Weekly Release Roundup
Note to self: I've got to get back on the ball. I've been in
recovery so long that I forgot how much fun it is to support/rag on
DVD. I missed a bunch of great stuff, but it's becoming clear that
it'll be next to impossible to catch up. That's why I decided not
to. Nope. I'm just going to pick up and keep moving forward. Sure, I
may go back and review a few titles that I missed here and there on
an individual basis, but for the time being, we're going to go back
and move forward.
With that in mind, here are the releases for this week, the one
before Halloween. These were the discs released 10/26/2004.
Oh, and thanks again for all of you who sent in your kind words and
supporting me through what turned out to be a very rough nine weeks.
China Syndrome: Special Edition
I've always loved this movie. I didn't always understand it,
considering the first few times I watched it, it was as a kid.
But I've always known good acting, writing and direction - even
if I didn't know it at the time. Chine
Syndrome has some of the best. A news crew with Jane
Fonda as the struggling female camera personality and Michael
Douglas as the struggling documentary
filmmaker-making-ends-meet-shooting-news cameraman stumble into
a potential nuclear meltdown of epic proportions halted by the
quick thinking of technician Jack Lemmon. What follows is a
eagle-eyed dissection of local news in the 70s and a frightening
it-could-happen nuclear scenario (and did a few weeks later in
real life on Three Mile Island). As I said, the acting,
characterizations and direction are stellar. It's a truly
brilliant film and even if the message is passé, it's
aged pretty well. This new DVD special edition brings the film
to us in anamorphic widescreen and looks really nice. Sound is a
and sounds just as good with a new DD 5.1 as well as the
original mono. The extras are pretty impressive. Instead of a
commentary we get a duo of documentaries produced by friend o'
the Bits, Laurent
Bouzereau. Overview, trivia and history are provided talking
head style, but it's the heads that make it worthwhile: Douglas
and Fonda, most notably. A handful of deleted scenes and cast
and filmmaker filmographies round out a good replacement disc
for the original release. I don't usually endorse the
replacement of prior releases, but this is one I think you
should think about.
of the Dead: Unrated Director's Cut
Hmmm. I dunno. Part of me likes this one. Part of me hates it.
The part of me that likes it thinks that it did a good job
making a scary zombie flick with good elements and paths that
differentiate it from the original classic film. The part of me
that hates it thinks that George Romero nailed it once and it
didn't need to be nailed again. The use of the title Dawn
of the Dead was worthless because the only element
that stayed the same is the mall, and in the first 7 minutes we
see the WGON traffic helicopter fly by marking for fans that
this story possibly takes place in the same universe, just in a
different mall. I'm pretty torn, but if you're not invested in
the original, then you'll probably have a fun time. The zombie
effects are great, the acting is pretty good, the characters are
fun and aside from the zombies being able to run, most of the
film honors the original trilogy well enough. This DVD presents
the film with a few more minutes of gore and a few snippets of
scene work expanding the characters. It looks and sound great on
DVD and there are a mall-sized group of extras to pour over.
Exclusive to the Unrated edition you'll get a fun look at some
of the gore in the film like exploding heads and the like.
There's also a look at the make-up used. Both versions feature a
silly video Andy the gun shop guy made, giving the character
some depth. Doesn't work. There's also a collection of all the
new footage some deleted scenes and commentary by director Zack
Snyder and producer Eric Newman sounding like fanboys in love
with the film, the choices made and themselves. Dawn
of the Dead isn't a bad film, but it's not as great
as the original. But again, if you're just looking for gore and
zombie death action, pick it up. You'll also find a rated
theatrical cut in stores. But why?
Deadly Spawn: Special Edition
Weeeeeeeeeeeee! Here's one I never thought would ever, EVER, be
on DVD. I remember seeing this film as a kid. It was in one of
those big ass video boxes like Faces
of Death was in. All the pictures on the back made
the film look sick as hell. As it turned out, the film is a low
budget labor of love. There's not much too it really. An alien
seed crashes on earth, eats humans, crawls into the basement of
another set of humans and eats them. Horror film fan kid comes
to the rescue and saves the day. The monster effects are really
sweet, but the production value is very low. Synapse does a
remarkable job bringing this one to our TV screens. It's a
1.33:1 presentation from the original 16mm negatives and looks
gorgeous. Sound is standard mono. Extras include gallery of
photos chronicling all aspects of the film, including its NYC
premiere, a comic-book styled prequel, the trailer, outtake reel
(with no sound) and cast and crew biographies. You'll also find
two commentaries, one with pretty much everyone but
producer/co-writer Ted A. Bohus and one with, yes, you guessed
it, Ted A. Bohus. If you love low grade schlock, you'll want to
pick this one up.
Chicks: Unrated & Uncut
I didn't see this one in the theaters, so I can't tell you
what's new and improved (if at all). I personally didn't find
the film very fun (my wife did). I actually found the make-up
effects scarier than those in Dawn of
the Dead. Shawn and Marlon play two FBI agents who
are given a shit assignment to watch over a Hiltonesque sister
set as they hang out in the poshest of beach towns while someone
tries to do them harm. Of course, the girls have a hiccup and
don't go, so the Wayons Bros. go in disguise as them and
hilarity ensues. Now they have to find out wants to hurt the
sisters while keeping the FBI off the trail. It's Some
Like It Hot with special effect make-up. Not as funny
as it sounds, I say. But maybe you'll disagree. There are two
versions, an Unrated/Uncut and a PG-13 Version. I have the Uncut
and it looks and sounds great on DVD. It's anamorphic and DD
5.1, so no complaints. Extras include an informative and funny
commentary with the Bros. and their big brother Keenan who
directed, a making-of featurette, a look at the Bros. creative
process and a look at the make-up effects. Creepy.
on DVD this week:
Jump Street: The Complete First Season
Both Fox and Johnny Depp owe their worlds to this little show
that could, and I actually liked it when it first came out, and
like it now. A team of young cops go undercover as high
schoolers trying to root out drugs and violence. It's a can't go
wrong story-line. This four-disc DVD set presents the show well
enough. Full frame and stereo. Extras include a liner booklet,
commentary by Peter "Penhall" DeLuise on one episode
and a gaggle of interview (none with Depp) on Disc Four. If you
know nothing of this show, do yourself a favor and check it out.
It's a lot of fun.
TV on DVD: The telefilm:
A show I never watched but hear I should:
O.C.: The Complete First Season. A new TV version of
A fun and funny show that has seen better days, and here they are:
'70s Show: Season One. The two best reality shows on TV:
La Bam: The Complete First Season and
The Complete First Season.
Also available this week: If you like chicks with guns in bikinis
killing the same guy over and over again, then check out
Bandits: Briefs, Shorts & Panties. One of my favorite
comedians gets his due on DVD:
Hicks: Live. A fascinating documentary you should check
Room. And a fascinating mockumentary from director Peter
Silver. A Jackass
makes good on a promise:
Theft Parsons. Classic horror cheese:
Birthday to Me. Proving that genius has hiccups too: Barry
Hollywood. One of my favorite modern era Disney films:
Special Edition. Creepy Japanese horror starring Chiaki "Gogo"
My absolute favorite John Carpenter film:
Thing: Collector's Edition (now in anamorphic widescreen).
Takasji Miike is hitting it big on DVD this year. Here's another
entry in your library:
Collar Worker Kintaro. Look for the anime it's based on
DVD later next year. And who could forget a new entry from the
Fantoma kids saluting one of their favorite director focuses: Rainer
Does Herr R. Run Amok?
That'll do it for this week.
I'll be back next week with another round-up. I promise. I'm back
in the saddle again.
Remember to vote next week. Or not. Suit yourself.