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The Fly: The Collector's Edition

Fox
Movie B+
Special Features A
DVD Geek Factor 8.5 (out of 10)

Director David Cronenberg's remarkably disgusting remake of the camp classic provided Jeff Goldblum with one of his best parts as Seth Brundle, a whacked-out scientist with insect problems.

After inventing a teleporting system devised to obliterate public transportation, Brundle gets a little drunk and decides to test out his new invention before "getting the bugs out," so to speak. Brundle should've invested in some Raid, because a fly gets into his invention with him and winds up fused with his DNA. Soon, Brundle is climbing the walls and melting his enemy's limbs with corrosive vomit.

Cronenberg embraces the opportunity to be horrifically gross. Brundle's transformation into a fly is not instantaneous but progressive, resulting in the slow decay of Goldblum's human form. This allows Cronenberg to treat us to the fine visuals of Goldblum's ears falling off or teeth spilling out. A moment where Goldblum squeezes his infected finger and squirts pus all over his bathroom mirror will be close to home for many teenagers. Also pleasant is the sound of Goldblum sucking his melted food back down his gullet.

Some aspects of the film have not aged well. Geena Davis is actually quite bad as Brundle's love interest, as is the overacting John Getz as Brundle's nemesis. As for makeup effects, this one is top-notch. Kudos to the effects team for an interesting speculation on what an inside-out baboon might look like.

Watch this for the splendidly twisted work by Goldblum and Cronenberg at his demented best. Cronenberg just released the best film he has ever made (the excellent A History of Violence), and the release of The Fly to DVD in great form makes 2005 a big one for the madman.

Special Features: An excellent two-disc set features a Cronenberg commentary and a making-of documentary that is more than two hours long. A never-before-seen alternate ending (which deserved to be lost) is most interesting among a bunch of deleted scenes, along with test footage for the makeup effects. This one will keep fans occupied for many hours, because it also includes the original screenplay and Cronenberg's rewrite. An extremely good DVD.


Jiminy Glick in Lalawood

Columbia Tristar
Movie C-
Special Features C+
DVD Geek Factor 4 (out of 10)

While I fully respect Martin Short's attempt to take his hilarious, overblown television alter ego to the big screen in an ultra-weird fashion, this movie ultimately feels lazy and uninspired. Short stars as Jiminy Glick, television interviewer to the stars, and while Short looks funny as all hell in his overweight suit, director Vadim Jean has seemingly no idea what to do with the funny man.

The Jiminy Glick television show was constantly funny. Short would sit down for Entertainment Tonight-type interviews with the likes of Steve Martin and Jerry Seinfeld, who would do their utmost to remain straight faced through Short's mugging and inept questioning. Regrettably, Lalawood contains very few of the celebrity interviews (although Martin does show up for a small bit), relying mostly on a strange plot involving Glick possibly murdering a starlet.

The film is perhaps too ambitious in its attempt to spoof David Lynch movies like Mulholland Drive. Donning uncanny makeup and sporting a dead-on vocal impression, Short actually plays Lynch as the film's spooky narrator. Unfortunately, the high-concept Lynch moments seem out of place next to the film's otherwise sophomoric nature, and the movie winds up feeling like quite the mess.

If you are a fan of the Glick TV show, or Short's SCTV days, Lalawood is especially depressing. This constitutes an effort by Short to move from his goofy, vacuous screen presence of recent years and get back to a more intelligent brand of comedy. The effort is appreciated, and I hope this film's failure doesn't prevent him from aiming high with future projects. Perhaps a better director and a re-teaming with SCTV alumni could result in a more cohesive venture.

Special Features: Some useless deleted scenes and not one but two audio commentaries, one of which features Short.


Kolchak: The Night Stalker

Universal
Show B+
Special Features Nada
DVD Geek Factor 6 (out of 10)

This short-lived, entertaining TV show from the mid-'70s is basically the daddy to The X-Files and Ghostbusters. Darren McGavin (A Christmas Story) stars as Kolchak, an investigative reporter who finds himself battling vampires, zombies and aliens while following up on murders. Reruns of this show scared me when I was a kid, and it's surprising to see how raw and vicious the horror aspects of the show remain. McGavin provides a funny presence, as well as the necessary serious chops for moments like staking a vampire and photographing corpses. The series started as two films (The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler, available on a single MGM DVD release) and has been remade for this year's TV season. The remake (which, sadly, only features McGavin in a cameo) has been savaged by critics, so rent or buy this one for the real thing.

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