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From Bouncy to Bizarre

Tigger goes in search of relatives; new life for the truly offbeat 'Repo Man.'

August 24, 2000|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The DVD of "The Tigger Movie" (Disney, $30) is perfect for the small fry. The disc includes a wide-screen transfer of the charming little animated musical, in which Tigger goes in search of his family. When it appears that the bouncy, trouncy Tigger is lost, Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit, Roo, Kanga, Eeyore and Christopher Robin launch a search.

Richard and Robert Sherman ("Mary Poppins") penned several new songs for the film. Added attractions for the kiddies are a storybook version of the tale, a "Build Your Own Family Tree" game, two trivia games and a music video featuring Kenny Loggins.

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Anchor Bay consistently gives new life to offbeat and often forgotten films on DVD. Its latest digital release is Alex Cox's 1984 cult comedy "Repo Man" (in $30 and $50 versions).

Harry Dean Stanton and Emilio Estevez star in this truly bizarre flick about two automobile repossessors working in L.A. One of the major plot twists deals with some nuked-out aliens being transported in the back of a Chevy Malibu.

Both DVD versions feature the wide-screen version of the film, talent biographies and liner notes. The more expensive edition includes a collector's booklet and the CD soundtrack and comes in a tin container designed to resemble a California license plate.

The funny audio commentary on both discs features writer-director Cox, executive producer Michael Nesmith of "Monkees" fame, casting director Victoria Thomas and actors Sy Richardson, Del Zamora and Zander Schloss.

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Director David Zucker, producer Robert K. Weiss and host Peter Tilden offer riotous commentary on the digital editions of the three hit "Naked Gun" slapstick hits, "The Naked Gun--From the Files of Police Squad!"; "The Naked Gun 2 1/2--The Smell of Fear" and "Naked Gun 33 1/3--The Final Insult" (Paramount, $30 each).

Leslie Nielsen stars in these comedies, reprising his role as the bungling Lt. Frank Drebin from the short-lived TV series of 1982, "Police Squad." In the first and best of the trio, 1988's "The Naked Gun," Drebin must foil an assassination attempt when the Queen of England visits Los Angeles. (It is a tad disconcerting, though, to watch co-star O.J. Simpson make his first appearance in "Naked Gun" wearing a dark knit cap.)

Zucker and Weiss point out that Nielsen was game to try every bit of slapstick, no matter how silly, but Ricardo Montalban, a devout Catholic, put his foot down when they wanted him to say a line involving the Virgin Mary and a pickle.

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Arriving Tuesday from Universal Home Video are four more classic horror DVDs ($30 each): "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein," "Creature From the Black Lagoon," "The Invisible Man" and the 1943 version of "Phantom of the Opera." Each one is absolutely fab.

Considered the best horror comedy ever made, 1948's "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein" was the first "monster" film involving the beloved comedy duo. It features appearances by Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolf Man, Bela Lugosi as Dracula and Glenn Strange as Frankenstein's monster.

Bonus goodies on the DVD include production photos, the re-release theatrical trailer, cast and filmmaker biographies and a documentary hosted by film historian David J. Skal that features interviews with various horror film experts and Lou Costello's daughter, Chris. Film historian Gregory W. Mank provides the commentary.

Originally released in 3-D in 1954, "Creature From the Black Lagoon" stars the movie monster of the '50s: the Gill Man, a half-man, half-fish who lives in the Amazon. Film historian Skal is the host of the documentary "Back to the Black Lagoon," which includes interviews with actress Julie Adams--the object of the Gill Man's affections--and Ben Chapman and Ricou Browning, the men who played the Gill Man.

Directed by the wonderful James Whale ("Frankenstein), 1933's "The Invisible Man" is still quite fun. Claude Rains and Gloria Stuart star in an adaptation of the H.G. Wells tale about a scientist who takes a potion that renders him invisible. Extra features include the documentary "Now You See Him: The Invisible Man Revealed," hosted by film historian Rudy Behlmer, and production photos, production notes and biography material on the cast and filmmakers. Behlmer supplies the audio commentary, in which he explains how Rains was made invisible.

Rounding out the collection is the 1943 Technicolor version of "The Phantom of the Opera," starring Rains as the Phantom, Susanna Foster as the woman he pursues and Nelson Eddy as an opera star. The DVD features a beautiful transfer of the film and a documentary, "The Opera Ghost: A Phantom Unmasked," hosted by film historian Scott MacQueen.

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