- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 24, 2002

We can think of few better ways to spend the Halloween weekend than with a pair of gala new DVDs celebrating a beloved brace of genre icons Lugosi: Hollywood's Dracula and The Haunted World of Edward D. Wood, Jr. They're our

Video picks of the week

Up first is "Lugosi" (Spinning Our Wheels Productions, $29.98, www.lugosidvd.com), an elaborate labor of love written and directed by scare scholar Gary D. Rhodes. Interweaving rare footage and classic film clips with interviews with Bela Lugosi, Jr. and widow Hope Lugosi, along with director Robert Wise and producer Howard W. Koch, "Lugosi: Hollywood's Dracula" presents the clearest, most complete portrait yet of the charismatic actor, in all his sometimes contrary complexity. Actor Robert Clarke and actress Rue McClanahan deftly handle narration chores.

In addition to the feature-length documentary and a host of extras, including a 1932 Lugosi interview and a 1949 TV show excerpt, the set contains a second audio disc with 75 minutes of rare Bela radio performances from the 1940s, in which the horror star shares the microphone with Bob Hope, Fred Allen and even Ozzie & Harriet.

Also joining the DVD ranks is "The Haunted World of Edward D. Wood, Jr." (Image Entertainment, $24.99), director Brett Thompson's admirably in-depth profile of the cross-dressing creator of many of the most entertaining, indeed downright addictive, bad movies ever made, from "Glen or Glenda?" to "Plan 9 From Outer Space." Though Mr. Thompson's tone grows a tad too reverential at times, his is a fascinating inquiry into the man and his movies, one especially rich in recent interviews with such onetime Wood colleagues as actress Dolores Fuller, actor Conrad Brooks and even Ed's unofficial spiritual adviser, Rev. Lynn Lemon.

"Haunted World" arrives equally packed with extras. Here we find enlightening commentary by director Thompson and Bela Lugosi Jr., bonus interviews galore, tons of rare Ed Wood photos and documents, plus the complete "Crossroads of Laredo," a restored 23-minute 1948 Western that marked Wood's first foray into filmmaking.

Image update

And speaking of both Halloween and Image Entertainment (www.image-entertainment.com), that DVD outfit keeps mega-busy with a wealth of Halloween-friendly fearfests, leading with the long-awaited 1964 Brit chiller Devil Doll: Special Edition ($24.99), starring a supremely creepy Bryant Haliday as a mad ventriloquist accompanied by a dummy that may be a bit too lifelike for comfort. The DVD includes remastered editions of both the original British and slightly edited American editions, feature-length commentary by producer Richard Gordon and genre scholar Tom Weaver, and more.

Image also offers the double-feature disc Naked Evil, a recommended 1966 voodoo tale set in London's West Indian community, and its alternate American-TV version Exorcism at Midnight ($24.99).

For fans of Brazilian cult auteur Jose Mojica (Coffin Joe) Marins, Image introduces a "Coffin Joe Trilogy: Limited Edition" ($59.95), containing CJ's greatest hits At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul, This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse and Awakening of the Beast.

Fresh chills

We likewise recommend these chillers:

• New Line's improbably entertaining "Friday the 13th" sequel Jason X, wherein hockey-masked, machete-wielding maniac Jason Voorhees takes his destructive act to outer space;

• All Day Entertainment's All Monsters Attack! ($24.99 DVD), offering two hours of coming-attraction trailers from the golden age of giant monsters;

• Anchor Bay Entertainment's lavish two-disc celebration of Kathryn Bigelow's 1987 vampire thriller Near Dark ($29.98);

• Kino Video's classy "German Thrillers Collection" ($89.98 DVD box set, $24.95 DVD, $19.95 VHS each), assembling The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Golem, F.W. Murnau's original Nosferatu and Paul Leni's Waxworks under one spooky roof.

Phan mail

• I remember a movie starring John Wayne, Rossano Brazzi and Sophia Loren, about a search for treasure somewhere in a desert. Can you tell me the title and how I can go about requesting it?

Lisa Take, via e-mail

That would be 1957's Legend of the Lost, available on VHS ($12.71) via Critics Choice (www.ccvideo.com), among other outlets. A DVD is due is December.

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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