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Insidious

December 18, 2013

Video TapeWorm

New, encore and low-price releases on Tuesday, Dec. 24

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:

INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2

2013; $24.98; PG-13

The original “Insidious” was something of a cause celebre among horror fans, having been written and directed by the writer and director of “Saw,” James Wan and Leigh Whannell, respectively. The movie was surprisingly effective, sticking with tried-and-true old-school horror tropes and focusing on the people instead of the spooks. So now the question: If they got the original cast back together, could they do it again? Welllll ... Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Barbara Hershey and Ty Simpkins all give it their best, but the result feels a bit rushed. Some nice scares, a few somewhat more shocking than the original, but it never pushes its PG-13 limitations. Noisy, spooky fun with a few booga-booga moments to make you squeal.

THE BERLIN FILE

2013; $23.98; UR

This perfect Korean actioner stars Jung-woo Ha, who has made a name for himself in such greats as “Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time” and “The Client.” Here he plays a “ghost” agent stationed in Berlin, doing less-that-noble deeds for his Korean masters. But when an illegal shipment of guns winds up in the wrong hands, he is disavowed by his government — who clearly hope he will be quickly killed, lest he reveal his country’s spy secrets. The bulk of the film is spent with Ha one step ahead of agents from a half-dozen countries, fighting to stay alive long enough to figure out who betrayed him. Similar in style and pace to the Bourne movies, but with lovely Gianna Jun as a far more effective female lead. Recommended.

•••

A MUPPET FAMILY CHRISTMAS

1987; $29.95; UR

It’s just not Christmas around the TapeWorm household until we watch our dog-eared copy of this little chestnut. Not to be confused with “The Muppets Christmas Carol,” this was made for TV a couple of years before Jim Henson’s death, featuring every single Muppet, monster, Fraggle, thing, creature and Sesame Street character ever created, all arriving unexpectedly at Fozzie Bear’s mom’s house for Christmas. One hour of non-stop Muppet songs and silliness that could put even the most jaded of Scrooges in a holiday mood. And the best part is the brief cameo by Jim, himself, at the very end; it’s the best Christmas present he could have given. Now sadly out of print and very difficult to find, but worth the effort.

BIG SUR

2013; $9.95; R

Jean-Marc Barr (“Dogville”) stars as Beat master Jack Kerouac, aka “Jack Duluoz,” during his legendary cloister at Big Sur after the instant worldwide fame of “On the Road” drives him to drink, depression and lots of sex. What a great gig! While costars Stana Katic (TV’s “Castle”), Radha Mitchell, breathtaking Kate Bosworth, Josh Lucas, Henry Thomas and Nora Kirkpatrick hog the spotlight, he goes slowly mad. A nice companion to the recent Kristen Stewart version of “On the Road.”

DROP DEAD DIVA: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON.

2013; $19.95; UR

Frankly, we always assumed this was just another lame “reality” show like “The Real Wives of ...,” but we’ve happily discovered that it’s actually an excellent comedy series about a shallow fashion model (bodacious Brooke D’Orsay, seen only in the first seasons) who dies and is resurrected as a chunky lawyer (Brooke Elliott), sent back to Earth to learn the meaning of inner beauty. And how tough it is for fat chicks to find a boyfriend. Co-stars the amazing Margaret Cho, our favorite sex-stooge April Bowlby (Kandi from “Two and a Half Men”) and hot blonde Kate Levering as a hot blonde. Addictive.

FANBOYS

2007; $8.95; PG-13

If you’re stuck for a cheap last-minute stocking stuffer, here’s the perfect solution given all the interest in Disney’s resurrected “Star Wars” sequels to come. In 1992, a group of rabid George Lucas fans sneak into the Skywalker Ranch to steal a secret script of “Episode I: The Phantom Menace.” The cast, including Dan Fogler, Jay Baruchel and Kristen Bell, are great, but the real treat is watching for all the silly cameos. We spotted Kevin Smith, William Shatner, Carrie Fisher, Jaime King, Seth Rogen, Danny Trejo and Billy Dee Williams, to name a few. Gangs of geeky fun.

THE CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR

1986; $28.95; R

Prehistoric cave-girl Daryl Hannah turned the other cheek in this story of life back when the world was young and men wore mud for hats. Remember the phrase “Clan women kneel!”? It became a short-lived disco pickup line for leisure-suited lizards of the ’80s. Lots of grubby fun, some of it educational yet still very exciting. But why are we mentioning this out-of-print classic at Christmas? Well, we once gave a copy to our ’rents ... telling them we had their home movies converted to video! Occasionally pops up at used bookstores.

UNA NOCHE

2013; $22.98-$24.98; UR

A pair of young Cuban men, one running from the law, is torn between a deadly escape to America and staying in Havana. If they leave they put their families in danger; if they stay they will most likely die in prison. And it all comes to a head in the “one night” of the title, with the two men and one’s teenage sister crowded into a tiny raft, all alone in the dark surf. A first-rate indie gem by people clearly in love with the story; highly recommended, though the ending may keep you awake at night.

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