THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:
2012; $19.98-$49.98; R
Ridley Scott created what is arguably the greatest monster movie ever in 1979’s “Alien,” a movie so simple and so perfectly realized that it intelligently scared the holy crap out of audiences around the world with nary a CGI anything in sight. The studio then proceeded to make Scott-less sequels — only one of which didn’t suck — while Ridley and crew went on to make movie magic elsewhere. Here the master returns to the “Alien” universe, providing a backstory and telling it with the latest in CGI effects. The results are mixed, largely because of its complexity. Frankly, dropping some characters and subplots (particularly those involving Charlize Theron) would have helped. Bottom line? An exciting tale that posits the origins of mankind. A sequel is in the works for 2014-15.
ROCK OF AGES
2012; $14.98-$35.98; PG-13
This movie tries very hard to be “Grease” for the Hair Band era and largely succeeds, assuming you are of a certain age. Local-lad Tom Cruise headlines as preening Axl Rose-ish Stacee Jaxx, the ultimate rocker about which the tale rotates; Diego Boneta and Julianne Hough play the young lovers caught in his slipstream. But the real star is the music, with covers of Def Leppard, Joan Jett, Journey, Foreigner, Pat Benatar and other ’80s icons sweeping along a cast of upbeat (if aging) stars. There’s also a “down with rock” plotline, allowing for lots of “Footloose”-style overacting. Enjoy.
2012; $19.98-$27.98; R
A bunch of popular new faces — Paz de la Huerta (“Boardwalk Empire”), Justin Kirk (“Weeds”), Ingeborga Dapkunaite (“MI3”), etc. — and at least one aging-if-still-hot sexpot (Jennifer Tilly) suffer through an NYC heat wave by having myriad and poorly considered sexual encounters in this dark romantic comedy of self-discovery. Will make you sweat.
A CAT IN PARIS
2010; $24.98-$34.98; PG
This latest example in a resurgence of the once-lost artform of hand-drawn animation is an Oscar-nominee from France. A little girl, mute over the death of her father and whose mother is a police officer, has a seemingly ordinary cat. But it has a secret night job assisting a big-hearted burglar, and all are thrown into danger when the cat brings the girl a valuable, stolen bracelet. Nicely exotic and beautifully original.
BASKET CASE 3: THE PROGENY
1992; $19.98; R
Those in the know know that the original “Basket Case” is one of the greatest no-budget indie horror movies ever made: the tale of two co-joined brothers, crudely separated at birth, leaving one handsome and the other little more than a monstrous misshapen head. The sequel was disappointing, but this latest chapter, in which the deformed Belial has children of his own (!), returns to the original’s black humor, making it a worthy successor. Written and directed by Frank Henenlotter.
BETRAYED AT 17
2011; $22.98-$24.98; UR
A nastier than usual bit of Lifetime Channel “Granny Porn” starring Baywatch Babe Alexandra Paul as the PO’ed mother of a shy teenage daughter (winsome Amanda Bauer) — who commits suicide after appearing in a viral sex-video with the high school football star on their first date. Comely Katie Gill is nicely bitchy as the jock’s ex, with daddy Joe “Jake and the Fatman” Penney as the requisite male former TV hunk.
FOUR MORE YEARS
2012; $17.98; UR
A refreshing gay rom-com/political farce from Sweden about a happy, successful, very married politician who falls in love with a handsome and charming gay man — from the opposing political party! Completely smitten, he treads with care lest his wife, family and — most importantly — political cronies find out. A real palate-cleanser if you’re as sick of American politics as we are.
HOLLISTON: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
2012; $26.98; UR
Fans of FEARnet.com know that this is one of the best damn shows around. Real-life indie horror vets Adam Green and Joe Lynch play a pair of low-rent indie fright-filmmakers ulcerating to escape their tiny Massachusetts hometown. They are also horny as hell and can’t seem to understand women. Can we get a “Testify!”? Laura Ortiz and Corri English complete the cast, who all relish turning standard sitcom conventions on their ear. Comedy, horror, sex, fake blood, great guest stars, imaginary alien friends and a cadre of horro-rockers add up to too damn much fun. Recommended.
PIRANHA-MAN VS. WEREWOLF-MAN: HOWL OF THE PIRANHA
2012; $14.98-$16.98; UR
What more could you possibly want to know? OK, OK: As you would expect, this is a micro-budget monster mash-up between a werewolf and a piscine horror that looks like the Gillman from “Monster Squad.” But wait! There’s more! This battle is but the latest in a generations-long war steeped in carnage, mayhem and incest. With Carrie Long as the journalist who uncovers the story, only to become part of the horrible truth. Satisfied?
SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS
2011; $16.98-$39.98; UR
Documentary of NYC’s chart-topping dance-punk band, LCD Soundsystem, filmed largely at their farewell show in Madison Square Garden in April, just three months after a legendary performance on the “Colbert Report.”
2012; $16.98-$29.98; R
A solid backwoods horror from the guy who wrote “Saw II,” starring Stephen Moyer of “True Blood.” He takes his family, including Allie MacDonald (“House at the End of the Street”), to NJ’s haunted Pine Barrens, home of the infamous Jersey Devil. A slick, well-made yarn with adults not acting like stupid teens about to be eaten.
2012; $19.98-$39.98; R
This “Sherlock Holmes”-inspired bit of historical fiddlywith didn’t exactly burn down the box office, but we liked it. John Cusack is drunken poet Edgar Allan Poe, called into service by the police when someone begins dispatching human victims in ways inspired by his dark writings. Bouncy Alice Eve is a welcome damsel in distress, but the movie’s dull pace and lackluster writing bring the proceedings to a crawl at times. Director James McTeigue deserves to be the killer’s next victim, while Cusack gives it his all and seems to be enjoying the chaos. Worth a look.
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