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They Live: Collector's Edition (Blu-ray)

SHOUT! FACTORY

MOVIE C+

SPECIAL FEATURES B-

BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 5.25

(OUT OF 10)

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Horror-director John Carpenter went sci-fi for this Reagan-era thriller about aliens among us. Wrestler Roddy Piper plays a drifter who puts on a pair of sunglasses and discovers that society is under a state of mind control—and skull-faced aliens are looking to take us down.

The movie hasn't aged well, and Carpenter draws a rather bad performance out of Meg Foster, as well as Piper, who should have stuck to wrestling. Still, it's worth watching for the Roddy Piper-Keith David smackdown that goes on forever. The fight seems to never end, yet it's awesome.

This was a grand idea hampered by a relatively low budget. Still, some of the political viewpoints here remain relevant today.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Highlights include a spirited commentary from Carpenter and Piper, along with a new Carpenter interview.


Planes, Trains and Automobiles (Blu-ray)

PARAMOUNT

MOVIE A

SPECIAL FEATURES B-

BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 8

(OUT OF 10)

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John Hughes, king of the teen movie, made his best film when he went back to adults and cast Steve Martin and John Candy together. This "hell on the road" movie about a guy (Martin) trying to get home for Thanksgiving with the unhelpful help of a shower-curtain-ring-salesman (Candy) is a comedy classic.

It's been a quarter-century since Martin first got picked up by his testicles, and Candy set a rental car on fire. One could've made an argument for both of these guys getting Oscar nominations. They took seriously dramatic approaches to their roles, and those performances contained some career-best comedic flourishes. Martin's rental-car tirade is the stuff of cinematic legend, and Candy's "Mess Around" dance while driving remains hilariously precious.

SPECIAL FEATURES: There are some great new features on Hughes, including archival interviews and new sit-downs with Lea Thompson, Matthew Broderick and Alan Ruck. You also get some vintage footage of a glowing Martin promoting the film, and praising his co-star and director in a way that lets you know he was very proud of the movie.


Rosemary's Baby

CRITERION COLLECTION

MOVIE A-

SPECIAL FEATURES B

BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 8

(OUT OF 10)

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Roman Polanski's American debut comes to Blu-ray, and Rosemary's Baby remains a creepy classic. It has demon babies, Ruth Gordon eating cake voraciously, and that crazy pixie haircut by Vidal Sassoon.

Mia Farrow, who had been making waves in television, got perhaps the best role of her career as Rosemary, a Manhattan apartment-dweller and wife to perhaps the biggest dickhead husband that cinema has ever known (played sleazily by John Cassavetes).

Polanski figured out, as Hitchcock did a few years earlier with Norman Bates in Psycho, that the scariest villains are the ones who seem normal. Rosemary's neighbors (played by Oscar winner Gordon and Sidney Blackmer) seem like a kooky old couple, but there sure are strange chants coming through the apartment wall. Rosemary's husband, a washed-up actor reduced to motorcycle commercials, seems to like the kooky neighbors a whole lot—perhaps a little too much.

Farrow plays a great character, emaciated and dazed as something grows inside of her. In any list of the greatest finales of all time, "Hail Satan!" would have to rank high.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Not a whole lot of stuff, but new interviews with Farrow, producer Robert Evans and Polanski get a high grade.


Shazam!

WARNER ARCHIVE

SHOW C-

SPECIAL FEATURES D

DVD GEEK FACTOR 4

(OUT OF 10)

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I used to eat this show up on Saturday mornings. It featured a young man named Billy (Michael Gray) and his mentor (Les Tremayne) traveling around the countryside in a cumbersome RV, fighting crime and teaching kids valuable life lessons. When things would get really bad, Billy would yell: "Shazam!" This would result in him being struck by lightning and transforming into the superhero Captain Marvel.

Watching it as an adult, I can see that the show wasn't very good. Billy's talks with The Elders (Greek gods, one of them voiced by Adam West) were a mixture of animation and live action that was just silly. The life lessons were hilariously simple ("Don't steal cars and go joyriding, kids!"), and the acting was truly bad.

I was shocked to see how prominent Captain Marvel's junk is through his costume. Holy crap—didn't they know kids were watching this shit?

Even though it was a bad show, it made me totally want to get hit by lightning when I was a kid.

SPECIAL FEATURES: You have the option of watching the "Morals" feature, a weekly wrap-up segment in which Captain Marvel would recap the episode's life lesson. Strangely enough, the lesson was never, "Hey, kids, if a strange dude always wearing the same clothes and an old man offer you a ride in their RV, run like hell!" The two were always offering kids rides 30 seconds after they met. Creepy.

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