DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: TERROR TRAIN (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory)
One of the better slasher films that proliferated in the wake of Halloween (1978), this 1980 effort is distinguished by John Alcott’s excellent cinematography, John Mills-Cockrell’s effective score, and efficient direction by first-time helmer Roger Spottiswoode.
It’s party time aboard a party train for a group of rowdy college students, but there’s a murderer in their midst. That, essentially, is the plot. You were expecting nuance or subtlety?
Wailing all the way, Jamie Lee Curtis is in prime “scream queen”
form as the oft-endangered heroine, Hart Bochner oozes sneering arrogance as the pre-med big man on campus (named Doc, no less), and David Copperfield (in his only big-screen role) is a mysterious magician on board. Top-billed Ben Johnson, an Oscar winner — although not for this film! — adds a touch of class as the fatherly conductor, Carne.
The new collector’s-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo retails for $29.93. Rated R.
AFTER DUSK THEY COME (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Routine creature feature in which tourists are stranded on an uncharted island… but they’re not alone. Heroine Jewel Staite turns tough for a Predator-type climax, but it’s too little too late. Rated R.
“ALL-STAR COMEDY JAM: LIVE FROM ORLANDO” (LionsGate Home Entertainment): The title tells all in this stand-up comedy special ($19.98 retail) hosted by Gary Owen and featuring Tony Roberts, Jay Pharoah, Lil Duval and Capone.
THE BLOOD DRINKERS (Alpha Home Entertainment): Gerardo De Leon’s 1964 fright-fest, based on a Filipino comic series, stars Ronald Remy as the vampire Marco (first seen sporting shades), who puts the bite on a small village. Originally titled Kulay Dugo Ang Gabi and also known as Blood is the Color of Night and, more frequently, Vampire People. Distinguished, as it were, by weird dubbing, weird tinting and an even weirder score — but it’s never dull.
THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Joss Whedon and first-time director Drew Goddard express their affection and respect for the horror genre with this imaginative, sometimes ingenious riff, which opens with the customary kids spending a weekend in the woods but eventually transmogrifies into something more. An enthusiastic cast includes Fran Kranz, Kristen Connolly, a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Jesse Williams, Bradley Whitford and reliable Richard Jenkins, with a climactic cameo best left unrevealed. An instant cult classic. Rated R.
DEAD RINGER (Warner Home Video): The Blu-ray debut ($19.98 retail) of director Paul Henreid’s 1964 thriller, with Bette Davis having a ball playing twins — one nice, one nasty. A little on the (over)long side, but Davis devotees will eat it up. Karl Malden, Peter Lawford, Estelle Winwood, Jean Hagen and Phil Carey try to salvage what scenery is left when Davis is done.
“DRINKING MADE EASY”: SEASON TWO (Magnolia Home Entertainment): For a different kind of Halloween “spirits,” host Zane Lamprey and sidekick Steve McKenna travel the nation in search of the perfect drink — or two — in all 24 episodes from the 2011-’12 season of the award-winning HDNet reality series. The DVD boxed set retails for $29.98.
THE FUNHOUSE (Scream Factory/ Shout! Factory): Tobe Hooper’s 1981 shocker sees the obligatory bunch of dumb teens encountering a murderous monster (Wayne Doba) at a creepy carnival. Well-shot (by Andrew Laszlo) and well-scored (by John Beal, who once sent me the film’s soundtrack on CD), but something of a muddle — although it does have its moments and its devotees. Kevin Conway is a standout as the sinister barker(s). The collector’s-edition DVD retails for $19.93, the Blu-ray for $29.93. Rated R.
“GHOST HUNTERS”: SEASON 7, PART 2 (Image Entertainment): The remaining 13 episodes from the 2011 season of the popular, award-winning SyFy reality series following members of the The Atlantic Paranormal Association (TAPS) as they investigate reported hauntings from around the country. The DVD boxed set retails for $24.98.
“HOLLISTON”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (Image Entertainment): Series creator Adam Green and Joe Lynch play Adam and Joe, a pair of aspiring independent filmmakers trying to escape the title Massachusetts town they grew up in and make horror movies in Hollywood, in all six episodes from the inaugural 2012 season of the FEARnet comedy series. The two-DVD collection retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray collection for $29.98.
JERSEY SHORE SHARK ATTACK (Anchor Bay Entertainment): As if Seaside Heights didn’t have enough problems, this selfexplanatory, intentionally campy shocker features dodgy CGI sharks and a slumming but self-aware cast including Paul Sorvino, Jack Scalia, William Atherton, Tony Sirico, Joey Fatone (as himself — but not for long) and Melissa Molinaro, who steals the show with a broad turn as “Nooki.” Appropriately, B-movie mogul Fred Olen Ray was one of the producers. Rated R.
MONSTER BRAWL (Image Entertainment): Amusing if repetitious comedy in which zombies, ghouls and other classic monsters battle each other — to the undeath? — in a winner-take-all Pay-Per- View wrestling event hosted by Dave Foley and Art Hindle. Lance Henriksen (as “God”) provides narration. Real-life wrestler/manager Jimmy Hart and referee Herb Dean appear as themselves. Although played for laughs, not for the squeamish.
RITES OF PASSAGE (Magnet Label/ Magnolia Home Entertainment): A class trip to an ancient Indian burial ground ends in horror for Christian Slater, Wes Bentley, Stephen Dorff, Kate Maberly, Briana Evigan, et al. The DVD retails for $26.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98. Rated R.
THE SUICIDE CLUB (Alpha Home Entertainment): Cesar Romero stars in this 1960 adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson story, as a nobleman who infiltrates the title sect in early 20th century London. Originally broadcast on “The Chevy Mystery Show,” hosted by Vincent Price. Quaint fun for melodrama mavens. Everett Sloane, Berry Kroeger, Doris Dowling and Dan Tobin round out the cast. Love those vintage Chevrolet ads!
TERROR IS A MAN (Alpha Home Entertainment): This so-so low-budget 1959 shocker, an unacknowledged take-off on HG Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau, stars Francis Lederer (in his final feature) as a scientist on a remote island whose experiments produce a monstrous hybrid. Richard Derr plays a shipwreck survivor more interested in the doctor’s buxom wife (Greta Thyssen) — and who can blame him?
“THE VAMPIRE DIARIES”: THE COM- PLETE THIRD SEASON (Warner Home Video) All-American high-school girl Nina Dobrev is torn between two hunky brothers (Ian Somerholder and Paul Wesley), both bloodsuckers, in all 22 episodes from the 2011-’12 season of the award-winning CW Network fantasy series. The DVD boxed set retails for $59.98, the Blu-ray combo for $69.97. Both contain extensive special features.
WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (Warner Home Video): The Blu-ray bow ($34.99 retail) of the 50th anniversary special edition of Robert Aldrich’s classic, still-potent 1962 adaptation of Henry Farrell’s story, with Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in top form as show-biz siblings whose relationship grows more and more twisted. A huge box-office hit that propelled its leading ladies back to stardom and ushered in a whole new genre of shocker. Creepy, funny, dark and unforgettable. Oscar winner for Best Costume Design (black-and-white), with additional nominations for Best Actress (Davis), Best Supporting Actor (Victor Buono), Best Cinematography (black-andwhite) and Best Sound.
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2012, Mark Burger.