Posted by: Peter Hall
There are only two standard definition titles of the week that I recognize. MUM & DAD is a British import that got some modest appreciation on the fest circuit. The other is a flick called THE 8TH PLAGUE, which has found its way in this DVD guide well over a year ago. I’ve seen neither. The best bet may be THE 8TH PLAGUE, seeing as it now has a special edition.
The real winners of the week are the hi-def titles. I’m not the biggest fan, but DOG SOLDIERS on Blu is definitely going to warrant a watch, if not a purchase at a cheaper price point. I can’t say the same for TWILIGHT, though. Vampires that sparkle like diamonds are only going to look sillier in 1080p, but the teen vamp phenom certainly has its fans. Why else would Amazon think they could get away with charging $80 for a collectors edition?
This leaves Season 2 of “DEXTER” as the winner for the week. Season 2 has been available on DVD for a while and if you already own that set, other than the bump in looks there isn’t much incentive to pick it up in Blu. If, however, you are looking to save the economy by needlessly spending money, at $39 the price is right for a great show in the best available format.
Do you own THE MAN WITH THE SCREAMING BRAIN? Do you own ALIEN APOCALYPSE? No? Is it because they’re awful movies? Well, now you can get twice the awful for half the price! The Chin doubles up with the disc 2 TIMES THE BRUCE, though neither is worth $14. Sorry, Bruce.
Guh, is this a crappy start to the month or what? Next up is BTK, THE GRUDGE 3, and PLAGUE TOWN. I can’t speak to the quality of any of these three, though I think you can trust your instincts. BTK could be a Lifetime channel movie if Kane Hodder didn’t play the real life killer, THE GRUDGE 3 is near franchise abandonment and I saw someone on Twitter a week or two ago say PLAGUE TOWN was awful. Great month! Ugh.
The biggest genre title of the week is UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS. I never much liked the UNDERWORLD franchise. Oddly (though not without easy explanation) I do like Kate Beckinsale, but the franchise does nothing for me. I was out of country when this hit theaters, but I’m interested to see if Rhona Mitra can bring some fresh blood to the series I always felt suffered a lack of blood.
Worth stepping outside of the genre we have TAKEN, which gets a mention because it is a phenomenal return to form for the one-man action genre. I stopped counting, but if I had to guess I’d have to peg my TAKEN viewing count at no less than 7 times. If you saw Liam Neeson throat chopping all of Paris in a theater in the States, you actually got a watered down experience. This DVD and Blu-ray remedies that with the uncut, trigger happy version. This is a must see for any fan of ’90s action.
Blu-ray titles for the week include the mentioned RISE OF THE LYCANS (as well as a trilogy set of all three latex loving entries to the UNDERWORLD verse) and an HD release of the ‘original’ THE GRUDGE.
It has just occurred to me that MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D (review) is the best horror I’ve seen in theaters so far in 2009. That is a statement I was not expecting to make, but is a testament to how much fun Patrick Lussier’s dimension thrusting update/ how piss poor the rest of the offerings have been so far this year. Both the DVD and BRD for this release include the 3D presentation as well as the 2D, though I’m ignorant as to what method is used. Everyone always talks about the ‘good’ 3D and the ‘bad’ 3D. If someone knows the difference, do drop some knowledge.
I love Magnet Releasing for giving festival titles broadened exposure, which they’ve done once again with EDEN LOG, which is a bizarre French hybrid of science fiction and horror. Taken as a whole, EDEN LOG is nothing to write home about, but it does have highlights and a technical mastery on the part of director Franck Vestiel, who for a feature first timer does an excellent job of invoking BRAZIL era Terry Gilliam. Also available on Blu.
I’ve heard mumblings of good things about British offering BANE, which I’m told has a low budget look not unlike the majority of titles each month, but that its strong script takes familiar material better places. Perhaps the same can be said of BACKWOODS (Haylie Duff, weird) and THE DEVIL’S GROUND (Daryl Hannah, weird) don’t know, but I’ll definitely be checking out BANE.
Reaching back into the catalog is 1982’s THE LAST HORROR FILM, which is not to be confused with THE LAST HORROR MOVIE, an intelligent Brit Indie from a few years back that I never pass up an opportunity to recommend.
I wish I could recommend Vikings and Astronaut vs Alien Beowulf flick OUTLANDER, but I’d only go so far as to shove it somewhere in your Netflix queue. The premise was either going to lend itself to inspiration or mastication, unfortunately we get the later. The best thing that can be said of OUTLANDER is that it chews and chews and chews on its roots, but never makes a meal of any of potentially tremendous elements. Ron Perlman probably filmed this on the same day he did MUTANT CHRONICLES.
On DVD and Blu-ray we have Season 1 of HBO’s “TRUE BLOOD”, which last year replaced both “LOST” and “BATTLESTAR GALACTICA” as my favorite show on television. I will be giving this a buy in Blu and couldn’t be more excited about watching each episode again before the season 2 premiere in June. Sexy is probably the number one adjective bandied about describing the show, sexy is a killer buzz word for a blurb, but the show goes above and beyond its nudity.
The first three episodes are burdened by the heavy weight of having to acclimate the viewer to a supernatural world more adult than any genre fare in years, but the show really finds its groove around the time Bill recounts for a church group how he was turned during the civil war. From episode four on it is an invigorating, rapturous series. Assuming whoever you watch this with is okay with sporadically gratuitous sex, I’d say this is a must buy. If anything, Netflix it.
Three STD flicks end out the lackluster month: CARNIVOROUS, AMBITION and THE DEVIL’S TOMB. I’m actually looking forward to THE DEVIL’S TOMB. Not because I think it’ll be any good, but because a producer somewhere (likely in Europe) was able to wrangle a cast composed of Cuba Gooding Jr., Ray Winstone, Taryn Manning, Ron Perlman, Zack Ward, Bill Moesely AND Henry Rollins. Somewhere in all that mediocrity must be at least one reason to justify 90 minutes of, er, tomb deviling.
And if you weren’t a sucker like me who bought it on HD DVD, you may want to go grab CHILDREN OF MEN, which hits the Blu shelves today.