BY MARK BURGER
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: RED LIGHTS (Millennium Entertainment)
Talented filmmaker Rodrigo Cortes does his part to fill M Night Shymalan’s (long-empty) shoes with this enticing, absorbing yarn ideal viewing for the Halloween season.
Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) are scientists who specialize in debunking hauntings, faith healers and the supernatural, but appear to have met their match in renowned blind psychic Simon Silver (Robert De Niro), recently emerged from a 30-year retirement for a worldwide tour.
Murphy’s intensity is put to good use as Tom becomes obsessed with proving that Silver is a fake despite Margaret’s misgivings and a series of strange events that indicate otherwise. The title refers to a term about telltale signs of a hoax, although the signs Tom encounters also indicate otherwise.
Refreshingly, Cortes (writer, directed and editor) takes the genre seriously and the film is extremely well-made — Xavi Gimenez’s cinematography and Victor Reyes’ score enhance the atmosphere beautifully — and well-acted, with Toby Jones, Elizabeth Olsen and Joely Richardson rounding out a classy cast. De Niro’s in fine, fun form, exuding mystery and menace. This denouement’s gimmicky, to be sure, but we’ve all seen worse. Much worse. Rated R.
“ARMY WIVES”: SEASON SIX, PART ONE (Walt Disney Studios): Life on and off Fort Marshall continues in the first 13 episodes from the 2012 season of the award-winning Lifetime drama series. The ensemble cast includes Catherine Bell, Kim Delaney, Brigid Brannagh, Brian McNamara and Drew Fuller. The three- DVD boxed set retails for $39.99.
AROUND JUNE (Indican Pictures):Samaire Armstrong plays the title role in writer/director James Savoca’s drama, as wistful but withdrawn girl whose relationship with an impoverished immigrant (newcomer Oscar Guerrero) helps her to deal with life more clearly. Filmed around San Francisco, this lowbudget drama is a little flowery at times, but also imaginative and well-acted by all concerned (including Brad William Henke and Jon Gries as Armstrong’s uncles).
THE BARRENS (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Stephen Moyer and Mia Kirshner take the kids (Allie MacDonald and newcomer Peter DaCunha) on a camping trip to New Jersey’s Pine Barrens, home to the Jersey Devil. Writer/ director Darren Lynn Bousman knows the nuts and bolts of the genre, but the story is mostly about Dad’s mounting derangement. Somewhere there’s a good movie about the Jersey Devil, but this isn’t it. The cast tries but an abrupt ending doesn’t help. Rated R.
BASKET CASE 3: THE PROGENY (Synapse Films): Frank Henenlotter’s entertaining, self-mocking 1992 sequel once again reunites Dwayne (Kevin Van Hentenryck) with his beastly brother Belial, as they go south (to Georgia), accompanied by Granny Ruth (the delightful Annie Ross) and her merry band of mutants for the birth of the Belial’s brood. More funny than scary, although the gore quotient is high. Rumors of a reboot, remake or even another sequel have thus far come to naught. Rated R.
“BODY OF PROOF”: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (ABC Studios): The ever-dishy Dana Delany returns as tenacious, crime-solving medical examiner Megan Hunt in all 20 episodes from the 2011-’12 season of the primetime ABC crime drama. The regular cast includes John Carroll Lynch, Jeri Ryan and Geoffrey Arend. The DVD boxed set retails for $39.99.
FANTASIA BARRINO: LIFE IS NOT A FAIRY TALE (A&E Networks Home Entertainment): The rags-to-riches tale of High Point’s own “American Idol” is told in this award-winning 2006 Lifetime TV movie based “in part” on Barrino’s autobiography (about which she later said she was misquoted!), directed by Debbie Allen (who also cameos) and featuring Kadeem Hardison, Loretta Devine and a pre-stardom Viola Davis. The DVD retails for $14.95.
“FENWAY PARK: 100 YEARS AS THE HEART OF RED SOX NATION” (MLB Productions/A&E Networks Home Entertainment): Don Orsillo narrates this self-explanatory sports documentary ($19.95 retail) tracing the century-long history of Beantown’s illustrious (but sometimes long-suffering) baseball franchise, whose superstar players included Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk and others.
“A FOOTBALL LIFE”: SEASON ONE (NFL Films/Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment): A DVD boxed set ($39.93 retail) of all nine episodes from the inaugural 2011 season of the sports documentary series that profiles pro-football legends, among them Walter Payton, Kurt Warner, Reggie White and Jerome Brown (two of my favorites!), Mike Ditka, Bill Belichick and others.
GUROZUKA (Synapse Films): The Asian horror boom continues with director Yoichi Nishiyama’s 2005 shocker, which pits a group of teenagers on a weekend getaway against an evil spirit. In Japanese with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $24.95.
KARATE-ROBO ZABORGAR (Well Go USA Entertainment): Writer/director Noboru Iguchi’s light-hearted action blowout stars Itsuji Itao as a top cop who battles crime with the help of his hi-tech cyborg sidekick. Originally titled Denjin zaboga and based on a popular ’70s TV series. In Japanese with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $24.98.
KILL (Troma Entertainment): Dull, crude, low-budget ensemble shocker in the Saw vein (no pun intended) about six strangers assembled at an abandoned house and subjected to terror and torture. Inexplicably billed in some circles as a horror spoof, but there’s not much funny here.
LADDA LAND (Millennium Entertainment): This award-winning Thai ghost story (originally titled Soi-lat-daa-laen and also known as The Last Home) involves a young family moving into a housing development with a very dire history — which begins to repeat itself. In Thai with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $14.99.
THE LADY (Cohen Media Group): A change of pace for filmmaker Luc Besson, this award-winning historical drama stars Michelle Yeoh as Aung San Suu Kyi, the real-life politician who has spearheaded the democratic movement in Burma (now Myanmar). David Thewlis plays her husband, writer Michael Aris. The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $34.98. Rated R.
MY SUCKY TEEN ROMANCE (MPI/ Dark Sky Films): Up-and-coming writer/director Emily Hagins (not even 21!) spoofs the Twilight franchise with this farce starring newcomer Elaine Hunt as a fantasy fan who meers the boy of her dreams (Patrick Delgado) at a convention — only he’s a vampire. The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98.
“NEW YORK METS: 50 GREATEST PLAYERS” (MLB Productions/A&E Networks Home Entertainment): To commemorates the 50th anniversary of the “Amazin’” baseball franchise, this documentary ($19.95 retail) celebrates its most illustrious players. You can bet that Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and Tommy Agee will be there, but how about Ed Kranepool?
PEACE, LOVE AND MISUNDER- STANDING (IFC Films): Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener and Elizabeth Olsen play three generations of women coming to terms with themselves — and each other — in director Bruce Beresford’s award-winning comedy/drama. A star-studded cast also includes Kyle MacLachlan, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chace Crawford and Rosanna Arquette. The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98. Rated R.
STRIPPERS VS. WEREWOLVES (Well Go USA Entertainment): The title tells all in this British horror comedy featuring Billy (not Bill) Murray, Steven Berkoff, Martin Kemp and genre icon Robert Englund. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $24.98.
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2012, Mark Burger.