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Doogan's Views at The Digital Bits!
page added: 6/30/04

6/30/04 Weekly Release Roundup

Well... Happy Frickin' Birthday to me. Okay, enough of that. I'm getting old. So, getting back to the real important stuff: DVD. I'm happy to report that today is actually a pretty good day to be a fan of the format. It's also a good day to have lots of expendable income. Lots of great stuff for horror film fans, comedy fans and comic book fans. Box sets galore. Don't believe me? Take a look for yourself...

Blazing Saddles: 30th Anniversary Special Edition Blazing Saddles: 30th Anniversary Special Edition

I don't have to discuss this film much do I? It's one of the greatest comedies of all-time and keeps getting better every year it's out. This new edition nicely replaces the previous release. Blazing Saddles now looks and sounds incredible with anamorphic widescreen and remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Thank you, Warners. Extras include a funny commentary with the maestro Mel Brooks, a reunion of cast and crew from 2001, a look at the lovely Madeline Kahn, the TV pilot Black Bart based on the film, and some additional/deleted scenes that have been pulled from the TV version. All in all, a very good re-release to a library must-have.

Cold Mountain Cold Mountain

Long, pretentious, but beautiful to look at, Cold Mountain is a film you either love or hate. I'm in the middle. But I usually am. I see what Anthony Minghella was trying to do, and at times he is quite successful, but the scope of the film may be too much for even the best director to tackle. It's a love story, it's a war story, it's a story about man at his worst and man at his best. It's an epic concerning the American Civil War and it's an epic concerning a woman's fight to stay alive. Sweeping in its arc, and well-told by some of the greatest actors of our time, Cold Mountain is a movie worth checking out just for the performances. Maybe you'll be one of the ones who fall in love with it. Or maybe not.

This 2-disc special edition presents the film in a very nice and clean anamorphic widescreen. Colors are solid, with nice blacks and good skin tones. Audio is presented in DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 and both sound wonderful. Extras include a very informational commentary with Minghella and editor Walter Murch, a long but choppy making-of documentary entitled Climbing Cold Mountain, a standard issue EPK, another long documentary looking at the music of the film, a featurette on the scared harp and a 20-minute collection of deleted scenes. If you didn't see this in theaters, you should at least check it out as a rental. If you love the film, this disc is a keeper.

Creature Unknown Creature Unknown

Ugh. I dunno why I'm giving this one ink. The always lovely Chase Masterson (Deep Space Nine) stars as a shamed scientist who played God and now spends her time tracking down her creation: a lizard-man (awful, awful man in suit) who has a dark connection to her past. Masterson tracks down her enemy as it stalks a group of movie teens hanging out in a cabin where they are spending the weekend honoring one of their friends who was lost in these very woods (hmmm). All together, it's not a good film at all. The special effects are not especially good either (which is a head-scratcher considering the director is major Special FX guy Michael Burnett) and the acting is even worse all around. The DVD from Razor Digital features a full frame transfer (original aspect ratio) and looks about as good as a VHS. Audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 and sounds fine. Extras include a short behind-the-scenes featurette, a special effects reel and bloopers. Weeeeee. If you like bad Sci-Fi Channel afternoon movies, then this one might float your boat. Otherwise...

Deathdream Deathdream

Before Bob Clark gave us Porky's and A Christmas Story, he was working on a nice horror career with Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, this film and Black Christmas. I like his films, always have. I wish he had a bigger career. Anyway, Deathdream is an entertaining horror film disguised as a somewhat political look at the effects on the Vietnam war on the guys coming home. Andy is a Vietnam soldier who is seemingly killed in combat and the news is so unbearable that his mother can't believe it and "urges" him to come home alive "Monkey's Paw" style. What comes back isn't Andy and that fact tears everyone in his community apart - literally. Remarking on the zombie-like states many vets were coming home in, it's not hard to see the parallels. Blue Underground brings us this cult classic in an anamorphic widescreen transfer that shows its low budget roots. It looks as good as you'd expect coming from Blue Underground though. Sound is a solid Dolby Digital mono track. Extras include two good commentary tracks: one with Clark and the other with co-writer Alan Ormsby, a trailer, a poster and stills gallery, an interview with Richard "Andy" Backus, an interview with Tom Savini, alternate opening titles and a different ending. Pretty cool, if you ask me.

The Deli The Deli

It's the standard lottery story: Dumb and Dumber's Mike Starr stars as Johnny, a real schlub of a guy. He owns a deli with his mother that he's moments away from loosing because he's up to his neck in gambling debt. His mother likes to play the numbers, so week-in/week-out he sends the numbers in and week-in/week-out she looses. Of course, the one week he decides to pocket the money, she wins. Uh-oh. If she finds out, his already shitty world will get a whole lot shitter. The Deli is a cute independent film, made that much cuter by the wall-to-wall cameos from just about every New York actor who ever strutted and fretted on The Sopranos, GoodFellas and beyond. Synapse Films does another bang up job presenting the film in a very pleasing anamorphic transfer that serves the film nicely. Audio is an undistinguished mono but sounds fine for what it is. Extras include commentary with director John Gallagher and a short selection of deleted scenes. If you're looking for a quirky and entertaining smaller film, check The Deli out.

The Driller Killer The Driller Killer

Abel Ferrara is a legendary filmmaker. I mean, he gave us Bad Lieutenant, The King of New York and The Blackout. Okay, forget Blackout - but believe me when I say he's a filmmaker's filmmaker. The Driller Killer then should be noted because it was one of his first full-length films. It should be noted on DVD for his fans, because it also includes his short films, making it a must own. Other than that, Driller Killer is a forgettable pile of steaming crap. But I say that as a loving fan of Ferrara. The film follows Ferrara as Reno, a starving artist who is driven insane by a nagging girlfriend and her girlfriend, painter's block and a newly arrived punk band vibrating the walls of his crappy apartment. Looking out at the dregs of society, he decides one night to put everyone out of their misery with a new fangled cordless drill. Blood and guts abound. Often compared to Taxi Driver (in tone, not execution), Driller Killer shows an artist on his way, but not quite there yet. The DVD presents the film in non-anamorphic widescreen, which doesn't look all that great. Granted the film is old, shot for a nickel and probably hasn't had the best storage history, but it still looks crappy. Although, who's to say that this isn't the best it's ever looked? It might be. Sound is a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track and isn't very good either. It's probably, once again, as good as you'd get, but I would imagine someone like Don May at Synapse could have done a better job with the presentation of this film on DVD. Extras include a commentary with Ferrara being Ferrara, an isolated commercial seen in the film and the trailer (all on Disc One). Disc Two contains three of Ferrara's short films: Could This Be Love, The Hold Up and "Nicky's Film". The first two have commentary from Ferrara. There's also a trailer for Ferrara's porno Nine Lives of a Wet Pussy and liner notes written by Brad Stevens (who wrote the book "Abel Ferrara: The Moral Vision"). Not a bad set for a gritty, raunchy flick. Not a bad set at all. I just wish the flick looked a tad bit better.

The English Patient The English Patient

One of Bill's most favorite films of all-time. Read his review here.

G-Men from Hell
G-Men from Hell

G-Men from Hell is a comic book film based on a side story in Allred's Madman comic series. The G-Men are two guys who escaped from hell and start up a detective agency so they can do good deeds to get into heaven. In the comic, they were bad guys doing good, but here they are good guys who were framed and murdered and confused for bad and are now doing good. The film is well made for what it is and, in its own way, it apes the comic world it's based in quite well. When held side-by-side, director Christopher Coppola does an interesting job matching Allred's world. Look to the comics-to-film comparison special feature included on this DVD for proof. If you're a fan of Allred's work, it's an interesting film to watch, but I don't think may others will gravitate towards it. The cast is interesting as well, because not only did Coppola get a who's who to be in the film, the cast really do look like the people they play. Tate Donovan and William Forsythe are the G-Men, Vanessa Angel and Kari Wuhrer are femmes, Gary Busey and Zach Galligan are cops, Robert Goulet is the Devil and Bobcat Goldthwait and Paul Rodriguez play baddies. I'd give it a shot if you like comic films, but it may be too campy for most. This is another Razor Digital title and this one actually looks pretty good. It's in its original full frame. The colors and blacks are both well represented. Audio is a solid Dolby Digital 2.0. Extras include the above referenced side-to-side comparison, an interview with Allred, trailers, commentary with Allred and his wife and colorist Laura (where they talk about the comic and the film and what was changed). There's also the short indy film Allred shot, called Astroesque, but to fully appreciate it you have to go out and get the Red Rocket Seven comic and CD. It's a tri-pointed artist's vision that gets lost in pieces and can't really be dissected by itself. G-Men from Hell is another quirky flick that is worth your time. Especially if you dig Allred and his work.

Sabu Sabu

Always pushing the boundaries of filmmaking, Takashi Miike pushes those boundaries again here... by not pushing any boundaries and delivering a by-the-book traditional period drama. Sabu and Eiji are best friends since childhood, until one day Eiji simply disappears. Sabu conducts some investigations and discovers that his old friend was framed for a crime and sent away to prison camp. No one wants him looking into the situation, nor does anyone want him visiting Eiji at the camp, and the closer he gets to the truth the more he pushes his friend away and the more he starts bring attention to his investigation. Sabu is a bit anti-climatic and not anywhere close to the films most of Miike's fans know him for, but it's a beautiful film and well worth your time. ArtsmagicDVD presents the film in anamorphic widescreen and it looks okay. Sound is a simple Dolby Digital 2.0 Japanese and serves the film as well as can be expected. Extras include trailers, biographies and filmographies for cast and crew, two video interviews with Miike, two video interviews with the actors and actresses and a short making of featurette. Not too shabby. I'm liking the treatment Miike's films are getting on DVD from ArtsmagicDVD. I'm looking forward Miike's Black Trilogy in August.

Suburban Nightmare Suburban Nightmare

I have to give this one press for three reasons: one, I think Debbie Rochon is both hot as hell and smart as a whip. She wrote the story and produced it as well. Two: I like Trent Haaga as an actor and as a person. He's a very swell guy, and I think he deserves more credit than he gets. Three: it's actually a pretty good independent horror film. Suburban Nightmare follows a couple that has their problems, like most every married couple in the world. They fight, they argue and they blame. But they have another side to them: they're vicious serial killers. What happens when two people who start to not like each other snap and attack one another with the same glee they attack everyone else with? This is a cool little flick with some nice twists and turns. And there's good acting and directing as well. The guys at ei Independent/Shock-O-Rama did a nice job with this one; it looks good in full frame and sounds good in Dolby Digital 2.0. Extras include commentary with director Jon Keeyes and his editor, a whole slew of making of featurettes, a music video, three short films and trailers. Suburban Nightmare is actually a well-made horror flick that will make you think and squirm all at the same time.

Uncle Sam Uncle Sam

William Lustig and Larry Cohen's grab at a holiday themed horror film has a new release on DVD. Previously available from Elite Entertainment, it's only appropriate that a newer, better version come from Lustig's own personal company Blue Underground. Uncle Sam is fluffy and goofy and not all that good, but it's campy fun and if you're looking for a nice Fourth of July flick to watch in the wee hours of the festivities while chowing down on cold hot dogs and warm beer, this might do the trick. It's the story of a war vet come home and come back to life to kill all those who don't love their country. The murders are ridiculous, as are the effects, but like I said, it's a fun little flick. This new DVD showcases the film in a nice anamorphic widescreen with both Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 sound. No complaints from me. Extras include a new commentary with Lustig, Cohen and producer George G. Braunstein, as well as the original release commentary with Lustig and co-star Issac Hayes. You'll also find a trailer, stills gallery and a look at the fire stunts performed in the film.

There a few good TV releases as well...

South Park: The Complete Fourth Season South Park: The Complete Fourth Season

Still one of the better shows on TV, the fourth season of South Park is a classic. Cartman's Silly Hate Crime 2000, Timmy! 2000, Quintuplets 2000, Cartman Joins NAMBLA, Do the Handicapped Go to Hell?, Probably, Trapper Keeper, Fat Camp and The Wacky Molestation Adventure are just a few of these groundbreaking episodes from a few years back. All look great on DVD with nice sound. No complaints. Extras are light, with short commentaries from Matt Stone and Trey Parker discussing the show and how they make it. They only talk for 4 to 6 minutes each episode, and I wish it were more. But all together, I'm glad this set is on DVD.

Spider-Man: The '67 Collection Spider-Man: The '67 Collection

Wow. The original show is so campy, so cheese ball, so silly... that it's perfect. This is the show that got me into comic books in the first place. I love Buena Vista for putting out this set. There are no extras, but every episode - all 52 - is included. And they look gorgeous. Truly, these cartoons look better than they should. Sound is a standard Dolby Digital 2.0, and it works. The package is also pretty sweet. I know some will be a bit put off on the lack of extras, but I don't think it matters. Just having all of these pieces of caramel covered popcorn is enough for me.

Wonder Woman: The Complete First Season Wonder Woman: The Complete First Season

I love Wonder Woman - probably more so because my wife is a huge, huge, huge Wonder Woman fan. So I greatly anticipated the release of this show on DVD. This set features the complete first season, which takes place in the WWII-era. Lynda Carter perfectly captures the role of Wonder Woman, and the show is fun and represents the classic comic book well. Warner's DVD is full frame and looks incredible for a TV show done in the 70s (and utilizing stock footage from the 40s). Big ups to them. Along with the 13 episodes that comprised the first season, we get the 1975 90-minute pilot The New Original Wonder Woman and that features commentary with Carter and producer Douglas S. Cramer. There's also a new, 20-minute featurette Beauty, Brawn and Bulletproof Bracelets: A Wonder Woman Retrospective that includes interviews with cast, crew and fans/experts about the origins of the character and the show. Pretty neat. Oh, and it's worth mentioning that the packaging kicks major ass as well. This is a great TV on DVD set. Pick it up.

More TV on DVD titles this week include...

CSI: Miami - The Complete First SeasonThe Land of The Lost: The Complete First SeasonDawson's Creek: The Complete Third Season

...CSI: Miami - The Complete First Season, Dawson's Creek: The Complete Third Season, G.I. Joe: Season One, Part Two, Garfield As Himself, The Land of The Lost: The Complete First Season, Little House on the Prairie: Season Five, Sid Caesar: Buried Treasure, Sid Caesar: Fan Favorites, William Hung: Hangin' with Hung and X-Men Evolution: Enemies Unveiled.

Barbershop 2: Back in BusinessDracula: Dead and Loving ItThe Perfect Score

Also look for: Barbershop 2: Back in Business which proves two times may be too many. Campy fun with Die, Mommie, Die. More Mel Brooks: Dracula: Dead and Loving It. Fancy Pants and the double Just for You/Here Comes the Groom from Paramount. Stuart Gordon's triumphant return with King of the Ants, a straight-to-DVD must own. More Jubei in Ninja Scroll. Volume 3: Deliverance. Demi Moore all hot and shit in No Small Affair. Scarlett acts her age in The Perfect Score. Troma releases Sam Fuller's Shark. Gina Gershon makes 3-Way watchable. The classic World of Suzie Wong arrives and learn to dance like the stars in the You Got Served: Take It to the Streets instructional video. Oh, it's on.

I'm out of here. I just wanted to take this time to thank everyone for reading our site and coming back time and time again. This is a labor of love and I'm glad I can be part of all of your daily Internet trolling. You guys make this worth it week-in and week-out.

On a personal note, I want to wish my mother well. She's in the hospital right now and I want to throw a digital coin in the fountain for her. I love you, Mom. Get well soon.

See you all next week. Have a safe and sane Fourth of July. Eat a hot dog for me. Extra coleslaw.

Until next week,

Todd Doogan

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