Issue February 12, 2013

Video TapeWorm

New, encore and low-price releases on Tuesday, Feb. 19

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:

ARGO

2012; $14.99-$35.99; R

Nominated for seven Oscars, this is a movie that Hollywood would have turned into a serio-comic “caper movie” a generation ago, but director/star Ben Affleck wisely drops us squarely into the real world, with real people in real peril for their lives. It details the insane-sounding secret joint CIA-Canadian venture to rescue six American diplomats hiding in the Canadian ambassador’s house in Tehran during the 1979 hostage crisis. Their plan? To enter the country disguised as a film crew — with Hollywood’s help — and smuggle the diplomats out in plain sight. No one believes it will work, but it’s the best idea on the table. A breathtaking movie experience starring Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Clea DuVall and more.

THE THIEF OF BAGDAD

1924; $14.98-$24.98; UR

This is one of those films that everyone has on their “must see” list, starring the amazing Douglas Fairbanks at the height of his popularity — and seemingly effortless physicality — jumping and fighting and flying his way through the streets and skies of beautiful Bagdad for director Raoul Walsh. Yes, it’s a silent film, but please don’t be stupid and let that keep you from seeing it. This was America’s first great fantasy/special-effects movie; a masterpiece, now newly restored to Blu-ray with a fresh score based on the original sheets. Movies just don’t get any better than this.

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ATLAS SHRUGGED PART II: THE STRIKE

2012; $15.99-$29.99; PG-13

Right up front: We hated the book and didn’t see the movie, Part 1. But if Ayn Rand is your thing, be our guests. Samantha Mathis comes aboard in Part 2 as Dagny Taggart, a businesswoman who uncovers a revolutionary motor that could save the global economy left shattered by rampant, self-indulgent greed in Part 1 — but she needs the missing inventor to make it work. Watch for favorites D.B. Sweeney, Ray Wise, Diedrich Bader from “The Drew Carey Show,” and Bug Hall.

BATH SALT ZOMBIES

2012; $14.99; UR

This tasteless, ultraviolent black indie comedy is a demented joy for fans of low-rent rotter movies. When a chemist in NYC invents the most potent drug-salts ever imagined, he uncovers a teensy side effect: It turns the consumer into a maniacal flesh-eating zombie! Sounds like a good business plan to us. An over-the-top topical delight for those with a strong stomach.

FOR ELLEN

2012; $23.98-$26.98; UR

A simple, no-budget — if earnest and heartfelt — indie drama that we know you never heard of. Paul Dano is a struggling musician (or is that redundant?) who drives all night to fight with his estranged wife (Margarita Leviev, TV’s “Revenge”) over custody of their daughter, Shaylena Mandigo (and, no, we didn’t make that name up). With Dakota Johnson, “Kate” of the late “Ben and Kate.”

FUN SIZE

2012; $19.98-$39.98; PG-13

For a Nickelodeon movie, this little wild-night comedy pushes the kiddie envelope. Victoria Justice (“Victorious”), ready to graduate high school and run screaming to college/freedom, must babysit her obnoxious little brother on Halloween instead of partying. And then the little monster disappears! She quickly gathers some friends and they embark on a weirdo-filled adventure that somehow parallels their own real-life issues. Surprisingly sexy, with Chelsea Handler as her over-stimulated mom and Jane Levy from “Suburgatory.”

LAKE PLACID: THE FINAL CHAPTER

2012; $14.98-$22.98; UR

Game Warden Yancy Butler (“Witchblade”) and nut-job Robert Englund (“A Nightmare on Elm Street”) are the names on the box, but the real stars are the fakey CGI crocs and even less talented high school swim team that they’re about to nosh on in this (supposedly) final outing for the SciFi Channel. Actually, the star-of-record is lovely Elisabeth Röhm from “Heroes,” but who really cares? Big Dumb Fun at its finest.

SINISTER

2012; $22.99; R

We really got a kick out of this spooky serial-killer tale. Ethan Hawke plays a writer researching his next novel when he discovers a box of old videos. Each shows a different family being horribly murdered. (This reversal on the overused “found footage” technique works great here.) And the more he watches, the more he realizes that his own family may be in danger from the seeming supernatural agent behind the carnage. Despite being jaded horror fans, this thing scared the living crap out of us. Highly recommended.

SMALL APARTMENTS

2012; $14.99; R

Matt Lucas, Billy Crystal, Johnny Knoxville, Rebel Wilson, Juno Temple (as a stripper!), Dolph Lundgren, Saffron Burrows, James Caan — (deep breath, whew!) — and James Marsden as the institutionalized brother who holds the key to everyone else’s sanity. What can it all mean? The hell if we can tell you, but it is wildly entertaining as Lucas tries to hide his dead landlord from the cops while waiting on an important letter that spells salvation. Recommended indie nonsense.

SUSHI GIRL

2012; $23.98; R

A group of baddies throw a party to celebrate Noah Hathaway’s prison release — and his silence about their evil deeds. The festive centerpiece is a beautiful, naked, seemingly catatonic woman covered in sushi with great boobs. Uh, the girl, not the fish. With the boobs. Anyway, the real main course for Tony Todd, Mark Hamill (yes, that Mark Hamill), Jeff Fahey, Michael Bieh and, of course, Danny Trejo is “Where the hell is our money?” With Sonny Chiba as the chef and Cortney Palm as the titular food-warmer.

UNDEFEATED

2011; $9.98-$24.98; PG-13

We’re not much on sports docs, but this Best Doc Oscar winner knocks it out of the park. The Manassas (Tennessee) Tigers were so under funded and so bad that their competition actually paid them to be a “practice team” — they were literally professional losers. Then Bill Courtney arrived at the 110-year-old institution in 2004 and volunteered to help out, part time. Within five years, the team, made entirely of underprivileged inner-city Memphis teens, was poised to take on the world. One of the most exciting docs you’ll ever see. Highly recommended.

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