December 4, 2007

The Video Tapeworm: Releases on Tuesday, Dec. 11

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKSHARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX2007; DVD $28.95-$35.95, PG-13When we read the book, we thought, “Man, this thing is unfilmable!” Then we heard that TV vet David Yates was to direct, and we said, “Ugh, bad move!” Well, we can’t say we love this episode, which is more “inspired by the book” than actually based on it, but we have to give the guy props for the effort. An aging Daniel Radcliffe returns as an edgy Harry, beset by all manner of baddies — especially the hateful, matronly control-freak Dolores Umbridge, in this moody Hogwart’s outing that should segue well into Yates’ upcoming “Half-Blood Prince” next year. (Rumors have Guillermo Del Toro directing the final movie.) The previous HPs are all being re-released on DVD and HD for $14.95-$29.95, and all five are available in a Limited Edition Gift Set for $129.95.THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM2007; DVD $29.95-$39.95, PG-13There’s no reason for this movie to be this good! In most cases, the third-in-a-series is just a cheap, generic rehash of the first two movies — strictly for the bucks — but this Matt Damon espionage/actioner neatly wraps up the lingering questions from the first two, then pinpoints the baddies and puts them away, all the while notching up the action on rooftops, roads and in crowded rail stations across three continents! With Julia Stiles, Joan Allen, Scott Glenn and Albert Finney as the evil scientist behind it all. Terrific!A PERFECT DAY2006; DVD $24.95, URRob Lowe, Paget Brewster and Christopher Lloyd star in this literary made-for-TVer about a suddenly successful family man who is warned by a street-bum that he has only 40 days to live.BUGS! A RAINFOREST ADVENTURE2003; DVD $19.95, URReally COOL look at the Borneo Rainforests from the POV of its tiniest residents, magnified 250,000 times to screen-filling splendor. An alien adventure in a landscape as foreign as another planet, with blades of grass taller than the Empire State building.DEAD END DRIVE-IN/CUT AND RUN2007; DVD $9.95, URA pair of faves from the ’80s in a perfect double-feature. “Drive-In” takes place in an Australian dystopic near-future, where a guy and his major-babe girlfriend are trapped in a drive-in-theater-cum-maximum-security-youth-prison-with-lots-of-gratuitous-nudity. The second is an Argentine wonder about reporter Lisa Blount, who braves the Amazon, only to find crazed, drug-dealing military whack-job Richard Lynch. A former “video nasty,” now available for the first time in its complete uncensored glory.DECEMBER BOYS2007; DVD $27.95, URDaniel “Harry Potter” Radcliffe gets top billing in this Aussie arthouse hit about four orphans who travel to a beach resort and compete to land a new family. What happens next is storytelling magic.EMANUELLE: QUEEN OF THE DESERT1982; DVD $9.95, URWhile we could write this off as just another of Laura Gemser’s many “Emanuelle” nudies, this one is pretty good. Well, the last 10 minutes of it, anyway. We first saw it on “Joe Bob’s Drive-In Theater” on The Movie Channel back in 1994, and JB knows his bad movies.FRASIER: COMPLETE SERIES1993; DVD $343.95, URWhile some contend that it stayed on the air a season too long, who can argue with keeping the best-written sitcom in TV history? Winner of 105 awards including three Golden Globes, this comic juggernaut stayed funny through 263 episodes and 11 seasons with Kelsey Grammar as the titular radio-shrink, David Hyde Pierce as his uppity brother and Peri Gilpin, John Mahoney and Jane Leeves completing the perfect ensemble.GAY GETAWAYS2007; DVD $19.95, URA spry look at popular vacation spots from Los Angeles to Palm Springs, where the roadsigns all say “Alternate Route.”HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 22007; DVD $29.95-$34.95, GThis quickie Disney sequel to their unexpected smash hit of 2006 is pretty much more of the same: lively musical numbers featuring attractive, talented young people; now packaged in a slick DVD that lets you sing and dance along. What’s not to like?INSIDE THE LIVING BODY2007; DVD $19.95, URA killer National Geographic special that explains why we are all programmed to grow old and die from the moment we are conceived. State-of-the-art computer techniques compress an entire life into a 30-second morph. Depressing to those of us of a certain age, but never less than fascinating.INTERVIEW2007; DVD $24.95, RA Steve Buscemi vanity project co-starring Sienna Miller; he co-wrote, stars in and directed this remake of the 2003 film from the Netherlands of the same name. A hard-edged journalist/war reporter is given a fluff assignment: interview a popular soap-opera star.MOOLAADE2004; DVD $34.95, URA savage, powerful and frightening tale based on the pervasive African tradition of “female circumcision” — routinely performed on girls age 4-9 without anesthesia, killing many and leaving others with scars that will kill them during childbirth — and the deadly consequences of resisting this cultural norm.SENATOR OBAMA GOES TO AFRICA2007; DVD $19.95, URThe former presidential front-runner travels to Kenya to spread the love, get in touch with his roots and grab some camera time, all the while honing his diplomacy skills. Obviously moved by the beauty and grandeur of his ancestral homeland, the visit to a Darfur refugee camp brings him to tears. Us, too.THE MAN WHO COULD WORK MIRACLES1936; DVD $12.95, URA welcome re-release of a forgotten comedy, written by H.G. Wells, that inspired “Bruce Almighty.” The gods get bored and decide to bestow omnipotence to one hapless mortal, just for fun. Warm, knowing and damned funny.THE UNDERTAKER AND HIS PALS1966; DVD $9.95, URA fabulous, dark and funny take on “Sweeny Todd” from the heyday of drive-in gore, thanks to Ted V. Mikels and our friends at Cheezy Flicks. The titular trio — including a pair of dim-bulb diner owners — drum up business with a unique collaboration: the spatula-jockies kill people, serve them up to unsuspecting patrons, and the undertaker gets paid by the next of kin to bury the leftovers! A rare piece of drive-in history, often shown as a triple feature with “The Corpse Grinders” and “The Embalmer.”OTHER DVDS OF INTERESTBEVERLY HILLS 90210: THE THIRD SEASON1990; DVD $54.95, URBIG LOVE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON2007; DVD $59.95, URDIRT: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON2007; DVD $59.95, URLOST: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON2006; DVD $59.95, URA more complete listing and free vids at!