Once you get past the recent movies hitting DVD, there’s a treasure trove of no-holds-barred TV comedy, contemporary and vintage classics, and some of the craziest cult flicks you’ve ever seen.
Why Aren’t You Watching “Louie” Yet?
Since I can’t directly quote the show’s pushing-it-even-for-basic-cable dialogue, you’re just going to have to take my word that FX’s “Louie” is one of the most daring, hilarious, and brilliant shows on TV right now. And with “Louie: The Complete First Season” out from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, you can find out for yourself. Comedian Louis C.K. draws from his own life as a stand-up, as a middle-aged guy with terrible eating habits, and as a divorced dad on this show, but it’s not the kind of innocuous sitcom-about-a-comic you’ve seen a million times before. “Louie” is relatable, it’s bawdy, and sometimes it even borders on the surreal, but it’s a real TV gem. The DVD includes a handful of goodies, including deleted scenes (and longer versions of included ones), commentary on several episodes, and an episode of the Fox Movie Channel show “Writer’s Draft” wherein C.K. explains his writing process.
And speaking of TV comedy, Shout! Factory continues its release of gems from the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” vaults with two more great episodes: “Gunslinger” is a vintage Roger Corman Western with Beverly Garland as a sheriff’s widow who straps on a badge and a holster to avenge her husband’s death, and “Hamlet” sees Mike Nelson and the ‘bots taking on one of the greatest works of the English language, albeit a German made-for-TV version that they aptly describe as “starchy, pork-filled ‘Hamlet.’”
Pucker Up and Squeeze the Trigger
Criterion Collection offers up a snazzy new edition of Kiss Me Deadly, the classic adaptation of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer novel, directed by the great Robert Aldrich (The Dirty Dozen, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?). By adding a nuclear twist to the original novel, Aldrich crafted one of the all-time great pieces of Cold War paranoia, made all the more entertaining because you can either take the film as a straightforward approach to Hammer’s guns-and-dames style or as a critique of America’s “shoot first and ask questions later” foreign policy. (Hammer tends to create more problems than he solves.) The DVD features essays by Aldrich and critic J. Hoberman and lots of great commentary and documentary extras for fans of the film. And yes, that’s young ingénue Cloris Leachman as the hitchhiker at the beginning of the movie.
Other film classics newly released on DVD include a 20th anniversary edition of Todd Haynes’ Poison (just released, from Zeitgeist Films) — featuring a vintage commentary track, a Q&A from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and on-set polaroids taken by filmmaker Kelly Reichardt (Meek’s Cutoff) — and Jean Renoir’s stab at American film noir, The Woman on the Beach (Warner Archive), starring Joan Bennett and Robert Ryan.
If The Room Was a BET Movie
If you’re a fan of so-bad-they’re-practically-art movies like The Room and Birdemic, you definitely do not want to miss N-Secure, out now from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Cordell Moore – who musters about one-and-a-half facial expressions over the course of the film — stars as a jealous and controlling man whose smothering ways drive off one fiancée (Essence Atkins) and make him an even bigger jerk to a subsequent one (Denise Boutte). This is the kind of movie where you’ll thrill to the ludicrous performances, the overwrought script, and production touches like a “fancy” McMansion where all the bookshelves are full of Reader’s Digest Condensed Novels. Invite some friends over, invent a drinking game or two, and have a ball with the nuttiness of “N-Secure.”
From the Now-You-Can-Ditch-Your-Bootleg-VHS Section
Just in time to rescue my rapidly-fraying videocassette from total burnout, Severin Films gives us the DVD debut of the ultra-bananas 1970s cult classic The Baby (out June 28), about a mother (1950s star Ruth Roman) and two daughters who are raising “Baby”; he happens to be a full-grown man who lives like an infant — crib, high-chair, diapers, the works. It’s one of the more unsettling films to be directed by someone with mainstream Hollywood credentials (Ted Post’s other credits include Magnum Force and Beneath the Planet of the Apes), and The Baby is one of those viral movies that you’ll just have to share with others once it’s blown your mind.
Also out on June 28 from Severin are the early-’80s slasher flicks Bloody Birthday (featuring a naked “Downtown” Julie Brown of MTV fame, alongside actors like Susan Strasberg and José Ferrer, neither at the apex of their careers) and the Australian Nightmares, getting its first uncensored video release in the states. All three DVDs feature interviews with or commentaries by the director of each film.
Duralde is the co-host of the Linoleum Knife podcast; follow him on Twitter at @ADuralde.