July 21, 2010

Galaxy of Terror/Forbidden World

Also this week: The Runaways, Black Narcissus, A Town Called Panic

Highlight of the Week

Galaxy of Terror / Forbidden World (Shout! FactoryIf you found the production values in Ridley Scott’s Alien original a little too high-budget, you’ve come to the right place. Released in standard and high-def, Shout! Factory is putting out two Roger Corman–produced intergalactic underdogs in wonderfully remastered, uncut editions. Galaxy of Terror (1981) features a shit-tonne of memorable actors, including Ray Walston (“Aloha, Mr. Hand”), Edward Albert, Grace Zabriskie, Sid Haig (offed by his own severed arm!), Erin Moran (Joanie from Happy Days!) and Robert Englund (pre-Freddy), battling their innermost fears on the sinister planet Moganthus. It also features a fairly notorious rape sequence of a crew-member by a giant maggot. Still not enticed? Does production design by a young James Cameron sweeten the pot? Moving along, 1982’s Forbidden World is set on the planet Xarbia (Xarbia ? Moganthus), where a mutating alien life form turns space scientists into gelatinous food. Enter bounty hunter Mike Colby, who arrives just in time to kick ass and score with numerous lady scientists. Can he sleep with all of them before the monster turns everyone into galactic goo? Find out this and more by spinning these bizarro B-movies that make for a swell double-header. Outta-this-world extras include lengthy featurettes (over an hour on Galaxy of Terror), interviews, old-school trailers and more.

Also Available

The Runaways (Sony, eOne) A lot of people wrote off this mostly rockin’ coming-of-age biopic about the legendary all-girl rock outfit. Kristen Stewart is credible as Joan Jett, though her character is written with little arc in mind. Dakota Fanning, however, delivers her best performance to date as the drugged-out, jailbait singer Cherie Currie (the screenplay was from Currie’s book). Inspired casting is rounded out by thesp Michael Shannon’s take on the band’s unhinged svengali, Kim Fowley. Extras: nice commentary with Jett, Stewart and Fanning, solid making-of.

Black Narcissus (Criterion, eOne) Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger were one of the best collaborative teams in the history of cinema, and they were at the top of their game when they made this 1947 gothic gem. The late, great Deborah Kerr plays a nubile nun in an Anglican convent perched high up in the Himalayas. Nothing compares to the film’s Oscar-winning images, among the most stunning ever shot in Technicolor. Criterion’s standard and high-def reissues look miles better than their previous edition, not to mention choice extras like commentary with co-director Powell and big-time fan Martin Scorsese, several documentaries and more.

A Town Called Panic (Zeitgeist) Plastic soldiers run rampant all over toy town, in this big-screen adaptation of a small-screen Belgian series that has built itself a sizeable following. Directing team St├ęphane Aubier and Vincent Patar make a relatively smooth transition to a longer running time (still short by common standards) and higher-concept gags like a huge robot penguin that launches giant snowballs at unsuspecting civilians across very long distances. More in the vein of Wallace and Gromit, the film swaps crude humour in favour of energetic absurdity that, like a large snowy projectile, is more hit than miss. If you skipped this during last year’s Midnight Madness programme, now’s as good a time as any to make amends. Extras: superb 52-minute behind-the-scenes doc, director interviews, short film selected by the filmmakers, more.