- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 2, 2002

Guy Maddin's movies are admittedly an acquired taste, but it's one yours truly acquired as far back as the Manitoba, Canada, auteur's demented 1988 directorial debut "Tales from the Gimli Hospital" (Kino Video). Now, Zeitgeist Video's "The Guy Maddin Collection" pairs two typically mad Maddin features 1990's Archangel and his latest, 1997's Twilight of the Ice Nymphs, making their DVD bows ($29.95 total). The collection is our
Video pick of the week
In the black-and-white/color tinted "Archangel," Mr. Maddin and co-writer George Toles affectionately lampoon early cinematic styles, painstakingly recreating the look and sound of a late-1920s part-talkie. Set in a Hun-ravaged World War I Russia, the story concerns valorous Canadian officer Lt. John Boles (Kyle McCulloch) and his search for his lost love, Iris. Also central to Mr. Maddin's elaborate mock melodrama are jaunty American aviator Philbin (Ari Cohen) and brave, beautiful and ever-enigmatic Veronkha (Kathy Marykuca), all of whom are suffering from terminal amnesia by film's end. Along the way, Mr. Maddin cleverly pokes fun at virtually every period-propaganda, romantic and combat cliche.
Mr. Maddin and Mr. Toles (who takes sole screenwriting credit here) slip a notch on the treacherous slopes of "Twilight of the Ice Nymphs." The first Maddin movie to attract a true "name" cast including Shelley Duvall, "Star Trek" Borg queen Alice Krige, and Frank Gorshin, the Riddler of the "Batman" TV series "Twilight" plays a bit too much like a rehash of the team's far funnier 1993 Alpine soap-opera satire "Careful" (Kino). Still, many a wickedly amusing moment surfaces in this arcane fable involving strangely sunlit subterranean realms, ostrich farms, surreal set designs and the usual eccentric, long-suffering Maddinesque characters.
DVD extras include Mr. Maddin and Mr. Toles' entertainingly digressive audio commentary, plus the featurette "The Heart of the World," a send-up of silent Soviet propaganda films. In sum, "The Guy Maddin Collection" rates as a must for the Maddin crowd, who will want to place this DVD next to Kino's earlier Maddin discs, and a fun intro for newcomers to the Canadian director's offbeat ouevre.
The 'A' list
On the subject of comedies, Buena Vista debuts the Mob romp Corky Romano, starring Chris Kattan of "Saturday Night Live" in the title role, abetted by former "Columbo" Peter Falk, along with the icy canine comedy Snow Dogs, with Cuba Gooding Jr. and a crotchety James Coburn.
Also on the way, via Columbia/TriStar, are two teen-oriented farces, Not Another Teen Movie, featuring Jaime Pressly, Mia Kirshner and Randy Quaid, and Slackers (not to be confused with Richard Linklater's singular "Slacker"), with Devon Sawa, Jason ("Rushmore") Schwartzman and James King.
Universal continues the lowbrow-laugh trend with the campus stoner caper How High, with Method Man and Redman bidding to become a Cheech and Chong for the new millennium. All of the above will be priced for rental VHS (except for "Snow Dogs," tagged at $22.99) and also available on DVD.
Something weird this way comes
For hard-core camp fans, the indefatigable genre archivists at Something Weird Video (206/361-3759, www.somethingweird.com) resurrect several long-vanished gems, led by 1972's incomparable Blood Freak, still the civilized world's only known anti-drug, pro-Christian gore movie, wherein tortured hero Steve Hawkes is transformed into a gobbling turkey monster (we kid you not).
And speaking of unusual turkeys, bad-movie buffs will also want to scope out SWV's entertainingly off-the-wall alchemy horror Curse of the Alpha Stone, the over-the-top, giant-astronaut-amok chiller Monster a Go Go and the Mexican brain-transplant terror Night of the Bloody Apes. The tapes (VHS only) are tagged at $15 each.
'Sound' investment
On a musical note, old-school country music fans should look into The Nashville Sound, new from Ivy Video ($19.98, 800/669-4057). Filmed at Nashville's 1969 Country Music Week celebrating the Grand Old Opry's 44th anniversary, the DVD features behind-the-scenes footage, a history of country and western's early days, and prime performances by such country legends as Johnny Cash ("Folsom Prison Blues"), Dolly Parton ("My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy"), Tex Ritter ("High Noon") and scores more. Producer Ed Wilson provides a running audio commentary.
Phan mail
Dear Phantom: I have been searching in vain for a video short starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It was shot, I think, in 1987; the title is Foot Shooting Party. Was this ever available on video?
Robert Pringle, via e-mail
Actually carrying a 1994 release date, that comedy short, also featuring Jake Busey, 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.

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