Video Reviews

Bigas Luna, Director
Michael Lerner
Anchor Bay Entertainment [DVD]

  This is a weird one boys and girls. Staring that little woman from Poltergiest and directed by the Spanish director of “Jamon, Jamon”, Bigas Luna, this is a movie with in a movie, within a movie…or is it.
The DVD extras are slim, a Spanish theatrical trailer, and it has a widescreen presentation, but the transfer is good and it’s always fun to see trailers from foreign countries or any trailer before MTV for that matter.
The lead character, John (Michael Lerner) has an overbearing mother in the small form of Alice (Zelda Rubinstein). She is relentless and through some displaced anger about opticians and her son’s failing eyesight, she sends John on a mission to claim all the eyes in the city. You can imagine the special effects, I will not elaborate. Just about the time you have settled into the outline of the film, we learn that it is just that, a film. A film being watched by movie goers who are innocently sitting in a theater with a real killer.
While this sounds cheesy and familiar, I can tell you that Bigas has a way with cheesy and the reason it sounds familiar is because this film, released originally in 1986, is one of the films that rip off directors us as a base for their films. There are some fabulous scenes here. The stuff that horror films are made of (no not blood splatter guys.) The final scene is not to be missed a penultimate bit of filmmaking where the worlds of our killers, real and celluloid, coincide and explode. This might not be a must own for everyone, but I would say it is a must see for all the eyes in the city.

Jane Hinde

Anne Fontaine, Director
Starring Miou-Miou, Charles
Berling, & Stanislas Merhar
French w/English subtitles
Strand Releasing

   I have seen this plot before. An innocent, generally happy couple, with some vague underlying discontent about their lives, befriends a younger man. They welcome him into their lives, where he shatters their complacency and notions of themselves.
Perhaps because I have seen the same storyline, this particular version, despite some new twists, didn’t seem to add much to it. I already knew, in general, what would happen, and the surprises of this version were neither surprising enough, nor revelatory enough, to spark my interest.
Or perhaps I am too used to American film making style, with its exaggerated everything, and found the French manner too low key to build the necessary tension. This situation was not helped by the acting. While the sexual tension between the wife (Miou-Miou) and the young man (Stanislas Merhar) was quite real, Charles Bering’s portrayal of the husband seemed far too disengaged. Through most of the movie, he barely reacted to the interloper’s provocations, so the inevitable climax felt forced rather than natural.
Overall, Dry Cleaning merely echoes the cliches of its well-worn story, rather than finding new truths in it.

G. Murray Thomas

Reviews continued in the next column

John Landis, Director
Starring Bill Bixby, Big Jim Slade,
Donald Sutherland & David Zucker
Anchor Bay Entertainment [DVD]

Kentucky Fried Movie

   While putting this on my DVD player I was worried that yet another fond memory from my teenage years was about to bite the dust. It seems that few things are ever as good as our 15 year old memories have made them. Luckily KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE is one of the accurate ones. I was surprised by how well the humor held up.
For those of you who avoided potty/sex humor in the `70’s. KFM was a collection of skits put together by ANIMAL HOUSE director John Landis before anyone knew he had a career ahead of him. The writers David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker would go on to do the AIRPLANE and NAKED GUN movies. Witness if you will their first throws of humor.
Small skits include the famous “Catholic High School Girls in Trouble” that lampoons the seamy side of the school yard fence with shots of breasts in showers so blatant they can only be funny. There is also, “The Wonderful World of Sex” in which Big Jim Slade must save the day for an over excited guy on his first date. The big winner though is the ENTER THE DRAGON parody “Fistfull of Yen” in which a lisping martial arts expert must defeat evil and get the girl against all odds. Odd being the operative word.
The DVD has the usual widescreen presentation, audio commentary by John Landis, all the writers and producer Robert Weiss who has produced most of the SNL movies ever made. Also of note are the on-set home movies that the boys were allegedly making to send home to mama which are very fun, though occasionally tedious as all home movies are. Rumor also has it that one of the primaries wasn’t happy with the DVD cover and it will be redone making the current release very collectable.

Carlye Archibeque

George A. Romero, Director
Starring Ed Harris, Tom Savini
Anchor Bay Entertainment
  Perhaps one of the strangest releases of the 80’s, KNIGHTRIDERS is the tale of a troupe (yes troupe) of motorcycle riders living the life of Camelot and touring with a Renaissance Faire. They dress in armor, use lances for battle and follow their king Billy (Ed Harris). But there is trouble in paradise. Aside from the Lancelot, Gwenevere tryst in the making, Morgan, played by Tom Savini (the hilarious Sex Machine in FROM DUSK TILL DAWN), is looking to take over the crown and thus the troupe.
The amazing thing is that, despite the melodramatic acting and pre DTS sound, the film works on a lot of levels. The driving force of the believability is the marvelous acting by Ed Harris. Harris never wavers from making you believe that he is the king of Camelot and has a destiny that must be fulfilled. The story is really about idealistic adherence to honor meeting the opportunistic foe of greed. Even though it was shot in 1981, I guess Romero already had his hand on the pulse of the 80’s. Morgan wants to take over the troupe so he can take the show national make a lot of money and get a lot of chicks. Billy wants the riders to maintain their current status and retain their honor. After a lot of jousting and a run in with the local law Morgan and Billy must fight to determine the fate of the troupe and ultimately their own fates. The ending is fabulous.
The DVD includes the normal widescreen, audio commentary by Romero and some of his stars (not Harris though) that is interesting if only because of Romero’s dedication. Also present are behind the scenes home movies and the theatrical trailer. Worth its weight in kitsch