Afternoon" (Impulse Pictures.. $19.99) is now available as well.

OCTOBER BABY (Fox Home Entertainment. $29.95): After collapsing on stage before making her theatrical debut, a fresh-faced college freshman undergoes a battery of tests and is eventually stunned to discover that not only was she adopted at birth by the people she believe to be her actual parents, her birth actually came about as the result of a failed abortion attempt. Naturally, stunning revelations like this can only result in one thing--a Spring Break road trip with her friends that allows her to come to grips with her past, face her future and realize at last that Abortion Is Wrong. Although its heart may be in the right place, this film is pretty awful for reasons that have less to do with its politics and more to do with its virtual absence of rudimentary filmmaking and storytelling skills. Yes, the converted will no doubt like it--as conservative-leaning films go, it certainly beats that "Last Ounce of Courage" gibberish) but for everyone else, it fails both as an earnest drama and as a potential camp item.

PIRANHA 3-DD (Anchor Bay Home Entertainment. $24.98): When Joe Dante's beloved 1978 ripoff of "Jaws" was remade in 2010 in the miracle of 3-D, the end result was a film that was unremittingly cheesy and mindless, often tasteless, ridiculously gory and slightly more entertaining than it had any right to be. This cheapjack and largely unrelated sequel (a surprise since the first one did fairly well at the box-office, especially for a hard-"R" horror film), in which the deadly fish make their way into the aquatic system of an adults-only water park, covers all those bases except for the last one and the results are so dire that even David Hasselhoff (making yet another self-consciously self-parodic cameo appearance as himself) seems embarrassed by the third-rate surroundings and in need of a stiff drink and a floor burger. The one bright note is that this one tanked so completely with the few people who actually encountered it that the chances of a "Piranha 3-DDD" in a couple of years now seem virtually astronomical.

SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN (Universal Home Entertainment. $29.98): The best thing about 2012's second big-screen reimagining of the Snow White story is Charlize Theron's cheerfully nasty turn as the wicked queen who needs to kill her extra-fair stepdaughter so that she can live forever. Unfortunately, the rest of the film is a bit of a slog, largely due to the glum and lifeless performance by Kristen Stewart as Snow White, and lacks the inventiveness and good cheer of the recent "Mirror Mirror" to say nothing of the 1937 version from Walt Disney. However, gossip hounds and fans of deeply awkward irony may want to check this out regardless because not only is this the film where Stewart apparently betrayed her beloved with her director, a commentary track from said director is among the special features on display.

TITANIC (Paramount Home Video. $39.99): This particular title is so well-known to so many people that the only reason that I am not just glossing over it entirely is that to do so would be to engender the wrath of my cousin Beth, who still holds the film near and dear to her heart. (She also used to work on cruise ships as well and it is only at this very moment did I make the strange and somewhat questionable connection between the two.) Anyway, the film is finally making its long-awaited Blu-Ray debut and along with large collection of previously issued special features, this set also includes a new documentary on the making of the film and its eventual cultural impact around the world as well as a new featurette revolving around the always shy and retiring James Cameron. These new additions aren't especially revelatory but the film itself looks amazing and still actually holds up pretty well as both an admittedly cheeseball romance and as one of the all-time classic disaster epics. In other words, it is pretty much worth buying again, something that I suspect Beth will have no problem doing. By the way, Titanic obsessives should also pick up a copy of "Tempest" (Sony Music. $16.95), the latest masterpiece by Bob Dylan whose title track is a mammoth 14-minute 45 verse/no chorus spellbinder recounting the sinking of the boat and even featuring a lyrical appearance by Leonardo DiCaprio to boot.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU"RE EXPECTING (Lionsgate Home Entertainment. $29.95): Based on the best-selling self-help book of the same name, this horribly unfunny comedy focuses on a quintet of women--played by Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick and Brooklyn Decker--as they experience the miracles and horrors of pregnancy. Outside of maybe two funny lines from Chris Rock, who turns up as a member of a rag-tag support group easing the minds of the expectant fathers with all sort of wacky commentary, this is just a mess from the get-go that offers viewers the chance to watch 5 shitty movies crammed into one and unless you decide to screen it as part of a double-bill with "October Baby" or have a fetish for gawking at famous faces looking pregnant, avoid this one like wine during an actual pregnancy.


ARACHNOPHOBIA (Walt Disney Home Entertainment. $20.00)

THE DARK MIRROR (Olive Films. $29.95)

THE FIRM (Paramount Home Video. $22.95)



JEEPERS CREEPERS (MGM Home Entertainment. $16.99)

KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE (MGM Home Entertainment. $16.99)

MAD MONSTER PARTY (Anchor Bay Home Entertainment. $14.99)

MOTHER'S DAY (Anchor Bay Home Entertainment. $24.99)

RE-ANIMATOR (Image Entertainment. $17.97)

THE SCORE (Paramount Home Video. $22.98)

SLEEPWALKERS (Image Entertainment. $17.97)

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (MGM Home Entertainment. $16.99)

UMBERTO D. (The Criterion Collection. $39.95)

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originally posted: 09/18/12 05:41:26
last updated: 09/18/12 07:00:13
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