VideoReport #427

Volume CDXXVII- Sherlock Holmes And The Mystery Of Who Thought Charlton Heston As A Mexican Guy Was A Good Idea

 For the Week of 10/21/13

 Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. Netflix just sent a nude selfie to your significant other.

Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Mystery/Thriller, Animation, or Staff Picks sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>>Andy suggests Rosemary’s Baby (in Mystery/Thriller). I watch this movie every few months, whether it’s during the spookiest time of the year or not. Once, on the night before I took my SATs, I stayed up too late watching Rosemary’s Baby. I didn’t do particularly well on that test, but, well, no regrets. This is a real slow builder of a horror movie. It’s starts with Rosemary (so meek and vulnerable, played by Mia Farrow) and Guy (so charming and, I’ll say it, devilishly played by John Cassavetes), a hip, young married couple, renting an apartment in a spooky building. How spooky is the building? Elisha Cook, Jr. is their landlord. He is also a ghost*. Guy and Rosemary befriend their elderly neighbors, Roman (Sidney Blackmer) and Minnie (Ruth Gordon, in the most Ruth Gordon-est of all Ruth Gordon performances) and everything is very nice for a while. Guy and Rosemary decide to have a child and (SPOILER ALERT), they succeed in getting Rosemary’s pregnant! I mean, everything is pretty ducky if you disregard that strange, upsetting dream Rosemary has on the night of conception featuring Guy, Roman, Minnie, and possibly Nick Nolte and a coven of Nick Nolte-worshippers. Rosemary has a difficult pregnancy, which would make for a pretty wrenching movie by itself. But then she also begins to have suspicions about her neighbors’ intentions, and their possible involvement with Nick Nolte. Like I mentioned earlier, Rosemary’s Baby is a slow builder, but build it surely does, all the way to a conclusion that’s every bit as creepy and tense as you could hope! Also, I forgot to mention that Roman Polanski directed this movie, and it’s probably the best thing he has ever made.

*No, he’s not.

Tough and Triassic Tuesday! Give yourself a free rental from the Action or Classics section with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests Sunset Boulevard (in Classics.) Not every monster is unearthly, and not every monster movie needs a literal monster. Billy Wilder’s Hollywood horror is all too plausible. Just seconds ahead of the repo men on his tail, down-at-heel screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) stashes his car in the garage of an abandoned mansion… but of course it isn’t abandoned. Reclusive, forgotten silent-screen star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) lurking in her sprawling, dilapidated mansion as regally as Dracula in his castle, as foreboding as Dr. Frankenstein in his family manor, as sinister as a spider waiting for a fly to come wandering into her web. And Joe wanders right in. Joe uses Norma: her home, her money, her protection. But Norma doesn’t merely use Joe; she feeds on him, drinking in his youthful energy, his talent, and – most of all –his smallest gestures of affection to sustain her waning vitality. Wilder emphasizes the classic-horror flavor of the film by repeatedly shooting Swanson like a classic Universal monster: facing the frame, gothic shadows looming all around her, as she fixes her mesmerizing gaze on the camera – and, by extension, on us. She is as menacing and macabre as Bela Lugosi, and as tragic a figure in the end.

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday! You’ve got a free rental coming from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!   >>> It’s the Videoport dating advice column!

Q—I met this great new guy—he’s considerate, generous, and even gets along with my parents—but I saw him leave a rental DVD out of its case on the coffee table. Should we get married?

A—Dump him. He’s clearly of low character and cannot be trusted. You’re welcome.

Q—I came home to find that my wife had made us a delicious dinner and planned a romantic evening, but I noticed that the rental copy of Hope Floats she had rented for our post-dinner snuggle-time was covered with fingerprints made of our supper’s delicious gravy. Should I ignore it?

A—Dump her. She is clearly a serial killer.

Q—When I went through my date’s DVD collection while he was in the bathroom, I noticed his personal DVDs were pristine but the one’s he’d rented for us to watch had been left out where his cat had walked all over them and scratched them. Is he a keeper?

A—Get out! Get out of there! He’s clearly planning to kill you! Oh god—he’s right behind you…[static]

Thrifty Thursday! Rent one, get a free rental from any other section in the store! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>>Videoport customer Chad suggests The Thing (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) Just to see that head turn into a spider.

Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!

>>>It’s free. For kids!

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Vikings (in Action.) I’ll write more at some point, but I will just say this—this show is outstanding in its approximation of a truly alien culture. Ragnar Lothbrok and company are legitimately, thrillingly…other. Good show.

>>>For Sunday, it’s Emily S. Customer’s five scariest movie endings. Many horror films tacitly celebrate and reiterate conventional values, both by punishing violation of the social order and by restoring that order at the end, maybe with a hint of future danger as a playful stinger.

But not these films. In these films, the end is the stinger, loaded with poison. There is no order; there is no safety; there is no peace or play or pleasure. There is only terror, repeated and rampant. [NB: This list is ALL SPOILERS. There are SPOILERS HERE. This is NOTHING BUT SPOILERS. SPOILERS, Y’ALL.]

Mulholland Dr. I’m a little shame-faced to admit how deeply the last few minutes of David Lynch’s twisty-turny neo-noir mindbender unsettles me, and I can’t quite put my finger on why, but it does. When I obsessively watch and re-watch the film (and of course I do, oh, I do), if I’m alone, I almost always stop just short of the terrible booming knock on Diane’s door; if you could peek in my window at that moment (and of course you do, oh, you do), you’d see me lunge for the remote in comical terror to avoid having to see the shrunken, tiny figures of the elderly visitors creep under the door and then grow to loom over her as she shrieks. Just thinking about it is giving me the actual, literal creeps.

The Blair Witch Project. The Blair Witch Project was something of a phenomenon at release. The simple premise: three student filmmakers disappeared while shooting a documentary researching a terrifying local legend; this is their last known footage. The film’s eerie realism, achieved by casting then-unknown actors (Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, Joshua Leonard) who improvised around a skeletal script as they trekked from campsite to campsite over an 8-day shoot, was reinforced by a then-innovative online promotional website tying in (fictional) police reports of missing film students, (faked) investigative interviews, and (embellished) reports of historical legends. The film hinges on the uncertainty of their fates, so it’s no surprise that the end is ambiguous. Some viewers were jarred by the sudden ending; some were annoyed by the lack of resolution. But for me, the mixture of simplicity and obscurity in The Blair Witch Project’s final moments is bone-chilling.

Night of the Living Dead. After a long night trapped in an abandoned house fighting off unending hordes of shambling corpses, only one of our characters survives, and deservedly so: even under attack by the inexplicable horror of shambling corpses, Ben (Duane Jones) is quick-thinking, capable, and tenacious. As the film draws to a close, Ben falls into a brief, uneasy slumber. He’s awakened to morning’s bright light by the sound of gunshots as sheriffs amble through the countryside, casually dispatching the last of the zombies. Thinking the nightmare is over, Ben approaches the window… and is shot dead by a deputy and tumbled onto the pyre of burning bodies. Given the social and political tensions in 1968 and the lazily assured good-ol’-boys cast as the posse, it’s not clear whether Ben’s killing is a moment of tragic negligence or an opportunistic hate crime, an ambiguity that caps off 90 minutes of supernatural horror with a far more resounding moment of mundane horror. Night of the Living Dead remains the only horror film that still leaves me sobbing – in sorrow, in frustration, in rage, in existential despair.

Let The Right One In (Swedish version). The contrast between the tone and the reality is jarring: in the moment, Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is happy, smiling in the sunshine as the train zips through the frozen landscape, his new and dear friend Eli (Leana Leandersson) safely sheltered in the trunk at his knee, the sadistic bullies and negligent adults of his former life left behind, only adventure ahead. But in reality, we know what lies ahead for Oskar, and it’s the same fate Eli’s former caretaker suffered: to cut all ties of human contact, to stalk and slaughter victims for Eli to batten on, to practice and hone his appetite for violence and cruelty, and finally, inescapably, to grow older and older while Eli stays young, to lose his value to Eli, to see his charge’s affections wither and waste, and finally to be discarded for another. Oskar sees a world opening up before him, but that world is as empty and frozen as the winter terrain speeding by the window.

The Tenant. Polanski’s The Tenant feels like one long, sustained nightmare: oppressive, humiliating, paranoid, sweatily unstable. Meek expatriate Trelkovsky (Polanski) has been scouring Paris for someplace to live. Finally – what a lucky break! – he finds an apartment, newly vacated when the previous tenant threw herself out the window, smashing through the glass awning to the street. Trelkovsky snaps up the place despite the hostile proprietress (Shelly Winters) and standoffish fellow tenants. And that’s where the nightmare begins. The entire film is suffused with dread, but the first time I saw it – at the too-tender age of 11 – nothing in my small experience of the world prepared me for the horrors of the ending, when Trelkovsky’s doppelganger finally catches up to him.

New Releases this week at Videoport: The Conjuring (from the director of Insidious [some people liked it more than I did] comes this pretty decent horror flick about a family calling in a pair of married demonologists when their new house starts haunting the bejeezus out of them; plus it’s “based on a true story” because ghosts are totally real and not the nonsensical products of dumb, gullible people’s childlike imaginations!), The Internship (Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn try to recapture some of the Wedding Crashers magic as a pair of middle aged, laid-off execs who try to obtain the titular coveted gig at a certain internet company; will their undeniable comic chemistry triumph over the fact that the entire movie is just a poorly disguised exercise in product placement for Google? Rent it and see!), Before

You should really just rent all of these...

You should really just rent all of these…

Midnight (Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke are back as the formerly star-crossed lovers of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset; director Richard Linklatter and stars Delpy and Hawke reunite to drop back in on one of the most realistically-drawn couples in movie history, this time dealing with the pitfalls of marriage…and some other stuff I’m not going to tell you; just watch all three movies…), The Way, Way Back (great-looking indie comedy about a young guy who bonds with the oddball director of a water park; with an all-star indie cast including Sam Rockwell, Steve Carrell, Maya Rudolph, and Allison Janney), Only God Forgives (everybody’s hunky boyfriend Ryan Gosling re-tems with Drive director Nicholas Winding Refn for this violent thriller about a disgraced guy running an underground boxing ring in Bangkok who has to deal with his mother [Kristin Scott Thomas] arriving looking for vengeance against the people who killed her other son [the one she really loved]; I’m hearing lurid, upsetting, and sordid—so enjoy!), Dead In Tombstone (busy awesome guy Danny Trejo stars in another bloody genre picture, this time as a murdered old West crime lord who makes a deal with Satan [Mickey Rourke, of course] to gun down the baddies who killed him; co-starring Anthony Michael Hall for some reason), A Hijacking (Danish maritime thriller about a cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates; sure, Tom Hanks isn’t in it, but does he have to be in everything for you to watch it, people?), Psych- season 7 (James Roday and Dule Hill continue to be the most effortlessly funny comedy team in the “pleasant comedy detective show” TV universe), Vikings- season 1 (You should check out this History Channel series about, well, you read the title; it’s actually really good.), Foyle’s War- season 7 (everyone loves this British mystery series about a British detective investigating the murder of British people by other British people), Stuck In Love (Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, and Kristen Bell star in this indie drama about a writer’s family dealing with…things indie things…), Star Wars Clone Wars- season 5 (these animated Star Wars shows are clearly better than the actual Star Wars prequels), Shepard & Dark (I will be watching this documentary about genius playwright Sam Shepard and his lifelong friend and correspondent Johnny Dark as soon as you guys are done doing so), The Wall (enigmatic German film about a woman who suddenly finds herself shut off from the world by an invisible barrier [aka wall]; it has to be better than Under The Dome…)

New Arrivals at Videoport: Wuthering Heights (Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon starred, at their impossibly beautiful best, in this sweeping 1939 adaptation of the Emily Bronte romance classic)

New Releases on Blu Ray This Week At Videoport: Europa Report, Dead In Tombstone, Pacific Rim.

Get yourself some free money at Videoport! As if you needed another reason to rent here, Videoport has these deals which just plain give you free money. Check it out: pay 20 bucks up front on your rental account, and we turn that into 25 dollars worth of rental credit. Do the same thing but with 30 dollars, and we give you 40 dollars worth of store credit. That’s either five or ten free bucks, which you were going to spend here anyway eventually. So why wouldn’t you go for this deal? Um–you hate deals maybe? I’m not your psychiatrist…

VideoReport #375

Volume CCCLXXV- The Girl With the WASSSUUUP!? (Which She Doesn’t Show People Much Anymore) Tattoo

For the Week of 10/23/12

Videoport gives you a free movie every day. And we want you to have that free movie because we have all the movies and because we want you to watch all the movies.

Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Mystery/Thriller, Animation, or Staff Picks sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>> Dennis suggests a George A. Romero zombie trilogy Halloween extravaganza (in Horror, duh.) SPOILERS!Romero literally invented e modern horror genre with these three movies: Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead. You know the drill by now- inexplicably, the recently deceased start waking up and mindlessly chomping on the living, who then become zombies themselves, and start chomping, and so on. If you’ve got any math skills, you’ll call that an exponential progression, and the gradual-but-accelerating extinction of the human race (read: us) is all but assured- unless, you know, the disparate, divided, squabbling peoples of the earth can set aside our weaknesses, our prejudices, and out fears and work together. Yeah, good luck with that. What these initial three films sketch out so chillingly, so masterfully, is the fact that, in the face of such an incomprehensible global threat, it’s the human element more than the ravenous zombie hordes that are going to doom us all. In Night, the phenomenon has just begun, and the microcosm of our collective dunderheadedness is played out in an isolated farmhouse, with the only sane man (the great Duane Jones) unable to bring his reason to bear on the dimwits who inevitably muck everything up. In Dawn, things are getting worse, society is breaking down, and a quartet of refugees (led by the equally-awesome Ken Foree) hole up in a zombie-infested shopping mall, fortifying it into a safe haven-until humanity comes around to assert its inherent crappiness again. And then in Day, it’s all over. A tiny band of scientists and soldiers have retreated into an abandoned salt mine to wait out the end (although the scientists hold out hope for some sort of solution to the zombie plague which now outnumbers humans, as one guesses, some 300,000 to one.) In Romero’s trilogy (sadly, his return to the genre in later years has been thoroughly underwhelming), the inexorable extinction of us all was there all along- it was just waiting for the right catastrophe to reveal itself. (Oh, and fast zombies are the dumbest thing in the history of cinema and anyone who prefers them over the shambling, classic Romero zombies is a complete dumbass.)

Tough and Triassic Tuesday! Give yourself a free rental from the Action or Classics section with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>>Dennis suggests The Worst Horror Monsters of All Time!

Feel like some giggles along with your squiggles this Halloween? Try these for the filmmakers who shot for the moon…and landed in crazy/sillytown instead.

1. The Giant Claw (in Classics-on a double feature DVD with Creature With the Atom Brain.) Deep in the giant monster craze of the 1950s, someone looked at all the giants ants, rabbits, mantises, spiders, and gila monsters, and thought, “Hey- no one’s done a giant turkey-buzzard thing, right?” And no, no they hadn’t. Nor had they thought of suspending said critter from some of the thickest and most secure wires in all the land. You really have to see this one to believe it.

2. Birdemic: Shock and Terror (in Incredibly Strange.) Over 50 years had passed since The Giant Claw, and giant guywires give way to the free software available in iMovie in this tale of killer birds flying amok and killing people through their powers of not being of the same opacity and believability as the actual humans they are trying to kill. Makes you long for Hitchcock’s stuffed bird puppets.

3. Mystery Science Theater 3000 (over 100 episodes available in the Incredibly Strange Section.)All people who love funny things and movies know about MST3k, wherein funny people (and robots) make with the wisecracks at the expense of some of the worst movies of all time. Sure sometimes they’re making fun of Joe Don Baker, but other times they’re mocking monsters even more rubbery and unconvincing, such as: The Giant Gila Monster, Gamera (many movies), The Giant Spider Invasion, Revenge of the Creature, The Blood Waters of Dr. Z, King Dinosaur, Devil Fish, Werewolf, Pod People, The Horrors of Spider Island, Bride of the Monster, and on and on. Guaranteed laughs if you have any sense of humor at all.

4. Attack of the Giant Leeches (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) How did the dudes in the wrinkly trash bags not drown in that swamp?

5. Troll 2 (in Horror- on a double feature DVD with the still awful, but so much better than this Troll.) Like Birdemic, Troll 2 is of the legendarily bad, so bad it’s good category, and part of the fun in this epic crapfest is the drug store-quality troll masks. Seriously? They don’t move when the trolls talk. It’s like trick or treating, except someone expected people to pay to see it.

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday! You’ve got a free rental coming from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>>Videoport customer Deb T. suggests American Movie (in Comedy.) If you ever find yourself thinking you’re dreaming the impossible dream, or if you ever wonder if true friendship exists, I urge you to go rent “American Movie.” As a die-hard Evil Dead fan who occasionally makes awful movies with her friends, a documentary about some friends making a horror movie sounded like the perfect fit. And on that level, it did not disappoint. There were bad costumes, bad acting, and situations with people in robes in a field. I loved it all. But on top of all that was the amazing ability of the subject of this film – Mark – to hold onto his dream of making these movies against all odds (those odds including no money, no real actors, his own challenges in his life, etc.) Not only was his hope never diminished, but he was supported by the most incredible group of friends and family I have ever seen. Friends willing to be in his movies, fund his movies, and share in the excitement of Mark’s dream. These are friends we all need – the kind who are willing to let you slam their head into a cabinet over and over just to get the scene perfectly right in your movie. I rented this film thinking  it would be funny and interesting. I came away surprised at how inspired and moved it made me. I loved the friendships and the family loyalty. I loved Mark’s enthusiasm for his impossible dream. I loved all of the characters. It is truly an incredible film. That said, if Videoport still has “Britney, Baby One More Time,*” don’t, under any circumstances rent it. The only redeeming piece of this movie (which features Mark and his friend, Mike) is that it proves that Mark and Mike were totally genuine in the first movie because they certainly can’t act in this one.

*Editor’s note: we do. Please don’t judge us…

Thrifty Thursday! Rent one, get a free rental from any other section in the store! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>>Dennis suggests these scary TV episodes (for when you come in to find a scary movie at the last minute for Halloween.) Here are some genuinely scary TV alternatives. Nobody’s gonna rent these, so go nuts:

1. ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ – ‘Hush’ (season 4, episode 10) It’s an awesome show, but the Buff’s horror elements weren’t usually its main attractions. This one, though introduces The Gentlemen, easily one of the greatest, creepiest monsters on TV (or movies) ever. The plot: the town of Sunnydale wakes up one day unable to speak. Amidst the ensuing chaos, we meet The Gentlemen- whose skull-like faces, rictus grins, and silent obsequious politeness mark them as pure nightmare fuel as they drift through the now-silent streets of Buffy’s hometown harvesting hearts from people unable to scream. Sure, there’s comedy, and some affecting love stuff for the Buff and the stiff-but-noble Riley (well, I like him), but the image of The Gentlemen will haunt your dreams.

2. ‘Doctor Who’- ‘Blink’ (Season 3, episode 10.) “Don’t Blink. Blink and you’re dead. Don’t turn your back. Don’t look away. And don’t blink. Good Luck.” That’s the advice Sally Sparrow [the delightful Carey Mulligan- Shame, An Education] receives from David Tennant’s Doctor on a series of inexplicable taped messages. It’s pretty good advice, since this episode’s villains, the absolutely chilling Weeping Angels, are statue-like monsters who can only move in on you when you’re not looking. And this episode, masterfully directed by Hettie Macdonald, makes terrifying use of that concept. Don’t look away. And don’t blink. Seriously…

3. ‘Firefly’- ‘Bushwhacked’ (episode 2) In this not-enough-complimentary-words-to-accurately-describe-it sci fi series, the scrappy, disreputable crew of the ship Serenity come face to face with the unspeakable aftermath of an attack on another spaceship by the infamous Reavers. Little-seen boogeymen of the show’s lonely outer space universe, the Reavers are rumored to be simply those who have gazed into the abyss of the edge of space and gone horrifyingly, savagely mad, raiding ships and outposts and doing…things to the unfortunate inhabitants thereof. As Nathan Fillion’s Captain Malcolm Reynolds pieces together the events that led up to one survivor of the Reaver attack’s strange behavior, the show draws tighter and tighter.

4. ‘Twin Peaks’ (Season 2, episode 7) Sure, season 2 got worse and worse, but this one has…well, I can’t tell you. Sarah Palmer sees…well, I can’t tell you. I just…can’t tell you.

5. ‘Angel’- ‘Reprise’ (season 2, episode 15) More of an existential horror, maybe, but chilling nonetheless. As David Boreanaz’ titular vampiric detective decides to make a final assault on the “senior partners” of Satanic law firm Wolfram & Hart, abetted by the firm’s recently deceased CEO Holland Manners, he enters a ghostly elevator which hurtles down, down, down into the depths of hell, all so Angel can see the worst people in the history of the world. With Manners’ oddly courtly guide explaining that he’s going to the worst place on the planet, Angel steels himself for what’s to come. And then the doors open.

Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!

>>> Check out the family-friendly Halloween movie shelf in the Staff Picks section in the middle aisle.

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Carnival of Souls/Dementia 13 (a double feature DVD in the Mystery/Thriller section.) One of the benefits of obscure movies slipping into the public domain is their inevitable inclusion in bargain basement collections. Sure, most of the time that means you get lured into buying a Mill Creek Entertainment 50 pack featuring six installments of The Falcon film series, but sometimes it means that you can rent this excellently grubby double feature of two atmospheric cult horror classics for the price of one. Carnival of Souls is the better of the two, a microbudgeted spook cult classic about a young woman whose near escape from a car crash leads to her increasing isolation and visions of creepy supernatural stuff. It’s eerily effective and deservedly heralded as a lost treasure. Dementia 13 was Francis Ford Coppola’s first feature, a strikingly directed black and white murder mystery set in Scotland. Sort of stately, but there’s a great, spooky scene where a bra-and-panties clad lady takes an ill-advised swim in a murky pond. Things don’t go well…

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Damnationland 2010 and Damnationand 2011 (both in Horror.) Congrats to this year’s Maine-made horror anthology which everyone had a chance to see at the State Theatre last Friday. (And look for future screenings at http://www.damnationland.com.) Rent the last two years’ entries for hours of all-Maine-made, all-ambitiously-insane local horror shorts. (Highest recommendations: Humoresque, Shambles, Are You The Walkers?, Keeper’s Refrain)

New Releases this week at Videoport: Magic Mike (Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Matt Bomer, Alex Pettyfer, and that True Blood werewolf guy are all shaking their stuff in this stripper drama that’s for the ladies…and some of the guys), Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection (gee, wonder who directed this? Oh, and two possessives in a row? Nice ego, egomaniac. Plus, bad grammar…), Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (in the first feature film developed entirely from internet commenter posts, the young Honest Abe has to kick some serious vampire butt; this exists…), Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley star in this sweet/dark comedy about two neighbors who bond on a roadtrip to find his high school sweetheart. Oh, and the world is going to end. Did I mention that part?), Wrong Turn 5 (yup- still making these. Once again, some obnoxious college types run afoul of one of those bands of inbred hillbilly murderer clans you read about. Man, will inbred hillbilly murderer clans ever catch a break? PS: just a hint-get a GPS and problem solved), Take This Waltz (directed by Sarah Polley [Away From Her] helms this indie drama about a happily married woman [Michelle Williams] who strays from her loving but goofy husband [Seth Rogen] with the hunky artist next door [Luke Kirby]; unsolicited recommendation- you should rent the superlative Canadian series ‘Slings and Arrows’ starring Kirby and Polley; seriously, do yourself a favor…), ‘Check It Out! With Doctor Steve Brule’- season 1 (John C. Reilly gets his own equally batsh*t insane spinoff from his gig on the decidedly batsh*t ‘Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!’ as his titular befuddled health reporter), ‘The House of Elliot’- seasons 2 &3 (the continuing adventures of two orphaned sisters in 1920s England are back in this epic BBC drama series), The Courier (Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays the titular ‘bring stuff from here to there’ guy assigned to deliver a case to Mickey Rourke, the world’s most dangerous hitman; with some above-average character support from the likes of Lili Taylor and Miguel Ferrer), The Countess (Julie Delpy [Before Sunrise, Before Sunset] writes, stars in, and directs this gory period drama about Elizabeth Bathory, the bananas 17th century noblewoman who took to bathing in virgin blood to keep herself young…and because botox hadn’t been invented yet), Chained (David Lynch’s little girl Jennifer Lynch continues her string of disturbing, loopy dark thrillers [Boxing Helena, Surveillance] with this creepy tale of a serial rapist/killer [Vincent D’Onofrio] who trains the son of one of his victims to be his apprentice)

New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Tears of the Sun, Straw Dogs, Spaceballs, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Day of the Dead (Romero), Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, The Man With the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, From Russia With Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Chained.

Get free money at Videoport! $20 buys you $25 in rental credit, and $30 buys you $40 in rental credit. That’s what you call free money.

VideoReport #374

Volume CCCLXXIV- The Girl With The “REO Speedwagon Forever” (That She In No Way Regrets) Tattoo

For the Week of 10/16/12

Videoport thinks that more than just 47% of you are entitled to a free movie every day. Even when we think no one is looking…

Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Mystery/Thriller, Animation, or Staff Picks sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests Tucker and Dale Versus Evil (in Incredibly Strange.) We all know the traditional cabin-in-the-woods horror-movie opening: a troupe of pretty young college girls ‘n boys hit the road, their music blasting cheerily under their chatty exposition about the fun they’ll have once they reach so-and-so’s uncle’s cabin — or so-and-so’s family cottage, or so-and-so’s cousin’s stumbled-upon abandoned camp complex. But their smiles falter at the [gas station/general store/crossroads] when the local hicks greet their innocent request for directions with doleful warnings and boorish hostility. Witty, slapstick-y Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil turns that plot inside-out and upside-down with effortless ease as good ole boy Tucker (Alan Tyduk, Firefly, “Arrested Development”) and his best buddy, unpolished autodidact Dale (Tyler Labine, “Reaper,” “Invasion”), drive into the woods to check out Tucker’s newly purchased fixer-upper cabin. On the way, they cross paths with the obligatory gaggle of good-lookin’ college kids, whose limited experience makes them interpret smitten Dale’s tongue-tied attempts to flirt with leggy blonde Allison (Katrina Bowden, best known as Cerie, the much-admired intern on “30 Rock”) as a creepy act of aggression from a cretinous hick. And from that moment on, the perspective flips keep on comin’. But genre inversion is nothing new, especially in horror. What really keeps this film afloat is the easy chemistry between Tyduk and Labine and the fluidity of the gore-flecked slapstick as horrific mishaps pile up, one after another, and these good-hearted fellas flounder about, trying their level best to prevent any more injuries or misunderstandings.

Tough and Triassic Tuesday! Give yourself a free rental from the Action or Classics section with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>>Dennis gives you his 5 picks for the spookiest films in the Classics section!

I Walked With a Zombie. Produced by Val Lweton, this tale of an innocent nurse encountering voodoo while taking care of a plantation owner’s comatose wife is haunting, lyrical, and evocative.

The Black Cat. In the midst of all the silly fun of a face-off between genre icons Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, there’s a stunning passage where the camera does a slow crawl through Karloff’s haunted mansion accompanied by Karloff’s offscreen narration about the horrors the two of them have seen. One of the most poetic sequences in 30s cinema.

The Innocents. This adaptation of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw is an exemplary realization of the mostly-interior terrors of the tale of a governess (Deborah Kerr) convinced that her two young charges are haunted by the malevolent presence of the former groundskeeper.

Cat People. Lewton again. A lone woman walking down a shadowy street. Noises in the trees. Get ready to jump.

The Body Snatcher. In his best performance (yeah, I said it), Boris Karloff’s courtly, avuncular grave robber speaks every line with such a twinkly sense of evil that it’s practically tickling you.

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday! You’ve got a free rental coming from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>>Emily S. Customer says, “With Halloween creeping up, it’s scary-movie season, folks. Recently a friend asked for the best horror, chillers, and thrillers of the past decade, but with one caveat: he only wanted films that are not heavily self-referential. If you’re looking for recent films that shun the winking self-reference so common in postmodern horror, here are a few of my picks”:

The Descent (in Horror.) A group of adventurous friends (all women: Freudians, enjoy the metaphor) hit the road to explore an unfamiliar system of caves. Interpersonal tensions and the sheer, instinctive dread of being underground in the dark make The Descent chilling long before anything seems to go wrong… but boy howdy, do things go wrong. The film boasts strongly drawn characters, clever filming in restricted spaces, a setting that kicks your hindbrain into a natural state of unease, and a rich cinematic vocabulary that draws on and references an encyclopedia of horror and adventure films (from Carrie to Deliverance) without trumpeting them or drawing focus from the tense story it spins.

The Orphanage [in Foreign]. Produced and championed by Guillermo del Toro (I’m Not Afraid, The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth), The Orphanage was the directorial debut of J.A. Bayona — and a stunning debut it is. Starring as Laura, a woman eager to raise her own adopted son, Símon, in the rambling old orphanage where she grew up, Belén Rueda is as beautifully worn as the building she so lovingly refurbishes. At first, the film seems more mournful and elegiac than downright scary, but for my money, the creeping, dampening dread of the atmosphere — and a few utterly jaw-dropping WHAM moments — are more effective than all the slashers and stalkers in Crystal Lake Campground and Elm Street combined.

The Innkeepers (in Horror.) Director Ti West got a lot of buzz for his feature debut, House of the Devil, and rightly so: it’s an old-school slow burn that keeps ramping up anxiety (until the end, which I found a bit underplotted and disappointing). The Innkeepers delivers some of the same: solid storytelling, characters sketched out quickly and tellingly in quick conversation and intelligent visuals, and a creeping, ever-escalating sense of uncertain dread. The titular innkeepers are hotel clerks working the last few shifts before the rambling, slightly shabby Yankee Pedlar Inn shuts down for good. Both Claire Sara Paxton, Summerland) and Luke (Pat Healy, Compliance) are avid ghosthunters, at least in theory. They spend their graveyard-shift down-time working on a website documenting the inn’s supposed hauntings and trying in vain to record paranormal happenings on-site. Even more than House of the Devil, this film showcases West’s talent for quietly inserting us into a shot. There are moments in Innkeepers that feel lifted straight out of Rosemary’s Baby, not for any similarity of plot or content but for the way West uses the empty space and framing of the shot to keep us on edge. Sometimes literally: one scene had me leaning sideways as if I could peer around the edge of the screen to see what was just beyond the doorjamb.

Thrifty Thursday! Rent one, get a free rental from any other section in the store! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>>Videoport customer John N. gives his pick for the scariest movie moment ever. (SPOILER!) Biggest reaction (three different movie theaters) I’ve ever seen—when the allegedly dead guy (Alan Arkin) jumps out of the kitchen at Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark (in Mystery/Thriller)—audiences jumped out of their seats! Never seen it at any other movie…

Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!

>>> Emily S. Customer gives her five childhood film moments that scared me silly:

The Wizard of Oz, take your pick: the flying monkeys, the marching Winkies, the hourglass of death, or the screeches of the melting witch. Yikes!

Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: the boat ride. I don’t even want to talk about it.

Pee Wee’s Big Adventure: tell ’em Large Marge sent you.

Dumbo: Pink elephants on parade churns up some good ole-fashioned nightmare fuel, but the cheery racism that pervades the film is a good deal more disturbing for my money.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves: The Queen. Like, everything about The Queen: her commanding voice, her forbidding visage, her haughty bearing, her cackling transformation into a shriveled old crone when it suits her… but mainly I’m gonna say it’s her ordering a nice-enough woodsman to CUT OUT HER STEPDAUGHTER’S HEART that gives me the creeps. Yup, that’s prob’ly it.

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!

>>>For Saturday, Videoport customer Jenny A. suggests her 5 horror movie moments that scared the hell out of her:(SPOLIERS!)

-“BOY!” final scene from Phantasm.

Halloween – when Michael Myers sits up in the background.

28 Days Later – the candlelight scene freaked me out.

Poltergeist – the tree scene…one one thousand two one thousand…

Exorcist III – nurse station scene (plus it was filmed in a college building I knew!)

>>>For Sunday, Videoport customer Matt D. suggests the 5 movie moments that scared the crap out of me…

Twilight Zone: the Movie- Gremlin spotted thrashing apart plane wing

Communion– Alien peeks around corner of Christopher Walken’s wardrobe

Insidious– Shadow demon appears in corner of bedroom (scary in a theater packed full of people gasping… not sure how scary this would be if watching on alone, on video)

Making Contact– Evil ventriloquist’s dummy in old house opens eyes and growls at toy robot, then repeatedly f*cks with kid, owner of toy robot

E.T. the Extraterrestrial– Elliot’s face-to-face encounter in a field with squealing E.T.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson is back, bringing us another of his exquisitely-crafted indie comedy dramas with his usual stunning cast [Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Hrvey Keitel, Bob Balaban, Jason Schwartzman, Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis] in a tale about an island community thrown into turmoil when a pair of children run away), ‘Mad Men’- season 5 (Don Draper returns in this 1960s-set superlative drama series about the boozy denizens of a Madison Avenue advertising agency), Madagascar 3 (Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Andy Richter among others return to voice the zoo critters set loose in Africa in this animated sequel), ‘Psych’- season 6 (James Roday and Dule Hill are back as the best, funniest buddy comedy duo on TV is this enduringly-endearing detective series about a fake psychic and his much more sensible pal), Neil Young Journeys (director Jonathan Demme continues his cinematic love affair with legendary rocker Young with this documentary about Young’s return to play a concert in his home province of Ontario), That’s My Boy (possible actual separated at birth comedians Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg team up in this comedy about a straightlaced guy forced to deal with his uncouth estranged father re-entering his life), Chernobyl Diaries (some douche-y American tourists enlist the help of a sketchy guide to give them an “extreme” tour of the site of the former Russian nuclear accident site; I’m sure everything will go fine…), Excision (horror flick about an insecure high school student whose desperate desire to go into medicine manifests itself in some seriously disturbing behavior…with scalpels), ‘The Firm’- the complete series (someone apparently thought a TV series based on the John Grisham novel of the same name was a necessary thing; hence the “complete series” part…), Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present (documentary about the noted performance artist whose recent installation involved her sitting in a gallery all day and just staring at the people who sat across from her), The Forgiveness of Blood (the Criterion Collection lends its imprimatur to this searing drama about an Albanian brother and sister trapped in a vicious cycle of family blood-feuds; from the director of Maria Full of Grace), Turn Me On, Dammit! (Norwegian coming [heh] of age comedy drama about a 15 year old girl whose out-of-control hormones cause her, and her long-suffering mom, no end of sexy problems), ‘Touch’- season 1 (Kiefer Sutherland stars in this thriller series about a father who discovers that his young son can predict the future), ‘Waterloo Road’- season 1 (BBC drama series about the students and staff of a troubled British school), Pina (director Wim Wenders’ documentary about the celebrated choreographer Pina Bausch; what’s that you say? This hasn’t been released in America yet? Well, Videoport’s owner Bill says the hell with that, and brings it to you anyway…), Beatles Stories (a wide variety of Beatles fans recount their encounters with the Fab Four in this documentary; including interviews with people as disparate as Ben Kingsley, Henry Winkler, Jon Voight, Smokey Robinson and Art Garfunkel), The First Grader (heartwarming documentary about an 80 year old man who decides to take advantage of a new Kenyan educational policy to join a class of 6 year olds so he can learn how to read; excuse me- I think I have something in my eye…), The Kid With A Bike [aka Le gamin au velo] (from the Dardenne Brothers [La Promesse, Rosetta, The Son] comes this typically resonant French drama about a troubled young boy’s friendship with a small town hairdresser; again, you say this hasn’t been released in America yet? Welcome to Videoport, baby- we’ve got your back…)

New Arrivals This Week At Videoport: Bartleby (1970s version of the classic Herman Melville short story about a young clerk who simply decides on day that he’d prefer not to work any more; starring Paul Scofield and John McEnery), Travels With My Aunt (Maggie Smith stars in this 1970s British comedy about an eccentric aunt who drags her straightlaced nephew along on a series of ever more oddball globetrotting adventures), Monkey Warfare (Canadian treasures Don McKellar and the late Tracy Wright [both in McKellar’s excellent Last Night] star in this dark comedy about a pair of ex-revolutionaries whose flagging enthusiasm for activism is rekindled in unpredictable ways when a younger radical comes to live with them).

New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Moonrise Kingdom, That’s My Boy, Chernobyl Diaries, ‘Mad Men’- season 5, Day Watch, Hesher, Spellbound, ET: The Extraterrestrial.

Get free money at Videoport! $20 buys you $25 in rental credit, and $30 buys you $40 in rental credit. That’s what you call free money.

VideoReport #373

Volume CCCLXXIII- The Girl With The Chinese Characters She Thinks Mean “Mountain Flower” But Instead Mean “Hill Hooker” Tattoo

For the Week of 10/2/12

Videoport gives you a free movie every day. Yup, every, single day. No exceptions. Every day. Seriously.

Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Mystery/Thriller, Animation, or Staff Picks sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests ‘The Lost Room’ (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) While recommending this off-beat miniseries to a friend, I went searching through videoportjones.wordpress.com for my inevitable review of the series… and came up empty. How can it be? Have I really never recommended The Lost Room before? VideoReport readers, I have failed you, but those days are over. While investigating a peculiar and grisly death, Detective Joe Miller (Peter Krause, Six Feet Under, Sports Night, Parenthood) comes into possession of a key with unexplained powers: inserted into a lock, it makes that door open onto any other room with a keyed lock. Any room, anywhere. As Joe uncovers a scant few secrets of The Room, his curiosity and sense of duty combine to draw him further in, researching the underground cabal of manipulators, magnates, and zealots who spend their lives pursuing the everyday objects imbued by The Room with their own weird powers. The Lost Room balances its bizarre aspects with just enough suspense and a healthy dose of humor at the premise’s inherent wackiness. Note: The Lost Room DVD menu might make you think you’re entering your own epic journey into the unreal, but — just like Joe Miller — you need to keep your wits about you and remember things aren’t always as they seem. Someone at the ol’ DVD factory mis-keyed the PLAY ALL option so that instead of PLAYing ALL, it leads back inescapably to the previews. No worries. Just select the first episode and the DVD will automatically play either (depending on your player, apparently) the first two or the entire first disc. Weeeeeeird.

Tough and Triassic Tuesday! Give yourself a free rental from the Action or Classics section with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>>Dennis suggests writing for the VideoReport! As one of the best (and last) truly independent video stores anywhere, Videoport thrives because our customers are as devoted, knowledgeable and, well, bananas about movies as we are, and the VideoReport is the place for all us movie geeks and freaks to let loose and share our opinions about movies, TV shows, and basically anything else. So send your reviews, lists, or really anything else to denmn@hotmail.com, our Facebook page “Videoport Jones” or just drop ‘em off here in the store! Movie geeks assemble!

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday! You’ve got a free rental coming from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>>Videoport customer Deb T. presents her 5 movie scenes that freaked her right the heck out! SPOILERS AHEAD!

1) The end of Blair Witch – when she’s going down the stairs. I couldn’t get that image out of my mind for days – and even now, when I think about it, I don’t feel good.

2) The Ring – actually there are many parts of The Ring that I found scary. I usually turn the TV down a bit each time I get scared during a movie – and it was practically on mute by the end of this movie. But I would say the messed up video they show was quite disturbing to me. (as a side note, though – I love the prank that some people did by putting a girl dressed up like she was from the Ring in a hotel hallway. – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1KZsL_0K4M)

3) Psycho – seeing Norman Bates’ mother in the chair.

4) The Omen – when the nanny kills herself for Damien.

5) Nightmare on Elm Street – when the girl falls asleep in school. Granted – I saw this in 5th grade, but it definitely taught me to pay attention in class!

Thrifty Thursday! Rent one, get a free rental from any other section in the store! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests The Incongruous Double-Feature of My Best Friend’s Wedding (in Comedy) & Punch Drunk Love (in Drama). For a one-two comedy-drama punch, pair up these two films that push the conventions of romantic comedy escapades to their logical extreme. Julia Roberts vehicle My Best Friend’s Wedding manages to both embrace and transcend its genre by presenting a typical rom-com plot mobilizer: when perpetually single Julianne learns that her best friend Michael is getting married, she realizes — oh golly! — that she’s always loved him. The movie’s a tricky balance of sympathy and antipathy (as you might expect from P.J. hogan, director of the alternately sparkling and dark Muriel’s Wedding). Julianne’s desperation to derail the wedding is brightened and softened by Roberts’ trademark smile and twinkle, and by the frothy lightness of the script — and especially the soundtrack. My Best Friend’s Wedding harkens back to old-school Hollywood musical comedy, not only with its derail-the-wedding plot (see My Favorite Wife, Holiday, The Philadelphia Story) but by ingeniously devising excuses for characters to burst into song. If it hadn’t worked, it would have been intolerably tedious. But it does work, and My Best Friend’s Wedding is frothy and light, a weirdly endearing deconstruction of the romantic comedies of Old Hollywood. By contrast, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love pushes the conventions of modern rom-com to its angsty, twitchy edge. Adam Sandler’s Barry Egan is a distillation of Sandler’s usual comedic roles: a goofy, uncertain man-child with a job disdained by his peers, a stable of overbearing female relatives, a hobby he pursues with weirdly dogged determination, and a simmering internalized rage that slips out in hostile snaps of humor. From his depressing warehouse, Barry sells a range of novelty toilet accessories, which is only the start of his litany of embarrassments. In the opening scene, the camera follows Barry as he tracks the uncertain source of a background noise, from his dreary warehouse office through a blacked-out corner, through a garage door, down an alley, and finally outside where he peeks around the corner of a flimsy fence. Even a viewer unfamiliar with Anderson’s sprawling dramas will know that this smaller story will not follow the rigid formulaic outlines of a Sandler rom-com, but instead promises a collision of emotion and personalities, a weirdly rich and deep arc of mingled unease and trust. Sandler’s facile comedies never prepared us for the epic performance he delivers here. Even as Barry smiles and stutters, trying to maintain civility in everyday interactions, barely contained fear and anger seep from every inch of him. When his putative love interest Lena (Emily Watson) appears, that tense energy barely changes, just escalates to a twitchy, jittery fever. It sounds unendurable, but Anderson knows how to deliver juuuuust enough stomach-clenching anxiety and balances it with a sumptuous, dreamy palette of intense color and shadow to match the intensity of feeling that these characters bring to the film. It’s as if he pooled all the self-consciously quirky, cringy rom-coms of the past decade and ran them through a still, extracting only the richest notes and presenting them to us in one heady draught.

Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!

>>> Free! You know- for kids!

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!

>>>For Saturday, Videoport customer Chad W. brings you his 5 movie scenes that freak him right the heck out!

The Exorcist: Tape playback scene in the library… Poltergeist: Clown Doll… The Thing: CPR scene…. Evil Dead: Demon playing cards scene…. Lost Highway: Call me at your house… (And also suggests the beginning of “Fire on High” by ELO and The Astrosphere?)- real Mainers know what he’s talking about…

>>>For Sunday, Elsa S. Customer brings out 5 more of the movie scenes that freaked her right the hell out. (SPOILERS!!)

Spoorloos (Without a Trace, The Vanishing. Note: be sure to get the original 1988 Dutch film, not the 1993 English-language remake.). In the aftermath of a young woman’s disappearance from a rest area, we see scenes of a jovial bourgeois dad performing increasingly odd solo rehearsals of some kind all backed with a jaunty theme more suited to a romantic comedy montage than a man dancing uneasily with a chloroformed rag. The unassuming fellow’s antic culminate in a specific move: he slips into the car, drops his arm casually behind the (imagined) passenger to lock the door, then roughly draws her to him and forces the chloroform over her (imagined) face. The cheerful music drops away. And then we see the same villain at the rest stop with his teenaged daughter. He drops his arm casually over her shoulder, draws her roughly to him, and lovingly tweaks her nose. This everyday father is practicing his abduction moves on his giggling daughter. This breezy, perverse sequence hammers home the banality of evil in all its forms.

The Ring. The first time I saw The Ring, my then-housemate and I lounged sanguinely in our living room, occasionally volleying remarks like “This isn’t so scary. What’s the big deal?” Then The Big Deal happened: the blank TV turned itself on, Samara appeared, and then she crawled through the screen. When that moment was over, our postures had changed completely. J, who had been flopped full-length on the sofa, was now kneeling on its far end, as far from the television as possible, his back pressed up against the wall. I had been lying on the floor on a pile of pillows, but at Samara’s advance, I instinctively jumped away and scuttled backwards in alarm on my hands and heels. I’ve had years to think about our shared visceral reaction to that moment. The immediate image — glitchy and twitchy and spooky as hell — is unsettling, but more terrifying is the unspoken meta-textual aggression of this idea: that our terrors will transcend their media, erupting into our homes and coming after us wherever we are.

Alien. The laboratory search scene. After the graphic panicky horror of the infamous dinner scene, we’ve had time to come to grips with the horror of the alien… and then [SPOILER] it goes missing. The crew has to search for this skittering pale creature somewhere in the pale complex architecture of the Nostromo’s infirmary. The scene is uneasily quiet and shot from crazy POV angles as they poke, cringing, through high cupboards and under tables and litters. After the brash hollering fear and disgust in earlier scenes, this is a passage designed to make your breath catch in your throat.

Les Diaboliques. It’s all but impossible to discuss the the debt modern suspense and horror films owe to director Henri Georges Clouzot’s Les Diaboliques without spoiling the original moment. It’s the granddaddy of a thousand film terrors since, and it’s well worth watching without spoilers, ideally in a dark room with the phone turned off and all distractions shut out. [SPOILERS ahoy.] Once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it: the biggest scares in Hitchcock’s Psycho and Kubrick’s The Shining are homages to Les Diaboliques (In Hitch’s case, he admitted that freely: he was livid to miss the film rights to the novel, which may have influenced the zeal with which he snapped up Robert Bloch’s Psycho, even reportedly buying all available copies of the novel to protect the film’s twist.) Given the watershed influence of Psycho and The Shining, it’s fair to say that modern horror and suspense has been shaped by Clouzot’s indelible images. It’s hard to see this scene in isolation; it’s become a palimpsest of all the moments it’s inspired. But try. Sit in the dark, imagining yourself in a movie theater in 1955, surrounded by a tense, silent crowd, all craning forward in mingled anxiety and eagerness to see what happens next. Imagine that this moment is playing out before you on film for the first time, and absorb the terror of that image.

The Shining. It’s predictable because it’s a classic: [SPOILER] the bathroom in Room 237. I can’t even dissect precisely what scares me here. the bathroom setting plays upon our understanding of a bathroom as someplace private, a place where we’re exposed but safe from external forces. Jack’s intrusion — fully dressed, even wearing a jacket and boots — into this private space is itself a rupture in our tacit expectations. The silent allure of the nude beauty in the (dry) tub and Jack’s enthralled acceptance of her presence signals another break in the hotel’s reality. And then Kubrick starts reeeeeally messing with us, breaking up not only reality but time. The sylphlike siren transforms to a rotting hag in Jack’s arms, but also into an elderly corpse simultaneously emerging impossibly from the (now filled) bathtub. The narrative intercuts suggest that this impossible sequence represents Jack’s experience mingled with Danny’s vision of the events, but the immediate visceral effect of this non-linear timeline churns my nerves so hard that I never watch the Room 237 scene without first being sure our bathroom light is on and the shower curtain is pulled open.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Prometheus (Ridley Scott continues to go back and much about with his best movies [see: Blade Runner] with this prequel to the still-perfect Alien; rumor is, he did a decent job, though…), Rock of Ages (from the director of Hairspray comes another big screen adaptation of a big, goofy Broadway musical; this time it’s the 80s hair-metal extravaganza, starring Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Paul Giamatti, and Catherine Zeta-Jones), The Raven (John Cusack continues to make odd film choices; here, he’s Edgar Allan Poe, helping the 19th century coppers track down a serial killer who’s been taking inspiration for his grisly crimes from Poe’s fiction), Shut Up And Play The Hits (massive 3-dis documentary about the epic final concert by acclaimed band LCD Soundsystem, who went out with one massive final sold-out show at Madison Square Garden), ‘The League’- season 3 (return of the funny, improv-y FX series about a quintet of goofball friends obsessed with their fantasy football league- and generally being juvenile and filthy; starring Mark Duplass, Nick Kroll, and Maine’s own Katie Aselton), ‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’- season 7 (the continuing, and continuously hilarious, comic adventures of possibly the worst human beings in the history of the world! Featuring, this season, the debut of Fat Mac!), A Cat in Paris (Academy Award-nominated animated film about double life of a Parisian cat who’s a policeman’s daughter’s pet by day, cat burglar by night), ‘Holliston’- season 1 (two aspiring horror moviemakers living in the titular Massachusetts town deal with their Hollywood dreams, girl troubles, and the fact that their boss is played by Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider and one of them has an imaginary friend played by the guy from GWAR), Losing Control (indie comedy about an insecure single scientist seeking empirical evidence that her new boyfriend is THE ONE), ‘Bones’- season 7 (David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel continue to spar and make goo-goo eyes at each other while examining the gooiest bodies in the history of detective TV), The Giant Mechanical Man (indie comedy with a good cast about an aimless woman [The Office’s Jenna Fischer] who falls for a street performer [Chris Messina] who performs as a silver-skinned robot mime-guy), Restless City (NYC-set indie drama about a talented young musician whose path to success is imperiled by the lure of drugs, gangs, and the sex), Page Eight (ever-cool Bill Nighy stars alongside the none-too-shabby-herself Rachel Weisz in this BBC spy thriller about a long-standing MI-5 agent who comes upon a file suggesting all may not entirely be on the up-and-up)

New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Prometheus, The Raven, Shut Up and Play the Hits, Rock of Ages

Get free money at Videoport! $20 buys you $25 in rental credit, and $30 buys you $40 in rental credit. That’s what you call free money.

VideoReport #372

Volume CCCLXXII- The Girl With The Calvin From Calvin & Hobbes Peeing On The Yankees Logo Tattoo

For the Week of 10/2/12

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. Netflix is secretly sending sexting your boy/girlfriend behind you back. Oh, and Redbox killed a puppy that one time.

Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Mystery/Thriller, Animation, or Staff Picks sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>> Elsa S. Customer, In honor of Halloween — just a few short weeks away! — all month long, I’ll be recommending scary movies for your spoooOOOoooky viewing pleasure. To start things off, here are five film scenes that scared me silly. [Expect mild spoilers, but really egregious spoilers will be marked.]

Mulholland Dr., the tiny people. Though MD’s justly lauded diner scene packs a mighty wallop of uncanny anxiety and a big BAM of unresolved terror, it’s the film’s ending that scares the bejeebers out of me. [SPOILERS, obviously] Diane recoils from the great pounding on her door, then the elderly couple from Betty’s earlier journey reappear; shrunken down to ant size, squeaking and gesticulating, they creep through the crack under the door. Suddenly, they’ve grown, looming at her and grinning madly, their hands raised like talons. I’m not even sure why this scene gets under my skin, but it does — so badly that, when I watch the film alone (as I have done dozens upon dozens of times) I almost always lunge for the STOP button before that moment.

Lost Highway, The Mystery Man. Wandering solo through a banal SoCal party where everyone is trying to make connections but no one wants to really connect, Fred Madison (Bill Pullman) comes face to face with an oddly direct little fellow. The Mystery Man (Peter Blake) beelines across the room to Fred, a wide-eyed smile on his eerily pale face, and the music and background chatter melts away as if the two are alone together in this crowded room. Their conversation is deeply unsettling both in content and in tone, with Fred trying to keep the banter light while The Mystery Man speaks with a weirdly earnest intensity belied by his every-present smile.

The Descent. For my money, the scariest scene in The Descent has no otherworldly elements at all. It’s a perfectly ordinary moment — if your everyday life involves spelunking, that is. The troupe of cavers finds themselves having to traverse a narrow neck of tunnel in the cavern system they’re exploring. It doesn’t sound like much, but imagine this: you’re underground, in the dark, under tones of earth and rock, and you need to squeeze yourself, one inch at a time, through a crumbly, human-sized gap in the rock and emerge into an unknown cave, one probably never seen by another human being. Now remember that we know what the cavers do not: [SPOILER!] Juno has led them to an unmarked, unmapped cave. No one aboveground knows where they are. I found myself holding my breath in anxiety.

Zodiac. It’s irrational. It’s impossible. When we watch David Fincher’s Zodiac, we know we’re watching an unresolved narrative, because [SPOILER if you consider the outcome of a notoriously overanalyzed criminal case to be a spoiler, but c’mon, really?] we know the case was never solved. So we know that our intrepid protagonist will never knowingly come face-to-face with the killer. But when affable amateur-cryptographer Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhal) goes off on his own to track down evidence from a movie projectionist (Charles Fleischer) tangentially associated with the high-profile serial killer case, suddenly every creak of that basement ceiling plucks at my flight-or-fight response as if Fincher has reached his hand inside me and strummed the nerves himself, laughing all the while.

Are You The Walkers? (Derek Kimball’s contribution to the Damnationland 2011 Maine-made horror anthology) Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say: the knock on the door. I’ve watched this film on dark snowy nights when the wind is howling around the walls and on bright summery evenings when it seems like winter will never come again, and in any weather, when that knock comes at the door, I get goosebumps.

Tough and Triassic Tuesday! Give yourself a free rental from the Action or Classics section with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>>Dennis suggests The Detective (in Classics.) If for no other reason than to have the answer to a really cool trivia question in your pocket. Trivia question: What Frank Sinatra movie sees ol’ Blue Eyes playing the same character who, in a future blockbuster, fights terrorists in the high rise Nakatomi Plaza? Did I just blow your mind? Yeah…

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday! You’ve got a free rental coming from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests Crazy, Stupid Love (in Comedy.) Ultra-slick playboy Jacob (Ryan Gosling) sees newly separated Cal (Steve Carell) flubbing and schlubbing his nights away in a glam pick-up spot. For no defined reason, Jacob promises to transform Cal Pymalion-style… except instead of transforming a Cockney guttersnipe into an elegant refined lady, he’s going to transform an unkempt suburban dad into a sleek, soulless seduction machine. Gosling takes a frankly pretty creepy role — the master manipulator, the pure egoist, the utterly superficial pleasure-seeking wolf — and imbues it with humor and humanity. Gosling’s depth allows us a peek at Jacob’s unconscious motive for adopting Cal: in the emptiness that lurks under the gloss of his swanky single lifestyle, even the tenuous connection that comes from training a middle-aged goof into a solitary Lothario helps to salve the loneliness. But Cal’s life is as complicated and interconnected with other people as Jacob’s is secluded and disconnected, so when Cal tries to slip unfettered through a singles’ paradise, everything conspires to a big collision. And it does all collide spectacularly in a way that is, indeed, both crazy and stupid, that should make us all roll our eyes at the ridiculousness… but it kinda works, the way that the best farce works.

Thrifty Thursday! Rent one, get a free rental from any other section in the store! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests Grizzly Man (in Documentary.) The film opens on a breathtaking vista of two bears peacefully grazing in a valley, a snowy mountain soaring to the sky behind them. Then a scruffy blond man walks into frame and a sobering epitaph appears: Timothy Treadwell (1957-2003). This is the found footage of created by Treadwell, a self-styled “bear activist” who felt moved to live among the grizzly bears of Alaska’s Katmai National Park. In this opening address, he expounds on the need for peaceful coexistence with the bears, then spirals off into a giddy ramble about standing up to the bears, not backing down, being dominant, being “a samurai.” Kneeling as he is just yards from the bears in the background, Treadwell’s jumble of naive swagger and childish glee is chilling. You perhaps already know — and if you don’t, you must know before you decide to watch Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man — that Treadwell and his companion, Amie Huguenard, were killed and eaten by bears in 2003. Minutes later, we see what appears to be a telescopic close-up of a grizzly’s face… until a human hand peeks into the frame, reaching out to stroke its muzzle. I actually yelped out loud at the — the what, exactly? At the reckless thrill-seeking — and we know it is in part thrill-seeking thanks to Treadwell’s euphoric, self-congratulatory song-and-dance at escaping a too-close confrontation in which a bear actually knocks him down before lumbering off. At the sheer irresponsibility and self-centeredness: experts agree that Treadwell’s expeditions habituated bears to human contact and confrontation, making the nature preserve more dangerous for human visitors and grizzlies alike. But mostly at Treadwell’s audacity, because what other word describes the delusion of believing that your personality and presence will outmaster a population of hulking, territorial bears? It would be funny if it weren’t so horrific, so needless, so terribly sad. The rest of the film’s first act consists of Treadwell’s video journals — mostly footage of him chattering at massive grizzlies in a condescending, kindergarten voice, or frolicking in glee at surviving a too-close brush with a bear — intercut with interviews of those who discovered the bodies and performed examinations and investigations on Huguenard and Treadwell’s remains.

Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!

>>> You don’t have to rent anything else, you can just choose a free movie from the thousands of movies in the kids section. You’re welcome…

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!

>>>For Saturday, Dennis gives you his 5 film scenes that scared him silly. There are SPOILERS ahead. I know that’s obvious from the concept, but since only the worst people in the world who deserve to be banned from Videoport forever thoughtlessly blurt out important movie plot points, I thought I’d throw an extra warning in there.

Halloween.The original, obviously. It’s become a cliche for the killer to NOT REALLY BE DEAD, but the reveal at the end of Halloween remains armhair-ticklingly perfect in spite of that. Jamie Lee’s gotten the best of Michael Myers, Donald Pleasance has finished him off with six shots center mass, sending the

Oh, crap…

masked killer out the second floor window. Jamie Lee asks “Was it really the boogeyman?” and Pleasance answers “As a matter of fact, I think it was.” Then he looks over the balcony. Myers is gone. Pleasance’s relieved, slightly smug expression twitches, just slightly. Jamie Lee, seeing only his reaction, starts to weep. The still-chilling piano theme tinkles to life and John Carpenter’s camera cuts to a series of shots of the film’s murder scenes. The piano plays on, Jamie Lee weeps, he’s still out there. Somewhere.

Jacob’s Ladder. Tortured Vietnam vet Tim Robbins has been seeing…things, all over New York. His waking nightmare takes him to a more nightmarish hospital, where he’s strapped to a gurney and wheeled helplessly past…things. There are filming techniques that, again, have been copied since, but I still get queasy thinking about it here. Crappy ending aside, this sequence is the closest to the helpless horror of a nightmare I’ve ever seen on film.

The Blair Witch Project. Again, imitators, parodies, and people who are really, really dumb about horror movies have diluted the impact this once had, but the last scene… Building on everything that had come before, the image of [redacted] against the [redacted], and [redacted]’s frenzied screaming of [redacted]’s name followed by [seriously redacted]. I’ve said it before, but after seeing this movie for the first time, you could have offered me $10,000 to walk through even some nice leafy suburban woods…and I wouldn’t have been able to do it.

Angel Heart. One scene. One shot. At the end of the movie. A tiny child. A simple gesture. An unexpected reveal. I still have nightmares thinking about it.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The Donald Sutherland one. Sure, there’s the end. Whuuuuugh. But the scene that really get me is when Sutherland, trying to contact the authorities about the inescapable evidence that pod people are taking over San Francisco makes a call. The operator knows his name. But he never said his name.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests everything Joss Whedon has ever done! Now that he’s the king of the world (screw you,James Cameron) having directed The Avengers (which is great), I could not more strenuously urge you to check out the man’s back catalog. ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ (in Horror), ‘Angel’ (in Horror), Cabin in the Woods (in Horror), ‘Firefly’ and its attendant feature film sequel Serenity (in Sci Fi), Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog (in Incredibly Strange and, to a lesser extent, ‘Dollhouse’ (in Sci Fi- it gets better as it goes along). The man has amassed a body of work that has delighted nerds, geeks, and various video clerks (so you know he’s good), but now that he’s conquered the world, it’s time for everyone else to revel in the Joss-ian greatness.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Dark Shadows (the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp creative partnership continues to provide diminishing returns in this film adaptation of the legendarily-silly Maine-set vampire soap opera), ‘How I Met Your Mother’- season 7(what do you do when your central

Told you…

character and his story are way less interesting than all his supporting characters and their stories? Well, hope and pray you’ve got Jason Segel, Allyson Hannigan and Neil Patrick Harris in your cast…), Iron Sky (Moon Nazis! I repeat again- moon Nazis! If you need more incentive to rent this bananas cult sci fi flick, then you and I are very different people…), People Like Us (Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks star in this drama about a slicky-boy salesman who discovers he has a grown sister he never knew when he returns home to settle his father’s estate), Red Lights (Sigourney Weaver and Robert DeNiro square off in this thriller about a supernatural de-bunker whose skepticism is tested when her assistant [Cillian Murphy] starts digging into the past of DeNiro’s legendary spoon-bender), Peace Love & Misunderstanding (Katherine Keener, Jane Fonda and Elizabeth Olsen star in this drama about a high-powered lawyer who, after her divorce, heads to the Woodstock farm of her still-hippie mom; expect some hugging…), The Hole (from legendary horror director Joe Dante [The Howling, Gremlins] comes this fright flick about a kid who discovers a seemingly bottomless hole under a trapdoor in his new house), The Tall Man (from the director of the ultra-insane horror movie Martyrs comes this chiller about a mother who goes in search of the titular child-stealing legend when her child goes missing), ‘Key & Peele’- season 1 (the funniest new sketch comedy in years, starring Keegan Michael Key [the bald one] and Jordan Peele [the not bald one]), ‘The New Girl’- season 1 (Zooey Deschanel brings her signature adorkability to this sitcom about Zooey Deschanel being adorkable), Sound of My Voice (creepily acclaimed thriller about a filmmaking couple whose investigation of a cult leader who claims to come from the future puts them in some serious danger), The Lady (certified cool actors Michelle Yeoh [Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon] and David Thewlis [Naked] star in this political thriller about a couple whose marriage must cope with her involvement in Burma’s democracy movement; based on a true story), The Magic of Belle Isle (Morgan Freeman stars in this heartwarmer about a paralyzed author whose passion for writing is rekindled by a single mom and her adorable kids.)

New Arrivals on DVD at Videoport this week: A New Leaf (finally on DVD, this hidden gem of a screwball comedy stars Walter Matthau as a spendthrift playboy who has to marry a shlubby heiress in order to avoid the poorhouse; costarring, written and directed by comedy legend Elaine May; also ask Videoport’s Sam to do his Matthau impression…)

New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: People Like Us, Dark Shadows, The Dark Knight Returns- Part 1.

Get free money at Videoport! $20 buys you $25 in rental credit, and $30 buys you $40 in rental credit. That’s what you call free money.

You know you can park for free at Videoport, right? Seriously. The parking lot behind the building is free every weekday after 5pm and all weekend. Also, Videoport will validate you for a free hour of parking at any downtown garage (the courthouse garage is like a minute’s walk away.) And, of course, all parking meters are inert and foolish after 6pm Monday-Saturday and all day Sunday.

Get free rentals at Videoport! Any time you buy a movie from Videoport (and remember-we can special order anything you need), we’ll give you a free rental on your Videoport account. Think of it as $3.50 off the purchase price, think of it as a nice little reward for yourself when you buy someone else a gift, think of it as a way to support local business instead of some soulless corporation- any way you think of it, you’re getting yourself something for free…