March 3, 2010


Also this week: Make Way for Tomorrow, Where the Wild Things Are, 2012, Poultrygeist, Beverly Hills 90210: Season Nine

Highlight of the Week
Elvis (Shout! Factory) Having gained a sizeable following with Dark Star, Assault on Precinct 13 and the greatest slasher film of all, Halloween, it’s odd that John Carpenter followed them up with a 170-minute TV biopic on Elvis Presley. Not only was this a departure from Carpenter’s cult-centric crop, but it also marked his first collaboration with Kurt Russell, who would go on to portray iconic Carpenter heroes Snake Plissken, R.J. MacReady and Jack Burton. At a glance, Elvis seems like a cookie-cutter deviation for a budding auteur, but it’s actually the first and finest account of The King, owing to Carpenter’s and Russell’s non-generic awesomeness. Extras: commentary, American Bandstand footage, promo doc featuring Carpenter and Russell (bummer there’s no update).

Also Available
Make Way for Tomorrow (Criterion) Until now, Leo McCarey’s Great Depression–set heartbreaker about a bankrupt old couple forced to live separately with their geographically distant offspring has remained under the radar of even the most ardent cineastes. One look at Criterion’s stunning package — which contains brilliant illustrations from renowned cartoonist Seth — and the 73-year release gap doesn’t seem so harsh. Speaking of which, the final minutes of Make Way for Tomorrow rank among the medium’s most tearful. Extras: interviews with Peter Bogdanovich and critic Gary Giddins on McCarey’s career and the sociopolitical significance of the film.
Where the Wild Things Are (Warner) It took the better part of a decade to adapt Maurice Sendak’s children’s book into a feature, and the result is something you’ll either eat up (’cause you love it so) or have pains digesting. Where the Wild Things Are is undisciplined and visually anarchic, but offers a distinctively melancholic spin on childhood angst. Don’t let the varied critiques deter you from checking this out, but be prepared for something profoundly untamed, Spike Jonze–style. Blu-ray extras: new short entitled Higgelty Piggelty Pop!, HBO featurette, webisodes.

2012 (Sony) Disaster-movie whore Roland Emmerich outdoes even himself with this shamefully watchable end-of-the-worlder. Typically, 2012 features an extra large cast (including a very un-Lloyd Dobler-like John Cusack and Danny Glover as the US president) and bloated running time. It also contains the requisite doggie save, alongside millions of digital humans falling into the earth’s core. Drugs were invented for this type of viewing. Two-disc extras: commentary, FX docs, deleted scenes, Adam Lambert music vid (w00t!), more.  

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (Troma) Lloyd Kaufman is the Cecil B. DeMille of trash cinema. Three years ago, his beloved studio was back in the limelight — à la his Toxic Avenger glory days — with a gleefully grotesque chicken-zombie musical that saw some big-screen action. Troma Entertainment is now making its rather hilariously unwarranted high-def debut with the home video resurrection of this exceptionally charming sicko ’sploitation gem. Extras: featurettes explosion, deleted scenes, more.

Beverly Hills 90210: The Ninth Season (Paramount) Before The O.C., Aaron Spelling’s vision of Beverly Hills was where you wanted to be. The second-to-last season of the original 1990s series was a doozy that saw the departure of Jason Priestley and Tiffani-Amber Thiessen — and the return of “special guest” Luke Perry! Extras: are for sissies.