For those of you who enjoy some classic big budget Disaster Flicks, TubiTV just added all of the Airport films to their streaming site. That includes Airport (1970), Airport 1975 (1974), Airport '77 (1977) and The Concorde...Airport '79 (1979). The 70's were THE decade for disaster flicks, spewing out star-studded classics left and right, such as The Towering Inferno (the crowning achievement), and Earthquake (also on TubiTV for FREE).
I never got around to the Airport films, but I've been meaning to because I'm a sucker for good ol' fashioned 70's disaster flicks, so this is excellent news. I doubt they're all going to be stellar, but I won't know until I actually watch them. Not sure how long they're available on there, but to my knowledge, they were only barely added so we probably have a good amount of time to get through them before they're taken off.
As you know, TubiTV offers great content for FREE, but you have to watch commercials. That's a small price to pay for such great, quality content for FREE. In HD no less. ENJOY!
On the surface, this should be a homerun. You have a pretty killer cast of standout 90's character actors, some solid martial arts (none of that slow-mo stuff), and a premise that works for the most part. Yet, despite it's strong opening, the film really fails to deliver on it's potential.
Chad McQueen is fine as the lead and surprisingly capable of carrying the film, but Rothrock, who is easily the standout here, is shockingly underused and undervalued as a badass. It's no surprise that she took the lead in the sequel the following year, which I still need to get to. David Carradine does a fine job as the lead villain, but you're more than likely to be more impressed with the who's who of 90's martial arts character actors who pop in and out of the film such as Professor Tanaka, Philip Tan, Benny "The Jet" Urquidez and James Lew.
Director Steve Cohen handles everything well enough, and I liked that he chose to shoot the martial arts fast and furious instead of slow-motion. I'm sure there were plenty of moments where he even sped the film up to make the fights look faster. There just really should have been more action overall. A car chase, explosion, shootout.....something. For this reason alone, Martial Law really fails to deliver when it really could have been a standout. It makes me wonder how much better it would have turned out had it been in a studio like PM Entertainments hands.
I also discovered something that floored me while watching this. Chad McQueen is actually that asshole kid Dutch (with the terribly bleached blonde hair and eyebrows) from The Karate Kid. All these years, I had no idea.
Martial Law 1 & 2 are available, restored, on Amazon Prime HERE. Both of these films have been recently released on Blu Ray via Vinegar Syndrome, newly restored in 4K and with tons of extra goodies ONLY available through their website and a few indie retailers, and nowhere else. You can grab them HERE while you still can. Limited quantities available.
Somehow, despite my appreciation for Bruno Mattei films, I never actually got around to this one until now. And it's only because it was streaming on Amazon Prime that I finally got the chance to because I never really felt the urge to try and get myself a copy. But boy was I missing out, because Cruel Jaws was just as unintentionally hilarious as we were hoping for.
This legendary Jaws ripoff is almost a blueprint for how to take a well-known property, steal from it shamelessly, and deliver some of the most hilariously amateurish productions I've ever seen, despite the fact that Mattei had decades of film experience under his belt. Atrocious acting, hilarious dialogue, bizarre camerawork (what the fuck is up with all those weird zooms???), rampant use of shark stock footage, and repeated use of the same footage over and over again makes this Bad Movie Night GOLD. Not to mention there are really crazy looking actors who resemble other actors, like the poor man's Hulk Hogan and someone who looks shockingly like a young Billy Zane.
It's crazy to me to think that Bruno Mattei (Strike Commando, Robowar) made this in the mid 90's, when it clearly looks like the person behind the camera has never made a movie before in their life! But that's the beauty of this oddity in a lot of ways. There are moments where they blatantly steal the Superman theme song for a few scenes, and if you look closely, they literally steal shots from Jaws! Endlessly entertaining, shockingly inept and unintentionally hilarious, Cruel Jaws was a blast from start to finish.
In a time when it feels like we've probably seen all of the "so bad, they're good" movies, it's refreshing to stumble upon one that we actually hadn't seen, and was in fact so bad, it's good.
Cruel Jaws was released on DVD and Blu Ray via Severin Films back in September of 2020, and can be picked up via your favorite online retailer like Amazon HERE. It's also currently streaming on Amazon Prime in HD.
The crime/investigation aspects of the film are what draw you in for the most part, where Chase plays an investigative reporter on the trail of a hot story involving police corruption and drugs. I was genuinely surprised that the film succeeded more in this area than in the comedy, but I think that just goes to show you that Fletch, for all of it's issues, does surprise you. Whether it's a good surprise is up to your mood or taste. As it stands, Fletch was only marginally funny, and the film as a whole only works because of Chevy Chase.
I hear a reboot is in the works with Jon Hamm? While that idea is interesting, they really need to figure out what genre they're attempting first, because this version certainly wasn't a comedy, even though it's marketed as one. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed it. It was just a different type of film than I was expecting. Killer theme song by the great Harold Faltermeyer by the way. I mean, it's really great and probably one of the most memorable things about the film.
A group of prison inmates, during a prison transfer, break free by killing the guards and take an entire mall hostage. When ex-cop Rudy Ray (Mickey Rourke) learns his brother Joe Ray (Kevin Gage) is one of inmates involved, he secretly infiltrates the mall and attempts to save his brother, while also taking out the other inmates one by one.
Released in 1998, this actually stars 2 alumni's of Michael Mann's Heat from 3 years earlier; Kevin Gage (who played Waingro in Heat) and Danny Trejo (who played Trejo). Gage is actually one of the main leads here, which really surprised me. While Mickey Rourke is top-billed, he really isn't in here anymore than Gage is. And speaking of Rourke, he puts in a really understated performance here. He actually barely speaks, and is just huge, like a linebacker, and ridiculously tanned. Rourke plays the John McLane character, taking out the bad guys one by one in the shadows, like a ninja, and extremely proficient, while also playing Rudy like the strong, silent type. The only time he ever emits an emotion is during 2 different scenes where he cries. Other than that, he's basically a robot here.
Rourke was fine in his understated way, and Gage was surprisingly effective, but the real standout here is Danny Trejo. Jesus Christ he's a mean motherfucker in this. I mean, he's always been a great bad guy, even though in real life his one of the nicest people you'll ever meet, and uses his fame for good. But man, he is so good at being evil. There's even a standout sequence involving Trejo and easily the weirdest pole dancing scene I've ever seen in my life. It's wild.
Speaking of Trejo. There are several key moments where he and Rourke battle it out and boy I gotta tell you, those are without a doubt the highlights of the film as these two big buff and tanned guys kick the living shit out of each other.
The film is filled with a surprising amount of well-known character actors (too many to even name to be honest), but with that being said, there is a weak link, and that has to be Paul Ben-Victor, who plays sort of the ringleader of the entire hostage operation. His attempt at playing a flamboyant gay crime boss is odd and so over-the-top that it's completely unrealistic, and not even in a fun way. It just leaves you scratching your head most of the time.
Point Blank is a true hidden gem from the 90's action era. It's a shame that the title and cover art offers nothing in the way of telling you what kind of film to expect going in, which is probably why I stayed away from it all this time. But I'm here to tell you that it's damn good, and certainly quenched my low-budget action thirst. The action set pieces are incredibly well-done and tight, the acting across the board is good, and it never slows down. I mean, there is a ton of action and it's a blast.
How to see it:
Last I checked, it was streaming on Amazon Prime, YouTube and TubiTV.
I had completely forgotten about this film until it was mentioned in the excellent doc In Search of Darkness II, which led me to immediately add it to my Netflix DVD list. Late 70s/early 80s horror/thrillers are a favorite genre of ours, and this just goes to show that there are some true gems out there still waiting to be discovered.
Sam Neill plays adult Damien Thorn, the Antichrist, who's quick rise up in power within the government leads a small group of monks to stop him at any cost.
Boy, what a treat. First off, Sam Neill is absolutely brilliant as Thorn, hamming it up to 11 and easily delivering one of his most delicious performances ever. Literally almost every moment he's on screen is pure gold. The cast is pretty great all around, but the film really shines with it's brilliant and gorgeous cinematography (courtesy of Phil Meheux and Robert Paynter) and Graham Baker's (Alien Nation) excellent direction.
As a whole the film is a bit silly, with an insane amount of ridiculous plot holes and questionable decisions of a lot of characters. But really, I tried not to let any of that bother me and just enjoyed it for what it was. And boy, all of it's issues aside, it's a helluva fun ride and a fitting end to the series. My one and only issue was the ending, that was incredibly anticlimactic for a film that build and builds to this finale. Still, what a gloriously cheesy good time. Stunning camerawork, fun performances and some amusing kills make it a fun time all around. You really can't beat films from this period. They're such a rare treat.
|Brainscan VHS scan courtesy of MorbidlyBeautifl.com|
A 90's Misfire For All Involved
On the surface, I should love Brainscan. The behind-the-scenes team on this thing is pretty damn remarkable, and it's this fact that forced me to finally sit through this from beginning to end....finally. Written by Andrew Kevin Walker (Se7en, 8mm, Sleepy Hallow), makeup by the great Steve Johnson, a catchy score by George S. Clinton, and directed by a truly underrated filmmaker John Flynn, who's given us some classics such as Rolling Thunder, Best Seller (a personal favorite), Lock Up and to this day, directing one of Steven Seagal's best, most gritty films with Out for Justice. And that's something all of his films have in common- a grittiness that a lot of directors don't pull off very well. But for him, it seems effortless. So to say I was intrigued to see him tackle the horror genre is an understatement. Yet this is the second time I've attempted to watch this film, because the first time I gave up after 45 minutes. But I do know there is a large fanbase for this film, so perhaps I'm missing something? I figured it was worth the trip, even if it ended up being a bad one.
Brainscan is not a good film on any level. In fact, it's kind of a mess. It's hard to really tell what genre they were attempting here, but it definitely doesn't come across as a horror film all that much. In fact, the R-Rating is really surprising considering the lack of gore. Aside from the very brief flash of boobs, there's not even any nudity. I've seen more nudity in an 80's PG-Rated comedy!
At times it feels like not much is really fleshed out, especially when it comes to Michael's (Edward Furlong) relationships to his only friend, his absent father and also in regards to the strange (and sometimes creepy) infatuation he and his cute neighbor seem to share with one another. Speaking of Furlong, wow he is just awful in this. I know he was the "hot" item back in the 90's and he was consistently busy with big studio projects, but I'm sorry, he's as wooden as a bedpost and really just comes across as annoying more than anything. He makes it hard to care about anything he's going through when he comes across as a whiny, moody, arrogant teenager. Frank Langella, bless him, doesn't fare any better. Probably his most understated performance ever captured on film, he seems to really not give a shit and puts in as little effort as possible. While on the opposite end of the spectrum, T. Ryder Smith as The Trickster is clearly having a blast. Still not a great character by any means, but he pops in from time to time to break up the boredom and ham it up, which in this case, was a welcome treat.
It's hard to know where to put the blame too. You have so many questions about characters, plot, relationships and motivation, but almost none of them are answered, and that is incredibly frustrating. Maybe Walkers script was more fleshed out and was cut in post? Maybe director Flynn was out of his element, or maybe directing a kid was something he wasn't cut out to do? Maybe the studio enforced edits to make it more commercially viable? I don't know, but ultimately Brainscan is a film who's reputation I clearly do not understand. Maybe it would be different had I seen this originally back in 1994 when I was 18? Perhaps. But watching it for the first time as a 45 year old, I just don't get it.
Brainscan is currently streaming for FREE on Crackle.com with commercials
How the hell have I never seen this before? Enemy of the state is arguably a perfect thriller in every sense of the word. A balls to the walls experience that not only showcases director Tony Scott's brilliance as a filmmaker, but the film delivers in a way that 80% of thrillers try and fail, which just goes back to the fact that I never hear anyone talk about this gem.
While I've always been a HUGE Tony Scott fan, I avoided this one simply because I feared it was similar to his film Spy Game, which I just could not get into. But boy was I wrong. Here Scott delivers a film that quite arguably blew me away. Everything from his amazing visuals, camerawork, cast and insane amount of tension just works masterfully.
Speaking of the cast, holy shit. Literally everyone is in this. I lost count how many times I kept getting surprised by who showed up, even in the smallest roles. It's definitely a fun time just spotting all the famous faces, some who were just newbies then, but have gone onto bigger and great things since. And while Will Smith was great and effective here, I gotta give it to my man Gene Hackman (reteaming with Scott after the amazing Crimson Tide) who once again steals the show in every scene he's in. Here he plays a character that is remarkably similar to one he played many years earlier that have a lot of theorists online debating about whether it's just a coincidence, a homage or that he is in fact the same character. I'll let you judge for yourself though.
Tony Scott would ultimately begin losing some steam in his later films, even drastically changing up his style in films such as Man on Fire and Domino. He would come full circle later with films like Unstoppable and The Taking of Pelham 123 where he would go back to the style that made his films so iconic and identifiable, unlike the quick-edit/shaky-cam headache approach he adopted in the early 2000's, before sadly taking his life. But with Enemy of the State, I can wholeheartedly state that for me personally, this was his last great film of the 90's. RIP
Enemy of the State is one of the best, most intense, stylish and entertaining espionage thrillers I've ever seen, of any decade. Currently streaming on HBO Max and FREE on The Roku Channel.