DVD Round Up, Feb. 22, 2009: ‘Alien Raiders,’ ‘Dead Like Me,’ ‘Religulous’

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CHICAGO – Oscar madness has left the Round Up a little weary of high profile, award-bait movies. We need a break from the Oscars and what better way to do that than with a few titles that might have slipped through the cracks while everyone was singing “Jai Ho”.

Catch up with some of your favorite characters from the cult hit “Dead Like Me,” watch the latest in Warner Brothers’ direct-to-DVD horror series known as “Raw Feed,” and check out a documentary that I think everyone thought would make bigger waves than it did, Bill Maher’s “Religulous”.

All three of these titles were released on February 17th, 2009.

“Alien Raiders”

Alien Raiders
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

The “Raw Feed” series of Warner Bros. horror releases has been relatively disappointing. There hasn’t been a single real gem, although you’ll find some hardcore fans of “Rest Stop” and “Otis”. To this critic, they’re almost all near-misses, none of them complete wastes of time, but none of them truly remarkable enough to recommend, and the new one follows the pattern. (Other “Raw Feed” titles include “The Believers,” “Sublime,” and “Rest Stop 2”).

“Alien Raiders” has arguably the best first act of any of the “Raw Feed” films. Playing out like a prime era John Carpenter flick, a group of armed people take over a smalltown grocery store. They’re clearly looking for something but it’s not money. Led by “24“‘s Carlos Bernard, “they know something terrible is happening at Hastings Market. And caught up in the grisly horror inside the market are shoppers turned hostages, unearthly alien terrors…and a dedicated commando band of raiders on a search-and-destroy mission to stop the intruders dead cold not matter where they hide.”

“Alien Raiders” is presented in widescreen with a Dolby Surround 5.1 track. Special features include “Hidden Terror: The Making of Alien Raiders,” “Blood, Sweat and Fears: The Special Effects of Alien Raiders,” “Tape #9: Sterling Explains Alien” - Alien Physiology and Meeting Ritter, “Tape #12: Spookie’s Job” - The Alien Buster Explains His Talent, “Whitney Cam” - Blog Posts After the Buck Lake Incident, and Raw Fees Movies Trailers Gallery.

“Alien Raiders” stars Carlos Bernard, Mathew St. Patrick (“Six Feet Under”), Courtney Ford, Jeff Licon, Samantha Streets, Derek Basco, Bonita Friedericy, Bryan Krasner, and Rockmond Dunbar. It was written by David Simkins and Julia Farr, and was directed by Ben Rock. It is rated R.

“Dead Like Me: Life After Death”

Dead Like Me: Life After Death
Photo credit: Fox

If “Family Guy” and “Futurama” can return from the great boob tube beyond, doesn’t it seem appropriate that Showtime’s “Dead Like Me” eventually would? The often-clever series hasn’t been on the air since 2004, but petitions are still actively trying to bring the show back and the straight-to-DVD movie, “Life After Death” has been seen by some as the kickstart to reviving the series.

“When George (Ellen Muth) and her colleagues get a new boss whose focus is on moving souls quickly and enjoying life without consequences, the team begins to break the strict reaper rules. While her friends fall victim to their desires for money, success, and fame, George breaks another rule by revealing her true identity to her living family. As the reapers struggle with their roles on Earth, they each find that death can be just as complicated as life. Through its strong storyline, “Dead Like Me: Life After Death” delves into the intricate mythology and dark comedy created by the TV series and appeals to the show’s legions of fans as well as those new to the world of the reapers.”

“Life After Death” is presented in widescreen with an English Dolby Surround Sound 5.1 track. Special features include an audio commentary by director Stephen Herek and actress Ellen Muth and a featurette called “Back From the Dead: Resurrecting Dead Like Me”.

“Dead Like Me: Life After Death” stars Ellen Muth, Callum Blue, Jasmine Guy, Mandy Patinkin, Cynthia Stevenson, and Britt McKillip. It was created by Bryan Fuller and the movie is directed by Stephen Herek. It is not rated.


Photo credit: Lionsgate

If you like Bill Maher’s show, “Religulous” is definitely worth a look. Not quite as daring or insightful as one would hope, there’s still plenty to laugh about in Maher’s dissection of modern religion. The movie too often feels like shooting “Jesus fish” in a barrel for the sharp-tongued observer but if you approach the doc as a comedy and not the commentary on religion that Maher sometimes thinks it is then it works.

“In this new commentary from director Larry Charles (“Borat,” “Seinfeld”), comedian and TV host Bill Maher (“Real Time with Bill Maher,” “Politically Incorrect”) takes a pilgrimage across the globe on a mind-opening journey into the ultimate taboo: questioning religion. Meeting the high and low from different religions, Maher simply asks questions, like “Why is faith good? “Why doesn’t an all-powerful God speak to us directly? and “How can rational people believe in a talking snake?” For anyone who’s even a little spiritually curious, this divine entertainment will deepen your faith…in comedy!”

“Religulous” is presented in widescreen with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and an English 5.1 audio track. Special features include a commentary with Bill Maher and director Larry Charles, deleted scenes, and Bill Maher monologues from around the world. It is rated R.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

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