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Black Sheep

Dimension Extreme Films
Movie: B
Special Features: B
DVD Geek Factor: 6.25 (out of 10)

For fans of Peter Jackson's Dead Alive or Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead, Black Sheep: Unrated (Dimension) is a must see. A New Zealand sheep farmer is doing genetic experiments in an effort to create super-sheep. A couple of hippies steal a specimen--a jarred sheep that looks sickly--and make off with it. The mutated sheep escapes, bites a human and some fellow sheep, and you have the world's first zombie sheep movie.

Peter Jackson's Weta workshop did the good-looking effects. The monsters are a mix of deranged, farting sheep and half-human, half-sheep creatures. All of the effects are old school, so lots of puppets and men in suits. There are a couple of decent transformation scenes, where screaming men turn into sheep in a style similar to the creature transitions in An American Werewolf in London.

Special Features: Deleted scenes with commentary, bloopers, making-of featurette, and an actor and director commentary. There's also a short scene filmed especially for the DVD.


Poltergeist

Warner Home Video
Movie: B
Special Features: F
DVD Geek Factor: 5 (out of 10)

For its 25th anniversary this classic haunted house film, at least partially from the mind of Steven Spielberg, gets digitally remastered. It looked good on my television, so kudos to the fellows with the digital toothbrushes.

The Freelings move into a house that, unbeknownst to them, is built atop a bunch of icky dead bodies. Little Carol Anne (the late Heather O'Rourke) can hear people talking in the television static. Turns out it's a bunch of ghosts, and they pull her into their world via her bedroom closet. Mom (Jobeth William) and Dad (Craig T. Nelson) smoke pot and fight heroically to retrieve her from the bad place and return television reception in their household to something resembling normalcy.

While Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) is the director of record, Spielberg (who came up with the story) supervised much of the shoot and post production. It came out at the same time as his E.T. , and was the director's first real foray into doing two films at the same time, something he has done a few times since.

The film almost got an R rating, and that scene where the guy claws his face off was probably the reason why. Yet it's PG. Spielberg had managed a similar ratings feat before, getting a clearly R-rated Jaws a PG back in the '70s.

Special Features: A couple of lame docs about paranormal activity, for those who take that stuff seriously. No Spielberg, none of the main actors. A real waste of time and no way to celebrate the film's anniversary.


Twilight Zone: The Movie

Warner Home Video
Movie: B
Special Features: None
DVD Geek Factor: 6 (out of 10)

Been a long while since I've seen this one, which took an unusually long time getting to DVD. Four directors get together to direct segments as tributes to the famous TV series by Rod Serling. Three of the segments are remakes of episodes, while one of them is an original piece about a racist man getting a taste of his own medicine. This, of course, is the infamous segment where actor Vic Morrow and two children got killed while filming for director John Landis. Contrary to some stuff I've read on the Internet, this sequence is not seen on the film or in any special features.

Steven Spielberg directs a segment where some elderly folks in a retirement home take a visit to the Fountain of Youth. Joe Dante helms the third part, where a little boy has the power to manipulate the world around him. George Miller directs the film's best portion, where John Lithgow plays a man afraid of flying who thinks he sees a man on the wing of the plane.

Special Features: You'll get nothing and like it!


The Sopranos: Season Six, Part II

HBO Video
Show: A
Special Features: B-
DVD Geek Factor: 8 (out of 10)

It seems people either loved or hated the very end of this already legendary series about Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and his family. I've heard plenty of arguments that creator David Chase left the ending open and ambiguous so viewers could "fill in the blank" and create their own finale.

Yeah, right. Chase ended his show in total, black-screen silence. Sopranos episodes always ended with music, usually from Tony's point of view, and this is the sole episode that ends in total silence. I think that had more meaning than some are giving it. Total black and total silence are two indicators of total death. Tony Soprano is dead, killed in front of his family for the humiliating death he delivered to a key character in the show's final season. No movies, no future mini-series. The story is over.

That's my ending to the series. What's yours?

Special Features: For those of you hoping that the DVD would provide answers about the finale, you've been shafted. The only special features are some select commentaries (none for the finale) and a behind-the-scenes look at Chris' (Michael Imperioli) horror movie, Cleaver.

More by Bob Grimm

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