'Driven' Starts Up on DVD

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Sylvester Stallone drama "Driven" is sort of the Edsel of race car movies. Directed by Renny Harlin, who also directed Stallone in the hit "Cliffhanger," this 2001 release has some fun racing sequences but tired performances and a retread of a script by Stallone.

The DVD (Warner, $25) includes the wide-screen version of the film, production notes, talent files, trailers, a music video and two behind-the-scenes documentaries: the slick, pumped-up "The Making of 'Driven"' and the far more informative "Conquering Speed Through Live Action and Visual Effects."

Harlin supplies the serviceable commentary. He points out that Stallone originally wanted "Driven" to be a "Rocky" set at a racetrack world with his character, a former champion who never lived up to expectations, called out from retirement by a disabled crew chief (Burt Reynolds) to help with the career of a young hot-shot driver (Kip Pardue). The first cut of the film was nearly four hours, so Harlin edited "Driven" down to two hours and, in the process, made it more of an ensemble piece, with Pardue's Jimmy the central character.

Perhaps because the film was so different from Stallone's original script, the actor supplies commentary for several deleted or truncated scenes involving his character.

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Artisan's collector's edition of the unrated 1992 erotic thriller "Basic Instinct" ($27) includes a pen shaped like an ice pick, the weapon Sharon Stone's sultry femme fatale uses on male victims. Michael Douglas also stars as a San Francisco police detective who falls under the spell of Stone's manipulative novelist.

The handsome DVD features the wide-screen edition of the film (directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Joe Eszterhas), production notes, talent films, photo gallery, some very adult storyboards, an interesting featurette and a montage that illustrates how several of the most adult scenes were edited and changed for television.

Verhoeven and director of photography Jan De Bont supply the very juicy commentary. They talk about the influence of Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil" and such Hitchcock films as "Vertigo" on the style and look of the film.

Rounding out the disc is commentary from feminist critic Camille Paglia, who considers "Basic Instinct" one of her favorite films.

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Also new from Artisan is a collector's edition of Verhoeven's over-the-top 1990 sci-fi thriller, "Total Recall" ($27), which stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone and Rachel Ticotin. Based on a story by Philip K. Dick, the film features Schwarzenegger as a construction worker from the 21st century who travels to Mars to help fight a powerful villain.

The disc includes the wide-screen edition of the film, a photo gallery, a gallery of conceptual art, a new documentary on the making of the film, the trailers, production notes, talent files, an examination of "Mars: Fact or Fiction" and a funny, if somewhat naughty, commentary from Schwarzenegger and Verhoeven.

Originally, Dino De Laurentiis was set to make the film. Though Schwarzenegger wanted the part, De Laurentiis preferred such actors as Patrick Swayze and even Richard Dreyfuss for the lead. When De Laurentiis' studio went belly up, Schwarzenegger called producer Mario Kassar, who ran the now-defunct company Carolco with Andy Vajna, and they bought the script for him.

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This week, Universal is releasing the 20th anniversary edition of John Landis' hair-raising wolfman thriller, "An American Werewolf in London," starring David Naughton and Griffin Dunne as two Yanks hitchhiking in England who encounter a werewolf.

The fun digital edition features the wide-screen version of the film, a standard "making of" documentary, a new interview with Landis (who reports that he wrote the script in 1969 while on location in Yugoslavia for the Clint Eastwood movie "Kelly's Heroes") and an interview with Rick Baker, who created the then-cutting-edge, Oscar-winning makeup and special effects.

There are also production stills and storyboards, the trailers, talent files, production notes and enjoyable commentary from Naughton and Dunne, who still exude the same breezy chemistry they did in the film two decades ago.

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If you love campy teen musicals, you'll adore "Hot Summer," a 1968 East German film (First Run, VHS $25; DVD $30). It follows the adventures of two groups of high school students who meet on their way to a vacation in the Baltic Sea. Hammer Horror films reigned supreme in England in the '50s, '60s and '70s. And in 1980, the studio turned to television with an anthology series, "Hammer House of Horror," which starred several veteran and up-and-coming stars, including Peter Cushing, Brian Cox, Christopher Cazenove, Christopher Lee, Joan Collins, Denholm Elliott and Pierce Brosnan. A&E; is releasing all 13 episodes of the series on VHS and DVD as "The Complete Hammer House of Horror" (each version is $70). Though the series isn't up to par with the likes of "The Twilight Zone" and "The Outer Limits," the performances by these terrific British stars make them worth watching.

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Image Entertainment has unearthed "The Veil," a 1958 horror anthology series from producer Hal Roach Jr. that never aired. The two-disc set includes all 10 episodes, which focus on ordinary people who encounter the bizarre and supernatural. A benevolent Boris Karloff hosts each episode and also appears in nine of them.

Again, these shows aren't great, but it's a kick to watch Karloff and such guest stars as George Hamilton and Patrick Macnee.

FOR THE RECORD Los Angeles Times Friday September 21, 2001 Home Edition Part A Part A Page 2 A2 Desk 1 inches; 29 words Type of Material: Correction Video caption--A photo caption in the Home Video section of Thursday's Calendar Weekend incorrectly identified the actor shown with Sylvester Stallone in "Driven." The actor's name is Cristian de la Fuente.
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