Join us each week as Rob Hunter 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.
And remember, these listings and category placements are meant as informational conversation starters only. But you can still tell Hunter how wrong he is in the comment section below. This week sees two titles worth buying that couldn’t be more different… DisneyNature: Oceans and the goofy and gory Japanese flick Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl. There are also several DVDs worth renting or avoiding all together including Assault Of the Sasquatch, Giallo, Predators, Please Give, Forbidden Lies, and more. Oh, and don’t miss the feel good release of the year in our first installment of “WTF Of the Week”… Forgive Me For Raping You.
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 for reviews on the latest high definition Blu-ray releases!
Pitch: Discovery Channel better watch their back because there’s a big, new player in the epic nature documentary game…
Why Buy? Pierce Brosnan narrates this beautiful and amazing look at the world’s oceans and the lives they contain. The images are often breathtaking in their power and intricacy… one shot that transitions from a star-filled sky to a drop of water filled with sea urchin larva is particularly inspired. Docs like these may seem like old-hat thanks to some brilliant releases from Discovery/BBC in the past several years, but when done right each new one is like a fantastic reintroduction to the incredible world we live in. There are too many great scenes to single out, but some of the best include the spider crabs, the blanket octopus, and the walrus mother holding her little one in the water like any human parent would. And as an odd bonus several of the scenes at the ocean floor almost feel like a Jim Henson production.
Extra Features? Featurettes
Pitch: Reminds me of my own high school years when girls fought to the death to see who would get to lay with me…
Why Buy? Two girls feud over the love of a boy, but unlike most high school dramas these girls are more than simply mean. They’re deadly. One is a vampire, the other an undead mishmash of other girls’ body parts, and together they decimate a good portion of their class in a shower of arterial sprays. And lest you think the film is without depth check out its mix of social commentary and black humor evident in the competitive wrist slashing and girls who emulate African Americans… complete with black face and artificial lips. Yeah, subtle this film is not. But entertaining as hell it most surely is.
Extra Features? Making of, featurette, trailer
Pitch: It’s a Bigfoot movie. With the frumpiest damn Sasquatch you’ve ever seen…
Why Rent? A poacher captures a giant, hairy beast right before he’s arrested and his truck is impounded for the night. In a nod to John Carpenter’s classic siege film the partially staffed police station is about to come under attack from a pissed off Sasquatch out for blood. There really aren’t enough horror movies about Bigfoot, and while I’m a huge fan of Abominable it’s a fairly sad state of affairs when that’s the best the mini-genre has to offer. This flick aims to go toe to toe with the reigning champion, but some supposed comic relief in the form of two recurring internet nerds (Don & Murphy), some unfortunate CGI, and a Bigfoot that looks like a retired Santa Claus impersonator continually drags it down. Those problems aside the movie is good fun with some legitimately entertaining kills and dialogue.
Extra Features? Commentary, bloopers, music video, trailers, featurette
Pitch: You have to wonder what Col. Steve Austin would have demanded had Jamie Sommers’ vagina been injured in the fall too…
Why Rent? Sommers is Austin’s former fling, and when she has a skydiving accident he finagles her entry into Oscar Goldman’s top secret bionics program. Her first few appearances were on The Six Million Dollar Man, but that developed into her own series and her own adventures. The recent remake added a bit more depth than you’ll find here, but Lindsay Wagner and Lee Majors carry their own pre-80’s appeal. Nothing here gets as zany and awesome as Austin’s battle against Bigfoot of course…
Extra Features? Five crossover episodes from The Six Million Dollar Man, gag reel, featurette, photo gallery
Pitch: “When you take a true story and you’re changing all the characters, dates, locations, characterizations, blah blah blah, then what do you got? You’ve got faction…”
Why Rent? Tales of literary fraud seem to be a common occurrence these days, and while the most well known is probably James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces, one of the most interesting is Norma Khouri’s account of a Jordanian honor killing in the bestseller, Forbidden Love. Khouri is a part of this new doc which sets up her book and its success only to see it fall apart as reports of falsified data become public. She dances a delicate defense of lies, half-truths, and flat out craziness in a bid to stay relevant and trusted, and the resulting film is absolutely fascinating. Con-woman or misunderstood author? No matter which side you fall on the real crime here is the turning of the spotlight away from honor killings.
Extra Features? Commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes, interviews
Pitch: Director Dolph Lundgren shoots damn good action, but he’s utterly incapable of filming a worthwhile sex scene…
Why Rent? Lundgren plays a KGB assassin who finds himself the target of his own people, so he does exactly what you’d expect. He kills everybody. There’s nothing surprising here, and fans of the star or of action films from the nineties will know exactly what to expect. If nothing else, Lundgren deserves major kudos for sticking with traditional blood squibs instead of succumbing to the pull of CGI splatter.
Extra Features? Making of, trailer
Pitch: Mirror, mirror, on the wall, a harmless sequel comes out this Fall…
Why Rent? Nick Stahl stars as a troubled young man who takes a job as a security guard at a new department store just as the employees start dying horrible deaths. He begins to see strange things in the mirrors and tries to understand the connection between these recent deaths and an employee who went missing a couple months prior. Spooky! Okay, not so spooky after all because mirrors just aren’t scary. Seeing someone’s reflection move in contrast to the actual person’s motion was cool the first twenty times it happened, but it isn’t anymore. That over-used shtick aside the movie is a fairly generic, ghostly revenge tale that fairs a little better than expected. On the plus side it has some pretty gory effects and a naked lady in the shower with some fairly impressive breastesses.
Extra Features? Featurettes, deleted scenes, Into the Mirror Korean film
Pitch: Edward Furlong as you’ve never seen him before. Frumpy, tired, and showing a bit of acting skill…
Why Rent? A Halloween party gets out of control and is broken up by the police. And by some demons! Crazy! Yeah, it’s a pretty straight forward remake of the eighties horror classic flick. Shannon Elizabeth, who despite star billing is actually in less than fifteen minutes of the film, stars alongside a cute Monica Keena, a sexy Diora Baird, and an extremely haggard looking Furlong. Some good gore, a little bit of sex, and some legitimately funny dialogue make this an entertaining romp down horror memory lane. I was expecting more in the sex and gore departments, but for an R-rated flick it’s pretty solid.
Extra Features? Commentary, behind the scenes, featurette
Pitch: Seldom have such terribly selfish people been this entertaining…
Why Rent? A couple (Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt) who make a living in NYC reselling dead people’s furniture at a substantial markup buys their neighbor’s apartment with plans to remodel when the current owner dies. The old lady has two grown grand-daughters (Rebecca Hall, Amanda Peet) who differ in their feelings for her, and soon these five adults (and the couple’s teen daughter) are discovering how complicated life can be when you start seeing yourself and others as more than just surface details. Fantastic acting, sharp writing, and a fairly poignant point to it all make this one of the year’s best under-the-radar films.
Extra Features? Outtakes, behind the scenes, Q&A
Pitch: Sadly, Chris Hansen does not appear anywhere in this film…
Why Rent? A group of violent humans are plucked from their daily life and dropped onto a hostile, alien planet as prey. Robert Rodriguez produced this return to the Predator franchise, and it succeeds as a fun adventure even if it comes nowhere near the entertainment value found in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s original. Adrien Brody stars as one of the mercenaries attempting to survive alongside Danny Trejo, Topher Grace, and others. The screenplay tries to mix things up a bit with a fairly predictable twist, and while that fails miserably the Predator action in general is pretty solid.
Extra Features? Commentary, featurette, motion comic
Pitch: “You people are the worst fucking bereaved I’ve ever seen…”
Why Rent? The secret to a fairly good Tim Allen movie? Limiting his screen-time to less than a quarter of the film apparently. (Galaxy Quest being the sole exception obviously.) This comedy/drama finds a young woman (Elisha Cuthbert) returning to her hometown for her father’s (Tim Allen) funeral. Things spiral out of control though as his his multiple wives clash over memories, arrangements, and who he loved most. It’s lightweight, but if you’re a fan of Cuthbert, Allen, Andie MacDowell, Jenna Elfman, Paz Vega, S. Epatha Merkerson, Larry Miller, Eric Christian Olsen, or Edward Herrmann then it’s worth a watch.
Extra Features? None
Pitch: “I don’t think she knew it was me. That’s why she smiled a little…”
Why Rent? Ron Galella has been a paparazzo for decades, and this doc takes a look at that life and his professional obsession with Jackie Kennedy Onassis. His career is mapped from beginning to end including an altercation with Marlon Brando, his efforts to push his books onto various celebrities, and his loss in court against a rightfully perturbed Jackie O. Galella is an interesting guy and represents the origin of modern day paparazzi. He has millions of photos in his possession in thousands of boxes… including one labeled “Pia Zadora.” So that should show you how dedicated he is to his job.
Extra Features? Commentary, deleted scenes, photo gallery
Pitch: Somewhere between Tales From the Crypt and Monsters sits this hit-or-miss anthology show…
Why Rent? Like all anthology shows, from Twilight Zone to Amazing Stories, some of the episodes here are great, some are crap, and the vast majority will leave you feeling indifferent. This final season features tales from some very recognizable writers including Stephen King, Clive Barker, Robert Bloch, and more. Stories run the gamut between horror, thriller, and dark humor, and it’s definitely worth a rent for fans of the genre.
Extra Features? Bonus episodes
Pitch: Three very attractive Japanese ladies dressed in form-fitting leather and carrying big guns? Sold…
Why Avoid? Four players in a futuristic world enter into a virtual combat game called Avalon featuring an omniscient overseer who narrates and speaks to the players about their points and standing in the game. And that’s it. The four of them try in vain to defeat the current level’s giant sandworms and eventually decide to join forces. And that’s it. The movie looks pretty cool with its three lead ladies, strong visuals, and impressive CGI work, but the images are all in the service of an empty narrative. There’s more story in the introductory narration than in the entirety of the film. Rinko Kikuchi (The Brothers Bloom) is the only recognizable face, but even she can’t turn this into anything more than a series of pretty pictures.
Extra Features? Trailer
Pitch: The best Dario Argento film in two decades! Which means absolutely nothing…
Why Avoid? A NYC detective (Adrien Brody) working in Italy is on the hunt for a serial killer who takes pretty women and disfigures them with knives, acid, hammers, and more. He pairs up with a woman (Emmanuelle Seigner) whose sister has gone missing, and the two of them work together to catch the big nosed killer with the perm. There are several reasons to feel indifferent towards this flick, but the one that bugged me most? No one seems to realize that when your wrists are tied together and your feet are tied together… nothing is stopping you from untying your feet. Stop screaming. Sit up. Untie your goddamn feet. That trivial factor aside the movie is fairly silly, the killer is ridiculous in every way, Brody should not play detectives, and Seigner looks extremely tired. The only reason to see this movie is the fact that Brody is suing to prevent its release…
Extra Features? None
Pitch: A Kevin Smith fan and a Quentin Tarantino fan walk into a bar. Then they drunk dial a friend and dictate this amateurish screenplay…
Why Avoid? A young couple gets caught up in a jewelry store heist that quickly spirals into a feud between gangsters, hitmen, and brothers carrying bags of dirty laundry. There’s so much wrong with this flick that I’m going to start instead with what works… the two brothers are actually funny (and actually deserve their own film) and there are some good songs on the soundtrack. That’s it. The acting is flat from Jason Mewes on down, and cameos from Fred Williamson, Taylor Negron, and Danny Trejo don’t help. The script is nonsensical, the direction is garbled, and the love story at the core is unbelievable.
Extra Features? Featurettes, interviews, photo gallery
Forgive Me For Raping You
WTF? As with all future WTF selections, this title has been chosen sight unseen based solely on the title and/or cover art. This particular future classic will remain unseen by my eyes for obvious reasons, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate its sincere and hilarious title does it?
The “plot” is about a priest who runs around kidnapping, degrading, assaulting, and then killing women.
That’s it really, and beyond the factual error in suggesting Catholic priests are aroused by adult women there’s little else to say about the appeal of ridiculous shit like this besides WTF?
In the interest of full disclosure, I received review copies of the following DVDs for this week’s column:
Assault Of the Sasquatch
The Bionic Woman: Season One
Disney Nature: Oceans
Night Of the Demons
Shoot the Hero
The Six Wives Of Henry Lefay
Smash His Camera
Tales From the Darkside: The Final Season
Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show and review material was unavailable:
Accidentally On Purpose: The First Season
Bikini Bloodbath Christmas
Until the Light Takes Us
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?