My Bloody Valentine: Special Edition
Holidays suck. Single folk don't want to spend them alone. People with big families don't want the drama they cause. Then there are the parties to plan, gifts to purchase and the racks of cards to wade though in search of the right one. Yep, holidays can be scary. Need more proof? Just check out Hollywood, which has been exploiting our holiday dread with an endless barrage of slashers based around them. No festive day has gone untortured — Mother's Day, April Fool's and New Year's Eve. But let's face it, Valentine's Day deserves one. Nothing says, "Gimme the slasher treatment," more than a day that requires you to give a gift adorned with arrow-pierced hearts and creepy, diaper-clad cherubs. Eeesh! The day that's haunted so many lovelorn finally got its due with 1981's stylish and gory My Bloody Valentine. There's a killer on the loose in the aptly named Podunk mining town Valentine's Bluff, where a group of miners were trapped after an explosion. Their bosses skipped out of work early to attend the annual Valentine's dance, so it went unnoticed for hours. The only man to survive was Harry Warden, who, after his rescue, went schizo. He got revenge by getting dolled up in his fetishistic miner gear and killing the locals. The town decides to resurrect the Valentine's Day celebration after a 20-year hiatus. After all, Harry's locked up in a mental institution. Right? Well, then who's sending those heart-shaped boxes filled with human hearts?
This special edition DVD, released to coincide with the 3-D remake that just came out, contains a bevy of lost footage that got axed by Jack Valenti and his MPAA cronies. There's also a short doc on the history of MBV, as well as an interactive horror film history that traces slashers back to Hitchcock's Psycho. MBV is a nice flashback to the good old days when you didn't need to remake a slasher, much less in 3D. All you had to do was pick a holiday. —Paul Knoll
The strongest of 2008's five Best Picture nominees, Milk arrives in DVD earlier than expected — it's still playing theatrically in some markets. Equal parts intimate character study and broad survey of a civil rights battle, Milk both epitomizes and transcends its titular subject to act as a document of a movement. The special features on this Universal disc attest to this: In "Hollywood Comes to San Francisco," we learn about the key figures from the gay rights movement who are still alive and assisted on the project, many appearing in cameos alongside the actors who portrayed them. The performers discuss the bizarre, almost surreal thrill the experience evoked. In "Marching for Quality," which looks at the corralling of thousands of unpaid extras for the candlelight march scene, the film offers poignant reflection for the San Franciscans who remember Milk and the assassination. It's clear watching these supplements that director Gus Van Sant spared no expense at providing painstakingly realistic period detail, which went well beyond the integration of archival footage. But Van Sant and Sean Penn are conspicuously absent from any of the interview segments. —John Thomason
Going green's all the rage and we've all piled on the bandwagon, now, haven't we? You can buy eco-friendly products or consume organic produce and free-range meat and poultry. Maybe you've already started using energy-saver bulbs and building materials that come from renewable resources. Even filmmakers are getting into it; just check out the new flick by Danny and Oxide Pang who've gone so far as to title their new flick Re-Cycle. Coincidence? Probably. Still, somebody ought to tell them that recycling old scripts and plots won't lower carbon emissions. It will, however, annoy the hell out of any poor schlub who's seen Alice in Wonderland, Pan's Labyrinth or Silent Hill. The Pang Brothers — who recently landed gigs stateside with The Messengers and a remake of their film Bangkok Dangerous — are the j-horror equivalent to the Cohen Brothers. Their 2002 movie The Eye was one of the best in the now overcrowded vengeful Asian ghost genre. But Re-Cycle — which is a small departure from the pasty longhaired spooks and haunted electronic devices — isn't nearly as fresh as you'd hope from the brothers Pang. It sees bestselling author Ying-Tin (Angelica Lee) suffering writer's block after (easily) cranking out three novels. She begins seeing someone who matches a character she's writing about. Then one day she leaves her apartment and somehow lands in a decaying fantasy world made up of things abandoned or forgotten in the real world — discarded toys, unwritten books, faded memories, dead people and unborn fetuses. The flick begins as a potentially great story about the people and things that shape us but get cast aside as life moves on. But instead of exploring the existential brouhaha, the movies becomes bogged down in vague symbolism, metaphors and a series of nonsensical tasks that the heroine must complete to continue her journey. Re-Cycle feels like a video game you've played once too often. Oh wait, you already have. —Paul Knoll