Issue September 19, 2006

Video Tapeworm: Releases through Tuesday, Sept. 26

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:
DRACULA
1931; DVD $26.95, R
For those keeping score, this is the third DVD packaging of the classic Bela Lugosi original. The second version was pretty good, with both the English, and longer — and better made! — Spanish versions, tons of bonus features plus a totally unnecessary and intrusive score by the abominable Philip Glass and his Kronos Quartet. This new 75th Anniversary Edition adds a very good biodoc on Lugosi and some clever box art. Not a good choice for collectors and Lugosi followers who no doubt already own a favorite version, but it would make a killer Halloween gift.

FRANKENSTEIN
1931; DVD $26.95, UR
For our money, the Legacy Collection that Universal Studios released in 2004 (with those cool mini-sculpture-heads) contained the perfect Boris Karloff version. But in honor of the film’s 75th anniversary, they’ve added yet another featurette/commentary track and dramatic new box art. If you don’t already own a copy (don’t raise your hands, we don’t wanna know ya), this is a good choice, or you can wait for the inevitable HD version sure to be out within the next year.


A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
1984; DVD $26.95, R
Freddy Krueger’s original Ginsu-enhanced nightmare, now in a two-disc Special Edition set done in the innovative “Infinifilm” system, allowing you to access commentary, featurettes and behind-the-scenes footage while watching the film. Pure bliss for movie geeks.

 

BEOWULF & GRENDEL
2006; DVD $29.95, R
For the literary-deprived, “Beowulf” is one of the most acclaimed stories in all of English literature, an epic, 12-century-old Anglo-Saxon poem about a noble knight and a hulking, bloodthirsty, man-eating troll with a grudge against the king. Oddly, this is the first serious film treatment of the Norse legend, and it somehow fell to Gerard Butler (“The Phantom of the Opera”) to play the brave but beleaguered warrior, plus Stellan Skarsgard and Sarah Polley. Wonderfully bloody and romantic, it’s a shame that the filmmakers didn’t have a budget to match their medieval ambitions, but this is still gangs of fun. Worth checking out.

CURIOUS GEORGE
2006; VHS $29.95/DVD $29.95, G
Cartoon treatment of the innocent children’s books with voice work by Will Ferrell, Drew Barrymore, Eugene Levy, Dick Van Dyke and others. We especially liked the “Drawn to George” featurette that shows kids how to draw their own cartoons.

EATEN ALIVE
1976; DVD $19.95, UR
A Special Edition re-release of this early work by Tobe Hooper — well known to anyone with a bent for the macabre — about a horny homicidal hotel owner down in the bayous.

LADY VENGEANCE
2005; DVD $24.95, R
A wildly entertaining South Korean take on the “Kill Bill” genre that’s as good as anything Tarantino ever did. A pretty 19-year-old girl goes to prison to protect her boyfriend — only to discover that he’s a major rat! Using a combination of kindness and sexual favors, she turns the prison into her own private army of revenge.

MASTERS OF HORROR: IMPRINT
2006; DVD $16.95, UR
Takasghi Miike, creator of the infamous horror film “Audition,” holds the unique title of being the only director in this cable series whose work was deemed too horrifying for broadcast! Now available on DVD, Billy Drago goes to a Japanese brothel looking for a girl he’d known years before, but instead finds incest, murder and the most gruesome torture scene we’ve ever seen.

THE BLOODY CHILD
1996; DVD $29.95, UR
Want some REAL horror for Halloween? Nothing in our imaginations can be more horrible than the dehumanizing reality of war. This dizzying tale based on the true story of a young Marine, fresh from the Gulf War, who was found burying his murdered wife in the middle of the Mojave Desert, is disjointed, incomprehensible and mercifully short, but the impression of madness that it leaves in the mind of the viewer cannot be denied.

THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT
2006; DVD $29.95, PG-13
Not so much a “film” as an “event,” this teen-sizzle assault of hot stars, cool cars and late-night Japanese neon has everything that you could possibly pack into a film and still pass as PG-13. Keep your eyes open for cameos by Vin Diesel and the always amazing Sonny Chiba; and don’t skip those “making of” featurettes: the one where they try to teach the kids how to “drift” around turns without destroying the car is worth the price of the disc!

THE LAKE HOUSE
2006; DVD $28.95, PG
The less said about this hokey “Somewhere in Time”-inspired chicker-flicker the better. Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves carry on a long-distance love-affair by snail-mail across two different time-zones … that are two YEARS apart! The kind of movie you watch when you have to apologize to your girlfriend but can’t afford flowers.

THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE
2006; DVD $27.95, R
Gretchen Mol does a damned good job in this HBO/IFC cable biopic on the life of the sweet-natured pin-up queen whose black, straight-cut bangs and flirtation with leather gave your grandpa woodies — and lead to a Senate investigation! — back in the ’50s

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE ULTIMATE EDITION
1974; DVD $29.95, UR
The title says it all. The granddaddy of all indie splatterflicks, now available in a two-disc set based on a clear-as-a-bell new widescreen HD transfer from the original 16mm negatives, complete with Dolby soundtrack and all the commentaries and behind-the-scenes gee-gah any cult movie fan could ever want. Enjoy.

THRILLER: THE COMPLETE SEASON ONE
1974; DVD $79.95, UR
Not to be confused with “Boris Karloff’s Thriller,” that painfully short-lived show from the ’60s, this is a four-disc set from creator Brian Clemens, who brought together John Steed and Emma Peel in “The Avengers.” A veddy, veddy British suspense anthology series. Recommended.

WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY?: SEASON 1
1974; DVD $26.95, UR
FINALLY we get to see the good stuff! The first season of this Drew Carey improv show only measured 10 episodes, but they are without peer as the funniest 10 damned shows we ever saw! Clutch-your-sides, spit-your-drink, fall-on-the-floor and pee-in-your-pants spontaneous hilarity that makes you realize just how stale TV comedy has become. Of course, the TV censors hacked each show to bits before airing, which is what makes this less-edited release so exciting. We can’t wait for more!

OTHER DVDS OF INTEREST
BROTHERHOOD: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
1999; DVD $34.95, UR
MAMA’S FAMILY: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
2005; DVD $26.95, UR
ONE TREE HILL: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON
2006; DVD $59.95, UR
RIPTIDE: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
1984; DVD $39.95, UR
THE COMPLETE “WALKING WITH” COLLECTION:
1999; DVD $59.95, UR

A more complete listing and free vids at www.videotapeworm.com!