It's what I call a low fever week on DVD shelves this week, but let's see what we can find. Kim Voynar described Penelope as "a charming but fluffy little fable about a girl born under the shadow of a family curse." Christina Ricci stars as a woman with the face of a pig (!). James (Wanted) McAvoy, Reese Witherspoon, Catherine O'Hara and Peter Dinklage are also featured. The DVD includes a "making of" feature.

Other indie releases of interest this week: The Curiosity of Chance; Meet Bill; Monsieur Vincent; Never Forever; Times and Winds; The Year My Parents Went on Vacation.

Now that's we've covered the official business of this weekly post, let's talk oddities. The Beach Party at the Threshold of Hell is a wild post-apocalyptic comedy that other people have enjoyed much more than I did (which is to say not at all), but what I find really odd is that the DVD comes complete with "National Lampoon Presents" plastered at the top. Now, the National Lampoon label has never embraced comedy that I'd call "nervy." Gross out comedy? Yes. Bad attempts at parody? Yes. Endless pale imitations of frat house laughers? Yes. Beach Party may not have succeeded for me, but at least it tries to push the boundaries of what it's OK to laugh about.

I don't know if the "National Lampoon Presents" label will sell any more DVDs, but it tickles me that such a very independent film will sit cheek by jowl in video stores right next to National Lampoon Presents Dorm Daze 2. I picture a roomful of drunken frat boys on summer break, either howling with laughter or staring puzzled at the TV screen at the strange Beach Party happenings.

Last November I posted about indie comedy Heavy Petting, starring Malin Akerman (The Heartbreak Kid) as a woman with a dog, which becomes an obstacle to her romance of a nice young man. I posed the question: "Is Heavy Petting a hidden gem? Or headed straight to video?" We have our answer!

Take a look at the DVD cover: that dog is Photoshopped in so it looks like he's kissing poor Malin. Borderline creepy, if you ask me. I do not recommend the film -- I haven't seen it yet -- but, as always, should you choose to rent it, please be sure to tell us all about it.

Although I don't have any indie DVD recommendations -- some weeks are like that -- I did think very highly of The Bank Job, which is out this week, and if you have any inclination toward anime, I thoroughly enjoyed the first three volumes of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: Complete Collection; I'm fairly confident the final volume of the 4-disk collection will be equally good.