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Saturday Night Live: The Best of '06/'07

Universal
Show B+
Special Features B-
DVD Geek Factor 6.5 (out of 10)

As the new season commences, it's fair to say that the last season of Saturday Night Live was the best in a few years. New-ish stars like Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader and Will Forte really came into their own, and some of the hosts were outstanding.

If you haven't yet seen Jake Gyllenhaal busting out his Dreamgirls song yet, you must rent or own this puppy. Jake has got some super pipes, and he gives Jennifer Hudson a run for her money. He hits some notes that he has no business even trying. It's pretty unreal.

Other great moments include Alec Baldwin doing The Tony Bennett Show. His impersonation of the singer is priceless, and an appearance by the real Tony is a highlight. The Emmy-winning "Dick in a Box" is here, as are the "Two A-Holes." Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has a killer sketch where he's a bad influence on little kids, drilling them with footballs and teaching them how to break into cars.

While this is a pretty decent collection, it's a bit short on Hader material, and a few more Justin Timberlake sketches would've been nice. (How could they leave out him dancing in the soup outfit?) Hopefully, the next season will continue building upon the momentum of this one.

Special Features: Some cast commentaries, dress-rehearsal sketches and "Dick in a Box" uncensored are among the treats. The disc I bought came with an episode of 30 Rock.


Death Proof: Extended and Unrated

Dimension
Movie A-
Special Features B-
DVD Geek Factor 7 (out of 10)

It's no secret that the Weinstein brothers weren't too happy about Grindhouse under-performing at the box office. The three-hour-plus double-feature experience seemed a little too long for most tastes, and the film, while not a total bomb, disappointed at the box office. It seemed that a lot of people were waiting for the DVD.

Well, too bad for you if you waited. The Weinsteins have split up the double feature, releasing Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof and Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror as separate DVD entities. Death Proof comes first, with Planet Terror coming next month.

The advantage is that Death Proof has been re-edited and extended with some good scenes. New material includes the lap-dance sequence that was missing from the theatrical cut, and a longer, black-and-white introduction of Rosario Dawson. But the fake trailers that connected the films are missing, and that was a big chunk of the fun. Some of the performers, like Rose McGowan, appeared in both films, and it was a trip to see them as different characters in different films one after the other.

Still, I have no complaints about this as movie, because it contains one of the better Kurt Russell performances ever delivered by the B-movie god. He plays Stuntman Mike, a has-been with a death-proof car who likes to kill beautiful girls in wrecks. Russell is both terrifying and hilarious, especially in a car chase involving Dawson and the amazing Zoe Bell. Bell is a stuntwoman-turned-actress who straps herself onto the hood of a Dodge Challenger and rides straight into car-chase history.

Tarantino was going for the look of old drive-in and grindhouse cinema, so the film has intentional scratches and jump edits. Don't be thinking there's something wrong with the disc or your player, because it's supposed to look shitty.

They'll probably release the Grindhouse experience as a DVD double feature someday, but for now, it's one film at a time. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but not quite as fun as what we got to see in theaters.

Special Features: No Quentin commentary; he's pulling a Spielberg when it comes to DVD releases. There are some pretty standard documentaries on the film, including features on Russell and Bell. Not bad, but not great.


Alligator

Lionsgate
Movie B-
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 6 (out of 10)

A baby alligator gets flushed down the toilet, feeds on some genetically enhanced dog corpses and grows super-large in the sewers. Robert Forster stars as a cop who watches his partner get eaten by the thing. He then quietly sets out on a mission to blow it up.

The movie is stupid as all hell, but it's good B-movie fun if you're in the mood. A couple of the eating scenes are quite good, including one where a kid is forced to walk a plank into a swimming pool where the gator awaits. The 1980 special effects actually aren't that bad considering the low budget.

John Sayles, the John Sayles, actually wrote the movie. This one would go good with, say, Jaws 2 or the 1976 version of King Kong as a double feature. It's fun garbage for a Saturday night. Just don't rent it looking for high-quality entertainment, OK?

Special Features: Forster actually sits down for a commentary on this thing. Can you believe it? There's also an interview with John Sayles.

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