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November 20, 2013

Video TapeWorm

New, encore and low-price releases on Tuesday, Nov. 26

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:

DAY OF THE ANIMALS

1977; $14.98-$29.98; PG

Louisville’s second-most-famous film director, William Girdler (“Abby,” “Grizzly,” “The Manitou”), created this mistreated ’70s eco-paranoia time capsule starring a who’s who of Hollywood hams at the peak of their salty goodness. Leslie “Airplane” Nielsen, Richard “Grizzly” Jaeckel, Lynda Day “Pieces” George, husband Christopher “Mortuary” George and others find themselves alone and defenseless, high up a mountain when pollution triggers a critter war on humanity! Best of all, it’s been remastered and is finally available in its original widescreen format and on Blu-ray. What a time to be alive.

KNIGHTRIDERS

1981; $17.98-$19.98; R

Here’s an old guilty pleasure of ours, finally available on Blu-ray. Between making “Dawn of the Dead” and “Creepshow,” George Romero dreamed up this modern-day Arthurian drama starring Ed Harris, soaper Gary Lahti and makeup man Tom Savini. They are part of a gypsy Renaissance Faire, traveling the country as a close-knit family — a family with a strict code of knightly conduct. In armor. Battling with deadly medieval weapons. On motorcycles. And all is well until the national press makes them famous, threatening Harris’ harmonious kingdom. The stunts are truly brutal; watch for Stephen King in a cameo.

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AGATHA CHRISTIE’S POIROT: SERIES 10

2005; $33.98-$49.98; UR

David Suchet’s fussy, arrogant Belgian super-detective is in top form in these four feature-length mysteries, presented in their original UK broadcast order (for some reason, the U.S. schedule is always different). Our favorite this season is “Mystery of the Blue Train,” a classic throwback to the days of genteel Euro travel and dark dealings aboard a moving train. You’ll swear you can actually smell the lacquered wood paneling, coal smoke and oily rails as Poirot searches for a priceless jewel and a brutal killer. As good as TV could ever be.

CAESAR AND OTTO’S DEADLY XMAS

2012; $14.98; UR

This no-budget comic killer-vendetta between a pair of department-store santas is bloody, old-fashioned indie crap (which we always enjoy), but what makes it memorable is the guest list, with at least a half-dozen low-rent horro-vets passing through, including Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens, Lloyd Kaufman and Joe Estevez. Our kinda X-mas flick.

JOBS

2013; $19.98-$34.98; PG-13

Ashton Kutcher reminds us what a damn good actor he can be in this solid, if poorly received biopic on the charismatic founder of Apple Computers. But this isn’t a shining celebration of a life well-lived as much as a look into a man with many demons — a dark, driven, flawed genius who literally created the modern computer industry, then turned it on its ear. Think what you will about Jobs — or Kutcher — the movie is riveting: neither worshiping Jobs nor vilifying him, managing to both educate and entertain. The guy also seemed to have been a babe-magnet, but that might just be Kutcher. Worth your time.

MURDOCH MYSTERIES: SEASON 6

2013; $49.98-$59.98; UR

Once again we point it out: Limey detective shows are simply the best. Yannick Bisson returns as Det. Murdoch, a bright and energetic man of the 1890s, with the mind of a scientist and a fondness for then-new techniques of forensic analysis — putting him at odds with the local police, who solve crimes by the cudgel. Our favorite story this season involves Murdoch’s old chum, Winston Churchill, who awakes after a night of drunken debauch, unable to remember the murder of his drinking partner, who was run through with a sword. Very addictive, colorful and often highlighted with a spot of bare bottoms.

RED 2

2013; $14.98-$39.98; PG-13

The oldsters are back at it again! Bruce Willis returns as retired super-spy Frank Moses, bringing all his friends along for the ride. And with friends like John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Brian Cox, Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones, how can you go wrong? This time a nuclear bomb goes missing, putting an army of frenetic assassins, crazed terrorists and brainless, power-hungry politicians in their path. A bit more lighthearted and safe than their first outing, but never less than an absolute joy.

THE CANYONS

2013; $20.98-$29.98; R

This instantly infamous bit of trash is notorious thanks to the presence of Lindsay Lohan, who flops ’um out for both boyfriend James Deen and secret squeeze Nolan Funk. Yeah, there’s some kind of L.A. movie-making head-game plot afoot from director Paul Schrader (writer of “Taxi Driver”), but you can’t help but think: “What a good actress Lohan could be if she wasn’t high, naked or driving — usually at the same time.” Not that we’d want her to stop, of course. Entertainingly bad, with limp, bare penises.

THE GRANDMASTER

2013; $16.98-$29.98; PG-13

We’ve mentioned Yip Man in these pages before, the martial arts master who first taught secret techniques and mentored a young Bruce Lee. Here director Kar Wai Wong leads Tony Leung in a wild, epic actioner based on his life at the end of China’s dynastic age, with the country in lawless chaotic revolt. The cast list is a who’s who of great Chinese actors, including massive Cung Le (“The Man with the Iron Fists”), Qingxiang Wang (“Red Cliff”), Elvis Tsui and lovely/deadly Hye-kyo Song. Recommended.

THE HALF BROTHER

2013; $44.95; UR

This eight-episode dramatic series from Sweden is a PhD course in how to write for the screen. It follows a family for five generations, beginning with a violent rape in May of 1945, just as the Nazis are defeated. A child is born, the woman marries and another child arrives several years later. Like all of Europe, the family is fractured, with old wounds keeping them apart. Now a man, the first child is reported to have died while searching for his father; the second becomes a writer. But in 1990, as the Berlin Wall falls, long-held secrets spill out, sending the writer on a quest that will change his life forever. A brilliant allegory of 20th-century history unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

A more complete listing and free vids at videotapeworm.com.