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Cujo: 25th Anniversary Edition

Movie C+
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 5.5 (out of 10)

I must give kudos to the dog performances in this movie. They are first-rate and totally shattered my view of Saint Bernards as placid, loving canines. I've never been a big fan of this movie, but it really is marvelous when it comes to big-dog stunts and antics.

When I was a kid, I would gobble up Stephen King novels as if they were Pop Rocks. Cujo was a much darker novel than this movie, and I always faulted the filmmakers for wimping out in the end. Lewis Teague directed, with Jan de Bont working the camera. Teague got the job in part due to King liking Teague's Alligator. The director made a movie about a mom (Dee Wallace) trapped in a car with her little boy (Danny Pintauro) probably about as interesting as it could be.

The film begins with the title doggie character (played by multiple Saint Bernards) chasing a rabbit and getting bitten by a rabid bat. Teague does a good job of making us like the pooch before he "turns." Once Cujo goes batty, the film is a bit ridiculous. The final half of the movie features Wallace and Pintauro sweating it out in a broken-down car as Cujo drools and bleeds all over the windows. Pintauro was actually pretty good here, but he would go on to annoy the piss out of me on TV's Who's the Boss.

Teague would later shoot his promising career in the ass with the release of Navy Seals. He's labored mostly in television since the early '90s, and I'm guessing he's not a big Charlie Sheen fan.

Special Features: Teague gives an enthusiastic commentary, where he gushes about this being the favorite of his films. He actually provides a very interesting history of the movie. There's also a three-part documentary that includes new interviews with Teague, Wallace and Pintauro.

The Bronx Is Burning: The Complete Series

Show A-
Special Features B+
DVD Geek Factor 7.5 (out of 10)

Having grown up in New York (I was 9 years old in the summer of '77), I can honestly tell you that the makers of this miniseries have done a damn fine job of capturing the madness of Manhattan. More specifically, they nail the dynamic between George Steinbrenner (Oliver Platt) and Billy Martin (John Turturro), the legendary owner and manager of that year's New York Yankees team.

Turturro captures both sides of Martin: the shy, put-upon guy, and the ill-tempered control freak. Turturro has a resemblance to Martin, but a pair of prosthetic ears he's forced to wear are a bit distracting. Platt does a great job with the juicy role of Steinbrenner, never losing sight of the fact that Big George always believed in the moves he made, no matter how crazy they might've been. As Yankees star Reggie Jackson, Daniel Sunjata does a great job of capturing Mr. October's glory and arrogance.

The eight-episode series also includes the story of serial killer David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam, and how the man made sitting in one's parked car a nightmare. By chronicling the year when the Yankees returned to greatness, all the way from Martin's hiring to a World Series victory, ESPN manages to tell one of baseball history's greatest stories (even if you hate the Yankees...which I do). I hope they do a sequel.

Special Features: They include some deleted and extended scenes, and great interviews with Steinbrenner, Jackson and Billy Martin's son.

Robocop: 20th Anniversary Collector's Edition

Movie A- Special Features A-
DVD Geek Factor 8 (out of 10)

Director Paul Verhoeven, a Dutch filmmaker with a flair for extreme violence and sex, had himself a decent 10-year run starting in '87. He made his Hollywood debut with this one and followed with such bent classics as Total Recall and Starship Troopers. He also did Showgirls, which effectively ended his status as a directing superstar.

Peter Weller does some good work as Murphy, a cop in the future killed in the line of duty and brought back as a part-man, part-machine law-enforcement hero. Ronny Cox and Kurtwood Smith make for memorable villains, and Nancy Allen had one of her last decent roles as Murphy's partner.

The theatrical cut was violent enough, but this package includes two versions of the film: the theatrical R-rated cut, and an extended, unrated version that ups the ante on the gore. This film came out two years before Tim Burton's Batman, which marked the official return of comic-book heroes to the big screen. Looking back at the film, Robocop probably helped to usher in a darker tone to superhero movies.

Special Features: Plenty of featurettes, old and new, join a commentary from the wild and crazy Verhoeven. Weller doesn't participate in the commentary, but he does show up for an interview where he describes the troubles of his cumbersome suit.

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