- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 22, 2003

A psychological-rage virus, unwittingly unleashed by animal-rights activists, transforms the vast majority of the British citizenry into hyperactive zombies in director Danny Boyle’s suspenseful chiller 28 Days Later…, new this week from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment ($27.98 DVD, priced for rental VHS). It’s our …

Video pick of the week

While openly “quoting” from director George Romero’s famous zombie trilogy (especially “Day of the Dead”), Mr. Boyle and screenwriter Alex Garland bring enough fresh energy and ideas to the ghoul table to make “28 Days Later …” a welcome addition to the living-dead ranks.

Our story centers on young hospital patient Jim (Cillian Murphy), who awakes to a London stripped of human life. As he wanders the streets, Jim is rescued from rampaging zombies by armed fellow survivors Selena (Naomie Harris) and Mark (Noah Huntley). After Selena is forced to kill infected Mark, she and Jim hook up with Frank (the ever-dependable Brendan Gleeson) and daughter Hannah (Megan Burns). The disparate, desperate quartet embarks on a road trip (the film’s most exciting extended sequence) to follow what may or may not be an illusory signal emanating from a nearby military encampment.

“We tried to make it a more emotional journey than a zombie film normally is,” director Boyle told us during a recent interview. “I loved doing the zombies, but thematically, I wanted to work up something that was more vulnerable and valuable than zombies and their victims normally are in genre films.”

Both Mr. Boyle and Mr. Garland further expound on their celluloid aims, and acknowledge their debt to George Romero, in the DVD’s candid audio commentary. Fox’s disc also boasts no fewer than three separate endings, along with the featurette “Pure Rage: The Making of 28 Days Later,” animated storyboards, still galleries, theatrical trailer and more. With its refreshing blend of horror and heart, “28 Days Later …” shapes up as a solid shocker for buffs and casual viewers alike.

Mondo Rhino

In a lighter vein, the pop-culture specialists at Rhino Home Video set a November date for a foursome of new Mystery Science Theater 3000 discs ($59.95) from the irreverent tele-series of the same name: “Girl in Gold Boots” (Episode 1002), “Hamlet” (Episode 1009), “Overdrawn at the Memory Bank” (Episode 822) and “Space Mutiny” (Episode 820). Extras include new introductions by host Mike Nelson, original trailers for “Girl in Gold Boots” and “Hamlet” and an original “Boots” TV spot.

Already in from the same outfit are two editions of the cult sci-fi send-up Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, available in a no-frills disc ($14.95) and a gala “Special Collector’s Edition” ($24.95), complete with filmmaker commentary, deleted scenes, six featurettes and much more. Animation buffs will want to check out the label’s Battle of the Planets: The Ultimate DVD Boxed Set ($69.95), containing 12 original episodes, a spaceship full of extras and even a collectible action figure.

The ‘A’ list

Three art-house imports likewise land in stateside vid stores this month, all via Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment:

• Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismaki’sThe Man Without a Past ($29.95), a deadpan comedy-drama about an amnesiac worker (Markku Peltola) who embarks on an offbeat romance with a Salvation Army officer (Kati Outinen).

• Niki Caro’s New Zealand drama Whale Rider ($26.95), detailing teenage Maori girl Pai’s (Keisha Castle-Hughes) battle against tribal gender biases.

• Emanuele Crialese’s Respiro ($29.95), an Italian drama dealing with family loyalties and mental illness.

American actor Matt Dillon, meanwhile, makes his directorial debut with the suspense film City of Ghosts (MGM Home Entertainment, $26.98), set in Cambodia and co-starring James Caan, Natascha McElhone, Stellan Skarsgaard and Gerard Depardieu. All four titles will also be available on VHS.

Indiana redux

For those with an Indiana Jones jones, this week Paramount Home Entertainment unleashes “The Adventures of ‘Indiana Jones’: The Complete DVD Movie Collection” ($69.98). The gala four-DVD set contains The Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

The fourth disc comes complete with more than three hours of bonus material, including the feature-length documentary “Indiana Jones: Making the Trilogy,” plus featurettes on stunts, music, sound design, special effects and more.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: I am interested in buying a copy of Federico Fellini’s Casanova, starring Donald Sutherland.

Nancy Spence, via e-mail#

“Casanova” was briefly available on VHS but is long out of circulation. For a rental copy, try Video Library (www.vlibrary.com).

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: phanmedia @aol.com. Check out our Web site at www.videoscope mag.com.

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