Issue April 22, 2014

Video TapeWorm

New, encore and low-price releases on Tuesday, April 29

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:

FATHER BROWN: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION

1974; $49.98; UR

If you love a ripping murder yarn, then you’re no doubt already familiar with the adventures of G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown, a mystery-loving amateur sleuth prowling the less-than-righteous paths of 1920s England. This series, starring Limey stalwart Kenneth More, with Dennis Burgess as his handy thief-turned-PI bud, Hercule Flambeau, is simply marvelous: funny, smart, lively and action-packed (despite the limits of sleuthing in a cassock). Alas, only a scant 13 episodes were ever made; last seen here on PBS’ “Mystery,” this is TV at its best. Highly recommended, if only for the fun of spotting now-stars at the start of their careers.

HILL STREET BLUES: THE COMPLETE SERIES

2014; $123.98; UR

You read that right! The entire groundbreaking and wildly popular ’80s Steven Bochco ensemble cop drama that made stars of Daniel J. Travanti, Veronica Hamel, Dennis Franz, Joe Spano, Betty Thomas and James Sikking — and of particular note, actor Bruce “Sgt. Mick Belker” Weitz, who honed his craft at Actors Theatre back in the late ’60s. Twenty-six well-earned Emmys, 144 perfect episodes, all set in a gray, unnamed metropolis that looks surprisingly like Chicago, and it’s all packed in a no-nonsense boxed set with lots of special features, bonus goodies, commentaries and more. A must-own for any TV junkie. Hey, let’s be careful out there.

•••

BAD COUNTRY

2014; $22.98; R

Why this Southern crime drama isn’t better known is beyond us. Willem Defoe plays a detective who infiltrates Tom Berenger’s criminal empire in ’80s Louisiana, eventually twisting his most lethal enforcer, Matt Dillon, into bringing down the entire operation. Berenger is nearly unrecognizable here — and seriously demented — as the creepy mob boss; with great cameos by Amy Smart and Neal McDonough of “Justified.” A solid, spicy, Cajun-fueled outing; entertaining as hell.

BUCKSVILLE

2011; $22.98-$24.98; UR

A wildly original and unique thriller about a young man (Thomas “Jingle All the Way” Stroppel) who is fed up with life in his father’s increasingly violent secret militia, which routinely hunts down and kills those whom the courts have, in their eyes, failed to properly punish. TV vet David Bodin will send shivers down your spine as the dad, slowly devolving into righteous insanity, with help from Tom Berenger and underrated actor Ted Rooney. Thought-provoking and intense.

CIVIL WAR: THE UNTOLD STORY

2014; $42.98; UR

Sometimes you need to step back in order to see something properly, which is why this five-part British documentary mini-series about the American Civil War is so fascinating. Elizabeth “Downton Abbey” McGovern narrates, focusing on the “Western Theater,” that area between the Mississippi River and Appalachia (i.e., “rat ’bout cheer”), the bloodiest and most important real estate of the entire conflict. Far more disturbing than any war doc we’ve ever seen, it includes an astounding 14-minute silent film shot during the 1913 Vicksburg 50th anniversary siege reenactment. This is war: racist, bloody and insane.

DEAD SHADOWS

2012; $22.98; UR

Man, did we love this movie! A young man whose parents were murdered during a past visit by Halley’s Comet finds the world going quietly mad as a new comet becomes visible. His neighbors are acting strangely, and now … are they actually starting to mutate? That’s when his gun-toting, conspiracy-nut neighbor suggests they get the hell out of the building. Not really a great movie, just entertaining with an a attractive French cast that includes Fabian Wolfrom, John “Saw II” Fallon and more than a few sultry French babes. Subtitled guy flick.

DEVIL’S DUE

2014; $20.99-$39.99; R

Newlyweds Zach Gilford and Allison Miller can’t seem to remember every detail about their honeymoon, but an unexpected pregnancy doesn’t give them time to suspect in this low-budget “evil baby” found-footage thriller. A bit slow at times, it makes up for it with the two great leads (cute little Miller was terrific in “Terra Nova,” and Gilford is a veteran of both “The Mob Doctor” and “Friday Night Lights”) and a couple of slam-bang shock-scenes, particularly one in a parking lot that will haunt you for days.

LABOR DAY

2014; $19.99-$39.99; PG-13

This ridiculous chick flick would be unwatchable if not for the charisma of leads Kate Winslet and James Brolin. She’s an agoraphobe and (spoiler!) he turns out to be a scary convicted murderer on the run. Along the way, he cons his way into her car via her young son … so she takes him home. Or, as the boy narrates, “Frank ironed, and in return my mom taught him how to rumba.” Wow. Director Jason “Juno” Reitman lets the tale unfold slowly, revealing bits of back-story only when things slow down, making this a much deeper chick flick than usual.

LOCKER 13

2014; $20.98; PG-13

We seem to be in something of a modern Renaissance of the horror/thriller anthology. Case in point: this set of tales triggered by the contents of an old locker being cleaned out by voice-over artist Jason Spisak (“Piranha 3D”). Boss Jon Polito regales him with morality tales, brought to life by the talents of Jon Gries, Krista Allen, Tatyana Ali, Ricky Schroder, Curtis Armstrong, David Huddleston and others, all culminating in a life-altering confrontation for the young man himself. Nicely ironic in a “Twilight Zone” sort of way.

YOU, ME, & THEM: SERIES 1

2013; $34.98; UR

Anthony Head (Giles from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) is having a ball with “Torchwood”’s Eve Myles in this broad, spry and likeable BBC sitcom. This comedy won’t challenge your intelligence — a running gag about Head being stalked by his ex-wife (Lindsay Duncan from Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland”) is overplayed to epic proportions — or wallow in the modern trend for snarky irony, this is an old-school sitcom in the “Three’s Company” vein about love and life and all the damn people — particularly family — who get in the way. Love is always funny.

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