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Cold Mountain (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
Cold Mountain (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
DVD ~ Jude Law
Offered by 5_star_sales
Price: $12.99
350 used & new from $0.01

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A memorable viewing experience, June 14, 2007
I saw many potential pitfalls going into Anthony Minghella's 2003 epic "Cold Mountain". One, Anthony Minghella directed the film. He's the chap who lensed "The English Patient" back in 1996. I never saw that movie, but what I'd heard and read didn't sound promising. A schmaltzy romance set during World War II? No thanks. Two, "Cold Mountain" stars Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, and Renee Zellweger. Ugh. I can't stand Kidman and her pinched little nose. I also don't care much for Jude Law, an actor trying to set the world's record for the most movies made in less than five years. And Renee Zellweger? Forget about it, baby. An actress known for appearing in chick flicks and romantic comedies, Zellweger's presence in this film signaled storm clouds on the horizon for this viewer. I'd rather rip my fingernails off with a pair of pliers than watch a Renee Zellweger picture. Third, and finally, I heard that the central element in "Cold Mountain" is a romantic entanglement between Kidman and Law. Again, let me utter a hearty 'Ugh'. I looked at the film's runtime, 154 minutes, and blanched in horror. No way am I sitting down for two and a half hours to watch two performers I don't like make kissy faces at one another.

"Cold Mountain," set during the bleakest hours of the American Civil War, follows the various misadventures of two characters, Inman (Law) and Ada Monroe (Kidman). The latter moves to the small town of Cold Mountain, North Carolina to care for her ailing preacher father (Donald Sutherland). To say that Ada is a fish out of water in this tiny village is an understatement. She knows nothing about farming, the economic engine that fuels Cold Mountain, and her outfits and manners are woefully out of place in the sticks. Nonetheless, she soon strikes up a rather odd relationship with the grubby Inman. The two never say much to each other nor do they spend much time together, but it's definitely a case of love at first sight. Before the two can form a more lasting relationship, the war rears its ugly head. All the young men in Cold Mountain-- including Inman--can't wait to take up arms for the Confederacy, and he soon marches off to fight the Yankee invaders. As millions of young men throughout history have discovered, however, war isn't all its cracked up to be. After Inman nearly dies in a terrible battle, he decides to desert and head back home to Ada.

Inman's journey home assumes epic proportions as he encounters all sorts of odd characters and life threatening scenarios. He runs into a shifty chap by the name of Reverend Veasey (Philip Seymour Hoffman), helps carve up a dead cow, narrowly escapes doom at the hands of Junior (Giovanni Ribisi in a performance one simply must see to believe), and protects a woman named Sara (Natalie Portman) from Yankee depredations. Everywhere around him lurks violent death and temptations of the heart, yet he continues his journey home to the lovely Ada. Speaking of our young heroine, she's also fallen on hard times. The sudden death of her father leaves Ada in dire straits. Complicating matters is a local thug with designs on her property, a thug who also happens to head up a vigilante squad. Monroe nearly starves to death until a local sends over the loquacious Ruby (Zellweger) to help bring the farm back to life. This young firecracker knows everything there is to know about agriculture, and in no time the two strike up an unlikely bond that provides the film with many humorous situations. As we shift between these two parts of the movie, we wonder whether Inman and Ada will ever meet up again. And if they do, what happens next?

I think that's enough summary to convince you that I watched the movie. I know I said I wouldn't, or couldn't, view this picture, but I forgot to take this out of my online movie queue and ended up watching it anyway. I'm glad I did. I still didn't care for the romantic angle, and I'm still not much of a Kidman or Law fan, but imagine my surprise when I came away from "Cold Mountain" with much admiration in my heart. Why? Three reasons. One, Zellweger hits a homerun as the spunky Ruby. She's a real hoot and steals every scene she's in. Two, the battle sequence involving Inman and his compatriots took my breath away. I can't remember the last time I saw such a gritty, harrowing portrayal of warfare. It's dark, bloody, grim, and deeply disconcerting. There's even a scene where an explosion literally blows a man's clothing off his body! Now that's realism, folks. The battle sequence alone would merit five stars. The last reason is the movie's depiction of agrarian America. For most of our history, our country was an agricultural nation. "Cold Mountain" really captures this America, and does so with a great eye for detail.

For those three reasons, I'm giving "Cold Mountain" five stars. Minghella's picture really is an epic journey through a dark time in American history, and such an epic deserves an equally epic DVD treatment. The two-disc set I watched contained an informative (read: worth listening to) commentary track with Minghella and editor Walter Murch, mucho deleted scenes, and several lengthy featurettes. "Climbing Cold Mountain" takes us behind the scenes to show us every aspect of the film's production. "A Journey to Cold Mountain" comes across as one of those promotional features Hollywood uses to sell a film. "Words and Music of Cold Mountain" is a concert featuring some familiar faces performing the film's score and reading sections from Cold Mountain the novel. A few storyboards, trailers, and a four minute featurette called "Sacred Harp History" round out the set. "Cold Mountain" is a winner, an excellent film that stays with you long after you watch it. Highly recommended.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 29, 2009 2:06 PM PST

Warrior of the Lost World
Warrior of the Lost World
DVD ~ Robert Ginty
9 used & new from $30.28

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A disaster of epic proportions, May 30, 2007
This review is from: Warrior of the Lost World (DVD)
Oh happy days! I'm finally getting around to reviewing David Worth's worthless post-apocalyptic picture, the inimitable "Warrior of the Lost World," aka "Mad Rider," aka "Il giustiziere della terra perduta," aka "I predatori dell'anno omega". Yep, anytime you see that many alternate titles tagged on a picture, you just know you're in for something special. Special in a truly terrible, cheesy way, that is! Out of all the "Mad Max" ripoffs that emerged from Italian shores in the early to mid 1980s, "Warrior of the Lost World" was the most memorable. I recall catching it on late night cable back in the 1980s, and I never forgot its jaw dropping cheesiness. I vividly remembered this flick long before the boys over at MST3K tore it to shreds. Megaweapon. Donald Pleasence hamming it up something terrible. That dumb talking bike. Persis Khambatta with hair. The lousy sound effects. Robert Ginty slouching through his role as the hero looking like a hangover tied together with leather and a sneer. Yep, here it is on DVD in all its horrific glory. The fact that the transfer looks like it's lifted right off a VHS tape only adds to the film's general wretchedness.

The movie starts off with a thud as a scroll provides us with more backstory than we'd ever need to know. World War III, nuclear weapons, civilization in ruins, death, get the idea. The scroll, which by now resembles the Old Testament in length, informs us that a totalitarian regime called Omega has arisen and rules over the vast wastelands of the world. Headed by the evil Prossor (Donald Pleasence), Omega must battle a group called The New Way for supremacy of the planet. Or something like that. We also learn about a group of miscreants called Marginals. Hmm. Sounds like a plan. It doesn't sound like a viable movie script, especially one shot on an Italian post-apocalyptic budget, but here we go anyway. The movie then moves into the action by showing us the enigmatic Rider (Ginty) and his supremely annoying bike Einstein. Einstein talks, by the way, in a voice that sounds like Judy Landers caught in a bear trap. Anyway, an Omega patrol soon pursues our hero only to meet its doom in a series of explosions so over the top as to defy description. We'll see more impressive explosions later. It's fun, I guess.

The Rider's various adventures lead him into the arms of The New Way. One of the members of this organization, Nastasia (Khambatta) tries to enlist the assistance of the Rider in a special mission. It appears that Prossor has captured her father and the leader of the resistance, McWayne (Harrison Muller), and plans to execute him. Oh dear. With the help of veteran actor Fred Williamson (billed as "Henchman," which sort of gives something away), the two must infiltrate Omega's headquarters and liberate McWayne. In short, everything goes off without a hitch except for one little mistake: Nastasia falls behind thanks to a wound and Prossor captures her. Bummer. So now our hero must stage a new assault on Prossor's compound, this time employing the band of miscreants known as Marginals, in order to free Nastasia and, by extension, the world from totalitarian evil. Expect a ton of shootouts with black clad Omega goons, an extended, poorly choreographed highway chase, and the arrival of Megaweapon. Oh, the movie also tosses out a few red herrings and a twist ending sure to induce a yawn or two. After viewing the conclusion, I'm thinking the producers planned a sequel. Yeah, right!

Shot on a budget of a buck and a half, "Warrior of the Lost World" tanks on every single level. The acting and dialogue are retch-inducing stuff, just absolutely awful dreck that made me want to hurl every couple of minutes. Only Pleasence succeeds here, and that's because he's a ham extraordinaire who could make the most mundane script sound like "Citizen Kane". Unfortunately, Donald must have shot all his scenes in five minutes because he's hardly in this turkey. THIS MOVIE TANKS! I can't even describe adequately the poor quality of the special effects, from the vehicles to the sound of the guns firing, without weeping profusely. So bad! Then there's Einstein and his valley girl catchphrases. Ugh. Or Megaweapon, this big, bad weapon that's supposedly invincible but looks like a dump truck covered in plastic spikes. Everyone's so afraid of this thing and it moves at a top speed of about two miles an hour! I can't imagine what it was about this movie that made it stick in my head all these years, but revisiting "Warrior of the Lost World" is a painful experience only the hardened b-movie aficionado should undertake. No wonder MST3K skewered this puppy.

I don't recommend picking this clunker up unless it's the MST3K version. At least than you'll get a few laughs. This edition is bare bones, fullscreen, with lousy picture and audio quality. Of course, I doubt "Warrior of the Lost World" ever looked or sounded good in any format. It's just one of those films that always looks bad no matter how much effort anyone puts into it. A final note on the movie: did anyone notice that one car blowing up on the side of the cliff? It's shot in slow motion, of course, and when the explosion blooms outward we see the trunk or hood of the car taking off like a rocket. The explosion is so powerful that this piece of the vehicle keeps going up and up as the car falls over the side of the cliff! I suspect that the hood is somewhere in the neighborhood of the planet Pluto at this point. I can't give this movie more than a single star. I just can't. Only Italian post-apocalyptic completists need pick this one up.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 31, 2008 10:54 AM PDT

Disturbing Behavior
Disturbing Behavior
DVD ~ James Marsden
Offered by 1UP Video Games, Books & DVDs
Price: $33.89
33 used & new from $0.49

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated, May 26, 2007
This review is from: Disturbing Behavior (DVD)
High School! Yay! If you're like me, you loathe the very mention of "High School". The principal in charge of my school ran the place like a prison. No pop machines. No soft drinks or candy allowed. Need to use the bathroom? Tough. Go when you're walking to your next class. I won't even get into the fact that when I turned eighteen at the beginning of my last year I could legally smoke cigarettes yet for some reason wasn't allowed to even OUTSIDE of the building without receiving some sort of punishment. Of course, after the warden moved on a few years later, the kids there had pop machines, candy machines, and could leave for lunch whenever they felt like it. I'm not bitter about it, really. It's so far in the past that I laugh about my experiences there whenever anyone mentions high school. Which, fortunately, isn't often. My encounters with high school these days largely come to me through movies. It looks like kids today have to go through the same crud I endured years ago. I feel for them. My advice to these poor souls: gut it out. Life gets much, much better in a few years.

None of this nonsense has much to do about anything except to serve as a rather lame introduction to my review of David Nutter's 1998 film "Disturbing Behavior". The movie introduces us to Steve Clark (James Marsden), a young man moving into the small town of Cradle Bay and trying to navigate his way through the social hell that is high school. He quickly meets up with two important characters: Gavin Strick (Nick Stahl) and Rachel Wagner (Katie Holmes). These two kids definitely look the part of outsiders. Strick mumbles a lot and has that old soul look, and Wagner dresses in black and sulks all over the place. Still, the two provide our hero with plenty of information about the various goings on in Cradle Bay High School. In one scene early on in the movie, Strick sits with Clark in the cafeteria and provides a quick run down of the various social cliques. The stoners, car lovers, get the idea, except he has different names for them. Gavin makes sure to point out one group in particular, a collection of neatly groomed youngsters he calls "Blue Ribbons". They're the upright, popular kids who also excel in school.

But something is horribly, terribly wrong with the members of the Blue Ribbon gang. Let's call them a cult, actually. As Steve Clark soon learns, the town fell under the sway of one Dr. Edgar Endicott (Bruce Greenwood). He developed a plan, a behavior modification plan, that promises to transform troubled kids into straight arrows. Sounds great, doesn't it? Most of the parents in Cradle Bay think so. The Blue Ribbon cult keeps getting bigger and bigger as more kids fall into the orbit of Endicott's program. There's just one LITTLE problem with the new in crowd. The members have a tendency to erupt into cyclones of violence at the drop of the hat, usually when something excites those darn teenage hormones. Witness the carnage that takes place in a supermarket in one scene, and I think you'll agree that something isn't right here. Clark launches an investigation, spurred on by Gavin's sudden conversion into a Blue Ribboner, and what he finds isn't pretty. Endicott, with the help of Officer Cox (Steve Railsback), is performing bizarre experiments in the field of neurology. I think it's safe to say that brain surgery, behavior modification, and raging hormones lead to one heck of a conclusion.

"Disturbing Behavior" is a lot of fun. The movie achieves heights of ridiculousness, especially during the grand finale, but that didn't stop me from grabbing on to this sucker's horns and riding it until the gruesome end. Let's run over the positives real quick. One, Katie Holmes. She's smoking hot in this film. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for her, but she attains heights of foxiness here I never imagined. Simply gorgeous. It's painful to think she's glued to Mr. Xenu in real life. Two, Nick Stahl is a really good actor. He can take something as goofy as "Disturbing Behavior" and sell it to the audience. Third, what's up with Hollywood and janitors? Between the guy in "The Breakfast Club" and the janitor here that lends a helping hand to Steve and his buddies, Dorien Newberry (William Sadler), it's obvious Tinseltown has a love affair with those pursuing a career in the custodial arts (a nod to Bender there). Four, and finally, it's nice to see Ethan Embry and Katharine Isabelle in small supporting roles. Now let's peruse the negatives. There aren't any, really, unless you count the film's short runtime. "Disturbing Behavior" clocks in at a paltry eighty-four minutes, including credits. Ouch!

The "Disturbing Behavior" DVD contains mucho supplements. We get a music video from The Flys, a commentary track featuring director David Nutter, an alternate ending, and eleven deleted scenes. That's a lot of deleted scenes! They should've just plugged them back into the movie to up the runtime. Anyway, I enjoyed this movie immensely. I remember when it came out back in the late 1990s, and I remember it tanking fast, so I put off seeing it until now thinking that it must have really stunk. The returns were so low that David Nutter has done nothing but television work since the film came out. Well, the critics and theater audiences were wrong; it's a great, entertaining horror flick filled with violence and heavy-handed messages about social conformity. In other words, it's high school with Katie Holmes. By the way, did I mention Katie Holmes is smoking hot? Good. I give this movie five stars. I give Katie ten stars. Good flick.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 31, 2008 10:57 AM PDT

Soap - The Complete Second Season
Soap - The Complete Second Season
DVD ~ Cathryn Damon
Offered by Amazing Prime Express
Price: $8.31
59 used & new from $0.01

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff!, May 26, 2007
In the annals of television history, "Soap" ranks as one of the most outrageous sitcoms ever aired on an American network. Ribald, over the top, whimsical, and with the potential to offend large segments of society, "Soap" handily lived up to each of these elements and more. But most importantly the show about two wacko families living lives of utter weirdness was incredibly hilarious. I was a mere seven years old when the program appeared in the late 1970s, but I did remember bits and pieces of the show since my parents let me watch it with them. I know; I can't believe they let a youngster view a program like this one, either, but they rightly figured that my tender age prevented me from understanding the adult themes behind the comedy. Of course, you didn't need to understand much to laugh at the physical machinations of Richard Mulligan. When I finally saw a few episodes on cable a few years back, I finally understood the ruckus. I usually avoid watching television nowadays, but I put "Soap" right up there with "The Rockford Files" as my two favorite network shows. It's great to see the former arrive on DVD.

In true soap opera fashion, the second season of "Soap" picks up right where the prior season ended. The shocking denouement of Jessica Tate's (Katherine Helmond) murder trial ends with a startling revelation, one that sees someone very close to her confess to the crime. He goes off to jail only to meet a hardened con named Dutch (Donnelly Rhodes). The two eventually escape from prison, which leads to a romantic relationship between Dutch and Jessica's spoiled daughter Eunice (Jennifer Salt). Chester receives a head injury and suffers a bout of amnesia. Jessica faces a dilemma when she falls in love with Detective Donahue (John Byner) and must decide whether to stay with him or remain faithful to her husband. The second season also provides more information concerning the problematic marriage of Corinne and Tim Flotsky (Diana Canova and Sal Viscuso). The two have the typical problems a couple might encounter when the wife is a reformed tart and the husband a former priest. Billy (Jimmy Baio) has several memorable adventures. The Major engages in his usual antics, and Benson remains a hilarious island of sanity.

Then we have the Campbells and their wacky problems. Mary (Cathryn Damon) decides to enroll in college, much to the chagrin of Burt (Richard Mulligan) when he discovers his wife and a college professor might be engaging in more than cracking the books. His disgust over this possible affair leads him to the arms of Sally (Caroline McWilliams) and, by extension, the evil Ingrid (Inga Swenson). Jodie (Billy Crystal) has his own problems, including a baby on the way with a woman as well as continuing problems explaining his sexual orientation to outsiders. Danny (Ted Wass) and Elaine (Dinah Manoff) must deal learn to deal with each other, which they do, right before a tragedy involving their respective backgrounds in organized crime throws their relationship into jeopardy. Expect to see more hilarious hijinks from Chuck and Bob Campbell (Jay Johnson). The high point of the season involves a series of episodes that sees Burt dealing with extraterrestrials. The aliens abduct him, he meets a 4000-year-old man, and he struggles to return to earth. Whew! That's a lot of ground to cover, and even then I'm leaving out a bunch of minor story arcs.

Susan Harris and company deliver the goods once again in the second season of this fantastic television series. Only in the 1970s could you put this much wackiness on the air and get away with it. Alien abductions and demonic babies mixed with murder trials and romantic entanglements sure don't sound like the formula for a winning television series, but the creators of "Soap" make it all come together in fine fashion. As in the first season, the cast has amazing chemistry, and they possess the chops to pull off the most insane scenarios imaginable. Once again Richard Mulligan works his frenetic magic as the high-strung Burt Campbell. He's my favorite character by far in this show, and it's always a pleasure to see him in action. If I had to critique the second season in any way, I would say that we're already starting to see a softening in the format that would eventually lead to the show's demise a couple of years later. I suspect Harris didn't write as many of the scripts from this point on, although I can't prove it. I did notice that we got a lot fewer of those great Jessica Tate speeches, the ones where she rambles on and on following an internal logic only she understands. I missed those speeches, and I always suspected Harris wrote them.

I'm just trying to find something to complain about at this point. The second season of "Soap" will keep you entertained for hours and hours. It's great to revisit this show once again, and it's great that they're releasing them on DVD. The episodes on these discs look and sound better than the ones we saw on the first season, although the quality still leaves a lot to be desired. Even better, the people releasing the DVDs included the pilot episode as a bonus (I thought this was on the first season but maybe I'm mistaken) and a featurette containing an interview with Susan Harris and producers Tony Thomas and Paul Junger Witt. Aside from the fact that Harris hardly says a word during this interview, we still learn a lot about the show and its history. They explain how they kept track of the various story arcs and how they confronted the criticism aimed at the show before it even aired. Good stuff. Season two gets five stars from me. I can't wait to move on to the next!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 31, 2008 11:05 AM PDT

Zombie Death House
Zombie Death House
DVD ~ Dennis Cole
10 used & new from $19.98

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A disaster, May 26, 2007
This review is from: Zombie Death House (DVD)
John Saxon is a name instantly recognizable to the cult film fanatic. It's easy to see why when you take a stroll through his filmography. He's doing television work nowadays, acting in shows like "CSI" and Showtime's "Masters of Horror" series, but you must look back to the 1970s and 1980s to understand his real claim to fame. Saxon starred, or co-starred, in many of the most memorable drive in movies of all time. Most folks recognize him from "Enter the Dragon," the picture that turned Bruce Lee into a huge cult star. That's only the beginning for the discerning exploitation fan, however. Saxon also turned in a memorable performance in Wes Craven's "A Nightmare on Elm Street," where he played the police officer father of hapless Heather Langenkamp. I can go on and on. He starred in Antonio Margheriti's cannibal classic "Cannibal Apocalypse," Bob Clark's seminal 1974 slasher flick "Black Christmas," and Dario Argento's "Tenebre". He even appeared in a fair amount of pure schlock, stuff like Roger Corman's Star Wars knockoff "Battle Beyond the Stars" and Umberto Lenzi's tepid giallo "Nightmare Beach". Only once did he step behind the camera to assume directorial duties, in a little film called "Zombie Death House".

"Zombie Death House," or "Death House," is actually two movies in one. The first story arc concerns an unfortunate wretch called Derek Keillor (Dennis Cole) and his experiences with a Los Angeles mafia family headed up by the treacherous Vic Moretti (Anthony Franciosa). Keillor, a decorated war veteran, spends a lot of time driving around town in his cool car. He looks bored, oddly enough, and so do I as the movie quickly falls into a rut. Derek drives, and drives, and drives some more. Apparently he doesn't have much to do. In an effort to make a few bucks, he quickly (well, not as quick as we'd like) hooks up with Moretti. The mob boss offers our hero a position as his chauffeur. It's not a great job, but it does have its perks. For example, Keillor soon falls into a relationship with Vic's main squeeze, Genelle Davis (Dana Lis), and the two covertly consummate the affair in an out of the way motel. Not smart, not smart at all. Mob bosses are notoriously overprotective of their women, and Vic Moretti soon learns what's going on. Instead of whacking Keillor, the crime lord kills his woman and frames Derek for the crime. Oh dear. Off to prison our man goes, and here's where the movie shifts gears entirely.

While awaiting execution in the electric chair (since when does California carry out executions in the chair?), Keillor runs afoul of Franco (Michael Pataki), Moretti's brother and a sadistic jerk. Further complicating the situation is an experimental drug research program conducted by Burgess (Saxon), a CIA agent and all-around bad guy. Inmates agree to participate in the experiment in exchange for small favors, but there is a catch. The CIA actually switches the injections without the prisoners' knowledge, substituting a far more dangerous compound that eventually turns the criminals into mindless, crazed lunatics who think nothing of tearing other folks to shreds. In no time at all Keillor and a few of the unaffected inmates stage a rebellion inside the penitentiary's walls, largely to save their own lives. Obviously, they want the experiments to stop, but they also request medical assistance to deal with all these zombies. Burgess throws up a cordon around the prison and sends in the scientist who developed the deadly drug, Tanya Karrington (Tane McClure), to help calm the situation. Vic Moretti also appears on the scene to throw the movie into an even more confusing state. What's going on here?

Beats me. "Zombie Death House" is a mess of a film, a movie that tries to do far too much with a confusing script and cheap set pieces. I wonder what went wrong. Saxon receives a directing credit, but so does some guy named Nick Marino. I'm thinking someone shot part of the film and then the producers fired him and brought in Saxon (or vice versa). That might explain the schizophrenic feel of the movie. The movie is--at one time or another--a mafia flick, an action movie, a horror picture, and a prison film. Try keeping track of such nonsense! Worse, the movie looks cheap. I suspect that someone ran out of money during the process and they tried to do the best they could with what was left. They failed. Throw in banal pacing, REALLY lazy editing, and cheap gore effects and you've all the trimmings for a terribly lousy viewing experience. I hate to say it, but "Zombie Death House" tanks. Big time. If this picture is any indication, it should come as no surprise that Saxon never stepped behind the camera again. His performance, along with the always reliable Franciosa, helps move the film along--but not enough to save this clunker.

It's strictly amateur hour over at the company that released this crudfest to DVD. Retromedia (run by b-movie monarch Fred Olen Ray) gives "Zombie Death House" a lackluster treatment, giving us a single trailer for the film as the only supplement. Worse, they provide the viewer with a fullscreen version of the film. Not that a widescreen presentation would have helped the viewer digest this mess any better, mind you, but they could have given us something with which to work. The picture quality looks awful, and the audio isn't much better although it is adequate enough considering the budget we're dealing with here. I can't in good conscience give "Death House" more than one star. It's trite filmmaking at its worst. If you have a craving for zombie pictures, I can recommend a dozen better films than this one. Rent something from Romero or Fulci before diving into this train wreck. Avoid at all costs.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 31, 2008 11:02 AM PDT

99 Women (Director's Cut)
99 Women (Director's Cut)
DVD ~ Maria Schell
Price: $15.99
16 used & new from $5.50

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another Franco WIP classic, May 25, 2007
This review is from: 99 Women (Director's Cut) (DVD)
The mere mention of the name Jesus "Jess" Franco in the presence of movie fans will elicit several reactions. Some filmgoers will shrug their shoulders as if to say, "Who's he?" These people likely spend a lot of time watching big budget, multiplex friendly cinema. Other folks will smile. These film fans recognize this director's name in the context of "Vampyros Lesbos" and "The Marquis De Sade's Justine," two Franco movies that actually contain a hint of style. Then there are the poor wretches who'll hear his name and visibly pale, groan as though they've eaten food that's given them salmonella poisoning, and slink quietly away into a corner for a few hours of serious sulking. I fall somewhere in between the last two categories. I liked "Vampyros Lesbos" and "Justine," but I've also seen enough Franco films to understand the utter banality of a large segment of his filmography. "99 Women" is one of the director's contributions to a sleaze genre that could only exist in the 1970s and early 1980s, WIP (Women in Prison). Tons of these films exist, and most of them have come to DVD. Let's explore Jess's offering, shall we? Sure, we've nothing better to do!

O.k. "99 Women". Here we go. The film stars the luscious Maria Rohm as Marie, an unfortunate wretch sentenced to a term at a prison located on an island called, appropriately enough for the genre, Castillo de la Muerte. The Island of Death! With a name like that, any prisoner heading to the prison has to wonder what their future holds. Sort of makes Alcatraz look like a Club Med. Anyway, Marie heads to the island for some fun and sun with the other ninety-eight gals currently serving their sentences. We know there are ninety-eight other women in the jail because Marie receives an inmate number of ninety-nine upon her arrival. Get it? The Island of Death has ninety-nine prisoners, and the movie's called "99 Women"! You simply must admire the internal logic on display here. Considering Franco isn't known for logical filmmaking, we must take what we can get whenever possible and move on. So Marie arrives in a sad state of affairs. She quickly realizes her new digs lack that special something found in the rest of civilization. It's a dump, in other words, and one run by a sadistic warden named Thelma Diaz (Mercedes McCambridge). Anyone care to bet Thelma and Marie won't get along?

Sure enough, Thelma and Marie soon lock horns. The trouble occurs when our heroine, while lounging about in her cell, hears the pitiful cries of a fellow inmate a couple of doors over. Oh, the humanity! When Marie attempts to notify the authorities about this terrible injustice, Thelma orders her thrown into a special detention cell. It's here that our gal meets up with Zoe (Rosalba Neri), the prison's resident Gertrude Stein (if you know what I mean) except far better looking. Hijinks of a decidedly fleshy nature ensue. It's somewhere around this time that we notice an important event, i.e. Franco's film actually has a plot. Thelma Diaz supplies the island's governor, Santos (Herbert Lom), with nubile women from the prison in exchange for favors. It doesn't seem to work, however, as a reformer from the mainland called Leonie (Maria Schell) arrives to inspect the facilities. She's heard horror stories about the shenanigans going on at the prison, and wants to make sure the inmates have an easier time on the island. Or something like that. Who cares, really? Expect a lot of sass, some cheesy fights, and an escape attempt that finds our heroine struggling to return to the world.

Also expect a lot of soft-core scenarios involving lots of lovely ladies. Rosalba Neri. Maria Rohm. A bunch of other 1970s exploitation babes. Rosalba Neri. Did I mention Rosalba Neri? Twice? Really? I wonder why that happened? These are the women of dreams, my friends, and Franco makes sure to throw in plenty of action to keep the male members of the audience fully entertained. As an added bonus the X-rated version of the movie tosses in a bunch of hardcore inserts. These sequences do absolutely nothing to move the plot along, nor do they involve the principal actresses. Yet somehow I didn't mind their presence in the picture even though they look like someone inserted them in the film with a sledgehammer. Another thing you might notice about "99 Women" is Franco's effort to inject a little class into the proceedings. Sure, we get his usual zoom and soft focus tricks, but we also see some stylistic touches sorely lacking in most WIP movies. For example, Rosalba Neri's striptease scene looks pretty darn good. Franco pulls this sequence off quite admirably. Now the negatives: a lame script, an unoriginal plot, and cheap production values all hurt the movie.

Apparently a couple of versions of "99 Women" are floating around in DVD land. I watched the X-rated version, which has the insert shots but lacks extras. According to a few reports I've read, another version (an unrated director's cut, I think) contains a lengthy interview with Franco, deleted scenes, trailers, and alternate footage. What a pity. What the distribution company should have done is release both versions of the film on one disc. Put the director's cut on side one, the X-rated cut on side two. Then sprinkle the extras on both sides of the disc. Is that so hard to do? I somewhat enjoyed the film, enough to give it three stars, but there's no way in heck I would shell out the bucks to buy both versions. I'm not that big of a Jess Franco fanatic. I only watch his movies because I feel I must in order to see as many exploitation films as possible. I recommend renting both versions, giving them a watch, and then deciding which one you wish to purchase. Good luck!

The Star Chamber
The Star Chamber
DVD ~ Michael Douglas
Offered by Amy's Books & Stuff
Price: $21.00
32 used & new from $0.38

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A personal favorite, May 24, 2007
This review is from: The Star Chamber (DVD)
"The Star Chamber" is one of my personal favorites. I don't know why. The movie stars Michael Douglas, an actor I don't really care for most of the time. Nonetheless, I have always enjoyed watching this film. I'll actually stop whatever I am doing and sit down to watch the picture if I notice it's on television. Why? Maybe the reason has something to do with director Peter Hyams. He has lensed a bunch of films that I end up watching despite their inherent flaws. This guy is responsible for such films as "2010," "Outland," and "The Presidio". I like all three of these pictures. I also enjoyed "A Sound of Thunder," "Capricorn One," and "Timecop". As for "End of Days," well, not so much. Lest you think Hyams sticks solely to thrillers and actioners, he also directed the John Ritter comedy "Stay Tuned" back in the early 1990s as well as a coming of age flick called "Our Time" back in 1974. He's versatile, I'll give him that. Anyway, "The Star Chamber" obviously received a studio green light in an effort to cash in on the public's concerns over a spiraling crime rate back in the early 1980s.

Douglas plays Superior Court Judge Steven Hardin, a good guy that takes his job very seriously. He wants to do the right thing and put the bad guys away for a long time, but the legal system hinders his efforts at every turn. It seems that every lawyer coming into his courtroom figures out some technicality--some niggling point hidden in the law books--that forces Hardin to release the obviously guilty criminal in question. For example, Hardin has to dismiss a case against a thug when the police improperly removed evidence dumped into a garbage truck. It had something to do with the refuse in the trashcan not being mixed with the other garbage. Whatever the case, the technicality is such a fine point that Hardin really starts to question what he's doing on the bench. His wife Emily (Sharon Gless) tries to make him feel better about his job, but her tender mercies increasingly fall on deeply troubled ears. Even Hardin's fellow judge and best friend, Benjamin Caulfield (Hal Holbrook), can't offer much assistance. He's in the same boat as his young friend, although he does make a few cryptic comments that hint at a possible solution. Hardin's not ready to make the leap, according to Caulfield, but the time comes soon enough.

The straw that breaks the camel's back arrives in the form of Arthur Cooms (Joe Regalbuto) and Lawrence Monk (Don Calfa). Two sleazebags wrapped up in the narcotics industry, Cooms and Monk find their way into Hardin's courtroom after the cops pulled the two over and found evidence eventually linked to a string of grisly child murders currently plaguing the city. Sadly, the police officers in question conducted an improper search. Once again, Hardin must release the criminals. A dramatic incident in the courtroom immediately after the dismissal shakes our man to the core of his being. At this point, Caulfield swoops in and tells his friend about a group of judges who meet regularly to discuss the worst of the worst cases, the cases involving hardcore criminals freed on legal technicalities. They review the cases, they make judgments, and they pass sentences. And they have a vacancy. He asks Steven Hardin to sit on this Star Chamber. But will Hardin oblige? And what happens if one of the cases presented to this jury of judges should happen to involve an innocent person? Will this court still insist on carrying out the sentence? If so, how can one man stop an even greater miscarriage of justice?

"The Star Chamber" works so well because the actors involved give great performances and deliver solid dialogue. I also enjoyed the conclusion even though it rates quite high on the unbelievability chart. Hal Holbrook's Mark Twain haircut and how they filmed the explosion at the end are unintentionally hilarious. Numerous viewings of this film have, however, revealed several huge plot holes that I ought to mention. I'm not a lawyer, and I don't play one on television, but I'm fairly certain one judge wouldn't face this many cases involving legal technicalities. I once read that they're pretty rare, so that's a problem to work through right there. I also can't believe that a Star Chamber consisting of so many highly educated judges wouldn't have some mechanism in place to monitor new members. It's obvious to anyone with half a brain that Hardin harbors serious reservations about his work on this underground court. Don't you think the judges would have someone watching his house just in case, you know, he decided to go to the police and tell them everything that's going on? And what's up with the cover art on the DVD case? Douglas toting a gun gives the viewer the impression that he's a cop.

Despite the flaws I pointed out, and several that I didn't, I like "The Star Chamber". What I didn't care for as much is the DVD. Sure, we get a widescreen version of the film on one side of the disc and the fullscreen cut on the other, but that's about all we see. The picture quality isn't that good--colors are muted and the movie has a soft look that's slightly annoying. The audio isn't much better. When the explosion takes place, I thought I heard distant thunder outside. It was the movie! Ouch. As for extras, forget about it. We get nothing. I'm not always a fan of commentary tracks (not all commentary tracks are created equal), but I wanted one for this movie since I've seen it dozens of times over the years. I definitely wanted to hear what Hyams had to say about that explosion and the cheesy way they filmed it. Darn! Oh well. I'm giving it four stars. Enjoy.

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (Special Edition)
The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (Special Edition)
DVD ~ Larry Blamire
Offered by Outlet Promotions
Price: $53.88
31 used & new from $6.43

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Animala!, May 23, 2007
As an admirer of schlock cinema, you would think I spend most of my time revisiting the golden age of bad movies. No, I'm not talking about the 1970s. I watch scads of films released during the Age of Nixon and Carter, most of them appallingly awful, but this decade does not really define bad movie making. We need to look further back, back to the 1950s, to appreciate the truly dreadful potential of b-movie filmmaking. The Red Scare and the Soviet Union's acquisition of the atomic bomb threw America into a fearful tizzy. So did the space race. And what better way to capitalize on people's fears than to incorporate nuclear war and alien invasions into movies. What followed became the real golden age of the bad movies. I don't often go there, not yet anyway, but I know that the 1950s offer a cornucopia of cringe inducing cinema. Movies like "Them!," "The Day the World Ended," and of course "Plan 9 From Outer Space". These films achieve such heights of ridiculousness that it was only a matter of time before someone came along and viciously spoofed them. Enter Larry Blamire's "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra".

We have three important story arcs snaking their way through "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra". The first involves Dr. Paul Armstrong (Larry Blamire) and his wife Betty (Fay Masterson) on an expedition to discover a recently fallen to earth meteorite. Armstrong wants to locate the space debris because he believes the rock contains the rare element atmospherium. What's that, you say? Can't remember seeing that one on the chart back in science class? That's because it doesn't exist outside of this movie. We soon learn, aside from how the discovery and use of this element will benefit the field of science, that just a trace amount of atmospherium would allow a person to travel to the moon and back at least a half dozen times. That's the first plot thread, and Blamire could have made a fun film just by following these two dolts around. He decided to throw in two more ideas. The second arc involves the arrival of a spacecraft--populated by the aliens Kro-Bar (Andrew Parks) and Lattis (Susan McConnell)--in need of repair. Unfortunately, their pet, a hideous beast, accidentally escapes from the ship. They need to capture the creature before it attacks the locals. Too, they need some atmospherium to power their ship.

A third arc tells the tale of the infernal Dr. Roger Fleming (Brian Howe) and his plans to resurrect an ancient skeleton located in, not surprisingly, the Cadavra Cave. Fleming figures out that if he can only find some atmospherium, he can use the element to resurrect the skeleton and conquer the world. Or something like that. It doesn't matter what's going on, however, as the plot soon gives way to comedic antics executed so brilliantly that I sat in front of the television with mouth open in wonder. Blamire took great pains to make sure that his script, especially the dialogue, meshed with the 1950s cinematic atrocities so many people know and love. He succeeds beyond all expectation. Nearly every word, every phrase these characters utter, is stupid on a cosmic scale. Armstrong's fascination with the field of science. Kro-Bar and Lattis assuming the guise of humans and trying to navigate their way through a world alien to them. These things are as stupid as they are brilliant, if that makes any sense. The dinner scenes involving these losers rank as one of the most hilarious sequences I've ever seen in a film.

A few other elements of the film really hit the mark. Primarily, I'm talking about Animala (Jennifer Blaire). A whole separate review could discuss the merits of this odd creature, thrown into the movie just to rev up the camp factor. Created by Dr. Fleming thanks to his illicit use of Kro-Bar's transmutatron, Animala is part woman and four parts of different woodland creatures. Her behavior closely resembles that of a house cat. She purrs, drinks milk, and performs a dance number that truly is a marvel to behold. Honestly folks, you haven't lived until you've seen Animala go through her motions. I'd like to see Blamire make a sequel based around this oddball. This marvelous character aside, everything else mirrors perfectly a bad 1950s movie. The cheesy props obviously picked up at a hardware store, out of someone's garbage can, or on the side of the road work marvelously to recreate the atmosphere of a film only Ed Wood, Jr. could love. The costumes worn by the characters and the silly looking monsters are sublime in their awfulness. I also loved the actors' facial expressions and monotone delivery; they give the term "wooden" a whole new meaning. It's all intentional, of course, but it doesn't seem like it on the screen. It would be easy to think these really are terrible actors working for a terrible director.

The DVD version of "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra," which I suggest you pick up immediately at the nearest retailer, contains several worthy extras that heighten the viewer's enjoyment of the movie. Two commentary tracks--one with Blamire and other crew members and one with the cast--tell you just about everything you would want to know about every aspect of the picture's production. If you're not satisfied, a featurette called "Obey the Lost Skeleton" provides additional details. We also get a trailer for the film, previews for schlock classics from the 1950s, a blooper reel, a cartoon, and a Q&A with the cast and crew filmed at the American Cinematheque a few years ago. Run, don't walk, to get a copy of this five star effort. If this movie is any indication, Blamire's next feature (also a satire) ought to be another classic. Have fun!

Cannibal Apocalypse
Cannibal Apocalypse
DVD ~ John Saxon
21 used & new from $21.95

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bloody good fun!, May 23, 2007
This review is from: Cannibal Apocalypse (DVD)
I'm a huge fan of Italian director Antonio Margheriti, aka Anthony M. Dawson, even though I haven't seen very many of his films. How can this be? Because the ones I have seen revel in low budget schlocky glory. Margheriti is responsible for such classics as "Alien From the Deep," "Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye," and "Killer Fish." He's also the man who brought us several highly entertaining shoot 'em up action/war films, films like "Indio," "Indio 2," "Tiger Joe," "The Last Hunter," "The Hunters of the Golden Cobra," and "Ark of the Sun God." If you need any additional evidence pointing to Dawson's relevancy in the realm of low budget cult classics, he directed the catastrophic "Yor, the Hunter from the Future." If you've seen this disaster, you know how important Margheriti is to lovers of cheese cinema! I'm dying to see all of these films--and a few others--arrive on DVD. Until then, I'm contenting myself with the precious few of this director's earlier movies that have come out, or are soon to come out, on disc: "Castle of Blood," "The Virgin of Nuremberg," and "Cannibal Apocalypse" among them. Now it's time to review that last film. Woo Hoo!

Margheriti's contribution to the Italian cannibal craze stars veteran actor John Saxon as Norman Hopper, a Vietnam War veteran currently doing his best to forget the atrocities he took part in as a soldier. He lives a pretty simple life with his wife Jane (Elizabeth Turner) in Atlanta, Georgia. His biggest problem in a post-war existence revolves around dealing with a flirty neighbor, Mary (Cinzia De Carolis), until his past comes calling in the form of two fellow soldiers carrying a horrible secret. As the opening sequences of the film show us, Hopper conducted a raid into enemy territory in order to save two prisoners of war. These men, Charlie Bukowski (John Morghen) and Tom Thompson (Tony King), are just now earning their release papers from a mental institution. Why were they locked up after the war? Oh, just your usual run of the mill combat induced cannibalism! The two men consumed a few villagers during that raid back in the day, and one of them even took a hunk out of Norman Hopper. Now Charlie's calling up Norm for a few drinks and some serious reminiscing about good old times. Hopper wants none of it. Yeah, like he's going to get off that easy!

Bukowski and Thompson, as becomes obviously clear in a matter of minutes, failed to receive the necessary treatment at the VA hospital. They're soon racing around Atlanta doing what cannibals do best--tearing chunks out of people. The film mostly focuses on Charlie as he runs amok. He attacks a woman in a movie theater, goes on a very public rampage immediately thereafter, and finally heads back to the laughing academy after a public shootout with the police. Hopper, who arrived on the scene to try and talk Charlie into surrendering, also heads for the asylum. Why? Because he's suddenly coming down with a serious desire to eat human flesh! You can't make this stuff up, folks. Well, actually they did, but you get the idea. The ridiculousness ramps up to obscene levels when Hopper succumbs to his deadly urges and joins up with his former comrades for a gory rampage through the city. Pursued by the police, the three men--along with a few recent recruits--head into the city's sewer system in an effort to evade capture. The authorities must stop these guys at all costs. If they fail, millions of people could fall prey to whatever force is causing the cannibalism.

The movie explains that the cannibalism we see on display comes from a virus, which is an extraordinarily goofy explanation but one that Margheriti milks for all its worth. The director, along with scriptwriter Dardano Sacchetti, seem to be saying that violence is a contagious disease that we can cure if only we have the right tools. Sure. Whatever. I, and my fellow gore fans, could care less about theories on the nature of violence. We're watching "Cannibal Apocalypse" in order to witness bloody carnage, and thankfully the movie delivers in spades. It's not as cringe worthy as "Cannibal Holocaust" or the other man eats man flicks that came out at the same time, but it comes close with several scenes sure to leave a greasy residue on the viewer's mind. A trio of examples includes a devastating shotgun killing, a scene where the principals convert some dolt's leg into beef jerky, and a nice flamethrower sequence. Nice! That's not all we get here, though. Expect to see plenty of flesh tearing fun as the cannibals cruise the streets and alleys of Atlanta. Less impressive is pretty much everything else, although Saxon and Morghen do good work in their respective roles. Cinzia De Carolis is nice looking, too.

"Cannibal Apocalypse" comes to DVD with a boatload of supplements sure to keep the discerning gorehound/exploitation fan happy. The primary feature is a documentary boasting interviews with the late Margheriti, John Morghen, and John Saxon. They bring up all sorts of pertinent information concerning this sleaze classic. Another featurette takes us on a tour of the Atlanta locations used in the film shoot. Several trailers for the film, a stills gallery, an alternate opening sequence, poster art, an article on the film's battles with censorship, liner notes, and cast and crew filmographies round out the disc. If you look closely, you'll also discover some easter eggs that provide a few more trailers. Image did a great job restoring the film for DVD. The picture quality is excellent. I'm sitting there watching the film and it looks like someone shot it last year instead of in the early 1980s. It looks that good. The sleazy aspects of the film coupled with the stellar DVD presentation richly deserve the five stars I'm giving it. Highly recommended.

Auto Focus (Widescreen Special Edition)
Auto Focus (Widescreen Special Edition)
DVD ~ Greg Kinnear
Offered by Sparks DVD Sales
Price: $5.99
137 used & new from $0.01

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply disturbing, May 21, 2007
When I took a trip to see my relatives recently, I noticed with some interest my grandfather's fascination with old television programs. He doesn't get around as much as he once did, so he spends a lot of time parked in front of the television set watching shows on DVD. He has quite a collection. During the time I was there, he played "Hogan's Heroes" on a perpetual loop. I haven't seen the series in years, and most of the shows hold up pretty well. Colonel Klink's endless confusion still garners a few guffaws, Sergeant Schultz still knows nothing, and the prisoners led by the indomitable Colonel Hogan as played by Bob Crane still make the Germans look like buffoons. Of course, anyone with knowledge about Bob Crane's extracurricular activities can't really watch the show without looking for clues to the man's real nature. I'm not sure whether my grandfather knew what Bob Crane did when he wasn't filming episodes of "Hogan's Heroes". And you know what? I couldn't bring myself to tell him that the show he loves so much starred a man with a serious sexual addiction. I'm definitely NOT going to send him a copy of "Auto Focus".

This movie, helmed by veteran Hollywood director Paul Schrader, examines the schizophrenic life of Bob Crane without flinching away from all the unpleasantness. We see little to worry about in the first part of the film. We learn that Crane (Greg Kinnear) has a lot going for him. He owns a wonderful home, complete with swimming pool, and has a beautiful wife named Anne (Rita Wilson). Moreover, he's got a lot of children that seem to make him happy. Our hero also has a great job as a popular disc jockey at a Los Angeles radio station. His work brings in a lot of stars who like the publicity Crane gives them. They also like Crane as a person. What's not to like? Our man comes across as one of the most affable people you would ever want to meet. He's charming to a fault, a charm that eventually helps him attain the lead role in a new television series about Allied prisoners in a German POW camp. Thus was born "Hogan's Heroes," a show that went on to make Bob Crane a star and a household name. We see his ascendancy to fame and fortune in great detail here.

Alas, behind the good looks and the outgoing personality, Bob Crane harbored terrible secrets. We see hints of his addiction in the first part of the film, when his gigs as a drummer in various Los Angeles nightclubs give him access to numerous beautiful women. Still, he doesn't seem out of the ordinary--a lot of guys would cheat on their wives a couple of times given the opportunity. It's when Crane meets John Carpenter (Willem Dafoe), an electronics salesman, that his problems seem to escalate. Carpenter, a real sleaze with a craving for the celebrity lifestyle he can never have, homes in on Crane like a missile. He shows Bob a new device called a video camera, and before too long both men start prowling around town looking for women they can film during their various exploits. The two men, helped greatly by Crane's status as a television star, soon amass hundreds of videos. Women like going to bed with a star, and Crane is only too happy to oblige them. But when "Hogan's Heroes" goes off the air, when his personal relationships start to tank, the only thing left in our hero's life is his sick relationship with John Carpenter. Disaster will inevitably follow.

"Auto Focus" is an amazingly grim film for mainstream Hollywood. What we see here isn't pretty, not by a long shot. You only need to witness the scene between Dafoe and Kinnear, the one discussing the placement of a certain finger, to know that you're walking through a film that refuses to play nice. Watching Bob Crane deteriorate into a zombie whose only function in life revolves around sexual conquest is disturbing in the extreme, almost as disturbing as a place like Hollywood making a movie taking someone with a sexual addiction to task. Hollywood? C'mon! Half the people living there are Bob Cranes, and the other half are the ones sleeping with them. Aside from that little problem, the movie works on a number of levels. One, the acting is excellent. Willem Dafoe turns in a great performance as the scuzzy John Carpenter, and Greg Kinnear practically morphs into the deeply troubled Crane. The two had great chemistry together, and their descent into total immorality was never less than totally believable. Two, I got a kick out of the scenes recreating "Hogan's Heroes". Kurt Fuller playing Werner Klemperer playing Colonel Klink did an incredible job! Three, and finally, I thought the film did an amazing job recreating 1960s and 1970s Los Angeles.

Expect a DVD packed with extra features. The "Auto Focus" disc contains three commentary tracks. One has Willem Dafoe and Greg Kinnear, another one features director Schrader, and the third has the writer and producers commenting on the film. You'll get plenty of information about all aspects of the movie if you listen to these three tracks. Good stuff! Other supplements include five deleted scenes with optional commentary from Schrader, a making of featurette, and a documentary about the death of Bob Crane called "Murder in Scottsdale". This last extra is a must see, as it offers up lots of information about the actor's horrific murder in an Arizona hotel and the subsequent investigations into who committed the crime. If you're in the mood for a movie that likes to walk on the dark side, pick up a copy of "Auto Focus". You'll never look at "Hogan's Heroes" the same way again.
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