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Monster DVDs

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Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
Gregory Walcott, Tom Keene, et al.
DVD; Unrated; All Regions
Avg. Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars

Sometimes a movie achieves such legendary status that it can't quite live up to its reputation. Plan 9 from Outer Space is not one of these movies. It is just as magnificently terrible as you've heard. Plan 9 is the story of space aliens who try to conquer the Earth through resurrection of the dead. Psychic Criswell narrates ("Future events such as these will affect you in the future!") as police rush through the cemetery, occasionally clipping the cardboard tombstones in their zeal to find the source of the mysterious goings-on. More than just a bad film, Plan 9 is something of a one- stop clearinghouse for poor cinematic techniques: The time shifts whimsically from midnight to afternoon sun, Tor Johnson flails desperately in an attempt to rise from his coffin, and flying saucers zoom past on clearly visible strings. Fading star Bela Lugosi tragically died during filming, but such a small hurdle could not stop writer-producer-director Ed Wood. Lugosi is ingeniously replaced with a man who holds a cape across his face and might as well have "NOT BELA LUGOSI" stamped on his forehead. Plan 9 is so sweetly well- intentioned in both its message and its execution that it's impossible not to love it. And if you don't, well, as Eros says, "You people of Earth are idiots!" --Ali Davis


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From Dusk Till Dawn: Dimension Collector's Series (1996)
Harvey Keitel, George Clooney, et al.
DVD; Rated R; Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
Avg. Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars

From a match made in heaven comes a movie spawned in hell! Young hotshot director Robert Rodriquez (El Mariachi, Desperado) teamed up with Pulp Fiction auteur Quentin Tarantino (offering his services as writer and co-star) to make this outrageous, no-holds-barred hybrid of high-octane crime and gruesome horror. QT plays Richard Gecko, a borderline psychopath who breaks his career-criminal brother, Seth (George Clooney), out of prison, after which they rob a bank and leave a trail of dead and wounded in their bloody wake. Then they hijack a mobile home driven by a former Baptist minister (Harvey Keitel) who quit the church after his wife's death and hit the road with his two children (played by Juliette Lewis and Ernest Liu). Heading to Mexico with their hostages, the infamous Gecko brothers arrive at the Titty Twister bar to rendezvous for a money drop, but they don't realize that they've just entered the nocturnal lair of a bloodthirsty gang of vampires! With not-so-subtle aplomb, Rodriguez and Tarantino shift into high gear with a nonstop parade of gore, gunfire, and pointy-fanged mayhem featuring Salma Hayek as a snake-charming dancer whose bite is much worse than her bark. If you're a fan of Tarantino's lyrical dialogue and pop-cultural wit, you'll have fun with the road-movie half of this supernatural horror-comedy, but if your taste runs more to exploding heads and eyeballs, sloppy entrails and morphing monsters, the second half provides a connoisseur's feast of gross-out excess. Bon appétit!


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The Blob - Criterion Collection (1958)
Steve McQueen, et al.
DVD; Rated PG; Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
Avg. Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars

What would the average sensible American do if he encountered a pulsing ball of protoplasm from outer space? That's right: he'd poke it with a stick. Thus begins the endearingly earnest and silly tale of The Blob. Young Steve McQueen takes on his first leading role as, um, Steve, a spunky teenager with plenty of heart. Steve sees the blob kill the local doc, but darn it, none of the town's adults will believe him! Yup, it's up to the teens to save the day! Steve and his trusty girlfriend Jane break their curfews(!) and head off into the night to find the Blob and warn the town. The Blob is a completely enjoyable watch from start to finish, offering the triple pleasures of 1950s morals, gee-whiz acting, and a whole lotta extras running around and screaming. The special effects, though primitive, certainly get the job done, and it is still a treat to watch the Blob ooze its way to its next meal. You may notice that the theme song is surprisingly bouncy for a horror flick ("Beware of the Blob! It creeps, and leaps, and glides and slides across the floor"). It was written by Hal David and a fresh young composer by the name of Burt Bacharach.


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Humanoids from the Deep (1980)
DVD; Rated R; All Regions
Avg. Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars

The peculiar genius of schlock-king Roger Corman is in full bloom with this extremely gory, pointedly offensive homage to 1950s monster movies (with a generous helping of Alien thrown in for good measure), in which a legion of mutated salmon-men terrorize a small town in their search for unwilling female companionship. (Potential viewers should be warned that this movie goes to great lengths to show what earlier films in this genre had only implied.) A guilty pleasure for exploitation fans with a strong stomach and a twisted sense of humor. For what it's worth, director Barbara Peters has claimed that additional shock scenes were inserted by producer Corman without her knowledge. The glop-intensive special effects were devised by Rob Bottin, who later went on to gross out the masses with his work on Seven, Robocop, and John Carpenter's graphic remake of The Thing.


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Dawn of the Dead -- U.S. Theatrical Cut (1979)
David Emge, Ken Foree, et al.
DVD; Rated R; All Regions
Avg. Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars

George Romero's 1978 follow-up to his classic Night of the Living Dead is quite terrifying and gory (those zombies do like the taste of living flesh). But in its own way, it is just as comically satiric as the first film in its take on contemporary values. This time, we follow the fortunes of four people who lock themselves inside a shopping mall to get away from the marauding dead and who then immerse themselves in unabashed consumerism, taking what they want from an array of clothing and jewelry shops, making gourmet meals, etc. It is Romero's take on Louis XVI in the modern world: keep the starving masses at bay and crank up the insulated indulgence. Still, this is a horror film when all is said and done, and even some of Romero's best visual jokes (a Hare Krishna turned blue-skinned zombie) can make you sweat. The "Special Edition" DVD release has a widescreen presentation, theatrical trailer, and Dolby sound.


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Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
Richard Carlson, Julie Adams, et al.
DVD; Unrated; Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
Avg. Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Jack Arnold's horror classic The Creature from the Black Lagoon spawned not one but two iconic images: the web-footed humanoid gill-man with a hankering for women and the leggy, luscious Julia Adams, the object of his desire, swimming the lagoon in a luminous white bathing suit. Not since King Kong has the "beauty and the beast" theme been portrayed in such sexually charged (though chaste) terms. Arnold turns an effectively B-movie plot--a small expedition up a remote Amazon river captures a prehistoric amphibian man, who escapes to wreak havoc on the team and kidnap his bathing beauty--into a moody, stylish, low-budget feature. The jungle exteriors turn from exotic to treacherous when the creature blocks their passage and strands them in the wilds. Much of the film is shot underwater, where the murky dark is animated by shimmering shards of sunlight, creating images both lovely and alien (the studio-built sets of the creature's underground lair are far less naturalistic, but serve their purpose). As with most of Arnold's '50s genre films, he's saddled with a less than magnetic leading man (in this case the colorless but stalwart Richard Carlson) and a conventional script, but he overcomes such limitations by creating a vivid and sympathetic monster (helped immeasurably by a marvelous suit of scales and fins) and establishing a mood thick with atmosphere. The film was originally shot in 3-D.


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Tales from the Crypt Presents Bordello of Blood (1996)
Dennis Miller, Erika Eleniak, et al.
DVD; Rated R; Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
Avg. Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars

Private eye Rafe Guttman (Dennis Miller) is hired by repressed, born-again Katherine (Erika Eleniak) to find her missing bad-boy brother. The trail leads him to a whorehouse run by a thousand-year-old vampire (Angie Everhart) and secretly backed by Katherine's boss, televangelist Jimmy Current (Chris Sarandon, wonderfully insincere and smarmy). Not for the squeamish or the easily offended (but you knew that from the title), Bordello of Blood is pulp horror as it should be--funny, fast, and full of gore. How many movies do you know where naked vampire hookers devour the still-beating hearts of their adolescent clients, or where the hero saves the day with a Super Soaker? Dennis Miller is at his wisecracking best as the oddest private eye since Elliot Gould played Philip Marlowe in The Long Goodbye. Angie Everhart devours her role with relish (yum!). And former Playboy Playmate Erika Eleniak seems to be enjoying the joke that in a movie filled with half-naked women, she's the only one who keeps her clothes on.


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Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, et al.
DVD; Rated R; Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
Avg. Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars

George Romero's classic 1968 zombie-fest (shot in black and white) offers some disturbing images, even decades later. In a Pittsburgh suburb people are being stalked by zombies ravenous for human flesh. In a house whose occupant has already been slain, two separate groups of people unite and board themselves in, hoping to fend off the advancing ghouls. Through radio and TV reports they learn that radiation from outer space is thought to be responsible for the wave of zombie attacks all over the eastern United States. Once the humans are trapped, Romero shifts the focus to the internal feuding between them as they decide how to handle their dreadful situation. What unfolds is an examination of human nature, and of the fear and selfishness that keep many citizens from getting involved in the world's problems. Appropriately, both the zombies and the authorities who later hunt them are equally soulless. This film could also be read as a criticism of white males--it is not merely a coincidence that the film's two most rational, constructive characters are a woman and a black man. It is also no coincidence that the sequel takes place in a mall infested by the undead--a perfect analogy for consumer culture.


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Night of the Living Dead (1968 (1968)
Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, et al.
DVD; Rated R; All Regions
Avg. Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars

10. Cover
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Harvey Keitel, George Clooney, et al.
DVD; Rated R; Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
Avg. Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars

The first half of this hardcore action flick has George Clooney and Quentin Tarentino hijacking a mobile home to get across the border into Mexico. The second half is our heroes fighting off vampires in a strip club. The two don't come together very well, but both halves are executed perfectly with a cutting edge and some very cool dialogue. This film is all about blood, violence, and gore mixed with some T&A, making this a young man's dream movie. Constantly exciting and always taut, "From Dusk till Dawn" is the perfect movie for parties or just hangin out with the guys. The special effects are cool, the direction is slick and the acting is [excellent].




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