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article imageReview: Old becomes new again in this week’s releases Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jul 28, 2015 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include several older pictures that slid off anyone’s radar; a noteworthy comparison between possession and addiction; and a TV series that still acknowledges no boundaries.
Ghost Town (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
When a modern-day sheriff's deputy (Franc Luz) is lured to a desolate, spooky ghost town in search of a missing woman (Catherine Hickland), he comes face-to-face with a malevolent spirit (Jimmie F. Skaggs) from the town's past. The spell of death and suffering over the undead townspeople must end to set them free from eternal pain.
With the number of deaths and murders that occurred in the Wild West, a haunted town is not much of a stretch — even if the origin of the curse is a little flimsy. The deputy is very determined to recover the woman alive, resulting in some pretty daring heroics against a gang of bandits who cannot be killed. Of course the solution to the town’s dilemma is obvious to everyone but the sharpshooter with the power to do something about it. The villain is a pretty standard man-in-black character, though the ease with which he doles out punishment is somewhat disturbing — no friendly ghosts popping out from behind corners here. And the damsel in distress fits the profile to a tee, to the point you almost wonder if she’s worth the trouble.
There are no special features. (Scream Factory)
Helix: Season 2 (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
After barely escaping with their lives, the survivors of season one attempt to move on from the horrors that took place at Arctic BioSystems. But when their work takes them to a mysterious and remote wooded island, they quickly discover the Ilaria Corporation’s reach is deeper and darker than anyone imagined, and a deadly new virus presents a threat that no one thought possible.
This season picks up more than a year after the events of the first with Alan (Billy Campbell) in the wind and the CDC team trying to manage another possible outbreak. However, they’ve also added a second timeline. While the team attempts to trace the origin of a virus on an isolated island, Julia (Kyra Zagorsky) scours the same location 30 years later seeking answers of her own. Of course the stories eventually intersect, but not before both investigations reach new levels of weird and sadistic. From genetically modified farms and populations to more immortals with god complexes to surprising realizations about already established characters that don’t hold a candle to the peculiarities of the new batch. And even though most of this chapter seems too bizarre even for this show, it does hook you in at the end for the next season.
Special features include: deleted scenes; and outtakes. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Inner Demons (DVD)
Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada & Breaking Glass Entertainment
When Carson (Lara Vosburgh), the teenage daughter of a religious family transforms from A-student into heroin addict, her parents agree to allow a reality TV crew stage an intervention and tape her recovery. What they don't know is that she has been taking drugs to deal with the unnatural, evil feelings growing inside her. When she agrees to rehab, with no drugs to suppress what's inside, the demon emerges.
Drugs are often used as a coping mechanism and this narrative simply provides a new reason to want them. The reality TV, found footage gimmick is combined with a traditional style of shooting to tell the story, which captures both the intentional and involuntary actions of the characters. There’s often some sort of interference when Carson is on screen, causing her features to blur or reveal a monstrous second face. During group therapy other addicts describe their “demons,” which produces a curious comparison between Carson’s “real” affliction and their perceived one. Improbably, the TV crew’s youngest member begins to put the pieces together and insist she needs the kind of help only a priest can provide. It’s an interesting and somewhat fresh perspective on possession that is mostly entertaining.
Special features include: trailer. (Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada & Breaking Glass Entertainment)
K-11 (DVD)
Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada & Breaking Glass Entertainment
Record producer Raymond Saxx, Jr. (Goran Visnjic) wakes up in a jail cell in Los Angeles County’s controversial K-11 unit, completely oblivious as to how he got there. Like Alice in a brutally violent Wonderland, Ray must learn to navigate the politics of vicious transvestites and drug-addicted criminals if he wants to see his perfect life again.
Homosexuals and transgendered people are considered vulnerable prisoners so in this movie they are segregated from general population in an isolated ward. However this doesn’t seem to protect them from extreme forms of corruption that persist amongst the inmates and guards. This is not the most flattering depiction of the LGBT community as they are represented by power-hungry prostitutes, murderers, child molesters and drug dealers, which is excessive even for the environment. Raymond’s character is simply a victim of circumstance and a means to exploring this severe setting. However, even though its brevity is welcome, it requires leaps in narrative development that aren’t always self-explanatory.
Special features — not available in Canada — include: commentary by director Jules Stewart and Kate del Castillo; deleted scenes; and cast interviews. (Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada & Breaking Glass Entertainment)
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXXIII (DVD)
Shout Factory
Daddy-O: Drag-racing, drug-running, cool blondes and nightclub crooning set to the first-ever film score by composer John Williams. It’s the story of a truck-driving singer searching for the killer of his best friend among the denizens of a seedy L.A. club seems full of potential.
Earth vs. the Spider: A spider the size of 10 Buicks and the town it calls dinner.
Teen-Age Crime Wave: Just when you thought it was safe to let reform-school runaways into your placid farm house, along comes a trio of juvenile delinquents promising all sorts of 1950s danger to a nice family.
Agent for H.A.R.M.: In this Cold War “sci-spy-fi” thriller, Adam Chance works for H.A.R.M., an acronym for Human Aetiological Relations Machine. Chance must protect a recently defected Soviet scientist from Russian agents who want his formula for preventing alien spores from turning flesh into fungus.
This long-running television series is part variety show and part commentary. The movies they critique in this edition are not the worst films to be produced, but are definitely products of their time. Nonetheless they are entertaining, and the commentary by Tom (Kevin Murphy) and his robot pals enhances the amusement. They often play off each other like a good episode of Whose Line is it Anyway?, delivering on-target, good-humoured commentary for the length of the outdated picture. Conversely, the skits that fill in the time like commercials on standard television are less enjoyable as they don’t convey the same wit as their off-the-cuff remarks. In addition to creating a new life for these forgotten pictures, the bonus features include informative featurettes that examine the climate in which these films emerged.
Special features include: “Beatnick Blues: Investigating Daddy-O”; “This Movie Has Legs: Looking Back at Earth Vs. The Spider”; “Film It Again, Sam: The Katzman Chronicles”; “Tommy Cook: From Jungle Boy to Teenage Jungle”; “Peter Mark Richman: In H.A.R.M.'s Way”; “MST Hour Wraps”; theatrical trailers; and four exclusive mini-posters by artist Steve Vance. (Shout Factory)
More about helix, Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXXIII, Ghost town, Inner Demons, k11
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