|Right now, I am staring at a stack of DVDs I just purchased, shaking my head sadly, and feeling slightly ashamed of myself. On the one hand, Im elated to have found so many old favourites at such a low price. On the other hand, these were all "guilty pleasures" for me back in my youth, and its doubly embarrassing to admit that I still like them.
· The Best of Bizarre: Volume 1 (1980-1983) Guilty pleasures dont come much guiltier than this collection from John Byners outrageous sketch comedy series, Bizarre. Byner shows remarkable talent as the shows star/host, but is more than willing to share the spotlight with interesting guest stars (Saul Rubinek, Luba Goy, Billy Barty, Pat Morita) and recurring characters such as Super Dave Osborne (producer Bob Einstein), a grouchy daredevil whose fame outlasted Bizarres by more than a decade. Still, the show often seems like little more than a collection of dirty jokes, and I sometimes wince at the stuff I used to laugh at (I still laugh, though). Eight complete episodes are included the second volume is rumoured to contain 10.
Consumers should note that this DVD contains the uncensored version of the show that originally ran on American pay TV. The version broadcast in Canada on CTV employed different shots and camera angles to hide frequent glimpses of female nudity, and all swear words were "bleeped" out with humorously loud car horn and cuckoo clock sound effects. The bare tits are a welcome addition, but its almost disappointing to hear real profanity rather than the cartoonish honks and whistles I remember from the original broadcast. Couldnt they have included an alternate "censored" audio track on the disc? (Wow, I never thought Id ask for something like that.)
· The Best of Benny Hill (1974) Just mention this one to British people, and watch them cringe. The Benny Hill Show (1969-1989) caught all kinds of guff for its lowbrow humour, smutty tone and recycled jokes, but it must have been a guilty pleasure for many, many people to have enjoyed such a long and successful run. The material runs the gamut from inspired to crass, and scantily clad females are thrown in at regular intervals, just to keep you watching (it worked). Admit it, just hearing that theme song makes you grin like an idiot, as you picture Benny chasing a lingerie-clad cutie through a park in super-fast motion, pursued by a cop and an old bald guy stuck in a wheelbarrow.
This disc actually contains a movie (!) made up of clips from the series, pieced together to resemble an 80-minute episode, a la Monty Pythons And Now For Something Completely Different (1971).
· Kentucky Fried Movie (1977) Hmm. Yet another sketch comedy filled with dirty jokes and hot babes. What is it with me this week?
This was one of the first movies I ever rented on home video, and it still makes me laugh like a gibbon. I admit that I mostly remember it for the spectacular Uschi Digard as the huge-breasted "shower girl" in the joke trailer for "Catholic High School Girls in Trouble," and the main reason I wanted this DVD was to try out the freeze-frame, zoom and repeat functions on this little scene. Still, this disc has a lot more to offer than that, as I reacquainted myself with hilarious half-forgotten sketches, such as the 30-minute spot-on Bruce Lee spoof "Fistful of Yen," and the ludicrous disaster melodrama "Thats Armageddon." Plus, you can tell that a comedy is still funny when the films writers, producer and director chuckle through the entire audio commentary, as they do here (amongst the joyful recollections and anecdotes is the observation that this R-rated comedy would probably get an NC-17 rating today). At six bucks, this is an essential purchase.
· Highlander (1986) I can already hear you fanboys getting riled at the thought of this decapitation epic being described as a guilty pleasure. Heck, I harboured some rose-tinted nostalgia for it myself. Watching it today, though whooee! Back in the 80s it was easy to overlook Highlanders flaws in the face of its remarkable achievements, but watch it again, and those flaws will just sit on your face and stick fingers up your nostrils. Dont get me wrong I still love it, but
damn. Still, compared to the sequels, its a masterpiece. After the unbelievably awful Highlander 2: The Quickening (1991), I swore never to watch another Highlander sequel or spin-off, and to this day, I never have. Other viewers must be more forgiving than I, or there wouldnt be all those sequels (including an upcoming fifth instalment from the notoriously crappy director Brett Leonard) and TV series (three of them, including the animated one).
Incidentally, if you havent seen this movie in many years, you should know that the most commonly available DVD versions now all contain the longer European edit, which makes some interesting additions. Conners first opponent in the parking garage now does some hilariously pointless back flips during their duel, and additional scenes set in a zoo and (most interestingly) Nazi Germany are reinstated. Plus, the funny 17th century duel in which Conner is too drunk to fight, but wont die, is expanded to include an unnecessary additional joke, in which pistols are brought in and used to silence the obsequious "Hotchkiss" character.
Well, those are my embarrassing DVD purchases this week. Hey, dont judge me. I picked up Alien (1979) and Manhattan (1979) as well, and neither of those is anything to be ashamed of, being classics in the sci-fi/horror and Woody Allen angsty drama genres, respectively. Come back next week and Ill try to write about something really tacky. Adios!