This month's list of marquee names whose movies are headed straight for videocassette includes Randy Quaid, Brian Dennehy, Glenn Ford, Gary Busey, Margot Kidder and Morgan Fairchild.
Quaid's science-fiction comedy, "Martians Go Home," had a brief theatrical release in April in Los Angeles and New York, where business was as humdrum as the reviews - perhaps because it was released at the same time as Disney's similar but more heavily promoted "Spaced Invaders."The Los Angeles Times' Kevin Thomas thought it was "a tedious, repetitious, one-joke affair . . . all talk and no action." However, he praised Quaid's "wholly and delightfully persuasive" performance as a TV composer whose music inspires a Martian invasion. Variety's critic agreed: "Quaid's delightful, but all else is a bore."
Dennehy's "Last of the Finest" fared better with critics, but it too disappeared from theaters after a few test runs. Box Office magazine's reviewer, Jim Kozak, called it "a reasonably entertaining crime drama distinguished mainly by its pointed political bearing." Dennehy plays a Los Angeles cop who stumbles upon a government scheme to supply arms to Latin American anti-communist freedom fighters.
Turner Home Entertainment says its new Glenn Ford Western, "Border Shootout," is "a major home-video event . . . never before seen on cable, video or broadcast television." Ford plays a small-town Arizona sheriff battling a corrupt cattle empire near the Mexican border. The cast also includes Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing on "Dallas"), and the script is based on Elmore Leonard's "The Law at Randado."
Gary Busey, who showed such promise as a character actor in "The Buddy Holly Story" 12 years ago, is becoming a straight-to-video action star. In his latest tape, "Act of Piracy" he plays a Florida real-estate tycoon who is left for dead at sea when a mercenary gang, led by Ray Sharkey, steals his yacht.
Superman's leading lady in the late 1970s, Margot Kidder, has also been turning up more frequently on cassette than in theaters. In "Mob Story" she plays a gangster's moll who is hired to kill a New York mobster (John Vernon) on the run from a U.S. Senate investigation. Morgan Fairchild has a similar role in "Mob Boss" about a "Godfather"-style don (William Hickey) who thinks he's dying and grooms his geeky son (Eddie Deezen) to take over.
Bill Pullman isn't a marquee name, but he's been creating his own niche with memorable supporting roles in "Ruthless People," "Cold Feet" and "The Accidental Tourist." However, he's not likely to be remembered for "Brain Dead," a thriller based on a forgotten script by "Twilight Zone" writer Charles Beaumont. Variety's critic called it "a confusing case of dreams within nightmares within more dreams . . . the only wave `Brain Dead' makes is in the shape of an indecipherable headache."VIDEO QUESTION
Q: Although you told a reader that tape rewinders don't have counters, I own a VHS tape rewinder that does. It's a Kinyo UV-512. You were correct when you said the counter numbers would not coincide with a VCR's, so I just catalog my tapes using the rewinder's numbers.
A: Right you are. I've since learned your Kinyo with three-digit counter is still available in stores for about $20. Two other Kinyo models also have counters, as well as some models under the Solidex and Ambico brands. - Andy Wickstrom (Knight-Ridder) NEW VIDEOS
COURAGE MOUNTAIN - A sequel to "Heidi," this film is wondrously realized, sumptuously handsome and in every aspect nearly flawless. Its heroine is the Swiss girl now in her early teens who is sent to a boarding school in Italy during the Great War. The Italian Army takes possession of the school and Heidi falls under the charge of the sinister Signor Bonelli (Yorgo Voyagis), who runs a local home for strays. The youngest kids may find "Courage Mountain" too sophisticated and not quite action-filled enough to hold their attention. But for everyone else - and in particular for girls around the age of the film's heroine - the movie will be a treasured find. With Charlie Sheen, Leslie Caron. 92 minutes. Rated PG. RCA/Columbia. $89.95. - Hal Hinson (Washington Post)
HAPPY TOGETHER - What happens when a studious college freshman (Patrick Dempsey) finds that his roommate, named Alex (Helen Slater), is a girl? First he fights the idea - then he succumbs to her bubbly charms. "Cute" is the operative word for "Happy Together," a mostly enjoyable, largely innocuous look at college life through the eyes of mismatched lovers. Much of the exposition is predictable and you're never doubtful that love will out in the end. But there's a certain pleasure in watching Dempsey and Slater, talented performers who know how to play up chemistry and play down canyon-size plot holes. 102 minutes. IVE. - Mike Pearson (Scripps Howard)