and Ty Burr
February 23, 1996 at 05:00 AM EST

Springtime for video means that many big hits and misses of summer and fall will be back — on store shelves. Here’s a peek at what’s on the way.

FUNNY BUSINESS: One could argue that the latest version of The Scarlet Letter (April 16), starring Demi Moore, is the season’s single biggest video knee-slapper, if only for the scene of Robert Duvall prancing around with a dead animal on his head. Intentional laughs can be found in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (March 12), Vampire in Brooklyn (April 16), and Mallrats (March 26). If your sights are set higher than Beavis’, however, you may prefer the lighthearted An American President (May), the biting To Die For (April 23), or the droll postcollegiate shenanigans of Kicking & Screaming (April 9). The sharp-edged Muriel’s Wedding (March 12) offers further proof that Australians have a serious ABBA fixation, while the little-seen big dud Steal Big, Steal Little (April 23) offers Andy Garcia playing twins. For family viewing, there’s The Baby Sitters Club (March 12), based on the teen-book series. But if your view of family leans toward the dysfunctional, two dark comedies could be your cup of spiked tea: Jodie Foster’s Home for the Holidays (April 2) starring Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr., and Anne Bancroft, or the gently daft Unstrung Heroes (April 16), featuring Andie MacDowell and Seinfeld’s Michael Richards.

THE THRILL OF IT ALL: April is no longer the cruelest month, now that March 26 brings the remarkably unpleasant (and remarkably popular) serial-killer opus Seven. In Braveheart (March 12), Mel Gibson and his band of 13th-century Scots do some hacking of their own — for a worthy cause. For those who prefer explosions to the clanging of swords and spears, there’s Money Train (April 30), starring Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, and the New York City subway system, and Assassins (March 12), in which Antonio Banderas tries to terminate fellow hitman Sylvester Stallone. The same day finds the mysterious Banderas courting Rebecca DeMornay in the romantic chiller Never Talk to Strangers. In the futuristic whodunit Strange Days (April 2), Angela Bassett kicks even more butt than she does in the current Waiting to Exhale. Alicia Silverstone pops up opposite Kevin Dillon in the little-known pre-Clueless True Crime (March 19). For more criminal behavior, there’s Dead Presidents (May 21). The Prophecy (March 12) finds a cadaverous Christopher Walken playing — what else? — an emissary of Satan, while Denzel Washington encounters a different kind of evil as a reluctant PI in Devil in a Blue Dress (April 2). The Tie That Binds (March 19) makes a case for sealing adoption records as white-trash couple Keith Carradine and Daryl Hannah come gunning to get their child back. And video fave Tremors inspired the straight-to-tape Tremors 2: Aftershocks (April 9), featuring original cast members Fred Ward and Michael Gross, but not Kevin Bacon. May 21 brings the strange Powder, which survived a critical dusting to become a hit.

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