September 15, 2010


Also this week: Dean Spanley, Bloodsport + Time Cop, Dolemite

Highlight of the Week
Starcrash (Shout! Factory) A long time ago, in a B-movie cinema far, far away, came this Roger Corman–produced space flop. If you like your ’70s sci-fi oozing with Italian cheese, you’ve come to the right place. Released less than two years after George Lucas’s seminal space odyssey, Luigi Cozzi’s ├╝ber-derivative Euro space oddity stars Hammer Horror vixen Caroline Munro as Stella Star, a barely dressed astro pilot who must stop Count Zarth (subtle) from wiping out the universe with his laser thing. If that isn’t spaced-out enough, Christopher Plummer AND David Hasselhoff are also kicking around set. Starcrash is a dud and then some, story-wise, but neo-psychedelic art direction and sub-Harryhausen stop-motion animation are among the trippiest and grungiest of the era. In typical Shout! fashion, this latest Corman Cult Classic is stacked with extras like double commentary by writer/fan Stephen Romano, interviews, behind-the-scenes stuff, deleted scenes, trailers ’n’ more goodies. 
Also Available
Dean Spanley (Alliance) It comes as little surprise that Dean Spanley didn’t receive a wide theatrical release after premiering at TIFF ’08. Why? Probably due to a loopy premise that has something to do with Sam Neill drinking an exotic elixir than makes him recall his past life as a dog. Peter O’Toole instills the film with a credible emotional backbone as Spanley’s former master, and makes the experience curiously and unabashedly sentimental — and one that’s weird and, weirdly, worth sitting through. Extras:interviews, making-of.  
Bloodsport + Time Cop (Warner) When it comes to shitty action movies, no other decade did it like the 1980s. There were Norris, Stallone, Seagal, Lundgren and Arnie but, for some reason, Jean-Claude Van Damme was a jump kick above the rest, and Bloodsport was his crowning achievement. Twenty-odd years later, it’s now available on Blu-ray, paired with JCVD’s much less desirable Time Cop. In Bloodsport, Van Damme plays an AWOL US soldier who travels to Hong Kong to sign up for an underground martial arts tournament known as the “Kumite.” It's all based on a true story — cross my heart. Extras would be swell.  
Dolemite: The Total Experience (Xenon) From Snoop Dogg to House Party, Rudy Ray Moore’s rapping pimp Dolemite has proven to be a legendary icon in the annals of African-American pop culture (big ups also go to supporting character Creeper the Hamburger Pimp, who was the inspiration behind Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Baby, I Got Your Money” music video).  Blaxploitation cult jewel Dolemite, from 1975, may seem a little rough around the edges, but its raw charms are not lost on this critic. The same goes for the much sillier Human Tornado, Moore’s brain-melting follow-up which takes the character into comically incoherent territory. If that film isn’t confused enough, we also get sequels Petey Wheatstraw, a.k.a. the devil’s son-in-law, and Disco Godfather, which is not nearly as wonderful as its title suggests. This is one of the foremost blaxploitation franchises, but you might want to bail after the first or second entry. For better and worse, things get increasingly unintelligible as the series progresses. Extras: nothin’ but 680 minutes of pure Dolemite.