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Michael R Gates (Nampa, ID United States)

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DVD ~ Yaphet Kotto
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 18.00
5 used & new from CDN$ 18.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Larry Cohen's Dark Black Comedy, July 19 2004
This review is from: Bone (DVD)
This 1972 comedy-drama marks the directorial debut of popular and prolific B-movie auteur Larry Cohen, who also wrote the screenplay. Though Cohen is known today for penning and directing well-crafted but low-budget indie flicks in the science-fiction, horror, or fantasy genres, BONE is a brilliant and biting Juvenalian satire that astutely dissects the issues of race relations and economic stratification in the United States. Part of the film's intelligence comes from the fact that Cohen's script is not one-sided. Not only does he take lunges at average white folks and their stereotyped views of themselves and those of darker-skinned ethic persuasions, he also uses his dark rapier-like wit to flay the typical black citizen's equally stereotyped attitudes towards upper-class whites. But Cohen doesn't end it there. BONE is a complex, multi-layered story in which one can find many subtle comments and observations above and beyond the primary theme. Addressed are socio-economic issues such as honesty, avarice, marital ennui, contemporary sexual mores, familial trust, the consequences of acting on one's personal fantasies, and lots more, and it definitely requires multiple viewings to peel back the layers and take it all in.
Though some socio-political pundits will rightly argue that race relations and the social standing of non-whites have improved since the era in which this film was made, there are still palpable gaps between the social and economic classes in America, and recent notorious racial hate crimes demonstrates that there is certainly a lot of ground yet to cover where racial issues are concerned. This being the case, BONE still seems just as fresh and relevant--and just as satirically witty--as it did in 1972.
The principal actors in BONE are phenomenal. In the titular role, actor Yaphet Kotto portrays a black robber and rapist who upends the calm, boring life of an affluent middle-aged white couple. His Oscar-caliber performance is forceful and dynamic, yet the character he creates is still sympathetic and at times downright hilarious. Character actor Andrew Duggan, in what is probably the best performance of his career, creates a dead-on three-dimensional portrait of a smarmy and greedy salesman who one day finds his daily routine abruptly disrupted by Bone. And Joyce Van Patten is delightfully dingy as the bored, cheerless housewife who eventually develops romantic and erotic feelings towards her abductor.
Certain aspects of BONE leave the narrative open to interpretation. In the end, one is left to decide if the events depicted really happened, if they were simply a fantasy of the housewife, or if they took place in the imagination of the affluent couple's son (who, we learn, is in a European prison for drug smuggling and is therefore regarded by his parents as an embarrassment and a social liability). This is a brilliant tactic on Cohen's part, as it forces the viewer to mentally review the film's issues and themes--or even to view the film again--and consider everything more deeply in order to formulate a personally sensible interpretation of the open-ended plot.
Unfortunately, the complex themes, the sophisticated satire, and the generally controversial nature of the film have proved too deep for the average audience, and BONE has therefore never achieved the notoriety or the distribution that it deserves. Instead, it has basically been relegated to the status of a cult film or an exploitation flick, and only film aficionados who actively seek quality non-mainstream works have been lucky enough to obtain access to a copy of BONE in recent years.
Until now, that is. Thanks to the folks at Blue Underground, BONE has been lovingly restored and made available on DVD. In addition to a fantastic picture and great sound, the DVD also features extras such as a humorous and informative commentary by writer/director Cohen and his protégé, Bill Lustig; a short statement from the film's original distributor, Jack Harris; some footage from an earlier aborted shoot of the film, which includes some differences in cast and dialog; and a theatrical trailer in which the film is marketed under an alternate title of THE HOUSEWIFE.
Anybody who appreciates good filmmaking and great satire will enjoy BONE, and fans of Larry Cohen will definitely want to snatch up a copy of this disc for their DVD collections. Blue Underground's DVD edition of BONE is well worth the price of admission.

The Craft (Bilingual)
The Craft (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Robin Tunney
Price: CDN$ 5.00
27 used & new from CDN$ 4.08

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars These Girls Know Their Rites!, July 15 2004
This review is from: The Craft (Bilingual) (DVD)
Sarah Bailey (Robin Tunney) is the new kid in town, but even under the best of circumstances she has never been accepted by the popular crowd. At her new school, she falls in with a trio of other female misfits (Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, and Rachel True) who, it so happens, are trying to learn witchcraft and form their own little coven. When Sarah joins them to make it a quartet, they slowly develop multifold preternatural powers and learn how to focus and use them. With such abilities literally at their fingertips, it's not too long until the little coven, initially formed for self-protection and companionship, becomes an instrument for personal gain and revenge. Sarah soon realizes that one of her friends is evil to the core, and fearful of what THAT one may do with the group's newfound powers, she decides it's best to resign from the coven and thereby weaken the magic abilities of the others. But the coven has different plans, particularly regarding Sarah....
The sleeper hit THE CRAFT (1996) could've easily been played for camp, but it is instead a story of modern urban witchcraft that is both literate and emotionally powerful. The success of the film is due to Peter Filardi and Andrew Fleming's tight, well-written script, excellent direction from Fleming, and outstanding acting from principals Tunney, Balk, Campbell, and True. The supernatural elements of the story are handled carefully and earnestly, and witchcraft or the belief in it is never ridiculed or treated derisively. This keeps the tone of the film somewhat dark and edgy, which in turn creates an uneasy, spooky atmosphere that cues the audience to the fact that this is a serious horror film. Fleming wisely keeps the special FX to a minimum until the story's climax on the final reel, and he instead emphasizes the relationships in this group of dysfunctional, angst-ridden girls, well knowing that the primary target audience--to wit, teenagers--will easily relate to these characters and their normal desires and fears.
The Special Edition DVD from Columbia/Tri-Star offers THE CRAFT in anamorphic widescreen at its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The digital transfer is very good, with minimal filmic or digital artifacts. The disc also features an informative commentary with director Andrew Fleming, 2 featurettes, deleted scenes, and more. THE CRAFT is a cool horror film that most fans of the genre will enjoy, and the very reasonable price makes it easy for fans to add this DVD to their collections.

Westworld (Widescreen)
Westworld (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Michael Crichton
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 125.05
9 used & new from CDN$ 15.62

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Have We Got a Vacation for You....", July 14 2004
This review is from: Westworld (Widescreen) (DVD)
Welcome to Delos, an adult amusement park where, for a mere $1000 per day, guests can experience the excitement of life in America's Old West, Medieval Europe, or Ancient Rome. Lifelike costumed androids populate the park and interact with guests, and said machines are programmed to fulfill all human desires, be those yearnings romantic, heroic, violent, or whatever. But the robots have also been programmed with a fail-safe that prevents them from harming the guests in any way. Think of Delos as a high-tech Disneyland for wealthy grown-ups.
Businessmen Peter Martin (Richard Benjamin) and John Blane (James Brolin) are looking for a few days of excitement and relaxation, and the Old West section of Delos, designated WestWorld, seems like just the ticket. But it turns out there's an unexplained glitch in the main computer that controls the park's network of androids, and unfortunately for Martin and Blane, the error just happens to manifest itself while the two are visiting the park. The robots are suddenly able to exercise free will--which includes the ability to override the directive that prevents them from harming guests--and it's not long before Martin and Blane find themselves pursued by a ruthless android gunslinger (Yul Brynner).
This minor opus from Michael Crichton marks his first directorial effort and is also the first theatrical flick based on an original Crichton screenplay rather than an adaptation of one of his novels. While the special FX in 1973's WESTWORLD are decidedly cheesy and low-tech by contemporary standards, this sci-fi thriller still stands up today due to the tight, well-paced script and the solid performances from principals Benjamin, Brolin, and especially Brynner (here playing a robotic version of his character from 1960's THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN). WESTWORLD is a bit too earnest to have yet become a CULT classic--a status it is likely to achieve as technology continues to grow leaps and bounds beyond that which the film depicts--but it continues to be held in high regard by the majority of SF fans.
Though Crichton was connected (as a writer) with a few films and TV shows prior to WESTWORLD, it is really this film that brought him widespread notice and launched his high-profile Hollywood career. WESTWORLD did well enough at the box office, in fact, that it even spawned a sequel--a lesser film entitled FUTUREWORLD (1976).
Warner's edition of WESTWORLD on DVD is a no-frills disc that offers the film in both anamorphic widescreen and pan-and-scan, with the only bonus being the original theatrical trailer. The digital transfer is pretty good, but there was obviously no effort to clean up the dust and other filmic artifacts that are visible from time to time. Digital artifacts, if any, are minor, though there is some occasional color drift. (To be fair, color drift could be on the source rather than a result of the digitization.) All in all, it's an acceptable DVD of a film that most longtime SF fans will want to have in their collections.
(Rating breakdown: Film gets 5 stars; DVD gets 3. Average rating is therefore 4 stars.)

The Andromeda Strain
The Andromeda Strain
DVD ~ Arthur Hill
Price: CDN$ 14.88
21 used & new from CDN$ 7.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Potent Strain of Realism, July 13 2004
This review is from: The Andromeda Strain (DVD)
When a man-made satellite crash-lands on Earth near a small desert town, the town residents are unaware that it carries a deadly virus from space and therefore take no precautions when handling the device. Within a frighteningly short period of time, all of the town's inhabitants are dead. All, that is, except for a crying baby and the town drunk. After being alerted to the situation, the U.S. government fears that the world's entire population may be in danger of extinction, so a crackerjack team of the nations top medical scientists is dispatched to a secret underground laboratory so that they can study the survivors and discover a cure or treatment for the alien virus before it's too late.
1971's THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN is one of the few science-fiction movies released in the immediate wake of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) that has successfully retained high status in the SF genre, and that's because it is also one of the few SF films from that era that actually takes the genre seriously and challenges the viewer's intellect. Based on the novel by Michael Crichton--one of the first movies based on a work by this now highly sought writer & director--scripter Nelson Gidding and director Robert Wise have crafted a stimulating film that is as much a scientific detective story as it is a sci-fi thriller. Audience members are kept on the edge of their seats as the scientists race against time to prevent the alien microorganism from destroying life on earth, yet viewers are also clued-in enough to stimulate their gray matter and keep them speculating right along with the film's characters. Yes, 30+ years of hindsight might make the special FX and the film's depiction of technology seem a bit dusty and dated, but Gidding's plotting and Wise's creative and innovative directing keep the excitement and the earnestness intact. To some viewers, the ending might seem a bit contrived, but overall THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN represents brilliant SF filmmaking.
The acting is pretty good, too, and Wise was ingenious in casting generally low-profile actors as the scientists, which contributes to making the characters seem true-to-life. One of the most brilliant examples of this is the casting of brash, average-looking Kate Reid as the gritty Dr. Ruth Leavitt. As is common practice in Hollywood, Wise could have chosen a sexy starlet (think Raquel Welch in 1966's FANTASTIC VOYAGE or, more recently, Rene Russo in 1995's OUTBREAK) in hopes of increasing the box-office draw. But Wise knows that in order to sell the plausibility of the plot, the characters must also feel genuine, and the wise (no pun intended) casting of non-glamour actors like Reid in this type of role more accurately reflects the real world and therefore enhances the film's overall sense of realism.
The DVD release of THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN from Universal Studios belongs in the film collections of all serious science-fiction fans. Not only does it offer the film in anamorphic widescreen at its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1--which, by the way, allows viewers to awe over some of the brilliant multi-view compositions of certain shots that were aesthetically mutilated in pan-and-scan versions--but it also offers a fascinating and insightful feature commentary by director Wise and a featurette on writer Michael Crichton. Of course, there is the requisite theatrical trailer, too. And all this for a very reasonable retail price.

Heart: Alive in Seattle
Heart: Alive in Seattle
DVD ~ Ann Wilson
Offered by Sharehouse Goods CA
Price: CDN$ 168.47
7 used & new from CDN$ 37.13

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Proof that Rock 'n' Roll Still Has Heart, July 13 2004
This review is from: Heart: Alive in Seattle (DVD)
The 2003 DVD release HEART: ALIVE IN SEATTLE is one of the best video recordings of a live performance of a rock band, and it is especially impressive when considering that it documents a recent performance from a band that has been playing kick-*ss rock for nearly 30 years (their debut album, DREAMBOAT ANNIE, was released in 1976).
The performance was recorded at the Paramount Theater in Seattle (Heart's hometown) on Aug. 8, 2002, the last gig on the band's 2002 "Summer of Love" tour. The response to the tour was tremendous, with longtime fans and newbies alike enthusiastically welcoming fronters Ann and Nancy Wilson and their new back-up band--an ensemble that includes former Ozzy Osbourne and Alice In Chains bassist Mike Inez and Lovemongers drummer Ben Smith. The tour was so successful, in fact, that they turned right around and toured again in 2003 (the "Alive in America" tour) playing basically the same song set. So fans who missed either or both of those tours can still experience that concert atmosphere vicariously with the HEART: ALIVE IN SEATTLE disc--but with much better "seating"!
The Wilson sisters made an excellent choice for the set list, which includes the band's very popular pre-'80s hard-rock standards like "Crazy on You," "Straight On," "Magic Man," and "Barracuda," as well as some great post-70s tunes such as "Alone" and "These Dreams." In addition, the band does a fantastic job on covers of Led Zeppelin's "Battle of Evermore" and "Black Dog," the Elton John ballad "Mona Lisas and Madhatters," and an old garage-band ditty called "The Witch."
Dark-haired Vocalist Ann Wilson, as beautiful as ever, proves that she still has what it takes to belt out the band's old hard-rock standards, and she still sounds as angelic as ever on the softer melancholy favorites like "Dog and Butterfly" and "Dreamboat Annie." When Heart plays their classic stuff, Ms. Wilson sounds exactly like she did when the songs were first recorded--which is a lot more than you can say for most rock vocalists from the '60s and '70s, who can no longer hit those high notes. But she and sister Nancy (who mainly plays guitar and other strings) also easily keep up with the newer, younger artists when they perform some of their latest compositions like "Heaven," "Sister Wild Rose," and the really cool hard-hitter "Break The Rock." Both women are certainly in top form and prove they can go the distance in the studio and on stage. And with HEART: ALIVE IN SEATTLE, they leave no doubt that they are still two of the most talented and creative women in rock.
The picture quality on this DVD is crisp and clear, with great color saturation and nice contrast, and the cinematographer does a top-notch job of capturing the energy of the artists and the spirit of their performances. The Dolby sound quality is also excellent, and a sound system that takes advantage of the DTS Surround Sound can really make viewers feel like they are at the live performance.
No longtime fan of HEART will be disappointed with HEART: ALIVE IN SEATTLE. And the DVD will certainly give newbies a taste of just how powerful and emotive this band and the talented duo that drives it can be.

Donnie Darko (Widescreen) (Bilingual) [Import]
Donnie Darko (Widescreen) (Bilingual) [Import]
DVD ~ Jake Gyllenhaal
Offered by Dilson
Price: CDN$ 19.00
43 used & new from CDN$ 0.51

5.0 out of 5 stars The Future Is Looking Kinda Darko, July 12 2004
Donnie Darko is an intelligent but somewhat befuddled teenager who lives with his idyllic family in an upscale American suburban neighborhood, attends an exclusive private school...and has nighttime visions of a huge, demonic-looking rabbit named Frank who gives him information about the future. Sometimes the nightmarish nocturnal hare puts Donnie into a sleep-like trance and sends him out to perform an act of vandalism or two, and it is during one of these somnambulistic excursions that a massive jet engine from a commercial airliner falls from the sky and demolishes Donnie's bedroom. Because it appears that Frank has saved his life, Donnie tends to believe Frank's claim to be from the future feels that he must, for the time being, humor the late-night lagomorph. In the mean time, amid several bizarre events suddenly taking place in his daytime life, Donnie's research into the scientific possibility of time travel leads him to a life-changing epiphany.
The ingredients that freshman writer/director Richard Kelly uses to whip up the plot and narrative for DONNIE DARKO (2001) are the familiar materials of everyday life, but he throws in a pinch or two of the bizarre and the absurd to create a subtly skewed and therefore disturbing atmosphere. The characters are fresh but true-to-life and never formulaic, yet in many of them Kelly still manages to find springboards for satirical comments on diverse societal elements like the American school system, infomercials, spin doctors & public images, the entertainment industry, the popular perception of science, and more. All of this coalesces into a fascinating and compelling examination of consciousness, perception, and the nature of reality.
The film's entire cast is quite strong and handles the deep material with the appropriate degree of earnestness. Star Jake Gyllenhaal is especially outstanding in the title role. His Donnie Darko, though emotionally imbalanced, is both an intriguing and sympathetic character, one that engages the absurdities in life--particularly HIS life--with saturnine curiosity rather than fear, and he therefore establishes a perfect tone for the film. Of the supporting cast, Mary McDonnell gives a standout performance as Donnie's mother Rose Darko, as she emotes a genuine concern over the seeming psychological downslide of her son. The cute and talented Jena Malone also does a wonderful job as Donnie's girlfriend, Gretchen, a young woman who is nearly as perplexed and yet intrigued by life's absurdities as Donnie himself. In a refreshing departure from the usual hunk and heartthrob roles in which he is usually cast, Patrick Swayze delivers a darkly humorous interpretation of a smarmy self-help guru, and the beautiful Drew Barrymore--also one of the film's executive producers--offers a convincing yet low-key portrayal of an unconventional but popular high-school English teacher.
The DVD from Fox offers a very good (some filmic artifacts) digital transfer of DONNIE DARKO in anamorphic widescreen at the film's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The wonderful bonus features include two feature commentaries--one with writer/director Kelly and star Gyllenhaal, the other with various members of the cast and crew--a widescreen video of the film's haunting featured pop song MAD WORLD, deleted scenes, and other cool stuff. Definitely worth the price of admission, and a disc that fans of more cerebral SF will want in their collections.

Shock Waves
Shock Waves
DVD ~ Peter Cushing
Offered by 5A/30 Entertainment
Price: CDN$ 81.85
6 used & new from CDN$ 14.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars From the Depths of Hell's Ocean Comes...Nazi Zombies!, July 8 2004
This review is from: Shock Waves (DVD)
On a desolate, nondescript Caribbean island, shipwreck survivors are surprised to discover that an eccentric old German doctor resides there in an abandoned and dilapidated hotel. They soon learn, however, that the old Teutonic medical man is more that just eccentric; he's a former S.S. officer who has continued with the experiments assigned to him by Der Führer. And it isn't long before the castaways find themselves battling for survival against a corps of amphibious Nazi zombies!
This off-the-wall, low-budget horror film is just as goofy as it sounds, but it's still pretty good fun. And believe it or not, it actually spawned a bizarre sub-genre of Nazi zombie films that includes 1981's THE LAKE OF THE LIVING DEAD (a.k.a. ZOMBIE LAKE), 1981's NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES, and 1983's THE OASIS OF THE LIVING DEAD (a.k.a. BLOODSUCKING NAZI ZOMBIES), to name just a few. None of its cinematic offspring quite reach the guilty-pleasure or cult status of SHOCK WAVES, though.
British horror icon Peter Cushing portrays the former S.S. officer, his interpretation somewhat reminiscent of his turns as Dr. Frankenstein in the films that came out of England's Hammer Studios in the 1960s and early 1970s. Actor John Carradine, a familiar face in American horror from the 1930s through the 1980s, appears in the minor role of the captain of the shipwrecked vessel. Carradine's character dies early in the film, however, so the two great horror veterans never get to share any screen time. A very unfortunate missed opportunity, as such a pairing certainly could've pushed SHOCK WAVES just a smidgen closer to notability.
Actress Brooke Adams has a prominent role as one of the shipwreck survivors. (Indeed, the story actually unfolds like a sort of flashback as her character thinks back to the experience.) Genre fans will recognize her from such films as the 1978 remake of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, the 1983 film version of Stephen King's THE DEAD ZONE, a cameo in Larry Cohen's 1985 horror satire THE STUFF, and many others.
The edition of SHOCK WAVES on DVD from the folks at Blue Underground is pretty good. Considering that the film was shot on 16mm and blown up to 35mm, and taking into account the fact that the disc was digitized from the director's personal copy of the film (the only complete version known to exist, according to the DVD jacket notes), this transfer--in anamorphic widescreen at the film's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1--looks quite good. In fact, when compared to the crappy video versions previously available, it's easy to forgive the minor filmic artifacts and the sometimes soft details.
And the DVD has some great bonus material, too. The best is the feature commentary with director Ken Wiederhorn, make-up man Alan Ormsby, and filmmaker Fred Olen Ray. The trio are delightfully glib and candid, offering lots of humorous and informative anecdotes regarding their experiences in making low-budget horror. There's an interview with star Luke Halpin, who offers some info about his costars and some of his memories about making the film, and there are also a few radio spots, a television spot, and the film's theatrical trailer.
As far as films go, SHOCK WAVES is not the best that Blue Underground has to offer, but it's nonetheless one of those fun guilty pleasures that fans of schlocky low-budget horror will want to add to their DVD collections.

Harvest Tales and Midnight Revels: Stories for the Waning of the Year
Harvest Tales and Midnight Revels: Stories for the Waning of the Year
by Michael Mayhew
Edition: Paperback
23 used & new from CDN$ 0.28

5.0 out of 5 stars The Spirit of Halloween Oozes from These Pages, July 7 2004
A demon who will grant your heart's desire in return for a taste of your blood. A legendary trick-or-treater who returns from the grave to help a youngster collect candy. A god of the urban highway who demands human sacrifices. All this and other haunting stories await you in HARVEST TALES AND MIDNIGHT REVELS: STORIES FOR THE WANING OF THE YEAR. These delightfully spine-tingling tales run the gamut of horror and Halloween themes. Some are outrageously humorous, some melancholy, and some frightening, but all of them are designed to bring back the spirit of All Hallows Eve for adults who long to celebrate the holiday as they did in their youth.
This book came about as the result of yearly Halloween parties hosted by the editor and his best friend, parties for which invited guests were requested to bring a holiday-related story they'd written and read it aloud. Many of the guests were (or are still) in some way professionally connected with the literary world, the fine arts, filmmaking, or television, and their talents shine through in these wonderfully crafted tales.
HARVEST TALES AND MIDNIGHT REVELS is one of the best anthologies of Halloween stories to come along in years. Even celebrated sci-fi and fantasy author Piers Anthony calls it "an impressive and original book, with an intriguing history of its own." And famed genre author and scriptwriter Larry Niven says "[these] stories are really good!"
Any lover of Halloween or horror literature who enjoys getting a good set of goose bumps will want to add this book to their library. With HARVEST TALES AND MIDNIGHT REVELS handy, any day of the year can feel like Halloween!

12 Monkeys (Collector's Edition) [Import]
12 Monkeys (Collector's Edition) [Import]
DVD ~ Bruce Willis
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 47.75
30 used & new from CDN$ 0.68

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When Filming This, Gilliam and Willis Didn't Monkey Around, July 7 2004
Inspired by the 1962 French short LA JETÉE--an unusual film from director Chris Marker that relays its narrative via a collage of still images--the sci-fi flick 12 MONKEYS tells the story of a tough convict (Bruce Willis) from circa 2040 C.E. who "volunteers" to travel backwards in time to the 1990s on a mission to locate the source of a viral pandemic that will wipe out more than 90% of the Earth's population before the year 2000. This opus from auteur Terry Gilliam is more earnest and convincing than many of his previous efforts, and it is arguably his best film to date. The convoluted plot does require viewers to be attentive and exercise the gray matter, but the audience is rewarded for the effort with a fascinating and satisfying cinematic experience.
The acting in 12 MONKEYS is top-notch, especially the work of the three principals. As the time-traveling antihero, Bruce Willis delivers one of his greatest performances and is touchingly emotive as his character tries to accomplish his task while also retaining his health and sanity. Playing a psychiatrist who eventually becomes Willis' love interest, the pretty Madeleine Stowe is convincingly as strong and intense or as vulnerable as the role demands. And in his hilarious portrayal of a demented anarchist who also happens to be the son of a famous virologist, Brad Pitt fervently chews the scenery and nearly upstages his more experienced costars.
Willis' struggle with the psychological aporia and culture shock of traveling backwards in time while he also pieces together a complicated but vital puzzle makes for a literate yet gripping science-fiction thriller that keeps viewers guessing right up to the final scene. Yes, the plot is complicated and labyrinthine, but it all ultimately comes together in an intense and scintillating epiphany. Ardent sci-fi fans will especially enjoy the final payoff, but even filmgoers not normally into the genre will find 12 MONKEYS to be an enjoyable flick.
The standard DVD from Universal offers a nearly pristine digital transfer of the film in anamorphic widescreen at the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Also included are cool bonus goodies like a feature commentary with director Gilliam and producer Chuck Roven, a featurette made during the film's production, the original theatrical trailer, and more. Universal also offers 12 MONKEYS on a special DVD that offers DTS Dolby sound, but apparently the better sound comes at the cost of bonus features.
In short, 12 MONKEYS is a must-have for sci-fi fans, but all lovers of great cinema should be pleased to have this film in their DVD collections.

Not of This Earth [Import]
Not of This Earth [Import]
DVD ~ Traci Lords
Offered by 5A/30 Entertainment
Price: CDN$ 81.21
6 used & new from CDN$ 48.89

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Corman + Wynorski + Lords = Loads of Cheesy Fun, July 6 2004
This review is from: Not of This Earth [Import] (DVD)
Roger Corman is executive producer and schlock-meister Jim Wynorski is director of 1988's NOT OF THIS EARTH, a campy remake of the campy Corman-directed classic. And in typical Corman style, it offers everything a B-movie fan could want: A goofy tongue-in-cheek plot that is barely more than a re-hash of the original; cheesy special FX, a good number of which were lifted from other Corman films; mediocre acting from some of the supporting cast; and lots of gratuitous female nudity. And also as with most films in which Corman has his hands, it is LOTS of fun to watch.
Gorgeous former hardcore adult-film star Traci Lords--here in her first "legit" starring role and the last role in which she completely disrobes for the camera--portrays a private-care nurse who unwittingly assists an extraterrestrial vampire in draining low-lifes and bimbos of their blood so that he can send the vital red stuff back to the hungry folks on his home planet of Devanna. It doesn't take long, though, before the nurse and her policeman boyfriend (Roger Lodge--yes, THAT Roger Lodge) begin to suspect that something strange and dangerous is going on. But can they solve the mystery quickly enough to save the city's remaining low-lifes and bimbos?
During the shooting and post-production of this film, there was a lot of hullabaloo about Traci Lords being cast in the lead role. Many thought that casting the former star of XXX-rated films was just a gimmick to gain publicity for the project, and while it did indeed do that, Ms. Lords' performance in NOT OF THIS EARTH is top-notch and professional and acquits her of the charges of being nothing more than shapely eye-candy. And for the most part, the other actors do a great job of supporting Ms. Lords. Arthur Roberts--looking like one of THE BLUES BROTHERS (1980)--delightfully parodies the stoic, awkward, out-of-his-element extraterrestrial that has become a sci-fi cliché. As the alien's clueless butler and chauffeur, Lenny Juliano has good onscreen chemistry with star Lords and really hams it up. And actor Ace Mask, playing the doctor who assigns Lords to work with the alien, is delightfully quirky and a real hoot whenever he's on the screen.
The only odd casting choice is that of Roger Lodge for the role of Lords' boyfriend. Filmgoers may recognize Lodge from his gig as host of TV's flaky syndicated dating show BLIND DATE. While Lords' performance in this film demonstrates why she has become a ubiquitous presence on TV and on film, Lodge's performance demonstrates why he's been relegated to hosting a low-brow late-night TV show. Traci Lords and Roger Lodge in bed together? That ineffable mismatch is like something from Lodge's BLIND DATE.
Rumor has it that this film came about as the result of a wager between Corman and Wynorski that the younger director wouldn't be able to shoot an adequate remake if restricted to the same 12-day shooting schedule and a similar budget. Well, Wynorski rose to the challenge and actually succeeded. So yes, this version of NOT OF THIS EARTH is a cheap production with lots of cheap tongue-in-cheek humor, cheap over-the-top performances, cheap FX & recycled film footage, and cheap busty bimbos--not to mention the beautiful and classy Ms. Lords--providing gratuitous eye-popping T&A. Nobody has tried to deny that the film is a cheesefest. But it's a highly entertaining cheesefest nonetheless, and in many ways it is better and more fun than Corman's original.
The DVD treatment of NOT OF THIS EARTH from New Concorde is pretty cool, especially considering that the film itself is a low-budget quickie. The disc offers a nice digital transfer of the film, generally free of filmic or digital artifacts, in what is apparently the film's original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. As for bonus material, an optional feature commentary with director Wynorski and supporting actor Lenny Juliano is a real hoot--often times funnier and campier than the film itself--and Wynorski also manages to relate some interesting and humorous anecdotes regarding the making of the film and points out a few technical errors. Also offered is the requisite original theatrical trailer. All in all, it's a great DVD value.
In short, viewers who love low-budget B-grade SF and horror movies will enjoy the 1988 remake of NOT OF THIS EARTH and will certainly want to add this cool DVD to their collections. (Fans of gorgeous Traci Lords will want to give it a spin, too.) But those who don't comprehend the entertainment value of watching well-crafted schlock should probably spend their money elsewhere.

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