THE EPITAPH VOL.2
CRIME TIME TV: HOT STREETS AND COOL COPS: MIAMI VICE & KNIGHT RIDER SEASON ONE / THE AWESOMES: THE COMPLETE SERIES / LIFE OF THE PARTY / LOWLIFE / THE VIOLENCE MOVIE / PACIFIC BANANA / ANIME 3-SERIES COLLECTIONThis week we have an eclectic mix of capsule reviews, some classic 80's TV, irreverent superhero animation, anime, an 80's Aussie sex-comedy, 80's SOV horror, and a darkly comedic tale of organ-harvesting.
CRIME TIME TV: HOT STREETS AND COOL COPS: MIAMI VICE & KNIGHT RIDER SEASON ONE on DVD from Mill Creek Entertainment, here we get both the first seasons of these two eighties TV classics packaged together with a bonus set called 'TV's Greatest Crime Stoppers', with a slipcase housing all three sets. I remember watching both these series from the premiere on as a kid, I was a total 80's kid I loved both of these shows a bunch, butlets be honesy folks, Knight Rider just doesn't hold-up, it's a bit of cheese-fest, but that's not all bad, I still dig it in a sorta bad TV kind of way, we have the bonafide 80's hunk in cool-guy David Hasslehoff fighting crime with his wisecracking artificially intelligent car K.I.T.T., it's a product of it's time, a talking car just doesn't seem all that odd or cool these days. Miami Vice on the other hand still holds up as a Stylish 80's crime series, set in Miami (duh) and loaded with great 80's songs from INXS, U2 and Peter Gabriel, from the mind of Michael Mann (Manhunter) this thing still sucked me in from episode one, equally glamorous and gritty this is seriously one of the best shows of the 80's.
Also from Mill Creek Entertainment we have the animated superhero send-up THE AWESOME: THE COMPLETE SERIES on 3-disc Blu-ray, this show was co-created by Seth Meyers (Late Night with Seth Meyers, SNL) who also voices the main character. A fun take on the superhero team concept featuring Meyers and a crew of SNL alumni doing a riff on misfit superheros, the all-star cast features the comedic talents of Kennan Thomspon, Cecily Strong, Bill Hader, Amy Poehler, Leslie ones and loads more. If you're fan of irreverent superhero fare like Mystery Men you should have a blast with The Awesome, way better than that godawful Teen Titans Go!, ugh. The 3-disc set collects all three season (30 episodes) and it looks and sounds great. The set includes a real Mill Creek rarity - EXTRAS! - and comes with a slip.
In the straight-up comedy corner we have LIFE OF THE PARTY (2018) from Warner Bros. who sent us the Blu-ray for review. This is a comedy that answers the question, can any of the classic 80's comedies be remade today and still work? Okay, this is not a remake, but it's basically a version of the Rodney Dangerfield comedy Back to School (1980) with a gender reversal. When Melissa McCarthy's character is dumped by her philandering husband for another women she returns to the same college as her senior-year daughter to fulfill a life-long dream of finishing up her own senior year, and collegiate/family comedy ensues. McCarthy is a funny lady, I love her is most of her stuff but this one feels like an extended SNL sketch, a of vignettes with a loosely connected story that doesn't try hard to be deep and succeeds. It's funny, but the laughs are superficial and the story doesn't resonate, but it offers McCarthy a chance to work against a cast of funny young people, who are all pretty great, standouts being Gillian Jacobs who I thought was awesome, plus an appearance by Heidi Gardner from SNL as McCarthy's goth roommate, plus Maya Rudolpbh as her bestie, who is always fun. The Blu-ray/DVD combo comes with a Movie Anywhere digital code and some fun extras, including 46 minutes of outtakes and extended scenes.
If you're looking for something seriously demented and fun check out LOWLIFE (2018) on Blu-ray from IFC Midnight and Scream Factory, a darkly comic film about the titular lowlifes who live in a particularly seedy neighborhood. We have three different stories cross-threaded in a way that brought to mind Pulp Fiction, stories of sex-slavery, organ harvesting, and drugs all anchored by a masked Mexican wrestler who calls himself El Monstruo, a guy who tries to do good in the world but is in the pocket of a sleazy crime boss who runs the neighborhood, and also has psychotic blackouts that always end with destruction. Also making an appearance are a pair of bumbling kidnappers, one with a huge swastika tatted on his face, and a crooked ice agent in the service of the crime boss. The comedy is super-dark and the movie is surprisingly grotesque with some nice gory moments. The single-disc release includes a pair of commentaries, making of featurette, short films and a slipcover, plus a sleeve of reversible artwork.
For connoisseurs of 80's sex-comedies I offer up the Aussie screwball comedy PACIFIC BANANA (1981) from Umbrella Entertainment, a rather pleasantly inept slice of sexed-up farce about an airline pilot (Graeme Blundell, Alvin Purple) whose love life is seriously dampened by an incorrigible sneeze that flattens his love-rod at inopportune moments, visualized by a recurring wind-sock visual gag that pops up throughout. This cheeky romp is fun and goofily lurid with loads of nude women trying to arouse the Mr. Sneeze-a-Lots. If you're just looking to ogle some gorgeous women who throw themselves needlessly at a guy with an broken joystick you could do a lot worse. The region-free PAL formatted disc is anamorphc widescreen and has quite a few extras including a making of mini-doc, interview with director John D. Lamond (Felicity) and more.
For all you 80's SOV (Shot-On-Video) junkies out there we have THE VIOLENCE MOVIE (PARTS & 2) (1988), a pair of truly homemade slasher shorts made by brothers Eric and David Wilkinson. These were shot on consumer grade video camcorders, they're inept but infused with a true-love of the slasher genre that shines through. I cannot say straight-faced that these were good by any stretch of the imagination - they're awful - but I love the heart behind them, but these make the Video Violence films look like Friday the 13th by comparison. That these have arrived on DVD thirty years later with a prestigiously packaged presentation is a head scratching wonder, the set includes a reversible sleeve that mimics big box VHS releases from the 80's, with the well-worn VHS rental look with fake rental stickers, a design I most associate with the MVD Rewind Collection from the same label. The extras include commentaries, alternate version, outtakes, 2003 re-shoots, trailer and gallery. Did I mention that Harry Manfredini (Friday the 13th) does the score for these!?! Yeah, it's not his best stuff, but as someone who made shitty horror film on video in the 80's with friends I couldn't imagine any of them showing up on DVD with extras, sweet packaging and a score from Manfredini, we live in strange and wondrous times indeed!
Finishing-up up this week we have a trio of anime titles on DVD from Mill Creek Entertainment by way of ANIME 3-SERIES COLLECTION which collects Ultraviolet: Code 044, Kurozuka and Viper's Creed, nearly 14 hours of anime craziness on three-discs. I gave these a shot and was not a fan of them, I mainly wanted to check out Ultraviolet: Code 044 because I had watched the film adaptation and thought it was serviceable, but not great. However, if you're looking to pick these series up on the cheap this set will only set you back $25, the solo collections for these series alone will easily set you back $30 plus each, so it's a gonga-deal for fans.
If I had to pick just of these releases and give it the seal of approval I'm going with Lowlife (2018), it's super dark and seedy comedy with intertwining stories that come together in a deliciously twisted and satisfying way, loved it, highly recommended.