January Sci-Fi and Fantasy DVD Releases  - By Steven Sawicki
Steve's back with an unforgiving look at the DVD releases for January. Did director Paul Verhoeven offend him personally? Are the damn aliens in his basement keeping him up nights?

For the answer to the last question you'll have to buy a copy of Absolute Magnitude and read Steve's novella; "Invisible Friends" for yourself. I know every word is true, by the way, because the dog swears to it.

Hollow Man (2000)
Rated: RRelease Date: January 2, 2001. 
Starring: Kevin Bacon, et al. Director: Paul Verhoeven
Paul Verhoeven proves once again that you donít need a script, good acting or decent directing to make a movie.  This Invisible Man rip off was surreptitiously denied use of the name by the Sci Fi Channelís weekly series.  Kevin Bacon, who spends much of his time invisible and doing his best work in the process, stars as the hollow man, who is not so much hollow as invisible.  He discovers the serum, uses it on himself, (Gees, didnít he watch Goldblum in The Fly?), then goes insane as everything goes wrong.  Verhoeven should be stopped from making anything but safety films for industry for a couple of years, at least until he learns the relationship between script, camera and actor.
The Best of The Original Avengers (1966)
Rated: NR Release Date: January 2, 2001.
Director: Sidney Hayers, John Llewellyn Moxey
A sure winner although you wonder who exactly decided that these were the best.  They should just release the entire set and let the public decide which ones they want.  Hunt them down and smack them, Mrs. Peele.
Nosferatu (1919) 
Rated: Unrated
Release Date: January 2, 2001.
Starring: Greta SchrŲder, Ruth Landshoff, et al. Director: F.W. Murnau

Nosferatu (1922 please take note), is considered the original Dracula movie.  Itís creepy, eerie and in black and white.  Oh yeah, itís a silent pic too.  Anyone born after 1970 will probably not make it past the first ten minutes.  Everyone else should note the exquisite camera work and the sheer horror which comes purely from mood and set up.  A great pic for students of directing.  Letís take up a collection and send a copy to Verhoeven.

The Phantom Planet (1961)
Rated: NR
Release Date: January 2, 2001.
Director: William Marshall (II)
This one has it all.  Miniature people, astronauts, solorites, a planet that moves itself and enough cheesy dialogue to make your cow jealous.  Almost bad enough to make you wonder whether Verhoeven somehow had a hand in it.  
Teenage Monster (1957)
Rated: NR Release Date: January 2, 2001.
Director: Jacques R. Marquette
Not to be confused with Teenage Monster Rock and Roll Monster Show, this late 50ís entry into the sci fi realm promises ďa teenage titan of terror on a lustful binge.Ē  Remember itís the late fifties so how much of a binge are they actually going to show.  At least with the Blob we got to watch green goo.
Battlefield Earth (2000)
Rated: PG-13 \ Release Date: January 16, 2001.
Starring: John Travolta, Barry Pepper, et al. Director: Roger Christian
If Verhoeven had directed this weíd at least know the root cause of  why itís so bad.  In this case the blame must be laid directly at L. Ron Hubbardís feet.  L. Ron somehow got mind control over Travolta, convincing him not only to be a scientologist but that Battlefield Earth was an excellent novel.  So excellent in fact that a film just had to be made from it.  Battlefield Earth is a 600 page, densely packed with words book and the movie comes from a 140 pages of lightly packed with words script.  I wonder where they could have gone wrong?  In this case you get exactly what you start with.  I just hope L. Ron donít send me no snakes in the mail.
Twilight Zone Vol 40-42 (1962-63)
Rated: NR Release Date: January 16, 2001.
Twilight Zone Vol 40 -  Twilight Zone Vol 41Twilight Zone Vol 42
Like the Avengers sets above this is classic stuff.  Twilight Zone is sometimes considered the true beginning of contemporary science fiction on television.  With these you get everything, Serlingís dry wit, stellar acting, mostly great stories and enough twists to keep a pretzel factory in operation for decades.  Definitely a must have, although you should know that the early ones are in black and white.
Trigun - Project Seeds (Vol. 6) Rated: Unrated Release Date: January 23, 2001.
Vash the Stampede is an infamous outlaw on the planet Gunsmoke.  Heís got a 60 billion double dollar bounty on his head as well which makes him incredibly popular.  Japanese television comes to your house in this western sci fi anime treatment.  You can do better.  And without really trying.
C.H.U.D. (1984) Rated: R Release Date: January 30, 2001.
Not for sale to persons under age 18.
Director: Douglas Cheek
Ugly, slobbering, ferocious, carnivorous and theyíre not staying down there anymore.  Cannibalistic.  Underground. Humanoid.  Dwellers.  This film which essentially gives street people fangs and glowing eyes is actually better than you would imagine.  Itís one of the first entries in the things from below stalking us in the dark series of films.  Problems?  Yeah, itís shot in the dark and the people in the film are incredibly stupid so they truly deserve to be eaten by the beasts.  Otherwise an interesting film that will make you jump once or twice.
  Gundam Wing - Operation 5 (2000) Rated: NR Release Date: January 30, 2001.
Director: Gordon Hunt
Gundam Wing is another Japanese television anime series imported to this country.  GW, however, is one of the most convoluted series Iíve ever watched.  I donít know how to advise you on this one.  None of the episodes made sense to me.  I donít know whatís going on, why itís happening or who the main players are.  Thereís some kind of war happening, mostly, sort of, and giant robots which are mostly indestructible and which arenít used that much for some reason I can't figure out.  Unless it's because then the series would be over in the first episode.
Space- 1999, Set 1  /  Space- 1999, Set 2
An example of television which should not be put on video. Excuse me? The moon did what? And they couldnít get off because? And they couldnít be saved because? Now we know where the Japanese got their silly ideas of plotting. May be interesting for the historical placement or for the wooden acting of Martin Landau and wife but not much else.
 

Not to mention...Hey, I asked you not to mention them...

The X-Files (Movie) (1998) 
Rated: PG-13 \ Release Date: January 23, 2001.
Starring: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, et al. Director: Rob Bowman

BioHunter (Special Edition) (1995)
Rated:
NR
Release Date: January 30, 2001.
Director: Yoshiaki Kawajiri


Dinosaur - Collector's Edition (2000) 
Rated: PG Release Date: January 30, 2001.
Starring: D.B. Sweeney, Samuel E. Wright, et al.
Director: Eric Leighton, Ralph Zondag

In the Dead of Space (1999)

Collection 6-Tenchi in Space 2