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Todd & The Book of Pure Evil

February 22, 2012

Video TapeWorm

New, encore and low-price releases on Tuesday, Feb. 28

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:

PUSS IN BOOTS

2011; $19.98-$49.98; PG

Despite being two (over)grown men, we went to the theater to see this damn fine spin-off of the “Shrek” franchise — and saw quite a few adults doing the same thing. A terrific original tale of heroism, loyalty and truly bad puns with great music and voice work by Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris. Puss is tricked into stealing magic beans so that Kitty Softpaws can steal golden eggs for Humpty Dumpty, a bad egg and former childhood friend of Puss. Go! And watch it without shame (guitar strum).

TODD & THE BOOK OF PURE EVIL: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON

2010; $11.98-$19.98; UR

Four stoners/geeks turn their high school upside down searching for a hellish book of spells under the ever-vigilant eye of their evil guidance counselor, Atticus, in this wonderful Canadian import from their Space Channel. Reluctant leader, Todd, is a simple horny teen, forever lusting after the comely Jenny (Maggie Castle; the dude’s got good taste), while just trying to survive high school — he really doesn’t need all this satanic B.S. Canadian TV is so much better than ours. Recommended.

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BENEATH THE DARKNESS

2011; $18.98-$27.98; R

Dennis Quaid is brilliantly scary as the town undertaker and former athletic star with a sick, murderous hobby in this oddly paced R-rated thriller aimed at teens. Tony Oller and ravishing Aimee Teegarden are part of a group that sees a friend murdered by Quaid, but when the town adults ignore their accusations, Quaid begins openly taunting them — and selecting his next victim.

CLASH OF THE TITANS

2010; $19.98; PG-13

First Blu-ray release of the CGI-animated tale of Perseus, previously envisioned by stop-action master Ray Harryhausen in 1981. Not a remake despite being based on the same myths, this version pits Sam Worthington and Gemma Arterton against the monstrous hordes of Zeus and Hades, played by Liam Neeson (who doesn’t really pull it off well) and Ralph Fiennes, with Alexa Davalos and Izabella Miko as eye candy. Fun.

EL MONSTRO DEL MAR!

2010; $19.98-$24.98; UR

What a hoot! A trio of beautifully lethal bitches hides out in a little seaside town where they dedicate themselves to killing men, corrupting the local virgin — blonde and winsome Kyrie Capri — and ignoring warnings about the local sea-monster in this indie exploitation cheapie with no tits but lots o’ blood.

HUGO

2012; $15.49-$54.99; PG

Nominated for every freakin’ award known to man, Martin Scorsese’s 3-D fantasy, inspired by real events, is a delight for the eyes, if a bit long for kids. But you can forgive the director for getting carried away. It’s a romp through his favorite subject: the magic of movies. A bright orphan (Asa Butterfield) secretly lives behind the walls of the Paris train station until he is discovered by Chloë Grace Moretz. But the heart of his magical clockwork world is a broken mechanical man his father left him, and somehow the girl is the key to fixing it. Chloë is excellent as always, with Ben Kingsley as the toymaker with a secret past, and Sacha Baron Cohen as the bad guy. Recommended.

I MELT WITH YOU

2011; $16.98-$26.98; R

A quartet of former college buds gather to do lots of drugs and stare down middle-age in this adult-guy drama starring Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe and Christian McKay. Their lives are more or less successful, but each feels empty, shallow and unfulfilled — plus there are some serious skeletons in their shared closet. It all goes to hell when Sheriff’s Deputy Carla Gugino shows up.

JACK KEROUAC: KING OF THE BEATS

2011; $19.98-$29.98; UR

A retitling of his 1985 “Kerouac, the Movie,” this award-winning bio-doc by John Antonelli is perhaps the most intimate portrait of Kerouac, author of the seminal “On the Road,” that you’ll ever see. It covers everything from his nearly incestuous relationship with his mother, to comments by friends Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and William Burroughs, to even what TV program he was watching when his liver exploded and he died, puking up blood. But that’s just the way you’d want it to be, if you’re a follower of Kerouac.

JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN

2011; $18.98-$29.98; PG

Rowan Atkinson returns as Johnny English, his slapstick homage to 007. With far more action (and actual plot) than the 2003 original, this is a much better film, with far less of Atkinson’s sometimes overbearing camera-mugging and weird mannerisms — it’s more comedy and less clown. And what a cast! Gillian “Agent Scully” Anderson shows great comic chops as his new boss, and Rosamund Pike makes a perfect hot girlfriend. A well-deserved reboot for Atkinson.

MANDRILL

2009; $15.98-$26.98; R

Supposedly shot without a script, this campy, cheesy martial arts actioner is all but irredeemable — until Marko Zaror starts kicking ass! The Chilean former fight choreographer knows his stuff and performs with an effortless grace that borders on the poetic. Not the greatest movie we ever saw, but perfectly captures a talent we’ll be seeing more of.

STAGS

2011; $22.98-$24.98; UR

An all-but-unknown male adult comedy about facing down the Big 4-0. Four steadfast NYC bachelors — Benim Foster, Mark Giordano, Jesse Joyce and Matthew Rauch (from “Frankenfish”) — discuss sex, face tragedy and consider the many meanings of life — big and little — while trying to get laid.

THE MYTH OF THE AMERICAN SLEEPOVER

2010; $18.98; UR

This comedy-drama about four young people at the end of summer break in ’burbs of Detroit is really very sweet, despite the ad campaign that implies a raunchy “American Pie”-like sex farce. Yeah, there’s a bit of horny kid stuff, but there’s also a lot of natural-looking young people being themselves and saying things that real young people might say, and that includes fumbling, uncertain things about sexuality, friendship, the shedding of childhood and the responsibilities associated with it. Not perfect, but we liked it.

TRIAD TRILOGY

2012; $26.98-$29.98; UR

Devotees of HK director Johnny To will tell you that there are only two true Triad movies, 2005’s “Election” and its sequel, “Election 2” (aka “Triad Election”). This set contains both those thrillers — so famous for their complexity, nuance, performances and violence that they are often called the “Godfather Saga of Hong Kong.” The third film in this set is 2004’s “Gong Wu” (“Triad Underworld”), which has nothing to do with To or his Triad series, but it makes a nice warm-up for the other two. Good stuff.

A More Complete Listing and Free Vids at videotapeworm.com.