Rob Hunter loves movies. He also loves standing in line at the unemployment office. 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!
Nothing new worth buying this week! Instead, I’ll be renting a bunch and saving my $$ for next week when I pick up Night of the Creeps, The Prisoner: The Complete Series, and Criterion’s release of Z.
Pitch: Disturbia meets Paranormal Activity…
Why Rent? Famke Jansenn kills her mean bastard of a husband, and ends up under house arrest… with the mean bastard ghost of her husband. The film is written and directed by Eric Red which means it automatically warrants a viewing. Sure he’s had more than a few duds in his career, but he’s also the man behind flicks like The Hitcher, Near Dark, and Robert Fure’s favorite werewolf movie, Bad Moon. Here he creates a serviceable haunted house movie worth ninety minutes of your time for fans of the genre.
Extra Features? None
Pitch: Rowan Atkinson spreads laughs, wordplay, and innuendo throughout British history…
Why Rent? I had never seen an episode of “The Black Adder” before checking out the BBC’s new DVD release of the complete series, and I’m happy to say the show’s pretty funny. Established fans will definitely want to pick up this set as in addition to the complete series there’s also multiple specials, features, and commentaries filling six discs.
Extra Features? Featurettes, commentaries
Pitch: A Japanese schoolgirl is actually a thousand year-old vampire hunter. She’s also half vampire herself…
Why Rent? This flick got dumped on a bit during its limited release this past summer, and it really doesn’t deserve it. The girl’s cute, the effects are good as often as they’re bad, the fight choreography is passable, and the girl’s cute. Yes, she’s worth mentioning twice. Ji-hyun Jun also starred in My Sassy Girl and does a solid job with her multiple action scenes. The screenplay sucks and the acting’s even worse, but did I mention the girl’s cute?
Extra Features? Featurettes
Pitch: A retired courtesan begins an affair with a younger man named Cheri. Insert popping jokes here…
Why Rent? I’m not normally a fan of period dramas, but this film has a few things going for it. One, Stephen Frears also made High Fidelity so I’ll watch anything he directs at least once. Two, the characters here display some incredibly entertaining bouts of cruelty. And three, Michelle Pfeiffer (who I’ve never forgiven for breaking poor Fisher Stevens’ heart) gives a very strong performance as a woman past her prime. It’s not Frears’ best work (not even close), but it’s a worthwhile watch all the same.
Extra Features? Deleted scenes, featurette
Pitch: A gangster and his pals plan a heist that he hopes will be his last. Yeah, good luck with that…
Why Rent? This is an odd little crime flick. There’s the usual gang of thugs in search of the perfect heist, various twists and violent misfortunes, and of course every other line of dialogue includes “fook you” and “for fook’s sake”… but then there’s the wives having a lesbian affair, the two gangsters with a penchant for forcing doped-up street urchins to wet their willies before beating them half to death, the giant lug who’s also a chubby-chaser and has an accident involving a glass table and a rather large woman’s poop chute… you get the idea. Odd little crime flick.
Extra Features? Deleted scenes, commentary, featurettes
Pitch: Garry Shandling talks to the audience in a groundbreaking show that nobody watched because it was on Showtime…
Why Rent? I kid, although Showtime’s audience in the 80s was pretty limited. More folks remember Shandling from “The Larry Sanders Show” which was also pretty damn funny at times. Here he plays in a more self-aware version of The Truman Show as his entire life is captured for a TV show. He talks with the audience, interacts with the set and crew, and rarely complains. It’s a funny show, and at the very least Shandling’s hair is always worth watching.
Extra Features? Commentaries, featurettes, outtakes
Pitch: It’s Father of the Bride and Rachel Getting Married, but Indian style (and better)…
Why Rent? Criterion’s presentation of the film is beautiful as to be expected, but even more precious and visually stunning is the film itself. Director Mira Mair’s look at the players within and about a big Indian wedding is at times sweet, funny, and troubling, but it’s always pretty and interesting. Fans of the film and of Indian cinema will want to pick up this definitive edition, and the rest of you should give it and Nair a chance to dazzle you with heart, color, and dance.
Extra Features? Commentary, featurettes, Nair’s short films
Pitch: The best assassins in the world compete for a giant cash prize, a trophy, and bragging rights…
Why Rent? … although there really isn’t anybody left to brag to once the contest is over. If you enjoy action films then this movie deserves your attention. May not be the smartest flick out there, but the level of fisticuffs, gunplay, and utter mayhem is pretty impressive and loads of bloody fun. And Kelly Hu looks good kicking a large degree of ass. See my full review elsewhere on the site, but again, if you like action movies you owe it to yourself to check out this flick.
Extra Features? None
Pitch: A mixed bag from shlockmaster and master showman William Castle…
Why Rent? I’m making this a rent for two reasons. First, the films included vary in quality and the features aren’t really anything new. Second, the price tag is as crazy as Joan Crawford in Strait-Jacket (included here!) especially when most of these flicks can be picked up individually on the cheap. The Tingler, 13 Ghosts, and Straight-Jacket are probably the best of the bunch here, although the documentary “Spine Tingler!: The William Castle Story” is fun viewing too.
Extra Features? Featurettes, deleted scenes
Pitch: Amy Smart falls for her dance partner. This doesn’t sit well with her fiance Billy Zane…
Why Avoid? And that actually would have made this movie more interesting… if Zane became enraged and went all Billy Zane on the dance floor. Alas, that never happens and instead we’re left with numerous dance numbers and some sloppy romantic drama.
Extra Features? Commentary, dance lesson
Pitch: I’ve said all I need to say about this movie here.
Why Avoid? And much like with Drag Me To Hell‘s placement last week I expect a few more comments from folks who’ll “never be taking FSR’s movie advice again!”
Extra Features? Commentary where you get to hear Bay scream “Awesome!” and “I made it go boom!”, featurettes, extended scenes; Blu-ray includes additional featurettes
Pitch: We lucked out with Wrong Turn 2, and lightning won’t be striking twice here folks…
Why Avoid? I enjoyed Eliza’s Dushku in the first Wrong Turn and its direct-to-DVD sequel was also surprisingly fun for the gory excesses and creepy backwoods mutant action, but this third film in the series is utter shit. Of course it’s poorly written and acted, but you can’t even get excited by the gore… in a series known for sweet practical effects, this one accomplishes most of its money shots with poorly done CGI. And if you’re hoping for cool mutants you’re out of luck too. It’s one goddamn mutant causing all the mayhem, and he’s a skinny-ass fool who doesn’t look the least bit threatening.
Extra Features? Deleted scenes, featurette
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?