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From Art House to Your House

September 26, 2004|MICHAEL T. JARVIS

Corporate entertainment conglomerates may be devouring everything in their path, but connoisseurs of the foreign, the arty, the demented and the tasteless have plenty to be grateful for in Los Angeles, thanks to a noble fringe of rental outfits offering rare and unique DVDs and videos. Below, a sample of small businesses devoted to making your home-viewing experience as off-the-beaten-track as possible.

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Eddie Brandt's Saturday Matinee

5006 Vineland Ave., North Hollywood

(818) 506-4242

Musician and composer Eddie Brandt offers many rare films and television shows that have never been released. Specialties include film noir, Charlie Chaplin and silent films, documentaries, foreign films and Westerns. The TV assortment--arguably the best in town--includes programs from the late '40s and classic Sid Caesar. Renters can peruse a massive in-store catalogue of 62,000 VHS tapes and 8,000 DVD titles. "We know who Gene Tierney is," says Claire Brandt, who operates the family business with her children and husband.

Cinefile

11280 Santa Monica Blvd.

(310) 312-8836

Founded five years ago and aptly located next to the Nuart Theatre, Cinefile specializes in rare and avant-garde as well as silent, classic, kitsch and trash films. The 25,000 titles span DVD releases and an array of foreign films. Adult films are available but limited to European and vintage 1970s entries. An entire wall highlights notable directors.

Mondo Video A Go-Go

4328 Melrose Ave.

(323) 953-8896

For 18 years, Rob and Chris Schaffner have strived to excel in unusual and bizarre offerings. "We have the weirdest, hard-to-find, out-of-print, cheesy, sleazy, fun stuff," says Chris. "We've been told we have the most incredible punk rock section ever seen." "Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens" is currently in high demand.

Jerry's Video Reruns

1904 N. Hillhurst Ave., Los Feliz

(323) 666-7471

Owner Jerry Neeley is a walking film encyclopedia and a frequent consultant to studios. Japanese horror, sci-fi and biker movies are present in force; house favorites lean toward Italian Westerns, Italian horror and sword-and-sandal epics. The horror-comedy "Geek Maggot Bingo" is a popular rental, says co-owner Mary Neeley. "I'm not saying it's any good, but the title makes me laugh."

Rocket Video

726 N. La Brea Ave.

(323) 965-1100

Rocket Video is a festive place that decorates for holidays and presents monthly guest speakers. A free rental section lets exposure-hungry writers, producers or actors leave a copy of their film. Titles include classic, cult and foreign fare with a huge cache of documentaries and hard-to-find Andy Warhol films. Keep an eye out for "It's a Bikini World" and "Sh! The Octopus."

Videoactive

2522 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake

(323) 669-8544

The subject categories alone--Trashy Women or My Drug Hell, for example--make Videoactive well worth a visit. Titles range from classic to obscure, with abundant political fare. When a movie world celebrity dies, their films go on memorial display. "We have fun people who know the films," says Terry Sue, who reviews all new gay porn releases. "My review goes right on the box."

Video Journeys

2730 Griffith Park Blvd., Los Feliz

(323) 663-5857

Local news stations often consult Video Journeys for biographical highlights when someone famous dies. The films of Stephen King, BBC television programs, a Pedro Almodovar section and an adult section await you every day of the year.

Vidiots

302 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica

(310) 392-8508

There's a comprehensive documentary collection, tens of thousands of other titles including European imports, Asian horror and British comedies, and special events featuring guest speakers. Given Vidiots' location three blocks from the beach, we suggest "Surf Nazis Must Die" and "Chopper Chicks in Zombietown" for a fun evening.

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