Winstar Video

   This underrated sleeper stars the ever-underutilized Mary Stuart Masterson, and child star Jena Malone. Malone gave a riveting performance as the title character in BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA and manages to hold her own against her veteran co-stars. Masterson plays Penny, a bitter, down on her luck poet. In her effort to care for her dying sister Mary (Malone) she has taken the low road to prostitution and drug addiction hoping ease her financial and emotional woes. Mary, on the other hand, is well aware of the value of even the destitute life she has been given and spends her last days trying to pass this legacy on to Penny.
While the story focuses on Mary and Penny, there is also a fabulous collection of characters that rotate around the girls. Delroy Lindo plays The Professor, a neighbor who believes in Penny and her talent but only irritates her with his constant lecturing about her lost potential. The only bond between them is their love for Mary. Ron Leamon, in a beautifully understated piece of acting, plays the soul sick neighbor from a country that “no longer exists” and a town that was burned to the ground. Rounding out the ensemble is D.B. Sweeney as The Prisoner, a fan of Penny’s poetry who begins a pen pal correspondence with Mary, thinking that she is Penny. While all of this could go wrong in a Scorsse script, there is a fine edge of fantasy and good will that allows the viewer a suspension of disbelief from fatalism, beyond the impending death of Mary, and allows the possibility of hope for even the most broken people.
As cliché as the story sounds, the acting and directing along with some well placed special effects make the story endearing and worthwhile. I know “endearing” can be the kiss of death in a cynical world, but in this case it is a good thing. I would recommend this film for anyone looking for a change of pace from the normal doom and gloom. As for the DVD quality, the picture and color are great.

Jane Hinde
Slingshot Entertainment

   A cult favorite among the gen-xers, A BOY AND HIS DOG is set in the post apocalyptic world of the future after the few minutes that constituted World War III. A young cocky Don Johnson is the Boy and the Dog is telepathic. Together they traverse a desert world where canned food is king and women are scarce.
A strange society of Cleaver-ites living below ground and lead by Jason Robards, use a nubile young lady to lure Johnson to a strange underground city complete with full grown pine trees. Their goal: the introduction of new DNA to the gene pool. Johnson thinks this is his chance to fertilize the ladies of the land down under with abandon, but the truth turns out to be a little less fun, and a little more painful, than he imagined. The young, not so innocent girl rescues Johnson and makes a short-lived bid for control of the town. Neither Johnson or the town is very supportive and the girl ends up, well… you should really see the film just for the ending.
Directed by L.Q. Jones in 1975, with a screenplay by Harlan Ellison, A BOY AND HIS DOG predates films like MAD MAX and set the standard for sci fi that mixed the satire of the 50’s and 60’s along with the cynicism of a generation raised in the Nixon era. It is still fun and fascinating to watch after all these years and I found myself appreciating aspects of the film I hadn’t even noticed when I was twelve (go figure). The DVD itself is a bit of a disappointment. Billed as the “Special Collector’s Edition” the transfer looks like it was done from a film print, and an old one at that, and the sound is average.

Carlye Archibeque

Image Entertainment

   An odd little horror film that was originally a Yugoslavian production but then dubbed and released in the U.S. The dubbing is not as bad as most films and the music is reminiscent of a `60’s detective show. Groovy in the way only horror movies with 60’s music can be, the story itself is pure Universal monster rip off. Seven young women have been murdered in their beds in locked rooms and then after they are pronounced dead the bodies disappear. Only the old witch of the village seems to know what’s going on. Enter Interpol Inspector Doren who is modern and hip and listens to his elders which leads him to investigate the grottos of the town. Oh, yeah, and there’s a creepy professor in a castle and his beautiful young assistant. That about covers every cliché in the book. I found myself nodding off, but it was late…The DVD transfer looks to be from a print and the sound is Mono. Add to this the lack of DVD extras and I would suggest this as a rental only for strict horror fans that need to see anything quirky to feel complete.

Image Entertainment

   This film has the deck stacked against it: mono sound, print transfer, Italian with English subtitles, Hitchcock rip off title. The strange thing is that I really found myself enjoying it. This is the least cluncky Bava film I have ever seen.
A young American girl comes to Italy to visit an old family friend. The friend is so old in fact, that she dies on the girls first night in town. Good thing our heroine met that handsome doctor (John Saxon, speaking fluent Italian) who will help her. The problem is there’s a storm, the phone won’t work, and she’s forced to run across a deserted plaza to the hospital to find him in the rain wearing little but a raincoat. Unfortunately, on the way she has a vision of a murder that took place 10 years earlier. Then she faints and a stranger comes by and pours liquor on her and no one believes her when she’s found by police in the morning (dry as a bone by the way.)
The usual mystery ensues and the murderer is revealed. Business as usual, except that it’s all very fun. The film has a certain awareness of itself as a cliché and is more than willing to give the occasional wink to the audience. Saxon is amusing as the concerned doctor/lothario who goes along with a young girl’s obsession because he is smitten with her.
It was also interesting to watch a film in which even the American characters speak Italian fluently. Now I know how the rest of the world feels when they watch our films.

Carlye ArchibequeQUARTERMASS 2 (1957)
Anchor Bay Distribution

   This was the second in the series inspired by the BBC radio series about Professor Quartermass, the man most likely to run into an alien plot to take over the world.
Billed as the ENEMY FROM SPACE when it was released in America, Q2 follows to professor from his chance encounter with a couple that has had a run in with a radioactive pod/rock in a seemingly abandoned town. He goes on to uncover a plot by aliens to change the atmosphere of the earth to suit their needs. In the battle to save the earth, Quartermass battles red tape, zombies and a very large slimy salad-like beast (special effects have come a long way baby.) There is also an especially pleasing turn on the villagers storming the castle. In this case, of course, they storm the secret alien food factory.
This is another fabulous transfer from Anchor Bay. Shot in black and white the images are distinct and clear and there are none of the scratches or dust speckles often seen in transfers of films this old.