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May 20, 2008

Video TapeWorm: Releases through Tuesday, May 27

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKSPHENOMENA1984; $19.95, URA new Special Edition release of a fascinating shock classic from the master of the genre, Dario Argento. A very young Jennifer Connelly is sent to a Swiss boarding school because of her sleepwalking, burgeoning telepathic powers and spooky relationship with bugs. Nearby, entomologist Donald Pleasence believes he can identify a psychopathic serial killer in the area by way of insects on the corpses. Not the best Argento, but one of our ’80s faves with music by Goblin, Bill Wyman, Iron Maiden and Richard Wagner. (Aka “Creeper.”)TENEBRE1982; $19.95, URThe final chapter in Dario Argento’s “Alchemical” Giallo trilogy, following “Suspiria” and “Inferno,” now available in a Special Edition release. Tony Franciosa is the obligatory American lead (with John Saxon and John Steiner in lesser roles) as a mystery writer whose novels are being used as inspiration by a perverted serial killer, bringing Tony uncomfortably close to danger. Considered one of Argento’s more comprehensible efforts, it retains his unique visual style, a devastating “twist” ending and the ubiquitous sounds of Goblin. (Also available in “The Dario Argento Box Set” for $49.95.)A PANDA IS BORN/BABY PANDA’S FIRST YEAR2008; $14.95, URWe are suckers for a good nature doc, and these two from Animal Planet are tops. The first records the terrible plight of these gentle creatures (essentially giant raccoons) and the difficulty that preservationists have in getting them to breed. The second is a pure joy, following the little ball of fur conceived in the first as it learns to survive in a world that no longer has a place for such playfulness.BIOGRAPHY: BARACK OBAMA2008; $12.95, PGAn “Election Update Edition” of the A&E biodoc, one of only two that we know of made before Obama became a household name.CASSANDRA’S DREAM2007; $24.95, PG-13Woody Allen — who has made some of the best and worst movies we know — hits a home run with this tale of murder, betrayal and dark family ties starring Tom Wilkinson, Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell. Powerful Uncle Tom offers struggling brothers Ewan and Colin a way out of financial ruin in exchange for a devastating “favor.”DARFUR NOW2007; $4.95, URGeorge Clooney and Don Cheadle lend their celebrity, along with four other activists from around the world, in this attempt to shine a light on the genocide going on right now, as you are reading these words, just a very few miles from here. Simply put: The most moving and inspiring 99 minutes ever captured on film.GRACE IS GONE2007; $24.95, PG-13Multiple Sundance Film Festival award winner, multiple Golden Globes nominee for music by Clint Eastwood and Carole Bayer Sager, and one of the first two films created by Louisville’s own Hart-Lunsford Pictures, this may be John Cusack’s best movie ever. When his soldier-wife is killed in Iraq, a grieving, withdrawn father struggles to tell his two young daughters, taking them instead on an aimless road-trip.MAPPING STEM CELL RESEARCH: TERRA INCOGNITA2007; $29.95, URA doc on the human face behind scientific research. Dr. Jack Kessler became head of the neurology department at Northwestern U. to cure diabetes with stem cells — until his daughter was paralyzed in a skiing accident. Then he literally changed the course of human understanding in an attempt to restore her shattered nerves. Fabulous.MINUTEMEN2008; $26.95, GA tween hit for the Disney Channel about three high-schoolers who discover a way to travel back in time to fix their mistakes, leading to even more comical results. Goes off the rails into CGI SciFi Channel territory before the end, but still a lot of squeaky clean fun.NORIKO’S DINNER TABLE2005; $24.95, URA fabulous, gripping and completely original thriller from Japan! A teenage girl runs away from her small town to join the members of a website called haikyo.com. Losing herself in the cult, she becomes a role-playing prostitute as part of the “family circle.” Meanwhile, her sister discovers that a rash of mass suicides may be connected with the cult and goes looking for her. Simply excellent, this has quickly become one of our favorite movies.RAMBO2008; $29.95-$39.95, RSly Stallone hits the gym and resurrects one of his most successful franchises: a noisy, savage actioner aimed squarely at America’s love of violence and frustration over an unwinnable war. After helping a group of missionaries into war-torn Burma, he must then save them from a ruthless warlord. An average of 2.59 killings per minute — 236 by the film’s end. Also available, “Rambo: The Complete Collector’s Set” for $49.95.SUSPENSION2008; $19.95, URA good little indie sci-fi-drama about a man who loses his family to a car wreck, only to find that the accident somehow gave his vidcam the ability to halt time. Focusing on the human desire to find redemption amid tragedy, this is everything that those assholes at The SciFi Channel should be trying to do.THE INVADERS: THE FIRST SEASON1967; $36.95, URThe long overdue first DVD release of a high-water mark in TV sci-fi. Everyman Roy Thinnes stumbles upon alien beings from a dying planet intent on making the Earth their own. But no one will believe him — and the aliens’ advanced technology allows them to track him and anticipate his every move. Created by the incomparable Larry Cohen, this was simply The Best, most mature, adult and well-written sci-fi drama ever put on The Tube. A must-own.THE SUFFRAGETTES2008; $19.95, URThis doc — highlighted by fun recreations of 1900s England — focuses on Emmeline Pankhurst, redoubtable leader of the movement to give Limey voting rights to women. Imprisoned several times and considered “unbalanced” by the Bobbies, she nonetheless fought tirelessly for her cause, finally achieved in 1928, the year of her death (trampled by a horse).TYPHOON2005; $24.95, RA crazy, over-the-top actioner from Korea about a self-styled pirate who seeks revenge on both North and South Korea by means of a “Nuclear Typhoon” of radioactive waste. And the only man who can stop him is an equally dedicated SK naval officer and his team of elite forces. This thing rawks!OTHER DVDS OF INTERESTDEGRASSI THE NEXT GENERATION: SEASON 62002; $49.95, URGUNSMOKE: THE SECOND SEASON, VOL. 22008; $36.95, URLIPSTICK JUNGLE: SEASON ONE2008; $29.95, URMONSTERQUEST: COMPLETE SEASON 12008; $39.95, PGWING CHUN: THE COMPLETE SERIES2007; $59.95, URA more complete listing and free vids at www.videotapeworm.com!