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Two Bruce Campbell Films from Anchor Bay

Alien Apocalypse (April 10/06)

Extraordinarily silly but fun, Alien Apocalypse delivers exactly what one might expect from a Sci-Fi Network production starring Bruce Campbell (the ridiculous title proves to be fairly indicative of the film's tone). Campbell stars as arrogant astronaut Ivan Hood, who - along with three colleagues, including love interest Kelly (Renee O'Connor) - returns to Earth after a 40-year stint in space only to discover that it's been conquered by a particularly nasty alien race. Although the surviving humans are being used as slave labor, Ivan convinces several jittery volunteers to participate in an uprising - despite the fact that they are vastly outnumbered and outgunned. Alien Apocalypse, written and directed by Josh Becker, has clearly been designed to appeal to a very specific audience, as evidenced by the film's abundance of overwrought elements. There's an absurdly over-the-top vibe at work here, something that's true of virtually every imaginable aspect of the production (even the fake beards come off as campy). And at the center of it all is Campbell, hamming it up and delivering a typically engaging performance that's generally far more entertaining than the film itself. With an emphasis on snarky quips and bizarre, Braveheart-esque speeches, Campbell's obviously having a lot of fun in the role - though the Ed Woodian dialogue occasionally steps just a little too far over the edge (upon witnessing a mass slaughter of slaves, Campbell's character gravely remarks, "so much killing"). By the time the Spartacus-inspired finale rolls around, it's clear we're not meant to take any of this seriously (and on that level, there's no doubt that the film works).

out of

Man with the Screaming Brain (April 11/06)

Man with the Screaming Brain casts Bruce Campbell as William Cole, an arrogant industrialist who arrives in Bulgaria intending to secure some business for his successful company. After an unfortunate run-in with a homicidal maid and a mad scientist, however, William finds himself forced to share his consciousness with a sleazy taxi driver named Yegor. Though William initially fights Yegor for control of his body, he quickly comes to the conclusion that the only way to avenge his own death is to form an unlikely alliance with the man. Written and directed by Campbell, Man with the Screaming Brain delivers exactly what it promises in terms of campiness and ridiculous shenanigans - though there's no denying that viewers unaccustomed to Campbell's admittedly off-kilter sense of humor will be left furiously scratching their heads in bewilderment. And although the film's lack of plot results in a few slow spots, there's no denying that Campbell's go-for-broke approach to virtually every facet of the production ensures that (at the very least) the thing's never boring. Campbell's delightfully hammy performance only cements this vibe, while Stacy Keach and Ted Raimi are equally effective as, respectively, the aforementioned Bulgarian mad scientist and his seriously demented assistant. Man with the Screaming Brain is never quite as much fun as one imagines Campbell intended, but the film is nevertheless required viewing for fans of the B-movie superstar.

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About the DVD: Anchor Bay Entertainment presents both of these titles with anamorphically-enhanced transfers, along with a fairly substantial batch of supplemental materials (including featurettes and commentaries).
© David Nusair