Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: The Frighteners
Productgroup: DVD
The Frighteners - movie DVD cover picture
Underrated horror comedy

THE FRIGHTENERS is an anomaly among horror films. It has no bad acting, no sex-starved teenagers, or any other of the trappings that give horror movies a bad name. Instead it is well acted, by the entire cast, and the plot is very original. Plus it is very funny too.
Michael J. Fox plays a man who speaks to deceased people who have yet to make a transition to the afterlife. He also sees numbers on the foreheads of the living who are about to become victims of a serial killer who may have literally cheated death. Of course, his "ability" brings suspicion instead of respect. And you can guess who is a suspect at this point.
There are a lot of great things that can be said for THE FRIGHTENERS like the plot and the special effects. But the characters are the true strength of the movie. John Astin is funny as a ghost. As is the dead drill sergeant who is played by the same actor, who was a DS in real life, as the DS in FULL METAL JACKET. Jeffrey Combs is great as the FBI agent who reminds you of someone who walked out of one of H.P. Lovecraft's stories. There are more characters, but those are my favorites.
This was directed by Peter Jackson, who also directed the ultra gory classics BAD TASTE and DEAD/ALIVE. For a time, I thought Jackson fell off the face of the earth because this movie did not quite do that well at the box office. But from what I hear Jackson directed the upcoming LORD OF THE RINGS movies. If he put half the effort into LOTR that he did into THE FRIGHTENERS, audiences are going to be in for a treat.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Peter Jackson
Michael J. Fox
Trini Alvarado

DVD title: Dawn of the Dead - U.S. Theatrical Cut (Anniversary Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Dawn of the Dead - U.S. Theatrical Cut (Anniversary Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Dawn of the Dead

Truly one of the greatest horror movies let alone zombie movies ever made. The second installment in George Romero's Trilogy is a masterpiece in every way. Great character development, incredible effects by the master of horror Tom Savini, and a wonderful storyline. Anyone who knows anything about real horror movies should not take the idiots who rate this movie one star seriously. Any real fan of horror will surely tell you that Dawn of the Dead ranks up there with the best zombie movies ever made. Do yourself a favor and avoid watching the remake, stick with the original. Also look into Night and Day of the dead.

Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Director: George A. Romero
David Emge
Ken Foree

DVD title: Shrek 2 (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Shrek 2 (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Slam Dunk Sequel

This is perhaps the funniest CGI film ever made (though "Finding Nemo" ranks up there as well), and a sequel that actually manages to improve on the seemingly untoppable original.
Basic plot: Shrek and Fiona return from their honeymoon to find Donkey at odds with Dragon, and are immediately invited to meet Fiona's royal parents in the land of Far, Far Away. They undertake this journey (in what may well be the funniest travelling sequence of all time), only to be confronted by innate hostility on behalf of Fiona's father (an extremely engaging John Cleese). From there, all sorts of havoc ensues involving a malicious fairy godmother, a would-be feline assasin by the name of Puss - n- boots (Antonio banderas, stealing every scene his character is in) and, inevitably, demonstrating that true love does indeed conquer all.
If you enjoyed "Shrek", you will most assuredly be delighted with the razor sharp, good natured and wondrous adventure that is "Shrek 2." Put another way, this film makes a part 3 seem like a worthwhile notion..and considering the poor quality of most sequels today, that speaks volumes. This one definitely deserves all five stars.

Studio: Dreamworks
Mike Myers
Eddie Murphy
Cameron Diaz

DVD title: American Pie 2 (Widescreen Unrated Collector's Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
American Pie 2 (Widescreen Unrated Collector's Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
AP2 is a riot!

Quite honestly, after seeing the "unrated" version of the first movie (the pie scene's a /bit/ different, for those that don't know, among a few other things), I honestly don't see a whole lot different about this one over the original movie (though I honestly haven't compared them side-by-side); perhaps a slight bit more nudity, but... *shrug*
In any case, this is a GREAT movie that can easily stand on its own without the first (though it does nicely continue the series with all your favorite characters).

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: James B. Rogers (II)
Jason Biggs
Seann William Scott

DVD title: Robin and the Seven Hoods
Productgroup: DVD
Robin and the Seven Hoods - movie DVD cover picture
Best Damn Ganster Movie ever made

It is a Movie showing the best voices of the era. a movie that is long overdue for Laserdisc and DVD. And one whose soundtrack needs to be released

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Gordon Douglas
Frank Sinatra
Dean Martin
Sammy Davis Jr.
Bing Crosby

DVD title: City Of The Living Dead
Productgroup: DVD
City Of The Living Dead - movie DVD cover picture
Total classic!

The biggest shame of this film, is that a good many people haven't seen it. Hopefully with the dvd release, more people will.
This is truly a cult classic in every sense of the word. It's fun, campy & gory. People who aren't strong stomached might not like this, but those who love gore will be in heaven.
Best scene - the head drilling sequence. It's at once horrifying and hilarious.

Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Director: Lucio Fulci

DVD title: Titanic
Productgroup: DVD
Titanic - movie DVD cover picture
Best Fictional Titanic Film Ever!!!

This maybe a historically incorrect movie as far as sets go, but the drama that takes place between Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck, and the other passengers. The story that transpires is a more realistic account of Titanic's passengers and crew and their love and heroism in the face of disaster.......I give this movie ****4 stars

Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
Director: Jean Negulesco
Clifton Webb
Barbara Stanwyck

DVD title: The Abyss (Special Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Abyss (Special Edition) - movie DVD cover picture

I have watched this spectacular underwater film so many times, I can't begin to count. I've never seen it in widescreen and am tempted to purchase the VHS; but, I'm hooked on DVD and can't wait until it's made available on DVD Widescreen. Please, please make it available on DVD ASAP.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Director: James Cameron
Ed Harris
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

DVD title: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Special Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Special Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Newman and Redford, together again for the first time

I know that crime is not supposed to pay, but whether you are watching Paul Newman and Robert Redford in the Old West or during the Great Depression you end up wishing that it sort of would. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" is probably best described as a buddy movie because in terms of the Western genre it is an odd sort of film. It has more than its share of comic moments, thanks to the deft touch of scripter William Goldman, but it is certainly not a slapstick comedy like "Cat Ballou" or a send up on the genre like "Blazing Saddles." Then there is one of the most depressing endings endings ever, which speaks to the more sobering aspects of the Adult Western epitomized by "Shane" and "High Noon." The only other Western that comes to mind as being in that neck of the woods is "Destry Rides Again," which has something of the same sly sense of satire.

Director George Roy Hill had a big hand in making "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" a different sort of Western. There are plenty of people getting gunned downed in this movie, but Hill avoids the Sam Peckinpah-like bloody violence that was introduced that same year in "The Wild Bunch." He also comes up with a rather contemporary musical score that goes so far as to take B.J. Thomas' "Raindrops Keeping Fallin' on My Head," throw it into this movie, and make it work (who is going to complain about watching Paul Newman ride a bicycle?). Hill puts together another couple of musical montages, both written by Burt Bacharach, with "Old Fun City," as Butch (Newman), Sundance (Redford) and Etta (Katharine Ross) leave New York City, and "South American Getaway," where happy voices make happy sounds while the Bolivian police chase los banditos Yanqui. But in the most dramatic moments of the film there is no music at all.

But the chief attraction here is the combination of wit and drama. Butch and Sundance keep spouting one-liners (Goldman provides just as many great ones here as he does in "The Princess Bride," which would make him the undisputed king of such things), but we always get the sense that they are trying to make light of a situation that is pretty dangerous. From using too much dynamite ("Think ya used enough dynamite there, Butch?") and being chased relentlessly by an unknown posse ("Who are those guys?") to jumping off cliffs ("The fall will probably kill you") and visiting foreign lands ("This might be the Atlantic City, New Jersey of all Bolivia for all you know"), these two guys are a step away from ending up dead. The second time you see the film you can see how much the ending of this film is foreshadowed.

The ability to really have it both ways is why this film remains popular with audiences, even if critics had no idea as to what it was doing when it first came out in 1969. The stars and dialogue are so winning that audiences manage to enjoy the film even though it is basically a tragedy. There is even a point where one of the characters, Sheriff Ray Bledsoe (Jeff Corey) lays it out for not only Butch and Sundance but also the audience, telling the boys: "You know, you should have let yourself get killed a long time ago when you had the chance. See, you may be the biggest thing that ever hit this area, but you're still two-bit outlaws. I never met a soul more affable than you, Butch, or faster than the Kid, but you're still nothing but two-bit outlaws on the dodge. It's over, don't you get that? Your time is over and you're gonna die bloody, and all you can do is choose where." It is rare to find a film that is so insistent about confounding the expectations of its audience and so successful in getting away with it. No wonder that in its wake first class Westerns have been few and far behind (e.g., "Dances With Wolves," "Unforgiven," which also underscore that the heights can still be scaled in that usually neglected genre).

"Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" won Oscars for not only Goldman's original script and Bacharach's music (and song) but also Conrad L. Hall's cinematography. The film made $100 million at the box office, which was a lot in those days before "Jaws" and "Star Wars" redefined the term "blockbuster." It is strange to think that Redford was not considered a star before this film or how close this movie came to having Newman and Jack Lemmon or Steve McQueen, not to mention Hill having offered the two stars the opposite roles they ended up making famous. Even when Hollywood hits a home run with a film it is amazing how close it comes to the foul pole once you know the story behind the movie.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Director: George Roy Hill
Paul Newman
Robert Redford

DVD title: It's The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown
Productgroup: DVD
It's The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown - movie DVD cover picture
There is an Easter Beagle!

The 1970s were the artistic prime for the Peanuts specials, and "It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown" is no exception. The voices, animation, and music are all superb. It has some quite funny moments, such as the store having their Christmas decorations up and Marcie's antics with the eggs. I wish some of the music was released on CD (I don't know why it wasn't on Charlie Brown's Holiday Hits). It's a classic perrenial show. Some have disliked the lack of religion, but I think Schroeder's quote, "It's a time of renewal, a start of spring" is sufficient.

"It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown" is a foreshadowing of the poor quality that would come in the 1980s. It was made in 1976, one year after "Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown", but the voices aren't as good. The voices are the main problem here (although they're still better than the '80s), but they're not the only one. The backgrounds aren't as good, and the baseball field is more brown than usual, even with all the plants. Even Vince Guaraldi's music isn't quite as lively as usual. Still, this is a good show with some quite funny moments. It is fun to have a special for an obscure holiday, even though I don't know when it is.

I don't understand the relevance of the Charlotte's Web 2 game, other than just commercialism. I think it only works for the three to five age group. A regular advertisement would have been more useful.

This is a fun DVD.

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Director: Phil Roman

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