CD-ROM for Windows
Westwood Studios Set in the future, you must choose a side. Either defend the planet with the GDI or go for complete world domination as the Brotherhood of NOD. Even the set-up to this Risk-style military strategy game is a tremendous kick. With a handful of troops and an arsenal, you must complete various missions -- setting up bases, training new troops, and outwitting and outfighting your chosen opponent, be it the computer or another future general/dictator via modem. I highly recommend this game to any Norman Schwarzkopfians out there who intend to defend this land when I am old.
-- Carl Bacher
Warner Home Scary? Well, no, but it's still great fun. In addition to Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Tweety, and Sylvester, you get monsters, witches, leprechauns, homicidal mice, and Marvin the Martian. This compilation of 14 cartoons is somewhat uneven in terms of overall quality, but the presentation is superb and, hey, it's Warner Bros. A must-have for all animation enthusiasts (as is the entire WB cartoon catalog), this laserdisc is ideal for fans who are grieving over Halloween's too-quick passing. Monsters have such innnteresting lives.
-- Bud Simons Heavenly Creatures
D: Peter Jackson; with Melanie Lynskey, Kate Winslet, Sarah Peirse, Diana Kent, Clive Merrison and Simon O'Connor.
VHS Home Video
Miramax Films Another in a long line of great films from New Zealand, Heavenly Creatures tells the true 1952 story of Pauline Parker (Lynskey) and Juliet Hulme (Winslet). Directed by Peter Jackson (Dead Alive), the plot thickens as the two girls' mutually obsessive psychological and hormonal needs get the best of them, resulting in the murder of Pauline's mother to avoid being separated. In the process, they create an extensive fantasy world for themselves, complete with "Borovnian" clay-brown plasticine marshmallow men/lovers and a back-alley rendezvous with Orson Welles.
-- Taylor Holland
The Family Doctor, Vol. 4
CD-ROM for Windows
Creative Multimedia Based on Dr. Allan Bruckheim's syndicated column of the same name, The Family Doctor is about as straightforward a medical reference as it gets. The package includes video, illustrations, and tons of scrolling text with information ranging from ear wax to rare disorders. It is predominantly organized in a Q&A format, but includes sections on first-aid, rare diseases, anatomy, and prescription drugs. A valuable addition to a CD-ROM collection if you can resist the temptation to diagnose yourself with Rocky Mountain Fever or Organic Mood Disorder, which my doctor doesn't believe I have.
-- Carl Bacher Once Were
D: Lee Tamahori; with Rena Owen, Temuera Morrison, Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell, Shannon Williams, Taunga Roa Emile, Julian Arahanga.
Criterion/Voyager The fine folks at Criterion have done well by one of 1995's best movies, the electrifying Once Were Warriors, by releasing it in a deluxe, yet affordable, laserdisc format. Included is an engaging running commentary from director Lee Tamahori that should prove invaluable to anyone interested in the making of his explosive drama (and the Maori culture in general). The release also features a small, but efficient, supplemental section with a "making-of" featurette and the film's original New Zealand theatrical trailer, which manages to sum up much of the power of Once Were Warriors in two glorious minutes. No small feat there.
-- Joey O'Bryan
Across 110th Street
D: Barry Shear; with Anthony Quinn, Yaphet Kotto, Anthony Franciosa, Richard Ward, Paul Benjamin, Ed Bernard.
VHS Home Video
Key Video An uncompromisingly tough crime picture that was part of the so-called "blaxploitation" craze of the early 1970s, Across 110th Street (1972) is propelled by fine performances, tight direction, explosive violence, and a surprisingly well-realized world view of corruption and racial tension. The story concerns a trio of small-time criminals on the run after stealing a cool $300,000 from the Italian Mafia, who, along with a pair of mismatched cops, are hot on their trail. Further lent authenticity by the gritty Harlem locations, Across 110th Street is a resonant drama as well as a crackerjack thriller. -- Joey O'Bryan