Wanda (Parlour Pictures)
Writer-director-star Barbara Loden never made another feature besides this little-seen 1970 character study (she died of breast cancer 10 years later, unable to finance another film in the interim), but it was enough to make her loss incalculable. Her raw, improvisatory portrait of a coal-country woman who gives up her children and husband, drifting from seedy pickups to the edgy company of a small-time crook, doesn't have a crumb of sugar-coating: Its semidocumentary location shooting, nonprofessional actors, and long, searching takes create a realism as tactile as the coalyard Wanda crosses in nearly two unbroken minutes of screen time. Even when almost nothing appears to be happening, you can sense Loden as actor, director, and character reaching in unison for something new. -- Jim Ridley
Halloween: 25 Years of Terror (Anchor Bay)
Holy crap, they've made eight Halloween movies? While John Carpenter's original is the ultimate slasher film, the other seven have never really risen above the scores of hack 'n' slash flicks that followed it. (This may change next year, as budding horror auteur Rob Zombie has signed on to write and direct number nine.) So why watch an 84-minute documentary that gives equal time to stinkers like Halloween 5? Because even for non-fans, this refreshingly honest history offers an in-depth look at a B-movie franchise. The filmmakers admit to infighting, greed, pretension, and just plain badness -- but they're also proud of the cult that has developed around the iconic blank mask of Michael Myers. Anyone interested in the modern movie business will find their story fascinating. -- Harper
Says on the box that this is the "unrated director's cut of the infamous erotic sensation," and it shows star Glory Annen sucking off a candy bar. But don't get your, ah, hopes up. John Lamond, the director who felt it necessary to contribute a commentary to this Skinemax classic from the hairy and outta-focus 1970s, added nothing but talking, since he cheaped out on the naughty (and interesting) bits. This tale of sexual awakening is nothing but a softcore travelogue through Hong Kong. Even the commentary, with Lamond and Annen, can't offer the titters one would expect from a man who takes this crap seriously; he's talking ice cubes to the nipples and sequels and spiritual journeys, while his star's sitting beside him, watching the movie and probably wondering how this happened in the first place. -- Robert Wilonsky
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