We’re gonna go to the warehouses, and then we’re gonna go to the stores, and then we’re gonna go straight into your homes.
At its center, Slither is a horror-comedy, and that’s a tough sell – probably why you didn’t go see it. The underperformance of such a balls-out film was a likely by-product. Naturally, the film’s a complete blast to your underside, blowing its breezy breath all over; James Gunn’s (read the interview) narrative also happens to be home-schooled in the arts of Troma: it’s inventive, enjoyable, and unscrupulously gruesome. While the residents of this Southern town don’t stand much of a chance against the alien life-form burrowing deep into their loins, those not affected by such unnatural pursuits take it upon themselves to fight as best they can – even with the shit “being about as far away from God as shit can get.” Gunn continually drops in a boatload of equally jocular lines, steering his vessel towards the positive concoction of sci-fi, horror, and comedy. Melded together and to slightly paraphrase, Slither’s a down-home knee-slappin’ time for anyone interested in “some fucked up shit.” Just see it.
Don’t let them into your mouth! – with:
- Audio commentary with Gunn and Actor Nathan Fillon
- Some deleted scenes
- Some extended scenes
- Bringing "Slither’s" creatures to life
- Slithery set tour with Nathan Fillion
- A Making Of: The sick minds and slimy days of Slither
- A gag reel
Who’d have thought a completely go-mocap’ped movie about kids battling a Monster House would be wonderful? I certainly didn’t. But there it is; it’s one of my favorite films of the year. Monster House has been labeled unpretentious, and I fully throw all of my 400 lbs and my Mom behind that as collateral damage. You should even read George’s set visit where director Gil Kenan, who had the tremendous fortune of making a UCLA short that both Zemeckis and Spielberg saw, shares his thoughts and ideas and excellent homages all-around. While the film’s not entirely scary, it is fertile with cinematic splendor. The House, based upon Kathleen Turner (which makes sense, as I’ve been frightened since War of the Roses), is the nefarious domicile that wreaks all sorts of superb havoc on the neighborhood kids – DJ, Chowder, and Jenny. Kenan deals with each situation with relative ease (and an eye on those great 80’s flicks about kids in peril), so it’ll be interesting to see where he’s going next.
Throw up in a tinfoil hat and eat it – with:
- Audio commentary with the filmmakers
- 7 Featurettes (Imaginary Heroes, Beginner’s Luck, The Best of Friends, Lots of Dots, Black Box Theater, Making It Real, and Did You Hear That?)
- Evolution of a scene: Eliza vs. Nebbercracker
- The Art of Monster House – Photo Gallery
- DVD-ROM Link to Games, Downloads & Activities
If you’re Blu-Ray, take advantage of that.
I still haven’t seen An American Haunting. It has a couple of notches against it – the director’s last film was the terrible Dungeons & Dragons, and the film, as evidenced in the trailer, starts off in the present and vamooses itself back to the past. Not a very interesting idea, but that’s me Tuesday morning Quarterbacking. It did have an effectively spooky trailer, one that worked well delivering the promise of Donald Sutherland having to fight the supernatural. Throw some ripped muscles onto his manly physique while he spouts off “don’t look now!” while wrestling midgets and they could’ve had me for $20. That they didn’t represents a step in a more focused direction, one that Courtney Solomon readied your virgin ass about. Inspired by the notorious Bell Witch, who set things ablaze – literally – with its peculiar ghostly qualities, the film also should touch fiends in the correct bad place.
Nothing is what it seems – with:
- Video commentary by director Courtney Solomon
- Interview with director Courtney Solomon and actress Sissy Spacek
- Alternate and deleted scenes
- Internet promotions
- Trailer and TV spots
If you’re Region Free, note that this film has a radically different cut. Purchase the Region 2 PAL DVD. It runs 87 to our 91 mins.
You can’t accuse Michael Winterbottom of being less than a workaholic, tackling subjects with reckless abandon like the big-H lords over the street. He’s stuck Thomas Hardy, the Manchester music scene, human trafficking, sci-fi love, sweaty dirty sex, and even Laurence Sterne (for Tristram Shandy, one of the weirdest, hilarious, and best films of the year) into his cinematic veins. So, it’s of no surprise that he’d fire up 500 CC’s of topical subject with his recent The Road to Guantánamo (take a look at the uncensored poster, then flee yourself to Devin’s interview with Winterbottom). Focusing on the ‘Tipton Three,’ a group of three British Muslims, Winterbottom explores the backwards mechanical processes of our failed strategies regarding POWs (and I mean this lightly, because The War on Terror is stupidly vague) – these guys are tortured, subjected to the Kangaroo courts, and even denigrated inhumanly. Mixing talking head interviews with footage from the inspired events, the film definitely charges with a full head of steam onward, so you can either jump on or get the fuck out of its way. I wouldn’t recommend the second part.
Evidently, there are no extras for this film.
I never have to tell anyone to check out Reservoir Dogs. Jackie Brown, that’s another story (and coincidentally, Tarantino’s best). The internet is rife with the converts of the Tarantinoverse, with his endlessly quotable lines and his bottomless fascination with toes, crap, feet in general (or maybe hot, blonde Scandinavians in general. He’s onto something, like Bergman). While Chris Connelly might want to watch out next time he crosses paths, the rest of us don’t, even if the words City on Fire spring forth from our mouths. Yeah, whatever, Tarantino pays respective reverence to thousands of films – he’s quite adept at it. Pull up a chair and learn. Reservoir Dogs is no exception, since it’s the start of the bumrush and a good place to just return to your desires to lop off your ear, Van Gogh be damned. For the 15th Anniversary, which promptly makes most of you guys feel older than Abe Vigoda, LionsGate makes sure you get the vapors all over again, except this time, they could be coming from the DVD packing.
Fuck you. Fuck you. – with:
- Newly remastered 16×9 widescreen version with 6.1 DTS-ES audio
- Audio commentary with Writer/Director Quentin Tarantino, Producer Lawrence Bender, and select Cast and Crew
- Audio commentaries with Amy Taubin (Film Comment), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), and Emanuel Levy (Author of Cinema of Outsiders: The Rise of American Independent Film)
- Pulp factoids viewer – insider information about Reservoir Dogs and its sources of inspiration
- Playing it fast and loose – documentary from the moment of its release in 1992, Reservoir Dogs has helped redefine modern cinema. An insightful study about the impact and ripple effect of this remarkable film
- Profiling the Reservoir Dogs – featurette: a unique perspective into the criminal minds of the film’s colorful characters
- Tipping guide – proper tipping etiquette Reservoir Dogs style
- Classic interviews with Quentin Tarantino and others
- K-Billy sounds of the 70’s
- Some deleted scenes
- Reservoir DogsTributes to Monte Hellman, Jack Hill, Pam Grier, and Roger Corman
- Dedicated To
- Securing the Shot: Location Scouting With Billy Fox
- Reservoir Dogs: The Game Exclusive Interview
- And, the elusive “more!”
The third Season of The O.C. veered wildly off course and I stopped watching 2/3 of it (tuning in only for the finale). Season One’s soap opera antics were not wasted with such needless repetitive filler that’s been, unfortunately, re-gouged part-way through Season Two and fully, bluntly bored in Season Three (coincidentally, Lost is doing this and is losing me – fast). Summed up, Ryan and Marissa’s relationship was as ridiculous as ever, with the on-again off-again ping-ponging reaching levels of inanity. Seth and Summer’s relationship got skewed with the emergence of drugs and lying (always a fun combination), and Kristen finds Jeri Ryan wafting about with her hands in her pockets. Moral-center Sandy becomes entangled in shenanigans and this meant that everything was shuttled off for eye-rolling secondary characters. Never a good thing. Aside from the plot dispatching someone with its drama indicator on high (wait for the emo group to sing from the heavens), Season Three was a tremendous let-down.
Be in the presence of a coffee cart – with:
- 25 episodes on seven discs
- Pass the Remote: selected scene-surfing commentary
- The making of the Subways video
- The Prom: From Script to Screen
- What’s in a Name?
- Gags and goofs
There’s Alec Baldwin and Jeff Goldblum and even Owen Wilson, the latter playing a detective. And they’re all under the spell of Mini’s First Time, where Nikki Reed (star of the intolerable Thirteen) stretches her little pubescent finger and wraps them all around it with a Lolita-esque flick. Twisted sensibilities aren’t really much of an oddity for this film, after all, I’ve read that Reed gets involved with an escort agency and ends up sleeping with Baldwin, who plays her stepfather in the film. This makes it ripe to show during your weekly Catholic Conversion sessions, or possibly during an impromptu screening at the Vatican. Like Errol Morris, it’s fast, cheap and out of control as both Baldwin and Reed are putting down their grand plan to get the drunken, washed-up starlet Mother (Carrie Ann Moss) out of the picture, both literally and figuratively. That’s where Goldblum and Wilson get into the fray. Unfortunately, the film everyone’s in is supposedly the wrong one. Bummer.
Have fun tonight – with:
- Audio commentary with Writer/Director Nick Guthe
There’s a lot of visual poetry in The Snowman. I remember seeing it when I was younger and it sparking various flights of fancy in my relatively unscathed corps. As I grew older and rebelled against the tyrannical insistence upon believing, Santa and I came to terms – he’s a douche who didn’t give me that Virtual Boy with the special epileptic seizure function. The Snowman still delivered the wordless goods, though, with its magical insistence upon whisking us to the jolly fat man’s lair, traveling through space with little annoyances – like reality. Coupled with Howard Blake’s signature strings, this is still a journey that’s well worth taking, even if Bowie replaces author Raymond Briggs’ narration in most of our minds. The British can blame our PBS’ stations shady agendas. Aside from massive conjecture on my part, The Snowman still retains its relatively harmless, yet powerful visual terms (that flying sequence still beats my artificial heart) for the inner un-frazzled kid in all of us.
Swim in the frozen sky – with:
- Introduction by David Bowie
Stephen King’s anthology series, Nightmares & Dreamscapes, is a lot like Masters of Horror: long on paper, short on execution. King’s works are notoriously difficult to adapt (and I can honestly count on my four fingers the amount of filmmakers who have accomplished this feat). It’s unfortunate, but some have become so preconditioned to accept all King as the be-all, end-all, and in the case of some of these episodes – they’re not. Nick even chimed in on this issue, reviewing episode 1 (here), episode 2 (here), the self-proclaimed “good one” of episode 3 (here), and the mysterious final installment (4/5 of 8, here). The average of the entire goodness Nick spewed forth is 1.8 American Kingbeards (out of 4). That, to me at least, makes the entire affair mired in mediocrity, a charge handily fitting some of his more televised adaptations (hello, Tommyknockers!). Aside from the gorgeous production designs and acting talent of each episode, it just feels like it’s not all there.
If you’re going to San Francisco – with:
- Behind the drama of Nightmares & Dreamscapes from the Stories of Stephen King
- From the mind of Stephen King
- Battleground: special effects featurette
- The inside look: making-of featurettes
- Interviews with series stars
- Page to picture
The Communards took control of Paris following the Republic’s massive defeat by the Prussians for two months in 1871; they passed laws, held meetings, and even oversaw elections until they were taken out and whupped by a veritable Pootie Tang’s belt with over 20,000 deader than dead. This ‘cleansing’ came by the hands of the Prussians and the reconvergence of the remaining French troops hell-bent against their governance. Naturally, the subject was treated as nothing more than a footnote by most. Peter Watkins, whose name probably rings no bells inside your belfry, tells the story of this upheaval in French society through scandalous means – the documentary as realism. It’s been interspersed with a more modern reporting approach, but the bouncing between past & present is what makes Watkin’s vision of La Commune (Paris, 1871) more than fascinating. Produced for French TV, the 6-hour epic takes a doomed look at those who made the most of their unique situation, and the conspiring forces against them. While this may be too much for some to wrap their warped thoughts around, such a piece of entertainment shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Goddamn hippies – with:
- Bonus Film: The Universal Clock: The Resistance of Peter Watkins
- Peter Watkins Biography
What happened to Penelope Spheeris, especially after documenting the Decline of Western Civilization and wandering us through Wayne’s World? In the interim, we’ve been privy to The Beverly Hillbillies, Senseless, and now The Kid and I, which looks like a harmless vehicle for Tom Arnold to attempt to answer more True Lies 2 questions during completely unrelated press conferences. Arnold who wrote this, seems more content with giving Linda Hamilton, Shannon Elizabeth, and Schwarzenegger something to do (other than, you know, groping women), even if it means sitting through the journey and watching that scene with a naked Henry Winkler in his Jacuzzi. That’s probably the subplot to The Grudge 3. Arnold also knows the Hollywood Cliché cycle very well, giving the lead actor cerebral palsy, so that no matter what they do, you’ll give him a pass. I don’t think anyone with a terrible disease would say “Tom Arnold” – it’s probably along the lines of One Last Thing.
Kids – 10 seconds of joy, 30 years of misery – with:
- Bloopers, outtakes, & behind the scenes
- Theatrical trailer + TV Spots
There’s a pleasant joie de vivre in most Astaire/Rogers pair-ups, and when their strengths match one another on and off the floor, you’re bound to get such luminous tales as Top Hat and Swingtime, two of the most effervescently crafted musicals ever. While those were part of Warner’s exemplary first volume of Astaire & Rogers, the second lands some mighty blows with the culmination of their partnership – Flying down to Rio, The Gay Divorcee, Roberta, Carefree, and The Story of Irene Castle. They’re all plentiful, and spilling over with the great character actor Edward Horton. There’s also a bit more than meets the black & white eye, as Warner releases an Ultimate Collector’s Edition of all 10 films culled from each 2 volumes with a wealth of extra features – see this. Buy this. For those who own Vol. 1, don’t be alarmed. Sensing you’d feel cheated from such a development (and rightly so), Amazon has teamed up with Warner to present the Partial Ultimate CE (buy it from us here), which has everything except for those first 5 discs you already have. That’s great for the consumer. As it should be; one could rarely ever fault Warner’s generous gifts to us courtesy of their older films.
Propose marriage casually – with:
Flying Down to Rio (1933)
- Vintage comedy short: Beer and Pretzels with Ted Healy and His Stooges
- Classic cartoon: I Like Mountain Music
- Theatrical trailer
The Gay Divorcee (1934)
- Two vintage musical shorts: Show Kids and Star Night at the Cocoanut Grove
- Classic cartoon: Shake Your Powder Puff
- Audio-only bonus: Hollywood on the Air radio promo
- Theatrical trailer
- Vintage musical short: Starlit Days at the Lido
- Classic cartoon: The Calico Dragon
- Audio-only bonus: Hollywood on the Air radio promo
- Theatrical trailer
- Vintage musical short: Public Jitterbug No. 1
- Classic cartoon: September in the Rain
The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939)
- Vintage musical short: Happily Buried
- Classic cartoon: Puss Gets the Boot
As part of the Ultimate Collector’s Edition (retailing for $69.99 in the best, most awesome places), expect these additions:
- Astaire and Rogers: Partners in Rhythm (bonus disc)
- Soundtrack CD sampler
- Collectible photo cards
- Replicas of original press books
- Mail-in poster offer
Besides the above, there’s always the possibility of shacking up with these seedy titles, ones reaching for a little more than your time. As always and forever, I recommend expanding your cinematic worldview with titles you’d not normally give your goods to. They’ll surprise you. Except for Saw II.
Aside from a DVD title I can’t report on (in lieu of morals), I guess we’ll mix things up this week with a short Cover Art Attack! While I think you’ve already planned your purchases through 2007, think about The Descent first (there’s only a Full Screen Box out right now. I disavow seeing a bastardized version of anything), out on 12.26.06, the day after the big red guy (not Harry Knowles) delivers you ill-fitting sweaters and used boxers. Next, pony up to the travails of the great action-adventure flick Operation Crossbow, which is a definite blind buy. No questions asked. That explodes your pleasure zones on 12.19.06. Rounding it all out is Ricky Gervais’ mildly funny Extras, although if you’ve wanted to hear Patrick Stewart discuss making ladies clothes fall off, pencil in 1.9.07.
Robert Mitchum strikes at any time; whether it’s sneering about building gallows high, exacting revenge, or even putting his size 9’s up a man’s posterior, Mitchum did so looking good. It comes as no surprise that WB again adds to your collection with The Robert Mitchum Signature Collection – out on 1.23.07. With titles like Angel Face, Macao (George Allen’s favorite film!), Home from the Hill, The Sundowners, The Good Guys & the Bad Guys, and the large "one" – The Yakuza, it’s impossible to not plunk down some lira for such a smug-faced bastard. Especially for the one involving Sydney Pollack, a script from Paul Schrader/Robert Towne, and the epic code of honor. While Mitchum wasn’t quite in top form, The Yakuza certainly is, even as he’s required to enlist his arch-nemesis Ken Takakura on his mission to find his friend’s lost daughter. In Fred Zinneman’s production of The Sundowners, Mitchum and Deborah Kerr gently tempt, to much debate, the Australian Outback. It’s grand and completely evident. As for Home from the Hill, I’ve been meaning to see it for a while now, as I’m such a sissy for anything remotely proclaiming itself to be epic. Mitchum would have probably lobbed me right back to childhood.
Be a relic – with:
Angel Face (1952)
- Commentary by Historian Eddie Muller
- Commentary by Historian Eddie Muller, screenwriter Stanley Rubin and actress Jane Russell
- TCM Private Screenings with Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell, hosted by Robert Osborne
Home from the Hill (1960)
- Theatrical trailer
The Sundowners (1960)
- Vintage featurette On Location with The Sundowners
- Theatrical trailer
The Good Guys and Bad Guys (1969)
- First-Time Widescreen video release [16×9 2.4:1]
- Vintage featurette The Good Guy from Chama
- Theatrical trailer
The Yakuza (1975)
- Commentary by director Sydney Pollack
- Vintage featurette Promises to Keep
While I’m never one to abdicate rewatching the tyranny that was The Da Vinci Code, you can, by all accounts, delve right into the 174 minute version (now available) through CDWOW. You just have to make sure you can play Japanese Region 3 DVDs. That’s a full 26 minutes more of people inanely running for thoroughly ho-hum purposes, a full 26 minutes more of Tom Hanks’ hair wafting and seekin’ the truth and those simple, satisfactory plot revelations as subtle as a large baby-makin’ apparatus. For those who enjoyed the film (and let me ask: who are you?), you’ve got this new option, of wading through an almost 3 hour cut from Ron Howard’s filmmaking largess. It saddens me too, since I felt Howard was onto freeing himself from his more furtive past and springing forth with risky films like The Missing, and to a technical extent – Cinderella Man. The Da Vinci Code brings it all back to the realm of the vanilla in the world, to which I don’t think an extra 26 minutes can flesh out to anything less than a tasty brown cow paddy.
Put that box on the table, Cripple! – with:
- English Dolby 5.1 and English subtitles.
- First Day On The Set With Ron Howard
- Featurettes: A Discussion With Dan Brown, A Portrait Of Langdon, Who Is Sophie Neveu?, Unusual Suspects, Magical Places, and Close Up On Mona Lisa
- 2 Parts Of Filmmaker’s Journey
- The Codes Of The Da Vinci Code
- The Music Of The Da Vinci Code
- DVD-Rom Enhanced
This is a Region 3 NTSC DVD.
If the Secret Service isn’t investigating me yet, they might be with the mere mention of Death of a President (and not, as one might guess Dudes on a Plane). As you might have heard, it’s the fictionalized representation if someone actually assassinated George W. Bush and made our country… different. Russ certainly hated the film (read his review), arguing that it’s “so paltry, so devoid of insight or imagination that you might re-evaluate The Manchurian Candidate remake as a piece of powerful political thinking.” Jesus! (not that he had anything to do with it). As litigious as it appears to be, DOAP combines a myriad of interviews and documentary falsehoods to make its point, much to Russ’ chagrin. While skirting the most controversial aspects of putting this film quickly in theatres (many chains passed, like AMC), even if this whole shenanigan sounds like something you’d pony up for, you now can – in the UK. Arriving on 10.30.06 (a mere 3 days after it bows here in the US), DOAP could be more than its title suggests or possibly lead us all into the fires of hell – on a government watch list.
- Audio commentary with Director/Writer/Producer Gabriel Range, Writer/Producer Simon Finch, Editor Brand Thumim, and Line Producer Donall McCusker
- Interviews with the makers of the film
- Theatrical Trailer
This is a Region 2 PAL DVD.
10/18: Feast: Unrated (Nick’s DVD review), The Omen (2006), American Dreamz, The Break-Up, Big Love: Season One, Rest Stop (Wade’s DVD review), The Magus, Deadfall, Peeper, Clean, Shaven: Criterion, Sólo con tu pareja: Criterion, Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Season Two, Over The Hedge, The Omen Collection, Behind Enemy Lines II: Axis of Evil, The Other, Masters of Horror: Pick Me Up, CSI: NY Season 2, Hard Luck, Boris Karloff Collection, Shooting Party: SE, They All Laughed: SE, and Billy Wilder Speaks. Read last weeks floppy Special Edition return right here.
10/11: This was a Special Bargain Bin Edition, because I was out of commission. Click it.
Clash of the Tartans
Slither is $21.77
Monster House is $19.75
American Haunting is $17.96
Nacho Libre is $21.78
Reservoir Dogs: SE is $12.38
SAW II: SE is $16.72
Road to Guantanamo is $19.66
OC: Season Three is $50.30
Nightmares & Dreamscapes is $27.58
Justice League Unlimited is $31.74
The Kid & I is $16.19
La Commune is $28.99
Body Heat: SE is $13.26
Mini’s First Time is $17.95
That’s My Bush is $19.66
Sweetie: Criterion is $31.88
Hands over the City: Criterion is $31.88
Astaire & Rogers: Vol. 2 is $41.37
Astaire & Rogers Complete Collection is $69.89
Slither is $19.76 (click here)
Astaire & Rogers Ultimate Collection is $69.99 (click)
Astaire & Rogers Partial UE is $45.99 (click here)
California Split is $9.97
Amazon’s DVD sales page – here.
Slither is $19.99
Monster House is $16.99
American Haunting is $16.99
Nacho Libre is $16.99 + get a FREE pair of small stretchy pants
Reservoir Dogs: SE is $14.99
SAW II: SE is $15.99
Road to Guantanamo is $17.49
OC: Season Three is $45.99 + get a FREE Bonus DVD with 33 minutes of deleted scenes with commentary.
Nightmares & Dreamscapes is $27.85
Justice League Unlimited is $31.49
The Kid & I is $24.29
La Commune is $35.99
Body Heat: SE is $13.99
Mini’s First Time is $17.49
That’s My Bush is $18.89