Issue June 17, 2014

Video TapeWorm

New, encore and low-price releases on Tuesday, June 24

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE

2014; $28.98-$44.95; R

While this lacks the impact of 2006’s “300” — partly because director Noam Murro simply doesn’t have original writer/director Zack Snyder’s supernatural talent — it makes up for it by having one of the best screen villains we’ve ever seen: the incomparable Eva Green. She plays Artemisia, ruthless commander of the Persian Navy who can wield a blade, a bow, her razor tongue or those voluptuous hooters (which are displayed prominently in a brief nude scene) as required to bring any man to his knees. There are worse fates. Lots of bloody sea-farin’ fun.

WINTER’S TALE

2014; $28.98-$35.99; PG-13

Something of a flawed masterpiece, this romantic fantasy stars Colin Farrell as a would-be robber who discovers “Downton Abbey”’s Jessica Brown Findlay dying — and he may have the power to save her, even from death. In lesser hands, this would have never made it to the screen, but screenwriter Akiva “Fringe” Goldsman does a great job, with the resulting fantasy/adventure mixing destiny and the eternal struggle of good vs. evil in surprising ways with help from Russell Crowe, William Hurt and Jennifer Connelly. If only he hadn’t directed … still, worth your time.

•••

BLOOD SOAKED

2014; $14.98; UR

An unabashed no-budget horror howler designed to hit every guy’s video sweet spots. First-time teen lesbians? Check! Weird Nazi-ish sibs who torture and murder? Check! Underground lairs filled with flesh-eating zombies? Check! Wonderfully unredeemable on any level. Our kinda movie!

BUMBLEFUCK, USA

2011; $24.98; UR

A somewhat experimental and very surprising drama that swirls in documentary elements to tell insightful tales of LGBT life in heartland America. Cat Smits plays a documentary filmmaker from Amsterdam who travels to the small town birthplace of her late gay friend, looking for insights into his suicide, but discovering more about herself than she expected. Proof that films can entertain, inform and move audiences without zillion-dollar budgets.

CLASSIC DRAMA COLLECTION

2014; $42.98-$79.98; UR

A poorly named five-disc collection of exceptional British costume dramas and comedies, including those based on works by Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth Bowen. Our favorite is “The Lady’s Not For Burning,” which finds worn-out scoundrel Kenneth Branagh meeting cute Cherie “Secret Diary of a Call Girl” Lunghi while awaiting their executions. Others star Kate Beckinsale, Samantha Morton, Ciarán Hinds (“Game of Thrones”), Andrew Lincoln (“The Walking Dead”) and Miranda Richardson. Five great tales at a great price.

FRACKNATION

2013; $22.98-$26.98; PG

Is the process of hydraulic fracturing, upon which America has based its economic future, safe as proponents claim, or is it an ecological disaster of biblical proportions, hiding beneath our feet, waiting to kill us all? This doc looks into the science, the political spin and troubling ecological events across the U.S. and Europe to uncover the “real” truth. Too often sides with the pro-frack lobby, but even if you buy the industry’s arguments, this whole thing is scary. As. Shit.

I SPY: THE COMPLETE SERIES

1965; $110.98-$129.99; UR

The year was 1965: Pink Floyd first performed, St. Louis’ Gateway Arch was completed and Robert Culp and Bill Cosby took the James Bond craze to America’s TVs, completely ignoring the fact that one was white and the other black at a time when separate-race bathrooms and water fountains were common. And it was one helluva good action-adventure show! With hot babes, sinister plots, fast humor and a constant air of danger as the two travel the globe undercover as a pro tennis bum and his trainer. One of the best damn TV shows ever made and a slice of history, now available in a complete 18-disc boxed set; 82 must-own episodes.

JACK TAYLOR: SET 2

2014; $26.98-$49.98; UR

This excellent British private-eye show continues to soar for two reasons: First, the breathtaking landscapes of western Ireland, and second, Jack Taylor (Iain Glen, “Game of Thrones”), as mule-headed and ornery a drunken ex-cop as ever brawled his way out of a pub. But Jack is the perfect man to wrestle the truth from the rugged crags of Galway. In this set, he must deal with his mother’s stroke, a beheaded and possibly pedophilic priest, and a tough-as-nails 11-year-old Traveler who may have witnessed her mother’s murder. Beauty, intrigue, fisticuffs, humanity, romance, humor and the best of the Ol’ Sod in equal measure. Highly recommended.

ROB THE MOB

2014; $14.98; R

Based on the real-life tale of an NYC couple who repeatedly robbed mafia “male social clubs” with impunity until they got greedy and became targets of both the Mob and the FBI. Michael “Seven Psychopaths” Pitt and Nina “Tower Heist” Arianda are suitably funny, attractive, sexy, dangerous and smart as the leads, with Gumba-greats Andy Garcia, Ray Romano and Burt Young as their targets. With the always welcome Griffin Dunne, who rotted away so nicely in “An American Werewolf in London” (1981).

THE CHEF, THE ACTOR AND THE SCOUNDREL

2013; $22.98-$24.98; UR

The supposedly true damn weird tale from 1942 China about the Japanese, testing a biowarfare agent on a Chinese city, causing an outbreak of cholera that decimates even their own troops. The doomed Chinese cannot find a vaccine that works until a Japanese general and biochemist are tricked by a scoundrel into thinking they’ve been captured, then taken to a local restaurant where an opera actor lives. There they stage an impromptu opera meant to confuse the two into revealing the vaccine and save the city! Weird, funny, shocking and entertaining.

WOLF CREEK 2

2013; $11.98; UR

Crazy serial-killing pig-hunter Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) returns in this follow-up to the surprise Australian hack-’em-up hit from 2005. This time it is Ryan “Underbelly” Corr’s turn to visit Australia’s Wolf Creek Crater and wind up in Mick’s underground hole of horrors. Luckily he’s brought lovely-eyed TV actress Shannon Ashlyn along to share her skinny-dipping tips and test out the sleeping bags.

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