I’m afraid the DVD drought isn’t over — not quite yet. We’re getting a few sprinkles of worthwhile new releases, but by and large, the pickings are somewhat sparse. The upside of that is there’s nothing out this week that’s going to spark any wildfires of excitement. It’s more of a spooky, creepy camp week, not really cool, and certainly not chilling.
The Hills Have Eyes 2 (Unrated) is the sequel to 1985’s remake of Wes Craven’s 1977 cult classic. As you might expect, this one is strictly a paint by numbers affair. This time out, hapless National Guardsmen on a training exercise in the New Mexico desert are beset by the cannibal mutants, with predictable results. But this is the unrated version, so it must have a few surprises too hot for theatrical release, right? Don’t bet the farm on it.
Mass marketers are cross-promoting Hills as a purchase lead-in for Perfect Creature, an obscure vampire movie from New Zealand. It’s set in an alternate reality wherein humans and vampires peacefully coexist in a symbiotic relationship. Vampires save humans from deadly diseases, and humans, in return, supply blood to sustain the vampires. It’s a sweet deal, until one malcontent vampire goes old school. He has to be stopped, of course, so yin and yang can rule the world in harmony.
If there was ever any doubt that Sandra Bullock is a little loopy, Premonition should lay those doubts to rest. In this movie, her life is in a virtual time loop. One day her husband dies in a fiery car wreck, the next day, he’s snacking at the kitchen table, the next day, she’s at his funeral, and so on and so on. That would be okay as a plot device. Unfortunately, the movie never connects the dots in a way that makes any sense. Instead, it teeters between religion, quantum physics, psychological mumbo jumbo and Sandra looking appropriately confused and distressed. It must be important, though — it’s being simultaneously released on Blu-ray.
Fantasy of a different sort, but more deeply etched in our collective consciousness, is represented by the Western. I haven’t talked about them too much here, simply because they’re rarely released these days. (Actually, they are, but they’re usually disguised as science fiction.) This week, however, marks the DVD release of a couple of TV westerns that bear mentioning for historical reasons, if nothing else.
When Gunsmoke debuted in 1955, it was touted as the first adult western to be made for television, and was introduced by no less a personage as John Wayne to make that point. It remains the longest running character series on network television, surviving twenty seasons, its plots often paralleling the social upheavals of contemporary times. Gunsmoke: The First Season collects those early 30-minute, black and white episodes on six discs, and is an essential set for fans of westerns and students of TV history alike.
Almost as important, at least from a pop culture viewpoint, is this week’s release of Wanted: Dead or Alive – Season 2. This series catapulted Steve McQueen into stardom, and steered the western genre into something hip. McQueen portrayed Josh Randall, a laid-back bounty hunter whose weapon of choice was a sawed-off lever action Winchester. Every little boy in America had to have the toy version of that gun. And we all wanted to grow up to be Steve McQueen. It was a different time, ya know…
Okay, before I lapse further into a nostalgia funk, here’s the list of the other new releases this week.
The Corsican File
The Fifth Element (Remastered) (Blu-ray)
The Incredible Hulk: The Complete Second Season
Okay, it was basically The Fugitive in green face, but it was the '70s after all. The Hulk was a very sensitive, if misunderstood, guy back then, dealing with social issues instead of hurling army tanks through the desert.
Kon Ichikawa’s 47 Ronin
The Killing Grounds
Last Seen at Angkor
The Promise Keeper
Red Dawn (Collector’s Edition)
Yo-Yo Girl Cop
Ace in the Hole (Criterion Collection)
Blessed by Fire
The Crow Road
Purported to be a biopic of Edie Sedgwick, this movie focuses on her early days at Andy Warhol’s Factory, but spends most of its time in soap opera territory.
Foyle’s War: Set Four
Grafters: Complete First Season
The Rookies: Complete First Season
Showgirls (Fully Exposed Edition)
Vincent: TV Series
Beer Drinkers in Space
The Best of the Colgate Comedy Hour
Dr. Ravi and Mr. Hyde
The Happy Hooker Trilogy
Legends of British Comedy
P. Diddy Presents the Bad Boys of Comedy: Season Two
Rising Damp: Series Four
Waiting (Unrated and Raw) (Blu-ray)
Anthem (An American Road Story)
Aqua Oddyseas : Catalina
Islam: What the West Needs to Know
The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg (Deluxe 2 Disc Set)
One of the founding members of the Beat movement that began in the 1940s, Allen Ginsberg was central to every radical literary advance of the last sixty years. This award-winning biopic, newly updated, places his work in the social context of the last fifty years.
MLS: Greatest Goals-1996-2003
The Pursuit of Excellence: Synchronized Swimming
Roswell: Operation UFO (60th Anniversary Edition)
Russian Revolution in Color
Stories from the Road_ Sturgis 2006
Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog
Birdman and the Galaxy Trio: The Complete Series
Hey — it’s Birdman — before he became Harvey Birdman. Ahh, innocence.
Digi Narat Chio! Vol. 2
Eureka 7, Vol.8
Madlax: Complete Collection
My-Zhime: My-Otome, Vol. 1
Space Ghost and Dino Boy: The Complete Series
Like Birdman, Space Ghost used to take himself way too seriously. Thank goodness for late night TV.
Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles—Seed of Revolution v.2
As they say in the cartoons — da-dats all, folks! See you next week.