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Doogan's Views at The Digital Bits
page added: 1/26/06



Four for the New Year!

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Hey kiddies! It's your Unkie Doogan here, bidding you welcome to the first Views column of the ninth year of The Digital Bits.

Nine years.

Wow.

A lot of things happened in those nine years. Friendships were forged, relationships were torn asunder and a looooooot of discs were watched. A lot.

But it's a new year and there are loads of big things ahead. 2006 is gonna be a big year for all of us, I'm sure of it. There are plenty of new friendships to build and lots of new relationships to destroy. Oh... and there are plenty more discs to view (in a multitude of soon-to-be-released formats).

So let's please some of the publicity folks (and my editor and pal, Mr. Hunt) and start clearing off review my pile. What do you say?

Good, I'm glad you're on board.



Dracula A.D. 1972

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Dracula A.D. 1972
1972 (2005) - Hammer Film Productions (Warner Bros.)

The second to last Lee/Cushing Hammer Dracula flick is oh-so dated. But it's actually pretty cool in its datedness. That doesn't mean it's a good film, but it's still "cool." It opens in 1872, with a hectic chase on a horse-drawn carriage. The chase climaxes with a crash and DrakyBoy (Christopher Lee) gets impaled on a wagon wheel. As he lies dying in time lapse, Van Helsing (Peter Cushing), suffering from critical wounds, fades out... his job finally done. But Dracula has an ace up his velvety sleeve, when a wannabe scoops up a vialful of Dracula's ashes and buries them outside of hallowed ground.

100 years later (in 1972, in case you're silly in the head), the wannabe's ancestor, Johnny Alucard (Alucard? Did Ed Wood write this?), brings together a bunch of psychedelic mod hipsters, performs a seance/pseudo-orgie (with screen sirens Caroline Munro and Stephanie Beacham in attendance, lucky dog) and brings back Dracula using the ashes and Munro's blood. Alucard wants immortality for his family loyalty, while Van Helsing's ancestor (who is played by Cushing) wants to finally destroy Dracula to keep his fangs out of his hot granddaughter (Beacham).

Dracula A.D. 1972 is silly fun, but the keyword there is fun. This DVD looks damn good as far as I'm concerned. It's never looked better... and that's coming from someone who used to catch all the Hammer schlock growing up and has seen this thing looking damn near haggard. On this DVD, it's presented anamorphic widescreen at 1.85:1 and features mono sound in English and French. The extras are minimal, with just a trailer, but all in all the disc serves the film well (even if the film doesn't). If you're a Hammer fan and a completist (like me) this is a must own. Otherwise, just give it a rent.


The 40-Year-Old Virgin

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The 40-Year-Old Virgin: Unrated
2005 (2005) - Universal

Without a single doubt, 40-Year-Old Virgin was the funniest flick of 2005 and the funniest flick that I've seen in a long time. I laughed and laughed and laughed at this thing, and I had no real good reason to. Up until this point Steve Carell was a funny co-star, but nothing that made me think he'd be a comedy lead anytime soon. I was way wrong, but only partway. I still think Carell works best in an ensemble, but he proves here that he can surely be the star performer in that ensemble.

Virgin follows modern day shyboy Andy Stitzer (Carell), as he comes out of his shell amongst his co-workers and grudgingly reveals that he's still a virgin. While his buddies (Paul Rudd, Seth Rogan and Romany Malco) decide to take it upon themselves to help relive the situation, all on his own Andy falls in love with a beautiful woman (Catherine Keener) who's had enough of the after-divorce dating racket and is willing to take it slow. All the situations surrounding these plot points occur with rapid fire hilarity. In fact, every funny scene you've seen in ads or the trailer pales in comparison to the stuff you DON'T see in the trailer. But with all the funny, there's a lot of real heart to this story. This is not a Happy Madison flick.

Virgin looks and sounds great on DVD. The anamorphic widescreen video (at 1.85:1) is bright and somewhat clear. The transfer looks a little old for some reason. Like they aged the film to look more like an 80s flick. Considering the film is sex-comedy homage, maybe they did this on purpose. It doesn't look bad at all. It's just an odd thing to notice on a film made and released this past year. Audio is in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 and both sound nice and full. This is the "uncut" version that has 17 minutes of extra story. There's some great stuff in there, and it all flows together well. I won't bother to list the new footage here, 'cause I don't roll like that. Trust me, it's better just experiencing it yourself.

What I can discuss here are the extras. First up is a commentary, mainly featuring director/co-writer Judd Apatow and actor/producer Seth Rogan. Everyone else who had anything to do with the film pops in too, making it a very hectic track. Not a whole lot of production information comes up, but at times it can be funny. That said, it's not a favorite commentary of mine, all in all. Next we get two featurettes. One focuses on the multi-camera shoot of Carell getting his chest waxed, while the other is a fake interview between Rogan and one of the hottest porn stars currently working, Stormy Daniels. Rounding out the set is a huge collection of deleted scenes, alternate takes, a gag reel and extended sequences. There's a bunch of funny scenes there, best among them longer versions of You Know How I Know You're Gay? and Date-a-Palooza. Selections among these feature alternate commentary with Apatow and Rogan.

Trust me. Pick this title up for your library, and you won't be sorry.


Havoc: Unrated Edition

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Havoc: Unrated
1987 (2005) - Street Trash Joint Venture (Synapse)

My, oh, my... I hated this film. It's soooooooooo boring! I didn't fall asleep watching it, but I kinda don't remember anything about it, so that I feel like maybe I did. But I didn't. I'm sure of it.

BUT...

Anne Hathaway's boobs. Yeah, I know you guys. It's okay to admit it. Anne Hathaway's boobs are why most of you wanted to see this.

But you can forget it. They're very nice, but not nice enough to make this movie worth watching.

Havoc looks great on DVD. It's presented in 1.85:1 and couldn't look better on this format. Audio comes in both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 and sounds a lot better than this film deserves. Oh, that's mean. But, hey... they set us up with Hathaway's boobs and still don't deliver a good film, so I guess I'm just angry.

Extras are non-existent unless you're a trailer whore, 'cause there's a trailer. But I'm not a trailer whore.

Moving on...


Inside Deep Throat - NC-17: As Seen In Theaters

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Inside Deep Throat - NC-17: As Seen In Theaters
2005 (2005) - Universal

Quick review. Honestly, all you need to know is: This is an entertaining, if somewhat depressing and overly uneventful, history of a classic adult film. That's pretty much it. This doc uses a lot of talking heads and shows the ragged road this film has walked over the years. The best thing about it though, is... well, I now love Dick Cavett. This is a must view just so you can fast forward between the interviews with Cavett.

He. Is. A. Frickin'. Genius.

That's all I got to say about that.

The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen and looks fantastic. Seriously. Audio is also very good in Dolby Digital 5.1.

Extras include two commentaries - one with the filmmakers and one comprised of audio clips pulled from unused interviews with subjects on the film. There's also about 14 deleted scenes set-up as "featurettes," except they are simply unused interviews (some actually feature people that didn't show up in the film like Richard Dreyfuss). It's a great use of unused material and could have easily been presented as a second doc.

If you're at all interested in the history of adult entertainment, this is a very interesting documentary. But, man... that Dick Cavett. He's the man.

That's it for this week. Bill's making me be more regular, and now that I'm slowly getting my life back, I think I might actually be able to post more. Oh... and we're going to have a new discussion board soon. Bill will link to it on the front page, probably next week. It's going to be a very cool place to come and discuss stuff this with us.

Anyway, I'll be back soon with another handful of assorted tricks and treats.

Keep spinning those discs!

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com


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