- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 11, 2002

While it contains faint echoes of Lodge Kerrigan's harrowing 1993 indie "Clean, Shaven," with a hint of John Carpenter's trippy terror tale "In the Mouth of Madness," writer-director Gerald J. Frasco's inventive shaggy serial-killer tale Dirt Boy arrives as a mostly original work. It's our
Video pick of the week

"Dirt Boy" new from Vanguard Cinema (priced for rental VHS, also available on DVD) centers on Matty Matthews (Jacob Lee Hedman), an emotionally lost youth torn by remorse over his mother's death during a period when he was too drug-addled to help her. Mr. Frasco uses the thriller genre as a metaphor for Matty's guilt-torn search for redemption as our protagonist drives from New York City to the Cape Cod town of Attwater Commons, home of local celeb Attwater Bridges (Arthur J. Walsh), elderly author of the eponymous "nonfiction" serial-killer book "Dirt Boy."
While visiting the xenophobic, Stepford-like hamlet, which even has its own insular radio station, Matty spends his time attending forensic courses taught by Dr. Klugard (genre veteran Luca Bercovici), questioning comely blond near-victim Brook (Michelle Guthrie) and, shovel in hand, trying to find out where Dirt Boy's, and the town's, real or imagined bodies are buried.
"Dirt Boy" further benefits from Mr. Frasco's healthy injections of dark, deadpan wit into the increasingly dream-logical proceedings as Matty undergoes his peculiar rite of passage. We begin to doubt Matty's most basic perceptions: Is he in fact trapped in a delusional world, a la Russell Crowe's John Nash in "A Beautiful Mind"? "Dirt Boy" not only keeps us guessing but makes us care about the deeply flawed but sensitive Matty's plight. Be sure to stick around for this intriguing mood piece's offbeat, post-end-credits kicker.

Horror horizon
With the Halloween season in distant but insistent sight, fright titles dominate the summer home-vid slate. Two major fear films have already been announced as late-summer sell-through releases: Guillermo ("The Devil's Backbone") Del Toro's Blade II (New Line, $22.95 VHS/$29.95 DVD), with Wesley Snipes reprising his athletic role as the eponymous vampire-fighter; and the late chanteuse Aaliyah in the Anne Rice-based bloodsucker saga Queen of the Damned (Warner Home Video, $22.98 VHS/$26.98 DVD).
On rental racks expect to see the latest Showtime cable TV American International Pictures remakes The Day the World Ended, How to Make a Monster and Teenage Caveman (the last directed by Larry Clark, of "Kids" and "Bully" fame, no less), all from Columbia TriStar.
Roger Corman's New Concorde kicks in with Restless Souls and Wolfhound. Artisan Entertainment contributes Hell's Gate, starring Patrick Muldoon, Patsy Kensit and Amy Locane. MGM collects a glittering Brit cast, including Helen Mirren and Julie Christie, for director Hal Hartley's No Such Thing.
Elsewhere, Spartan Entertainment summons Blood Moon with Tim Curry. Velocity issues the scare anthology Campfire Tales, starring Jamie-Lynn Sigler (known for her portrayal of Meadow Soprano). Brain Damage unleashes Carnage: The Legend of Quiltface. Dead Alive Productions digs up a terror troika Camp Blood 2, Feast and Immortal while Spectrum introduces the Aussie import Demons in My Head.

HBO Home Video proffers a trio of titles, two of them with stage origins: Steve Buscemi and Christina Ricci are among the all-star ensemble on view in The Laramie Project, a stylized dramatization of a gay college student's murder in a small American town, while The Vagina Monologues captures Eve Ensler's performance of her one-woman show of the same name.
In the HBO Original Movie King of the Jungle, John Leguizamo plays a mentally retarded man forced to cope with his mother's murder; Rosie Perez, Michael Rapaport, Annabella Sciorra and Marisa Tomei co-star. The titles are tagged at $24.98 DVD, $19.98 VHS each.

Brit lit wit
Fans of Brit literary wits receive a treat with Home Vision/Criterion Collection's handsome new DVD editions of a brace of '50s classics: Sir Alec Guinness, as painter and con artist Gully Jimson, stars in Ronald Neame's 1958 adaptation of the Joyce Cary novel The Horse's Mouth, and Michael Redgrave leads the way in Anthony Asquith's 1952 version of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest ($29.99 each, www.homevision.com).

Phan mail
Dear Phantom: I would like to know the title of a late '70s/early '80s movie about the Bermuda Triangle with Kim Novak. It this available on VHS? Thanks.
Walt Fetterer, McLean.
That would be 1975's Satan's Triangle, which has yet to join the home-video ranks.

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

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide