A lot of vintage television, a very poor science fiction fantasy film and a pretty funny buddy comedy are featured in this week's DVD review column.
Okay, let's get the worst out of the way first. I've sat through an enormous amount of badly done science fiction, fantasy and horror films in my day and the worst all share one thing: someone actually thought a terrible script brought to the screen by an incompetent director with amateur actors was actually a sensible enterprise.
Because of a numbingly bad story, cheesy special effects, gratuitous nudity and sex scenes, boring gore and a non-scary monster or two, these films fail to even pass the "Mystery Science Theater 3000" test for unintentional entertainment.
"Dark Rising" - what the hell does that title means? - falls into that category of not offering even a moment of entertainment, intended or not.
The film is about a girl who is whisked away to another dimension to be trained by some government entity into a demon slayer. Twenty years later, she is accidentally summoned back to this dimension along with a demon who kills off a camping party comprised of a lovesick nerd, his horny male friend and the nerd's ex-girlfriend who has brought along her new girlfriend just to torture her ex.
Hijinks ensue - a supposed fun combination of sexy women and monster bashing.
Brigitte Kingsley produced and stars in this film. She's married to the director. She's apparently an up and coming actress in Canada where this film is actually spawning a spin-off television show.
The mind boggles at the thought.
And no, I didn't watch any of the extras.
I Love You, Man
Is Paul Rudd the relatively unsung hero of the new generation of comedy? As much as I'm a fan of Seth Rogen, Rudd is just as big a draw in my book and this film is a funny, often insightful look at male friendship and how it is supposed to change with age and responsibility.
Rudd plays Peter Klaven, an ambitious real estate agent who is about to marry the girl of his dreams. The only problem is that he really doesn't have any close male friends for his best man. He embarks on a quest to find some buddies with no success until he finds slacker investment agent Sydney Fide (Jason Segel). Syd is his direct opposite and true "bromance" follows, nearly toppling his marriage plans.
The film is funny, although I thought some scenes could have been edited a bit to improve the pacing.
Rudd's slight uptight guy and Segel's arrested adolescent are the Felix and Oscar for a new generation. They have good chemistry and I could see a sequel in the works.
The extras include the usual items including a funny and elaborate gag reel.
Liberace: Greatest Songs
Comic Legends: Dick Van Dyke, Phyllis Diller, Tim Conway, Redd Foxx and Groucho Marx
MPI Home Video has been raiding the vaults for these two collections of vintage television appearances by some familiar names to Baby Boomers and their parents.
The Liberace collection offers over five hours of clips from his syndicated television show first seen in the mid-1950s. This was the show that truly brought him fame. Because it was syndicated to local stations, the shows were filmed and they have a very contemporary look. The films look great in this collection as well.
Each musical number is not shown from one to two static perspectives but involves quite a bit of editing, not unlike a modern music video.
MPI has chosen not to show the show intact, but rather has broken them up by song - and it's quite an odd collection that shows how Liberace straddled the classical and popular music genres.
Liberace simply doesn't perform the number; he introduces it by speaking directly into the camera and then presents it with often-humorous shtick. The show was years before he would appear onstage in fur coats and hot pants, but he was clearly very much a showman even at that time.
If you are a Liberace fan, this collection is a must.
The four-disc "Comic Legends" is a very mixed bag. The Tim Conway disc is comprised of skits he performed on "The Hollywood Palace," a variety show that ran in the mid-1960s. The Diller disc is also a collection of stand-up routines and skits from various variety shows.
The Dick Van Dyke disc is specifically his appearances on singer Pat Boone's variety show that ran in the late 1950s before Van Dyke starred in the sitcom than made him famous.
For me, the Groucho Marx material was the most interesting. I can't find any information on a show from probably the early 1970s called "One Man Show," but that is the source material for an hour of Marx doing a little stand-up, a little interaction with audience members and an interview about his long career. An extra on the disc is a Marx appearance on "Hollywood Palace" from several years before.
The Redd Foxx appearance is also from "One Man Show" and illustrates that Foxx certainly could do stand-up without his legendary "blue" material that made his party records best sellers in the 1960s.
Is this collection good? If you were a hardcore fan of any of these performers this material would probably be a welcomed addition to your library.