The Amityville Horror CollectionMGM
Special Features C+
DVD Geek Factor 2 (out of 10)
When I was younger, one of my claims to fame was that my parents lived down the block from the Amityville Horror when my mom was pregnant with me. I used to scare kids by telling them that was the reason I was really mean. Turns out my parents lived two blocks from the infamous Amityville house two years before I was born, so I was an unintentional liar. My apologies to Joseph Allen of Smithtown, N.Y. To my surprise, I wasn't actually demon-possessed.
As you might imagine, the Amityville house was a big deal to those of us who grew up on Long Island. Driver-education teachers used to make us drive there and gawk at it. (They changed the scary windows!). Nobody believed that it was haunted, but somebody sure as shit killed a bunch of people in there, enough of a reason for gawking.
Gawking at the house was a hell of a lot more interesting than watching the original movie when it came out. James Brolin, as possessed home owner George Lutz, was a laughable, overacting mess. Margot Kidder, just coming off her stint as Lois Lane, had no business taking her clothes off for a film. No business whatsoever. It was appropriate that Rod Steiger's priest got covered with flies, because his acting was crap.
The pacing of this thing is dreary. It's basically a movie where we get to see James Brolin sweat a lot, a viewing pleasure not high on many people's lists (unless their last name happens to be Streisand). It's R-rated for one quick, bloody dream sequence, and that in itself is only good for laughs.
The remake (see the review in this issue) is marginally better, if a little too hyper. Still, it's worlds better than the original, which somehow managed to become one of the most successful independent films of all time. The collection also contains Amityville II: The Possession and Amityville 3-D (it's not presented in 3-D, so there goes the set's only chance for some fun).
Special Features: Four-disc set includes an extra disc of History Channel Documentaries that are interesting to a moderate extent. The original film is the only disc with special features on it, and they stink. Brolin and Kidder sit down for a worthless documentary look back at the film, and some strange parapsychologist delivers a lousy commentary.
Sting: Bring on the NightUniversal Music
Special Features C- DVD Geek Factor 5.5 (out of 10)
God dang it. I just read that Sting is touring with a stripped-down band, eschewing his jazz stylings and adult-contemporary crap for the songs that made him cool: the songs of The Police. When I heard he was touring a few months ago, I didn't even look into it, because the last time I saw him, it was nightmarishly boring. Now he's doing a back-to-basics tour, and he's already left my area. Damn!
This 1985 documentary marked the beginning of a long, strange road for Sting. He had left The Police behind (although he would record a few tracks with Andy Summers in 1987) and toured with jazz band The Blue Turtles featuring Branford Marsalis. The film, directed by Michael Apted and depicting Mr. Sting as a little too arrogant for his own good, has its moments. Some to the concert footage is exciting. I can personally attest to this being a good band (I saw them at Radio City Music Hall during the tour this film chronicles).
Overall, the film is a bit boring, sort of like the lion's share of Sting's solo career, which peaked a long time ago with The Soul Cages. Let's hope that this latest tour gets him in a rocking mood again, and that his next album will make adult-contemporary radio programmers vomit.
Special Features: This contains a few music videos, including the fun one for "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free," which depicted Branford Marsalis as a ghost who only came to life when he blew his horn.
AC/DC: Family JewelsSony
Special Features F
DVD Geek Factor 6 (for fans only) (out of 10)
Fans of these heavy-metal gods will have themselves a blast with this two-disc collection of live performances and video clips. One of my all-time favorite music videos is "Thunderstruck," where somebody came up with the very cool idea of putting a camera underneath a glass runway while guitarist Angus Young did his demonic Chuck Berry move. Actually, a lot of the videos are like "Thunderstruck" (the band lip-synchs as a rabid crowd sings along), and that's an OK thing if you are really drunk. The video for "You Shook Me All Night Long" is good for a few laughs, and the live clip for "Baby, Please Don't Go," with late singer Bon Scott dressed as Pippi Longstocking, is well worth having in your music video collection. A moment where he leaps from an altar during a cheesy video for "Let There Be Rock" looks like it must've resulted in broken bones. The man was crazy.
Special Features: None.