- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 19, 2002

Clint Eastwood is back on the geriatric action track in Blood Work, due Dec. 31 from Warner Home Video ($26.98 DVD/$22.98 VHS). It's our
Video pick of the week
In this far-fetched but entertaining suspense story, based on Michael Connelly's novel and directed by double-threat Clint, the venerable action icon plays retired FBI profiler and recent heart-transplant survivor Terry McCaleb, who's determined to collar the killer of the female donor whose heart is keeping him alive.
Even with his familiar vocal rasp slimmed down to an at-times barely audible gasp, Clint manages to breathe quietly commanding life into his character. Like Terry himself, the film takes its time in building tension, as our hero with a little help from "boat bum" bud Jeff Daniels and against the advice of anxious physician Anjelica Huston relies more on his ratiocinative skills than physical prowess, an intriguing turnaround from Mr. Eastwood's shoot-first, read-Miranda-Law-later Dirty Harry days.
Despite occasional lapses in credibility such as the still-convalescing septuagenarian's unlikely romance with the victim's thirty-something sister (Wanda de Jesus) "Blood Work" delivers the prime Eastwood thriller goods. DVD extras include the behind-the-scenes featurette "Making Blood Work" and an English-subtitled interview segment that sees Clint show off his Spanish-language chops with co-stars de Jesus and Paul Rodriguez.
"Blood Work" may have suffered an inexplicably anemic theatrical run, but it rates as a sufficiently robust home-viewing experience.
Horror horizon
In upcoming direct-to-video fear fare, indie filmmakers find themselves the focus of a relentless fiend in Cut Throat (Framework). A knight takes on rampaging dragons in Darkest Knight, set in the Dark Ages (Spartan Entertainment). Billy Zabka and Dana Ashbrook battle a giant snake in the serpentine sequel Python II (20th Century Fox).
Harry Hamlin and Susan Dey encounter mysterious forces in Disappearance and an abandoned fright-film studio comes to bloody life in Slaughter Studios (both from New Horizons).
A pair of recent theatrical releases also moves stealthily into area video stores: Stephen Dorff and Natasha McElhone star in the cyber scarefest Fear Dot Com (Warner Home Video), while an urban family finds terror in the woods in Larry ("Habit") Fessenden's genuinely unsettling Wendigo (Artisan Entertainment). All will be priced for rental VHS and also available on DVD.
Anchor Bay update
In archival developments, Anchor Bay Entertainment debuts three rare black-and-white British crime thrillers: Stanley Baker stars in Joseph Losey's edgy 1960 The Criminal (aka "The Concrete Jungle"), a combo racetrack heist caper/prison pic, and the 1957 noir Hell Is a City. A young Sean Connery plays a mob enforcer in the 1961 gang-war movie The Frightened City.
The label also issues Tommy Lee Jones in The Amazing Howard Hughes, Karen Young in Handgun (aka "Deep in the Heart") and Peter Coyote in Slayground. The discs are tagged at $19.98 each.
From Russia, with length
In foreign classics news, Kultur Video (kultur.com) has issued what many critics have hailed as the best (and possibly most expensive) movie ever made, Sergei Bondarchuk's Oscar-winning, nearly seven-hour 1967 Russian epic War and Peace, based on Tolstoy's immortal novel. It's available now in a three-DVD set ($39.95), in Russian with English subtitles.
With the Steven Soderbergh/George Clooney remake currently making the multiplex rounds, marathon-movie fans may also want to scope out the Criterion Collection's extras-laden special edition of Andrei Tarkovsky's original 1972 philosophical sci-fi film Solaris ($39.95). In addition to the nearly three-hour feature, the double-disc DVD offers audio commentary, nine deleted and alternate scenes, video interviews with several "Solaris" film personnel and more.
Judy, Judy, Judy
Judy Garland receives her DVD due, likewise from the above-mentioned Kultur Video, via the label's new four-disc set "The Judy Garland Collection" ($39.95). The quartet contains Judy, Frank & Dean: Once in a Lifetime, wherein the songstress joins Messrs. Sinatra and Martin in the trio's only appearance together; Judy Garland, Robert Goulet & Phil Silvers Special; Judy Garland Live at the London Palladium with Liza Minnelli; and the feature-length documentary Judy Garland: The Concert Years. The set also includes an hour of special bonus footage.
Phan mail
Dear Phantom: One of my favorite films is the 1940s crime drama The Killers, starring a young Burt Lancaster. Has that ever been put out on VHS or DVD?
Tim Burke, via e-mail
Universal's VHS version is still in circulation, available ($14.99) from Movies Unlimited (moviesunlimited.com). Next month, Home Vision (homevision.com) and the Criterion Collection will release the original 1946 "The Killers" and Don Siegel's 1964 remake in a double-disc DVD special edition tagged at $39.95.

Send your video comments and queries to Phantom of the Movies, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002 or e-mail us at: [email protected] Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com

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