- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 13, 2006

One of the best films of its decade, director Noel Black’s 1968 cult classic Pretty Poison makes its long-overdue digital debut via 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment ($14.98).It’s our

DVD pick of the week

The title of this slyly perverse, high-concept gem, drawn from a novel by Stephen Geller, refers both to perky blond cheerleader Sue Ann (Tuesday Weld) and the luminous pollutants produced by the New England glass factory where erstwhile pyromaniac Dennis (Anthony Perkins) works. When relatively harmless eccentric Dennis hooks up with the genuinely unhinged Sue Ann, he’s the one who?s in for a surprise as she gradually reveals her true psychotic colors.

We can say no more without revealing too much, except to add that both lead actors, along with former genre ingenue Beverly Garland (as Sue Ann’s rather young mom), turn in top work in this low-key but ingenious thriller with darkly comic undertones.

Unfortunately for the film’s fans, Fox’s edition lacks any extras beyond a preview trailer (which gives way too much plot away); this is one title that deserves deluxe treatment.

Still, Fox earns major plaudits for making the movie, presented here in a fine widescreen transfer, available again, nearly two decades after its brief VHS release on the obscure Wood Knapp label.

Fox also salvages the offbeat 1963 curio House of the Damned ($14.98), a tamer but intriguing variation on Tod Browning?s immortal “Freaks.”


In fresh TV-on-DVD developments, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment presents the identity-swapping reality series Black, White (two-disc, $26.98); Paramount Home Entertainment introduces Dick Van Dyke in the forensic crime show Diagnosis Murder: The Complete First Season (five-disc, $49.99); Buena Vista Home Entertainment delivers the hospital-set Grey’s Anatomy: The Complete Second Season (six-disc, $59.99) — with extended episodes, interviews and deleted scenes; Universal Studios Home Entertainment visits Las Vegas: Season Three (five-disc, $59.98); and Warner Home Video chronicles the progress of a young Clark Kent in Smallville: The Complete Fifth Season (six-disc, $59.98).

Several popular sitcoms likewise surface this week. Lionsgate Home Entertainment spotlights Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis in Moonlighting: Season 4 (three-disc, $39.98). Universal Studios unlocks The Office: Season Two (four-disc, $49.98), starring Steve Carell and furnished with deleted scenes, commentaries, a blooper reel and more, and Anchor Bay Entertainment continues the comic adventures of Roseanne: Season 5 (four-disc, $39.98). Paramount contributes a pair of youth-accented series, Stella: Season One (two-disc, $26.98) and the reality TV comedy Wildboyz: Complete Seasons 3 & 4 (three-disc, $38.99), both packed with bonus material ranging from commentaries to outtakes.

Two very different animated collections also arrive, the adult-oriented MTV showbiz spoof The Adventures of Chico and Guapo (Paramount, two-disc, $26.99) and the family-friendly Fraggle Rock: Complete Second Season (20th Century Fox, five-disc, $49.98), both equipped with extras.

Shout! Factory arranges a star-studded trip down TV?s memory lane with The Dick Cavett Show: Hollywood Greats (four-disc, $39.98), wherein the longtime talk-show host chats with Fred Astaire, Marlon Brando, Bette Davis, Groucho Marx and many other celebs.

Collectors’ corner

More good news for classic mystery fans: Kino Video’s Film Noir: The Dark Side of Hollywood ($49.95) collects a quintet of vintage titles: Fritz Lang?s 1943 World War II suspenser Hangmen Also Die, Henry Fonda in Anatole Litvak?s brooding 1947 drama The Long Night, Joan Crawford and Jack Palance in David Miller?s powerful 1952 thriller Sudden Fear, plus a pair of worthy B noirs, Anthony Mann?s Railroaded (1947) and Budd Boetticher’s Behind Locked Doors (1948).

In a lighter vein, 20th Century Fox’s The Laurel and Hardy Collection Volume Two (three-disc, $34.98) assembles three later, lesser but still welcome L&H comedies — A-Haunting We Will Go (1942), The Bullfighters (1945) and The Dancing Masters (1943) — along with featurettes and film historian commentaries.

The ‘A’ list

Walt Disney Home Entertainment heads the roster of recent theatrical films debuting on disc with the soccer drama Goal! — The Dream Begins and the animated comedy adventure The Wild ($29.99), both accompanied by a wealth of extras.

Sony Pictures ups the scare quotient with a pair of new chillers, Clive Barker’s The Plague and Population 436 ($24.96 each), while Genius Products provides the action via the double-disc Hong Kong import Kill Zone ($24.95), starring Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung.

The Weinstein Company proffers the bonus-packed crime thriller Lucky Number Slevin ($29.95), with Josh Hartnett and Bruce Willis, while Palm Pictures Home Entertainment introduces the Brazilian drama Lower City ($24.99).

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: I remember an MTV show in the ‘90s called “Oddville.” Is it on DVD?

Jerry Wallace, via e-mail

1997’s “Oddville, MTV,” which began life as a public access show called “Beyond Vaudeville,” has yet to find a video home.

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 atphan media @aol.com. Check out our Web site at www.video scopemag.com.



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