Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 1
Productgroup: DVD
The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 1 - movie DVD cover picture
Classics episodes from the funniest show of all time!

In case you're new to the world of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" (MST3K for short, that what us fans - "Misties" - call it), this is the famous TV show where a silhouette of a man and two robots sitting in theater seats provide running commentary for some of the worst movies ever made. The ninety-minute episodes are also scattered with sketches and songs and amount to some of the smartest, most pop-culture savvy, side-splitting comedy ever made.
This is the first of the four-episode collections of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" offered from Rhino (previously they had only offered them in single DVD editions). It contains an interesting mix of movies: a science-fiction horror flick, a drama about skydivers, a 60s beach comedy, and a thriller on a tropical island. Three of the episodes come from the excellent sixth season, when Mike Nelson was the human host and the wisecracks and comments had become razor sharp and fast and furious. One episode comes from the second season, when the show had a more laid-back, friendly humor when Joel Hodgson was the host. Although this collection skews toward the later seasons, it is still a good general introduction to the show for newcomers, since most of the episodes are terrific. Fans who favor Joel Hodgson's style won't enjoy this as much as the second and third box set, but for most fans the inclusion of "The Skydivers" and "The Creeping Terror" make it a must-own.
Here's what you get:
BLOODLUST! Episode #607. A rip-off of "The Most Dangerous Game," only with young college kids (one of whom is Robert Reed, future Brady Bunch dad!). The four dummies land on a jungle island to go exploring and become trapped by the rich but extremely wishy-washy maniac millionaire who owns the island. Apparently, he enjoys hunting down people to turn them into stuffed trophies. The film isn't really awful, just completely unoriginal and acted with total flatness. Robert Reed never seems more than mildly "cheesed" and "fed up" (to quote Mike and 'Bots) with the life-threatening situation. But it's season six, and the show's writers couldn't do any wrong at this point, and the result is the usual hilarious romp.
CATALINA CAPER. Episode #204. This is the only Joel Hodgson episode in the collection, and it's an oddball entry in MST3K history: it's the only time the show took on an overt comedy. True, "Catalina Caper," a teen 60s bikini beach comedy, isn't funny at all, but since it doesn't take itself seriously it becomes a tough target to make fun off. Joel and the 'Bots have a good time with the lousy 'prat-fall' comic, the awful musical numbers (one featuring Little Richard, waaaay out of his element), skinny Tommy Kirk, and the famous 'creepy girl,' but this is a spotty episode and the weakest in this pack. Don't form your opinions of Joel's episodes based on this one.
THE CREEPING TERROR. Episode #606. This is a classic, and one of the worst films the MST3K team ever took on. A big shag carpet (oh, excuse me, I meant 'alien') starts eating the citizens of a quiet California town; or at least it gets close enough to them so they can hoist themselves into its mouth. And why is the town so quiet? Because while making the film, someone accidentally kicked the sound equipment into a lake, so the whole movie has almost NO DIRECT SOUND. Yep, we instead have a narrator telling us what the characters are saying, doing, discussing, and so on. You have to see it (or hear it) to believe it! Mike and the 'Bots unload on this one, and it's a scream. One of the funniest episodes ever.
THE SKYDIVERS. Episode #609. One of the most beloved of all MST3K episodes. Writer Paul Chaplin said of it: "I don't want to criticize this movie. I'm too fond of the final result for our show...there's never been a better movie for our treatment." I'll drink to that. This drama about the loves and losses of people working at a parachuting school is so weird, so bizarrely scripted, so awfully acted, filled with so many inexplicably wack-o characters, and shot with such stunning ineptitude that it positively amazes. The riffing from the hosts is some of the best, sharpest commentary they ever did. This is the first of three movies MST3K did from director Coleman Francis (who makes Ed Wood look like Orson Welles!). The second one, "Red Zone Cuba" is available on its own DVD. The third, "The Beast of Yucca Flats" isn't out yet, and Rhino should really get this one on a future collection.
All four films are offered in "non-MST3K" versions on the flip side of their discs, which is a nice feature if you really want to see how much the show added to these awful films. "Bloodlust" and "Catalina Caper" are all right - although dull - on their own, but see how long you can sit through the other two without Mike and Robots before you tear your eyes out!
So there you have it, three of the most phenomenally funny episodes of MST3K, plus one of the most unusual. A great package for fans and newcomers alike! (Just watch out for acid in your parachute!)

Studio: Wea Corp
Joel Hodgson

DVD title: The Judy Garland Show Collection
Productgroup: DVD
The Judy Garland Show Collection - movie DVD cover picture
Judy's star shines better than ever on DVD set

This new set of the Judy Garland television series has got to be one of the best things that could happen to a Garland fan. The quality is exceptional. I'll bet the shows didn't look this good on the dates of their initial broadcast in the early 60's! Judy's program still holds up all these years later. As I said to a friend of mine who is not a fan of Miss Garland's, even just to watch the guest roster. Judy had some of the all time greats on her show. From Peggy Lee to Lena Horne to Ethel Merman to Jack Jones. Can't wait for the second set, scheduled as I understand, to be released in the spring. Try it, you'll love it!

Studio: Pioneer Video
Tony Bennett
Mickey Rooney
Judy Garland
Mel Torme

DVD title: Through fire, water and...brass pipes
Productgroup: DVD
Through fire, water and...brass pipes - movie DVD cover picture
Wonderful fairy tale movie

Serge is wrong. The DVD, at least, has an English language track (and several other languages too) as well as English subtitles. Like the other Rusico fairy tale titles, this is a beautifully produced disc. The film itself is a lot of fun - and Serge, it is just as good, if not better, than Hollywood movies of the same genre (and there are not a lot of those). Generally speaking, Russian fairy tale movies are some of the best ever made for children, and this is a superb example, full of quirky characters, slapstick, color and magical happenings (as well as some scary moments, one right at the beginning). But what ARE those brass pipes? Well, you CAN'T find out in the movie ...

Studio: Image Entertainment
Through Fire Water & Brass Pip

DVD title: Jackie Chan's Project A
Productgroup: DVD
Jackie Chan's Project A - movie DVD cover picture

PROJECT A is an exciting and intense film with lots of action throughout. The acting is not the best with the voices being dubbed. Jackie is quite funny though and Sammo Hung puts in an excellent performance as a conman as well.

Studio: Dimension Home Video
Jackie Chan
Sammo Hung Kam-Bo
Biao Yuen

DVD title: The Notebook (New Line Platinum Series)
Productgroup: DVD
The Notebook (New Line Platinum Series) - movie DVD cover picture
Simply Excellent~ Wonderful Movie~ Must See !!!!

A perfect romance movie. Young love that never dies. Simply excellent. Good soundtrack as well. A must see movie. A well justified tear jerker. Excellent, FYI grab the kleenex.

Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Gena Rowlands
James Garner
Ryan Gosling
Rachel McAdams

DVD title: Rebecca
Productgroup: DVD
Rebecca - movie DVD cover picture

I shall never forget that line. My dreams are still filled with the opening sequence where she sees the gate slowly pushed open revealing that famous manor in the backgroud.(sigh) When someone asks what my absolute FAVORITE movie of all time is, I reply "Rebecca". Being 26 years old..most of my younger friends have never heard of it. I first saw this movie when I was six. I saw it again at the age of ten. At the time I thought it was sooo Scary! I laugh at that now. Rebecca begins with a young woman visiting Monte Carlo as a personal assistant to a wealty woman. When her relentless duties allow her some free time, she happens upon a mysterious, wealthy man known as Mr. deWinter. Mr. deWinter courts her tirelessly and eventually the young maiden agrees to marry him. She is then carried off to England as a new bride. Thrown into a wealthy, very social society, the woman feels peevish and overindulged. Their marriage takes on a sort of father-daughter manner. They "seem" to be happy. The young woman is brought to "Manderly" , and old British castle that was once the happy home of her husband, Mr. deWinter and his beloved, former wife Rebecca. Apparently, EVERYBODY adored Rebecca...she was a social butterfly and ran the house with a strict hand. Rebecca had everything and new everybody. All her former friends, and Mrs. Danvers, the somewhat scary household keeper, constantly refer to the "deity" Rebecca in front of the new and young Mrs. deWinter. She begins to feel small and unworthy. Obviously she cannot measure up to the mystique of the once great and beloved Rebecca. In one of my favorite scenes, the new Mrs. deWinter happens upon Rebecca's bedroom. The room was NEVER changed. Mrs. Danvers obssesively keeps it in the immaculate condition her former mistress had. She invites the young woman in and describes how special each and every item is, referring to them as "delicate" and "perfect". The young woman rushes out, realizing that none of her things even compare to that of Rebecca's. The young Mrs. deWinter decides to clear out alot of Rebecca's old things. She wants to be stonger , more like Rebecca, but soon realizes she can't compete. Mr. deWinter soon becomes sullen and quiet and their marriage seems strained. A new force against them is just around the corner The boat that Rebecca had supposedly drowned in is found and there is question as to how. Mr. deWinter sits through trial and after the verdict is read..he returns to his castle only to find it on fire! As with most great stories I cannot give away the ending. There are so many secrets revealed and lots of twisting plots..true Hitchcock style. I really loved the contrast between Rebecca the icon, and the young Mrs. deWinter who is never even given a name through the entire movie. It really allows you to feel her as a "nobody" compared to the great and haunting Rebecca, who's physical identity is never even seen, except in one oil painting. How different the two women are! I have chills from just remembering! Young or old..this movie can entertain any age.

Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Laurence Olivier
Joan Fontaine

DVD title: Unforgiven
Productgroup: DVD
Unforgiven - movie DVD cover picture
Western come of age

`Unforgiven' is an absolute masterpiece of film, and represents not only director and star Clint Eastwood's most mature work, but also the coming of age of the Western. It completely eliminates the simplex white hat/black hat, good guy/bad guy theme so common to Westerns. In its place, it gives us rich, fully drawn characters painted in the muddled shades of gray that characterize real life rather than the black and white of myth. And while it has abundant violence, it strips it of all of its glamour, and presents it as the stark horror that it is.
The film deals extensively with the disconnect between what we are, and how we view ourselves. William Munny (Clint Eastwood), a bad man reformed by the love of his now deceased wife, is haunted by his past of cold blooded killing. Even as he takes on a final job of assassination to save his failing farm, he continually tells himself and everyone around him, "I ain't like that anymore." His companion, The Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett), is young, dumb, and owns a gun, and is blustering and cocky about what a deadly killer he is until confronted with the actual deed. English Bob (Richard Harris) fancies himself a sophisticated, refined, gentleman shootist, but is soon revealed to be little more than a mannered bully and crude killer. Little Bill (Gene Hackman), sheriff of Big Whisky, believes himself to be a tough but fair enforcer of justice, and believes that he is different - more righteous, than the toughs that he confronts. Yet Little Bill harbors a deeply sadistic rage that can be deadly, and just as ugly as any outlaw's deeds. Finally, the working girls that contract to kill the offending cowboys see themselves only as seeking justice, and are blind to the fact that what they really want is not justice, but vengeance.
`Unforgiven' reinvents how violence and killing are presented in Westerns. In the traditional Western, the villains are demonized to the extent that when they are killed by the heroes, we feel exhilaration and triumph, devoid of any of the inherent horror of the act. Not so in `Unforgiven', where each killing is felt like punch to the gut. When each character is shown in all their humanity rather than as a gross caricature, it is impossible for us to cheer their deaths. Eastwood's William Munny sums up the heart of the film when he says to the Schofield Kid, "When you kill a man, you rob him of everything that he has, and everything he's ever gonna have." In a final shoot out scene, Munny ties together the themes of the gruesome nature of killing and our self deceit about our natures, when a man he is about to kill says to him, "I don't deserve this", and he replies, "We all deserve it," as he dispatches him.
`Unforgiven' stands as a landmark in the history of Western movies. Like John Ford's great film, `The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance', it explodes the myths and easy conventions of the genre, and presents us with complex moral questions rather than simple, pre-digested answers. It is well written, with brilliant performances, and beautiful cinematography - a masterpiece of its genre. If you are ready to see Westerns grow up, you must see this brilliant film.

Theo Logos

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood
Gene Hackman
Morgan Freeman

DVD title: Moulin Rouge (Single Disc Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Moulin Rouge (Single Disc Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Spectacular, Spectacular

Moulin Rouge is my favorite movie of all time. It was a great love story with a great amount of comedy and suspense. I became so involved with all the characters. You begin to hate some, and totally love other characters. I think I cried the hardest at this movie than any other movie I've seen. They chosed great songs to make what they were saying all the more meaningful.

Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Nicole Kidman
Ewan McGregor

DVD title: The Return of the Living Dead
Productgroup: DVD
The Return of the Living Dead - movie DVD cover picture
Return of the Living Dead ( A Must SEE!!!)

I like this movie because it is completely different than the George Romero Films. It is a mixture of comedy and horror. I would recomend this movie to any true horror fan. Yes the DVD was a minor dissapointment in how they realesed it but in this case there are more good than bad. There is a very enjoyable and educational commentary by Dan Obanion, and theatrical trailers and TV spots. I give this movie a rating of two thumbs up!

Studio: MGM/UA Video
Director: Dan O'Bannon
Clu Gulager
James Karen

DVD title: Into the Woods
Productgroup: DVD
Into the Woods - movie DVD cover picture
Very Obsession Worthy

I love many broadway musicals and plays, but this one takes the cake. Everything about it is superb! This taping of the play is excellent, gives you the broadway stage experience while also giving excellent close ups and a little bit of film magic, together creating an ecellent buy! Well, well worth the price, just to see the superb Bernadette Peters! This is a must have addition to any DVD collection!

Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: James Lapine
Bernadette Peters
Chip Zien
Joanna Gleason

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