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click to enlarge Osombie

Osombie (NR)

Entertainment One

Sure, Zero Dark Thirty, the dramatization of Osama bin Laden's takedown, may be reaping the accolades, but it's nowhere near as fun (or surprisingly political) as action-horror flick Osombie. In this film, bin Laden had perfected a biological WMD that caused the dead to reanimate, and infected himself as SEAL Team Six stormed his bunker. After a government cover-up, Osama leads a new breed of suicide bomber (already dead) against various coalitions overseas. The premise sounds wacky, but director John Lyde handles it with utmost seriousness, creating real tension and also thought-provoking commentary about the killing of the most hated man in the world. Of course, the fact that it's filled with tons of bloody samurai-sword-beheading, RPG-inflicted body explosions, and teeming hordes of undead al-Qaida agents doesn't hurt it, either. — Louis Fowler

click to enlarge Compliance

Compliance (R)

Magnolia

At the time of the events portrayed in this bone-chilling workplace cautionary tale (2004), minimum wage was just north of $5 per hour, and grease-caked workers died monthly from violent crimes on the job. It was the perfect, subhuman atmosphere for a psychopath to turn into his sick playground via a series of true-life prank calls designed to test the bounds of what low-wage rural workers will do to protect themselves and the corporation that suppresses them. Compliance depicts a McDonald's, in which a manager detains and strips a teen cashier in a back office, simply because a man on the phone claiming to be a cop says she stole cash from a customer. The prank pushes further, creating a small-scale, high-stakes journey into a Milgram-esque nightmare. Flirting with the same excuses that real-life subjects might have told themselves, director Craig Zobel's actors show with harrowing efficiency just how inexcusable this behavior was. — Justin Strout

click to enlarge Black Like Me

Black Like Me (NR)

VSC

When released in 1961, Black Like Me was brave and highly controversial, a nonfiction book that lifted a veil off the racist South of the '50s. The film version came out in 1964, co-written and directed by Carl Lerner, but it's only recently been re-appreciated. James Whitmore stars as the book's author, John Howard Griffin, who medically altered his pigment and literally tanned himself black to go undercover in the deep South to expose the truth about racism with Jim Crow laws in full force. While this idea has been mocked in more recent films like Soul Man and Tropic Thunder, at the time they were eye-opening revelations to white Americans who had either been unaware or unaccepting of the truth of the Southern situation. The DVD also contains a bonus disc featuring a full-length documentary about Griffin, who kept up the civil rights fight until his death in 1980, that only makes the movie all the more powerful and compelling. — Louis Fowler

  • Osombie, Compliance, Black Like Me

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