Charlize Theron deserved the Oscar she took home last March for her portrayal of Aileen Wuornos, a rare female serial killer. By now, most of us have heard about the weight she packed on, the shaved eyebrows and haircut, and the fake teeth she sported. Now that Monster is being released on DVD concurrently with the documentary Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, home viewers will get a chance to see how incredible and nuanced a performance Theron actually delivered. She is Wuornos in Monster, nailing all aspects of her personality and appearance. Writer-director Patty Jenkins brings Wuornos to the screen in the trappings of a love story between her and Selby Wall (an excellent Christina Ricci), who would eventually testify against the confessed killer at her trial. (Wuornos was sentenced to death and was executed in 2002.) Watching the fictionalized account is a little better than Nick Broomfield's documentary. Broomfield is the man responsible for the ludicrously biased Kurt & Courtney, and that same problem infects Aileen. Still, Wuornos herself is a wonder to behold, clearly losing her mind at the time of her execution, and the possessor of one nasty temper.
Special Features: Both films are lacking in this department, although Monster does have an interview with Jenkins and a making-of featurette.
A favorite on the film-festival circuit (as well as a Tucson fave, as it enjoyed an extended run at the Loft), this picture is one of the oddest concoctions to make its way to movie theaters since Peter Jackson's Dead Alive. Bruce Campbell, Ash from the Evil Dead films, stars as an aged but still-alive Elvis doing time in a retirement home with a strange growth on his prick. He spends most of his days in bed but has the occasional conversation with an also aged, still-alive and black JFK (Ossie Davis). The two team up to battle an ancient mummy that sucks souls out of people's butts, and the weirdness ensues. This low-budget movie works just fine thanks to honest performances by Campbell and Davis, who play their roles straight and actually accomplish something quite moving for a B-movie horror film. The mummy effects are poor (basically a guy in a rubber suit), but the performances, and a stirring soundtrack by Brian Tyler, work. Kudos to those who did Campbell's makeup. He becomes a very credible King.
Special Features: While the movie is an admirable effort, the reason to buy this DVD is Campbell's audio commentary in the guise of the King. Chomping popcorn, answering his cellular phone and talking about his past film experiences with Charo and Ann-Margret, Campbell is so realistic, it's hard to believe the King is dead. We learn that Elvis wouldn't have really approved of this film, because the stuff involving his diseased wiener is "lewd," and the movie should've been unrated. There's also a straight commentary by Campbell and director Don Coscarelli, and some decent original documentaries detailing the make-up and soundtrack.
From Broken Lizard, the makers of Super Troopers, comes this strange and funny slasher film that spoofs Friday the 13th and sex comedies. It's quite trashy, which is highly appropriate considering the trash that is being parodied. An unidentified killer is wreaking havoc on a vacation island where Coconut Pete (Bill Paxton), an aging rock-star spoof of Jimmy Buffett, has fashioned a paradise based on his recordings. As multiple murders ensue in bloody style; many a breast is exposed; and many a sex act is performed. While not a constant laugh riot, I found myself giggling at this one more than your average film, which is high praise for comedies these days.
Special Features: There are two rather laid-back commentaries from various Lizards--not required listening. This disc is good for a rental, but only Lizard fanatics will need to make a purchase.
Just a quick note to let you know that there is a new Spider-Man DVD hitting the shelves in time for Spider-Man 2. The Deluxe Edition packages the two-disc version released two years ago with a new disc of special features, including a sneak peek at the sequel. If you already own the prior version, the new deal probably won't impress all that much. If you never picked it up in the past, getting it now with the extra special features (a few behind-the-scenes quickie documentaries) is an OK purchase. Don't be tricked into thinking this is an all-new three-disc edition, because it's not.