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B-movie boom Charmingly campy film commentary makes a comeback

It's a great time to be a B-movie fan.

Not only is there the new "Cult Camp Classics Collection" to enjoy, but those hilarious "Mystery Science Theater 3000" guys have also returned as "The Film Crew."

"MST3K" was the long-running Comedy Central/Sci-Fi Channel series that nearly invented the idea of a film commentary well before they appeared on DVDs. Three characters (two robots and a guy), seen in silhouette on the bottom right of the TV screen, spewed off a litany of one-liners, bad puns, sarcastic remarks and pop-culture references while they watched some of the best -- and worst -- of the B-movie genre.

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, the writers and characters, can be seen again as "The Film Crew" in a new direct-to-video series being launched Tuesday with "The Film Crew: Hollywood After Dark" ($19.99, Shout! Factory), a dreadful 1968 film starring Rue McClanahan (yes, the Golden Girl) as a stripper! Unfortunately, as one of the guys quips in the commentary, "She's actually less sexy than when she was on 'The Golden Girls.' "

Since this is direct-to-video, the humor is a bit raunchier (as is the film) than what we saw on television's "MST3K."

Next up is the Aug. 7 release of "Killers from Space" starring Peter Graves as a nuclear scientist abducted by aliens. Other fall releases include "The Wild Women of Wongo" and Steve Reeves in "Giant of Marathon." For more info, check out www.filmcrewonline.com.

*From an angry 50-foot woman to hot rods going to hell, some of the best "you've got to see them to believe them" films get their rightful due on video shelves in "Cult Camp Classics Collection" ($29.98 per set; $14.97 individual titles, Warner Home Video).

These B-flicks are A-list all the way with stars including Joan Crawford ("Trog," her last film); Dana Andrews and Jeanne Crain ("Hot Rods to Hell"); Charlton Heston ("Skyjacked"); and Lana Turner ("The Prodigal").

Twelve trashy treasures are featured in the first four sets now available: Sci-Fi Thrillers ("Attack of the 50-Foot Woman," "Queen of Outer Space" and "The Giant Behemoth"); Women in Peril ("The Big Cube," "Caged" and "Trog"); Terrorized Travelers ("Hot Rods to Hell," "Skyjacked" and "Zero Hour!"); and Historical Epics ("The Colossus of Rhodes," "Land of Pharaohs" and "The Prodigal").

Among the DVD extras: 1956 Playboy Playmate Yvette Vickers gives a commentary with film historian Tom Weaver for "Attack of the 50-Foot Woman"; groundbreaking visual artists Dennis Muren and Phil Tippett (think "Star Wars") provide insight into the stop-motion creature in "The Giant Behemoth"; filmmaker and historian Peter Bogdanovich adds his thoughts about Howard Hawks' 1955 movie "Land of the Pharaohs."

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TV on DVD

"Baa Baa Black Sheep, Vol. 2" ($39.98, Universal). Three-disc set of classic TV show starring Robert Conrad as Pappy Boyington, the squadron leader of World War II fighter pilots stationed in the pacific.

"Eureka: Season One" ($39.98, Universal). With the second season of this quirky Sci Fi Channel debuting at 9 p.m. Tuesday, catch up on the first season through this three-disc set.

"Bewitched: The Complete Fifth Season" ($39.95, Sony; available Tuesday). See Dick York's final season as Darrin, Samantha's (Elizabeth Montgomery) beleagured husband, in this four-disc, 30-episode set.

"Shark Week: 20th Anniversary Collection" ($29.99, Discovery Channel; available Tuesday). The popular Discovery Channel series is showcased in this four-disc collection.

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Coming Tuesday

"After the Wedding" (Genius), "The Astronaut Farmer" (Warner), "The Contractor" (Sony), "Driving Lessons" (Sony), "The Last Mimzy" (New Line/Warner), "The Last Time" (Sony), "Thunderpants" (Genius/Weinstein) and "Sweet Land" (Fox).

e-mail: truberto@buffnews.com

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CHANCER SERIES 1: Before Clive Owen became an international sensation, he starred in this British TV series as a charming con artist with a dark past. This four-disc set includes a photo gallery. ($59.99, Acorn Media. Available now.)

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