Weekly Release Roundup
Don't ask me what's new, 'cause the answer is plenty. We gots a
couple of really great DVDs coming this week: one big one in
particular. Plus there's a nice handful of video rental titles,
juicy schlock and some good TV on DVD. It's a big week, so let's
take a closer look.
First up is the big release I was jawin' about up above, and it's
one that's not being highly touted by the studio - a fact that
boggles our minds here at the Bits because it is a really good disc.
That title is...
Room: Special Edition
I'm going to review this disc in detail later this week, but
for now, know that, without a f*#kin' doubt, this is one of the
best special editions to be released since Fight
Club. There's probably a good reason for that - both
were produced by David Prior. It's hard trying to not be an a$$
kisser with this guy. I mean, I have never met him, but I love
him dearly. He understands what DVD is all about and gives us,
the fans, what we really, really want and need. There are no
stringy pieces of fat with the discs he produces - it's all
grade A beef. And because he gets everyone on board working with
him - from writers of the film to the director - he consistently
gets an inside look that not everyone in the DVD production
community gets a chance to get. This set makes the wait for it
worth every second. Buy this set as soon as you can.
Bear: Special Edition
Brother Bear comes to us
from Disney as a two-disc special edition. The story of a young
hunter who become the hunted and learns a new way of life is
likely to be the last traditionally animated film from Disney
(which is a shame). The film is gorgeous-looking, although the
film itself is flawed in many ways. Kids will love it for the
cool looking bears and funny moose (or is that meese?) though,
and that's what counts in today's cartoon world.
Disc one of this set contains the film in an unassuming
letterboxed format. The film was put into theaters in two aspect
ratios, a window-boxed styled widescreen (1.66:1) for the part
when the main character is a human and a full blown anamorphic
(2.35:1) when he's a bear. To not confuse the kids, Disney makes
it one widescreen presentation (1.66:1), which is cut in a bit,
but certainly not pan and scan. Disc two presents the film in
its original theatrical aspect ratios and it looks and sounds
great. No complaints here. Sound is presented in both DTS and DD
Extras are pretty nice as well. There's a commentary track with the
mooses (?) Rutt and Tuke (played by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas in
character), a music video, outtakes, games, sing-a-longs, bear
facts, kid-friendly featurettes, galleries, trailers, a making-of
documentary and deleted scenes. It's a pretty nice set for an okay
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Platinum Edition
TCM is out in two styles a
movie-only and a Platinum Edition. We're stickin' with the
Platinum, and you should too if you plan to get this flick at
all. Why would this film need a high-end remake? The answer: it
doesn't. But, oh well. Money talks and all that jazz. The new
TCM is here and since I'm
not so secretly in love with Jessica Biel, I own the film.
This new remake is the same story as before with some
flourishes here and there and lots of better camera shots and
some cooler special effects. But the fear is gone from this one,
along with the creep factor - but we do get to see what
Leatherface looks like under the mask. If that has any value,
please let me know.
This Platinum edition lives up to its name with a very
good-looking anamorphic widescreen and sound in Dolby Digital EX
and DTS 6.1. You'll at the very least enjoy looking and
listening the film even if you don't like watching it.
The extras include three audio commentaries, called essays here.
Essay 1 entitled Production
features director Marcus Nispel, producer Michael Bay, executive
producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller and New Line CEO Robert Shaye.
Essay two focuses on Technical
issues with Marcus Nispel, cinematographer Daniel Pearl, production
designer Greg Blair, art director Scott Gallagher, supervising sound
editor Trevor Jolly, composer Steve Jablonsky. Finally writer Scott
Kosar, Brad Fuller, Andrew Form, Marcus Nispel, Michael Bay, actors
Jessica Biel, Erica Leerhsen, Eric Balfour, Jonathan Tucker, Mike
Vogel and Leatherface himself Andrew Bryniarski round out the Essay
dedicated to the Story. It's a
lot of information and all three of the tracks are worth listening
But there's plenty more out there for you. The making-of
documentary Chainsaw Redux is
a damn good piece of DVD filmmaking. Everyone gets to voice their
thoughts and we get plenty of behind-the-scenes nuggets. Also good
is the documentary aboutEd Gein
which looks at the creepy as hell man who inspired this film series
as well as Psycho and
Silence of the Lambs. Uhg.
Rounding out the disc set are deleted scenes (including a lame wrap
around piece that deserved to be cut), screen tests for Biel,
Balfour and Leerhsen, a stills gallery, DVD-ROM features, video and
trailers (including Bay's legendary teaser). Oh, and inside the case
are some stills in a nifty envelope, along with a worthless metal
plate cover. You can chuck it or put it on your wall.
TCM is without a doubt and all
jabs aside, a great DVD. Too bad the film is ho-hum. Oh well.
So all that the really good stuff.
There are still some great things coming out today, they're just a
little less "important". But for many of us, that means
First up is one of Bill's favorite "bad" films...
Final Countdown: Limited Edition
Blue Underground FINALLY put this one out onto disc in a way we
can all enjoy. You can read what Bill thinks about this
Dead: Collector's Edition
ei Independent Cinema's new Shock-O-Rama line is trying to
answer the question: "What if Hammer Horror films were
first made in the days of high-end digital filmmaking?" The
answer is quite simple: they'd make something like
Here a group of beautiful models find themselves trapped in an
asylum with a twisted photographer and an even more twisted
zombie/ghost. Will anyone make it out alive? Pretensions aside,
the little film itself isn't all that bad. I mean, it's not
meant to be a killer piece of cinema. As fluffy erotic horror
goes, it works quite well. The video and sound quality are
surprisingly good (for the feature presentation at least).
Extras include a behind-the-scenes making of featurette, an E!
True Hollywood Story styled documentary about star Misty Mundae,
a look at the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors, footage from the
film's premiere, photo galleries, trailers for other ei Cinema
films and a look Inside the Asylum
the film was shot in. If you enjoy schlock, then this disc is
right up your alley.
And speaking of schlock, our favorite schlock producers have three
titles coming out this week. Who are we talking about? Troma, of
First up is...
Taking full advantage of our current political environment
Troma brings their classic library title Fortress
of Amerikkka to DVD. Hot women, studly men with guns,
hardcore militias, terrorist-minded mercenaries and hot-bed
conspiracy theories abound in this film pitting the forested
community of Troma City, CA against a group of bad men who want
to take over America.
A female cop is framed in a small rural town and sent to prison
where she is groomed for a life in white slavery. Nothing
exploitational there, huh? Any way, the cop rounds up the girls
and fights her way out bringing revenge to the ones who have it
Think of this one as The Running Man
meets Troma and not The Matrix
meets Survivor as the box
proclaims, and you might have a better idea. Bad effects, bad
acting, bad writing. Bad. But fun.
All of these discs feature the usual Troma quality transfers
and sound and extras ranging from trailers and ads for Lloyd
Kaufman's books to music video and Troma Edge sketches. But,
c'mon, we don't buy these discs for the extras or the disc
quality - we buy them because they are truly bad Troma movies.
And, although these are hardly great Troma movies, they are
Troma movies. Buyer knows what he's getting and buyer beware.
Less than quality schlock are two from new kid on the block
Let's see. Ice T. Coolio. Costas Mandylor. Cameo by Terminatrix
Kristanna Loken. Can it be good? No. But it's bad in a fun way.
It's LA, post-apocalypse, and a gang of baddies are enslaving
and/or killing survivors of the end days. Throw in a
flesh-eating virus and plenty of bad acting and you have
yourself a fun piece of junk. The cover makes you think it's an
urban flick, but it's not - it's Cyborg
meets Mad Max. Sadly, the
disc doesn't look all that great. Extras include the trailer,
cast and crew bios, interview with cast and crew and a making-of
After Sophia Coppola gave us Virgin
Suicides and Lost in
Translation and Roman brought us
CQ, you'd expect every
Coppola seed to have the chops to make great low-budget films.
Forget that with Christopher. A truck driver is hired to take a
mysterious box to Florida and all hell breaks loose - literally.
Pumped with enough celebrities to open a mall, this one is not
good at all. I can't even recommend it based on its badness.
Even the transfer is bad. What can I say that's nice? Uhm, it
has deleted scenes. But not enough of 'em.
Shape of Things to Come
Finally in the so bad they're bad group is another one from
Blue Underground: H.G. Wells' The
Shape of Things to Come. Following robot warfare, the
Earth is a wasteland and the Moon is the place to be. Problem
is, people living on the Moon need a special medicine to counter
the effects of space radiation. Jack Palance plays a bad guy who
takes over the only place these survivors of the future can get
the medicine and a group of heroes must go there and get it and
defeat the power mad Palance at the same time. Made in 1979 when
everyone was ripping off Star Wars,
Shape of Things to Come is
plain awful. Audio and video are serviceable in Dolby Digital
mono and anamorphic widescreen. Extras include a French trailer,
a TV spot and gallery of stills. Hmmm. Unless you're a
connoisseur of horrid films, this one might be better left
This one will be a rental-only for most. John Malkovich's turn
as Mr. Ripley is fun to watch but a wholly different experience
from Matt Damon's portrayal. Years have past and Ripley is still
playing with human lives like he's playing with a chess set. As
an art dealer in Europe, he has access to many colorful souls,
and when he's pulled into a new game the stakes get awfully
high. It's not as fun as the first film (we'll consider this an
unofficial sequel to The Talented Mr.
Ripley), but nonetheless it's an interesting film.
The DVD looks and sounds pretty good. Nothing so great to write
home, but nothing that would keep you from enjoying the film.
The DVD has nothing in terms of extras (well there are sneak
peaks, but so what?), so if you just rent this one no one will
hold it against you.
of Sand and Fog
Two strangers with no initial ill will towards each other are
thrown into a world where they are face to face and against each
other in all possible ways. Is this a morality play, a lesson in
life wrapped into a film? I dunno. I don't like the film too
much, but damn is there some great acting in this film. And this
DVD is stunning. Video and audio quality are off the charts
good. You really have to check this disc out to understand how
good it is. Extras are pretty thick with an audio commentary
with director Vadim Perelman, author Andre Dubus III and actor
Ben Kingsley, a making-of featurette and deleted scenes with
optional commentary. Everything here will bring you closer to
the art of the film, but it's such a distancing work of art,
it's hard to connect with it. Still, it's a pretty incredible
film even if it's hard to "like." Rounding out the set
is an audition video of Oscar nominated actress Shohreh
Aghdashloo, filmographies and production notes. This is another
one worth renting before you buy. Check this one out for the
performances and the always incredible cinematography of Roger
We're going to very soon have a more detailed review of this
one from my mother-in-law. Thought it would be fun to have a
cool older chick write a review of a film about a cool older
chick. Couldn't hurt to spread the love, huh? In the meantime,
this very cute romantic comedy features video and audio which
are both very good. Extras include two commentary tracks, one
with director Nancy Meyers and co-producer Bruce Block and the
other with Meyers and Jack. Both are good, but having Jack on a
commentary is cool as hell I have to say. There is also a
featurette, deleted scene, trailers and filmographies. Not a bad
film, not a bad disc.
Erotica Anno 1950
Vintage porn. Gotta love it. What can be said? It's old porn
culled from a library in France. Video is sketchy from bad
sources and no sound. Well, you can have the sound of a
projector if you want. This disc is available by itself or with
a box set called Vintage Erotica
Collection that includes this one along with
Anno 1930 and
Anno 1940. It's not
Rebecca Lord, but it's still interesting.
I'm just going to mention and run through the TV releases for
you. If you love the show, they you know you'll want these sets:
Crime Scene Investigation - The Complete Third Season
Who doesn't love this show? Go buy it.
This one actually came out last week, but it's cool enough to
mention this week. It's also a pretty loaded special edition
with deleted scenes, interviews and confessionals.
Life on the Streets - The Complete Fourth Season
I've never been a fan of this series, so I don't always know
what the hubbub was about. So if you like the show, all 22
episodes of the fourth season is on six discs. Running
commentary on one of the episodes, featurettes and interviews
add to the fun of this DVD.
Jack Paar Collection
This is a nice set for you old school junkies. A guest review
by one of my partners-in-crime, John Babcock, can be read
& Son: The Fourth Season
This was a season of new life for Fred Sanford and his son, who
we will always affectionately know as "Dummy". After
Redd Foxx got back to work after a very turbulent third season,
Sanford showed everyone
that this was a funny show. New creative control for Foxx might
have helped. See for yourself with the Fourth Season of this
& Grace: Season Two
This is another one that actually came out last week, but I
missed it. I know a couple of folks who love this show. I'm not
a huge fan, but it looks damn good on DVD. Extras include a
handful of featurettes and that's about it. Could have used some
commentary tracks, if you ask me.
Also coming this week:
The classic serial
Cisco Kid: Collection 1,
Girl (not the Kevin Smith one, which sadly looks like it
bombed), fun anime with
Excellent, a bunch of tired old folk comedies from Warner:
Late Show and
Sunshine Boys, the HK action-fest
Effect along with some more TV shows:
Quinn, Medicine Woman: Season 3, afternoon animation fun
Seasons 1 & 2, and two from Showtime:
and Teller: Bullsh*t - The First Season and
Blvd: The Complete First Season
My eyes are getting tired from watching all of these DVDs. I'm
going to bed. Oh, and if someone knows Rebecca Lord, let her know I
mentioned her and that I love her. Don't worry, my wife knows.
Until next week...