Though CBS-Fox is downplaying it, "The Gods Must Be Crazy," debuting on home video this week, is considered a South African movie. Though it was made by South Africans, it was not filmed in South Africa. The location was Botswana, on the northern border of South Africa.
This 1984 comedy was one of the most successful foreign movies ever to play the United States. The movie is virtually the one-man creative effort of South African Jamie Uys--producer, writer, director, editor and actor. It shows what happens when a Coke bottle drops from an airplane into the simple lives of a tribe of Bushmen. This is the old intrusion-of-civilization-on-simple-folk routine done with some comical twists.
"The Gods Must Be Crazy" is released on Playhouse Video, a division of CBS-Fox Video.
This week's other major release is Vestron's "SpaceCamp," which opened in June but suffered at the box office because audiences were still reeling from the space-shuttle disaster and weren't ready for this space-shuttle adventure. Vestron figures audiences are ready for it now. Kate Capshaw stars.
Charter Entertainment's "Crimewave," released earlier this year, didn't get much attention. The movie, starring Louise Lasser and Bruce Campbell, is a barrage of gags and one-liners. Most of them misfire but enough are on target to make this watchable.
NEXT WEEK'S RELEASES: Critics didn't rave about HBO-Cannon's "Just Between Friends," but the reviews were generally favorable. It's been called a "woman's picture," focusing on the relationship between two friends (Mary Tyler Moore and Christine Lahti) who discover they're in love with the same man--a realization emerging after his death.
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without movies like Disney's "One Magic Christmas" (1985), about hardened skeptics magically finding the meaning of Christmas. This drama--those with a low tolerance for sentiment would call it hokey, others might call it heartwarming--stars Mary Steenburgen as the young mother who, with the help of a guardian angel, tunes into the Christmas spirit.
Also out next week: Roman Polanski's "Pirates," "Letter to Brezhnev" and "Cobra," starring Sylvester Stallone, which seems destined to be one of the month's biggest hits.
Later this month: "Violets Are Blue" (Nov. 26), "Hail Mary" (Nov. 26) and "Short Circuit" (Nov. 27)
COMING MOVIES: "Maximum Overdrive," due Dec. 22 from Karl-Lorimar, is a horror-thriller that has already reached the status of bad-movie classic. Horror novelist Stephen King made his debut as a director with this film version of one of his stories and was encouraged by reviewers to stick to writing. Emilio Estevez stars. The heavy-metal sound track by AC/DC is a plus.
A largely overlooked sci/horror movie, "Making Contact"--released earlier this year--is due Dec. 17 from New World. It doesn't feature any stars, but its premise--toys turning against kids--is certainly unusual. Though this one slipped by the mainstream audience, the hip sci/horror contingent loved it.
Critics had fun writing that "The Manhattan Project" would be a bomb. They were right. The movie didn't do well at the box office. When HBO-Cannon releases it on home video on Dec. 10, it's not expected to be a rental smash either. John Lithgow stars in this comedy/drama about a youngster whose science project is a nuclear bomb.
"Vamp," starring Grace Jones as a stripper-vampire, is due Nov. 24 from New World. Jones didn't lure many customers to the theaters but she may entice them to video stores to rent this one.
HORROR: "Spare Parts" (Widmark, $69.95) is about surgeons who sell body parts on the black market. This grisly 1985 movie should satisfy gore lovers. So will "Attack of the Beast Creatures" (World Video, $59.95), in which the survivors of a sunken ship are marooned on an island full of hungry creatures. The acting won't turn gore fans on but the horror scenes may.
CHARTS: Surprise! "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" did not debut on the rental chart at No. 1. It came on at No. 3 but should be No. 1 soon, probably next week. Possibly because of its relatively inexpensive price, $29.95, people are buying it rather than renting. On the sales chart, it's No. 2, a notch behind "Sleeping Beauty."
With so many popular movies available at holiday bargain prices, a lot of oldies will dominate the sales chart for the next two months. For instance, "Witness"--now $19.95--reentered at No. 12. "White Christmas," also at $19.95, is back at No. 32. By the time the holiday season is in full bloom, this old favorite should be in the Top 10.
(compiled by Billboard magazine) TOP VIDEOCASSETTES, RENTALS 1--"Down and Out in Beverly Hills" (Touchstone).
2--"Out of Africa" (MCA).
3--"Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (Paramount).
4--"Pretty in Pink" (Paramount).
5--"The Money Pit" (MCA).
7--"9 1/2 Weeks" (MGM/UA).
8--"Sleeping Beauty" (Disney).
9--"Murphy's Law" (Media).
10--"Wildcats" (Warner Video).
TOP VIDEOCASSETTES, SALES 1--"Sleeping Beauty" (Disney).
2--"Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (Paramount).
3--"Jane Fonda's New Workout" (Karl-Lorimar).
4--"Jane Fonda's Low Impact Workout" (Karl-Lorimar).
5--"The Sound of Music" (CBS-Fox).
7--"Alice in Wonderland" (Disney).
8--"The Cage" (Paramount).
9--"The Music Man" (Warner Video).
10--"Beverly Hills Cop" (Paramount).