Issue June 17, 2008

The Video Tapeworm – Releases through Tuesday, June 24

by David B. King and Bill Raker

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS

FUTURAMA: THE BEAST WITH A BILLION BACKS

2008; $29.95, UR

This sort-of sequel to “Futurama: Bender’s Big Score” finds Earth being molested by a horny, planet-sized creature with billions of sensuously probing tentacles (“urging a woman to let go” … sorry, that used to be an ad-line for ribbed condoms). The creature uses Fry to start a new religion, encouraging all Earthicans to abandon their homeworld to the robots and live forever in a multidimensional heaven. Or is it all a trap? Fans will be happy to know that there are at least two more “Futurama” movies in the works: “Bender’s Game” later this year and “Into the Wild Green Yonder” slated for 2009.

THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES

2008; $34.95-$39.95, PG

This is a fun, well made little movie, first of a proposed franchise, with a bright cast and good special effects by Tippett Studios and ILM — always a winning combination — though we would liked to have seen more puppet and in-camera effects; even the best digital animation eventually looks cheap when overused. Freddie Highmore and Sarah Bolger are the kid-stars, dealing with their discovery of an invisible world right outside their doorstep, complete with an evil (and unrecognizable) Nick Nolte as the deadly Mulgarath.

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10,000 B.C.

2008; $28.95-$35.95, PG-13

If you ever wanted an example of too much CGI, look no further than this prehistoric epic of love and adventure from Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day”). The potentially groundbreaking and original tale of heroism set in a timeless land of lost civilizations becomes just another SciFi Channel stinker thanks to an overworked computer grinding action into cartoon. Haven’t any of these people seen “Walking with Dinosaurs”? Watchable, but could have been so much better.

66 A.D.: THE LAST REVOLT

2008; $24.95, PG

A well-done docu-drama from A&E. In the 1st century A.D., Rome is locked in a long-distance battle with Palestine, where the governor is instigating civil unrest between religious factions. This leads to the destruction of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem — and a war that’s been going on non-stop since that day, eventually leading the United States into Afghanistan and Iraq. Those who do not learn from history …

CHARLIE BARTLETT

2008; $27.95, R

Robert Downey Jr., as neurotic principal of a high school where the titular student dispenses antidepressants and pop-psychological advice, is the best thing about this occasionally clever teen dark comedy. It wants to be a hip spoof on the Prozac generation, taking stabs at the social infatuation with unnecessary mood-altering drugs, but it just comes off as a lame, if well-dressed, coming-of-age stoner.

DEFINITELY, MAYBE

2008; $29.95, PG-13

Ryan Reynolds never ceases to amaze us. Here, in his most mature performance to date, he’s a dad in mid-divorce who tells his 10-year-old daughter (Abigail Breslin) the story of how he met her mother — but without any proper names, in order to keep her in suspense. We don’t know of any other working actor who could have pulled this off — and with such humor — without it becoming a hokey chick-flick. So much better than it had to be; co-stars Elizabeth Banks and Rachel Weisz.

EVENING SHADE: SEASON ONE

1990; $39.95, UR

We absolutely LOVED this Burt Reynolds sitcom, featuring a veritable who’s who of great actors — Marilu Henner, Elizabeth Ashley, Ossie Davis, Charles Durning, Charlie Dell, Jay R. Ferguson, Hal Holbrook, Ann Wedgeworth and more — plus the late Michael Jeter as his Barney Fife-like sidekick. A gentle, working-class comedy with great heart that never once failed to entertain.

GINGERDEAD MAN 2: PASSION OF THE CRUST

2008; $19.95, UR

People in the horror-movie business are some of the funniest people we know, and many of them appear in this cheesy comedy sequel about a “horrifying yet delicious and chewy” killer on the loose during the filming of a horror movie. One of the best things ever to spring from the liver-spotted hand of the incomparable Charles Band — trust us, you’ll love this! And watch for scream-queen Michelle Bauer, and Frank and Greg Nicotero of KNB Effects.

HELL’S GROUND

2007; $19.95, UR

Pakistan’s first-ever splatter flick. Read that sentence again, then imagine Freddy or Jason wearing blood-soaked burkas and sandals. Now you begin to understand the fun as Pakistani tradition meets Texas Chainsaws. Good demented fun.

HOMEMADE HILLBILLY JAM

2005; $24.95, UR

Bill Raker’s kin hail from Hazard, Ky., so you know he loves this great doc on mountain music. The term “hillbilly” was originally applied to a clan of feisty Scotch-Irish immigrants who took over the Missouri Ozarks during the 19th century. Thanks to their fun-loving ruggedness and a fierce, independent nature, their traditions and music spread to Appalachia and beyond like a sister’s legs on her 12th birthday. Simply terrific.

IN BRUGES

2008; $29.95, R

Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes are having an out-and-out ball in this fractured ode to hit-man movies. After knocking off their latest “job,” Colin and Brendan try to lay low in the town of Bruges, Belgium, where they run afoul of local mobster Fiennes. Hilarious sight gags, comic chases and dumb-ass explosions seem to follow them wherever they go, despite trying to act like tourists. Great stuff.

LONG DREAM

2000; $19.95, UR

Mono-monikered Japanese writer/director Higuchinsky originally brought this brilliant, avant-garde horror to Japanese TV, explaining its short 58-minute run time. But it’s an intense 58 minutes as a doctor tries to help a patient who is so terrified of his ever-lengthening nightmares that he refuses to sleep, lest he be trapped there forever. A mesmerizing Lovecraftian joy.

THE EYE 3

2005; $26.95, PG-13

This franchise about spooky visions and ocular shenanigans from Hark Tsui, Danny Pang and Oxide Pang Chun has become so fractured — this title is also known as “Eye 10,” “Eye 11” and “Eye: Infinity” — that we’re not sure which damned version we’re watching anymore. Doesn’t matter: There hasn’t yet been a clinker in the bunch! Recommended, sight unseen (ironic, huh?).

OTHER DVDS OF INTEREST

EARLY EDITION: THE FIRST SEASON

1996; $49.95, UR

SEA MONSTERS: A PREHISTORIC ADVENTURE

2007; $19.95-$28.95, G

THE MYSTERY OF THE MOUSE PHARAOH’S TOMB

1998; $12.95, UR

THE VICE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON

2008; $39.95, UR

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