July 25, 2006

The Video Tapeworm Releases through Tuesday, Aug. 1

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:PUTNEY SWOPE1969; DVD $19.95, RA new release of the best damned satire on social radicalism ever made. Robert Downey Sr. will forever be remembered for creating this perfect ’60s underground tale of the only token black man at an all-white ad agency who is accidentally made CEO after the racist original croaks during a board meeting. He renames the business “Truth and Soul, Inc.” and hires a clutch of militant brothers to “black-up the place,” only to see it all go down in flames around him. A bit dated, but the message is just as fresh as ever.V FOR VENDETTA2006; DVD $28.95, RA stirring, exciting and beautifully crafted comic-booker with luscious Natalie Portman as the unwilling protégée of madman/savior “V” (Hugo Weaving, though his face is never seen). As aging children of the ’60s, we loved the unabashedly gleeful radicalism and acts of explosive defiance against a Big Brother-esque regime lorded over by John Hurt. One of the most entertaining and intelligent movies of recent years; a must-own. Hey, let’s all put on Alfred E. Newman masks and blow King George off his bloody throne! Save the Constitution! To arms! To arms!BROKEN SAINTS: THE ANIMATED COMIC EPIC2006; DVD $49.95, URIf the name “Broken Saints” is unfamiliar to you, then you don’t spend enough time on the Internet. A Flash-animated graphic novel that combines anime, comic-book text, full-blown cinematic special effects and original music to tell a noir-ish tale of apocalyptic vision, death and salvation. Simply put: the first flowering of a new art form. All 24 episodes on four discs plus tons of great bonus features and Easter Eggs.DRACULA, PRISONER OF FRANKENSTEIN1972; DVD $19.95, URHoward Vernon made some incredibly bad Euro monster movies in his day, but none compare with this astonishingly gonzo effort as Count Dracula battling the effeminate Dr. F. (Dennis Price from “Venus in Furs”). A truly obscure Spanish/French co-misproduction with Fernando Bilbao as The Monster, Luis Barboo as Morpho and “Brandy” as The Werewolf. Our highest recommendation.HAZEL: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON2005; DVD $39.95, URFrom back in the days when a TV season meant 35 episodes, Shirley Booth stars as housekeeper/saint/sounding board to the Baxters, a loving stereotypical family of everything middle-class, circa 1960. Far better written than anything that passes for “sitcoms” these days, the humor is less situational and more of the “gentle observations of the human animal” vein. Your parents will thank you.MR. MOTO COLLECTION: VOLUME 12006; DVD $59.95, URPeter Lorre — whose turn as the child murderer in “M” still stands as the most chilling human monster ever captured on film — was amazing in this Charlie Chan-inspired spy/detective series in which he plays a Japanese. (You read that right.) As well written as Chan, but with an emphasis on action, adventure and droll humor, these are some of the most entertaining films we know. This set contains “Think Fast, Mr. Moto” (1937), our favorite; “Thank You. Mr. Moto,” involving a search for the treasure of Genghis Kahn (1937); “Mr. Moto Takes a Chance” (1938); and “Mysterious Mr. Moto” (1938).MY SUMMER STORY1994; DVD $19.95, PGKieran Culkin, Charles Grodin and Mary Steenburgen take over for Peter Billingsley, Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon in this sequel to Jean Shepherd’s “A Christmas Story.” Not nearly as good — how could it be? — but a fun ride nonetheless as early-teen Ralphie and family go on vacation. Fans may also remember that this same territory was mined in Shepherd’s made-for-TV movie, “Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss”; also available on video, if a bit hard to find.RX FOR SURVIVAL: THE HEROES2006; DVD $19.95, URBased on the PBS “Rx for Survival” series, this is a feature-length look at real-life stores of the people who risk their lives to save the world from disease. Stirring, exciting and sobering. What have you done for the world recently?SEVERED: FOREST OF THE DEAD2004; DVD $19.95, RWhoo-haaa! What a wonderful stinker! A far-better-than-it-has-to-be tale of runaway genetic engineering with dedicated environmentalists and hunky lumberjacks turning into brain-munching zombies. Don’t let the SciFi-Channel plot fool you, this is a fun and fabulous little gore-fest that deserves to be seen.THE SEX THIEF1972; DVD $14.95, URThe very definition of an English Sex Comedy. The Brits invented this quirky genre that always featured busty “young” women in goofy bosom-baring situations being comically seduced by randy young men. There’s no actual sex, of course — that just wouldn’t be proper! — but high on the ol’ Benny Hill Peter-Meter. In this one, masked jewel thief David Warbeck talks his way into bed with a score of very willing females while being tracked by hapless police inspectors. Those jerk-offs at Image Entertainment won’t send us a copy, so we don’t know if this is the original UK version, or the U.S. version with added hardcore scenes using body doubles. We can also recommend the equally Limey “Wilber and the Baby Factory.”THE SHAGGY DOG2006; DVD $29.95, PGDisney’s latest unnecessary remake of a family classic with Tim Allen. Parents will buy it and then bore their kids with tales of the original. Why not skip a step and just BUY THE DAMNED ORIGINAL! We’re sick of these friggin’ remakes.VEGGIETALES: LARRYBOY AND THE BAD APPLE2006; DVD $14.95, URLatest computer-animated kidvid starring produce as people. Crafted to deliver not-so-subtle Christian proselytizing to a group too innocent to know when they’re being brainwashed, it nonetheless helps get kids to eat healthy. “Here, Bobby, chomp on Mayor Blueberry and he’ll make your poops purple!”OTHER DVDS OF INTERESTA FISH CALLED WANDA1988; DVD $24.95, RFRONTLINE: THE AL QAEDA FILESDVD $34.95, URGOOD TIMES: THE COMPLETE SIXTH SEASON1978; DVD $29.95, URHOW ART MADE THE WORLD2005; DVD $29.95, URRICHARD PRYOR: LIVE IN CONCERT1979; DVD $19.95, URA more complete listing and free vids at www.videotapeworm.com!