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New on Disc: 'Piranha: Special Edition' and more …

2 Aug, 2010 By: Mike Clark

Piranha: Special Edition

Street 8/3/10
Shout! Factory/Vivendi, Horror, $19.93 DVD, $26.97 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Heather Menzies, Bradford Dillman, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, Dick Miller.
I had never seen Piranha before its new Blu-ray edition, which, like the company’s other recent high-def editions from the Roger Corman library, polishes the appearance of a frugally budgeted production to the highest level we’re likely to see.
Extras: You have to love hearing Corman, on the bonus section here, conceding that his picture was “influenced” by Jaws.  The bonus section is largely devoted to the blue-smoke-and-mirrors work director Joe Dante and his effects people had to pull off to disguise the reality that the so-called piranhas were fake and nailed/glued to sticks, which were then manipulated by technicians.
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Kino Lorber, Comedy, $29.95 DVD, $34.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Isabelle Huppert, Olivier Gourmet.
Smoothly situated in that spot somewhere between a plausible story surreally told and a surreal story told reasonably realistically, Switzerland’s submission for the most recent Oscars is another chapter in the career of its marvelously chameleonic lead Isabelle Huppert. The movie’s credible base emanates from something all of us have noted at one time or another: those households that manage to function even though they’re plunked right up against the highways our speeding cars zoom down.
Extras: The movie’s visuals burn in the brain, and bonus features tell of how director/co-writer Ursula Meier’s debut feature was inspired by, in fact, whipping down the freeway and noting oblivious adjacent residents enjoying life despite the noise and pollution.
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Appointment With Danger

Olive, Drama, $24.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Alan Ladd, Phyllis Calvert, Jack Webb, Harry Morgan.

1951. The movie opens with a familiar-sounding announcer voice-overing standard boilerplate about how great the post office is — but quickly gets down to business with the welcome noir array of third-rate hotels, a foiled robbery, seedy gang hideout and a resident blonde chippie. By the time Danger came out, Jack Webb was only months away from transferring “Dragnet” from radio to TV and on a permanent “enforcement” perch; as a result, audiences never got too many opportunities to see him on the wrong side of the law. (But in a juicy footnote, he is, again, in Charlton Heston’s 1950 debut vehicle Dark City — another of the five launch titles, along with this release, in Olive Films’ new distribution deal with Paramount to release several of the latter’s catalog titles.)
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Brewster McCloud

Available via WBshop.com’s Warner Archive
Warner, Comedy, $24.95 DVD, ‘R’ for language, drug references and sexuality.
Stars Bud Cort, Michael Murphy, Rene Auberjonois, Sally Kellerman, William Windom.
This is a movie about all things birds — and specifically, about a young man (Bud Cort, so early in his career that he hadn’t even made Harold and Maude yet) who yearns to fly in the Houston Astrodome via a complex makeshift contraption that demands he keep his arms in shape by doing hundreds of pull-ups. Despite self-indulgent dead spots, the movie has the comic tone and look of prime Robert Altman (it’s his first movie after MASH brought him overnight lionization).
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