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September 5, 2012

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Video TapeWorm

New, encore and low-price releases on Tuesday, Sept. 11

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:

DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW

1981; $14.98; UR

Very few made-for-TV horror flicks ever seem to work, but this is one of the all-time best. Charles Durning plays an evil postman (is there any other kind?) who leads a group of small-town vigilantes to kill a simple-minded young man and hide his body. This sets into motion a terrific tale of revenge from the grave that is part terror, part horror, and 100 percent entertaining. Now available in a Deluxe Collector’s Edition with lots of great bonus goodies, including a cast reunion Q&A recorded at the 2011 Frightfest Film Festival rat-cheer in Louisville.

HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR: THE COMPLETE SERIES

1980; $34.98-$39.98; UR

The “Hammer House of Horror” TV show may have been something of a disappointment to that venerable UK studio: It lasted only one season, a total of 13 episodes, despite such great stars as Pierce Brosnan, Peter Cushing, Brian Cox and Denholm Elliott. It was then shown in a few scattered U.S. cable markets before being watered down for U.S. broadcast syndication and VHS. But now, for the first time, you can finally see each of these underrated gems in their original, uncut form, resplendent with lots of great bonus goodies. Recommended.

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BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW

2010; $24.98-$29.98; R

Winsom Eva Allan is a heavily sedated captive in some sort of utopian medical hell of 1983. She somehow escapes, discovering in the process that she has some very unique and surprising abilities. This dreamy, synthesizer-infused ode to Reagan-era cartoon shows Kenneth Anger shorts, Cronenberg-y self-mutation, and “2001” trippiness is not for everyone, but definitely recommended for those who enjoy something different. We thoroughly loved it.

CLOSING OF WINTERLAND

2012; $14.98-$19.98; UR

Fans of the Grateful Dead know that this is the de facto live video recording of the Dead at their peak. The Winterland Ballroom/Ice Rink — an iconic performance shit-hole in San Francisco that gave rise to some of America’s greatest bands and performers — closed New Year’s Day 1979. That final concert lasted more than eight hours, six of it for the Dead alone, all of which is on this re-released set along with bonus material featuring the Blues Brothers, New Riders of the Purple Sage and others. Simply a must-own for anyone who cares about great music.

FUTURE WORLD: CITY OF MASS DESTRUCTION

2012; $14.98-$16.98; UR

A truly awesome low-budget spectacle, set 28,000 years in the future and filmed entirely in front of a green screen. After four atomic wars and a second Ice Age, the last vestiges of humanity live in a single corporate-owned city of unhinged men, Amazon lesbian-warriors, mutants, and a high-tokin’ blue genie. Imagine “Heavy Metal” on crack — or better yet, just get this video!

GIRL IN PROGRESS

2012; $15.98-$19.98; PG-13

A lot has been made of the Latino-centric aspects of this little family drama, but that’s nonsense: This is universal stuff. Eva Mendes is an immature single mom, fooling around with Matthew Modine MD (Married Doctor), while teen daughter Cierra Ramirez craves parental attention. When the kid’s English teacher, Patricia Arquette, gives her some coming-of-age stories to read, the teen’s desire to skip right to adulthood ratchets up the pressure on her juvenile-acting mom. Not bad.

HARRY POTTER WIZARD’S COLLECTION

2012; $349.98-$499.98; PG-13

All eight Harry Potter films, with all previously released bonus goodies plus lots of new features and limited-edition collectibles on 31 Blu-ray discs in one clever fold-out collector’s case. Wow! What more could you possibly want to know?

KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE

1988; $12.98-$16.98; PG-13

It’s hard to believe, but this is the first time we’ve ever reviewed this! One of our all-time favorite movies: a purposely goofy/scary ode to sci-fi horror and the inherent ickiness of big-top clowns. The titular killers drop from outer space (duh) in their circus-tent spaceship to wrap victims in cotton-candy cocoons ... before sucking their juices out through a silly-straw! Fun special effects, crazy artwork and great low-rent actors — Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John “Dean Wormer” Vernon, an unnoticed Christopher Titus — make this one not to miss. Our highest recommendation; now on Blu-ray.

NYMPHO DIVER: G-STRING FESTIVAL

1981; $19.98; UR

Japan has many cinematic traditions that are unknown to most Americans, such as the ama or “girl diver” films. These usually involve beautiful underwater photography of serene nudes of all ages — sometimes as a travelog, sometimes with a minimal plot. This film takes that premise and fills it with young, beautiful ladies (seriously, they are breathtaking) having topless underwater catfights when not on land, visibly arousing the village’s male population, including a horny monk. It’s all harmless fun and played for laughs. Enjoy.

SPARTACUS: VENGEANCE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON

2010; $34.98-$59.98; UR

In this 10-episode continuation of “The Showtime Series That Wouldn’t Die,” Claudius Glaber (Craig Parker) and his troops are marching to Capua to quell the Spartacus rebellion. Meanwhile, said former slave (Liam McIntyre) must choose between revenge over the enslavement and death of his wife, and a compromise that will keep his fledgling army together. All of which is just an excuse for sex, nudity and grotesque bloody violence. Yaaay!

VILE

2011; $26.98; UR

Sweet little April Matson (“Kyle XY”) finds herself in a living hell with a band of strangers, trapped in house by a lunatic medico. And in one of the most overwrought plots ever devised, each is wearing a device that harvests a brain hormone, the by-product of intense pain. We’re sure you can see where this is going. No actual gore; with striking Heidi Mueller. We’ve seen worse.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING

2012; $19.98-$39.98; PG-13

If you’ve never been pregnant or the partner of someone who was, the charms of this little comic toss-off may be lost on you. But for a vast section of society, this look at the fears, humiliation, tears, joys and, yes, smells of impending birth is very funny. The preggos and their distaff staff members include Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick and Brooklyn Decker, while Chace Crawford, Matthew Morrison, Dennis Quaid and Chris Rock (in good form) provide the sperm and most of the best gags. We liked it.

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