THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY PG, 1978, 113 minutes, RCA/Columbia Home Video, $79.95.
At first glance, Gary Busey may strike you as too robust and solid to play Buddy Holly, but when the music gets in him and he begins to move, spreading his legs wide and bouncing to the rhythm, your reservations vanish. Busey, who does his own playing and singing here, creates something vibrantly authentic out of this familiar show biz rise-to-fame story; he has something that can't be faked -- a real feeling for the music. Directed by Steve Rash, the movie is low-budget, but the B-movie treatment fits the subject, especially early on when Holly and his sidemen, played by Don Stroud and Charles Martin Smith, are playing at roller rinks around Lubbock, Tex., and practicing in a garage. This was a time when a musician like Holly could be thought of as a rebel just for wanting to write his own songs, and produce them himself. Holly was one of the first of that breed, but the movie doesn't insist on turning him into a genius. And Busey's performance is too direct for that to work anyway. He plays Holly as a guy who knew what he wanted and couldn't compromise. And when you see him skitter across the stage, pumped up from playing, grinning that odd, big-toothed grin, you know why. -- Hal Hinson
IN THE MOOD PG-13, 1987, 113 minutes, Lorimar Home Video, $79.95.
Patrick Dempsey, the modern-day nerd of "Can't Buy Me Love," retrofits his geekiness here as a 1940s ninth-grader who can't get dates with girls his own age. However, his Andy Hardy-style naivete' proves irresistible to older women -- Talia Balsam as the 21-year-old who makes headlines by eloping with the teen Romeo and Beverly D'Angelo as the Marine's wife who next runs off with the boy. This negligible comedy, written and directed by Phil Alden Robinson, is based on the real-life adventures of one Ellsworth Wisecarver, who came to be known as the Woo Woo Kid when his exploits made front-page news -- comic relief during World War II, but not anymore. Hepped up with wah-wah trombones and outfitted in argyle sweaters, it sure looks like swing time but never puts us "In the Mood" for laughs, much less love.
-- Rita Kempley
OEDIPUS REX/ THE FLOOD Unrated, 1984, in English and Latin without subtitles, 83 minutes, Home Vision, $49.95.
Some 35 years separate the two myth-drenched Stravinsky works presented on this videotape in brilliant Dutch productions. "Oedipus" (1927) straddles the borderline between opera and oratorio; "The Flood" (1962) was composed for a television production. Both are beautifully performed. The music for "Oedipus" is supplied by the Concertgebouw Orchestra and a Dutch male chorus (clad in tuxedos but made up in whiteface) with excellent soloists and powerful conducting by Bernard Haitink. The music for "The Flood" is taken from Stravinsky's CBS recording, which uses such speaking voices as Laurence Harvey, Sebastian Cabot and Elsa Lanchester. "Oedipus Rex" has a text by Jean Cocteau for which Stravinsky commissioned a translation into Latin. But there is a narrator to tell the story in the vernacular. "The Flood" takes full advantage of 1980s technology in a mixed-media production that uses animation, live actors and all sorts of special effects to tell the story of the Creation, Adam and Eve (with a bit of frontal nudity) and Noah's Ark. For properly attuned viewers, it is dazzling and the whole tape is in a very special category. -- Joseph McLellan
LIVING ON TOKYO TIME Unrated, 1987, 83 minutes, Charter Entertainment, $79.98.
This low-budget look at rock, roots, rejection and romance is a charming first feature by Japanese-American director Steven Okazaki. East meets West in this sly comedy of manners when third-generation American Ken Nakagawa marries immigrant Minako Ohashi. The immigration service plays Cupid, as Minako needs her green card. She isn't really ready for love, but Ken begins to think of their marriage as more than one of convenience. And the question becomes: Can an assimilated, junk-food-addicted janitor who wants to be a rock star win the love of a driven, homesick traditionalist who loves eel in the box? Okazaki's script, cowritten with a former punk band colleague, is an offbeat treat, and the performances are sweet. Nakagawa, a Park 'n' Shop employee drafted for his movie debut, is especially fun, as deadpan as a cast-iron skillet.
-- Rita Kempley
DOLLS R, 1987, 77 minutes, Vestron Video, $79.98.
When Embassy Pictures brought out its promotional booklet on upcoming projects, the ad line for this film read, " 'The Doll': It wants to play with you." And since Stuart Gordon, the man responsible for "Re-Animator" and "From Beyond," was slated as director, the project promised to be great fun. Eventually "The Doll" became "Dolls," but the film was never released. It's not really hard to see why. "Dolls" is more of a bloody fairy tale -- a old-fashioned haunted house story -- than a slice-and-dice horror film. And actually, it's fairly tame and really rather sweet. A group of travelers gets stuck during a storm in front of an old house inhabited by a elderly couple who make extraordinarily lifelike dolls. The dolls are very, well, unusual. Once everyone goes off to bed, they begin knocking off the bad adult members of the traveling party. But the innocents are spared. Though some of the doll effects are imaginative the movie is strictly second-drawer stuff.
-- Hal Hinson