Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Halloween
Productgroup: DVD
Halloween - movie DVD cover picture
Very Good Scary Flick!

This movie although not as scary as the company would make you think is very good. It tells the first part of the story in which Michael Myers attempts to kill his sister (who at this point dosen't realize she's related), Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). It was continued by an equally good film called Halloween II in which it continues the same Halloween night of 1978 in Haddonfield.

Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Director: John Carpenter
Donald Pleasence
Jamie Lee Curtis
Tony Moran

DVD title: The Transformers - The Movie
Productgroup: DVD
The Transformers - The Movie - movie DVD cover picture
Pass It On

I remember the growing up in the 80's with my favorite gear jamming, throttle slamming Autobots. Now my five year old son is doing the same with Beast Machines and Beast Wars. Now that he has seen the true origanal Transformers, he says "Beast who?". This is one for all times-Till All Are One!

Studio: Rhino Video
Director: Nelson Shin

DVD title: Amarcord - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
Amarcord - Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture
Fellini's Other Deeply Personal Extraordinary Film

Like 8 1/2 before it, Amarcord marks an extremely personal film for Fellini. Like his relationship to Guido in 8 1/2, the character of Titta serves as an extension of Fellini on film. Whereas Guido served as an extension of Fellini's state of mind, Titta serves as an extension of Fellini's childhood memories.
Through the retelling of emotional stories that deal with Titta and his family, Amarcord (which translates into "I Remember") presents a cyclical collage of wondrous nostalgia for the Italy of Fellini's childhood. Starting in the spring and ending their one year later with the return of the yearly "puffballs", we are presented with and touched by the many experiences that Titta comes face to face with.
At the same time, the film is much more than a mere visual presentation of Fellini's own nostalgia, for it also questions the true validity of one's own memories. This questioning of memory by Fellini is made apparent in the manner in which single scenes can go from "reality" based to fantasy-like parody back to "reality" based in a manner of moments.
One of the more noteworthy examples of this technique is the scene in which El Duce visits the local town square. In the scene the serious yet joyous procession of El Duce eventually turns into a comedic/fantasy experience in which schoolchildren are shown happily carrying guns in the imagined wedding of two schoolchildren in front of a giant talking Mussolini head. Moments later the film cuts to nightfall, in which the local Fascists soldiers wreak havoc on the town and afterwards interrogate and beat Titta's father. Depending on Fellini's own presentation of the Italian Fascists, (and just as importantly, the view in Italy towards the Fascists at that time) very different interpretations can be read of them. In using such a juxtaposition, Fellini (in his echoing of Arnheim's formalist theory) is purposely trying to express the impossibility of remembering and re-presenting a true account of the past as a result of the individual nature of memory itself.
Another scene that blurs the real and the imagined is Titta's late-night encounter with a large busty Tobacconist (she is given no true name within the film) just as she has closed up her shop. The woman, who Titta has fantasized about at an earlier point in the film, playfully flirts with Titta, a flirtation that eventually ends in a moment of extreme foreplay between the two. But the inexperienced Titta is unable to please the tobacconist, and she soon forces him to stop. At this time she acts as if nothing has happened, she gives him his tobacco and shows him out the store. How much of this was real, and how much of this was imagined both within the film and with regard to Fellini's own experiences? As is the case with many of the other sequences in the film, the answer is left up to the viewer.
Amarcord is thus not so much about reconstructing mirror images of the past, but rather more about how we would like to, and thus do, remember the past through our own distorted points of view. Andrei Tarkovsky deals with very similar themes in his film Mirror, albeit in a manner that is much less entertaining than Amarcord, which was released shortly after Amarcord.
**** (10/10)

Studio: Criterion Collection
Director: Federico Fellini
Magali Noël
Bruno Zanin

DVD title: Playhouse
Productgroup: DVD
Playhouse - movie DVD cover picture
One Fun Flick

Playhouse is a great example of the wonder of small budget possesses an ability to keep you entertained with it's perfect mix of witt and gore. The acting was just as commendable! All of the actors, from leads all the way to that boy making out with the girl in the woods kept you engaged in the plot and ready for the next laugh or scream. I highly reccomend this film to anyone who enjoys a good thrill or a giggle. Go buy won't be disappointed.

Studio: Vanguard Cinema
David Friday

DVD title: The Princess Diaries (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Princess Diaries (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
I love this movie!

This is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I know it by heart. It's a wonderful family film that is funny and meaningful at the same time. It embodies every girl's wish that they're really royalty and will be swept away by a long-lost relative to be a princess and rule. Mia goes through doubting her abilities to reign, embarassing high school moments, and love. It's just really great.

Studio: Buena Vista Home Vid
Director: Garry Marshall
Julie Andrews
Anne Hathaway

DVD title: Halloween H20 - Twenty Years Later (Dimension Collector's Series)
Productgroup: DVD
Halloween H20 - Twenty Years Later (Dimension Collector's Series) - movie DVD cover picture
H20 was the best Halloween movie ever made

H20 was one of the best movies I saw in 1998. It was none stop action. It was so awesome and Jamie Lee was hot in the movie too. She looked good. The ending was the best part of the movie when Michael.... Better not say. I'll let you people out there that haven't seen it yet, be surprised. I was.

Studio: Dimension Home Video
Director: Steve Miner
Jamie Lee Curtis
Josh Hartnett

DVD title: Eating Raoul
Productgroup: DVD
Eating Raoul - movie DVD cover picture
You need to watch this movie!!

Paul Bartel -- a genius. Mary Woronov - one of the best (and, unfortunately, underappreciated) comedic actresses of our times. This movie pairs the two of them for the first time, and one of the best comic duos of all times had been born. Playing an uptight married couple trapped in a swingers world, watching Bartel and Woronov playing off of each other, and the various characters that come in and out of their lives, shows us why independent movies still shine far above most commercially/studio made movies out there. Get this movie -- better yet, buy this movie and add it to your collection. You won't be disappointed.

Studio: Columbia Tristar Hom
Director: Paul Bartel
Paul Bartel
Mary Woronov

DVD title: Faerie Tale Theatre - The Little Mermaid
Productgroup: DVD
Faerie Tale Theatre - The Little Mermaid - movie DVD cover picture
a true FAERIE TALE THEATRE classic

FAERIE TALE THEATRE's touching and tender recreation of THE LITTLE MERMAID (the second-last in the series) is one of their best efforts.

Pearl (Pam Dawber) is a beautiful young mermaid who lives with her father King Neptune (Brian Dennehy) and her sisters Coral and Anemonie (Donna McKechnie and Laraine Newman) in a kingdom at the bottom of the ocean. When Pearl comes of age and is allowed a brief glimpse of the world above the sea, she falls in love with a handsome Prince (Treat Williams) whom she saves from drowning when his ship has a fatal explosion.

She makes a bargain with the Sea Witch (Karen Black): her voice in exchange for a pair of legs and hopefully the love of the Prince. Once on land Pearl quickly returns to the Prince, though he only has eyes for the lovely Princess Emilia (Helen Mirren).

What follows is a heartbreaking story of selfless love and sacrifice, as Pearl risks everything for true love...

Pam Dawber leads a strong cast. Karen Black is amazing as the Sea Witch; Newman and McKechnie are a delight as Pearl's sisters and Treat Williams fills the role of the Prince admirably. A true gem in the series

Studio: Repnet, Lcc
Pam Dawber

DVD title: Hellraiser - Inferno
Productgroup: DVD
Hellraiser - Inferno - movie DVD cover picture
Less Pinhead = better movie

I don't know why so many people are upset that this movie doesn't have a lot of Pinhead. In my opinion, that's one of the best things about it. It made Pinhead mysterious again, and it is WAY better than Bloodline or Hell on Earth. This is a smart and entertaining movie that trusts that some fans would rather watch a good story than just get their Pinhead fix.

Studio: Dimension Home Video
Director: Scott Derrickson

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
An Absolute "Must Own" For Fans of Romero's Classic

Let's get right to the question everyone contemplating buying this pricey four disc set is no doubt asking themselves: "Should I spend the money to buy this movie again?!?!"

The answer: "Yes you should!!!!"

I say this because, the typical fan of the original "Dawn Of The Dead" probably already owns at least one copy of this movie and possibly more than that. If, like me, you're an older fan who was lucky enough to see it in theaters upon its release you may even have one of the ancient HBO Video VHS versions tucked away somewhere.

Since then the film has been released and re-released in various versions on VHS, Laser Disc, and DVD countless times. Many die-hard fans have probably bought multiple incarnations of "Dawn" over the years for new documentaries here or new commentaries there.

Get ready to open your wallet again because, cost consciousness aside, this "Ultimate Edition" falls squarely into the "must buy" column.

If you've never seen the original "Dawn", let's begin with a synopsis. In 1978, George Romero released the second film in what would later come to be called the "Dead Trilogy." "Dawn of the Dead" isn't a sequel to "Night of the Living Dead" as much as it is another view of world being overrun by flesh-eating, reanimated corpses.

While "Night of the Living Dead" ended bleakly it also suggested that humans were successfully repelling the zombie onslaught. "Dawn" opens with the zombies clearly gaining the upper hand.

Two Philadelphia Police SWAT Team members, a female television news producer, and the station's news chopper pilot steal a helicopter and flee the city. They seek a brief respite by landing atop a rural indoor shopping mall that, like everywhere else, is thick with zombies.

The SWAT officers quickly devise a "hit and run" plan to loot needed supplies while eluding the walking dead. When that plan succeeds with only minor hitches, the band decides to extend their stay. What follows is a series of brilliantly executed action sequences wherein the four use cleverness and weapons looted from the mall's gun shop to eliminate the zombies and take control of the mall.

As a straight horror film, "Dawn" doesn't quite work. Part of the problem lies in the film's setting. A brightly-lit shopping mall doesn't evoke the same sense of terror and dread as the night-time rural farm house setting of "Night of the Living Dead." Nevertheless, the film fires on all cylinders as action-adventure piece that never relents.

Key to its success is strong performances by the quartet of then-unknown actors in the leads. Especially notable are Gaylen Ross as Francine and Ken Foree as SWAT officer Peter. Foree's role is especially significant since it marks the second time in the "Dead" series that Romero cast an African-American in a strong lead role.

Foree's Peter quickly establishes himself, and is accepted, as the leader of the group. When one considers that this was more than 10 years before Will Smith proved audiences would line up to see a Black man save the world in "Independence Day", you realize that this was a pretty revolutionary move for Romero to take in 1978.

In terms of onscreen violence and gore the film set a new benchmark. One could argue that if "Night" pushed the envelope in this regard, "Dawn" shredded it and then set the pieces on fire.

At the time of its release it was left un-rated due to its excessive violence and gore. Starlog Magazine described it as "quite possibly the most violent film ever made." By today's standards, the violence actually seems relatively tame. One could argue that more recent mainstream films like "Braveheart" outdo "Dawn" on both violence and gore. Much of the action has a slap-stick quality that suggests a "Roadrunner" cartoon albeit with several gallons of blood.

This is not to say that the film is a comedy though. In fact, many critics interpreted it as a biting commentary on the rampant consumerism that would ultimately overtake the country in the 1980s. With its shopping mall setting, zombies mindlessly trying to enter stores, and the heroes' growing infatuation with their "kid in a candy store" environment, it's hard not to see a message here.

But as the heroes quickly abandon any thought of finding people elsewhere for a life of insulated comfort and free home appliances, they are oblivious to how their actions might ultimately doom them. At the same time, Romero's insertion of television news commentators describing a society that is quickly falling apart is chilling in its realism.

I won't reveal the ending but will say that "Dawn" more than earns its status a classic that is at least as good as "Night." And while the first film was clearly the scarier, "Dawn" has emerged as, by far, the more influential.

It spawned countless imitators, mainly directed by Italians like Lucio("Zombie") Fulci whose apparent appettite for zombie flicks can only be matched by the French's passion for Jerry Lewis movies. It's influence can also be seen in scores of comic books and video games like "Doom," "Resident Evil," and "House Of The Dead." Hell, even Michael Jackson's award-winning "Thriller" video probably never would've been made if Romero's film hadn't sparked Jacko's already-tweaked imagination.

What is notable about this collection is that it presents no less than three versions of the film: The Original U.S. Theatrical Release, The Extended Version, and the European Version.

Each version gets a separate commentary track but my favorite is the cast commentary on the European Version which reunites stars Foree, Ross, David Emge, and Scott Reininger. The actors clearly had a ball getting back together to record the commentary. Their observations and memories are insightful and often hilarious.

Of the three versions, the U.S. version however remains the superior cut. The extended version, while offering previously unseen footage(see everything that happened at the docks when Steven and Fran first met up with Peter and Roger), frankly drags in spots. The European version ups the ante with more gore but comes in with a shorter running time. Unfortunately, it accomplishes this by excising some classic scenes.

As for the extras, this set contains more than you can shake a severed limb at. Best among them are two documentaries, including the feature-length "Document of the Dead" which had previously been available only as a separate, stand-alone DVD.

There is no fluff here and devoted fans will literally want to comb through every poster gallery and TV spot. Easter egg alert! These discs also contain hidden bonus interviews.

As we know, Romero would ultimately go on to direct a third "Dead" film, the solid but less than great "Day of the Dead," and executive produce a superfluous remake of "Night" in 1990.

With Romero himself, having acknowledged that "Day" fell short, he's long talked about a fourth installment that would bring the series to a suitably fitting end.

During one of Disc Four's documentaries he talks about that movie, "Dead Reckoning," which recent media reports suggest is now in production albeit with a new and, unfortunately dopier title "Land of the Dead."

The timing certainly seems right given that Zombie and Zombie-esque film have undergone a bit of a Renaissance. Films like "28 Days Later," "Shaun of the Dead," and the "Resident Evil" films have all hit theaters and enjoyed considerable success. And of course there's this year's "Dawn" remake which some would say equals or maybe even surpasses Romero's original.

But there's no getting around the fact that the original "Dawn" is not only a classic but also a masterpiece. Those who remember seeing it in theaters knew that afterwards nothing would ever be the same.

Buy this collection and see why for yourself.

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

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