MILL CREEK BLU RAY BOX SET: Dawson’s Creek (1996-2003)

I know no bigger fan of Dawson’s Creek than my friend Jim Sloss, who was kind enough to teach me that Pacey’s boat is named True Romance and to write this:

Over the years Sam has asked me many times if I’d like to write something for B&S and I’d always hem & haw and then never get around to it. Then came the box set of all box sets, the show that is like a time capsule to the 1990s and one of my all-time favorites, Dawson’s Creek.

In 1998 when this show came out I can remember vividly watching it on my VCR the following morning (because I had to work the night before) and from the first moment of the pilot to the last I was hooked, the dialogue was nothing that I’d heard before in a teen soap. They took a chance at treating the audience like adults rather than kids and it paid off. So, from that night on I followed the “kids” from Capeside each week for six seasons.

Created by Kevin Williamson, the co-creator of the horror franchise Scream, this series is a fictionalized account of a young film buff from a small town just trying to find his way. Pretty much what Kevin Williamson did was pitch what he knew and so he told a fictionalized version of his growing up in North Carolina. The show was launched on the WB network in January 1998 and was an instant hit with the show being parodied on MTV and Saturday Night Live. Their use of current pop culture and hit music for the time was what kept it relevant each week and talked about on school campuses.

During the late 90s, Dawson’s Creek was considered cutting edge for teen angst, touching on issues that were not talked about on TV and even less so in public. The first season dealt with drug abuse, addiction and infidelity along with every teenage boys dream… the inappropriate relationship with a hot teacher. In 1998 that was a huge story arc for a main character with the teacher just leaving to avoid scandal. These types of stories were becoming more and more common during this time and now leads to the teacher spending long stretches in prison rather than just moving on to another school.

Yet along the way these colorful kids learned from their mistakes and grew into functioning adults just trying to make their way. With the main character Dawson Leery, played by James Van Der Beek, not getting his High School crush Joey Potter, played by Katie Holmes, but instead getting to fulfill his dream of working in movies and TV where he turned his life into a teen drama TV show just like Kevin Williamson.

I would be remiss if I didn’t leave you with the greatest quote and moment of this fantastic tv show. In the finale we find our core characters several years in their future living their lives with little interaction when everyone is reunited for a wedding they immediately learn that one of the main characters, Jen Lindley, is dying of cancer. While Dawson is spending time with his close friend at a hospice facility she has this Hollywood filmmaker record a video for her infant daughter to watch when she’s older. In that video one line she says that gets me every time is “Be sure to make mistakes. Make a lot of them, because there’s no better way to learn and to grow.” While she’s saying that you can see the anguish on Michelle Williams’ face, showing the audience how fragile she is at the end of her short life and how she just wants the best for her child.

This show never shied away from tough storylines and in the end wrapped up everyone’s arc phenomenally.

I would give this series a 10 out 10!!

P.S. The popular Jenna Ortega can be seen watching Dawson’s Creek in Scream 5 out in 2022 and currently on Paramount+.

Thanks again Jim.

The Mill Creek release of the entire series has all 127 episodes across six seasons, along with seven hours of bonus extras, which include Entertainment Weekly‘s 20th Anniversary Reunion, audio commentaries on select episodes, a retrospective featurette and alternate scenes and an alternate ending to the pilot episode.

I watched several of the episodes on this set as, surprise, I never watched this show, despite Jim telling me near consistently — we lived in a house with six people while this show was popular, so I have no idea how I didn’t watch it with him — that I need to watch “The Dawnson,” as he put it.

Surprisingly — as I have often remarked about Williamson’s other work — I really liked what I watched. It felt honest and truthful, nearly lived in. I’ve been watching a few episodes a week now and really enjoying the opportunity to be part of the lives of these characters.

These Mill Creek TV sets are great because they really give you the opportunity to do the same, exploring or binging or however you choose to watch. And unlike streaming, they’re always there for you, not being edited or taken down when you’re in the middle of watching a season.

You can buy the Dawson’s Creek set from Mill Creek at Deep Discount.

Mirror Mirror 4: Reflections (2000)

Annika (Kim Mai Guest) watched her boyfriend die, the victim of — you know it — the evil mirror. A year later, she thinks that she is getting the power to wish people dead, all while a homeless man keeps telling her just as strong she is and yeah, he’s the spirit of the mirror and he’s Billy Drago, but he isn’t playing the same role as the last movie.

And his name is Frederick Champion.

Director and co-writer Paulette Victor-Lifton directed and co-wrote this with Annette and Gina Cascone, who were the ones who wrote the original Mirror, Mirror. Paulette was married to this film’s producer, Jimmy Liftin, and today she has directed 17 movies and is an ADR facility supervisor on tons of big streaming programs.

How strange that the movies in this series play tag, if you will.

In Mirror, Mirror and Mirror, Mirror 2: Raven Dance, William Sanderson plays two unconnected roles.

In Mirror, Mirror 2: Raven Dance and Mirror, Mirror 3: The Voyeur, Mark Ruffalo shows up as two different people.

And now, Billy Drago does the same.

There are ravers getting killed by this mirror, which is a slasher but not really. I can’t believe that there are four of these movies but I can believe if there were five, I would be watching that movie now.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Arrow Video The Lukas Moodysson Collection: Together (2000)

Together is set in the world of sharehome communes in 1970s Stockholm. Göran (Gustaf Hammarsten) is the leader but his gentle nature basically just has him keeping everyone from fighting over politics and even food. But when his sister Elisabeth (Lisa Lindgren) makes a break from her abusive husband Rolf (Michael Nyqvist) and moves in along with her children Eva (Emma Samuelsson) and Stefan (Sam Kessel), dynamics start to shift. For example, Göran’s girlfriend Lena (Anja Lundqvist) wants the benefit of the open relationships that come with living in the commune, but she doesn’t want to navigate all of the personalities and responsibilities that come with this lifestyle.

Meanwhile, ex-husband and wife Lasse (Ole Rapace) and Anna (Jessica Liedberg) still live in the commune and their son Tet becomes friends with Steven, where they bond at playing a game where one is Augusto Pinochet and the other is a political prisoner being tortured. As for Eva, she falls for a neighbor whose family shows disdain for the commune but engages in behavior worse than what they claim to dislike so much. To be honest, the children are lost, aliens in their new school and nearly all alone at home as their parents seem to forget them as they try to establish their new sexual identities.

Moodysson filmed a sequel to this in 2022 called Together 99 in which Göran and Klas establish a new commune. Nearly everyone returned, except Nyqvist, who died in 2017, and Ola Rapace who was replaced by Jonas Karlsson.

The tagline to this film, “One house; one revolutionary; two open straight marriages; three gay people (maybe four); three children; two carnivores and eight vegetarians; there’s only one way they’re going to make it… together.” will tell you all you need to know. As for that fourth maybe, that would be the previously mentioned Klas.

Moodysson excels in this film by showing what life is like in a living situation that I will never experience. He shows the highs and lows and the real life behind what for many is either past history or a fantasy.

The limited edition The Lukas Moodysson Collection from Arrow includes high definition blu rays of seven films, as well as interviews with Moodysson and other cast and crew, moderated by film programmer Sarah Lutton. There’s also a two hundred page featuring new writing by Peter Walsh, excerpts from the original press kits for each film, interviews with and directors’ statements from Moodysson and essays on his films from a 2014 special issue of the Nordic culture journal Scandinavica by C. Claire Thomson, Helga H. Lúthersdóttir, Elina Nilsson, Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport and Kjerstin Moody.

Together appears as a 4K restoration by the Swedish Film Institute from the original camera negative, approved by Moodysson and cinematographer Ulf Brantås. There’s also interviews with Moodysson, script supervisor Malin Fornander and editor Michal Leszczylowski, deleted scenes, a trailer and an image gallery.

You can get this set from MVD.

Sandy Hook Lingerie Party Massacre (2000)

Yes, before you become outraged, keep in mind that this was made 12 years before Sandy Hook and doesn’t take place in Newtown, Connecticut, but instead Sandy Hook, New Jersey, a beach town where seven strippers all decide to have a weekend party.

Tim Beckley, who directed, wrote and stars in this as Mr. Creepo — he was also that character in his films Skin Eating Jungle VampiresBarely Legal Lesbian Vampires: The Curse of Ed Wood! and Punk Rock Zombie Kung Fu Catfight — got his start in adult, appearing in movies like Brooke Does CollegeHostage Girls and Long Hard Nights. More than that, he was a film reviewer for Hustler and the editor of Adult Cinema Review, as well as the author of The Philadelphia Experiment Revelations!Cryptid Creatures From Dark Domain and a book on Danzig’s bookshelf, Occult Secrets Of The Third Reich. Actually, that didn’t come out until 2017, so maybe Glenn had a different one back when he showed off his collection. Beckley was also married to Christy Canyon, Kimberly Carson and Kelly Nichols over his lifetime.

Sadly, as wild as Beckley’s real life sounds, the movie that he made is basically home video footage of musician Didi Delicious, fetish model Stephanie Hudson, Zane Ka, Persephone, Jeannene Scofield, Margaret Scura and the whole reason you should be watching this, Debbie Rochon. From Santa Claws to Mistress FrankensteinSlime City Massacre and Post Apocalyptic Commando Shark, I’ve watched so many movies just when I see her name.

This is another one and wow, it’s a rough watch. You know when your dad learned how to use the videocamera? Imagine this but with naked Twister and endless beach scene mixed with some bad murders.

Titanic: The Legend Goes On (2000)

There are two versions of this movie for America and you know, that may be two too many. What child wants to watch more than 1,500 people lose their lives? I mean, well, me as a kid because my friend Bill and I built way too many Titanic model kits and used to also build model cities and have natural disasters destroy them and then record audio of dying people in their final moments begging to have their arms amputated. I was a weird kid and even as strange as I was, I would not have watched this movie.

The version I saw of this was 58 minutes with 12 minutes of credits showing deleted scenes instead of the 82-minute long version and I hesitate to learn what was on there.

The heroine is Angelica, the poor servant of a wicked stepmother and two stepsisters who is seeking her mother but only as a locket with a photo of her. Cinderella is on the Titanic and yes, she can speak to the many animals who are also on board. There is also singing.

There is also the ship sinking and mostly everyone dying.

I mean, this movie is at once a combination of Love Boat — many different plots come together like scheming women trying to take the money of rich men and a jewel thief being chased by a cop — and the most sub-Disney movie you’ve avoided at Goodwill because you thought that maybe it was a religious cartoon.

Yes, there’s an evil chihuahua, some dalmations straight out of 101 Dalmations, some Mexican and Yiddish mice straight out of An American Tale, geese, a bird named Hector and a dog named Fritz who has to be a time traveler because how else would be able to rap and completely take over this movie and do a song called “Party Time?” I’m perfectly fine with cartoon animals being able to walk like humans, wear clothes and have music numbers, but I draw the line at anachronism.

Yet more to the point, should children be watching cartoons where people have to choose to die over their loved ones or remain behind and die because of love? As people recorded those screams on the soundtrack as the ship sinks, did anyone in the booth say, “Why are we making this?”

Characters literally walk away from scenes right in the middle of conversations in this. It’s almost amazing the sheer lack of quality on every level and yet that makes me want to watch this all over again. Like how at one point, someone is trying to get an old lady on one of the lifeboats and says, “Come on miss, you’re the last one on this boat.” She answers, “Rubbish, we’re in the middle of the ocean.” What does that mean?

This had an American consulting writer, Jymn Magon, who also wrote A Goofy MovieThe Book of PoohAn All Dogs Chirstmas Carol and episodes of Duck TalesAdventures of the Gummi BearsChip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers and Darkwing Duck. I really want to speak to Jymn and find out how this happened.

Let me tell you how: the Italy exploitation film industry.

Camillo Teti, who directed and wrote this movie, produced The Dead Are Alive!Exterminators of the Year 3000 and the Killer Crocodile movies. He also directed the very late in the cycle giallo The Killer Is Still Among Us, which is one of the sleaziest I’ve seen so just imagine. That’s the guy making a Titanic movie for kids. He also directed Yo-rhad, un amico dallo spazio, a sciene fiction cartoon that has Ornella Muti in the voice cast.

Speaking of voices, Edmund Purdom is in this.

Of course he is.

PITTSBURGH MADE: Screwed (2000)

After Norm McDonald died, Dave Chappelle revealed that he did everything he could to get out of this movie, as it followed the death of his father. Chappelle said that Macdonald was the only person who could make him laugh at the time, which makes him one of the most important people with whom he’s ever worked with.

But here’s the thing. The police shields — which made me nervous just seeing that old logo and uniforms — are real. WPGH is today’s Fox 53. That’s really the Post-Gazette. But this was filmed in Vancouver instead of Pittsburgh, other than probably a few pickups, right? No?

I guess at least it’s set here?

Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewsk directed and wrote this and went on to much better things, including Ed Wood, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Man on the MoonAuto Focus and Dolemite Is My Name.  But yeah, it’s silly and actually pretty dumb, but seeing Norm whip around Muffin the dog as it draws blood on his finger while Chapelle screams made me laugh. I’m pretty simple minded

It’s also got Sherman Hemsley, Danny DeVito (who said he did this for the money) and Sarah Silverman in it. But come on. Make Pittsburgh movies here. Come on.


29. A Horror Film Shot by Tokushö Kikumura.

Hirohisa Sasaki also directed Gore From Outer Space, but this movie, wow. A man may have killed several women and the press line up outside their family home, needing to know the truth. One of his sisters decides that she must prove her brother’s innocence, so she goes to a psychic but that’s when things get really bad, as the psychic and his assistant brutalize the family, using their own trauma to get inside and then destroy them.

This is in no way recommended for sane people or those with any level of morality. Also, you may be confused whether this is a comedy — what with all the singing and kung fu scenes, as well as the weird FBI agents — or a movie out to shock you with necrophilia, assaults and incest or just something that could only come from Japan, which is probably the best answer to “What did I just watch?”

Japan —  you embrace a bleak ending like no one else save 1970s New Hollywood directors.


23. A Horror Movie Based On an Indie Comic Book (EC Comics Adaptions Don’t Count).

Directed by Christopher Coppola and written by Robert Cooper, Richard L. Albert and Nicholas Johnson, this movie was based on Mike Allred’s Grafik Muzik. It stars William Forsythe as Dean Crept and Tate Donovan as Mike Mattress, two dead FBI agents who have no idea of morality that are working on buying their way into heaven.

Along the way, they investigate Greydon (Barry Newman) and Gloria Lake (Vanessa Angel), a married couple who both hire them to investigate one another, deal with an investigation by police officers Lt. Langdon (Gary Busey) and Detective Dalton (Zach Galligan) and steal a crystal from Satan (Robert Goulet). They may have also killed a police informant who may have killed our detectives named Buster (Bobcat Goldthwait), who is resurrected by a mad scientist (David Huddleston) and oh yeah, there’s also a superhero named Cheetah Man (Gregory Sporleder), Paul Rodriguez is a demonic gossip and Kari Wuhrer plays their secretary.

It looks really strange, like a 60s TV adventure series made in 2000 which is exactly what it is. I had no idea this movie even existed and yet here it is, packing so many actors into one weird little movie.

2022 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 23: Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows (2000)

23. PSYCHOGEOGRAPHY: In Psychotronic Challenge, the land haunts YOU! Hopefully that joke, ahem, landed okay. Folk it.

You know, I hate the first Blair Witch Project movie so I was assured that I’d despise this, a movie that utterly bombed at the box office and seemed to make no one happy. But you know, it totally worked. Sequels are hard to make. Joe Berlinger and Dick Beebe wanted to make this as a psychological thriller and meditation on mass hysteria — it’s also about how one town can become a place that it only was on film — and create a movie that was the direct opposite of the first film.

Book of Shadows is closer to the Hollywood movies that the original went so hard away from. Berlinger originally made the film with an ambiguous tone that didn’t give away exactly what happened when the characters stayed overnight in the Black Hills. Artisan wanted a more commerical film, so they had him recut and reshoot this to make it more commercial. That footage was shot weeks from the release in a time when movies had to have prints made, not like how they could just upload the movie to theaters.

The interrogation that is spread throughout the movie was originally an eight-minute end of the story, but the studio also asked them to be spliced through the story. The filmmakers wanted a story that went from a lighthearted romp to suddenly getting violent and dark. They also added in Marilyn Manson’s “Disposable Teens,” which replaced Frank Sinatra’s “Witchcraft.”

Actually, I said this was a bomb earlier and it made $47 million on a $15 million budget. For any other movie, that’d be a success. But it didn’t equal what the first movie did. Honestly, that was impossible.

Tourists are filling up the small town of Burkittsville, Maryland, hoping to be part of the same occult scares that they saw in The Blair Witch Project. Jeff (Jeffrey Donovan) is obsessed with the movie and takes a group on a tour. They include Stephen (Stephen Barker Turner) and his pregnant girlfriend Tristen (Tristine Skyler), Wiccan Erica (Erica Leerhsen) and goth Kim (Kim Director). They camp in a cabin in the woods and hope to see something. Jeff already notices a tree in the middle of the house that was never there in his memory.

After doing drugs, everyone wakes up to Tristen losing her baby. It gets worse — they’ve all been marked for death, their research destroyed and the world itself turning on them. When they play the. tapes they find under the house backward, they see themselves taking part in a demonic ritual orgy and murdering other tourists. The video footage the police show them is even more damning, putting the statement that Jeff makes earlier, “Film lies but video always tells the truth” to the worst test.

Berlinger has mostly made true crime movies in his career, like the Paradise Lost Trilogy, in which he told the story of others who had been blamed for their occult murders, the West Memphis Three. He tried to make a horror movie while also creating a film that took audiences to task for believing everything shot on video to be true. People just wanted more of the same.

I know it’s pretty on the nose, but I love that this ended with Poe’s “Haunted.”

FANTASTIC FEST 2022: JSA: Joint Security Area (2000)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally on the site on January 20, 2021. It’s back as it played during Fantastic Fest.

In 2009, director Quentin Tarantino placed JSA amongst his top twenty films since 1992. Directed by Park Chan-wook, who also made Oldboy, this film tells the tale of a fatal shooting within the DMZ that exists between the borders of North and South Korea.

At one point the highest-grossing film in Korean history, JSA is the story of the fragile friendship that starts between four soldiers who are on opposite sides. Yet why did two of the North’s soldiers get killed and why are the stories so inconsistent? That’s what a neutral Swiss team of investigators wants to figure out.

Sergeant Lee Soo-hyeok (Lee Byung-hun, Storm Shadow in the G.I. Joe movies) is a South Korean soldier who has run back to his own country, rescued by his own troops and potentially guilty of shooting three North Korean soldiers, leaving two dead. He claims that he was kidnapped.

One of the dead, Jeong Woo-jin (Shin Ha-kyun, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance) was shot eight times, which doesn’t seem like self-defense. And one of the other South Korean troops, Jeong Woo-jin (Shin Ha-kyun), suddenly tries to commit suicide.

The truth is that for some time, the men had all been friends. In fact, the surviving soldiers and Woo-jin were attempting to protect one another, something that had been happening since Kyeong-pil and Woo-jin saved Soo-hyeok from one of their land mines.

Yet can even the truth — once discovered — save anyone? This is a tense exploration of the divide that exists between people who are not all that different.

This is a tense watch and one that will anger you by the close. I have no idea how to save the world. All I know is to watch movies.

The Arrow Video release of this film is available from MVD. You can also watch it on Tubi.