- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Next week, Warner Home Video prepares a double dose of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with a twin-bill DVD ($19.98) yoking both the 1932 and 1941 Hollywood versions of Robert Louis Stevenson’s identity-crisis classic. It’s our…

Video pick of the week

Of the two, Rouben Mamoulian’s thematically complex, cinematically adventurous and generally intense 1932 adaptation remains the front-runner. Frederic March, who earned an Oscar for his schizoid work here, is excellent as the progressive, life-embracing Dr. Jekyll, whose efforts to break the stifling bonds of Victorian constraint eventually transform him into the simian sadist Mr. Hyde. Outsized dentures force the actor to talk like Humphrey Bogart while Hyde’s unharnessed id prompts antisocial behavior worthy of Al Pacino’s Tony (“Scarface”) Montana.

Actress Miriam Hopkins projects sensuous vulnerability as Ivy, the hooker with a heart of champagne, who’s aided by Dr. Jekyll and viciously abused by his badder half, Hyde. Director Mamoulian’s highly active camera brings the escalating dramatic action into sharp, compelling focus throughout.

“Gone with the Wind” director Victor Fleming’s lavish 1941 “classics” treatment of Stevenson’s tale lacks some of Mamoulian’s urgency but represents a solid show in its own right, with Spencer Tracy turning in sharp work in the title roles and receiving ample support from Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner. DVD supplements include audio commentary by film historian Greg Mank on the 1932 version, the Bugs Bunny short “Hyde and Hare” and original theatrical trailers.

Horror horizon

Contemporary scream-screen fans will likewise find no lack of new terror titles in store as we kick off 2004. New Line Home Entertainment leads the way with a special-edition release of the monster grudge match Freddy vs. Jason, starring Robert Englund and Ken Kirzinger as the dueling fright-franchise fiends. Universal Studios also goes the sequel route with Tremors 4: The Legend Begins, with Michael Gross reprising his role as a no-nonsense creature fighter.

Elsewhere, Lions Gate Home Entertainment unleashes the zombie romp Cabin Fever. Artisan Entertainment opens the video game-based House of the Dead, featuring Jurgen Prochnow and Clint Howard.

That’s not to be confused with Hellbound: Book of the Dead, new from Brain Damage; the latter label also introduces the vampire flicks Strange Things Happen at Sundown and Vampire Sisters.

Speaking of bloodsuckers, Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman topline in the vampires versus werewolves gothfest Underworld (Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment), due next week. Effects-ace-turned-actor Tom Savini (of “Dawn of the Dead”) takes center stage in Vicious (MTI Home Video).

Already in this week are director Brian Yuzna’s sci-fi sequel “Beyond Re-Animator” (Lions Gate Home Entertainment), loosely based on H.P. Lovecraft’s material and starring Jeffrey Combs as mad scientist Herbert West; and Brian Helgeland’s religious-themed The Order (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment), with Heath Ledger.

Collector’s corner

Four disparate oldies-but-goldies make their DVD debuts ($14.95 each) via MGM Home Entertainment, with three crime classics leading the way:

m Barbara Stanwyck stars as a homicidal housewife in Gerd Oswald’s 1957 noir Crime of Passion, with Sterling Hayden and Raymond Burr;

m Psycho killer Richard Basehart becomes the target of an intense manhunt in 1948’s documentary-styled He Walked by Night (the inspiration for Jack Webb’s 1950s “Dragnet” series);

• Robert Ryan and Harry Belafonte play racially embattled partners embroiled in a dangerous heist scheme in Robert Wise’s excellent 1959 crime caper Odds Against Tomorrow;

• George Axelrod’s inventively offbeat 1965 teen-cult satire Lord Love a Duck, with Tuesday Weld and a 37-year-old Roddy McDowall as high schoolers, completes the quartet.

The discs are tagged at $14.95 each.

Tele-video

The joy of sets continues next week when 20th Century Fox releases The Shield: Season Two DVD Collection ($59.98), starring Michael Chiklis. In addition to all 13 episodes, the four-disc collection offers select filmmaker audio commentary, 38 deleted scenes, featurettes, and DVD-ROM content.

MGM Home Entertainment goes for broad laughs with The Best of Mister Ed and Green Acres: The Complete First Season ($39.98 per two-DVD set), due the following week.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: I’m trying to find a movie called “Zoo Ship.” It came out in 1985, with a cast of Roddy McDowall, James Whitmore and Keenan Wynn, a movie about an alien space ship that goes from planet to planet capturing living things for its zoo back home and then crash lands on Earth.

Samuel Cohen, via email

Unfortunately, that animated film, featuring the vocal talents of the above-mentioned actors, 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, D.C. 20002 or e-mail us at: [email protected] Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.


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