REVIEWS BY NETTA GILBOA & CHRISTOPHER SCHANOT
DVD titles are reviewed using either a Panasonic A110 or a Creative Labs Encore PC-DVD (using the latest drivers) which is installed in a Pentium II 300 MHz with 64mb RAM running Windows98. All titles are recent releases, even though some are of the films are years old. Because DVD is a new medium, older titles are being released as new product. This will be true for some time to come.
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO: COLLECTOR'S CHOICE (Madacy Entertainment Group, Inc., 161 minutes) Two comedy films are presented here in your choice of one disc with a film on each side or two DVDs with one film on each. Africa Screams is a slapstick comedy which sends Abbott and Costello to Africa on a safari to search for diamonds. Jack and the Beanstalk retells the classic fairy tale after Costello falls asleep while babysitting and has an intense dream. Filmed in sepiatone and then changing to color at a key moment in the film, this film relies less on slapstick and more on dialogue. The DVD also includes Dolby Digital sound, chapter search, a biography and filmography of the comedy team, a section of little known facts and a trivia questions and answers quiz. This is an excellent introduction to Abbott and Costello's comedy and offers two of their best films at once. Highly recommended for all ages.
ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE (Trimark Home Video, 101 minutes) James Woods, Melanie Griffith, Vincent Kartheiser and Natasha Gregson Wagner star in this modern day Bonnie and Clyde film about a couple involved with drugs and crime who hook up with another couple for a big-time heist. Woods steals the show here in this film from the director of Kids. Themes include the effects of drugs on the people who use them and the human need for acceptance. The DVD contains a digitally mastered widescreen presentation of the film, 5.1 Dolby Digital sound, music video by Clarence Carter, audio commentary track by director Larry Clark, foreign subtitles, interactive menus, chapter search, theatrical trailer and cast and crew information. Well done, with an unflinching look at one type of career criminal.
ANTZ (DreamWorks Home Entertainment, 83 minutes) Woody Allen was born to play a worker ant unhappy with his position in life in this delightful animated comedy which also stars the voices of Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone, Anne Bancroft and Christopher Walken. The ant arranges to trade places with another ant and becomes a war hero, and manages to capture the attention of the colony's princess. While entertaining for children, this is of perhaps greater interest to adults and is a major score for those who love animated films. The DVD contains an anamorphic widescreen version of the film (1.85:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, an audio commentary with the two directors, a production featurette, a lesson on the basics of computer animation, information on character design and the facial system for the ants, production notes, chapter search, theatrical trailer, cast list and director bios. One of those rare films you can enjoy viewing repeatedly, this is highly recommended for the whole family to be entertained and captivated by as well as for those who are computer artists and aspiring animators.
DAVID BOWIE: SERIOUS MOONLIGHT (Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P., 87 minutes) Filmed during the 1983 Serious Moonlight tour, this disc features Bowie and his band performing a slew of hits. Songs include: "Fashion," "Let's Dance," "China Girl," "Rebel Rebel," "Heroes," "Life On Mars," "Space Oddity," "Young Americans," "Golden Years," "Fame" and many more. The DVD also includes Dolby Digital sound and chapter search. A must for even marginal Bowie fans, this disc includes some rare songs like "White Light, White Heat" and superb performances of all the music selected. Well done.
BRUCE LEE: COLLECTOR'S CHOICE (Madacy Entertainment Group, Inc., 230 minutes) Two Bruce Lee films, Fists of Fury and The Chinese Connection, are offered here to delight Kung Fu and martial arts fans. Recorded in Dolby Digital sound, the disc is available as either a single disc set which has one film on each side, or as a two-disc set with one film on each disc. Whichever your preference for collecting discs, both films are full of action, romance, intrigue and great fighting moves. The DVD also includes trivia, chapter search and several screens of information about martial arts, philosophy and a biography of Bruce Lee. Well done.
BULLWORTH (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Inc., 108 minutes) Warren Beatty directed and stars in this outrageous comedy along with Halle Berry. The plot involves a senator who believes his career is over so he takes out a huge life insurance policy on himself and then a contract on his own life. Knowing he is about to die, he feels compelled to tell the world how it really is in politics. He becomes increasingly popular and falls in love with a political activist. However, there is still a contract out on him which he must now try to undo. The DVD contains a widescreen version of the film (1.85:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, Spanish subtitles, theatrical trailer, interactive menus and chapter search. One of Beatty's best films, this is highly recommended and a must to see whether or not politics interest you.
CRUMB (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 119 minutes) This superb documentary about 60s underground comix cartoonist R. Crumb is eye-opening for both his fans and those unfamiliar with his work. Interviewing Crumb and his family, his past lovers, and intersplicing their comments with Crumb's art, one learns that many of the outrageous things he drew came from his real life experiences. The DVD also includes a standard presentation on the film which preserves the original theatrical aspect ratio, Dolby Surround sound, chapter search and theatrical trailer. Recommended for anyone who remembers Fritz The Cat, Keep On Truckin', Mr. Natural, Zap Comix, or his many other characters, this film will disturb and amuse everyone from sex therapists to intellectual property attorneys to art students and aging hippies. Highly recommended as a superb example of a documentary film and a very revealing look at a very private person.
DEBBIE DOES DALLAS 99 (Vivid Interactive, 240 minutes) Lexus, Stephanie Swift, Vince Vouyer and Jon Dough star in this adult film which is yet another sequel to the hit adult title. Directed by Paul Thomas, the story line here stays true to the original film and is very well done. Offering a plot for those who prefer one, as well as lots of sex scenes, this will surely appeal to couples and those who loved the original film. The DVD includes multiple angle technology so you can decide how you wish to watch the sex scenes, interactive phone sex, interactive menus, no regional coding, outtake of Vivid films, previews from Vivid films, information on the Vivid girls, no regional coding, footage from the AVN awards show, chapter search and more. Highly recommended as one of the best titles to be released in recent months.
DEMONS (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Inc., 88 minutes) Dario Argento presents this horror film produced by William Lustig and directed by Lamberto Bava. It's set in a Berlin, Germany movie theatre called the Metropol. The plot involves two girls given tickets to a special film screening. When they attend the film however, they find that the violent horror film showing is transforming the audience members one by one into a horde of crazed demons. The film also features a musical score with songs by Billy Idol, Motley Crue, Scorpions and Rick Springfield. The DVD contains a widescreen presentation of the film (1.66:1), audio commentary track, theatrical trailer, chapter search and a behind-the-scenes segment. The disc itself is a picture disc and there is also a paper reproduction of the original theatrical poster inside the box. Ideal for gore fans, this unrated film has been hard to find until now. Well done.
DEMONS 2 (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Inc., 92 minutes) In this sequel, the demons invade a high-security apartment building after a tenant watches a horror movie playing on TV. The girl, who is the guest of honor at a birthday party, leaves the many tenants of the building battling the demons in order to try to survive. Presented here in an unrated version, this lacks the cuts made to get the film an R rating when it was originally shown in the US. The DVD includes a widescreen presentation of the film (1.66:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, an audio commentary track, theatrical trailer, and chapter search. The film has a hip soundtrack which includes songs by The Smiths, The Cult, Art of Noise and Dead Can Dance. The disc itself is a picture disc and there is a paper reproduction of the original theatrical poster inside the box.
DIE HARD TRILOGY BOXED SET (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Inc., 387 minutes) Bruce Willis stars as New York City cop John McLane in this series of superb action films which are now available either individually or together in this specially priced boxed set. Die Hard, Die Hard 2 and Die Hard With A Vengeance are perhaps most notable because each film is better than the one before it and it's one of those rare cases where the sequels do not disappoint. McLane battles terrorists with wit and style and it's a pleasure to watch Willis play this character. The DVDs are offered in digitally remastered widescreen format (2.35:1), with 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound and THX certification, interactive menus, chapter search, original theatrical trailers, and foreign subtitles. This is a well done series that is highly recommended for Willis fans, action fans and those that like police films.
EVER AFTER (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Inc., 100 minutes) Drew Barrymore and Anjelica Huston star in this variation on the Cinderella fairy tale. Set in the 16th century, the plot involves a girl who stands up to her stepmother and manages to get to know the crown prince of France whom she ends up marrying. The DVD includes a widescreen format presentation of the film (2.35:1), Dolby Digital Surround sound, interactive menus, chapter search, theatrical trailer, and Spanish subtitles. A very romantic film, this is so well done that men enjoy it as much as women do, and it will appeal to anyone who like Drew Barrymore, films involving costumes and historical settings, love stories and/or fairy tales. Highly recommended.
EXPOSURE (Vivid Interactive, 240 minutes) Reverse sexual harassment is the theme of this adult movie featuring infidelity, blackmail, revenge, and private meetings. Starring Celeste, Jenna Jameson, Rocco Siffredi and Alex Sanders, it's about a recently promoted female executive who makes servicing her one of her subordinates' new responsibilities. The DVD also includes multiple angle technology so you can choose how to view the sex scenes, interactive menus, information on the many Vivid girls, no regional coding, footage from the AVN awards, outtakes from Vivid films, previews of other Vivid films and much more. Inside the box are a paper catalog of other Vivid titles and a paper poster of the Vivid girls.
EXTREME CLOSE-UP 4: BLONDAGE (Vivid Interactive, 240 minutes) Paul Thomas directed this latest episode in the hit adult series which interviews top Vivid girls and shows them in action. Blondage is Janine and Julia and in this title you get to spend a day with the two girls as they "meet, greet, and eat their way into your heart." The DVD includes outtakes of Vivid titles, multiple angle technology so you can choose the angle you prefer to views sex scenes from, previews of other Vivid films, interactive menus, no regional coding, information on the Vivid girls and much more. I highly recommend both this title and the other three episodes available so far in this series.
FISH CALLED WANDA, A (MGM Home Entertainment, Inc. 108 minutes) John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Klin and Michael Palin star in this romantic comedy about "four conniving jewel thieves...three Yorkshire Terriers...two heaving bosoms...and one proper English barrister." Full of plot twists, Wanda (played by Curtis) tries to get a fortune in jewels from the three male actors. The DVD includes a choice of widescreen or standard formats, Dolby Digital mono audio, an eight-page booklet full of information on the making of the film, French subtitles, theatrical trailer and chapter search. One of Curtis' best roles, this highly successful film spawned a sequel, which is equally popular. Don't miss this if you like Monty Python, Jamie Lee Curtis, Yorkshire Terriers, and/or romantic comedies.
FRESHMAN FANTASIES 5TH EDITION (Digital Playground Inc., 120 minutes) This top adult series, produced and directed by Professor Mike, is back and offers a guest appearance by Tom Byron. Featuring one sex scene after another with young, eager and willing girls, this disc will satisfy anyone interested in action over plot. The DVD also includes 5.1 Digital Surround sound, behind-the-scenes photos, a slide show, parental lock option, no regional coding and chapter search. Those with DVD players inside their computers are also able to play a Strip Blackjack game. Highly recommended for wall-to-wall sex film lovers.
FRIDAY (New Line Home Video, 91 minutes) Ice Cube and Chris Tucker star in this comedy about a day in the 'hood. One of the best of a growing genre of 'hood films designed to appeal to a Black audience, the plot here involves two guys who owe money to a third party who may not leave them alive to see the rest of the weekend if he isn't paid back on time. The DVD includes a widescreen version of the film, Dolby Digital Surround sound, seven deleted scenes, two music videos, original theatrical trailers, Q and A interviews with Ice Cube as well as the films director and producer, chapter search, interactive menus, and cast and crew biographies and filmographies. This is well written, humorous and well acted. Highly recommended for fans of the actors and of 'hood films.
GENERAL CHAOS: UNCENSORED ANIMATION (Palm Pictures/Manga Entertainment Inc.) This lengthy animated cartoon compilation features short films full of sex, violence and potentially offensive humor. The toons use Claymation, computer animation and cel animation to make their points and the disc is appropriately sold for adults only. The DVD includes digitally remastered prints of the films, stereo sound, interactive menus, chapter search and a web link. If you like animation and adult film you will love this, and it's one of those rare titles you can watch again and again and always find something new to appreciate about it. Highly recommended for anyone with an open mind.
HORROR HOTEL (Elite Entertainment, Inc., 76 minutes) One of the great black and white horror films, this stars Christopher Lee, Betta St. John, and Patricia Jessel. Released in Europe as City Of The Dead, it's about a colony of evil witches. Rarely shown on TV, and released on VHS in a version that had poor tracking making it almost unwatchable, the film has been lovingly digitally remastered and transferred to DVD in a letterboxed edition with the original theatrical trailer, digital mono sound and chapter search. Don't miss this if you like horror films and/or witches.
THE HOTEL (Vivid Interactive) One of the few gay male adult titles on DVD to date, this stars Will Clark, Dereck Bishop, Peter Wilder, Mark O'Neill, Grant Wood and Eric Evans. Full of nonstop action which will appeal to gay men as well as those curious to see what men really do together, this has a good story line and high production values. The DVD includes digital stereo sound, a slideshow gallery, no regional coding, previews of other Vivid titles, chapter search and a DVD-ROM compatible game for those with DVD players inside their computers. Well done.
HOUSE OF CARDS (Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P./Artisan Entertainment, 109 minutes) Kathleen Turner and Tommy Lee Jones star in this drama about a mother's devotion to her child. The child withdraws from reality and when conventional medicine can't help, the mother attempts to reach the child any way she can. The DVD contains just the film, Dolby Digital sound and chapter search which is enough as the film is self-explanatory. This is an unusual role for Tommy Lee Jones, and a film most women and parents will enjoy. Well done.
INCIDENT AT OGLALA: THE LEONARD PELTIER STORY (Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P., 90 minutes) Robert Redford presents this documentary which examines an FBI case from 1975 in which agents illegally entered the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Two agents died, as did a Native American and after the largest manhunts in history three people were apprehended. Only one of them was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Redford visited Peltier in prison over a decade ago, but it took him this long to get the FBI and prison system to allow him the access he needed to make this film. Although there are no extras other than chapter search, they are hardly needed as the film speaks for itself and makes its points very clearly. This is highly recommended for those interested in conspiracy theories, the Criminal Justice system, FBI assaults on minority groups and those practicing alternative lifestyles, Native American history and/or superb documentaries in general.
LADY IN WHITE (Elite Entertainment, Inc., 120 minutes) A little boy is locked inside a coffin-like cloakroom for a night by his fourth grade classmates. During the night he meets the ghost of a girl who was murdered in the very same room ten years earlier. He ultimately solves the mystery of who killed her so she can finally rest in peace. The DVD contains a widescreen Digital Superscan transfer of the film (1.85:1), which is a Director's Cut, 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track, audio commentary by director Frank LaLoggia, still photo library, promotional short, theatrical trailers and TV spots, behind-the-scenes footage, and chapter search. A terrific ghost story, and the rare film that scares you without resorting to non-stop slashing of bodies, this is highly recommended to horror and mystery fans.
LAUREL AND HARDY: COLLECTOR'S CHOICE (Madacy Entertainment Group, Inc., 153 minutes) Offering two complete films, The Flying Deuces and Utopia, this comedy disc is offered either as one disc with one film per side or as two separate discs with one film on each disc. Filmed in black and white, Utopia has Laurel and Hardy inheriting an island in the Pacific where uranium is discovered. In "The Flying Deuces," Stan and Ollie join the Foreign Legion to help Ollie forget his love life. The disc includes chapter search, Dolby Digital sound, trivia questions and answers, biographies and filmographies, and facts about the comedy team.
LEGENDS OF PORN (NuTech Digital, Inc., 120 minutes) This compilation adult title is hosted by adult film critic Jim Holliday and features the best sex scenes of over 50 different adult film stars. Included are performances by everyone from Marilyn Chambers, Seka, Annette Haven and John Holmes to Georgina Spelvin, Kay Parker, Jamie Gillis and John Leslie. Some of these people are still active in the industry as directors or make the occasional film, but this tape hails the golden age of adult films when the stars had natural breasts more often than not, there was a budget for shooting on film instead of on video, and films had plots and more character development than usually found today. While most of the actors and actresses who appear here were probably not consulted or paid extra for being in this film, this was one of the consequences of being a star in the adult industry at a time when contracts weren't always offered or signed, and when people didn't yet realize the future potential of home video, cable television, adult films in hotel rooms and DVD. Today the adult industry is more organized and actors are more savvy, more often entering the industry for money and by choice rather than fun and by accident which was the way many of the stars in this disc originally got involved. If you like adult films you owe it to yourself to see these classic scenes, which have been newly upgraded to include multi-angle technology so you can choose which camera angles to watch. Highly recommended for those who remember these stars, students of adult film history and those who like compilation tapes rather than heavy story lines.
LEGIONNAIRE (Sterling Home Entertainment, 99 minutes) Jean-Claude Van Damme stars in this epic war film set in 1920s Marseilles and colonial Morocco. It's a survival film about a group of men searching for new beginnings during a war and about getting over broken dreams. The DVD offers a wealth of extras including a digitally mastered widescreen version of the film (2.35:1), Dolby Surround sound, two audio commentary tracks by the writer and by Douglas Porch, interviews with cast and crew, theatrical trailers, trivia games, rare footage of Legionnaires in combat, a section on the weapons used by the French Foreign Legion, archive photos and chapter search. Those with DVD players inside their computers can access the full screenplay with direct scene access and use web links. Highly recommended to Van Damme fans who want to see him in a new light, those who love epic films, those who are interested in the French Foreign Legion and/or wars in general, and those who are interested in how films are made.
LIVING OUT LOUD (New Line Home Video, 100 minutes) Holly Hunter, Danny DeVito and Queen Latifah star in this romantic comedy about a newly divorced woman who spends her time with a jazz singer and an elevator operator. The DVD includes a widescreen presentation of the film (2.35:1), audio commentary track by writer/director Richard LaGravenese, five deleted scenes, original theatrical trailer, interactive menus, chapter search and cast and crew biographies and filmographies. Offering a plot rich enough to draw great performances from these talented but varied actors, this is worth seeing if you're a fan of any of them, like jazz, romance, and/or have been divorced. Well done.
LUCY SHOW, THE: COLLECTOR'S CHOICE (Madacy Entertainment Group, Inc., 100 minutes) For twelve years Lucille Ball had her own TV comedy show without Desi Arnaz. Offering several of the best sketches from the show this disc includes "Lucy Gets Jack Benny's Bank Account" (featuring Jack Benny), "Little Old Lady" (featuring Dennis Day) "Lucy Gets Trapped" and "Lucy The Babysitter" (featuring Mary Wickes and The Marquis Chimps). Fans have a choice of buying one DVD which gets flipped or buying the title as two DVDs. Recorded in Dolby Digital sound, the disc has several other extras including chapter search, trivia questions and answers, and informational segments called "Paper Dolls" and "Lucy's World." Rarely shown on TV or cable anymore, this is highly recommended for Lucy fans, as well as comedy fans, of all ages.
MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (Walt Disney Home Video, 114 minutes) One of those rare films that stays with you long after you are done watching it, this intense film about poaching stars a fifteen-foot-tall gorilla and a girl who grew up with him. Unsafe in his natural habitat, she arranges to bring him to America where he is unfortunately still targeted by hunters and misunderstood by civilians. The DVD includes a digitally mastered widescreen print of the film (1.85:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio track, production featurette, theatrical trailer, and chapter search. This is a must for those interested in animal rights, as well as family films, and is highly recommended as an opportunity to watch a film with your children and have a good talk with them afterwards. Whether you are interested in being entertained, bonding with your children or simply seeing Rick Baker's great special make-up effects, this is not to be missed.
MISTRESS (Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P./Artisan Entertainment, 112 minutes) Daniel Aiello, Robert De Niro, Martin Landau, Eli Wallach and Robert Wuhl star in this comedy about a movie director who hooks up with three producers to get a film made. The problem is each one wants his girlfriend to star in it and getting the film made while keeping all of the girlfriends happy is no easy task. The DVD includes Dolby Digital sound and chapter search. This is an unusual role for De Niro and is recommended to his fans as well as anyone who enjoys comedies in general.
MOTHER'S BOYS (Miramax Home Entertainment, 96 minutes) Jamie Lee Curtis stars in this thriller about a mother who abruptly abandons her family and then returns years later after her husband has finally found someone new and he and the children have adjusted to the loss. Now obsessed with her old family, she threatens to destroy anything and everything that comes in her way. The DVD includes a digitally mastered widescreen version of the film (1.85:1), Dolby Surround sound and chapter search. No other extras are needed since the movie speaks for itself and will delight fans of the psycho female revenge genre as well as Curtis' many fans. Well done.
MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON (Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P./Artisan Entertainment, 140 minutes) Patrick Bergin and Iain Glen star in this film about two British officers who set out to explore the Nile in the 1850s, which no Western man has done before. They form a strong bond, trying to survive in unexplored wilderness, but then one of them betrays it and the civilized world makes them enemies. The DVD contains a widescreen presentation of the film (1.85:1), Dolby Digital audio, a featurette called "The Making of Mountains Of The Moon," original theatrical trailer and chapter search. Needless to say this offers incredible outdoor photography as well as lots of bullets and male bonding. Well done.
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (Elite Entertainment, Inc., 96 minutes) While there are several other DVD versions of this classic horror film, none comes close to offering the quality package this one does. The film involves a group of survivors who band together in a farmhouse to fight against zombies which have suddenly and mysteriously started to walk around looking for people to kill. Offering two commentary tracks which include director George A. Romero and the cast members, the DVD also includes a THX approved transfer from the original film negatives, the original theatrical trailer, TV spot, and ads by Image Ten, Inc., a short film parody called "Night of the Living Bread," Dolby Digital mono sound, and chapter search. Although I already owned other copies of this film, this one has the best sound and video and is the only one with extras. Highly recommended both for horror fans and for film students.
NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Inc., 107 minutes) Klaus Kinski and Isabelle Adjani star in this vampire film set in 1850. It's about a man who travels to finalize real estate arrangements. Upon arriving at his destination he is met by Count Dracula who convinces him that he is in the presence of a vampire, but does not properly warn him of the danger he, his family and his town are in. The DVD contains a widescreen presentation of the film (1.85:1), choice of German language version with English subtitles or English language version, audio commentary by director Werner Herzog, 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, two U.S. theatrical trailers, Spanish theatrical trailer, a behind-the-scenes featurette, and chapter search. Lovingly done, this is one of the most important vampire films ever made and is a must for those who have only seen more recent big-budget horror films. Highly recommended for those into fangs.
PANDORA PROJECT, THE (Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P.) Containing additional footage not shown in movie theatres, this stars Daniel Baldwin, Erika Eleniak and Richard Tyson. The plot involves a stolen top-secret experimental military device, which is capable of destroying organic matter yet leaving inorganic matter alone. One man must get the device back and save the planet, and in order to do so he must travel through the South American jungle and the streets of Los Angeles just days before his own wedding is scheduled. Full of tense moments and suspense, this will delight those interested in military films and secret operations. The DVD contains the film and chapter search but no more is needed in this instance as the plot is quite self-explanatory.
PARENT TRAP, THE (Walt Disney Home Video, 128 minutes) Dennis Quaid, Lindsay Lohan and Natasha Richardson star in this remake of the classic Disney film. The plot involves two girls who meet at summer camp, discover they look like identical twins and that they are each unhappy with family life. They decide to switch places to get what they each think they want. The DVD includes a digitally mastered widescreen version of the film (1.85:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, French language track, theatrical trailer and chapter search. This is an excellent family film for all ages and is highly recommended to those with children.
PECKER (New Line Home Video, 86 minutes) Edward Furlong and Christina Ricci star in this John Waters film about a Baltimore teenager who buys a used camera and takes photographs of this family. He gets "discovered" by a New York art dealer and the film explores the world of celebrity and the ups and downs of fame. Much more mainstream than earlier Waters films, this should appeal to adults of both sexes. The DVD includes a widescreen version of the film, audio commentary by John Waters, a snapshot gallery, theatrical trailer, chapter search and cast and crew biographies and filmographies. Not to be missed by those in the arts and entertainment professions, this is one of those great films about gray areas that will leave you thinking afterwards.
PHENOMENA (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Inc., 110 minutes) Dario Argento wrote, produced and directed this horror film about a girl who can communicate telepathically with insects. She is sent to a boarding school where a serial killer is after the students. Along with a wheelchair-bound bug specialist, she must find the serial killer before he finds her. Originally released in the US as Creepers, with 28 minutes cut, the film is presented here uncut and uncensored. The DVD contains a widescreen presentation of the film (1.66:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, audio commentary by Argento and others, two music videos by Bill Wyman and Claudio Simonetti, an interview with Argento, behind-the-scenes segments, theatrical trailer and chapter search. One of Argento's best films, this is highly recommended to his fans as well as anyone who enjoys horror, insects, and/or serial killers.
PINK AND PRETTY (NuTech Digital, Inc.) This classic adult film stars Amber Lynn, Porshe Lynn, Vanessa D'Oro and Alicia Robbins as four housewives who attend a self-defense class. They then go hunting men and initiate sexual contact, as well as having sex with each other. Ideal for those who are fans of Amber or Porshe Lynn, this also has a marginal plot for those seeking one. Well done.
PINK PANTHER, THE (MGM Home Entertainment, Inc., 115 minutes) David Niven, Robert Wagner, Peter Sellers and Capucine star in this comedy about a guest at a posh resort sporting a large gem, a professional jewel thief and a clumsy inspector. So successful it spawned three sequels, this is full of slapstick comedy and also contains a seven and a half-minute title sequence which helped to launch the Pink Panther cartoon series. The DVD contains a choice of either widescreen or standard formats, Dolby Digital mono sound, French subtitles, an eight-page booklet on the making of the film, theatrical trailer and chapter search. Highly recommended to those who love slapstick, mysteries, the Pink Panther cartoon series and/or enjoy other films by any of the actors.
PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN, THE (MGM Home Entertainment Inc., 103 minutes) Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, Colin Blakely and Lesley-Ann Down star in this sequel to the comedy series about a bumbling inspector. This film includes an uncredited cameo by Omar Sharif and involves Inspector Dreyfus driven mad by our heroes incompetence. He gets ahold of a doomsday device and threatens global destruction. Wanting to rid the world, and himself, of Inspector Clouseau he arranges for no less than 26 assassins to do the job. The DVD contains a choice of widescreen and standard formats of the film, Dolby Digital mono sound, French subtitles, theatrical trailer, an eight-page booklet on the making of the film, and chapter search.
PLEASANTVILLE (New Line Home Video, 124 minutes) One of the best films of the year, this fantasy film stars Tobey McGuire, Jeff Daniels, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, J.T. Walsh and Reese Witherspoon. It's about two 90s teenagers who get transported back to the 1950s inside the world of a TV sitcom called Pleasantville. Without thinking, the teenagers share their modern vocabulary and values which start to change the people they interact with and this very square, black and white town, becomes more lively and colorful. Full of computer generated effects, a superb plot and the kind of details that make the film new each time you watch it, this film is a winner and the disc is full of extras as well. As with all New Line Platinum Series titles there is more here than can be watched in one sitting, including a widescreen version of the film (1.85:1), an audio commentary by writer/director Gary Ross, isolated score with commentary by Randy Newman, a featurette called "The Art of Pleasantville," a music video by Fiona Apple, 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, original theatrical trailer, and for those with DVD players inside their computers there is also a storyboard gallery and web links. Don't miss seeing this even if, like me, the 1950s doesn't particularly appeal to you. It's a rare film that can be enjoyed by the whole family.
POKEMAN: THE MYSTERY OF MOUNT MOON (Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P.) This disc contains three episodes of the delightful Japanese Anime TV program, called: "Challenge of the Samurai," "Showdown in the Pewter City," and "Clefairy and the Moon Stone." The episodes involve a Pokeman trainer who wishes to rise to master status. Having already caught three of the 150 Pokemans, he travels to battle several people he must defeat in order to earn master status. This is very enjoyable even if you have never seen the show before, and is one of the few anime titles that will appeal to both sexes equally. Highly recommended for fans of Japanese anime as well as for those who have children to amuse and/or who love animation in general.
QUIET MAN, THE (Republic Entertainment Inc./Artisan Entertainment Inc., 129 minutes) John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara star in this romantic epic which is set in Ireland's countryside. The plot involves a boxer who has retired after accidentally killing an opponent. He marries a woman whose brother, the town bully, refuses to pay her dowry. His new wife accuses him of being a coward when he won't fight the bully and when he ultimately does the film contains the longest fist fight ever filmed and a very memorable reconciliation between husband and wife afterwards. Digitally remastered and offered in Dolby Digital sound, the disc also includes a 20-minute featurette "The Making of The Quiet Man" which is narrated by Leonard Maltin, chapter search and the original theatrical trailer. Well done.
RAMBLING ROSE (Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P./Artisan Entertainment, 140 minutes) Laura Dern and Robert Duvall star in this drama about a sexually alluring woman who moves in with a Southern family to care for their children. The husband becomes attracted to her and the wife ends up defending her against the town gossip. Diane Ladd stars as the wife and is Dern's actual real life mother. The DVD contains a widescreen format presentation of the film (1.85:1), Dolby Digital sound, commentary track by director Martha Coolidge, deleted scenes, alternate ending, information about cast, crew, costumes, set designs and location, chapter search and an eight-page paper booklet in the box. Also included is a postcard good for a booklet of production stills from the film. This is a well done film which is backed up with a superb special edition disc which will delight viewers interested in the film itself or in the making of films in general. Highly recommended to those interested in women's films, drama, Southern life and/or the actors featured.
REVENGE OF THE PINK PANTHER (MGM Home Entertainment, Inc., 99 minutes) Peter Sellers, Dyan Cannon, Herbert Lom and Robert Webber star in this sequel in which Inspector Clouseau is believed to have died at the hands of a drug lord who has blown up his home. Yet Clouseau is alive and in Hong Kong with the drug lord's mistress investigating a large heroin shipment. He disguises himself as the Godfather and must fool not only the drug lord but also convince his subordinate (who believes him dead) not to kill him in his disguise. The DVD contains a choice of widescreen or standard presentations of the film, Dolby Digital mono sound, an eight-page booklet on the making of the film, theatrical trailer, French subtitles and chapter search. Well done.
RINGMASTER (Artisan Entertainment Inc., 95 minutes) Jerry Springer stars in this comedy film as a talk show host whose life is full of outrageous guests, love triangles, jealous rampages, much stress and general mischief. The DVD includes a digitally remastered widescreen version of the film (4:3), 5.1 Dolby Digital sound, a director's commentary track, interactive menus, chapter search, theatrical trailer, production notes and cast and crew information. An amusing film, this is clearly a must for Springer fans as well as those fascinated by talk shows and unaware of what is involved in booking guests and getting them to show up and tell the world what they told you off the air.
RIO GRANDE (Republic Entertainment Inc./Artisan Entertainment, Inc., 105 minutes) John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara star in this western about a Lt. Col. who travels to Rio Grande to outsmart the Apaches. His unorthodox plan almost gets him court martialed, and he must fight to save himself, his family and his honor. The DVD is digitally remastered, with Dolby Digital sound, and also includes foreign subtitles, theatrical trailer and a featurette "The Making Of Rio Grande" which is hosted by Leonard Maltin. This is a superb rendition of a classic film and will appeal to anyone interested in John Wayne, western films and Native American history.
RONIN (MGM Home Entertainment, 121 minutes) Robert De Niro stars in this action-thriller about a group of free agent assassins, available to whoever has the money to hire them. They are hired to steal a briefcase. The assignment seems simple until it turns out that other underworld factions are also trying to get the same briefcase. In order to pull this off, the members of Ronin need to trust each other and that turns out to be easier said than done. The DVD includes a choice of widescreen or standard versions of the film, choice of 5.1 or 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround sound, an alternate ending to the film, audio commentary by director John Frankenheimer, an eight-page paper booklet with details about the making of the film, and chapter search. Those with computers can also go to a special web site and view a transcript of an online chat with the director and more. A must for De Niro fans, this film has superb cinematography and car chase scenes. Well done.
RUSH HOUR (New Line Home Video, 97 minutes) Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker star in this action-comedy about two police officers from different cultures who can't stand each other but must team up in order to catch the bad guys. The DVD includes a widescreen version of the film, 5.1 Dolby Digital sound, an audio commentary by the director, an isolated score with comments by composer Lalo Schifrin, deleted scenes, a featurette called "A Piece of the Action - Behind the scenes of Rush Hour," a short film called "Whatever Happened To Mason Reese?" with an audio commentary by the director, a music video by Dru Hill, the original theatrical trailer, chapter search, and cast and crew information. For those with DVD players inside their computers, the disc also contains the entire screenplay which can be easily accessed and printed out, an interactive trivia game called "Say What," in-depth information about both Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan, and web links. I've said before that every DVD New Line puts out is worth getting for the extras and this title is no exception. Highly recommended.
SANDS OF IWO JIMA (Republic Entertainment Inc/Artisan Entertainment Inc., 109 minutes) John Wayne stars in this war film drama about a marine sergeant who leads a platoon of new recruits during the taking of Iwo Jima during World War II. A tale of heroism and conquest, this film is known for using actual combat footage as well as its famous flag-raising scene on Mt. Suribachi. One of the AFI's Top 100 movie nominees, this film has been digitally remastered and is offered in Dolby Digital sound. The DVD also includes a Spanish language track, theatrical trailer, a featurette "The Making Of Sands Of Iwo Jima," and chapter search. Well done.
SCIENCE FICTION: COLLECTOR'S CHOICE (Madacy Entertainment Group, Inc., 175 minutes) Offered in a choice of one disc with one film per side or two discs with one film per disc, this offers two classic, superb science-fiction films called Things To Come and Journey To The Center Of Time. In Things To Come, the first half of the film deals with the effects of a war while the second half of the film takes place many years later and shows how the war changed the future of civilization. In Journey To The Center Of Time, a scientist and his crew get hurled into a time warp when a giant reactor explodes with no warning. The DVD offers Dolby Digital sound, trivia questions and answers, chapter search, and segments on Sci-Fi Oscar Winners, Special FX, and common themes of sci-fi movies. This collection is a good balance to many of today's sci-fi films which are mostly effects extravaganzas and is highly recommended to sci-fi lovers.
SHOT IN THE DARK, A (MGM Home Entertainment Inc., 102 minutes) Peter Sellers and Elke Summer star in this sequel about the bumbling inspector who has mistakenly been assigned to the case of a millionaire's chauffeur who has been murdered. He then falls for the prime suspect, a parlormaid. People continue to die, and her criminal record grows longer, but eventually the real culprit gets uncovered. The DVD contains a choice of widescreen or standard formats of the film, Dolby Digital mono sound, French subtitles, an eight-page booklet about the making of the film, theatrical trailer and chapter search. This is well done and will appeal to anyone who likes comedy, slapstick, and/or mystery films.
SIN-A-MATIC (Vivid Interactive/Raw DVD) This new venture from Vivid involves adult titles for those bored with plots who want to see wall-to-wall sex, nonstop action and less tenderness. This first title offers five scenes starring fifteen actors and shot in five different locations, each of which includes an anal segment. The DVD offers no regional coding, previews of other titles, erotic still darkroom, interactive rooms, chapter search and more. Some of the stars performing in this title include Monique DeMoan, Tricia Devereaux, Jon Dough, Vince Voyeur, Peter North and Mr. Marcus. This is very well done for what it sets out to do, and while not my taste will no doubt please a wide audience of male adult film fans.
SIX-STRING SAMURAI (Palm Pictures, 91 minutes) This cult film is about a potential rock star who travels to Lost Vegas with an orphan kid whom he hopes to ditch. He encounters the Russian army, a cannabilistic family, bounty-hunting bowlers and a Windmill God along the way and then when he finally reaches Vegas he has to battle Death. The DVD includes a digitally remastered version of the film, 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, interactive menus, two music videos by the Red Elvises, SDH subtitles, and chapter search. This highly original film was a huge hit at Slamdance and South By Southwest festivals and will appeal to anyone interested in rock 'n' roll and/or cult films.
SNAKE EYES (Paramount Home Video, 98 minutes) Nicholas Cage stars in this Brian DePalma thriller about a police detective who goes to watch a heavyweight championship fight in Atlantic City and ends up witnessing a murder. Suddenly there are 14,000 suspects from among the audience members and Cage must try to solve the case. The DVD includes a widescreen version of the film, 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, interactive menus, chapter search and theatrical trailer. While this is not Cage or DePalma's best work, it does deliver lots of suspense and will hold your interest until the case is solved. Those interested in police work, professional sports and gambling will enjoy it even more.
SPLASH (Touchstone Home Video, 110 minutes) Ron Howard directed this enchanting comedy which stars Tom Hanks, Darryl Hannah, Eugene Levy and John Candy. It's about a workaholic who is convinced he cannot fall in love until he has a boating accident and meets the woman of his dreams. She turns out to be a mermaid which causes a series of problems for the couple. The DVD includes a digitally mastered widescreen version of the film (1.85:1), Dolby Surround sound, French language track and chapter search. A very amusing and original film, this is highly recommended to those who like love stories, comedy, and/or any of the actors involved. Highly recommended.
STRANGELAND (Artisan Entertainment Inc., 91 minutes) Arguably one of the best horror films in recent years, or ever, the plot here is a serial killer who uses the Internet's chat rooms to find his victims. While the film uses many trendy and potentially sensationalistic topics such as body modification, Internet chat sessions, and serial killers, there is no sensationalism or distortion of what is portrayed here, which is almost impossible to do when condensing entire subcultures into a few minutes of dialogue. I was totally unprepared for how realistic and terrifying this was, even though there are probably only five or ten minutes of violent footage in the whole film. Extremely well done and non-offensive (other than the sheer horror of the killings), this was a nice change from the old slasher genre where virginal girls remained alive and those who had sex died. Directed by musician Dee Snider (who previously earned my respect as one of the only rockers, along with Frank Zappa, to use his free time to stand up against the PMRC), this also stars Snider as the villain, Robert Englund as a victim and Kevin Gage. Not to be missed if you like horror films, serial killers, use the Internet to chat, and/or are into body modification. Not since The Silence of The Lambs have we wanted to see a sequel to a film so badly. Highly recommended to those with even a passing interest in horror films.
STRIPPER'S SERENADE: THE SUZIE LIGHTNING STORY (NuTech Digital, Inc.) Misty Rain, Missy, Joey Silvera, T.T. Boy, and Jill Kelly star in this adult film about a top stripper who, rumor has it, has been disfigured in an auto accident. Featuring over a half dozen sex scenes, and a superb performance by Misty Rain, this is an adult film which combines both plot and action quite impressively. Highly recommended for couples.
SWEET TALKER (Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P./Artisan Entertainment, 91 minutes) Bryan Brown and Karen Allen star in this romantic comedy about a con artist who upon being released from jail sets his sights on a small town which, according to local myth, contains a Portugese treasure ship buried in the sand. He meets a young boy and his mother, befriends them, and begins to care about them so deeply he can't continue the scam. The DVD contains Dolby Digital sound and chapter search, but nothing additional is needed since the plot is very simple and very charming. Well done.
TEMPTATIONS, THE (Artisan Entertainment, Inc., 150 minutes) Have you ever wondered what it really takes to make it, and stay in, the music business? This film, made with the cooperation of Otis Williams who is the only remaining member of the rhythm and blues band, traces the rise and fall of the Temptations. Orginally made as a Television mini-series, this offers eight classic Motown songs and a brand new tune by Smokey Robinson. Digitally mastered and recorded in Dolby Digital Surround sound, the DVD also contains a 4:3 Standard version of the film, chapter search, and interactive menus with jump-to-a-song access. Even if you are unfamiliar with this band it's a fascinating looks at egos and politics, not to mention luck and opportunity. Well done.
TENEBRE (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Inc., 101 minutes) Dario Argento directed this suspense thriller about an author who travels to Rome to promote his latest book. A series of homicides occurs there which mimics the murders in his book and the author himself becomes the recipient of death threats. Originally released in the USA as Unsane, the film was cut by over ten minutes before being shown here. This disc includes the unrated and uncensored original film. The DVD contains a widescreen presentation of the film (1.85:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, an audio commentary track by Argento and others, two behind-the-scenes segments, theatrical trailer, alternate end credits music, and chapter search. The disc itself is a picture disc and inside the box is a replication of the original theatrical poster. Highly recommended to those who like horror, mystery and suspense.
TRAPPED (Vivid Interactive, 240 minutes) Kobe Tai, Alex Sanders, and Tasha star in this adult title about a couple who arrive home and find an intruder in their apartment. Trapped in his web, they travel via hypnotic suggestion to various erotic places and scenes. The DVD contains multiple angle technology which allows the viewer to select how they wish to view sex scenes, previews of other Vivid films, no regional coding, outtakes of Vivid films, interactive telephone sex, information on the Vivid girls and chapter search. The disc also includes digital stereo sound, web links, footage of the AVN awards show, and inside the box is a paper catalog of other Vivid titles and a paper poster of the Vivid girls. This is one of Kobe Tai's better scripts and is highly recommended to those who are fans of hers as well as couples looking for a plot along with the action.
TRAVEL THE WORLD BY TRAIN: EUROPE 1 (Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P., 60 minutes) This new series offers a look at five continents and 55 countries via rail. This disc explores England, France, Austria, Italy and Switzerland. Highlights include seeing the famous Orient Express train, seeing the highest railway station in Europe, enjoying the Swiss Alps and traveling through the town of Troyes in Champagne, France, to see the champagne grapes. The DVD includes Dolby Digital sound, Japanese audio track and chapter search. This is a must for those that can't afford to travel to these places but long for a look, as well as those who have been there but lacked the resources to properly photograph what they saw. If you enjoy travel documentaries, this is a must. Those who purchase all ten discs in the series receive a special piece of luggage free as a thank you gift, and a coupon is included in each box.
TRAVEL THE WORLD BY TRAIN: EUROPE 2 (Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P., 60 minutes) Similar to the disc above, this episode focuses on Spain, Portugal and Northern Europe. Highlights include Bordeaux, France which is well known for its wines, seeing reindeer in Finland, the fjords of Norway and the flower beds and canals of Holland. Different enough from the disc above that you surely would want both, this is an obvious choice for those interested in travel. The DVD includes Dolby Digital audio, Japanese audio track and chapter search. Highly recommended as relaxing entertainment for all ages.
TUNNELS (Digital Versatile Disc, Ltd.) Catherine Bach and Vic Tayback star in this unique film about two reporters who stumble onto a series of murders and slave labor trade going on in the tunnels of a city. As they investigate the people who hang out in these tunnels, someone clearly wants them dead. This is a great choice for those interested in cult films, mysteries or exploring tunnels in real life.
UNCLE SAM (Elite Entertainment, Inc., 90 minutes) From the director of Maniac and Maniac Cop comes this horror film about a war veteran who is killed in a helicopter crash by friendly fire. He comes back from the dead, bent on revenge, and goes on a violent killing spree. Starring Bo Hopkins, P.J. Soles, Isaac Hayes and Timothy Bottoms, this is an amusing and action-packed title which horror fans will love. The DVD includes a widescreen version of the film (2.35:1), choice of 5.1 or 2.0 Dolby Surround sound, an audio commentary by William Lustig and Isaac Hayes, chapter search and the original theatrical trailer. Well done.
WATERBOY, THE (Touchstone Home Video, 90 minutes) One of Adam Sandler's best films, this comedy is also noteable for superb performances by Kathy Bates and Henry Winkler. It's about an uneducated country boy who aspires to serve water to sports teams. The teams hardly appreciate him, and tease him nonstop, and eventually he loses his job. He meets another coach who convinces him to believe in himself and become a college student who plays sports rather than merely watches from the sidelines. The DVD includes a digitally mastered widescreen version of the film (1.85:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio track, a production featurette, theatrical trailer, French language track and chapter search. A great plot and great acting make this film really fun to sit through, and we were surprised how much we enjoyed it. Highly recommended for when you want to forget real life for a little while and feel better afterwards.
W.C. FIELDS: COLLECTOR'S CHOICE (Madacy Entertainment Group, Inc., 120 minutes) Although his comedy focused on expressing hostility to children and all mankind, W.C. Fields was able to make it seem as if underneath the humor he was really like this and the grumpy characters he portrayed was how he really felt about life. This disc offers six of his most famous shorts including "The Golf Specialist," "The Dentist," "Fatal Glass Of Beer," "The Pharmacist," "The Barbershop" and "Pool Shark." The title is available either as one disc which needs to be flipped to view it all, or as two discs with some of the films on each disc. Extras include chapter search, a biography and filmography of W.C. Fields, quotes and trivia questions and answers. Not to be missed by comedy fans, this will also amuse those who work in any of the professions portrayed as well as those interested in film history.