`Telling You' Comedy Goes Straight-To-Video

Last month one of Drew Barrymore's less successful films, "Wishful Thinking," took the direct-to-video route. Next week, Jennifer Love Hewitt, star of "Party of Five" and "I Know What You Did Last Summer," earns the same distinction.

"Telling You," an R-rated romantic comedy from Miramax Home Entertainment, stars Hewitt as the pesky ex-girlfriend of Peter Facinelli (star of "Can't Hardly Wait"), who returns home after graduating from college. Also in the cast are Jennie Garth (from "Beverly Hills 90210"), Dash Mihok ("The Thin Red Line") and the ubiquitous Matthew Lillard ("Scream," "She's All That").

John Hughes, the filmmaker who dominated the 1980s teen-epic genre, is back this month with "Reach the Rock," a straight-to-video youth film which he wrote and produced. Alessandro Nivola, best-known as Nicolas Cage's scene-stealing brother in "Face/Off," plays a juvenile delinquent who gets jailed by a small-town police chief (William Sadler). Bruce Norris and Brooke Langton provide, respectively, comic and romantic relief.

Michael Almereyda, director of the offbeat 1994 vampire movie "Nadja," is back with another Gothic tale that's making its debut on cassette. "The Eternal" stars Christopher Walken as the unstable Irish uncle of an alcoholic wife and mother (Alison Elliot) who feels drawn to a druid witch. Jared Harris plays her husband.

A couple of sequels also are headed for tape. "Mercenary 2: Thick and Thin" stars the original "Mercenary's" Olivier Gruner and Nicholas Turturro as paid rescuers who attempt to find a captured man (Robert Townsend) in Central America. Already in stores is "Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms," with Matt Battaglia as a drafted recruit in a top-secret military operation.

Also bypassing theaters:

"Supreme Sanction." Kristy Swanson from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" plays an assassin for a clandestine government agency, Alpha Section, in this R-rated thriller. Michael Madsen and Ron Perlman are cast as ruthless agency directors.

"Kill the Man." Comedy starring Luke Wilson ("Scream 2") as a young businessman facing direct competition across the street. Teri Garr, Michael McKean and Joshua Malina are also in the cast.

"Freak City." Oscar winners Marlee Matlin ("Children of a Lesser God") and Estelle Parsons ("Bonnie and Clyde") turn up in this drama about the struggles of a young woman with multiple sclerosis (Samantha Mathis).

"My Own Country." Story of a doctor (Naveen Andrews) who returns to rural Tennessee in the early years of the AIDS epidemic. Hal Holbrook and Swoosie Kurtz play a conservative Christian couple who keep their illness a secret.

"Men Seeking Women." Romantic comedy about three best friends who agree to a bet that may break their losing streaks with women.

"Death by Design." Prize-winning documentary tour of the invisible world of cells, using state-of-the-art microcinematography.

"Some Nudity Required." Sundance Film Festival documentary about Hollywood's B-film industry, with clips from "Stripped to Kill II" and "Attack of the Killer Nurses" and interviews with "scream queens" Maria Ford and Julie Strain.

"Desert Winds." Heather Graham, currently co-starring in the "Austin Powers" sequel, plays Grace Zabriskie's daughter in this mystical story of desert town life in New Mexico. Co-starring Adam Ant and Michael A. Nickles, it won the prize for best picture at the Phoenix International Film Festival.

"The Hunter's Moon." Burt Reynolds, who was Graham's co-star in "Boogie Nights," plays a vindictive Southern mountaineer who makes life miserable for his daughter (Hayley Du Mond) and her gentle boyfriend (Keith Carradine).

"Loons." An early film from campy director Michael Legge ("Working Stiffs," "Braindrainer"), about a curse that goes back to the Salem witch trials.

"Suspicious Minds." Patrick Bergin, who was Julia Roberts' nemesis in "Sleeping With the Enemy," plays a private detective on the trail of an unfaithful wife (Jayne Heitmeyer) in this R-rated thriller. Daniel Pilon is her husband, and Gary Busey is an extortionist.

Video Watch by John Hartl appears Thursdays in Scene.