REVIEWS BY NETTA GILBOA
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.
101 DALMATIANS (Disney DVD, 79 minutes) The classic animated film, which was Disney's 17th animated feature, has been released on DVD in a limited issue disc. Among the last films Walt Disney himself worked on, the plot involves a couple with two Dalmatians who give birth to a litter of 15 puppies. They receive an offer to sell the puppies by a woman who, unknown to them, intends to have the puppies killed to make a coat from their fur. After they decline the offer their puppies are kidnapped and it's up to the two older Dalmatian dogs to find and rescue them. When they do, they discover every other Dalmatian puppy in town has been captured two and the couple ends up with 101 Dalmatians. The DVD contains a THX-certified print of the film, Dolby Digital Surround sound, French and Spanish language tracks, theatrical trailer, chapter search and full-color character artwork on the disc itself. This will strongly appeal to those opposed to wearing animal fur, dog lovers, anyone who enjoys animation and/or those looking for a film the whole family can enjoy together. Highly recommended, so grab a copy while you still can before it goes out of print, as scheduled, for some time to come!
ANASTASIA (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Inc., 95 minutes) Don Bluth directed this animated film which features the voices of Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, Christopher Lloyd, Bernadette Peters, Angela Lansbury, and Lacey Chabert. The plot involves a lost Russian princess named Anastasia, who has escaped to Paris after a curse has been put on her family by the evil Rasputin and his sidekick, a bat named Bartok. Years later, she must battle them in order to reclaim her heritage and her destiny. Featuring music, comedy, romance and adventure, this is one of Bluth's best films and will delight anyone interested in something the whole family can enjoy. The DVD contains choice of widescreen (2.35:1) or standard presentations of the film, 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, interactive menus, featurette, two sing-along songs, a documentary called "Anastasia: A Magical Journey," an interactive puzzle, theatrical trailer and chapter search. Highly recommended for animation lovers of all ages, Don Bluth fans, and/or parents looking for something featuring a female heroine.
ANGEL'S DANCE (York Entertainment, 100 minutes) James Belushi, Sheryl Lee, Kyle Chandler and Mac Davis star in this film about a hitman for the Mafia who falls in love with a woman he is supposed to kill. Assigned to turn a rookie into an assassin, they pick a victim at random out of the phone book to practice on. As they begin to study her life and daily patterns, the experienced hitman finds himself having feelings for her and he must decide what to do since only one man or one woman will survive. The DVD contains 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, interactive menus, Spanish subtitles, parental lock, theatrical trailer, star filmographies, and chapter search. This is a fascinating look at the gray areas of murder for hire, and will appeal to anyone interested in the actors, the action-thriller genre, and/or Mafia films.
AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME (New Line Home Video) Rarely is a sequel as good as the original film, but I actually enjoyed this film more than the first one. Mike Myers, Heather Graham, Michael York, Robert Wagner, Seth Green, Rob Lowe and Elizabeth Hurley star and there are cameos included by Elvis Costello, Burt Bacharach, Woody Harrelson, Willie Nelson, Tim Robbins, Jerry Springer and Fred Willard. The plot involves Dr. Evil travelling back to 1969 in a time machine in order to steal Austin's mojo essence, and Austin must follow as well in order to stop Dr. Evil. Full of great 60s costumes, props and scenery, this also has lots of bathroom humor, spoofing of spy film, and sexy scenes with Felicity Shagwell. The disc includes a staggering amount of extras and it takes more than one sitting to view it all. There is a widescreen print of the film (2.35:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, commentary track with Mike Myers and others, a behind-the-scenes documentary, 20 minutes of deleted scenes, three music videos by Madonna, Lenny Kravitz and Mel B, four theatrical trailers, interactive menus, a features page just on the Dr. Evil character, chapter search and a paper booklet full of discount coupons which is inside the box. If you have a DVD player inside your computer you can also access cast and crew information, the entire original web site, a sample round of a trivia game, screensavers, web browser, and three interactive episodes which make full use of your desktop. It helps a lot to have seen the first film before watching this, but it's highly recommended either way.
BARTOK THE MAGNIFICENT (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Inc., 68 minutes) Don Bluth directed this sequel to Anastasia (see review above) which features the voices of Hank Azaria, Kelsey Grammer and Jennifer Tilly. This time around Prince Ivan has been captured and it's up to Bartok the bat to battle a witch named Baba Yaga in order to save him. Featuring superb animation, five new songs, and a storyline which stresses heroism and finding the courage to do what's right despite the cost or consequences. The DVD contains a standard presentation of the film, Dolby Digital Surround sound, theatrical trailer, interactive menus, interactive maze, Spanish subtitles, three sing-along songs, and chapter search. Highly recommended for small children, this will also appeal to anyone who has seen the original film and enjoyed Bartok the bat, or is a fan of Bluth's films.
BILLY BLANKS' TAE-BO WORKOUTS (NCP Marketing Group, Inc.) This exercise program, developed by seven-time World Martial Arts Champion Billy Blanks, contains four different workouts which were previously available on four separate videotapes, as well as a sneak preview of the new Tae-Bo Live series. There is an instructional workout, a basic and an advanced workout and an 8-minute workout for those with less time or who need less exercise in one session. This addictive workout is one of our most frequently played DVDs, and even someone in great shape can find new challenges here. For those who have never exercised before, or not in years, this is an easy program to get started with and it combines self-defense, dance, and kickboxing with high-energy music. The DVD contains only chapter search and the above programs, but this is far cheaper than purchasing the VHS tapes separately and it's extremely well done. Highly recommended for getting into shape and/or staying fit.
BLACK & WHITE (Columbia TriStar Home Video, 97 minutes) Gina Gershon, Ron Silver, Rory Cochrane and Alison Eastwood star in this thriller about two cops, one a rookie and one a veteran officer, who become partners and begin having an affair. While tracking a serial killer, the rookie begins to suspect his partner, and lover, is the murderer. The DVD contains choice of digitally mastered anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) or standard (1.33:1) presentations of the film, 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, audio commentary track, interactive menus, talent files, Spanish language track, closed captions, theatrical trailer and TV spots, and chapter search. This originally aired on HBO, and although the plot has been done before, Gina Gershon is terrific here and this will hold your interest. Recommended to those who enjoy films about police works, the gray areas of dating people you work with, and serial killers.
BLACK MASK (Artisan Home Entertainment, 102 minutes) Jet Li stars in this martial arts action film about a man who assumes a new identity as a librarian. After a narrow escape from a secret commando unit he is eager for a life of normalcy, but then lots of drug dealers start being murdered and the killings are linked to his old group so he is forced out of retirement to try to stop the bloodshed. Directed by Yuen Wo Ping who was responsible for the moves in The Matrix, this is full of nonstop action, great choreography, and brilliant battle scenes. The DVD contains a digitally mastered widescreen print of the film (1.85:1 ratio, enhanced for 16x9 TVs), 5.1 Dolby Digital sound, interactive menus, theatrical trailers, interactive game, music video, TV spots, theatrical trailer, ability to jump to a Wushu action scene and chapter search. Well done.
BODY SNATCHERS: THE INVASION CONTINUES (Warner Home Video, 87 minutes) Gabrielle Anwar, Terry Kinney, Forest Whitaker, and Meg Tilly star in this sci-fi sequel to the 1978 remake of this classic 50s film. Directed by Abel Ferrara who also did the 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers, this is notable because advancements in special effects technology now allow the depiction of the birthing of a pod and its effect on the human host. Obviously a must see for special effects fans, the plot concerns aliens who enter human bodies while the victims sleep. The DVD contains choice of widescreen or standard presentations of the film, Dolby Digital Stereo Surround sound, interactive menus, French subtitles, and chapter search. Gabrielle Anwar is terrific here, and those interested in special effects will not be disappointed.
BREAK UP (Dimension Home Video, 101 minutes) Bridget Fonda, Kiefer Sutherland, Penelope Ann Miller and Steven Weber star in this intense thriller about a battered woman who is being set up by her husband. He fakes his own death and makes it look like she killed him, and then she discovers he is still alive, and still watching her. One of Fonda's best roles, and perhaps Sutherland's as well, this is well-written and will keep your interest from beginning to end. The DVD includes a widescreen presentation of the film (1.85:1) which has been enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs, Dolby Digital Surround sound, and chapter search. Highly recommended to those interested in police films, battered women, and/or those who enjoy any of the actors.
BUG'S LIFE, A: COLLECTOR'S EDITION (Disney DVD, 202 minutes) This superb two-disc set will delight those curious about the animation process and how an idea becomes a feature-length film. Disc one contains the film which is a delightful tale of an ant colony which is regularly terrorized by a group of grasshoppers. One of the ants leaves the colony in search of help and enlists the support of a circus act which is comprised of various insects. He recruits them to entertain his colony and is a bit less than honest about his full intentions for their assistance. Ultimately they do help him save the day and the colony is saved. Disney and Pixar spent four years making this film a reality, and it's one of those rare film that the whole family can enjoy and that one can watch repeatedly without growing tired of it. The film is offered in choice of widescreen (16 x 9 anamorphic) or standard (1.33:1) presentations, with 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, an audio commentary track, an isolated music track and an isolated sound effects track. Disc two is full of supplemental materials and includes a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the film, introductions and explanations by the filmmakers, an early presentation reel called "Fleebie," original story treatment and pitch boards, character designs, concept art and color script, abandoned sequences, a split-screen comparison of the storyboards and final film footage, early production tests, trailers and posters (both domestic and international), behind-the-scenes look at voice talent, a production progression demonstration, sound designer Gary Rydstrom on the film's sound effects, two sets of outtakes, an Academy Award winning short called "Geri's Game" and a behind-the-scenes look at how the film was recomposed from its original widescreen presentation to a full-frame one for home video release. There is clearly more here than one can watch in one night, and this is ideally viewed by watching the film, then some of the extras, then reviewing the film again. Inside the box is a paper booklet which explains why this edition was released even though the film had already appeared on DVD. If you own only the original release, this is a must to repurchase and this is highly recommended for film students, those interested in how animation is done, and anyone who loved the movie but is curious about what got left out and how certain decisions were arrived at. Highly recommended. It's a pity there are so few discs this complete, and Pixar is to be commended for sharing so much of their inner creation process with the public.
CASTLE, THE (Miramax Home Entertainment, 84 minutes) Michael Caton, Anne Tenney, Stephen Curry and Sophie Lee star in this humorous Australian comedy about a family who lives near an airport. One day the government decides they have to relocate so that the airport can expand, but they decide to stay and fight for their "castle." The case goes all the way to the high court and will keep you captivated until it's resolved. The DVD contains a widescreen presentation of the film (1.85:1, enhanced for 16x9 TVs), 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, theatrical trailer and chapter search. Well done.
CHALLENGE OF FLIGHT, THE (FOCUSfilm Entertainment, 90 minutes) The first disc in a ten part series, this contains the episodes "Final Approach" and "Whispers of Death." Taken from thousands of hours of military footage, this is full of plane mishaps such as crashes, ejections, takeoff and landing problems, and bomb runs. There is footage from World War II, the first voyage of the F-16, pilots reponding to emergencies and other tales of survival and bone-jarring crash scenes. Pilots, those interested in flight and/or the military will delight in this disc and look forward to the next nine releases which are scheduled to come out once every two months. With a $19.95 list price this is a bargain considering how unlikely it is you could compile such footage on your own, and it's created with love and dedication to the art of flying. The disc contains no extras, but it's quite self-explanatory and a welcome addition to the few documentaries and flight DVDs presently available.
CINDERELLA (Walt Disney Home Video, 88 minutes) Produced by Rodgers and Hammerstein and Whitney Houston, this stars Brandy, Whitney Houston, Whoopi Goldberg, Bernadette Peters, and Jason Alexander in a retelling of the classic fairy tale. Full of great actors, superb costumes, and featuring three new songs just for this production, this updates the classic story for modern times and will delight both adults and children. A rare film the whole family can enjoy together, this features live-action and actors of mixed races. The DVD includes 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, a featurette called "A Cinderella Story," the international theatrical trailer, and chapter search. This is highly recommended for those who like any of the actors, are fans of the fairy tale and/or enjoy musicals in general.
CROSSING GUARD, THE (Miramax Home Entertainment, 111 minutes) Directed by Sean Penn and starring Jack Nicholson, Anjelica Huston, David Morse and Robin Wright, this action thriller is about getting revenge. A man whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver waits for six years for the killer to be released from jail. He intends to give the killer three days and then to even the score. The acting here is better than the plot, but this is a sleeper full of talented actors and you actually feel sympathy for both sides. The DVD contains a widescreen print of the film (1.85:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, cast and crew commentary track, and chapter search. A must for Nicholson fans.
DICK (Columbia TriStar Home Video, 94 minutes) Set in 1972, this comedy stars Kirsten Dunst, Michelle Williams and Dan Hedaya. The plot involves two high-school students attending a class trip to the White House where they stumble upon a top-secret shredding session. Because it's unclear how much the girls have seen, they get hired as dog walkers for President Nixon's dog, in an attempt to keep them quiet and loyal. The DVD contains choice of digitally mastered anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and standard presentations of the film, 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, production notes, interactive menus, blooper reel, deleted scene, director's commentary track, isolated music soundtrack, making of featurette, theatrical trailers, talent files, and chapter search. Highly recommended for when you are in the mood for a lighthearted comedy, or a good laugh at our government.
DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN, THE (Hollywood Pictures Home Video, 112 minutes) Surely one of Eddie Murphy's best films, this superb comedy focuses on a con artist who runs for Congress gambling that since his name is the same as a recently deceased congressman he can get votes from those who elected the other man in the past. Once he gets to Washington, DC he learns there is perhaps no greater con game than politics, until he develops a conscience and must choose between his growing income or doing the right thing. The DVD includes a widescreen print of the film (1.85:1), Dolby Digital Surround sound, theatrical trailer, French language track and chapter search. Highly recommended to anyone who likes Eddie Murphy, comedies and/or the political arena.
DRUGSTORE COWBOY (Artisan Home Entertainment, Inc., 104 minutes) Matt Dillon, Kelly Lynch, Heather Graham, James Remar, James Le Gros and William Burroughs star in this powerful film about a family of drug thieves who feed their habits by robbing drug stores. Despite their shocking lifestyle they manage to avoid the law for quite a long time until one of them starts to slide and realizes in order to survive he must give up both drugs and his addicted wife. The DVD contains a digitally mastered widescreen presentation of the film (1.85:1, and enhanced for 16x9 TVs), 2.0 Stereo sound, commentary track featuring the director and Matt Dillon, a making of documentary, interactive menus, production notes, theatrical trailer, cast and crew information, and chapter search. Highly recommended for those interested in drugs and addiction, fans of the actors, and/or crime dramas.
EMBRACE THE VAMPIRE (New Line Home Video, 93 minutes) Alyssa Milano stars along with Jennifer Tilly, Charlotte Lewis, Martin Kemp, and Harrison Pruett in this erotic thriller about a college student being seduced by a lover whom she sees only in her dreams. This handsome vampire draws her deeper and deeper into his web, forcing her to choose between her real-life boyfriend and her nighttime lover. The DVD contains choice of widescreen (1.85:1) and standard presentations of the film, choice of R-rated and unrated versions, cast and crew biographies and filmographies, 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, and chapter search. Recommended for those who enjoy any of the actors, vampire films, and/or erotic thrillers.
EXOTICA (Miramax Home Entertainment, 103 minutes) Bruce Greenwood and Mia Kirshner star in this erotic thriller which was written and directed by Atom Egoyan about a strip club called Exotica and three strangers who meet there. The club's D.J., a table dancer, and an obsessive patron quickly become entangled in a game that involves deceit, jealousy and lots of revenge. It's a film that sets you up to draw conclusions, which are often quite wrong, and the viewer is only shown bits and pieces of the whole picture at a time until the puzzle is connected at the film's end. The DVD contains a widescreen print of the film (1.66:1), Dolby Digital Surround sound, and chapter search. This is a film where things aren't as they first appear, and it will keep you absorbed as the plot unravels. It's a must for those who are interested in the gray areas of strip clubs, and/or the erotic thriller genre, as well as those who are familiar with Egoyan's work or like to be surprised when their initial expectations about a film are profoundly altered. Well done.
FITZCARRALDO (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Inc., 157 minutes) Werner Herzog's epic masterpiece stars Klaus Kinski and is about a man obsessed with a dream. Set in Peru, Inquitos, a man known as Fitzcarraldo attempts to organize a grand opera. With the help of an Indian tribe, he fights fever, heat, and mosquitos to exploit rubber trees which grow locally in order to raise money to bring Enrico Caruso and Sarah Bernhardt to his town to perform. An uplifting film about working to make one's dreams a reality despite impossible odds, this is available for the first time ever in an uncut, widescreen presentation. The DVD contains an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, audio commentary track with the director and producer, 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, liner notes by Herzog, threatrical trailer, still gallery, talent bios, German language with English subtitles, and chapter search. This is also available as a limited edition of only 5000 copies, each individually numbered, packaged in a collectible tin with a 48-page booklet. Well done, and a must for Herzog and Kinski fans, those who love opera and those who have dreams to improve the quality of their lives that seem quite unattainable at times.
FREE ENTERPRISE (Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P., 114 minutes) William Shatner, Eric McCormack and Rafer Weigel star in this superb, and quite amusing, comedy about two young filmmakers trying to hawk a movie about a serial killer who only stalks women named Marcia, Jan and Cindy called Bradykillers. Along the way, these two Star Trek fans finally get to meet their idol, William Shatner, but are stunned and disappointed to learn he is nothing like his media image or what they had imagined him to be. The film spoofs dozens of sci-fi films, and is so good you could watch it repeatedly before you caught all of the references. Shatner cooperates by poking lots of fun at his own image. The special edition DVD contains a widescreen presentation of the film, Dolby Stereo sound, over 30 minutes of deleted scenes, commentary track, featurette, screen tests, music video, terminology subtitle track, glossary of new phrases, and chapter search. Although I hate Star Trek I loved this film, but lots of the in-jokes were probably wasted on me. This is highly recommended to those who enjoy sci-fi, Star Trek, cult films and wacky, unique comedies.
GUARDIAN, THE (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Inc., 92 minutes) Directed by William Friedkin, this erotic thriller is based on the novel The Nanny and stars Carey Lowell, Dwier Brown and Jenny Seagrove. The plot involves a wealthy young couple who hires a nanny for their newborn child. This is a gruesome tale full of erotic intrigue as the nanny turns out to be not quite human, and to have had a past where children she has cared for become missing. The film is full of state-of-the-art special effects and lots of plot twists. The DVD contains choice of a widescreen print of the film (1.85:1) or standard presentation for 4 x 3 TVs, 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, audio commentary track by William Friedkin, theatrical trailer, talent bios and chapter search. This will appeal to Friedkin fans, those who enjoy films about twisted nannies and those who enjoy horror films full of special effects.
GWAR:PHALLUS IN WONDERLAND (Music Video Distributors) From musicians GWAR comes this concept film about censorship. The plot involves a morality group which has captured a member of the band and puts him on trial for obscenity. In the name of freedom, GWAR retaliates by embracing decadence and corrupting America in the name of freedom of sexpressions. GWAR, for those who don't know, plays music while dressed in outrageous costumes, and are well-known for squirting fluids at their audiences which people are only too happy to get all over their clothes. The wear giant penises which shoot white fluids, and use fake blood which shoots out in red, etc. This film is full of costumes, humor, and great sets which will appeal not only to their fans but to those interested in cult films, camp humor such as Troma films and/or censorship issues. The DVD contains an option to just play the songs, no regional coding, curtain call, and chapter search. The disc comes with a parental warning about its possible unsuitability for minors, but it's got nothing they won't be exposed to elsewhere in my opinion. Highly recommended for GWAR fans, those curious, and those interested in cult humor.
HATED: GG ALLIN AND THE MURDER JUNKIES (Music Video Distributors, 120 minutes) This superb documentary by Todd Phillips is one of the most financially successful student films ever made. Focusing on punk/shock rocker GG Allin, who was best known for such acts as breaking glass bottles on his head during performances, urinating and defecating on stage, getting into fights with audience members, inciting riots, and getting arrested and/or thrown out of the clubs who hired him before he got to complete his act. This film pulls no punches and we see that all the rumors were indeed true, and that Allin was a disturbed but also calculating artist who delivered what some people craved to see. Included on the disc are Allin's final concert which has not been previously released and quite a bit of after the show footage as Allin and crew stroll around NYC's Greenwich Village area looking for drugs. While the material may indeed offend, this is still worth seeing if you like punk rock, are curious as to what all the hoopla was about and especially if you like good documentaries. This is highly recommended to those who can stomach it, as well as those who collect cult films and things bound to become collector's items. For more on Allin, see the last interview published before his death, by this magazine, elsewhere on this site.
HAUNTING, THE (DreamWorks Home Entertainment, 113 minutes) Liam Nelson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Owen Wilson and Lili Taylor star in this thriller based on the book by Shirley Jackson. It's about an abandoned house, and a professor who decides to hold an experiment there. He brings three people there, and from the moment they enter strange things begin to occur. One of the subjects seems very drawn to the house and the house turns out to have ghosts who aren't happy to be interrupted. Full of great sets, amazing special effects, and lots of scary moments, this will appeal to fans of ghost stories and supernatural themes. The DVD contains an anamorphic widescreen print of the film (2.35:1) and 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, behind-the-scenes featurette, two theatrical trailers, production notes, cast and filmmakers' bios, and chapter search. If you have read the book, or enjoyed films such as The Exorcist, The Omen and Poltergeist, this is a welcome change from most of today's slasher films.
HEAVEN (Miramax Home Entertainment, 103 minutes) Joanna Going, Martin Donovan, Richard Schiff, and Danny Edwards star in this suspenseful thriller about the power and price of seduction. An architect who used to have it all, including a wife, son and successful career, finds himself on the verge of losing everything due to his gambling problem and a woman named Heaven. His wife is now suing him for sole custody, as well as for savings she suspects he has which he definitely doesn't. He meets a stripper named Heaven through the club she works at and he frequents to see its owner. She is consumed by a series of disturbing psychic visions that keep linking her life to his and they help each other out more than once. The DVD contains a widescreen presentation of the film (2.35:1), Dolby Digital Surround sound, and chapter search. This will appeal to those interested in watching people hit rock bottom, as well as those interested in psychics.
HEAVY METAL (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 90 minutes) This classic animated film has never looked better! Produced by Ivan Reitman, and starring the voices of John Candy and Harold Ramis, this includes a soundtrack by Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Devo, Sammy Hagar, Grand Funk Railroad, Journey, Stevie Nicks and Donald Fagen. Based on the sci-fi magazine Heavy Metal, the plot involves a green orb spreading destruction across the galaxy. It is drawn to its one enemy and only then can good prevail, saving the world. The DVD contains digitally remastered audio and anamorphic video with a widescreen presentation of the film (1.85:1) and 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, deleted scenes, documentary called "Imagining Heavy Metal," feature length rough-cut with optional commentary track, production photo gallery, gallery of covers from Heavy Metal magazine, pencil portfolio with animations, conceptual art gallery, production notes, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles, single and layered cel portfolios and Carl Macek reading from his book Heavy Metal: The Movie. This is highly recommended to those who know and love the film, of course, but also to those who like any of the bands, sci-fi in general, are old enough to remember the magazine, and especially those interested in the animation process. Out of print for many years over rights issues, grab this while you can and delight in all of the new extras which have been uncovered and included.
HORROR HOSPITAL (Elite Entertainment, 91 minutes) This graphic British horror film is about a health resort where guests are operated on by a lunatic who performs brain surgery on them and turns them into cooperative, brainless zombies. Full of nudity, graphic violence and a tag line of "the operation is a success... when the patient dies," this is clearly aimed at those who love gore and special effects. It has a surprising amount of comedy in it as well, and will also appeal to those who enjoy cult films and 70s exploitation titles. The DVD contains a widescreen print of the film (1.85:1), theatrical trailer and chapter search.
I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS (Walt Disney Home Video, 86 minutes) Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Jessica Biel, Adam LaVorgna, Sean O'Bryan and Gary Cole star in this comedy about a college student who is bribed into coming home for the holidays with an offer of a vintage Porsche. However, on the day he is scheduled to fly home, he wakes up in the desert and finds himself stranded as part of a student prank being pulled on him. Getting home is suddenly not so easy, and he has many unexpected and amusing adventures before he gets there. One of those rare films the entire family can watch, this is fun any time of the year. The DVD contains a widescreen print of the film (1.85:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, French language track, theatrical trailer and chapter search. Well done.
INSPECTOR GADGET (Disney DVD, 78 minutes) Matthew Broderick, Rupert Everett, Joely Fisher and Dabney Coleman star in this adventure comedy which brings the classic cartoon series to life. Full of special effects and outrageous gizmos, this focuses on a security guard turned into an anti-crime fighting hero with the help of a robotics expert after an almost fatal encounter with the evil Dr. Claw. Using his new powers, he attempts to save the world from Dr. Claw who is bent on wrecking havoc after he gets rid of Inspector Gadget. A film the whole family can enjoy, this will delight Matthew Broderick and Dabney Coleman fans, those who remember the cartoon, and those who enjoy well done special effects. Unlike most films made from television shows, this one is not a bomb. The DVD contains a widescreen print of the film (1.85:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, French language track, music video by Youngstown, theatrical trailer, featurette called "Go Inside Inspector Gadget," and chapter search. Well done and lots of fun to watch.
INSTINCT (Touchstone Home Video, 126 minutes) Anthony Hopkins, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Donald Sutherland and Maura Tierney star in this thriller about an American extradited from Africa for the purposes of a psychiatric evaluation before he stands trial in Africa for murder. He takes the person evaluating him on an intellectual journey to show why he committed the acts he did and the viewer gets to see a rare look inside the mind of a murderer. The DVD contains a widescreen print of the film (2.35:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track, French language track, theatrical trailer, and chapter search. Well done!
JOE THE KING (Trimark Home Video, 100 minutes) Frank Whaley directed this crime drama which stars Noah Fleiss, Karen Young, John Leguizamo, Ethan Hawke and Val Kilmer. It's a coming-of-age story about a nine-year-old boy who seems to get treated badly by every adult he encounters. The DVD contains a letterboxed version of the film. 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo sound, theatrical trailer, commentary track, interactive menus, foreign subtitles, a radio interview with the director, and chapter search. A dark film which explores child abuse, this is recommended for fans of the actors, and/or those interested in the welfare of children.
KITARO: AN ENCHANTED EVENING (Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P., 84 minutes) Spiritual musician Kitaro performs seven songs here, including "Chant From The Heart," "Kokoro," "Mandala," "Planet," "Dance Of Sarasvati," "Winds Of Youth," and "Heaven & Earth." Winner of a Golden Globe award, Kitaro is a composer who writes, arranges and produces his own music. Using exotic Japanese instruments along with drums, guitar and flute, he mixes East and West sounds and creates unique, memorable songs of his own. A favorite of other musicians ranging from Melanie to Mickey Hart, Kitaro has over two dozen albums out and this is his second DVD release. The DVD includes 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound and chapter search. Highly recommended to those who enjoy new age music, and good background music for a dinner party or romantic meal.
LADIES OF ROCK: THE BEST OF MUSIKLADEN LIVE (Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P., 35 minutes) Combining German appearances on the Beat Club and Musikladen TV shows by Heart, Bonnie Tyler, The Motels and Suzi Quatro, this DVD includes nine songs. The Motels perform "Closets & Bullets," "Total Control," "Kix" and "Anticipating." Heart performs "Magic Man" and "Barracuda" and Bonnie Tyler performs "It's A Heartache." Suzi Quatro performs "If You Can't Give Me Love" and "Tear Me Apart." Rarely captured on film, these classic acts and appearances from the late 1970s are a real find for fans of these artists. The DVD contains Dolby Digital audio and chapter search. Well done, if a bit short length wise.
LADY AND THE TRAMP (Disney DVD, 76 minutes) This limited issue DVD contains Disney's 15th animated feature film. The plot involves a dog named Lady, who is a cocker spaniel, and Tramp, a mutt. Lady is being fitted for a muzzle after someone moves two cats into the house. She runs away and meets Tramp, along with several other dogs that teach her about being leash-free. She misses her human family though and has to decide what she really wants. There are many songs mixed into the film, and all of the animals are unforgettable. The DVD contains a widescreen print of the film (2.35:1), Dolby Digital audio, French and Spanish language tracks, chapter search and full-color character artwork on the disc. A must for animation lovers, animal lovers, and those who seek films the whole family can enjoy together, this is one of Disney's best animated treasures and it's highly recommended you grab a copy while you still can. The title goes on moratorium at the end of December, but you can probably still find copies around for a few months after that.
LAST BROADCAST, THE (Wavelength Releasing/Ventura Distribution, Inc., 87 minutes) Released long before The Blair Witch Project, and likely to have influenced it, was this scary thriller about the search for the Jersey Devil. The two hosts of a cable TV show along with two other people go into the woods in New Jersey to do a live broadcast as they search for signs of the Jersey Devil. Only one of them came out alive, and he was sentenced to life in prison for killing the others. A year later a filmmaker, using footage shot by the four people, put together a film about it and this movie, like Blair Witch, leads viewers to believe the footage shot was real. The film won a Silver Prize for Best Feature Film at the Chicago Underground Film Festival in 1998 and is an absolute must to see if you enjoy how films are made, horror in general, or the Blair Witch media sensation. The DVD contains a director and cast commentary track, subtitles for the hearing impaired, theatrical trailers, behind-the-scenes information, a section on the legend of the Jersey Devil, and chapter search. Well done.
LION KING II: SIMBA'S PRIDE (Disney DVD, 75 minutes) I can't rave enough about this animated sequel to the high successful animated film. Absolutely as good as the original, although with a different plot, this is a limited issue DVD which you can probably still find for a few more months in stores or online. With voices provided by Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, and Robert Guillaume, and five new songs, this story focuses on the children of the two feuding animal tribes who fall in love despite the fact they are not supposed to have any contact. This causes a war as the adults find out, and has a happy and believable ending. Although it's ideal for those who loved the original The Lion King film it is quite enjoyable even by those who never saw the original film. The DVD includes a THX-certified print of the film with a 1.66:1 aspect ratio, French and Spanish language tracks, 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, trailer, "Love Will Find A Way" music video, chapter search and full-color character artwork on the disc itself. Highly recommended if you like animation, saw the original film, and/or are an animal lover.
LOST CONTINENT, THE (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Inc., 97 minutes) This Hammer horror title stars Suzanna Leigh and Eric Porter and contains eight minutes of never before seen footage. The plot involves a captain whose ship becomes stranded in the Sargasso Sea. The crew and passengers encounter pirates, monsters, man-eating seaweed and attempt to survive and escape. The DVD contains a widescreen presentation of the film (1.77:1) which has been enhanced for 16 X 9 TVs, Dolby Digital mono audio, threatrical trailer and TV spots and chapter search. Also included is a bonus episode of World of Hammer which is titled "Lands Before Time." This unrated horror film will appeal to Hammer fans, and/or those who love disaster films.
LOVE LETTER, THE (DreamWorks Home Entertainment, 88 minutes) Kate Capshaw, Ellen DeGeneres, Tom Everett Scott, Tom Selleck and Julianne Nicholson star in this romantic comedy about an unsigned love letter which begins to circulate in a small town. Turning the town upside down as everyone tries to guess who the author was and who the intended recepient is, several long buried secrets get revealed and many people start to rethink and reevaluate their relationships with those they may have thought they knew better than they really did. The DVD contains an anamorphic widescreen print of the film (1.85:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, deleted scenes, theatrical trailers, production notes, bios, and chapter search. Highly recommended to those who enjoy any of the actors, have ever lived in a small town, have ever sent or gotten secret pal messages, and/or enjoy romance films.
MCGARRIGLE HOUR, THE (Palm Pictures) This live performance of songs from the CD on the same name includes four bonus tracks recorded in 1981 in Montreal. Combining Irish and French songs, with folk music, torch songs and parlor songs, this unites three sisters with one of their ex-husbands. Loudon Wainwright III, and includes special guests such as Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. 23 songs are included, which are: "Schooldays," "Cool River," "Allez-Vous-En," "Talk To Me Of Mendocino," "Dig My Grave," "What'll I Do," "Bon Voyage," "Gentle Annie," "NaCl (Sodium Chloride)," "Young Love," "Year of The Dragon," "Johnny's Gone To Hilo," "Green Green Rocky Road," "Skip Rope Song," "Heartburn," "Alice Blue Gown," "Time On My Hands," "Baltimore Fire," "Good Night Sweetheart," and the bonus tracks "Excursion A Venise," "You Tell Me That I'm Falling Down," "Cheminant A La Ville," and "Tu M'etourdis." The DVD includes 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, a Stereo PCM audio mix, biographies, previews of other titles available, interactive menus, chapter search, the ability to jump to a particular song, web site access and hyperlink interviews. This is a must for those who enjoy music the whole family can share, as well as fans of any of the individual performers, none of whom are yet available elsewhere on DVD.
MEATBALLS (HBO Home Video, 92 minutes) Bill Murray stars in this film directed by Ivan Reitman about an activities director at a summer camp. In charge of motivating both campers and counselors, Murray's character experiences the rescue of a runaway camper, a blackout, Parent's day, an overnight canoe trip and the annual competition between his camp and another. The DVD contains cast and crew bios, interactive menus, foreign subtitles, Dolby Stereo sound, theatrical trailer and chapter search. Successful enough to inspire a sequel this will appeal to Murray fans, anyone who has ever been to camp, and those who enjoy lighthearted comedies.
MULAN (Disney DVD, 88 minutes) Released as a limited issue title, this animated film is about a Chinese girl who impersonates her father and joins the Imperial army as a male soldier. Along with her companion dragon and cricket, she helps defeat the evil leader of the Hun army which has endangered her family, people, and country. Disney's 36th animated film will strongly appeal to females and Orientals, both of whom have been traditionally less represented in this genre, or shown as weaklings rather than strong leaders. The DVD contains choice of widescreen (1.85:1) and standard (1.33:1) presentations of the film, 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, THX-certification, French and Spanish language tracks, theatrical trailer, two music videos, chapter search and full color character artwork on the disc itself. Highly recommended for anyone who loves animation, feminists, parents raising girls, and/or those interested in the Chinese legend.
NEW YORK RIPPER, THE (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Inc., 93 minutes) From the director of Zombie, Lucio Fulci, comes this unrated thriller about a serial killer who is attacking women in New York. Filmed on location in New York City, this follows the killings from the docks of the Staten Island Ferry to the sex shows in Times Square. With a tag line of "It's a nice place to visit, but you wouldn't want to die there," you know this film has a sense of humor about itself and lots of gore. The DVD contains a widescreen presentation of the film (2.35:1), Dolby Digital mono sound, theatrical trailer, Lucio Fulci bio and chapter search. Well done.
NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET COLLECTION, THE (New Line Home Video) Containing eight DVDs, this includes all seven Freddy films as well as a bonus DVD full of extras. At present, only the first film is available by itself, so purchasing this is the only way you can own the other films in the series, and although plans call to release the other films individually in 2000, the bonus DVD will not be sold individually and it's a must have. Arguably the best boxed set collection released to date, this is so well done that even the scene shot in 3-D comes with 3-D glasses so you can watch it as it was intended. For those who are unfamiliar with the storyline, Freddy Krueger was the son of a woman who got pregnant after a gang rape, and he grew up to become a child killer. Focusing on the children of people who lived in a small town on Elm Street, he was finally killed by some of them. However, they did a lousy job burying him, and he returns to kill their children a generation later. He attacks teens that fall asleep and have nightmares, and nothing they seem to try works to prevent his attacks. One can only stay awake so long, especially when unsympathetic parents and psychiatrists often give you sleeping pills against your will. Some of the children have psychic gifts which allow them to pull other people into their dreams, and Freddy is defeated several times in the series, only to return for various reasons. This is one of the most successful horror tales of all time, and for good reason. Each film has super special effects, which get better and better as the series develops and technology advances, and Robert Englund is exceptional as Freddy. Many of the films were directed by Wes Craven who conceived the series and is highly regarded as a master of horror tales. Among those who star in the films are Johnny Depp, Heather Langenkamp, Rosanne Barr, Patricia Arquette, and Tom Arnold. The DVDs contain digitally remastered widescreen prints of the films, two commentary tracks with Wes Craven, animated menus, chapter search, a 36-page collector's booklet and for those with DVDs inside their computers, access to all seven screenplays and eight original trivia games. The bonus DVD, called The Nightmare Series Encyclopedia, includes a documentary on the series called "Welcome To Primetime," theatrical trailer for all of the films, many music videos, interviews with each director as well as horror fans, professors and many of the actors, a screen saver for your PC, an interactive Freddy for your PC's desktop, an MTV appearance by Freddy, behind-the-scenes footage and a labyrinth of intense menus. If you have seen these films before, it's fascinating to rewatch them in order, and then to indulge in the bonus disc. If you have never seen all of them, this presents an opportunity to catch up on what you have missed. Either way, this will not disappoint and is a milestone in the horror genre that is not to be missed by those interested in dreams, special effects, gore, and/or terror with a purpose. Highly recommended, even to those who usually shy away from violent horror films.
PINOCCHIO (Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 88 minutes) The first of a series of nine classic animated Disney films which will only be available on DVD for 60 days, this is a simple but rich story about a lonely puppet maker who gets blessed by a fairy and has one of his puppets come to life and become a real boy. The boy continuously gets into trouble by ditching school and telling lies, and soon gets tricked into becoming the property of an evil showman who wants only to exploit him for financial gain. Featuring superb animation that can be watched again and again and is still as captivating today as it was 60 years ago when first released, this offers philosophical advice from Jiminy Cricket, a frightening experience with Monstro the whale, lots of sage advice to children on why they should conform and behave, and the song "When You Wish Upon A Star." This song earned the film an Academy Award for best song and the film won a second award for best original score. The DVD contains a THX-certified print of the film, French language track, original theatrical trailer, color artwork on the disc itself, Dolby Digital sound and chapter search. Highly recommended for animation fans of all ages, and/or those who like to collect limited edition discs. Grab it while you can!
PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES, THE (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Inc., 90 minutes) This Hammer horror title stars Andre Morell, Diane Clare, John Carson, Brook Williams and Alex Davion. The plot involves a strange disease which has been infecting people in England in record numbers. It turns people into walking corpses, and a doctor and his mentor must investigate how it happened, how it spreads and try to stop it before everyone, including them, dies. The DVD contains a widescreen presentation (1.85:1) of the film which has been enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs, Dolby Digital mono audio, theatrical trailers, French language track, a "World of Hammer episode entitled "Mummies, Werewolves & The Living Dead," and chapter search. This will appeal to Hammer fans, as well as those interested in the supernatural and zombies.
POISON IVY (New Line Home Video, 92 minutes) Drew Barrymore, Sara Gilbert, Tom Skerritt, and Cheryl Ladd star in this erotic thriller about a bad girl who has grown up on the streets and is now attending a private school. She befriends a rich girl and then moves in with her new friend and begins to disrupt the splintered family. Barrymore is superb as the sexy, sultry Ivy and this film was so successful it spawned several sequels. The DVD contains choice of widescreen (1.85:1) and standard presentations of the film, and choice of R-rated or unrated (four minutes longer) versions of the film. Also included are 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, theatrical trailer, cast and crew biographies and filmographies and chapter search. Highly recommended for those that enjoy any of the stars and/or erotic thrillers.
POISON IVY 2: LILY (New Line Home Video, 108 minutes) Alyssa Milano, Johnathon Schaech and Xander Berkeley star in this sequel to the above film. Also an erotic thriller, this time around a student uncovers Ivy's old diary and learns how to be a seductress and how to engage in powerplays with men. She begins an affair with her married professor that quickly gets way out of hand. The DVD includes choice of unrated or R-rated versions of the film, in your choice of widescreen (1.85:1) or standard presentations, 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, cast and crew biographies and filmographies, and chapter search. Milano shed her nice girl TV image in this film and paved the way for her to eventually land the role she had in Melrose Place. This is highly recommended for her fans, those that like erotic thrillers and, of course, those who enjoyed the original film.
POISON IVY: THE NEW SEDUCTION (New Line Home Video, 95 minutes) Michael Des Barres, Jaime Pressly, Megan Edwards, Athena Massey and Greg Vaughan star in this third film in this series. This time Ivy's sister returns to the home she grew up in and wrecks havoc in the life of her best friend. Since her own childhood was destroyed when her mother had an affair with her best friend's father, she seduces both the father and his new fiance for revenge. Not at all subtle, this is an erotic thriller loaded with cruelty, crime and deception. The DVD contains choice of widescreen (1.85:1) and standard presentations of the film, in choice of R-rated or unrated versions, 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, cast and crew filmographies and chapter search. If you like revenge films, or films about calculating women bitches, this is for you.
POKEMON: THE GREAT RACE (Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P.) Offering three episodes of the popular animated TV series, this includes "The Ninja Poke-Showdown," "The Flame Pokemon-athon!," and "The Kangaskhan Kid." This time around Ash tries to earn his soul badge but has to do so at a gym which is a ninja mansion full of traps. Dario has rigged a race which Lara was winning and Ash attempts to ride Lara's Ponyta to win the race for her. In the final episode included, Team Rocket is trying to trap a Kangaskhan which has raised a little boy to speak the Pokemon language. Ash, Pikachu and their friends try to stop them to save the creature and reunite the boy with his real family. The DVD contains chapter search and a paper sweepstakes entry inside the box. This will delight those who love animation, anime, and/or are familiar with the TV show.
POKEMON: PIKACHU PARTY (Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P.) The smash hit anime TV series offers three episodes on one disc. Included are: "The Bridge Bike Gang," "Ditto's Mysterious Mansion," and "Pikachu's Goodbye." In these episodes Jessie and James reunite with their old bike gang and we meet Duplica and Ditto. We watch Ditto struggle to become a real impersonator in order to escape from Team Rocket. In the final pivotal episode, Pikachu meets a herd of wild Pikachu and has to decide whether to join them or stay with his trainer, Ash. The DVD contains chapter search, a paper sweepstakes entry inside the box and a collectible paper comic book. While this series is always more engrossing than expected, this is a particularly good collection of episodes. Highly recommended to those who are already Pokemon fans, as well as anyone who enjoys animation, anime and/or cute creatures.
RASPUTIN, THE MAD MONK (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Inc., 92 minutes) This Hammer film stars Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Francis Matthews and Suzan Farmer. The plot involves a monk in Czarist Russia who has amazing healing powers. Asking only for wine and celebration in return for saving a woman's life, he soon realizes his powers can be used for evil as well. By becoming more violent and devious, he becomes accepted by and sought out by royalty and the rich and powerful. Christopher Lee is superb as Rasputin, and this performance will delight his fans. The DVD contains a widescreen presentation (2.10:1) of the film which has been enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs, Dolby Digital mono audio, an audio commentary track with the actors, theatrical trailer and TV spots, French language track, and chapter search. A bonus episode of World of Hammer entitled "Christopher Lee" is included as well. This is highly recommended as one of the best Hammer films and is a great introduction into this classic horror series.
REPTILE, THE (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Inc., 91 minutes) This Hammer horror title stars Noel Wilman, Jennifer Daniel, Ray Barrett, and Jaqueline Pearce. The plot involves a scientist who angered a group of snake worshippers. In return, they turned his daughter into a reptile. Left as half woman and half serpent, she kills and it's up to a couple who stumble upon the secret to stop her from killing again. The DVD contains a widescreen presentation of the film (1.85:1) which has been enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs, Dolby Digital mono audio, theatrical trailer and TV spots, chapter search and a World of Hammer bonus episode called "Vamp." This will appeal to Hammer fans, and/or those interested in horror films involving snakes.
RUNNING TIME (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Inc., 70 minutes) Bruce Campbell, Jeremy Roberts, and Anita Barone star in this suspenseful thriller which is only the second film ever to attempt to use the technique of one continuous shot (the other is Alfred Hitchcock's Rope). Shot in black and white, in real time, entirely on location in the streets of L.A., this unrated film is about a prisoner released from prison who decides to go steal mob money located there. He enlists the help of a driver and safecracker but even so everything possible goes wrong and he is forced to decide what to do under the circumstances. The DVD contains a standard presentation of the film, theatrical trailer, Dolby Digital mono sound, an audio commentary track by the director and Bruce Campbell, and chapter search. This will appeal to Bruce Campbell fans, those who enjoyed Rope and/or film students, and those who enjoy crime films. Well done.
SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (DreamWorks Home Entertainment, 169 minutes) Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Edward Burns and Tom Sizemore star in this epic war film, which was directed by Steven Spielberg. The film won five Academy Awards including Best Director, and involves a group of men faced with impossible odds during wartime. A captain asks eight men to risk their lives in order to save one man, whose three brothers have been killed in combat. Sparing nothing in showing the brutal realities of war, this has a more absorbing plot and more realism than any other war film made to date. The DVD contains an anamorphic widescreen print of the film (1.95:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, a message from Steven Spielberg, a short called "Into The Breach," two theatrical trailers, production notes, cast and filmmakers bios, and chapter search. While this is not a film most people are eager to see, it's exceptionally well done and will be long remembered by anyone who has even a marginal interest in war films, enjoys any of the actors, and/or respects Steven Spielberg's directing. Highly recommended.
SCORPIO FACTOR, THE (DVD Ltd.) David Nerman and Wendy Dawn Wilson star in this thriller with the tag line "There are no rules in love or...espionage." The plot involves an industrial spy hired to steal a microchip from a research lab. Those who hire him are unaware he is also a terrorist, extortionist and murderer. Interpol gets involved, as does a female killer known as Scorpio, and a woman named Nora Foxx who appears to have no existing past history. Full of violence, murder, betrayal, and suspense this has a timely plot and is well done. The DVD contains no extras other than chapter search, but none are really needed, as the film is self-explanatory. Well done.
STAND, THE (Artisan Entertainment, Inc., 366 minutes) One of the first two DVDs to be released in the new DVD 18 format, this classic Stephen King horror masterpiece is able to fit on one disc. A milestone in DVD technology, this six-hour film was originally made for TV as a mini-series and stars Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Rob Lowe, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The plot, taken from the best-selling book of the same name, involves the end of the world and a lengthy battle between good and evil. The epic film pits Mother Abigail against the twisted killer Randall Flagg and no matter which side you are rooting for, this will keep you at the edge of your seat through all four parts. It's easy to watch since you can watch the four parts in different sittings, building up the suspense, but unlike TV you don't have to wait till it's shown again, or sit through endless commercials. The DVD contains a digitally mastered standard presentation of the film, commentary track by Stephen King, director Mick Garris and several of the actors including Rob Lowe and Ruby Dee, 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround sound, a making of featurette, storyboard comparisons, make-up effects, interactive menus, production notes, cast and crew information, and chapter search. It's a masterpiece for those who love horror, sci-fi, epic films and/or Stephen King in general, and given its length it's not likely to be rebroadcast often on TV. Highly recommended to anyone who has read the book, likes any of the actors, is a King fan, or who likes tales of good vs. evil.
STARGATE (Artisan Home Entertainment, Inc., 119 minutes) Kurt Russell and James Spader star in this sci-fi film about a professor invited to a military base in order to decode an ancient Egyptian artifact called the Stargate. Using the Stargate, they travel to an ancient civilization and must battle the god of the sun, Ra, before they can return home. Although this film had been released on DVD already, this new special edition version offers an additional nine minutes of footage and many new extras. The DVD includes a digitally mastered widescreen print of the film (1.85:1), in your choice of the original theatrical version or a new special edition version with the extra footage and commentary by the director and producer, 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, interactive menus, production notes, cast and crew information, theatrical trailer and teaser, and chapter search. Inside the box is a 12-page booklet with additional information on the making of the film, and a list of other titles also available from Artisan. Highly recommended for those who enjoy the actors, sci-fi in general and/or Egyptian culture.
SHORT VOLUME 6: INSANITY (Quickband Networks, distributed by Warner Home Video, 120 minutes) This superb DVD magazine which features distinctive short films, with a different theme each issue, tackles insanity this time around. Included are "The Bad Plant," an animated film, "Blue City" which has won 11 Best Of awards at various film festivals, "Billy's Balloon," "El Banquette" which was inspired by the writings of Juan Luis Bunel, "Franky Goes To Hollywood" about a dog who lands a role in Armageddon and gets advice here from Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton and Steve Buscemi, "Black Coffee" which is a Belgian film about a couple who meet on a dating show and travel to an island retreat where things don't turn out too well, "Bovine Vendetta" which is an animated film with voiceovers by Charles Manson, "Midnight Dance" which uses charcoal sketch animation, and "60 Channels" which explores the music of the Angels. The DVD contains 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, interactive menus, three director's commentary tracks, an alternate audio track and an alternate video track, a Junk Drawer and chapter search. It's hard to pick a favorite issue of this magazine, but they seem to build on each other and keep getting better. This is highly recommended for animation fans, film buffs, those who have enjoyed any of the previous issues, and those who like short films or have a short attention span.
STEALING HOME (Warner Home Video, 98 minutes) Mark Harmon, Jodie Foster, Blair Brown, Jonathan Silverman and Harold Ramis star in this film about a burned out ex-ballplayer who returns home to recall his past and the woman who once made it so wonderful. The film includes a soundtrack which includes the Everly Brothers, the Four Seasons, Jerry Lee Lewis and Bo Diddley as well as a superb performance by Foster. The DVD contains a standard presentation of the film, interactive menus, Dolby Surround Stereo sound, French subtitles, and chapter search. Highly recommended for those who enjoy any of the actors, are interested in sports, have fond memories of the past, and/or enjoy films that pull at your heartstrings.
STOP MAKING SENSE (Palm Pictures) Jonathan Demme directed this concert film which focuses on the Talking Heads. Featuring 16 songs including "Psycho Killer," "Heaven," "Thank You For Sending Me An Angel," "Found A Job," "Slippery People, "Burning Down The House," "Life During Wartime," "Making Flippy Floppy," "Swamp," "What A Day That Was," "Naive Melody," "Once In A Lifetime," "Genius Of Love," "Girlfriend Is Better," "Take Me To The River," and "Cross-Eyed And Painless." One of the better concert films ever made perhaps because it lets the band perform without dressing them up in costumes and focusing on lights and special effects instead of the music, this film has never looked better than it does here on DVD. Digitally remixed and remastered, under the supervision of David Byrne, this includes three audio mixes and features an anamorphic widescreen print of the film (16:9) along with 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. A commentary track is included with all four band members and Demme, and there are new bonus tracks included ("Cities," "Big Business/I Zimbra"). There is also a David Byrne self-interview, theatrical trailer, storyboard-to-film comparison, interactive menu and chapter search. Highly recommended to even casual fans of the band.
SUCK IT AND SEE (Palm Pictures, 32 minutes) Jacob Pander directed this film which celebrates hedonism and pornography with musical tracks. Included are seven songs, including Plastic Fantastic Machine's "Green Door," Howie B's "Only If It Hurts," Spacer's "Jeffrey Poindexter's Maximum Load," Hyper Crad's "3," Chari Chari's "Favourite Final Geisha Show," Inevidence's "Cum Dancing," and DJ Miku's "Pink Planet." The DVD contains 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, photo gallery, director's bio, interactive menus, preview of "The Operation," chapter search, web link with artist bios and an album sampler for those who use the Internet. This music has also released as a double audio CD for those who wish to hear more but without video accompanying the sounds. Quite unique and well photographed, this will appeal to anyone interested in these musicians as well as anyone interested in media portrayals of sexuality.
THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON'T THEY (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Inc., 120 minutes) Jane Fonda, Michael Sarrazin, Gig Young and Susannah York star in this drama which was directed by Sydney Pollack and nominated for nine Academy awards. Set in the Depression, the plot involves a group of desperate people who sign up for a dance marathon in an attempt to earn enough money to live on. This very real fad, which was later outlawed, has been replaced in more recent decades by gogo dancing, and strip clubs. This is a fascinating look at a time period most of us are unfamiliar with, and although the material didn't initially sound too exciting, the film definitely grabs you and holds your interest. The DVD contains choice of widescreen (2.35:1) and standard presentations of the film, Dolby Digital sound, featurette, theatrical trailer and chapter search. Highly recommended to Jane Fonda fans, those interested in the Depression, and/or in dance.
TOTAL REALITY (York Entertainment, 100 minutes) Set in the year 2128, this sci-fi thriller is about a general who refuses to admit defeat. David Bradley, Thomas Kretschmann and Ely Pouget star. The plot involves the soldier grabbing a time machine and heading for Earth to start trouble. This forces a rogue soldier, along with his team of convicted felons, to follow him to Earth in an attempt to save the world. The DVD includes 5.1 stereo surround sound, theatrical trailer, interactive menus, star bios, and chapter search. This will appeal to those who like watching special effects, fight scenes and/or the rare film where bad guys have to do good deeds to save the world and, of course, themselves.
TOWER OF EVIL (Elite Entertainment, 89 minutes) Bryant Haliday, Jill Haworth and Gary Hamilton star in this horror film, which even the box admits is gory enough not to be intended for everyone. Also released as Beyond The Fog, and Horror On Snape Island, the plot here involves a small, deserted island in which a murder occurs when a nude woman kills a sailor. A relic is discovered when she is taken back to civilization and an expedition begins to investigate the relic and the island. This leads to a series of brutal murders. The film is full of dark caverns, a dark tower, people who get lost, lots of fog, and the usual bad acting this genre is famous for. The film has some scary moments and well-done special effects and fans of gore, and of Elite's films in general will not be disappointed. The DVD contains a widescreen print of the film (1.85:1), theatrical trailer and chapter search.
WALK ON THE MOON, A (Miramax Home Entertainment, 107 minutes) Diane Lane, Liev Schreiber, Anna Paquin and Viggo Mortensen star in this superb sleeper about sexual freedom set in 1969. It's about a family who rents a bungalow in upstate New York which happens to be quite close to the location of the upcoming Woodstock festival. The husband is absent too often as he is forced to work overtime, and the wife begins an affair she hasn't really thought through. Her husband and her daughter discover she is cheating and it causes great strain on the family as they must decide whether to stay together or fall apart. The DVD contains a widescreen print of the film (1.85:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, and chapter search. While this might appeal more to women than to men, I found this one of the most memorable films I have seen recently. Highly recommended to those interested in the 1960s, the gray areas of adultery, and/or great dramas.
WANTED (York Entertainment, 100 minutes) Timothy Busfield, Tracey Gold, Robert Culp and Michael Sutton star in this action title about a man running from both the law and the Mafia, after a series of mistakes he has made, who becomes forced into the middle of a sting operation. He accidentally kills a Mob kingpin and hides out in a Catholic school for wayward boys. He falls for the school nurse, but her ex-boyfriend who is a sheriff's son starts to attract Mob attention to the school. The entire school bands together to help him, since he is making an attempt to set his life in order, but can they overcome attacks by the Mafia? The DVD features 5.1 Stereo Surround sound and chapter search. The film features a great cast and classic good vs. evil theme, and is recommended to fans of any of the actors and those who like films about crime and/or the Mafia.