THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
2015; $29.98; R
While the original 1979 “Mad Max” was a groundbreaking film, and it’s 1982 sequel, “The Road Warrior” stands as one of the best-damned movies ever made, later issues were lackluster at best. But not this one! And why is this reboot so good? Well, with Tom Hardy and butt-kicking beauty Charlize Theron as the “good” guys, and baddie Hugh Keays-Byrne returning from the original film, it’s guaranteed to go off the rails — but when you add the original’s writer/director, George Miller, you’ve got lightening in a bottle! A full-tilt over-the-top slam-bang storm of mechanized madness and unrestrained brutality that is also somehow very touching. Our highest recommendation.
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000:
Yes, you read that right: Volume one! After generating 33 video sets, most with four movies each, plus “MST3K: The Movie”, this venerable and long-lamented TV show returns to its DVD roots with a re-release of those most-desired, long out-of-print volumes so we can all fill the holes in our collections. Best of all, these re-issues are not the off-cursed Rhino releases! They are brand new mixes, with all the bumpers, stingers, titles, trailers, and behind-the-scenes material that Rhino cut out — and with cleaner audio and video to boot! Includes “Catalina Caper,” “The Creeping Terror,” “Bloodlust,” and “Skydivers,” as if it mattered. A must-own.
OTHER DVDs OF INTEREST
2014; $26.98; UR
This lightweight caper flick is pointless, but wildly watchable thanks to a simply amazing young cast. Jason “Gravity Falls” Ritter, Luke “Agents of SHIELD” Mitchell, and Zane “From Dusk Till Dawn (TV)” Holtz are a trio of best buds who run afoul of crazed baddie Kris Kristofferson (in cameo, but scary as hell), and must pull off an armed robbery to pay him back. Meanwhile, pregnant girlfriend Leven “The Tomorrow People” Rambin gets kidnapped as leverage, cranking the tension ever higher. A fun and stylish couch-flick with loads of classic cars and old-school nods.
2014; $12.98-26.98; R
Billed as “Robin Williams’ final screen role” (he actually did three other films in 2014, plus voice-work on an as-yet unreleased Simon Pegg cartoon) this drama follows him as a sad, lost and lonely man in a loveless marriage. He’s also gay, though he’s never admitted it, even to himself, until he nearly runs over a male prostitute on a street corner. They strike up a friendship as the young man helps Williams come to terms with his orientation, which he then discusses obliquely with his best-bud, wise-cracking Bob Odenkirk, who nearly steals the movie.
2014; $24.98-39.98; UR
This wildly popular six-episode comic mini-series from England came out of nowhere to become a social media sensation. Toby “Wayward Pines” Jones and Mackenzie Crook (the wooden-eyed pirate from “Pirates Of The Caribbean,” who also wrote this series) are a pair of long-time buds who waste their days dragging metal detectors over every vacant spot they can find. Oh, and they discuss life, the universe and everything they’ll do when they find oodles of buried treasure. That’s it. No action to speak of, but the rapport between these two idiots is breathtaking: warm, surprisingly deep and with that understated, desert-dry Limey sense of humor. We nearly peed.
K-ON!: SEASON ONE
2009; $42.98-59.98; UR
A clever and inventive anime sit-com of sorts about five girls who form a band for their highschool music club. Most of them don’t really want to be there at first — and their guitar player has never touched an instrument before! — but after some very affecting girlie drama they somehow start to make music. As former musicians ourselves (please give generously) we loved reliving that cautious thrill that comes from learning to play – we dug out our old six-strings and started jammin’ before it was half over — and the life-long friendships that come from that experience. Addictive.
THE CURSE OF DOWNERS GROVE
2015; $9.98-26.98; UR
A teen drama/thriller based on the book by Michael Hornburg, ratcheting up the horror elements for a group of high school seniors facing graduation and the local belief that one of them will die before the ceremony begins. Of course, the real calling card here is the perky 20-something cast of “teens,” most of them from Clearasil-sponsored TV fare, including Bella “Neighbours” Heathcote, Penelope “Hemlock Grove” Mitchell, Jacqueline “Hunger Games” Emerson, Lucas “Stoker” Till, and a cameo by Helen “Supergirl” Slater.
ZOMBIES OF THE BLOGOSPHERE
1995; $14.99 per wk.; NC-17
Dear Gentle Readers: This week’s edition of the Video TapeWorm marks our 21st anniversary of scribbling such crap for LEO. To those few who are still reading: Thank you for your support, your tolerance and that special lack of judgment which has allowed us to forgo actual employment. ‘Till next week: Stay sick, turn blue. —Dave and Bill.
*** More Recommended Videos for our On-Line Readers, Only!
AFTER THE BALL
2015; $24.95; UR
A silly Canadian riff on Cinderella set in the world of high-fashion that would be excruciating to watch if not for the two fetching leads. Portia Doubleday from 2013’s “Carrie” plays the lighthearted woman fighting to make a name for herself in her stepmother’s fashion house, so she dons a disguise. Oh, and she’s all but given up on love thanks to a gauntlet of loser-suitors. Marc-André Grondin plays her would-be prince. Charming.
ARGEVOLLEN: COLLECTION 1
2015; $42.98-59.98; UR
Considered by many to be the successor to the legendary Gundam series, this anime plows much the same ground, though the artwork and approach are less ponderous, and the romance is aimed at a younger audience. A central conceit concerns the mecha’s experimental controls, which mold the pilot’s mind, allowing him to control the machine unconsciously – though it can lead to madness. A female engineer steals the walking weapon to save an enemy boy, placing him in the driver’s seat, making it unusable by anyone but him from that point on. Imagine Romeo and Juliet with more firepower and hint of fan service, now on Blu-Ray.
ARMY OF FRANKENSTEINS
2013; $9.98-19.98; UR
This campy, super-crappy horror-comedy throwback, filmed in Oklahoma, mixes reanimated bodies, rips in the time-space continuum, and some of the goofiest dialogue imaginable, all to less-than-brilliant effect, but done so earnestly by people who clearly love the genre that you can’t help but smile. A mad doctor and his annoying kid-assistant capture a hapless chap (Jordan Farris, “Morganville: The Series”) for their weird Frankenstein experiments, only to succeed in punching a hole in reality. This plops him and a parade of creatures from endless parallel universes into the midst of the … American Civil War! It gets weird from there.
2013; $17.95; UR
One great crazy-assed flick! Skinny Milo Cawthorne stars as a messed-up junkie who breaks out of rehab with hot Olivia Tennet for a promised drug-orgy at her cabin in the woods. Well, hell yeah! We’re there! But what he finds instead is her cruel boyfriend (Ari Boyland), who masterminded the whole scheme to help him cook up a big batch of meth. What happens next is too good to spoil here, but you’ll never be able to sit through another lame horror-thriller again. Written and directed by husband-and-wife former Disney scripters, with a primary cast of hot young New Zealanders from “Power Rangers R.P.M.”, this thing RAWKS!
2013; $24.98; UR
A look at the future of America, if the trend towards the globalization of US firms isn’t stopped. Braddock PA was once a thriving steal-mill town, a model of the American dream a generation ago. Today it is all but a ghost town whose remaining residents live amongst dangerous, rotting, abandoned factories, many of them too fouled with pollution to safely tear down, their former owners having moved off-shore with no thought of cleaning up their mess. Without a town hospital, the residents suffer through constant utility outages, contaminated drinking water, and rampant drug use, all with no state or federal help. Very sobering.
2014; $33.98; R
With a cast that includes Ethan Hawke, January Jones, and Zoë Kravitz, and a plot ripped from today’s headlines, how can you go wrong? Hawke plays a career military UAV (“drone”) pilot who spends his days wiping out terrorists from his air-conditioned bunker, then sleeps comfortably at night in the ‘burbs with wife Jones. But the anonymous killing is taking its toll, especially when he realizes that every “target” he takes out creates multiple new threats. The task seems to get larger every day, with more and younger militants spawned with each click of the trigger-button. Is this really making the world safer? Worth your time.
HAWAII FIVE-O: SEASON 5
2014; $55.98; UR
This season was rife with military-related plots played out amid that lush, Eden-like landscape, beginning with the hijacking of a military drone to attack seemingly innocent civilians, and another about the kidnapping of the daughter of a soldier serving in Afghanistan. (Remember when we were there?) But our favorite episode was a Halloween night on the islands, with MacGarrett and crew tracking down a serial killer who stages elaborate recreations of cult slasher flicks. The season ends with a bang as a stolen nuclear warhead heats up Kono and Adam’s wedding (Grace Park, Ian Anthony Dale).
I AM DALE EARNHARDT
2015; 12.73; UR
This very popular doc doesn’t take the usual fawning, “oh what an wonderful person he was” approach. Instead it presents Earnhardt as one lucky SOB: a man who was literally driven (sorry) to succeed, but who also got the breaks when he deserved them – and may have stolen them when he didn’t – before dying in a fiery crash at the 2001 Daytona 500. A solid introduction to the real man behind the legend.
LOST AFTER DARK
2014; $14.98-26.98; UR
The 2,000th direct-to-video “homage to dead-teenager movies of the 80s” flick this month distinguishes itself by having a few very nice shocks (particularly that first kill – wow!), an attractive pile of young-actor corpses, a great “last girl” in Sarah “Degrassi: The Next Generation” Fisher, and Robert “True Blood” Patrick as the obligatory authority figure, Mr. C. No nudity, but goes great with an old couch and a six-pack.
OUR MAN IN TEHRAN
2013; $27.98; UR
A doc on the true events behind the movie “Argo”, focusing on the real Canadian Ambassador, Ken Taylor, who violated his country’s neutrality by providing shelter to US Embassy personnel when their compound was overrun during the Iranian Revolution. Far more edge-of-your-seat excitement than that flawed Ben Affleck caper flick, this thing is frightening as hell, with real footage of real people being dragged away or murdered in the streets just inches from the camera. Don’t miss it.
SCORPION: SEASON 1
2014; $76.98; UR
Dave here. While I like this “young genius turks helping the old guard” drama from CBS, Bill – who has degrees in science, math and engineering – won’t watch it. Why? He claims that all the supposed science is BS, like when they drive closely under an airplane with a laptop to take over control from the pilot. He’s got a point, but this isn’t Nova, it’s meant to be entertainment, not education. The cast, with Elyes”Game of Thrones” Gabel and Robert “True Blood” Patrick leading a modern Misfits Of Science-inspired group of techies, delivers lots of brain-dead fun, particularly when Katherine McPhee shows up as the groups’ “Earth to Geek” translator.
THE D TRAIN
2015; $18.98-39.98; R
Did you know that Jack Black recently made a movie with James Marsden? Well, he did! Jack plays against type as a grown up former HS loser who is drafted to drag Marsden – the most popular guy in school, now a hot actor/model – to the class reunion. And instead of Black being playing usual mouthy center of attention, it’s Marsden who dominates every scene, disrupting Black’s quiet, orderly life and career. An out-there comedy with welcome, appropriate nudity, a few surprise cameos (watch for Dermot Mulroney playing himself), and a script that plays very rough at times. We liked it.
2015; $26.98; UR
While advertised as a martial-arts movie, largely because it stars Wu Jing (“The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor”) and Scott Adkins (“The Expendables 2”), this is more of a modern war drama about a Chinese soldier (Wu) whose near-supernatural marksmanship puts him in the cross-hairs of a mercenary army sent by a vengeful drug lord. With Nan Yu (also “The Expendables 2”) as the requisite beautiful woman at the heart of it all.
A More Complete Listing and Free Vids at VideoTapeworm.com