November 3, 2010

The Larry Sanders Show

Also this week: The Terror Within + Dead Space, Not of this Earth, Giallo, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz

Highlight of the Week
The Larry Sanders Show: The Complete Series (Shout! Factory) Celebrities playing mock versions of  themselves may not seem like must-see TV anymore but it was nearly two decades ago, when it was invented and perfected on The Larry Sanders Show. The series starred Garry Shandling as a late-night talk show host with a different name, but he was essentially himself, a motif that offered real celebs an opportunity to do pseudo-interviews on a fake show within a fake show. Seinfeld is widely hailed as the crown jewel of ’90s sitcoms, but that cast’s reunion on Curb Your Enthusiasm last year owed a great debt to Shandling’s self-aware send-up, and so do the showbiz-skewering yuks on 30 Rock. As with their DVD release of Shandling’s similar previous show, the fourth-wall-breaking It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, Shout! Factory packs in every episode, along with primo extras such as a new intro, interviews, making-ofs, outtakes, deleted scenes and a handsome booklet. 

Also Available
The Terror Within + Dead Space (Shout! Factory) Just when it looked as if Roger Corman was done riding the Alien wave, in 1989 he produced The Terror Within, a post-apocalyptic tingler in which a group of scientists (among them George Kennedy) are holed up in an underground lab, where a fetus turns out to be a stomach-bursting gargoyle. (How innovative.) Also included in this twofer is Dead Space, a rip-off of Corman’s Forbidden World, itself a rip-off of Alien. Like any B movie worth your time, both guilty pleasures feature creatures, blood, babes, bloody babes and cheapo scares. Extras: as with last month’s Corman doubleheader, viewers are encouraged to opt for “The Grindhouse Experience,” which plays both titles back to back, accompanied by goofy trailers.
Not of This Earth (Shout! Factory) It’s remarkable what zero budget and even less plot can achieve if you add one nudie starlet to the mix. Directed by Jim Wynorski — whose resumé includes such titles as The Hills Have Thighs and The Breastford Wives — this 1988 remake of Roger Corman’s ’50s flick opens with a montage of nearly a dozen better monster movies before telling its own lurid story of a space vampire who hires a buxom blond nurse (Traci Lords) to help him score blood transfusions. At just over an hour, this barely ranks as a feature. On the other hand, how many movies have a strip-o-gram scene? Extra:new Traci Lords interview.  
Giallo (eOne) Being an admirer of Dario Argento’s contributions to horror, it’s pains me to report that he still hasn’t made a half-decent film in decades. From 1970’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage through 1987’s Opera, he created freaky supernatural stories and elegant giallos. His latest direct-to-DVD dud is named after what Argento is no longer a master of. A woman visiting Italy  teams up with a police inspector (played by Adrien Brody, who is now suing to have this DVD banned because he wasn’t compensated for the work) to find her kidnapped sister. There is little style or suspense, and the gore isn’t nearly as Grand Guignol as it was during the director’s prime. Extras: niente
Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz (Alliance) Before Edgar Wright’s hipster-savvy ode to our town (for the terminally uninformed: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World) hits DVD shelves next week, why not revisit his previous features via cutting-edge Blu-ray? Not only do they look and sound better than ever, they’re also housed in posh tin cases featuring stylish cover art. Shaun of the Dead is clearly the champ, but extras onHot Fuzz include five commentaries, best of which is a geeked-out chat between Wright and Quentin Tarantino. The duo doesn’t so much discuss the feature as provide obscure film trivia, making this a must-listen for fans.