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rare female film critic | by maryann johanson

new on DVD: ‘Firewall,’ ‘Glory Road,’ ‘Doctor Who,’ and more

It’s not positioned as a horror story, but The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things (read my review/buy at Amazon) is one of the most horrifying movies you’re ever likely to see, if you can stomach its depictions of child abuse. On the other hand, Running Scared (read my review/buy at Amazon) is just plain obscene, and not just because it stars Paul Walker. It’s one of those “I can’t define pointless violence but I know it when I see it” things — Scared’s got it, Heart doesn’t.

Another contrast is supplied by the juxtaposition of new releases Firewall (not reviewed/buy at Amazon) and Glory Road (not reviewed/buy at Amazon). Both offer predictable, conventional stories, but Road — based on a true story about the first interracial college basketball team — succeeds mainly thanks to its engaging cast, including Josh Lucas as the coach, while Firewall’s cast, including a weary Harrison Ford, can’t seem to muster up any enthusiasm at all for their boring crime thriller. And if they don’t care, why should we?

Just as the new Doctor Who is about to come to DVD (and I’m looking at the new show episode by episode over at Geek Philosophy… with some catching up to get to before it wraps up on Sci Fi this Friday), a couple of classic Doctor Whos have just landed on DVD. Genesis of the Daleks (not reviewed/buy at Amazon) is one of the all-time great Tom Baker-era stories, really creepy and gothic, and actually a nice bookend to the Christopher Eccleston Dalek plot thread: the Tom Baker Doctor travels way back in to time to discover just how the Daleks — amoral mutated brains in robot casings, they’re pretty much the big bad guys of the entire series — came into being. Revelation of the Daleks (not reviewed/buy at Amazon) is from Colin Baker’s tenure, and like most of his stories, it’s pretty baroque, but it advances the Dalek saga quite a bit, too, as the Daleks split into warring factions. The two episodes together make a nice DVD Dalek double feature.

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