Some personal favorites are featured in this week's DVD offerings.
Day the World Ended and The She Creature
I was elated to learn that Lion's Gate Entertainment is releasing some of the early films made by American International Pictures to DVD. AIP, as it was known to fans, dominated the drive-ins of this country in the 1950s, 60s and '70s with the series of horror films based on Edgar Allan Poe stories, the "Beach Party" movies and many more. The studio was the stomping ground of many young and angry directors such as Roger Corman, Brian DePalma and Martin Scorcese.
Because the studio was dissolved many years ago, its films have had a hit or miss record of being released to the home video market. Many of the key early films, such as "Day the World Ended" and "The She Creature," were the subjects of illegal bootleg copies made by fans.
Now Lion's Gate Entertainment has started releasing some other early AIP films. This double bill is close to my heart as my late friend Alex Gordon made the films. Gordon was a life-long film fan who achieved what so many fans would like to do: make movies.
At AIP he produced a number of the studio's early films. He is the executive producer on "Day the World Ended" and was the producer on "The She Creature." Gordon has a great style, which has since been picked up by Quentin Tarantino. He cast his films with actors who meant something to him from his boyhood.
That's why in "The She Creature" we see such performers from the 1930s and '40s as Chester Morris and Tom Conway and why also western character actor Raymond Hatton pops up in "Day the World Ended."
Are the films good? "Day the World Ended," directed by Roger Corman, is one of the dozens of films made in the 1950s that capitalized on the threat of nuclear war and atomic radiation. It's on the talky side with adequate performances, but it's not a memorable film except for the monster constructed by Paul Blasidell. I had fun watching it, though.
"The She Creature" is something else, though. Scenery-chewing performances and an outrageous monster costume match an over-the-top premise of a hypnotist who can call a million-year old monster to the present day.
The result is a delightfully cheesy horror romp. Director Edward Cahn had a nickname of "Fast Eddie" for his efficiency on low-budget film, but he brought some actual atmosphere to the film.
If you love the movies you saw at the drive-in or want to discover them, this double bill is a good one at which to start.
Greg The Bunny
Why is it when people want to do something really edgy they do it with puppets? I suppose since puppets are associated with childhood, we can't really imagine puppets smoking, drinking and performing anti-social behavior.
That forbidden feeling is what made Peter Jackson's anti-Muppet film "Meet the Feebles" such a cult classic and in part is what propels the humor in "Greg the Bunny."
Although there was a short-lived FOX sitcom of the same name and featuring some of the same characters, this new two-disc DVD set features the "Bunny" episodes from the Independent Film Channel.
They are all parodies of independent films and feature puppet performers Greg the Bunny and Warren DeMontague in their own versions of "Easy Rider," "Pulp Fiction," and "Annie Hall," among others.
Generally the parodies are clever and the exchange between the puppets who are treated as if they are real are funny in a very dysfunctional way.
This brand of humor isn't for everyone, but I can't resist a rabbit puppet doing a spot-on impersonation of Woody Allen.
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