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Moriarty's DVD Shelf! MST3K! Alan Clarke! CLERKS At Ten! COLUMBO! ALIAS! The Worst Movie Ever?! And More!!

Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...

Inevitably, after each new DVD column appears, I get angry e-mails asking why I didn’t cover this title or that title. I am sent a fair sampling of DVDs for review, but there are numerous studios that have never sent me a DVD, and that probably won’t change any time soon. I review things as quickly as I see them, and I’m not always interested in just watching the titles that were released on a particular Tuesday. I love to put together double or triple features according to theme, and I love seeing how films play when you put them together like that. I have one entire bookshelf of DVDs I haven’t seen yet that I constantly chip away at. This isn’t meant to be a one-stop source for news about what’s coming out. I wholeheartedly recommend The Digital Bits or DVD Talk or DVD File or DVD Answers if you’re looking for lists of what’s coming out timed exactly to the release. They’re all excellent websites that are far more comprehensive than my one li’l ol’ column. This is just meant to be a collection of pieces about the ongoing film festival that is my living room.

Because I don’t always open things the moment they get here, I’ve noticed a more and more frustrating issue that I have to deal with: defective discs.

It’s like gambling at this point. It’s all about the percentages. I buy enough movies that it’s inevitable some of them aren’t going to work. Same thing with review discs. Frequently, I get test copies that are early pressings, so it’s understandable some of them might be a wee bit buggy. What confounds me is when I open one that’s months old and have trouble returning it, or when I run into a problem that seems to effect a whole pressing of something. Such was the case with Fox’s recent release of MILLENNIUM: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON. I ran into serious glitches on at least one episode on every disc in the box. Looking at the surfaces of the discs, they were all seriously scratched.

I bought the set at Amoeba Records in Hollywood, so I returned it and was given a new box in exchange. No problem. Unfortunately, when I opened that one, I encountered the exact same set of problems. And these were both new sets, still sealed. Every single disc in those factory-sealed packages were scratched, impossible to play for at least one out of the four episodes per disc. This time, when I went back to Amoeba, I made them open the third (and fourth) boxes in front of me, to no avail. It looked like some piece of machinery at the pressing plant had been specially designed to fuck the discs up before they were sent out.

Oddly, though, I haven’t found a single report about this online. Not one review that mentions it. Could this bad batch somehow be limited to one store? Or has anyone else had this problem? I finally just returned it for store credit and gave up on seeing the series again. If you’ve had a similar problem with this or any title, let me know... I’m curious.

In the meantime, there’s a lot of ground to cover this week, so let’s jump right into the reviews. As always, I’ve got my entire DVD collection set up at DVD Aficionado, a great site that I’ve enjoyed working with. With very few exceptions, I’ve been able to find all my titles in their archives. You can check it out right here if you’re curious... just make sure to hit ALL OWNED for the full category-free rundown. And I’ve made sure to point out what was purchased, what was sent as a screener, and what was a gift, since so many of your e-mails seemed to think that was so urgently important.


THIS WEEK ON THE SHELF
(Click header to go directly to the section)

Blue Underground’s THE ALAN CLARKE COLLECTION


MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: THE ESSENTIALS


CLERKS X 10th ANNIVERSARY EDITION


THE DREAMERS, DAY OF THE LOCUST, and BAADASSSSS!


THE BAD SEED, FREAKS, and VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED/CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED


CIRCLE OF IRON


ALIAS: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON, FUTURAMA VOLUME FOUR, and COLUMBO: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON


FORBIDDEN ZONE and THE APPLE


Blue Underground’s THE ALAN CLARKE COLLECTION

What an incredible surprise. When I opened the envelope that contained this box set, I couldn’t have been less interested. It took me three days just to get around to reading the back of the box. Once I did, I had to admit... my interest was piqued. I’d never heard of the director or any of his movies, but he seemed to have worked with an impressive cross-section of British talent both in front of the camera and behind. I watched MADE IN BRITAIN first, and by the time it was over, I was hooked. It’s a searing portrait of a skinhead youth looking for his voice in a society that wants nothing to do with him, and it made it perfectly clear that Alan Clarke was an uncompromising artist, an important filmmaker. This box set once again proves why Blue Underground is one of the best DVD companies in the business right now.





More than anything, Clarke’s work seems to be preoccupied with the violence and frustrations of lower and working class men in the UK. All of the films included in this set are variations on a theme. SCUM started life as a BBC film about the harsh conditions in British juvenile prisons, but when the BBC saw the film, they banned it. Two years later, Clarke remade the movie with the same lead, a young Ray Winstone, and released it theatrically. Blue Underground actually includes both films in their entirety, a great decision. Both films are solid, too. It’s worth watching twice. Right from the start, Clarke exhibits incredible control as a filmmaker, and he gets great work out of his young cast. MADE IN BRITAIN feels like the logical extension of the ideas in SCUM, and there’s one scene in particular where an older policeman explains the cycle of punishment to Tim Roth that is just plain brilliant. Roth plays a total hard-case with a baby face, and the driving punk soundtrack by The Exploited pins the film to its time without dating it in a bad way. THE FIRM stars Gary Oldman in a story about soccer hooligans that flies in the face of every stereotype I’ve ever heard. These are family men with jobs and solid ties to their community that just happen to enjoy kicking the living shit out of one another in the name of their favorite football teams. Finally, and perhaps most impressively, there is ELEPHANT, the most experimental film included here. With no dialogue, Clarke shows us eighteen murders, up close and graphic. These stark, horrifying vignettes aren’t explained, and there’s no context laid out to buffer the blow, forcing you to make your own connections. The one hint about how all the murders are related seems to come from the fact that it was produced for the BBC Northern Ireland. There’s a short documentary included that underlines the point, explaining that it is Clarke’s take on “The Troubles.” The Steadicam hasn’t been this menacing since Stanley Kubrick’s THE SHINING. It was the inspiration for Gus Van Sant’s Cannes-winning film of the same name, but Clarke’s film is more experimental, less narratively driven, braver. It dares you to respond without all the typical clues about how we’re supposed to react to what we’re seeing, and the cumulative effect is quite powerful. Each of the other films has extras, and they’re all worth watching because they enhance your appreciation for how Clarke put these quiet masterworks together, and just how devoted his collaborators were.

All of Clarke’s films share the same unadorned aesthetic, and I’ve intentionally put off watching the fifth disc in the set, a documentary about his work. One of the joys here was seeing each film fresh, without any preconceptions, and I plan to track down more of his work if I can. I don’t want to see clips out of context. I do, however, want to thank Blue Underground for my introduction to his incredible work, and I want to urge you to try it for yourself. You won’t be sorry.


MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: THE ESSENTIALS

I have incredibly fond memories of the era when MST3K was still in first-run on Comedy Central. I started watching the show in 1991, and quickly became a full-blown addict. There was something beautiful about the way Joel Hodgson and the ‘bots Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot took some of the worst films of all time and transformed them into some of the most entertaining two-hour blocks on television. My roommates Keven and Scott became my MST buddies, and every Saturday night, we’d kick off whatever fun we had planned for the evening with a healthy dose of our intoxicants of choice and that week’s episode. I’ve been buying each of the box sets that Rhino Home Video has put out so far, and they’re fun... no question about it. But I’ve noticed that they seem to rely mainly on the later seasons of the show, presumably due to rights issues involving some of the films themselves.

As a result, I’m even more pleased than normal with the new 2-disc release of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: THE ESSENTIALS. The films on these two discs are two of the worst of the worst, meaning they are two of the absolute best episodes of the show. The first time they showed MANOS: HANDS OF FATE was the same night I saw Michael Cimino’s remake of THE DESPERATE HOURS for the first time. I remember thinking at the end of the double-feature-of-doom that HOURS was so bad it looked like Cimino had never made a film before, but MANOS was so bad, it looked like no one had ever made a film before.

If you’ve never seen this “horror” film about Torgo and The Master, it really is beyond description. At one point, before the opening credits have even ended, Servo breaks down sobbing and says, “Oh, god, Joel, this is going to turn into a snuff film, isn’t it?” One of the things that makes these no-budget oddities so fascinating is the way they seem to unfold without even a cursory nod to narrative coherence. Some of my favorite host segments were in this episode, too, like the one where Joel and the ‘bots create their own monsters, inspired by Torgo and his oversized thighs. There’s a short film included called “Hired! Part II” which has one of the funniest sustained run of riffs I’ve ever seen on MST3K.

The other film included is the delightfully miserable SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS. Again, this provides the guys with better-than-average material to roast, and it’s about time I had a DVD to replace my old VHS copy that gets played every Christmas season. The one new thing on the disc is a blooper reel, 25 full minutes of behind-the-scenes material that I thought were an incredible treat. Hearing the ‘bots swear in character or watching Trace and Frank break character as the Mads and actually laugh is one of those things I guess I just never expected to see, and it makes this disc special. Overall, any fan should pick this one up immediately, and if you’ve never tuned in to the particular pleasures of the show before, here’s the perfect place to start.





CLERKS X 10th ANNIVERSARY EDITION

When I went to the Buena Vista Home Entertainment event a few weeks ago, this was the title Kevin Smith was obviously most invested in, and seeing the disc, it’s obvious why. This is a celebration of Kevin’s roots, a look back at the thing that started everything else in his career. It’s also one of the most inspirational looks at low-budget filmmaking since Robert Rodriguez’s REBEL WITHOUT A CREW. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if this became the thing that sets off a whole new batch of indie voices in the years ahead.

Miramax has packed these three discs full, so it’s worth picking up even if you already have the film on DVD. The first disc should look familiar. It’s the film you’ve seen before (although it’s a nice new transfer of it) along with the old audio commentary. You know... the one where they’re on the set of MALLRATS and Mewes falls asleep under the editing console. I’m glad they preserved this one, because it’s a record of a particular era in Smith’s development. The rest of the disc has some great stuff on it, like the animated segment, “CLERKS: THE LOST SCENE,” a music video, some funny MTV spots, new intros to the restoration, and audition tapes for the film. Disc Two is the original cut of the film, the one that first caught John Pierson’s attention, and it’s nice to see what a big impact a few small specific changes can have on a film’s overall effectiveness. The new commentary track here is loads of fun with Smith, Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Scott Mosier, and Jason Mewes all taking part. They are different people now, a decade down the road, and comparing this to the other commentary is fascinating.

What really makes this set special is disc three and the documentary “Snowball Effect: The Story Of CLERKS.” Plain and simple, it’s a great film in its own right, enormously entertaining and brutally honest. The film traces Smith from childhood to the release of CLERKS, and you can see just how he became the person he is. Smith can make the most innocuous biographical detail hilarious, as in “My brother is three years older than I am. To the day. My sister is five years older than me to the week. So we figured out when we were all fairly young than our parents really liked to fuck in November.” It’s hard not to like Smith and Mosier as you watch the film. These aren’t guys who got handed their careers on silver platters. They made their luck. They put their balls on the block and were rewarded for it. I’m also impressed by how many of Smith’s friends from the pre-CLERKS era show up in the documentary, and how many of them he’s helped since his success. He’s always seemed to be a well-grounded guy, but this documentary really drives the point home. It’s feature-length, but there are lots of outtakes and extras as well, all of them equally interesting.





There’s a 10th anniversary Q&A that was filmed at the Arclight that made me laugh several times, highlighting that odd mix of antagonism and adoration that Smith and his fanbase share. All of the articles referenced in “Snowball Effect” are included on the disc, and not just the ones that are about Smith, but also the ones that inspired him. In a way, I’m sure I’m preaching to the converted here, and the most rabid View Askew fans have already purchased this one, but if you’re curious and not sure if the price justifies picking up a film you’re this familiar with, it is. This is one of the most overstuffed and enjoyable DVD packages so far this year.

THE DREAMERS

DAY OF THE LOCUST

BAADASSSSS!

What does it mean to be truly obsessed with the movies? How healthy can it be when you spend all your time in the dark living other people’s lives at 24 frames per second?

There are different degrees of cinemania, of course. For most people, movies are an occasional diversion, something they enjoy on a Saturday night a couple of times a month. Some people will make a trip to the theater every weekend, without fail, no matter what’s playing. Me, I see probably fifteen to twenty films a week between DVD and press screenings and trips out with friends, and I still find plenty of time to enjoy other things in life that have nothing to do with movies. In fact, that’s a priority for me, and more so every year. I safeguard that time away from movies so that I don’t burn out on them. What blows me away is when I meet someone who makes me feel positively Amish by comparison, someone who spends every waking hour immersed in escapism. Take Knowles, for example. I always picture his childhood as a scene from THE PARALLAX VIEW or A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, as Grande Rojo mainlines thousands of hours of movies in some bizarre cinematic social experiment. And look at the result. Trust me... there’s not another one like him.

THE DREAMERS, THE DAY OF THE LOCUST, and BAADASSSSS! are all about obsession with the movies, and they’re all very different cautionary tales that either reward or punish that obsession. It’s no wonder Bernardo Bertolucci delivers such a potent punch with THE DREAMERS. He’s always been a magnificent seducer, one of the most visually lush directors working. What gives THE DREAMERS an extra charge is the way he layers in another topic that drives us all to distraction... sex. Matthew (Michael Pitt) is a young American in Paris in the summer of 1968, and he spends much of his time at the Cinematheque, drunk on the dizzying assortment of movies shown. He crosses paths with Isabelle (Eva Green) and Theo (Louis Garrel), a pair of local twins who are just as much in love with movies as Matthew is. Their friendship begins because of this shared interest, but it escalates into something darker and stranger when the parents of the twins go away on a trip and Matthew moves in with them. Bertolucci uses clips from films like BAND OF OUTSIDERS and FREAKS to underline moments in his movie, but more than anything, it’s a film about trying to stay unaware when the world around you demands your participation.





It’s no accident that Gilbert Adair set his novel and screenplay at that specific time and place, right on the eve of revolution. All three of these characters struggle to deny greater truths about the world and about themselves, and the tension of the film comes from wondering if they’re going to wake up and decide to take part, and what will happen if they do. It’s a great disc as far as sound and picture. I picked up the NC-17 cut, and I have no idea what they trimmed to get the R. Eva Green is an architectural marvel, so sexually appealing that she’s like a special effect, but she’s somewhat limited as an actress. Michael Pitt does a nice job in the lead, but ultimately, the star of the film is Bertolucci, and even if it is narratively thin, it will leave film freaks giddy just for the sense of play on display.

THE DAY OF THE LOCUST is about people who want to make the films instead of just watching them, and it may be one of the seediest, most repulsive portraits of the Hollywood fringe that I’ve ever seen. Nathanael West’s novel was adapted into a screenplay by Waldo Salt that drips venom from each and every page, and John Schlesinger, fresh off the triumph of MIDNIGHT COWBOY, poured his full acid wit into bringing that screenplay to life. As with any adaptation, there were choices made that will confound some fans of the book. In particular, some of the characters appear to have been softened to some extent, made more human. No worries, though. This thing’s got fangs, and it uses them. William Atherton plays Tod, a would-be production designer trying to catch a break in the studio system of the ‘30’s. He lives in a shabby apartment building, surrounded by other people who either still hope to make their names or who cling desperately to whatever faded glory they once had. Tod becomes smitten with Faye Greener, an occasional extra who is always convinced stardom lies just around the corner. It’s the one painfully miscast role in the film. I’ve never understood why Karen Black was given roles as a sexually provocative character in the films of the ‘70’s. She’s a grotesque cross-eyed weirdo, but for the sake of the film, we’re asked to believe that every man who comes into contact with her is driven half-mad with desire. Once you accept that, everything else works really well.





The film is dense with great supporting performances. Burgess Meredith was Oscar-nominated for his work as Faye’s father, a vaudevillian who’s been reduced to door-to-door sales. Bo Hopkins and Pepe Serna give good smarm as two of Faye’s would-be suitors. Richard Dysart appears to be the original from which all scumbag studio executives were copied. Jackie Earle Haley makes a disturbing appearance as a gender-challenged child star who sets off the film’s most horrific chapter. Oddly, one of the best performances in the film is by Billy Barty. Thanks to the fact that he was frequently given novelty roles, it’s easy to forget that Barty was a hell of a good actor. The guy who steals the film is Donald Sutherland as the unnerving (and unfortunately named) Homer Simpson. He plays a socially retarded recluse who tries to help Faye, but ends up giving in to the darkest parts of his nature after being taken advantage of in the film’s unforgettable, incendiary conclusion.

Finally having this film available on DVD is, of course, great news, but it's a disappointing and half-hearted home video transfer can be. Conrad Hall’s cinematography was also Oscar-nominated for this film, but you’d never know it based on this transfer that looks like it may well have been used for the old laserdisc release. There's pretty much nothing in the way of extras, a real disappointment considering how creative some companies seem to get these days with even the most obscure catalog releases. This film deserves better.

Finally, there’s Mario Van Peebles’s fascinating look at his father’s obsession with making one particular film outside the studio system, something he felt presented the black experience in America in an honest and unflinching way. When Melvin Van Peebles made SWEET SWEETBACK’S BAADASSSSS SONG, he bet his livelihood, his future, and his health against the idea that his film would have a social impact and actually make money at the same time. He had just finished work on the comedy WATERMELON MAN, and he was offered a three-picture deal at Columbia. They wanted comedies, though, the same kind of films as the one he just made. He couldn’t do it. Remember... this was 1970, and there were no black directors creating personal works of art. Hell, at that point, there were very few filmmakers of any color who were making personal statements. There was no indie cinema to speak of, so when Melvin came up with the idea of mixing up a cinematic Molotov cocktail he could hurl into complacent white society, he knew full well that no one was just going to hand him the money to do it. He didn’t make an independent film because he wanted to; he made it because he had to.





There’s an inherent power to watching Mario Van Peebles play his own father. For one thing, he looks more like him here than he ever has before, and it’s one of the best performances I’ve seen from Mario. He was obviously passionate about this material. He was a witness to a lot of what happened during the production, and not all of it makes his dad look good. Actually, Melvin comes across as a selfish asshole in the film, but a driven asshole with a purpose. Sometimes, obsession is what it takes to do something you believe in, even when everyone else tells you that you’re wrong. The extra features on the CTHE release work with the film to make the case for Melvin’s place in film history. There’s a Q&A between American Cinematheque chief programmer Denis Bartok and Melvin, as well as a featurette about the birth of black cinema and a feature-length commentary with both father and son together. Taken as a whole, it’s a pretty entertaining package, and probably Mario’s finest moment so far as a filmmaker in his own right. Maybe he caught a little of that obsession himself.

THE BAD SEED

FREAKS

VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED/CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED

Have I mentioned how happy Warner Home Video makes me lately?

They used to be an easy company to pick on, and they had the worst packaging in the industry, bar none. Oh, god, do I hate those snapper paper cases. But in the last year or so, they’ve really turned things around, and I couldn’t be any happier about it. They’ve got one of the richest libraries of titles of any of the majors, and it’s nice to see these releases being handled so well. In particular, these three long-overdue titles earned an immediate place on my shelf.

THE BAD SEED was recently announced as a remake-in-development with Eli Roth directing, and it makes perfect sense to me. The story of Rhoda Penmark, the baddest bad little girl ever, has some great sinister kicks, but it’s hard not to view this film as camp when seeing it today. Maybe it’s because most of this cast had played these same roles on Broadway, making the film as soon as the hit show closed, but everyone’s performance is outsized, just as broad as broad can be. Patty McCormack plays Rhoda, and I’ll say this for her... there’s an unnatural degree of poise to the way she plays the role of this cold-blooded creature. The film is basically a dramatic externalization of the argument between nurture and nature, an idea that was still fairly new when Maxwell Anderson wrote his play, based on a novel by William March. Rhoda’s mother Christine (Nancy Kelly) has two mysteries to unravel in the film: the true nature of her child and the truth about her own origins. What she comes to realize is that they’re actually the same mystery, and when she solves one, the answer to the other becomes horrifying clear. Hollywood is squeamish about violence involving children, so you’ve got to give director Mervyn LeRoy credit for going as dark as he does with the film.





There’s a really nice behind-the-scenes documentary on the disc called “Enfant Terrible,” which features a great conversation with Patty McCormack, tracing the project’s evolution from play to film. And if you want to fully embrace the movie’s camp aspects, you’ll love the commentary by McCormack and Charles Busch, writer/director of DIE MOMMY DIE, and an obvious fan of the movie. Despite the film’s four Academy Award nominations, it feels like it had an expiration date on it, and if Warner Bros. does end up turning Eli Roth loose on the material, let’s hope he comes up with something even more intoxicatingly evil.

VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED and CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED were made three years apart, both inspired by John Wyndham’s novel THE MIDWICH CUCKOOS. We’re dealing with more bad kids here, but instead of simply being amoral monsters like Rhoda from THE BAD SEED, these are creatures who aren’t even human. VILLAGE has one of the great set-ups ever as an entire town falls under the spell of something, everyone passing out at the same time and losing several hours in the process. When the finally wake up again, every woman in the town is pregnant. What they eventually give birth to may look like children, but there’s something wrong with them from the start. For one thing, they all look alike with white-blonde hair and the creepiest eyes possible. They learn at an incredibly accelerated rate, and they seem to communicate with one another without words. As they get older, it becomes obvious that they have real power as a group, and anyone who crosses them is in real danger. It’s a good creepy little film, and the climax still packs a punch. CHILDREN, on the other hand, feels like more of the same and it just doesn’t work. There’s not nearly the same level of narrative tension, and the kids aren’t as creepy. For the price of the disc, though, it’s hard to complain about a double-feature, and Warner added a commentary track on each film, theatrical trailers for both, and made sure the B&W transfers are sharp and clean. Overall, it’s a really nice disc.





And then there’s FREAKS, one of the most important home video releases this year.

God bless Warner for not only putting this title out, but for also doing such an excellent job with it. This was the picture that almost completely derailed the career of Tod Browning, who was a huge box-office draw at the time. His collaborations with Lon Chaney had made him one of the most bankable directors in Hollywood. When he read the story “Spurs” by Tod Robbins, he became fixated on the idea of turning it into a film. He tried to get several movie stars to take roles in the film, but the material kept scaring people away. When he finally made it, his cast was filled out with vaguely recognizable character actors and... well... freaks. Browning went out of his way to cast genuinely deformed people as the denizens of a sideshow in his film. He wanted authenticity, and he got it. As a result, the film still has the power to shock and unsettle 74 years after its debut.

The story is incredibly simple. Hans (Harry Earles) is a midget who works in the sideshow. He longs for Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova), a normal-sized beautiful woman who wants nothing to do with him. That is, until she and her strong-man lover Hercules (Henry Victor) learn about the inheritance Hans has just received. They conspire to have Cleopatra marry Hans so they can get his money before they get rid of him.

What they don’t count on is the solidarity that all of the freaks feel for one another. Browning spends the first 2/3 of the film just establishing the community of the sideshow, and here’s where the casting pays off. It really does feel like we’re getting a glimpse inside a private society, one we’d never normally be privy to. Schlitze the Pinhead. Violet and Daisy Hilton, the Siamese Twins. The amazing Johnny Eck, the Half-Boy. The even more amazing Prince Rodian, with no arms or legs. These are some of the most visually striking characters imaginable, and Browning invests even the oddest of them with dignity. The film takes full advantage of the opportunities this cast affords, but it is not about exploitation. Watch the infamous Wedding Banquet sequence where they welcome Cleopatra to their family. It’s disturbing and celebratory and surreal all at once, and there’s a reason you’ll never forget “Gooble gobble gooble gobble, one of us! One of us!” after you hear it. The film’s final 20 minutes are some of the most nightmarish footage ever recorded on film, and no amount of extreme gore can ever compete with the images recorded by Browning.





Little wonder, then, that the film was so controversial when originally released. The documentary on the disc, “FREAKS: Sideshow Cinema,” does a great job of further humanizing the film’s cast and also laying out how the film got made. The documentary is actually a few minutes longer than the film itself, a shame since it looks like we’re never going to get the long-rumored original uncensored version that scarred a San Diego test audience. There’s also a wonderful commentary by David J. Skal, a man who knows his monster movies like no one else. Some of the information is duplicated between the documentary and the commentary, but they’re entertaining in different ways. This is one of the discs that any self-respecting film fan should immediately add to their shelves, and one of the releases Warner Bros. should be most justifiably proud of this year.

CIRCLE OF IRON

Yes, it’s time to throw a little more love at Blue Underground. They deserve it. Who else puts out this kind of crazy eclectic mix of stuff right now? It would be easy to say that all they do is release genre fare and exploitation films, but then they turn around and release something like that Alan Clarke collection. I dig the fact that I don’t know many of the films they release. There’s a sense of discovery when I toss the discs into the the player, and it’s fun to find something I adore that I’d never heard of before, or that I’ve heard of but that I’ve never had the chance to see. For example, I’d only sort of heard of CIRCLE OF IRON, and now that I know more about the backstory of where the film came from, I’m thrilled to own it.

Before he went back to Hong Kong, Bruce Lee struggled to set up film projects with his various judo students and industry friends. There was one project in particular that he created with James Coburn and Oscar-winning screenwriter Stirling Silliphant called THE SILENT FLUTE that was meant to be a martial arts showcase and a Zen fable. Even after they wrote a treatment/script for it, they couldn’t set it up, and no one seemed to understand what the hell they were talking about. Lee ended up going back to Hong Kong, where he finally made the films that launched him to international superstardom. He never got back to THE SILENT FLUTE, but watching the film that did finally get made in 1978, after his death, you have to wonder what would have happened if Coburn and Lee had starred in it as planned.

Even without them involved, this is a film you have to see to believe. Jeff Cooper stepped into the role that Coburn would have played, a loincloth-clad hero named Cord who sets off on a quest to find The Book Of Enlightenment. Along the way, he runs into a Monkey Man, a Panther Man, a blind fighter who plays a silent flute, and a warlord with a crazy Fu Manchu ‘stache... all played by David Carradine. These are the roles that Lee would have played, and the real shame of it is that Carradine just couldn’t pull off the martial arts. He’s okay, but there’s no way you can compare his work here to the nearly-supernatural power of what Bruce Lee accomplished in ENTER THE DRAGON. The film is episodic by design, and some of the stops along the way are more entertaining than others. My favorite scene involves Eli Wallach as The Man In The Oil, but there are also appearances by Christopher Lee and Roddy McDowall that are worth seeing. Richard Moore’s not a great director, but there is a certain amount of lunatic charm to the thing, and not just as an oddball footnote to Lee’s truncated career. A bonus for KILL BILL fans is seeing Carradine with a flute in some scenes that I guarantee made an impression on a younger Quentin Tarantino.





Blue Underground did their customary great job with the disc. The print looks brand-new, and along with a commentary by the director, there’s an interview with Carradine and a text history of the film’s development, as well as trailers and TV spots, an alternate title sequence, and a poster and stills gallery. If you’re in the mood for a fun fantasy flick you probably haven’t seen before, CIRCLE OF IRON is a pretty cool choice.

ALIAS: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON

FUTURAMA: VOLUME FOUR

COLUMBO: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON

Three TV shows that couldn’t be any more different if they tried. Three box sets that are absolute pleasures, start to finish. And more hours of entertainment in the past two weeks than I deserve.

I know a lot of fans seemed disgruntled by the end of ALIAS last season, but I respectfully have to disagree. I think people may have gotten frustrated with the way the show aired. Watching the whole season in four days, I thought it was great. I preferred it to Season Two, actually. There was such a great cliffhanger leading into this season that I figured, based on fan reaction, that they must have seriously dropped the ball. Far from it, I say. When we last saw Sydney (Jennifer Garner), she had just been in a giant fight with Alison Doren (Merrin Dungey), the doppelganger who killed and replaced Sydney’s best friend Francie Calfo (also Dungey). Sydney shot her, then blacked out. When she woke up, she was in Hong Kong, it was two years later, and she had no memory of the time in-between.

JJ Abrams and his writing staff created a really hissable new villain in the form of Lauren, played by Melissa George, who turns up as the new wife of Vaughn (Michael Vartan), who was Sydney’s boyfriend before her blackout. There are two things that Jennifer Garner does well as Sydney: kicking ass and heartbreak. When she has to play one of the many big emotional beats of the show, she always deliver the goods, and more than anything, it’s that mix of action hero tough and wrenchingly vulnerable that makes her appealing as a lead. People who spend time debating how hot she is or isn’t miss the point. When I watch the show, I don’t want to screw Sydney; I want to protect her. One of the other joys of this season is the way the regular supporting cast all seems to get more and more comfortable each year. Greg Grunberg’s Weiss is one of those guys you can just depend on. Rock solid. Doesn’t matter if it’s comedy or drama or action... Grunberg can do it all. Kevin Weisman may be my favorite actor in any show on TV right now. He’s consistently awesome as Marshall, a role that could easily have been a lame imitation of Q from the Bond films. Check out the scene where he gets married. That’s something only Weisman could have made so real and so funny and so tense at the same time. David Anders is a bad guy truly worth hating as Sark, and he seems to have an indecent amount of fun in the role. Carl Lumbly’s Dixon has gone through some pretty major shifts as a character over the run of the show, and he handles all of them with real class. Victor Garber and Ron Rifkin both do outstanding work as Jack Bristow and Arvin Sloane, characters who seem to slide back and forth along the moral scale depending on the situation. They’re both great, and the writers seem to realize just how good they are, throwing them wonderful meaty material at every turn.

This season also made wonderful use of guest stars. Quentin Tarantino seemed even more at ease in his brief return performance, and I hope he’ll be back for Season Four. Ricky Gervais did quiet, nuanced dramatic work in his episode, a pleasant surprise, and I hope people noticed and are going to offer him more of the same in other projects. Isabella Rossellini is, in my opinion, even more interesting than Lena Olin was in Season Two, but that may just be my personal preference between the two actresses. If I had to pick one guest star as the absolute best of the season, there would be no contest. David Cronenberg’s two-episode appearance as Dr. Brezzel, a drug-addled dream researcher, was just incredible. Sometimes I forget that he’s not just a great director, but can also be an amazingly effective actor. He’s so cool in these episodes that I found myself wishing for a spin-off for his character.





I’ll admit that the best run of episodes comes near the end of the season. Once Lauren’s true nature is revealed, things start to heat up. Episode 15, “Façade,” not only features the appearance by Gervais but also feels like a great brain-bending PRISONER episode. Discs five and six, taken as one long episode, not only bring the Rambaldi storyline back to the foreground, but also tie all the interpersonal relationships on the show into brand-new knots. If I have any major complaint about this season, it’s the marked lack of Bradley Cooper as Will. During the few moments he appears, I was reminded of just how great his chemistry with Garner was, and how important he was to the series. Still, I think ALIAS remains one of the most entertaining hours on television, and now that I’ve caught up, I may actually tune in at the start of the year to see the episodes when they air on TV.

Maybe. I love watching the show this way. The DVDs are lovingly produced, and it seems like every season’s been packaged better than the one before. The first episode’s got a commentary track featuring two fans, one who loved the season and one who didn’t. It speaks well of Abrams that he would give fandom this sort of voice on the DVDs. On disc six, there are some great bonuses for the hardcore, including a look at how they film a show set around the world without ever leaving Burbank. There’s a documentary about the season’s guest stars featuring some very funny Gervais footage and an awesome Isabella Rossellini story that Abrams takes obvious delight in telling. There’s an animated ALIAS episode that helps fill out some of Sydney’s missing time. And on disc five, there’s an excerpt from one of the Museum of Radio and Television events that Hercules The Strong attended, called “Creating Characters.” I would have liked to have seen more of it, but I really can’t complain. Overall, ALIAS: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON is a preposterous amount of entertainment.

I equally adore the final FUTURAMA box set, and it makes me sad to realize that’s it. That’s all we get. Fox killed this show waaaaaay too early, and as I rewatch these episodes or see many of them for the first time (thanks, NFL), I’m struck by just how rich a world Matt Groening and David X. Cohen created. This show would have run for 30 seasons in a perfect world. They had all of SF to draw upon in creating new episodes and new characters, and I don’t think any comedy attempt at the genre has ever been this successful with the possible exception of THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. Those 18 episodes prove that FUTURAMA still had plenty of life in it. In fact, there were story threads that they had set up in the first season that were just starting to pay off. I love the characters on this show, and I loved the way they could do a completely crazy and surreal episode (“Bender Should Not Be Allowed On TV” or “Less Than Hero”) just as easily as they could do an unabashedly sentimental one (“Leela’s Homeworld” or “Jurassic Bark”). This may be considered blasphemous, but I actually prefer FUTURAMA to THE SIMPSONS, all things considered. It just speaks directly to my inner nerd.

The greatest thing about these DVDs is the audio commentary over every single episode. In some cases, they’re more entertaining than the already-enormously entertaining episodes themselves. This is a smart and funny group of people, and they obviously enjoy spending time together and revisiting the show. Billy West gets my vote as one of the funniest men alive, always hilarious and sharp no matter what’s being discussed. David X. Cohen may sound like the Comic Book Guy, but he’s justifiably proud of his show, and he always manages to balance the informative with the entertaining, steering the commentaries without overpowering them. I mourn the end of this show, but I commend Fox for at least doing such a nice job in preserving them. All glory to the Hypno-Toad, now and forever.





A show that never truly seems to die is COLUMBO. As long as I’ve been alive, Peter Falk’s been playing this character on TV, and it’s always been the dramatic equivalent of comfort food for me. I know what I’m going to get when I put on a COLUMBO episode, and I’m never disappointed. Now Universal’s gone back to the very start to release the first nine episodes of COLUMBO in a box set, including “Murder By The Book,” directed by Steven Spielberg. Going back to the roots of the character, what is most impressive is realizing just how firmly set in stone Peter Falk’s iconic performance has been since day one. When you watch “Prescription: Murder,” which was a play before it was a TV movie, it’s the same Columbo you see now. Rumpled raincoat, omnipresent cigar, that deceptively befuddled manner that always makes the bad guy think he’s going to get away with something. There are no extras on the discs, but they’re beautifully preserved prints, and they look and sound great. There are some particular highlights here, like “Ransom For A Dead Man,” Spielberg’s episode, or “Suitable For Framing,” but honestly... every episode is fun. Leslie Neilsen, Roddy McDowall, Forrest Tucker, Robert Culp, Eddie Albert, and Ray Milland all show up in these episodes, but the reason to tune in remains the same, week after week, year after year, and decade after decade. It’s no mystery why COLUMBO has lasted as long as it has.





FORBIDDEN ZONE

THE APPLE

Simply put, these are two of the weirdest musicals ever committed to film. One is a sort of perverted genius, while the other is barely digestible trash. All that ultimately separates them is a matter of degrees.

I’m endlessly grateful that I managed to see Oingo Boingo live several times before Danny Elfman called it quits. They put on a hell of a good live show, and every time, it felt fresh. What I regret is never having had a chance to see The Mystic Knights Of Oingo Boingo live. For years, I didn’t know there was a difference between the two. I thought they just had a longer name when they started playing together. Turns out, The Mystic Knights wasn’t a rock band at all. They were more of a performance art swing band experimental orchestral theater sort of thing, part comedy, part music, part surrealism. FORBIDDEN ZONE was Richard Elfman’s way of of trying to capture the spirit of The Mystic Knights on film, and whether or not he fully succeeded, he created a film that is impossible to forget once you’ve seen it.

How do you even begin to summarize the movie? The Hercules Family moves into a house where there’s a doorway to the Sixth Dimension in the basement. When Frenchy (Marie-Pascale Elfman) gets accidentally sucked through the doorway, she ends up caught in a bizarre love triangle between King Fausto (Herve Villechaize) and his super-freaky Queen (Susan Tyrrell). That’s the part that makes sense, but it barely scratches the surface of the weird within. You’ll also be treated to a frog butler, a topless Princess who drives a train of topless women, a teacher who runs her classroom with a machine gun, a chicken boy and his twin brother/sister (both played by FREEWAY writer/director Matthew Bright), and a Cab Calloway singing Satan played by Danny Elfman himself. The film doesn’t even bother trying to make conventional sense, and who cares? The music’s great, it’s disgusting and hilarious, and the B&W photography by Gregory Sandor is genuinely beautiful. I love the animated segments by John Muto, and the film’s so-low-it-doesn’t-exist budget production design is an asset, not a detriment.





You’ve got to hand it to Fantoma DVD. When FORBIDDEN ZONE was released in 1982, it made about eleven cents at the box-office. And unlike many cult films that have built up major rabid followings over the years, it still feels like this one is a secret shared only by the faithful. Fantoma didn’t just dump it into release in a bare-bones edition, either. They created a new high-definition widescreen transfer and let Richard Elfman put together a remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix that is surprisingly robust. There’s an isolated music track of Danny Elfman’s score and songs, also in 5.1, as well as an audio commentary with Richard Elfman and Matthew Bright, his co-screenwriter on the film. Then there’s the documentary, a great sprawling thing that not only details the production of the movie, but which also traces the history of the Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo, complete with some wild archival footage. Richard Elfman hosts the documentary, interviewing everyone involved. I think my favorite moment is when Susan Tyrrell talks about how she fell in love with Herve Villechaize in real life because she “always wanted to fuck a midget.” There’s a music video for “Private Life” that Richard directed for Boingo. There’s a short film that Richard directed called “The Hercules Family” that evidently doesn’t exist anymore, but there are some scenes from it included here, as well as deleted scenes from FORBIDDEN ZONE and some outtakes. Even the insert booklet is great fun, with all the lyrics from the songs included. If you’ve never seen the film, give it a try, and if you’re already a fan, then what the hell are you waiting for?

I’ve had a few friends describe THE APPLE to me as this must-see oddity, one of those so-bad-it’s-great films. When it came out from MGM/UA a few weeks ago, I figured it was worth $10 to see just how hilariously terrible it really was.

Boy, was I wrong.

Imagine having the entire cast of ROLLER BOOGIE and CAN’T STOP THE MUSIC kick you in the balls while having to listen to the soundtracks for both films over and over, and that would still probably be a party compared to THE APPLE. Golan-Globus was one of those combinations of names that pretty much always meant crap as I was growing up in the ‘80’s, the Franchise Pictures of their day. They were producers primarily, but in this case, Menahem Golan is the writer and director as well, so all the blame falls squarely on his shoulders.





To call this film a musical is an affront to actual music. Or to actual films, for that matter. Set in the far-flung future of 1994, this is the story of Alphie and Bibi, folk singers who dare to stand up to the rock-dominated world controlled by Mr. Boogalow, an incredibly un-subtle Satan figure. When they almost win the World Vision song contest instead of Boogalow’s band, he decides to sign them to his label. What unfolds is one dopey disco fable about temptation and true love with some heinous songs by Coby and Iris Recht, a songwriting team that owes me a personal apology. I wonder if Catherine Mary Stewart and Joss Ackland have ever considered buying and burning the negatives of this one, since they’re the only cast members who went on to actual careers. Seriously... this film makes you long for the relative pleasures of XANADU or the Bee Gees version of SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND. It’s a series of catastrophic creative choices, from casting to costuming to choreography. There’s not a good scene in the film, and there’s not a single song that sticks. The symbolism, such as it is, gets ladled on with a sledgehammer. It’s... oh, hell, I don’t even have the energy to go on. Bottom line... if someone tells you that they want to watch THE APPLE because they’ve heard it’s “funny,” just ask them to punch you in the face instead. The net effect will be the same.

That’s it for this week. I’ve already got a huge stack of stuff lined up to review next time like THE ALAMO, THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE, the new ALADDIN DVD, the Alfred Hitchcock collection that just came out, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND and the 10th Anniversary SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION disc, a quartet of movies about God, MAN ON FIRE, and much, much more.

And, oh yeah... I heard something about STAR WARS coming out on DVD this week. Maybe I should check that out. Until then...

"Moriarty" out.





Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 23, 2004, 2:57 a.m. CST

    LAST!!

    by BilboFett

    I am last! "the first shall be last, the last shall be first"

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 3:35 a.m. CST

    Mixed feelings

    by ryLRci

    I picked up the Alias Third Season DVD a few days ago and it's very nice. I was one who despised the season when it aired but found myself pleasently enjoying these episodes back to back (as Herc mentioned). However, there is no excuse for the finale. It was a horrible episode that was rushed filming-wise and edited at the last minute to completely change the cliffhanger which was extremely anti-climatic. I heard the original cliff-hanger (at least in the writing phase) was Vaughn, Syd, and Jack climbing a moutain and something happening which would lead to Syd having to choose between cutting Jack or Vaughn's rope to lose the weight. Even that (as cliche as it is) would have been better. Oh, well. I do agree on David Cronenberg. He's a genius in his arc. Imagine he and Marshall together in the same room. Apparently, it wasn't particulary fun for him to film, so despite his "apparent" death by OD, it's unlikely we'll see him again. Oh and Herc- what'chu talkin' bout? No one, especially not Isabella, will ever compare to the marvelous wonder of Lena in season 2.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 3:42 a.m. CST

    I thought 'Freaks' has been out on DVD for ages?

    by Fugazi32

    ...or is this with all the special features on a disc?

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 4:10 a.m. CST

    I love boobs!

    by Dannychico

    there you have it

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 4:38 a.m. CST

    FIX THE FUCKING CHAT!!!

    by Not The Messiah

    That is all.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 5 a.m. CST

    "

    by Mr Brownstone

    Drugs, baby. Drugs.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 5:37 a.m. CST

    FINALLY! boobs on aicn!

    by satansteve

    lets see it more often, like everyday!

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 6:06 a.m. CST

    Faulty DVDs

    by MKiro

    I have a 400-strong collection of DVDs, and apart from a screwed-up Pearl Harbour (which is probably a blessing in disguise), the only problems I had were with Buffy Season 3. The first box I received had serious scratches on every disc, rendering them unplayable. I returned them to the (online) supplier, and received a replacement within a few days. Same thing again - note each time the box was fully sealed and unatmpered-with. Fortunately, the third set was fine. Looks like Fox may be using a dubous duplicator....

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 6:38 a.m. CST

    And so begins AICN's slide down into being a full-blown hardcore

    by Boba Feet

    Jessica Alba nude for SIN CITY and FANTASTIC FOUR! Badly PhotoShopped cut and pastes of 'Alias' snatch! Harry splicing himself into the special edition 'DVDA" version of 'Brother Bear"! Not that I'm complaining..I'd bang kittens against a brick wall to see that.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 6:58 a.m. CST

    Jedi Council

    by Skraggo

    Hey Moriarty!!! Where the hell's that latest Jedi Council you promised us a month ago or whenever???????

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 8:17 a.m. CST

    Zeekade

    by Monkey Butler

    Jurassic Park's ending was great - it was one of those things that is quite obviously designed to make the audience go "awww", like you said, but I reckon that writers were fully aware of that - it's just one of those little winks, y'know? And I don't think it's fair to compare Simpsons series 5 with Futurama series 5 - they were written in completely different times, with different aims. Then again, by the same logic it's unfair to compare current Simpsons with Futurama, seeing as how Simpsons basically only exists now because of its history, and has no other aim or purpose

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 9:02 a.m. CST

    When they were both on the air at the same time "Futurama" was d

    by rev_skarekroe

    "Futurama" was fresh and exciting while "The Simpsons" was entering a jaded and desperate era that they're still in. I'd buy all the "Futurama" box-sets, but I don't even have time to watch the dvds I already own. sk

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 9:43 a.m. CST

    BITE MY SHINY METAL ASS

    by mortsleam

    They really need to make a Futurama movie. -(8#

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 9:58 a.m. CST

    Inner nerd?

    by Christopher3

    Face it, any regular at AICN has got plenty of outer nerd going on too.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 11:02 a.m. CST

    On one level, it's sad that we'll (probably) never get more Futu

    by Osmosis Jones

    ...but then again, it's *also* good that we won't have to see it degenerate into the soulless, corporate dreck that the post-1998 Simpsons has. I love the fact that I can now watch any episode of the series I want, with narry a bad ep in the bunch (and even the very few mediocre eps are redeemed by the frequently hilarious audio commentaries). Like Moriarty, there were numerous episodes on the last *two* Futurama sets that I had either never seen before, or only joined "already in progress", so watching these in the intended order really made them work even better. And yeah, the ending of "Jurassic Bark" *did* leave me slack-jawed with astonishment, yet at least Futurama had the guts to go for that kind of unabashed sentimentalism, wheras the current run of The Simpsons is too concerned with being "edgy" (read: cruel) to remember the humble sweetness of early eps like the one with Mr. Bergstrom ("You are Lisa Simpson" still makes me tear up). In a just world, Futurama would have run seven or eight seasons and retired while still at it's peak of creativty, but I can live with it's brilliant brevity. "ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNO-TOAD!"

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 12:13 p.m. CST

    Is Alias really THAT good?

    by Blacklist

    I'm looking for an honest opinoin here. The only experience I've had with it is when I bought the first season, watched everything execpt for the final two episodes of that season, then traded it in for something else. Probably a video game. I just didn't get it. I didn't like Sydney's friends. Didn't like how nothing seemed to change in each episode. The pilot I thought set things up really well, but after that just coasted along. Tarantino's appearence was neat, and I found I enjoyed watching him act more than the other characters in that two parter. But just, the throbing techno (do a quiet heist for petesake!) and lyrical emotional buffer music got me down. Does the show get absolutely indispensible in its second and third seasons, or am I missing something? I mean Cronenberg gave his stamp of approval on it (embrace the new flesh, Sydney) so I feel I really should be on the bandwagon.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 12:30 p.m. CST

    well said, Osmosis Jones

    by Blacklist

    Probably where I stopped caring about the Simpsons was when Maude was killed off. Sure by then, the show had really gotten worse, but that was the first instance I can recall where the writers just had to do *something* to shake up the show and couldn't even handle it in a mature way. And jeez the endless Disco Stu references. The show is like a coked up star who never does anything consequential yet somehow still makes the tabloids.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 12:46 p.m. CST

    What, I never knew Don Imus was in Circle of Iron...

    by JWBlack67

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 12:53 p.m. CST

    See, the problem is now that I MUST race out and buy "The Apple"

    by Smilin'Jack Ruby

    Your attempt to dissuade has only led to a pique in curiosity.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 12:59 p.m. CST

    I prefer Futurama as well

    by braine

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 1:48 p.m. CST

    Thank God that Fox TV didn't cut into a Football game to show Fu

    by cornstalkwalker

    I like Futurama but it can be replayed without really losing anything.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 4:03 p.m. CST

    Hey Mori...

    by Chet Hudson

    I really enjoy your DVD columns, but I don't think I'm the only one who would appreciate some sort of warning about the nudity. A lot of us slackers read your site at work. Don't get me wrong: Chet Hudson loves him some boobies, but those screen caps were totally unnecessary. There are more than a few places on the Internet to see tits already.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 6:29 p.m. CST

    an architectural marvel?

    by scrumdiddly

    *runs to imdb*

  • "A surgery in an opera? How wonderfully decadent. And just when I was beginning to lose interest."

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 8 p.m. CST

    MST3k where is "Mitchell" and that planet of the apes one

    by Jon E Cin

    Those are classics and should be in the Essential collection right?

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 8:09 p.m. CST

    Bruce Lee's "JUDO" students?

    by Miracleman

    I believe you mean "Jeet Kune Do" students. Quite a difference there... QUITE a difference.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 10:29 p.m. CST

    YOU SAID MANOS!!!!!!

    by Voice O. Reason

    Every frame of that movie looks like someone's last known photograph. I'm beginning to sober up and you're beginning to scare me. YOU'RE GETTIN' CUTER AND FUNNIER AND I'M LIKIN' YOU MORE AND MORE!

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 10:31 p.m. CST

    We've got some poodle meat in the freezer!

    by DarthSnoogans

    The first thing Harry drilled into me...was Harry!

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 10:35 p.m. CST

    WORK, BOOZE, WORK....

    by Voice O. Reason

    Ziggy had Garfield nuetered...NOW THAT'S FUNNY!

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 11:14 p.m. CST

    You know, it's been two hours, but it's still pretty warm!

    by DarthSnoogans

    The dog is sharp again, mommy!

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 11:18 p.m. CST

    It's no coincidence ...

    by squidman

    That every single fucking one of these articles has Naomi Watts' adoring puss glaring upward at the words of EVERY SINGLE ONE of these "articles". Kind of an ego-boost for the fellas at AICN, I suppoe. A little incinteve. "Oh, Moriarty, what brilliatn insight!" Ah, fuck. I'd do the same thing if I had access to that banner ad. Everyone stop posting and go see Sky Captain. I endorse Vodka.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 11:20 p.m. CST

    spelling errors

    by squidman

    "incentive" and another one. I still endorse Vodka.

  • Sept. 24, 2004, 12:02 a.m. CST

    You can have the top up or a birthday present, honey.

    by Voice O. Reason

    My head: a canker! A big, giant canker!

  • Sept. 24, 2004, 12:18 a.m. CST

    TOM: *Pull*, my finger!

    by Osmosis Jones

    CROW: Oh look, honey, they have a little altar to Ba-al. ~~~ TOM: It's a Frank Frazetta of, uh, Fran Zappa. ~~~ "Silence!" JOEL: Is golden! "SILENCE!" JOEL: IS GOLDEN! ~~~ JOEL: Torgo wobbles, but he won't fall down. ~~~ CROW: Some more delicious A-1, my pet...? ~~~ JOEL: We're gonna do business the way my old man does business! *You*, put a hankerchief on your head, *you* swat at imaginary elves, *you*, rock on the porch all night! ~~~ TOM: Sounds like he has a humpback whale under the hood.

  • Sept. 24, 2004, 2:22 a.m. CST

    AGGH! Flying elves are back!

    by DarthSnoogans

    Hire good men. Make sure they're clean! Give them backrubs!

  • Sept. 24, 2004, 11:05 a.m. CST

    "Tell them I hate them!!"

    by trafficguy2000

    "You still have Zoidberg!" "You have to use a light touch" "Like starting a fire in a bar?" C'mon, how can you not love Futurama?

  • Radar Secret Service, another deserving to be an MST3K Essential. Plus, it has one of *the* best shorts attached to it, i.e "Why don't they look?"

  • Sept. 24, 2004, 3:37 p.m. CST

    Studios should hire the MST3K crew for freelance commentary trac

    by FrankDrebin

    They'll never lose a cent on the films, no matter how bad they are.

  • Sept. 24, 2004, 3:41 p.m. CST

    The final season of FUTURAMA was weak (except for the Star Trek

    by FrankDrebin

    If you'll recall, Fox ordered the writers to whip out a full season of scripts ASAP, so that Fox could hurry up and fire them all. Way to inspire quality, Fox.

  • Sept. 24, 2004, 3:50 p.m. CST

    by mbeemer

    I'd only seen that on "South Park". Should have known it was a tribute...

  • Sept. 24, 2004, 3:51 p.m. CST

    "When I watch the show, I don

    by mbeemer

    I'd do both if it were in my power!

  • Sept. 24, 2004, 9:46 p.m. CST

    You are accused of stealing painted eggs in a time of famine...o

    by Voice O. Reason

    Visit beautiful Ground Zero. MY CORE TEMPERATURE'S DROPPED!

  • Sept. 26, 2004, 9:04 a.m. CST

    okay, just a few things...

    by Mithril

    1) Alan Clarke's "The Firm" is truly fabulous. Gary Oldman is at his typical brilliant level. ("Scum" is good too, but "The Firm" kicks its ass.) and 2) "Jurassic Bark" is a great episode. Let's face it, in almost any other show, the dog would've been shown getting a chance for a happy new life due to Fry. But on Futurama, they dare to have the dog die! You might consider it too emotional, but you can't call it pandering or manipulative. I applaud it for daring to be emotional and for not making everything "okay" for the audience. Something more shows should think about doing.