With 12 movies crammed onto three DVDs, it goes without saying that the fidelity of the 19 hours of cinema in this Cult Classics set is pretty awful. Of course, lo-fi is the best way to appreciate most of these movies, which were produced by Crown International, a company best known for its far better drive-in exploitation fare like Chain Gang Women and The Van. Unfortunately, most of these flicks are from the bottom of Crown’s already bottom-heavy barrel, and more than half are easily forgettable. Still, seeing Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings in their late ’60s heyday (1967’s Road to Nashville) would be a treat even if the movie wasn’t so hilariously cheap. Meanwhile, 1989’s My Mom’s A Werewolf (marquee star: Marcia Wallace), 1982’s Liar’s Moon (with Matt Dillon as, of course, a kid from the wrong side of the tracks and Yvonne De Carlo as a super-campy matron of a boarding house) and 1987’s Deathrow Gameshow are treats from the waning days of drive-ins. (available now)
Special Features: none
Costello (Johnny Hallyday) is a French chef who happens to be skilled in the art of killing. He has a special set of skills, you see, and those skills come in real handy when thugs in Macau slaughter his daughter, her husband and Costello’s grandchildren. The chef enlists local thugs and, well, his own unending rage for a shoot-’em-up that looks absolutely gorgeous but vanishes into its own ridiculousness toward the end. (Did I mention Costello’s also losing his memory as the mission goes along?) Even so, director Johnnie To is one of the most reliable entertainers in Hong Kong cinema and he throws in enough improbable set pieces and dead-eyed gunplay to make it worth the effort, both for Costello and the audience. (available now)
Special Features: Making-of featurette
One look at the back cover of the DVD for this basketball drama and you find so many contradictions of taste that you might rather be the basketball than take a chance on The Winning Season. Slathered in soft-focus gloss, a mustachioed Sam Rockwell appears alongside an earnest Emma Roberts (It’s Kind of a Funny Story) and a grinning, possibly shady Rob Corddry. You learn that Rooney Mara’s in it, too, and it was a Sundance selection. The credits list Rockwell himself as an executive producer. Promising, right? “Uplifting sports comedy,” boasts the description. Uh-oh. “Written and directed by James C. Strouse” litters the bottom, and nightmares of Strouse’s previous work, the über-saccharin Grace is Gone begin. But go ahead and take the plunge. You know what’s coming – a down-on-his-luck coach redeems himself through the earned love and respect of his formerly terrible players – but getting there is a surprisingly tender delight. Strouse allows Rockwell’s character to be flawed and seems to really enjoy his time in Clichéland, an admirable quality that can turn a formula into a potent brew. See also: 2000’s wonderfully dorky The Replacements. (available now)
Special Features: none
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