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Rob Hunter loves movies.  He also loves working as a TV producer who sets up friends and strangers alike on blind dates with unwitting actresses. 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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Buy from AmazonAudition: Collector’s Edition

Pitch: Shows why celibacy is better than risking a blind date

Why Buy? Not only is this slowburn creepfest one of Takashi Miike’s best films, it’s also his most restrained and mature work to date. Understand though that “restrained” in Miike’s world still allows plenty of room for psychos, fever dreams, and poor souls tied up in in burlap sacks.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Commentary, featurette

Buy from AmazonThe Children

Pitch: When good children go bad all hell breaks loose

Why Buy? This was one of two films at this year’s Fantastic Fest that I demanded all FSR writers on-hand go see. They all went, and they all really enjoyed it. Creepy, suspenseful, and beautifully shot, this is one of the best ‘killer kid’ movies in quite some time. The ending’s pretty damn sweet too.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Deleted scenes, featurettes

Buy from AmazonNot Quite Hollywood

Pitch: A behind the scenes peek into the mad, mad world of Australian filmmaking

Why Buy? This documentary looks at Aussie filmmaking at the height of it’s creative output and is divided into three categories… horror, sex, and action. All three are filled with crazy-ass scenes that you’ll be wanting to see more of almost immediately, so do yourself a favor and watch this one with a pen and paper handy so you can find these titles later on Netflix. This is also awesome as background fun during a party… people will be entertained and fascinated by what they’re seeing onscreen.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes, tons of trailers

Buy from AmazonTrick ‘r Treat

Pitch: Everything you’ve heard is true, this is the best horror anthology since Creepshow

Why Buy? Equal parts eerie, cool, creepy, and darkly humorous, this flick is fun from start to finish. Buy it so WB sees how much they could have made if they had released it into theaters… and also because it’s a damn fine film you’ll want to watch more than once. (If you’re a Blu-ray owner then you’ll want to pick up the HD version. Not only is the picture sharper, but the extras are a lot more impressive as well.)

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Featurette (Blu-ray features include commentary, deleted scenes, and more)

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Buy from AmazonAlly McBeal: The Complete First Season

Pitch: The first and best season of the show responsible for that stupid dancing baby

Why Rent? This David Kelly show isn’t as fondly remembered today as it should be because people forget it actually started out pretty good. Calista Flockhart was the perfect pug-nosed pixie for the title role, the writing was sharp, and the fantasy bits were creative and inspired.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? None

Buy from AmazonAnvil: The Story of Anvil

Pitch: The most famous heavy metal band you’ve never heard of

Why Rent? An alternately sweet and sad doc about the band that time forgot and Canadian-style persistence. It’s not my particular melodic cup of tea, but this is worth watching for Lips’ antics, emotions, and goofy smile when something finally goes the bands’ way.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Deleted scenes, commentary, interview

Buy from AmazonThe Assassination of a High School President

Pitch: “An intelligent, sexy high school movie.”

Why Rent? Who wants to see a less dramatic and more traditionally funny version of the masterful Brick?  Okay, all three of you should go rent this movie. Don’t tell Miller this but it’s a bit of a stretch to call this ‘intelligent’ or ‘sexy’ (although it does take place in high school), so instead you should watch it for the very funny Bruce Willis.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Commentary, deleted scenes, cover quote from Neil Miller

Buy from AmazonBones: Season Four

Pitch: A show I’ve never watched gets a pass simply because Zooey Deschanel’s sister stars in it

Why Rent? That’s right, I’ve never watched this forensics-based crime show starring a Deschanel and an Angel. But I’ve heard good things…

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Deleted scenes, gag reel, featurettes

Buy from AmazonChinese Odyssey 2002

Pitch: Romantic comedy, Chinese new year style, with laughs, romance, mistaken identity, and two incredibly cute women

Why Rent? I’ve been a sucker for Faye Wong and Vicki Zhao since Chungking Express and Shaolin Soccer respectively. Luckily this light-hearted New Year’s movie has more going for it than just their pretty faces. There’s romance, comedy, action, and even some terribly misguided musical numbers (it’s not a perfect film…)

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? None

Buy from AmazonDark Country

Pitch: Thomas Jane and his new wife run over a pedestrian in the middle of nowhere and realize too late they should have kept on driving

Why Rent? This is almost a Rental purely for what could have been if Jane was able to follow through on his 3-D wishes for the film, but as it stands we’re left with a funny looking 2-D movie that doesn’t feel complete. Jane and Lauren German are both good (and she looks good) in this mildly interesting Twilight Zone retread. I’ll be curious to see what Jane can do as a director with more money.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Commentary, featurette

Buy from AmazonThe Gate: Monstrous Special Edition

Pitch: Stephen Dorff discovers zombies, hallucinations, and stop-motion demons living in his backyard

Why Rent? I just watched this movie again for the first time in over a decade, and it’s really not that great. It’s non-sensical, death is an empty threat, and all but one aspect of the special effects look less than mediocre. But that one aspect? Those little demon bastards still look damn good! The combination of stop-motion and dudes in suits works flawlessly. Plus you get a young Stephen Dorff before he unlearned his limited acting abilities.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Commentary, featurettes

Buy from AmazonMirageman

Pitch: An awkward Chilean becomes an amateur superhero whose special power is a flying scissor kick

Why Rent? The same team (both in front and behind the camera) just released Mandrill onto the film festival circuit to rave reviews. Catch up with them here in a lesser film but a fun film all the same. It’s pretty funny and the action courtesy of star Marko Zaror is solid.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? None

Buy from AmazonSee You After School

Pitch: A bullied teenager is challenged to a fight after school by the toughest kid in class and he tries everything he can to avoid it

Why Rent? Remember that awesome eighties movie called Three O’Clock High? About the kid who accidentally pisses off the school bully and then has until the end of the day before the bully plans on kicking his ass after school? It’s a funny and visually creative flick… that the Koreans have ripped off beautifully. To be fair, they’ve added quite a bit to their version to make it stand apart (including sex appeal).

Blu-ray?

Extra Features? None

Buy from AmazonThe Thaw

Pitch: Val Kilmer discovers the only way to make people care about the environment is to kill them

Why Rent? This is basically a mash-up of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and the “Ice” episode of The X-Files. Some poor CGI mars the otherwise good effects, the acting is fine, and the story is timely!

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Featurette

Buy from AmazonYear One

Pitch: Michael Cera plays straight man to Jack Black’s buffoon through the beginning of recorded history

Why Rent? This is a borderline Avoid for me, but as often happens with these types of movies the DVD extra features push in into Rental mode. It follows two cavemen who travel through the Bible, stars a ton of very funny people, and yet still manages to be less entertaining than Dudley Moore’s Wholly Moses! But the film’s occasional laugh and the disc’s gag reel make it worth a peek.

Blu-ray? Yes

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

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Buy from AmazonIt’s Alive

Pitch: A woman gives birth to a carnivorous baby ninja

Why Avoid? I have nothing against killer babies, but I just don’t find them all that threatening.  The aftermaths of this little guy’s outbursts are bloody and impressive, but we don’t get enough of him actually doing anything. He’s poorly done effects-wise when he is visible, and the actors around him do a pretty good job of acting with a straight face.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? None

Buy from AmazonMy Life In Ruins

Pitch: Nia Vardelos discovers she has absolutely zero chemistry with Greek men

Why Avoid? Unless you’re one of the millions of women who loved Vardelos’ big Greek wedding it’s probably safe to suggest you avoid this romantic comedy stinker. And to be honest, even you wedding fans may want to skip this one too. It’s not nearly as entertaining as Mamma Mia which is saying something…

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Commentary, deleted scenes, featurette

Buy from AmazonOffspring

Pitch: A tribe of cannibalistic neanderthals goes grocery shopping in a small rural community

Why Avoid? Ugh. On the plus side the movie is pretty damn bloody and gory at times. On the downside is everything else… from the terrible acting, the horrible fight/action choreography, the inconsistent appearances of the cave people, the inane script, and the costumes bought on sale at Spencers Gifts.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Commentary, featurettes

Buy from AmazonSeventh Moon

Pitch: Amy Smart travels to China to continue her quest to have sex in public on every continent

Why Avoid? I like Smart, but this movie crawls along the corpse of her once promising career. Even the scene where she fornicates in front of a gaggle of Chinese is a boring one.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Commentary, featurettes

Buy from AmazonStaunton Hill

Pitch: Inbred hillbillies don’t take kindly to trespassers

Why Avoid? I know George Romero likes it, but unless the director is your son too I’d recommend avoiding this snooze fest. You’ve seen it all before and better.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? None

Read More: This Week in DVD

What are you buying on DVD this week?


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