BY DAVID “B. GETTING STUFF” KING AND BILL “ME LATER” RAKER
Is there anything to compare with that look on someone’s face when they receive your gift Christmas morning and squeal, “Uh, Dude!? I spent a LOT more on you!”? Yeah, to hell with LEO and their Gift-Giving Guides. We know what you really want: a Gift-GETTING Guide. Something to shove in front of people, pointer-finger pounding the page, screaming, “HERE! Here’s what I want!”
So in the spirit of Unbridle Greed (the State of America), we offer this index to all the videos you want for yourself.
First off, we can’t imagine a holiday without the clay-animated adventures of Wallace & Gromit. Their silly silicone shorts (“Wallace & Gromit in Three Amazing Adventures,” $19.95 DVD) led to 2005’s funnest flick, “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” ($19.95 DVD). Wallace, a daffy, cheese-loving inventor, is hot on the trail of a bushy-tailed supernatural threat to vegetable gardens when his loyal dog, Gromit, discovers that the culprit may be living under his own roof. There’s even a “Cracking Collector’s Set” with every freakin’ W&G cartoon, movie, short and commercial ever made for only $39.95!
Too juvenile for your tastes? Then move up to graphic-novels, Sparky, with “V for Vendetta” (Rated R; $19.98-$27.95 DVD), the stirring and intelligent comic-booker with luscious Natalie Portman as the unwilling protégée of a madman/savior. Filled to bursting with gleeful explosive defiance and mayhem against a Big Brother-esque regime, if this movie doesn’t make you want to go blow up something, then you may be a Republican. Or try “With God On Our Side: George W. Bush and the Rise of the Religious Right in America” ($29.95 DVD). You’ll be mixing Molotov cocktails in your smoothie maker by midnight.
But all this political horse-hockey is too much for our shallow grabby brain-pans. We prefer our private Phosphor-dot Reality; a Happy Place where we can watch all our favorite TV shows without commercials, without edits, without waiting for the playoffs to be over, and without those damned graphics the networks use to advertise OTHER shows while we’re trying to watch THIS one! (And they wonder why they’re losing their audience to cable.) Our favorite of late has been “House, M.D.” (Seasons 1 and 2: $59.95 each, DVD). We love the way that he can be such a crass, misanthropic asshole, yet be so good at his job that everyone just has to put up with him! It’s like they’re telling the story of our lives. (No, the LEO health plan doesn’t cover our medication; why do you ask?)
When the Doctor is out, we saddle up “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.: The Complete Series” ($99.95 DVD) with Bruce “Bubba Ho-Tep” Campbell as a comic Old-West bounty hunter on the trail of a killer and a mysterious orb. Whoa, Comet! We also dig “Red Dwarf: The Complete Collection” ($249.95 DVD), the entire eight-season run of the world’s greatest sci-fi comedy on 18 discs, and “The Prisoner: The Complete Series” ($139.95 DVD) with all 17 episodes and a butt-load of featurettes, alternate endings, companion guides and more.
You say your parents are too pitiful to pony-up full seasons of pleasure? Then tell those cheap stocking-stuffers about “SCTV: Best of the Early Years” ($39.95 DVD), a fabulous seven-hour time capsule from back when Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Rick Moranis and John Candy were giving “Saturday Night Live” a run for its money. For more classic comedy, check out “Sgt. Bilko: The 50th Anniversary Edition” ($39.95 DVD) — one of the drop-dead-funniest sitcoms ever put on the tube. Catskills crazyman Phil Silvers leads a score of Bortsch Belt baggy-pantsers through his own private war — and you’ll recognize many of the plots and voices resurfacing in “Top Cat: The Complete Series” (1961, $44.95 DVD).
For cheap entertainment, though, nothing tops the many “Mystery Science Theater 3000” vids. Our favorite has to be Volume 9 ($59.95 DVD), with a rare first-season Comedy Channel offering, “Women of the Prehistoric Planet” starring John Agar and Lyle Waggoner, AND our favorite Ed Wood Jr. movie, “The Sinister Urge,” AND Ray Dennis Steckler’s acid-washed carny crap-fest, “The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!” Four discs; two of the episodes are hosted by Joel Hodgson.
OK, so now your Me-Me Tree is fully festooned with G-rated goodies. But maybe you’re the kind of guy — or gal — who finds that two shakes at the urinal simply don’t do the job. We suggest porn, and nothing beats (if you’ll pardon the term) titles from the Golden Age of Porn, now available at any good video store. Two of the best are “The Devil in Miss Jones” with Georgina Spelvin and Harry Reems (1973, DVD $29.95), and the Greatest Porno Movie Ever Made, “Debbie Does Dallas” (1978), which just made it to “legit” video last week in an “Ultimate Edition” for $29.95 (DVD). “Debbie” was a phenomenon back in The Day, and it remains a fabulously funny and flawlessly executed disaster of a flick. Trust us, you’ll love every stupid minute. Apply liberally twice a day.
Should all this seem too complicated — let’s face it, Mom-mom and Pop-pop couldn’t find “Danger: Diabolik” with a tomtom ($9.95 DVD) — tell your gift givers (and loyal readers, hint hint) to spread the love via gift cards from Wild and Woolly Video in the Highlands. A funky, friendly place staffed by the most movie-mad miscreants ever to post bail; if they don’t know your flick, it was never made.
But just as that bloated turkey and too many noisy relatives gives way to a single sweet, cold sandwich days later, we bring our Gift-Grasping Guide to a close with true peace on earth: Munching your meal in the quiet company of a good-old monster movie. And nothing says “monster” like 1954’s “Gorija.” Available for the first time on DVD, this is the all-Japanese, subtitled original that would later become “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” — completely uncut and without Raymond Burr! Both movies are available in “Godzilla: The Gojira Deluxe Collector’s Edition” for only $21.95 with a clawful of featurettes, including one on the history of the original rubber suit. The stuff from which dreams are made.
But the real King of monsters is still 1933’s “King Kong,” available on a smashing-clean DVD for only $14.95. The classic story of a lonely woman on a boatload of lusty sailors who finds romance in a big hairy guy. He sweeps her off her feet — actually, he sweeps her off several hundred feet! (For those counting, that’s the eighth time we’ve recycled that gag.) Yes, she was the “gorilla” his dreams.
“Kong,” of course, was remade in 2005 by Peter “Lord of the Rings” Jackson. Frankly,
the 1933 original is a better straight-out action flick, but there’s no denying that his is the most effective and emotionally-wrenching CGI character ever filmed. Naomi Watts is a vibrant Fay Wray, and Jack Black is a wholly unique Carl Denham, but theater audiences actually sobbed out loud when Kong fell to his death. Just make sure that whichever version of “Kong” you ask for, tell them to get the two-disc set! That extra disc contains Jackson’s incredible documentaries on the original and his awesome re-creation of the original’s lost “spider-pit” sequence.
And since nothing says Felice Navidad like gratuitous giant stop-motion dino-insects devouring helpless seamen, we’ll sign off here. May Santa bring you everything you deserve.
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