Damnaliens DVD Review by Steve Sawicki

In June, Steve seemed to have matrimony on his mind. Not surprising, considering his engagement to author Barbara Chepitas and mine to EJ McClure. Well, it's a race to the altar between our favorite crank reviewer and me. May the best gal win. - Editor

Note: order the films from Amazon by following the hyperlinks to buy  junk food for the aliens and keep them away from the dog.)

Recent Releases    /    Classics    /    SFTV    /     Anime

June, the month of weddings, receptions and videos.  Those of us in the know, like Editor Ern, get married in January when thereís nothing at the theater and nothing worth watching on video or dvd.  This way thereís no ugly scenes about whatís more important, your bride to be or Star Wars Episode 2.

Recent Releases - "I don't know what's SF...but I know what I like" 

Those of you who read this column know that I have a pretty liberal view of whatís defined as genre.  Heck (this was hell but I edited myself), at one point I considered all movies to be fantastic since they were inherently unreal.  At another time I only considered those movies fantastic when no one got hurt doing something that would most likely kill you or me.  Iíve refined my views a great deal but not to the point where Iíd exclude including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, .  This kung-fu homage flick is a must see, especially if you speak mandarin Chinese.  If you donít youíll have to suffer through sub-titles.  Do so.  Itís worth it just to see the battle on top of the bamboo forest. Top notch actors flying about the screen hacking at each other with weapons.

This very premise, that you donít get hurt if youíre in the movies, is exactly what this next flick is about.  Okay, itís not exactly what itís about but close enough for a segue.

When Unbreakable was first released, Bruce Willis let us all know that it was simply the first of a trilogy.  Taken with that in mind the film is a tease in all the best ways.  However, there has been no confirmation about an UB2 or 3 which leaves us with the sinking feeling that weíre dealing with a rogue.  The weak ending doesnít come close to pulling the single plot idea along.  This is a slow movie which will require great attention on your part if youíre to get it at all.

Speaking of filmmakers who have reached beyond their grasp even though they have the skills to make the grab, letís take a look at Dogma. In this flick, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon play two angels who have been banished from heaven and who want to get back in.  They discover a loophole and all they have to do is prove God fallible.  This will, unfortunately, destroy civilization in the process. Bethany (Linda Fiorentino), is a lapsed Catholic who works in an abortion clinic, and itís up to her to save the day.  Jay and Silent Bob play major roles here as themselves which is more of an undoing than a good thing.  Chris Rock plays the 13th apostle and while he does add some levity after a while itís almost as if these characters were just thrown together for the heck of it.  Is this a comedy that strays into philosophy or a philosophical flick that wanders into comedy.  Doesnít quite pull it off either way but still worth watching.

Classics - "Like wedding cake kept in a lab freezer too long..."

Have you noticed yet that Iím missing a theme?  I had one but it got tossed out with the bridal shower invitations.  So, since we started with Kung fu, comics and God it can only mean that now is the time for The Muppet Movie, Kermit goes to Hollywood, picking up all the usual suspects along the way, while Miss Piggy tries to strong arm the frog into matrimony.  This is a musical by the way so if you donít like singing puppets then you should probably avoid this.  If you thought the television series was just too great to miss then youíll like this flick as well.

If your taste runs to the bloody and tedious then youíll probably love The Pit And The Pendulum.  This flick stars Vincent Price and is the second of the Roger Corman ĎPoeí movies.  Price thinks heís his father, a Spanish Inquisitioner and starts torturing people.  The ultimate tool being the device of the title.  A slow movie which is very dated although itís got a script by Richard Matheson.

Unlike the DVD reviewed last time, this version of The Fall of the House of Usher  is in color and English.  Vincent Price plays Roderick Usher, the mad owner of the house.  This is the first Corman ĎPoeí flick and contains some interesting scenes but no weddings.  Some of the shots are incredibly fake which does take away from the suspense.

Just when you thought it was safe to leave your head in a jar, Donovanís Brain comes along to remind you that there is no such thing as safe.  In this flick the scientist who does the brain keeping is taken over by the brain itself.  Nice visuals but only if you like brains pulsing in red light.

SFTV - "Take a nostalgic look at Gene's bachelor days!"

No weddings but lots of visuals of all the women Gene Roddenbury dated.  These are episodes from the Kirk in a girdle years which must stand for something.  Star Trek - The Original Series, Vol. 24, Episodes 47 & 48: Obsession/ The Immunity Syndrome. We'll wager you remember the notable Trek bondage episode included in  Star Trek - The Original Series, Vol. 23, Episodes 45 & 46: A Private Little War/ The Gamesters of Triskelion . 

Anime - "Better than a robot on your wedding cake!"

There were actually a bunch of mumbling robot videos released this month and I managed to avoid all of them.  I imagine that sooner or later thereíll be a knock on the door but until then let me tell you about Escaflowne, Light And Shadow.  Okay, grab onto your hats for a short synopsis.  Hitomi surrenders to the fortune-enhanced soldiers Naria and Eriya, but never having seen Terminator or Universal Soldier, Hitomi is unaware that  the fortune-enhancing process has some unpredictable side effects.  She escapes and meets up with Van.  The two are summoned to the ruins of Fanelia by Folken, There, they face the menace of the dragons and the shadows of the past that have haunted Van's older brother since the days of his dragon-slaying ceremony.  No talk of marriage in this one although many of the villains act like drunken reception guests.  Vol 7 of this series.  Worth watching but you better start at the beginning.

Escaflowne, Forever and Ever. This is volume 8 in the series and here we find Hitomi, trying to get away from all the fighting, suddenly transported back to Earth.  She arrives on the very day she left. She has one chance to get back to Gaea, but it will mean endangering her friends again.  Do I have to tell you what she does?  Meanwhile on Gaea, the war continues unabated as the Doomsday Weapon is deployed. Donkirk cares little for this because heís on the verge of achieving his goal. The fate of Gaea lies in a white dragon and the heart of a girl from Mystic Moon!  Cripes, Iím going back to watching soap operas.  They were easier to understand.