Video Vault – February 16, 2022 | Movie


GORBACHEV. PARADISE (Icarus Films Home Video): Writer/director Vitaliy Mansky’s award-winning feature documentary (originally titled Gorbachev. paradise) is an explicit profile of Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the Soviet Union who presided over the fall of communism in the late 1980s.

The venerable Gorbachev, long in the spotlight, reflects on his legacy, which has secured him a permanent place in world history, making him revered in some circles, but not all (notably in his own country). It’s a bit slower and a bit stooped, but can still engage in sharp, intelligent discourse on world politics, with wry, wise, and still relevant observations. He is fully aware that his time is up, but can reflect on it with a wry, sometimes cynical eye. Having lost his wife Raisa over 20 years ago, he is a solitary and solitary man, but he still has the affection of friends and admirers.

Gorbachev. Paradise is a contemplative and compassionate portrait of a lion in winter. It is a beautiful and worthy tribute to a visionary who became one out of necessity and opportunism. Regrets? As the song says, he has a few – but these are overshadowed by the impact he’s had in his life, which will continue to resonate long after he – and us – are gone. In Russian with English subtitles, available on DVD ($29.98). ***


AN ANGEL FOR SATAN (Severin Films/MVD Entertainment Group): Cult siren Barbara Steele plays a dual role – one good, one bad – in writer/director Carmillo Mastrocinque’s 1966 gothic film (originally titled An angel for Satana), located in a superstitious 19and19th century Italian village where the statue of a supposed witch has just been unearthed. Guess what happens next…and guess who it happens to? This marked Steele’s final Italian horror film, and it makes its official US debut in a special Blu-ray edition ($34.95 retail) that includes audio commentary (including one with Steele), soundtracks- ads and other bonuses.

“BOB HOPE BLU-RAY” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Beloved Bob Hope (1903-2003) leads a pair of vintage comedies, available on Blu-ray (each $24.95 retail): The 1946 Adaptation from Booth Tarkington’s novel Mr Beaucaire, directed by George Marshall and starring Joan Caulfield, Patric Knowles, Marjorie Reynolds, Joseph Schildkraut, Cecil Kellaway and Reginald Owen; and where there is life (1947), with Signe Hasso, William Bendix, George Coulouris, Dennis Hoey, George Zucco and Harry Von Zell.

CALL TO LOVE (FilmRise/MVD Entertainment Group): Kristin Fairweather directed this contrived romantic comedy (originally titled In pursuit of one) starring Karissa Lee Staples as a podcaster who tries to locate handsome mechanic Tajh Bellow’s dream girl, only to find herself falling in love with him instead. The leads are highly photogenic, but this fatally perky endeavor follows a totally predictable path, available on DVD ($19.95 retail). *½

THE IRON FLAG (88 Films/MVD Entertainment Group): Writer/director Cheh Chang’s 1980 R-rated martial arts extravaganza (originally titled qi men tie and also published as The death thrower) stars Philip Kwok as a disgraced college student entangled in betrayal and violence following the murder of the Iron Flag clan master, available on Blu-ray ($29.95 retail), with options Mandarin (with English subtitles) and English audio, audio commentary, booklet and collector’s poster.

FRANCE (Kino Lorber): Writer/director Bruno Dumont’s 2017 satirical black comedy stars Lea Seydoux as a famous journalist whose life and career spin out of control after she is involved in a freak car crash. In French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail).

Ghost Riders (Verdugo Entertainment/MVD Entertainment Group): Producer/director/editor Alan Stewart’s 1987 R-rated debut details the unintended doings in a small Southwestern town when the ghosts of a 19andA gang of outlaws of the century returns to exact revenge on the descendants of those who hanged their leader 100 years ago. Bonus features include audio commentary, retrospective and vintage documentaries, original trailer, and more, available on DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail).

HIRUKO THE GOBLIN (Mondo Macabro/CAV Distributing): Originally titled Yokai Hanta: Hirukodirector/screenwriter/editor Shinya Tsukamoto, 1991 adaptation of the popular Daijiro Morohoshi manga series Kairyu-sai no yoru – tyokai hanta pits disgraced scientist Kenji Sawada and high school student Masaki Kudou (in his latest feature to date) against the title character, a malevolent goblin bent on unleashing the forces of evil upon the world. In Japanese with English subtitles, available on DVD ($29.95 retail), packed with audio commentary, archival interviews, previews and more.

BODY THIEVES INVASION (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): The Blu-ray arc ($29.95 retail) of director Philip Kaufman’s award-winning 1978 adaptation of Jack Finney’s classic sci-fi novel, with San Francisco under siege by pods that reproduce human beings. Witty, spooky and thoroughly satisfying, with a top-notch cast including Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Leonard Nimoy, Veronica Cartwright, Jeff Goldblum, Art Hindle and cameos from Robert Duvall and the star and director of the 1956 version : Kevin McCarthy and Don Siegel. Bonus features include audio commentary, retrospective and vintage featurettes and interviews, theatrical trailer, and more. Rated PG. ***½

GHOST OF THE SHOPPING CENTER: ERIC’S REVENGE (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): A limited-edition two-disc Blu-ray ($49.95 retail) of director Richard Friedman’s obvious and inevitable(?) 1989 update to Gaston Leroux’s classic tale The Phantom of the Opera, starring Derek Rydall as a disfigured teenager who wreaks blood havoc on the suburban mall built on the ruins of his home, which was burned down by rogue developer Jonathan Goldsmith. This late addition to the slasher cycle is reasonably well done if predictable, with an OK cast including Kari Whitman, Gregory Scott Cummins, Kimber Sissons, Rob Estes (in his feature debut), Ken Foree (wasted), Pauly Shore (! ), and Morgan Fairchild (whose on-screen fate was leaked in the movie’s commercials!) as the corrupt mayor. Bonus features include three (!) different releases, audio commentary, retrospective documentary, collector’s book, lobby cards and poster, domestic and international trailers, and more. To classify. **

THE PIANO (The Criterion Collection): A top contender at the Oscars this year for The power of the dogJane Campion caused a worldwide sensation with this deservedly acclaimed 1993 drama starring Holly Hunter as a mute woman who travels with her precocious daughter (Anna Paquin) to New Zealand in the 19and century to live with wealthy landowner Sam Neill, only to have his attentions diverted by earthy handyman Harvey Keitel. A penetrating and refreshing adult portrayal of desire, passion and obsession, which deservedly won Oscars for Hunter as Best Actress, Paquin (in her first feature) as Best Actress in a second. role and Campion for Best Original Screenplay, with additional nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design and Best Editing. Unquestionably one of the best films of 1993. The Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) and 4K Ultra HD combo ($49.95 retail) includes retrospective and vintage interviews, Campion’s short film in 2006 water log, and more. Rated R.***½

DEATH SCHOOL (Mondo Macabro/CAV Distributing): The Blu-ray arc ($29.95 retail) of the award-winning 1975 gothic exploitation thriller (originally titled The college of the Muerte) put in 19andVictorian London of the last century, where girls from a London orphanage are brainwashed and turned into prostitutes by demented local surgeon Dean Selmier. Bonus features include Spanish (with English subtitles) and English audio options, audio commentary, and previews.

SEOBOK: PROJECT CLONE (Well Go USA Entertainment): Writer/director Lee Yong-ji makes his feature film production debut with this award-winning sci-fi action blast starring Gong Yoo as a former intelligence agent hardened man tasked with transporting the first human clone (Park Bo-Gum in the title role) to a safe haven, only to encounter various villains bent on stopping them – by any means necessary. In English and Korean with English subtitles, available on DVD ($19.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail).

THEY SAY NOTHING REMAINS THE SAME (Film Movement): The award-winning 2019 drama from actor/musician-turned-writer/editor/director Joe Odagiri (originally titled Aru Sendo no Hanashi) stars Akira Emoto as an elderly smuggler whose livelihood becomes obsolete when a bridge is built nearby, forcing him to face an uncertain future. In Japanese with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail), which includes the 2020 Japanese short film School radio at Major Tom.

THE UNIVERSALITY OF EVERYTHING (IndiePix Films): For his award-winning feature debut, documentary filmmaker Andres Bronnimann turns the camera to his longtime friend Emad, a Yemeni refugee now living in Vancouver, as they examine human migration and its contemporary impact on issues as disparate as climate change, international politics, terrorism and the simple concept of identity, seen from an outside perspective. Well done and to the point, but ultimately repetitive and even self-indulgent. The DVD ($24.95 retail) includes audio commentary. **½

A WALK IN THE SUN (Kit Parker Films/MVD Entertainment Group): A two-disc “collector’s edition” DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.95 retail) of Lewis Milestone’s exceptional 1945 adaptation of Harry Joe Brown’s bestseller in 1944, dramatizing the exploits of a platoon of American soldiers in 1943 Italy, with an unparalleled star ensemble including Dana Andrews, Richard Conte, Lloyd Bridges, John Ireland (in his feature debut), Sterling Holloway, Herbert Rudley , George Tyne, Steve Brodie, Huntz Hall and narration by Burgess Meredith. One of the most realistic combat films of its day, it was critically acclaimed but a box office disappointment, likely due to audiences not wanting to see WWII again so soon after. . Well-acted, well-paced and utterly believable – a true classic. Bonus features include audio commentary, retrospective featurettes, theatrical trailer, John Huston’s acclaimed 1945 short documentary The Battle of San Pietro, and more. ****

(Copyright 2022, Mark Burger)