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Rob Hunter loves movies.  He also loves fighting off rampaging arachnids with nothing more than a well placed verbal emphasis. These two joys come together in the form of cash money payments that he receives every week and immediately uses to buy more DVDs. So join us each week as he takes a look at new DVD releases and gives his highly unqualified opinion as to which titles are worth BUYing, which are better off as RENTals, and which should be AVOIDed at all costs.

Click on any of the titles below to magically head over to Amazon.com and pick up the DVD.  And don’t forget to check out Neil Miller’s hilariously titled This Week In Blu-ray column for reviews on the latest high definition Blu-ray releases!

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Kingdom of the Spiders

Pitch: “Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuug!” Yeah, I know, but both ‘spider’ and ‘tarantula’ had too many syllables…

Why Buy? Shatner facing off against hundreds of tarantulas… what’s not to love here people? Shout! Factory continues their trend of awesome DVD releases with some nice extras, but the biggest bonus here is getting the film in it’s true widescreen ratio for the first time outside of its original theatrical run.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Commentary, featurettes

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Across the Hall

Pitch: Brittany Murphy finds her life in danger while spending the night in a hotel. And no, it doesn’t involve ghosts…

Why Rent? In the world of Murphy’s direct-to-dvd (yes I know this had a very limited theatrical release, but let’s be serious) catalog you can do worse than this little thriller set exclusively in an old and odd hotel. Director Alex Merkin (ooh, poor guy) does a good job injecting the movie with style and a bit of mystery, but the pacing lags a bit too much at times and the mystery is revealed to be far from mysterious by the film’s end. Still worth checking out for fans of Murphy.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? None

Blood Creek

Pitch: Nazi zombies leave the mountains of Norway behind and head to backwoods America…

Why Rent? Remember Joel Schumacher? He may not have ever been a highly acclaimed director but he was definitely a profitable one. The Lost Boys, Flatliners, Falling Down, A Time To Kill… then he dipped his nipples into the Batman franchise and he’s been sliding downhill ever since. This tight little horror flick got a token theatrical release before hitting DVD, and it’s worth a watch. Two brothers try to defeat a Nazi with occult-like powers who just won’t die, and while it’s pretty standard fare in many ways the CGI scene during a horse attack is pretty cool.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Commentary

Death in Love

Pitch: The first seven minutes of this movie are more honest and sexy than most other full movies…

Why Rent? Seriously, the opening monologue by Josh Lucas is brilliant, incisive, and cutting commentary, and it’s immediately followed by the beautiful, talented, and fully naked Morena Baccarin (Firefly, Serenity, V). The story about a forty year-old questioning his life and lifestyle is an impressive piece of work from the director of Remember the Titans and Uptown Girls. It’s reminiscent (but not as consistent) of Mike Nichols’ Closer in the way it dissects men, women, and the relationship between them. This may have been a Buy for me if it weren’t for the ending.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Commentary, featurettes

Defying Gravity: The Complete First Season

Pitch: An intriguing, interesting, fascinating, and well-acted show gets canceled. Surprise…

Why Rent? I’m not ashamed to admit I’d never heard of this show before seeing the DVD, but now I’m hooked and pissed that I won’t be seeing a second season. It was apparently advertised as “Grey’s Anatomy in outer space” which may explain why I blocked it from my mind, but it’s actually a lot smarter and filled with more identifiable characters than that hospital melodrama. Ron Livingston leads a cast of faces both recognizable and unknown on a mysterious mission through space, and it trades the typical battles and alien invaders for serious questions and dramas about humanity, guilt, and wonder. If you feel like taking a chance then I’d even suggest buying it for two reasons… one, it’s a great show. And two, it just may send a message that an audience exists for smart and entertaining television.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? None

The Invention of Lying

Pitch: White lies lead to bigger lies which lead to God. Who knew…

Why Rent? Even though it borrows a central conceit from James Morrow’s superior novella (“City of Truth”), this light-weight comedy from Ricky Gervais still manages a few original laughs. Gervais plays a loser in a world where only the truth can be spoke until a forgotten synapse fires in his brain and he tells the first lie. And where does that lead? To religion of course! That’s the movie’s one purely brilliant stroke, but it fails to capitalize on the idea and instead becomes a more traditional romantic comedy.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Deleted scenes, outtakes, featurettes

The Keeper

Pitch: “Nikki’s out there in all kinds of jeopardy right now, and you in here fuckin around with some stanky hoe…”

Why Rent? I won’t pretend this straight-to-dvd Steven Seagal flick is anything truly special, but unlike a lot of the guy’s output over the past decade this one’s actually somewhat entertaining. The story which crosses The Bodyguard with Man on Fire is standard fare, but a recently slimmed-down (relatively speaking) Seagal is back to being a believable fighter again after years of his wandering portly Indian shtick. Solid fisticuffs, bloody gunplay, and a ginormous pair of fake Mexican hooters complete the package.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? None

Outrage

Pitch: Hypocrisy in government? Is this a documentary or a fantasy film…

Why Rent? But seriously, no one should be surprised by the revelations and accusations in Kirby Dick’s latest doc. The same guy who showed us the dirty secrets behind the MPAA this time points his investigative lens at closeted Republicans who work to suppress gay rights. Snarky, revealing, and ultimately depressing, this is both entertaining and educational filmmaking.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Commentary, deleted scenes, featurette

Pandorum

Pitch: In space, no one can hear you scream while cannibalistic creatures tear your flesh apart…

Why Rent? Two astronauts (Ben Foster and Dennis Quaid) awake on a spaceship after a night of partying with no memory of where they are or how they got there. (Space ruffies!) The first half of the movie works really well with its combination of mystery and claustrophobia, but the second part devolves into a standard monster chase. Still a fun movie though, so check it out!

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes

Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassins Ball

Pitch: It’s the even more ridiculous sequel to an already ridiculous original…

Why Rent? The first movie is no classic, but it managed to be a bit of crazy, over the top fun. This straight-to-dvd sequel finds the star wattage turned way down low but tries to keep the manic nature of its predecessor. It’s far less entertaining, and to be honest is a borderline Avoid for me thanks to some intentionally cheap green-screen work and digital effects… but the very last seconds before the screen crawl makes it all worthwhile.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Commentary, deleted scenes, gag reel, featurettes

Spirits of the Fall

Pitch: This is the power of marketing done right…

Why Rent? I haven’t seen this movie. I haven’t even seen a trailer. So why am I recommending it as a rental? Because the cover art is awesomely creepy. Period. Hopefully the movie is even have as good.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Commentary, featurettes

dvd-section-avoid

Gamer

Pitch: It’s The Running Man without brains. And yes, I know what I just said there…

Why Avoid? I’m not a fan of anything Neveldine and Taylor have done yet (aside from Pathology which they only wrote), but if you are then odds are you’ll also enjoy this stinker. Love it or hate it, the hand-held camera style of Saving Private Ryan and the Bourne movies can be done right and it can be done wrong. This is how you do it wrong. No spatial awareness, no focus, no sense of what the hell you’re seeing… add to that a terribly conceived script, the grunting slur of Gerard Butler, and the over-acting of (the normally great) Michael C Hall, and you have a DVD I wouldn’t even rest my beverage upon.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Commentary, featurettes

Whiteout

Pitch: Kate Beckinsale takes a shower in the first few minutes. Something else probably happens after that…

Why Avoid? I wanted to like this one because everyone else seemed so set against it… but it’s as bad as they all said. A silly and convoluted mystery sits at the heart of this turd, but my biggest issue has to do with Beckinsale’s US Marshall. She’s the least effective law enforcement officer since Sheriff Rosco Coltrane. Can’t use her gun worth a damn. Doesn’t know how to enter or search a suspicious area. Can barely defend herself against any threat. Is a terrible judge of character. Just watch the PG-rated shower scene on a loop for ninety minutes and it’ll be a lot more entertaining.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Deleted scenes

Also out this week, but not seen in advance by my own three eyes: According to Greta, Che (Criterion), No Impact Man, Weeds: Season Five

Read More: This Week in DVD

What are you buying on DVD this week?


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