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Gray Areas Magazine


GRAY AREAS MAGAZINE DVD REVIEWS DECEMBER 1998


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.

ASTEROID (Artisan Entertainment Inc./Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P., 120 minutes) Michael Biehn and Annabella Seiorra star in this action-thriller about a massive asteroid headed straight for Earth. Digitally remastered with QSurround 3-D stereo sound, this film is obviously full of special effects and tense moments. The DVD also contains an audio/video slide show featuring highlights of the film, and chapter search.

BEST OF MUSIKLADEN LIVE: T-REX/ROXY MUSIC (Pioneer Entertainment, (USA) L.P., 50 minutes) Filmed live in Germany for a television show known as The Beat Club and later Musikladen, this series highlights the many great bands who appeared on the show. In this title, T. Rex performs "Jeepster," "Life's A Gas," "Ride A White Swan," "Jewel," and "Twentieth Century Boy." Roxy Music perform "Do The Strand," "Editions Of You," "In Every Dream Home A Heartache," "Remake Remodel," "Virginia Plain," and "All I Want Is You." This is a golden opportunity to get superb video footage of these classic bands. The DVD offers chapter search and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.

BLADE (New Line Home Video, Inc., 120 minutes) Wesley Snipes stars in this vampire film based on a comic book. It's got superb acting, plot, special effects and the DVD has many extras too making this a must own title for those who like action, horror or sci-fi. The plot involves a human who has inherited all of the pluses of being a vampire, but few of the drawbacks. He spends his days battling vampires and helping those they have bitten who can be reached before it's too late. The DVD version offers a widescreen print of the film, Dolby Digital sound, audio commentary by Snipes and five other key people, isolated score with commentary by the composer, four different featurettes, pencil sketches to production designs, a section on the twelve vampire tribes mentioned in the film, cast and crew biographies and filmographies, original theatrical trailer, and chapter search. Those with DVD drives on their IBM PC compatible computers can also enjoy web links, the original screenplay and highlights from the 1998 ComiCon convention. New Line's special features are so good that even if the film is not to your taste each of their DVD releases is worth owning. Blade is no exception and is the type of film that becomes more interesting after you have seen the extras once you then watch it again. Highly recommended.

BODYSLAMMIN' #2 (Digital Playground, 150 minutes) Featuring 12 girls, this lengthy adult title directed by Alex Sanders has become a best seller for good reason. Featuring great special effects, this also has nine anal scenes and wall to wall sex for those who prefer action to plot. The DVD includes a digitally remastered version of the film, 5.1 digital surround sound, behind-the- scenes photos, a slide show, parental lock, no regional coding, chapter search, and for those with DVD drives in their computers a strip blackjack game as well. Well done.

CAN'T HARDLY WAIT (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 101 minutes) Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ethan Embry, Charlie Korsmo, Lauren Ambrose, Peter Facinelli and Seth Green star in this ensemble film about a high school class attending a graduation party. Full of uncredited cameos by people such as Marilyn Manson, the film has one great moment and character after another. The DVD is even more special since there is a commentary track by several of the actors involved in making the film so you get to see the whole thing from their perspective as well as from your own. The DVD also contains 5.1 Dolby Digital sound, choice of Anamorphic Widescreen or standard pan and scan versions, French subtitles, chapter search, photo gallery, theatrical trailer and a music video by Smash Mouth. I loved this film and so will you if you like teenage buddy films, or are a fan of Jennifer Love Hewitt's. Well done.

CLASSICAL VISIONS (Madacy Entertainment Group, Inc., 166 minutes) This three disc boxed set blends classical music by Strauss, Beethoven and Chopin with relaxing visuals such as the sights of Vienna, springtime flowers, and fall foliage and nature scenes. Very relaxing to view, these discs will appeal to both those who love classical music and those who love new age type relaxation tapes. The DVDs also include chapter search, biographies, interactive trivia games and a section on the background of the instruments used. This is well done and unique, and highly recommended to those who want to own a total change from the many action and horror films that comprises the bulk of most DVD collections.

CRASH (New Line Home Video) James Spader and Holly Hunter star in this erotic film about people who are sexually obsessed with car crashes. Directed by David Cronenberg,this cult film is available here in both R and NC-17 versions. Sure to be remembered forever by those who see this, it leaves one unable to ever look at a car crash the same way. The DVD version contains a widescreen version of the film, Dolby Digital stereo sound, foreign subtitles, the original theatrical trailer, cast and crew biographies and filmographies and chapter search. This is highly recommended for those who love Cronenberg, cult films, automobiles and/or unique films that break new ground. Also fascinating is the ability to compare both versions and see what disturbed the Motion Picture review board. Well done.

DAMAGE (New Line Home Video) Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche star in this erotic film directed by Louis Malle. Offered in a choice of R-rated and unrated versions, the plot involves a family torn apart by sexual obsession after a father engages in an affair with his son's fiancee. The DVD version offers a widescreen print of the film, Dolby Digital sound, an interview with the director entitled "One On One With Louis Malle," foreign subtitles, interactive menus, chapter search, original theatrical trailer and cast and crew biographies and filmographies. As with all New Line releases, which are possibly the best in the industry in terms of extras offered along with the films themselves, this is well done and highly recommended.

DAY OF THE DEAD (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Inc., 102 minutes) George A. Romero's classic horror film comes to DVD in a widescreen presentation (1.85:1) along with behind-the-scenes footage, chapter search and the original theatrical trailer. The plot concerns bizarre research experiments gone wrong leaving most of the world walking zombies. The few remaining human survivors are left to battle literally thousands of the zombies if they want to stay alive. Great special effects by Tom Savini are seen throughout the film, and this has many deaths without being offensive. A great transfer of a great film, this is highly recommended for horror fans.

DEAD POET'S SOCIETY (Touchstone Home Video, 129 minutes) Robin Williams stars in this exceptional film about the relationship a teacher has with his students. He challenges them to live life to the fullest and the film follows the students as they indeed do. The DVD version includes a digitally mastered widescreen version of the film, Dolby Surround sound, French language track and chapter search. This is a must own title which holds up well to repeated viewings and is highly recommended.

DEVIANT DOCTOR #1 (Digital Playground) Jill Kelly, Sid Deuce, Channone, Alex Sanders and Nikki Sinn star in this adult film which is the first in a new series. The plot involves a doctor whose clients have fascinating stories to tell, and who can't keep her hands off herself as she hears them. Offering everything from lesbian scenes to facial shots to a dominatrix, this series has enormous potential and is sure to satisfy those looking for hot action. The DVD version offers a digitally remastered version of the film, 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, no regional coding, parental lock, chapter search, behind-the-scenes photos and a slide show as well. While this will probably not appeal to women viewers interested in a plot and romance, it will surely satisfy the bulk of the adult market which seems to want to see women pleasing men.

EROTIC FANTASIES (Madacy Entertainment Group Inc., 180 minutes) This three DVD set offers women stripping, dancing and wearing sexy lingerie. One of the discs is called "Girls In Uniform" and includes a Mounty, Navy wren, a soldier, stewardess and ballerina. The second title "Big & Beautiful" focuses on women with large breasts and the third title "Fantasies" has Marie Harper and Linzie Drew modelling lingerie and answering viewer mail. In addition, the DVDs have Dolby Digital sound, chapter search, interactive menus and a segment on calendar girls. Should be a big hit with men who like to watch pretty women who are not doing hardcore scenes.

EXPLORING THE SUPERNATURAL (Madacy Entertainment Group, Inc., approx. 5 hours) This 3 disc boxed set, also sold seperately, is ideal for those who are fascinated by the occult and the unusual. Included are segments on vampires, Nostradamus, ghost stories, UFO chronicles, medical miracles and mysteries of why some people remember things from childhood that may or may not have happened. The discs also contain Dolby Digital sound, a trivia quiz, animated scene index, campfire stories, information on supernatural sightings and a section on remedies. This will have broad appeal both to those already fascinated by these topics, as well as those who are curious but have never explored these issues before. Well done.

EXTREME CLOSE-UP 3: TIA BELLA (Vivid Interactive) This superb adult series continues with a disc devoted to adult star Tia Bella. Included are interviews with Tia, interspliced with sex scenes from her past films. The disc also features many extras, including multiple angles which allows you to choose the way you wish to view the sex scenes, information on other Vivid girls, digital stereo sound, interative titles, chapter search, interactive phone sex, previews of other Vivid films, footage from the AVN awards show, no regional coding, and a paper poster of the Vivid girls which is inside the box along with a paper catalog of other Vivid titles. I love this series, since the actors and actresses talking about their industry has always interested me more than the actual sex scenes themselves. If you're also fascinated by what makes these girls tick, or you're a fan of Tia's, you too will enjoy this disc.

FIELD, THE (Artisan Entertainment/Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P., 113 minutes) Richard Harris and Tom Berenger star in this film about a plot of earth in Ireland. Someone rents it and takes care of it until the legal owner decides to sell the land. A wealthy American shows up with plans to develop it, and both the tenant and the townspeople object. This is the story of one man's battle to defend his hometown and to resist change. The DVD version offers Dolby Digital sound and chapter search. This title will appeal to those interested in Ireland, freedom and the environment.

FRESHMAN FANTASIES #3 (Digital Playground, over 120 minutes) This ongoing adult series is at the top of the adult DVD best seller lists for good reason. It offers "fresh-faced college females acting out thier deepest most deviate fantasies." In addition to the film, which has been digitally remastered for DVD, the disc also includes 5.1 Dolby Digital sound, behind-the-scenes photos, a slide show, no regional coding, parental lock, chapter search and, for those with DVD players inside their computers, a strip blackjack game as well. Well worth having for those who enjoy wall-to-wall action with less of an emphasis on story line and plot development.

GHOST STORIES (Madacy Entertainment Group, Inc., 135 minutes) Ghosts and haunted houses are the themes here in this three DVD boxed set which is also sold as individual titles. Hosted by Patrick Macnee, this documentary examines what ghosts are, interviews ghostbusters and travels to famous sites people are convinced are inhabited by ghosts. The DVDs include biographies, paranormal pages on things like premonitions, historical site pages with information on the Tower of London, the Alamo and Grand Canyon. There is also Dolby Digital sound, an interactive trivia game and animated menus with chapter search. Well done, and presents a lot of information for those who are simply curious or who enjoy ghost tales.

GOOD MORNING VIETNAM (Touchstone Home Video, 121 minutes) Robin Williams stars in this superb military comedy about a soldier who becomes a radio deejay during the Vietnam war. While the G.I.s love him, the brass is none too pleased at his humor and honesty on the air. Arguably one of Williams' best roles, this is a must own and holds up well to repeated viewings. The DVD version includes a digitally mastered widescreen copy of the film, Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio track, French language track, chapter search and the theatrical trailer. Well done.

GOOD WILL HUNTING (Miramax Home Entertainment, 126 minutes) Available in two versions, we recommend the collector's edition which features the kind of extras a superb film like this one deserves. Possibly the best movie of the year it was released in, this stars Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Minnie Driver. The plot concerns a janitor who happens to be a genius. His problem is he is too poor to go to college, and he has all sorts of problems as a result of having grown up on the streets and being in constant trouble with the law. Williams stumbles upon his talents by accident when he posts a math question for his students to answer and the janitor is the only one who can solve the equation. He takes the boy under his wing and trys to straighten him out. The DVD includes an audio commentary by the director and two of the actors, 11 deleted scenes with commentary about them, a production featurette, theatrical trailer and TV commercials, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, behind-the-scenes footage, a music video "Miss Misery," chapter search and a montage of footage from the Academy Awards show. Highly recommended.

HE GOT GAME (Touchstone Home Video, 136 minutes) Denzel Washington stars in a Spike Lee film about a convict who is offered a brief leave from the joint in exchange for trying to talk his son, a basketball star, into attending a specific college which the state governor is an alumni of. Included are cameos by John Turturro and Dick Vitale, John Thompson, and Dean Smith. Will Denzel's character choose what is best for himself or what is best for his son? The DVD version includes a digitally mastered widescreen print of the film, 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, theatrical trailer and chapter search. Different from Denzel Washington's many other excellent roles, this is highly recommended for his fans, Spike Lee fans, those interested in prison films and/or in basketball.

LEGEND OF THE 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES, THE (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Inc., 89 minutes) Peter Cushing stars in this kung fu horror title from the Hammer Collection. Released in the USA only as a chopped up film called The Seven Brothers Meet Dracula,the original, uncut film is finally released here. It's about a professor who discovers there are seven golden vampires in the village of Ping Kuei and sets out to destroy them. In order to do so, he must also battle Count Dracula who lives in the vampire temple as well. The DVD includes a widescreen presentation of the film (2.35:1), the chopped up film The Seven Brothers Meet Dracula which runs 75 minutes, along with the theatrical trailer for it, so you can judge for yourself whether it made any sense to reedit the film, and a short called The Story of The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires which is narrated by Peter Cushing. There's also Dolby Digital mono sound and chapter search as well. This is an excellent disc not only for those who enjoy horror, kung fu and vampire tales, but for those who are interested in film history and censorship issues as well. Well done.

LION OF THE DESERT (Anchor Bay Entertainment,Inc., 206 minutes) Oliver Reed, Rod Steiger and Anthony Quinn star in this epic drama set in 1929 about dictator Benito Mussolini. The crew endured many hardships making this film including heat stroke and scorpion stings, and the set required that entire villages be built from scratch. The DVD contains a widescreen presentation of the film (1.85:1), Dolby Digital Stereo sound, a documentary called The Making Of An Epic, theatrical trailers, chapter search and a still gallery. This will delight those who enjoy reenactments of history, epics, dramas, and war films. Well done.

MARK OF THE DEVIL (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Inc., 97 minutes) Set in 1770 Austria, this horror film follows Count Cumberland and his crew who kill innocent people by accusing them of witchcraft. Upon the films release, it was criticized widely for both intense violence and for its exploitative ad campaign. The DVD offers the original, uncut film which is billed on the box cover as "positively the most horrifying film ever made." The film is presented in widescreen format (1.66:1) and offers no extras other than chapter search.

NIGHT WARRIORS: DARKSTALKERS' REVENGE (Viz Video/Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P., 90 minutes) This Japanese anime title is based on the Capcom video game of the same name about vampires. The disc contains two episodes, "Two Worlds In Conflict," and "Humanity's True Power." Beautiful graphics and sound are combined with bilingual languages and English subtitles. The disc includes an image gallery, the original Japanese trailer, character profiles and conceptual drawings, Dolby Digital sound, interactive menu, and chapter search. It's recommended for those age 13 and up and might be scary to younger children as there is lots of fighting and questing for ultimate power in power struggles between characters. This is highly recommended for adults however, and for those who love vampire stories or animation in general. Well done.

OCCULT HISTORY OF THE THIRD REICH (Madacy Entertainment Group, Inc., 155 minutes) This three disc boxed set, also sold individually, offers segments on "The Enigma of the Swastika," "The SS Blood And Soil," and "Adolf Hitler." Full of information on the origins of the swastika in India and Tibet, and on how Hitler and the SS grew, this DVD also includes Dolby Digital sound, a biography, chapter search, interactive menus, and interactive trivia game. This will appeal to WWII fans and historians and includes lots of classic B&W footage.

ON HER BACK (Vivid Interactive) Dyanna Laren stars in this adult film which was directed by Bud Lee. It introduces Jenna Jameson and also stars Anna Malle, Nikki Randall, Jon Morgan, Joey Silvera, and Marc Wallice. The plot concerns a female artist who wishes to be hired to paint a chapel. The pope does not believe a female can do the job so she sets out to persuade him otherwise. The DVD also contains multiple angle technology so you can watch sex scenes from a choice of angles, interactive phone sex, previews of other Vivid titles, information about the Vivid girls, chapter search, no regional coding and footage of the AVN awards show. Inside the box there is a paper poster of the Vivid girls and a paper catalog of other titles available.

OPERATION SHARK ATTACK: THE KILLERS OF THE DEEP (Madacy Entertainment Group, Inc., 275 minutes) Those who are fascinated by shark attack footage will delight in this superb boxed set featuring five DVDs full of documentaries about sharks. Included are "Tales Of The Tiger Shark," "Shark Attack Files," "Legends Of The Killer Shark," and "Operation Shark Attack." There are many interviews with shark attack victims who survived, as well as footage and interviews with Ron and Valerie Taylor from whom most shark footage is supplied everywhere it is used. The DVD set offers Dolby Digital sound, trivia questions and answers and chapter search. This is a must own set for those of us who have previously been relegated to waiting for the annual Discovery Channel Shark Week special. Now you can watch these awesome creatures whenever you please instead. Well done.

POKEMON: I CHOOSE YOU! PIKACHU! (Viz Video/Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P.) Containing three episodes of the hit animated television series, this is sure to delight children and anime fans of all ages. There are 150 Pokeman creatures and the series involves a trainer trying to capture all 150 of them. The DVD offers Pokerap, a comic book box insert, and chapter search.

SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA, THE (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Inc., 87 minutes) Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing star in this horror title from the legendary Hammer Collection. Set in London in 1974, it's about a professor who assists British Intelligence monitor five officials only to unearth a new strain of plague one of them is involved in developing. This film was not released in the USA after it was made, and then five years later it finally played here retitled and chopped up as Count Dracula and his Vampire Bride. The DVD contains the original, uncut film which has been digitally mastered from the IB Technicolor print. Presented in widescreen (1.85:1), this also has both the UK and US trailers, and a World Of Hammer episode called "Dracula & The Undead." Recommended for Hammer fans, as well as those who love vampire stories and horror in general.

SCENES FROM A BAR (Vivid Interactive) Kobe Tai stars in this adult film which also features T.T. Boy, Johnni Black, Peter North, Alyssa Allure and Alexandra Silk. It's about an extraordinary evening in a bar one Halloween night. The patrons display marriages in trouble, engage in sex games and flirt shamelessly. The DVD also contains many extra features such as multiple camera angles, information on the Vivid girls, interactive phone sex, chapter search, previews of other Vivid titles, footage of the AVN awards, no regional coding and VR technology. Inside the box there is a paper poster of the Vivid girls and a paper catalog of other titles available.

SCREAM: COLLECTOR'S SERIES (Dimension Home Video, 111 minutes) Although this title was already released on DVD, it's now part of a new series which adds extras to the movies that most deserve such highlighting. Included here is a widescreen print of the film, with 5.1 Dolby Digital sound, an audio commentary by Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson, production featurette, theatrical trailers, TV spots, behind-the-scenes footage, Q&A with the cast and crew, a special effects gallery, cast and crew profiles, film facts, chapter search and a great trivia section called "Did You Know?" It's great to see Disney releasing such extras, as previously their releases have been only the film, trailer, and subtitles. This is highly recommended to any horror fan.

STARTING OVER (Vivid Interactive) Jenna Jameson stars in this adult film along with Tom Byron, Marc Wallice, Alex Sanders, Bobby Vitale, Anna Malle and Felicia. It's about a woman whose boyfriend is unfaithful and buys his mistress an expensive diamond with her money. So she decides to move to Las Vegas even though she has no job or savings, knowing she can rely on her body. The DVD uses multiple angle technology so that you can watch the sex scenes from different persepectives. There is no regional coding, and the disc includes many extras such as interactive telephone sex, footage of the AVN awards show, previews of other Vivid titles, chapter search, and several screens of info on the many Vivid girls. The box also contains a paper catalog of titles available and a paper poster of the Vivid girls. Jenna is one of the most popular adult stars and anything with her in it becomes an instant hit. This film has Vivid's usual high production quality and is a great value for the money.

SWEET RIDES (Digital Playground) Offering "slutty, hot girls doin' it in expensive, hot cars," this adult title stars Sid Deuce, Malitia, Sydnee Steele, Shannon Rush, Dee and Katie Gold. While there is not much of a plot here, it's a good bet those who watch this won't be looking for one since this instead offers sex in, on and around cars which appeals to certain fantasies in and of itself. The DVD version offers a digitally remastered print of the film, 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound, behind-the-scenes photos, slide show, no regional coding, parental lock, chapter search, and, for those with DVD players inside their computers, a strip blackjack game as well. Unique!

UNSOLVED MYSTERIES OF WORLD WAR II (Madacy Entertainment Group, Inc., 5 hours) This five DVD boxed set is also available individually. It includes segments on: "The Riddle of Rudolf Hess," "The Strange Death of Celi Raubal," "Drugs and the Fuhrer," "Hitler's Secret War," "Kill Hitler," "Decision At Dunkirk," "Stalin's Secret Armies," "Hitler's Secret Weapon," "Enigma of the Swastika," "Himmler's Castle," "The Eagle and the Swastika," and "The Last Days of Hitler." Also included are 25 trivia questions and answers, chapter search and biographies. This will appeal to those who love conspiracy theories as well as those interested in World War II and/or the Holocaust. The footage is in black and white, but that's to be expected considering its age. There's lots of gray footage and gray questions posed here to get you thinking and this is a bargain for those interested in this facet of history. Well done.

WET DREAMS (Digital Playground) Nici Sterling, Rebecca Lord, Stephanie Swift, Ruby and Sydney Steele star in this super adult film which begins with the premise that adult film actresses never get to perform their own sexual fantasies on film as they are always cast to portray someone else's vision. Here each girl gets to act out her fantasy and get paid for it too. The DVD includes many extras including a digitally remastered version of the film, no regional coding, parental lock, 5.1 Dolby Digital sound, behind-the-scenes photos, a slide show, chapter search and, for those with DVD players in their computers, a strip blackjack game as well. This is one of the better adult films I have seen, as it masters providing a minimal plot and yet tying the whole film together. Well done and highly recommended.

WONDERS OF THE DEEP, THE (Madacy Entertainment Group, Inc., 180 minutes) This three disc boxed set, also available as individual titles, offers a look at the wonder of our oceans. Included are segements on The Galapagos, Costa Rica, Australia, Emerald Sea and British Columbia shipwrecks. Besides the stunning and relaxing underwater footage, the DVDs offer chapter search, interactive menus, Dolby Digital sound, an interactive trivia game, and information on famous dive sites, famous divers and diving equipment for those curious to explore the ocean after seeing this. Well done.

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