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March 27, 2007

Video Tapeworm: Releases through Tuesday, April 3

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS THE MARIO BAVA COLLECTION, VOLUME 1 2007; DVD $49.95, UR A fabulous five-disc set of early works from Italy’s pre-eminent cinematographer, special effects wizard and thriller director. Contains the Hitchcockian “The Girl Who Knew Too Much” (1963), “Kill Baby Kill” (1966), which inspired Dario Argento’s “Suspiria,” the obscure “Knives of the Avenger” (1966) with Cameron Mitchell as a Viking, and Boris Karloff in the horror anthology “Black Sabbath.” But the gem of the collection is “Black Sunday” (1960), his gothic masterpiece starring the incomparable Barbara Steele in twin roles, one as a witch who comes back for revenge after having had an iron-spiked mask pounded into her face in the film’s opening! Our highest recommendation. THE ZOMBIES: LIVE AT THE BLOOMSBURY THEATRE, LONDON 2007; DVD $19.95, UR A welcome reunion of rock superstars Colin Blunstone (The Alan Parsons Project among many others) and Rod Argent (founder of Argent) after some three decades of solo work and movie soundtracks (including “The Way I Feel Inside” from the dreadful “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”). The song list includes their twin hits “Time of the Season” and “She’s Not There” along with lesser-known FM/LP favorites “Tell Her No,” “This Will Be Our Year” and “A Rose For Emily.” 3 NEEDLES 2006; DVD $24.95, UR A trio of stories, unrelated except that they all deal with the worldwide AIDS epidemic. Told in a confusing — if mesmerizing — cut-away fashion, Lucy Liu is a young pregnant woman running a dangerous blood-scam in rural China; Shawn Ashmore plays a Canadian pornstar with HIV; Chloe Sevigny is a novice nun in Africa who considers saving souls more important than saving lives. BLACK CHRISTMAS 2006; DVD $29.95, R A remake in name only of the infamous 1974 mad-slasher film. (Trivia note: Its director would go on to do “A Christmas Story” a decade later.) A fun cast — Kate Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg and Lacey Chabert — and some clever touches — such as casting SCTV’s Andrea Martin, one of the victims in the original, as the doomed sorority girl’s House Mother — help raise this just a notch above other unnecessary remakes. CHARLOTTE’S WEB 2006; DVD $29.95, G The latest — and best — retelling of the classic E.B. White kid’s tale, this one featuring the amazing Dakota Fanning, and some of the best voice-work we’ve ever heard. With Robert Redford as a horse, Steve Buscemi as a rat, John Cleese as a sheep, Kathy Bates and Reba McEntire as cows, and Julia Roberts as the sexy-voiced spider. COPYING BEETHOVEN 2006; DVD $27.95, PG-13 An excellent tale of the relationship between thorny, deaf and volatile Ludwig van Beethoven (a welcome Ed Harris) and a pretty Viennese music student (Diane Kruger) hired to transcribe his notes. Haunted by his otherwordly talent and a brutal life, Beethoven is unable to visualize his immortal 9th Symphony until she helps him reconnect with the human race. One helluva good movie. DEATH OF A PRESIDENT 2006; DVD $27.95, R Wow! This serious British-made mockumentary looks back to the “past” of Oct. 19, 2007 — the day when President G.W. Bush was assassinated! Focusing on violence in America and how we — and the world — are changed by it, it turns our personal prayers into a taut political thriller, revealing larger truths about the nature of Man. Very highly recommended. LOST ROOM 2006; DVD $19.95, UR While not perfect by any means, this made-for-the-SciFi-Channel miniseries is by far the most original thing they’ve done since the days when Harlan Ellison was on staff. Police Det. Peter Krause stumbles into the secret world of an abandoned desert motel, where an extradimensional room gives everyday objects un-Earthly powers. His daughter becomes lost in Room 10 and only a mysterious cult of Object Hunters have the knowledge to find her. MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA 1964; DVD $19.95, UR Originally released on video as “Gozilla vs. Mothra,” this very nice repackaging of arguably the best Godzilla sequel includes both the original Japanese-language version with English subtitles in its original widescreen “Toho Scope” format, as well as the dubbed American theatrical release (“Godzilla vs. The Thing”), plus some nice bonus material. As any fool knows, fire-breathing Big G takes on a giant moth, psychically linked to a pair of 6-inch-high twin girls. THE BRADY BUNCH: THE COMPLETE SERIES 1969; DVD $129.95, UR All five seasons of arguably the most popular disaster ever foisted on the American TV consumer — now with a shag-carpet box cover! Anyone who needs a synopsis of this bland gem should probably wear that as a badge of pride. THE GOOD SHEPHERD 2006; DVD $29.95-39.95, R A killer cast — Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, Robert De Niro, John Turturro, William Hurt and Alec Baldwin, under De Niro’s direction — and a taut script by Eric Roth, based on his book, make this the definitive tale of “the road to hell” being paved with good intentions. A naive and moral young man is recruited to join the new Office of Strategic Service — forerunner to the CIA — and slowly comes to accept murder, violence, torture and political manipulation as “serving a higher cause.” VOLVER 2007; DVD $28.95, R Penelope Cruz shines in Pedro Almodavar’s tribute to the courage and resilience of women. As life spins comically out of control for two sisters — their mother returns from the dead to reveal unwanted secrets, there’s a dead body in their freezer, a drunken husband commits a despicable act — they rise above it all with a wit and grace that their male counterparts could never imagine. Simply one of the best films we’ve ever seen. ZOMBIES GONE WILD 2007; DVD $19.95, UR A straight-to-video gore-drenched horndog comic cheapie about three dim guys, heading out on a Spring Break road trip, dreaming of scoring with beach hotties. Unfortunately, the girls turn into the flesh-eating undead. Terrible movie. Lots of fun! Other DVDs of Interest ENTOURAGE: SEASON 3 PART 1 2004; DVD $39.95, UR ROSEANNE: THE COMPLETE SEVENTH SEASON 1994; DVD $39.95, UR SHAW BROTHERS: SHADOW WHIP SPECIAL EDITION 1971; DVD $19.95, UR TWIN PEAKS: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON 1990; DVD $54.95, UR A more complete listing and free vids at www.videotapeworm.com!