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May 6, 2008

Video TapeWorm: Releases through Tuesday, May 13

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKSTOBOR THE GREAT1954; $14.95, UROne of the greatest bad Cold War sci-fi movies, now available on a crystal-clean DVD. When the United States plans to explore space, a scientist creates an android robot astronaut that can be controlled psychically. An evil foreign power wants this technology for their own nefarious purposes, so they kidnap the creator’s grandson. The scenes where they threaten the boy with a blowtorch are pretty rough for the day. Aimed squarely at 8-year-olds, this is still a treat for those of us who love truly wretched cult films.YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH2007; $29.95-$38.95, RIn pre-WWII Europe, an aging and near-death Tim Roth is struck by lightning, somehow causing his body to regenerate. A week later, he finds himself 40 again, attracting the unwanted attention of the world — and the Nazis. But this is not sci-fi or fantasy, it’s an opportunity to explore what it means to be human, to grow old, to live, to love and to die — all while on the run with fetching Alexandra Maria Lara. A masterstroke from producer/director/writer Francis Ford Coppola.A RAISIN IN THE SUN2005; $24.95, URNot the groundbreaking 1961 drama starring Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee about a poor black family facing ruin or salvation from an unexpected financial windfall. This is the TV version of its 2004 Broadway revival starring Sean “P. Diddy” Combs and Audra McDonald, along with Phylicia Rashad, Sanaa Lathan and John Stamos. Not bad, but we’d rather watch the original any day.ANCHORS AWEIGH1945; $12.95, URThe legendary Gene Kelly/Frank Sinatra song-and-dance extravaganza that has never been equaled. Two horny seamen get shore leave in Hollywood where they meet beautiful Kathryn Grayson. A classic of classics, this contains the now-famous scene where Kelly dances with an animated Jerry the Mouse (recently stolen by “Family Guy” with Stuie replacing the rodent).BLIND EYE2008; $24.95, RNick Mancuso — do we really need to go on? OK, ex-cop Nick asks friends Levi Oliver and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper to help find his missing daughter. But do they already know more than they are letting on?BOTCHED2007; $19.95, URStephen Dorff plays a professional thief in Russia for a major heist that goes horribly wrong, trapping him on the 13th floor of a skyscraper with twin serial killers, a pack of insane hostages, double-crossing psycho Russian mobsters, the equally unbalanced cops ... and something else. A fun little horror/thriller with a wry sense of humor.CLASSIC SCI-FI ULTIMATE COLLECTION 1 & 22008; $59.95, URTen perfect Golden Age SciFi Classics from Universal Pictures for under $6 each! And what a list! “Tarantula,” “The Mole People,” “The Incredible Shrinking Man,” “The Monolith Monsters,” “Monster on the Campus,” “Dr. Cyclops,” “Cult of the Cobra,” “The Land Unknown,” “The Deadly Mantis” and “The Leech Woman!” Not a clunker in the bunch.GRADUATION2006; $26.95, PG-13A quartet of high-schoolers on the verge of graduation stage a bank robbery to help out a sick relative — and to get back at the banker/father who is having an affair. Worth checking out.INDIANA JONES: THE ADVENTURE COLLECTION2008; $59.95, URA perfect box set, just in time for the latest big-screen sequel. Contains Special Edition versions of “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “The Temple of Doom” and “The Last Crusade,” with all the behind-the-scenes goodies you’d expect.JEAN-LUC GODARD CLASSICS1967; $29.95, URMany of the French cinemaster’s works were released on DVD — some for the first time — last month, but “Le Gai Savoir (The Joy of Knowledge)” and “La Chinoise (The Chinese),” two of his most political works, were singled out for special treatment this month. “Joy” may be his best: a study of language and how it is “the enemy,” with a pair of radicals deconstructing words to their simplest forms in a search for truth and freedom.LOST IN BEIJING2007; $29.95, URWanna see what ticks off The Sleeping Giant? This flick, a runaway hit in China, was then pulled off screens — and the filmmaker forbidden to make any further films for two years — after authorities discovered that it promoted social freedoms! Amid the hectic, fast-paced life of Beijing, four people form a free-love quadrangle within the city’s new Western-styled upper crust.MAD MONEY2008; $29.95, PG-13Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, Katie Holmes and Ted Danson star in this comic crime caper about average shmucks who dream up a crazy scheme to steal millions of dollars of “old money” on its way to the incinerator. Not exactly drop-dead funny, and a bit too heavy on the “female empowerment” of bank robbery, but kinda fun.MAGNIFICENT SEVEN: THE COMPLETE SERIES1998; $49.95, URA rare treat for oater-fans: a five-disc set with all 17 episodes from both seasons of the 1998 TV series, PLUS four never-aired episodes starring Michael Biehn, Eric Close, Andrew Kavovit, Dale Midkiff and Ron Perlman. Also available: “The Magnificent Seven Collection” containing all four theatrical films for $29.95.MARVEL HEROES COLLECTION2008; $69.95, URSpecial Edition box set of “X-Men,” “X2: X-Men United,” “X-Men 3: The Last Stand,” “The Fantastic Four,” “Fantastic Four 2,” “Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes Volume 1,” “Elektra” and “Daredevil,” plus a CD on the Silver Surfer and lots of other goodies. ’Nuff said?STEAL A PENCIL FOR ME2007; $24.95, UROscar-nominated tale about three Jews in 1943 Holland — a man, his unhappy, flirtatious wife, and his lover, a beautiful woman from a wealthy family — who wind up in a Nazi concentration camp together where their lives and loves continue, despite the horror around them.SUMMERTIME FUN!1982; $14.95, URBarney, Bob the Builder, Thomas & Friends, Angelina Ballerina and Fireman Sam all contribute to this summertime-themed kidvid, which we hope tells them to turn off the damned TV and go outside.THE GREAT DEBATERS2007; $29.95, PG-13The true tale of Melvin B. Tolson, a college professor at an all-black school in 1935 who inspired his student debate team to take on Harvard for the national championship. Directed by and stars Denzel Washington, with Forest Whitaker, Kimberly Elise, Jumee Smollett and Nate Parker.UNTRACEABLE2008; $24.95-$38.95, RReally awful, stupid attempt by Diane Lane and Colin Hanks to craft a brainless Ashley Judd-type chick-thriller set in a high-tech Internet-crime-fighting unit — with elements of torture-porn! Completely unredeemable. Next.WALK ALL OVER ME2007; $19.95, RLeelee Sobieski — who we absolutely love, no matter what the movie — makes a rare career stumble as a small-town girl, trying to make ends meet, who takes on the dominatrix personae of one of her roommates. It’s really awful, but damned entertaining!OTHER DVDS OF INTERESTLOVEJOY: THE COMPLETE SEASON THREE2008; $69.95, URSESAME STREET: DINOSAURS2008; $14.95, URSTARGATE INFINITY: THE COMPLETE SERIES1982; $34.95, GTHE CHASE: SEASON ONE2007; $29.95, URTHE GALAXY RANGERS COLLECTION VOL. 11976; $39.95, URTHE RAT PATROL: THE COMPLETE SERIES2005; $49.95, URTWO AND A HALF MEN: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON1969; $44.95, URA more complete listing and free vids at www.videotapeworm.com!