New on DVD: Behold the Power of Seth Rogen’s Super Sperm!

Caligula

Penthouse, $39.99

(Spoiler alert: fisting!) One day back in the swingin' '70s, somebody mentioned how "absolute power corrupts absolutely," and then Bob Guccione, Gore Vidal, Malcolm McDowell, Helen Mirren, and Peter O'Toole said, "Let's make a big-budget movie about that, with cum shots." And Caligula was born. Actually, Penthouse publisher Guccione added the hardcore shots to the unrated edition that makes up the centerpiece of this three-disc set, but the more demure cut (also included) still features fisting and dozens of dry-humping extras. The movie's not as horrifically bad as its reputation suggests—or secretly brilliant, for that matter. But you must see it at least once (OK, only once). And who needs three discs of this stuff? This set was originally listed as four discs; excised is the one dedicated to the music of the film. Guess you'll have to find your party music elsewhere. JORDAN HARPER

Death Proof

Genius, $29.95

Grindhouse flopped because the only Z-movie fetishists willing to sit for three hours are film critics. They swooned over Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof, but it was that film's endless chatter that slew the double feature's momentum. That you could have improved it by lopping off 15 minutes bodes poorly for an extended edition (part of this two-disc set)—but guess what? The footage he left out is better than much of what he kept in, with more Kurt Russell and Rosario Dawson, plus a lap-dance scene. (Note to Q.T.: When in doubt, cut the chatter—keep the lap dances.) The movie's final third remains a squealing success, thanks to stuntwoman/actress Zoë Bell. Missing is a commentary track. JORDAN HARPER

1408

Dimension, $32.95

Director Mikael Håfström's big-screen version of Stephen King's short story came and went like a phantom—so much for subtlety playing at theaters, where kiddies like their scares cheap and easy. It's more or less a one-man show, with John Cusack as a cynical ghostbuster trolling tourist traps for guidebook blurbs. Only, he checks into one room from which he can't check out. This collection has two versions: theatrical and extended dance mix, the latter accompanied by a director-and-screenwriters commentary track in which they suggest they shot too much and cut out just enough. 1408 could've been four or five different films with 20 or 30 different interpretations. As this edition makes clear, their best effort was their theatrical version. ROBERT WILONSKY

Knocked Up

Universal, $30.98

Apparently, as Judd Apatow was making Knocked Up he was also prepping for its DVD release, as most of the bonuses here were shot during breaks on location. And they're no small treats, either—finally, here's a "collector's edition" worthy of the moniker. Chief among the bounty affixed to this comedy about impending and imploding parenthood is a mock-doc called Finding Ben Stone, in which Apatow "directs" a host of other actors in the part "eventually" given to Seth Rogen. To name the other candidates would blow some of the gag—suffice it to say they're all angry young (and old) famous men prone to fits of swearing, as Apatow (easily the Best Male Actor in a Made-for-DVD Bonus) returns to his celeb-skewering Larry Sanders Show roots. Which leaves nearly three hours' worth of extras, every one of which is better than most features released this year. ROBERT WILONSKY

The TV Set

Fox, $27.98

This is a sharp, smart film that was all but ignored during its theatrical run this summer—appropriate, as it's about how a sharp, smart TV series gets dumped on by the network that thought it oh-so-brilliant before the behind-the-scenes butchering. Appropriate that this was released the same week as Knocked Up: Writer-director Jake Kasdan worked with Judd Apatow on the acclaimed and finally assassinated Freaks and Geeks, and he knows better than most the corrupt promises made by TV execs who claim they want smart and sell mostly stoopid. David Duchovny's spot-on as the Apatow-Kasdan stand-in, selling his soul by the ounce; Sigourney Weaver's a revelation as the network exec demanding he change everything about the show she claims to love; Justine Bateman, Ioan Gruffudd, Judy Greer, and Lucy Davis are likewise tremendous. So, too, is Weaver's favorite show on her network: Slut Wars. ROBERT WILONSKY

OTHER RELEASES

A favorite this spring at SIFF, but cruelly omitted from Seattle theaters thereafter, the New Zealand gore-spoof Black Sheep is an instant couch classic. Just seen at NWFF, Gus Van Sant's Mala Noche gets the Criterion treatment. An N.Y.C. neorealist standout from SIFF '06, Man Push Cart, finally reaches disc. Tobe Hooper's suburban horror flick Poltergeist is being dusted off for its 25th anniversary. For the family market, there's the fairly annoying Surf's Up (cheaper than a baby-sitter at $28.95). A flop in theaters but still a decent rental curio is You Kill Me, with Ben Kingsley and Téa Leoni. Likewise, the couch-trip comedy The Treatment (with Ian Holm and Famke Janssen) is worth the walk to Scarecrow. And no zombie fan should miss 28 Weeks Later.

 
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