July 24, 2007

Video TapeWorm: Releases through Tuesday, July 31

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH1957; DVD $24.95, URA two-disc 50th Anniversary Edition of stop-motion master Ray Harryhausen’s most original and underrated creations. A spaceship returns from Venus, crashing off the Italian coast (for no other reason than Ray wanted to visit Italy), disgorging a jelly-like egg. The egg hatches into an “Ymir” (a name never used in the film), which quickly grows to adult size and wanders into Rome. A wildly sympathetic creation, it can move a grown man to tears when the Army moves in to dispatch the monster. Well, it does us, anyway. Includes commentary by Ray, Dennis Muren and Phil Tippett and lots more goodies.3002007; DVD $28.95-88.95, RA bludgeoning, ferocious and exhausting dramatization of the true Battle of Thermopylae where 300 Greeks fought to the death with the Persian empire, forever changing the course of Western civilization. Based on Frank “Sin City” Miller’s graphic novel, its visual style is a bloody, harrowing treat for the eyes, even if Gerard Butler’s bombastic speeches and constant screams wear thin quickly. Groundbreaking cinema at its most original, possibly even a new artform, available in single or two-disc editions.BIOGRAPHY: BORIS KARLOFF: THE GENTLE MONSTER2007; DVD $24.95, URBorn in 1887 London, William Henry Pratt left school as a young man, moved to Canada and changed his name to Boris Karloff to act in stock companies and road-show theater productions. It wasn’t until the age of 41 that he lucked into the role of the Frankenstein monster, becoming an overnight international sensation. The definitive biodoc on a fine actor and singular human being, courtesy of A&E.DEAD CLOWNS2003; DVD $26.95, RIf the names Debbie Rochon and Brinke Stevens mean nothing to you, then you can’t possibly anticipate just how much fun this low budget scream-queen horror outing can be. A shameless tale of waterlogged, pissed-off zombie circus clowns out for revenge in big floppy shoes.HOT FUZZ2007; DVD $29.95-39.95, RThose two slackers from “Shaun of the Dead” take on action-cop movies in this hilarious and dead-on spoof. A perfect balance of action, over-the-top blood, clever homages, brain-dead dialogue, wacky Englishmen and dim-bulb plot twists that rival, echo and improve on “Shaun.” Our highest recommendation. Go get it, man!JAMES ELLROY: AMERICAN DOG2006; DVD $29.95, URTo say James Ellroy — author of classic crime thrillers such as “L.A. Confidential” and “The Black Dahlia” — has a dark edge is to put it mildly. This erudite and literate biodoc looks at the man behind the pen, and particularly how his obsession over his mother’s violent murder has colored his work.LONELY HEARTS2006; DVD $24.95-26.95, RWow, what a terrific stinker! John Travolta (and family) star with James Gandolfini, Jared Leto, Salma Hayek, Laura Dern, Michael Gaston, Alice Krige and many more in this just-plain-awful crime-thriller based on a true tale of lovers/serial-killers who preyed on the lonely. And why haven’t you heard of it before? Because it was so insanely effluviant that the studio dumped it offshore — Taiwan, Serbia, Montenegro, Norway — before letting it wash up onto American DVD. Wildly entertaining in the best Bad Movie sense.LOVIN’ SPOOONFUL: DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC2007; DVD $19.95, URA loooong overdue look at one of the most underrated bands of all time, hosted by John Sebastian himself, who provides rich, homespun tales of the band’s origins and highlights. A real treat for fans with complete performances of a score of hits performed by the original members.NOVA: FIRST FLOWER2007; DVD $19.95, URCharles Darwin called flowers “an abominable mystery,” and their origins and life-sustaining relationships to all living things have baffled scientists for centuries. This NOVA special takes you on a globe-spanning search for clues as to why and how flowers have so profoundly affected life on Earth, including our own evolution.NOVEL ROMANCE2007; DVD $26.95-$48.95, RSomething of a female-empowerment soft-core role-reversal romance about careers and ticking clocks starring former kiddie-porn princess Traci Lords with Paul Johansson, Sherilyn Fenn and Mariette Hartley.PATHFINDER2007; DVD $29.95, R/URAn original and vastly underrated sword and moccasin tale of bloodthirsty Viking marauders, peaceful Native Americans and a 10-year-old boy left behind in 9th-century North America starring Karl Urban. Bloody and violent as hell — especially the unrated version — this Darkhorse comicbooker has a profound, life-altering message somewhere under all the gore.SPACE 1999 30TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION MEGASET1975; DVD $99.95, URWe could write a book on this wonderful series from Gerry “Supermarionation” Anderson, but we suggest you RUN to the vidstore and pick up all 48 episodes. A unique, original and imaginative space adventure about the runaway Moon, blasted out of orbit with a small band of helpless survivors trapped aboard.THE FILM NOIR CLASSIC COLLECTION VOL. 42006; DVD $59.95, URThis latest offering from the series reaches deep into the genre for some little-known, overlooked and underappreciated gems that any true film-lover should own. Includes “Act of Violence,” “Mystery Street,” “Crime Wave,” “Decoy,” “Illegal,” “The Big Steal,” “They Live By Night,” “Side Street,” “Where Danger Lives” and “Tension.” “Act” is a particular favorite with Van Heflin and Robert Ryan as former Air Force crewmembers whose lives took vastly different paths due to the war and their own personal ethos. Ten great films on five discs, most never before released on home video.THUNDERBIRDS 40TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTOR’S EDITION MEGASET2007; DVD $99.95, URAnother Gerry Anderson tour de force; all 32 episodes of his “Supermarionation” masterpiece about a family of rocket-happy super-scientist/adventurers protecting mankind from all manner of evil — alien or man-made. The bonus disc includes a pair of rarely seen special episodes, plus a never-before-seen interview with Anderson.OTHER DVDS OF INTERESTBABYLON 5: THE LOST TALES2007; DVD $24.95, URHAWAII FIVE-O: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON1969; DVD $59.95, URHISTORY CHANNEL: FORT KNOX: SECRETS REVEALED2007; DVD $24.95, URIMAX: BLUE PLANET1993; DVD $28.95, URPOPEYE THE SAILOR: 1933-1938, VOL. 11998; DVD $64.95, URTHE ARCHIE SHOW: THE COMPLETE SERIES1968; DVD $26.95, URA more complete listing and free vids at www.videotapeworm.com!