August 01, 2007

Notes from a DVD Geek

by Jeremy Lassen

This month I’m psyched.  There’s a truly awesome movie arriving on DVD and chances are most of you were unable to catch it in the theaters.  Now’s your chance to rectify this horrible mistake: run out and watch "The Host".  For those of you who came out to the Variety Screening Room this spring to watch "The Host," you know it’s a truly fabulous giant monster movie that transcends the genre. Great effects, gripping characterizations, and superb performances by the entire cast.  This Korean-made extravaganza comes to the US with a 2 disk special edition that should not be missed.

Speaking of splendidly over the top films we’ve shown at the Variety Screening Room, I’ll bet some of you remember our screening of the long-out-of-print "Flash Gordon" movie, featuring music by Queen, and the greatest performance of Max Von Sydow’s career, as Ming the Merciless.  The new “Savior of the Universe” DVD release features a restored anamorphic disk (for those non-techno-dorks, this means it looks better on your widescreen TV, if you’ve got one of those) and 5.1 surround sound, so as to better hear Brian May’s guitar and Freddy Mercury’s vocals.  Get it!

Speaking of cheesy fun:  "Friday the 13th," and "Friday the 13th Part 2" have just been released as a double feature disk.  I mention this because I have a soft spot for hockey masks and axes (once, in high school, I dressed as Jason for Halloween, and had my axe confiscated, because they felt it was a weapon – I assured them it was a common household object no more dangerous then a baseball bat but they weren’t buying it,) not because they are good movies.  But you may as well see the original movies once more, before the inevitable remakes come around.

Since we seem to be stuck in the 80’s, it behooves me to mention that the classic Jim Henson production "The Dark Crystal" is getting a 2 disk 25th Anniversary DVD release.  Yes, kids, it's been 25 years since "The Dark Crystal" proved Muppets could be creepy and scary and incredibly emotive.  I feel old, now, as I remember seeing this one in the theater.

Okay, so jumping out of the 80's, and back to the present, I want to point out this month's “Masters of Horror” release, "Valerie on the Stairs".  It is based on an original Clive Barker story treatment, and directed by long-time King/Barker adaptor Mick Garris.  The second release is Tom Holland’s "We All Scream for Ice Cream," in which William ("The Devil's Rejects") Forsythe plays “Buster the Clown”.  The mind boggles with wonder and anticipation!

Finally, rounding out this month's DVD releases is a classic Hong Kong film featuring Jet Li:  "The Legend of the Swordsman (AKA The Swordsman 2)".  This period fantasia piece demonstrates why Jet Li rules. . .why Brigitte Lin is hot and why there was cinematic magic in Hong Kong long before "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon".  If you’ve never sampled the joys of pre-Crouching-Tiger-Hong-Kong, or wonder why Jet Li is a big deal, give this one a try.

Until next month . . . .

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