It's the time of year when you can expect monsters and superheroes plotting their raids on the candy supplies of the neighborhood. To get into the proper spirit, here are a few Hallowe'en TVonDVD selections to tickle your funny bone, or rip it right off…
Masters of Horror: Pick Me Up
The latest release in Anchor Bay Entertainment's series of Masters of Horrors episodes is Pick Me Up – the first Larry Cohen film to be written by someone else [adapted, by David J. Schow, from his own short story]. It's a cat-and-mouse/chess game that features a hitchhiking serial killer [Walker, played by Warren Kole] who kills anyone unfortunate enough to give him a ride, and a serial killer truck driver [wheeler, portrayed by Michael Moriarty] who kills the hitchers he picks up. Complicating matters is a feisty divorcee [Stacia, played by Fairuza Balk] who inadvertently finds herself caught between them.;
While Pick Me Up has its fair share of suspense – and jump moments, for that matter – the episode feels a lot more contrived than most of the series' other eps. That's because the set-up is a little too obvious, and one character too many knows what's going on – and it's the one character who shouldn't… The cast gives terrific performances, and Cohen's direction is as fine as any entry in the series, to date – the problem lies with the script. It simply gives too much away, too soon.
Features include the usual plethora of material: audio commentary with Larry Cohen [unlike most commentaries in the series, so far, this one is just Cohen talking about making the film – there is no interviewer asking questions. I prefer this format]; Death on the Highway – an interview with Larry Cohen; Working With a Master – Larry Cohen – interviews with actors who have worked with Cohen in the past [including Karen Black and David Carradine]; On Set: An Interview With Michael Moriarty; On Set: An Interview With Fairuza Balk; On Set: An Interview With Warren Kole; Script to Screen: Pick Me Up – showing how scenes from the script translate to the finished product; Behind The Scenes: The Making of Pick Me Up; Fantasy Film Fantasy – Mick Garris Interviews Larry Cohen; Trailers; Stills Gallery; Larry Cohen Bio; DVD-ROM Screenplay; DVD-ROM Screensaver; Insert, and Larry Cohen Trading Card.
Masters of Horror: Pick Me Up – Grade: C
Features – Grade: A+
Final Grade: B
The Greatest American Hero – The Complete Series
When The Greatest American Hero debuted in March, 1981, it quickly garnered a rabid audience. The story of special ed teacher, Ralph Hinckley [William Katt] and his unfortunate pairing with by-the-book FBI hardcase, Bill Maxwell [Robert Culp] – planned by aliens, no less – took the superhero concept and planted in a more or less real world. The result was the smartest satire of the superhero comic ever broadcast.
The first season found the more liberal Ralph gifted with a set of superhero longjohns [complete with cape] and paired with ultra-conservative Bill with results that could only be called peculiar, and oddly hilarious. Part of the reason the conceit worked was that, before he could even read it, Ralph lost the suit's instruction book – thus, he had problem's learning to fly; found it hard to control the suit's invisibility function, and so on.
Fortunately, between Ralph and Bill, the two were able to get things together enough to deal with attempted coups, enemy agents and even the odd mundane killer/kidnapper/crook. While Ralph's attempts to figure out how to the use the suit [he learned to fly from a five-year old boy!] provided a certain amount of humor, the confrontations between Bill and Ralph's feminist girlfriend [and later wife] Pam [Connie Sellecca] dealt with the social upheaval that was a large part of the eighties – and Ralph's class of maladjusted high school students could be counted to add complications.
In its second [and only full] season,