Documentary Dynamite!: Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary

Here's a fun documentary that literally came out of nowhere. I had never heard of it, saw no buzz, no release info anywhere. And then one day while browsing Amazon this popped up and I couldn't believe it. Where did this come from? And do people even know about it? Why doesn't anyone talk about it? One night when we were looking for something horror-related to watch, this was a no-brainer. Let's dig in.

If you love Stephen King's famous novel, love the film adaptation, or just love horror in general, this is a must-see. This documentary touches on nearly every single aspect of this classic Stephen King tale, from it's inception, to book, to screen and it's lasting and enduring legacy. Filmmakers John Campopiano and Justin White do a meticulous job in investigating every aspect of the production of the first film, complete with interviews with all the main players, as well as production staff, the filmmakers and even down to the local town folk. Since King insisted that this be filmed in Maine, the production enlisted the help of locals for all aspects of the film and it's quite a treat listening to them talk about their experiences and how that film production affected the town in general. Really great stuff.

Pet Sematary has been regarded as one of the best King adaptations ever produced, and it really kind of took everyone by surprise, as you'll see in the doc. No one knew just how big it would be and how well it would be received, because Stephen King films generally have been hit or miss and a good portion of them don't do well or get adapted well, so this one kind of became one of the biggest successes with his book-to-film releases. There was so much I either didn't know, or had completely forgotten about in the decades since it's release. For one, I totally forgot that King wrote the screenplay himself, which is something he's only done less than a handful of times in his career, all with varying degrees of success.

This completely under the radar documentary took us by surprise and was a welcome addition to our documentary binge-watching. I'm still surprised that it's never mentioned or brought up. If you're a fan of Stephen King, horror, or just this film in general, you owe it to yourself to give this a watch. You won't regret it.

How to watch it:
You can rent it on a number of different streaming sites. I rented it on Amazon. There were only 1000 DVD/Blu Ray Combo's pressed, and I know there are still a few of those left for sale over at HorrorPack if you need a physical copy.


Into the Night: A John Landis Masterpiece

Into the Night Laserdisc Cover
Let me start off by saying that I was completely unaware of this films existence. Now, I'm a big fan of John Landis. I grew up watching nearly all of his films in the 80's and 90's, with a handful of them being films I watched religiously, most notably The Blues Brothers. As I got older, I began to appreciate some of his lesser known films, like Innocent Blood, which I absolutely love now. But how in the hell this film came and went flying so far under my radar that I literally never even heard of it until just last week is beyond me. Yet here I was, casually browsing eBay for Laserdiscs, not looking for anything in particular when I stumbled upon this listing for a film called Into the Night, directed by John Landis and starring Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pfeiffer. Confused I did some more digging thinking that maybe I never heard of it was because maybe it was a Made-for-TV Movie or something. But nope. It's a full-on theatrical release from 1985, right before he did Three Amigos! and I'd never heard of it until now. Obviously it didn't do well or it would be a better known film, yet now I'm fascinated as to why. So I decided to do a blind-guy since the Laserdisc was going to be less than $5 shipped. I figured why not? Let's dig in.

I'm not going to give you a synopsis because the less you know going in, the better. But let's just say Ed's (Jeff Goldblum) life is dull. An insomniac, he randomly meets a woman in the middle of the night, which leads him to a crazy series of adventures throughout Hollywood. 

Holy shit everyone. I can't believe how great this film was and how nobody EVER talks about it. How is that possible? This is the very definition of a lost gem. And it's such a "different" type of film altogether. I wouldn't even know how to categorize it really because it's like a melting pot of different genres, but it works! It's like Scorcese's After Hours, only set in California in 1985. And make no mistake, this is a very California film and it's amazing. Every single frame is drenched in 80's Hollywood, CA nostalgia. But it carries very much the same tone as After Hours, so that should give you some indication as to what to expect.

While I do watch a lot of movies on a weekly basis, with a lot of them being great, I can't remember the last time I was this surprised, enthralled and in love with a film experience. It's one of the most amazing films I've ever seen, and some of the most fun I can remember having with a film. It's like a dark adventure, thriller, comedy (while not actually being funny), drama and romance, all mixed together in a way that very few films can actually do. I don't even know how you could possibly and effectively even advertise this, so I'm not entirely surprised that it didn't do well in the theater. What blows my mind is the fact that I'd never even heard of it until now. I mean, for someone who grew up on Landis films, and just cinema in general in the 80's, it's quite a feat, yet it happened. And really, it's a travesty. More people should know about this film, more should be aware. It's such a unique film altogether, and if you love cinema, obscure films, or even if you just love John Landis films, you owe it to yourself to check this out as soon as possible. And I'll say it again, it's unlike any film I've ever seen. It's kind of like a dark, surreal odyssey through 80's Hollywood in the span of about 2 nights, with so much happening and so much being thrown at you, all in a very unconventional way that you don't really know how to take it all in until it's over, and then it just kind of hits you all at once and you realized you just had one of the most interesting movie experiences you've ever had.

Into the Night Laserdisc - Backside

If there's one thing John Landis can guarantee in nearly all of his films, it's a healthy dose of cameo's, and in here, more than any other film he's ever made, he delivers. The cameo's! Oh the cameo's! I simply could not believe my eyes. I was in movie heaven. Of course, I should point out that you really have to be a lover of cinema and of filmmakers to even spot them, because if  you're not one of those people who obsess over filmmakers, then you more than likely won't spot them. My wife didn't. I had to constantly point out who everyone was. There are of course quite a number of popular and cult icons, directors and musicians that you won't have any trouble spotting, most notably David Cronenberg, and best of all, the hitman! But I won't spoil it for you here because most of the fun is spotting them and knowing who they are. But hell, even I missed quite a few and didn't realize that until the end credits. Have fun! It's a blast.

John Landis in his surprising turn in Into the Night

I absolutely loved and adored every single aspect of Into the Night, right down to it's title font. So much of this film just gets nearly everything right. John Landis, who has never been the most "visual" director, absolutely knocks it out of the park here, framing every scene in a very John Landis way, while also pushing his own envelope a bit, giving it more substance to every shot. I don't know how else to explain it, but if you're familiar with his very particular way of shooting, just imagine that but more, bigger, better and more impressive. Think of his work on The Blues Brothers, only more slick. Another surprising element is it's impressive soundtrack, led by........B.B. King of all people. And while that sounds a bit strange, to me at least, you'll be surprised how well his title song, complete with 80's synth (seriously!) fits the film so well. I  had to keep asking myself "That's a B.B. King song??". I don't know if it was a trend he was riding in the mid 80's, but the synth background music that played along with his guitar and lyrics was magnificent, and encourages me to want to check out some of his stuff from around this time.

This was the first film John Landis directed after the Twilight Zone: The Movie tragedy, and if I'm not mistaken, he may have even been in the middle of court proceedings during this time. Maybe that accounts for it's dark tone? I don't know, but I should also mention that Landis also appears in this. While he's been known to pop up in his films for a brief moment here and there, I'd never seen him in such a large role, and I must say, it was awesome. His character never speaks, yet it's his physical actions and reactions that speak volumes and generate legitimate laughs. It's both admirable and impressive on a number of different levels and for a number of reasons. It makes you wish he acted more, because he was a revelation, even though he never spoke a word.

Into the Night is the very definition of a lost, underrated or obscure gem. Very few films pack the same kind of visceral punch that this one does, and the fact that it's gone largely unnoticed is such a sad reality, when in fact, it's quite an amazing film. It refuses to be boxed into a single specific genre, or defined because there are so many different elements that make it so unique. Even for a film that could in some ways partly be called a dark comedy, there is violence that will surprise you that always comes out of nowhere and blindsides you. And that's one of many wonderful elements this film provides you, the viewer. And there's some good news in store for the near future. Shout! Factory just announced that they will be releasing a Collector's Edition Blu Ray in November as part of their Shout Select series. No word yet on any special features, but I for one will be buying this. It will look stunning in HD and in widescreen. Also of special note it that they will be using the original cover art, and not the terrible DVD cover art. I won't even show it here because it's just awful.


80's Horror: Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II

I can't even begin to tell you how pleasantly surprised we were with this hidden gem. While I do remember coming across this often in my teens in the 80's, I never actually watched it. But my brother did......a lot too. He loved it. Still, that wasn't enough to encourage me to actually do it. I don't know why. Maybe it was because I never actually watched the original until just last year? Yet now I realize the sequel has nothing to do with the first one. Go figure.

After Mary Lou Maloney is accidentally killed during an incident at prom in 1957, her soul is unleashed exactly 30 years later to wreck havoc and vengeance in the same school. 

Prom Night II bares no similarities or even storyline to the Jamie Lee Curtis classic (I didn't like it). Just in name. I'm guessing because it does in fact involve a prom night in a high school, and also to ride the coattails of a well-known classic. But imagine my surprise to discover that this little film, having never gotten a theatrical release, with no big names attached other than Michael Ironside (legend!!), or even anyone recognizable in the directors chair or in the screenwriting credits, would end up being one of the most enjoyable 80's horror films we've seen in a very long time. To put it into perspective, Prom Night II is like a perfectly balanced combination of A Nightmare on Elm St. Part 4: The Dream Master and Carrie, which is surprising in that ANoES4 didn't come out until the following year, so you can't say that it stole any ideas from that one, which makes it all the more special.

Interestingly enough, the film as it appears is not the film that was written exactly. Re-writes and re-shoots were done when the distributor didn't feel like the film worked. Also of interest is that it wasn't even written as a Prom Night sequel at all, but rather another haunted high school film until the distrubutors purchased it and decided to rename it Prom Night II. Still, despite it's name not having anything to do with the previous film, it's one helluva great ride in the "high school horror" genre, led by a pretty solid cast, with the only notable name being the legendary Michael Ironside, who does a fantastic job. It's also a bit trippy as hell, with some really creative surreal moments that tap into the whole "what's real and what's not" a la The Dream Master. And for a film who's director (Bruce Pittman) had never done anything to prove he could handle so many of the films offbeat surreal moments, much less a horror film in general, it's quite an accomplishment. I just discovered that some of that can be attributed to the films writer, Ron Oliver (he would go on to write and direct Prom Night III), who was tasked (after the fact) to go back and shoot some extensive sequences to give the film more of a punch, and really, it's these moments that really give the film more of it's surreal quality and tone. Whoever deserves the credit (I say both), they delivered something that nearly 90% of these films fail to accomplish: a cheesy, gory, fun and spirited 80's slasher with enough tongue-in-cheek humor to qualify as a near horror/comedy rather than just straight-up horror.

While the film boasts an impressively solid cast, it's really the films star, Wendy Lyon, who does not play Mary Lou (Lisa Schrage), but rather a timid, fragile nerdy girl with an overbearing devoutly religious and demanding mother. She was such a breath of fresh air. You'd never imagine where her character would eventually go later in the film and I must admit, it was a bit shocking, in a very enjoyable way. You'll see what I mean a good halfway through. It's fantastic.

You'd think at my age, 41, having been watching horror films all my life that I'd pretty much seen most of them and that the genre for me had already been tapped out. But nope! This film is a great example that there are still some great ones left out there that I still haven't seen. Little underrated gems that flew under my radar, or for one reason or another never got the love, respect or acknowledgment they deserved. This is one of those films, and I implore you to seek it out. It's worth the effort if you love cheesy 80's horror. Sometimes clever, oftentimes inventive, and purely entertaining 100% of the time, Prom Night II is pure 80's horror bliss.

How to see it:
Currently the film is available in it's entirety on YouTube for free and in widescreen. The DVD is fairly cheap, also in widescreen, and a pretty good transfer. That was my source for this viewing. The VHS is also fairly cheap and common. No plans for a blu ray release anytime soon I'm afraid, at least not in the U.S.


Laserdisc Cover of the Day: Felony 1994

Felony is truly an odd film all around, but it's one I feel needs discovering for a number of reasons, the first being that it's from none other than legendary Bad Movie Night legend David A. Prior. But I'll get to that in a sec, first I'd like to bring your attention to this films cover art. The first thing I'd like to point out is that while yes, Lance is indeed in this film, he's not the star. He's actually the villain of the film, and looks nothing like that, nor does he ever at any point in the film wear a suit. His character isn't even the kind of person who would wear one! And Leo Rossi, while always great, is just a supporting character. Which leaves me to the real star of the film. That star would be horror legend and cult cinema icon Jeffrey Combs. Yes! THAT Jeffrey Combs, Herbert fucking West himself! Here he plays the lead role as an action hero. You read that right! Combs runs around shooting guns, smashing through windows and bedding the girl, yet he's nowhere to be seen on the cover (not even his name!!) in this criminally mismarketed film.

Anyway, I saw this about a year or so ago randomly and kinda loved it for all the wrong reasons. It's a bad film, make no mistake about that. But it's bad in the best way David A. Prior (Deadly Prey, Killer Workout, Mankillers) can do, which is why I love so many of his films as much as I do. Their level of "inept bad" is the stuff of legends and myths, and Felony does not disappoint. It's ridiculous and nearly every action taken by every single character will leave you dumbfounded, but that's part of it's charm too. Prior didn't live in the real world when he wrote his screenplays, and any one of his films is a testament to that.

I personally feel that this is an important film for any filmbuff, whether you like low-budget action, David A. Prior films, entertainingly bad films, or most importantly, you're a big fan of Jeffrey Combs. He alone is worth the visit and seeing him running from a bunch of bad guys, crashing through windows and being a badass is worth the price of admission alone. So when I found this on eBay during one of my random browsing sessions recently, it was an impulse buy and I'm happy to add this to my collection.


90's Action Attack!: Hong Kong '97

Directed by: Albert Pyun
Category: Action

I've been a huge fan of Albert Pyun's for many, many years. I think for me, my first introduction to him might have been with Cyborg, but it was his Captain America film that I really took notice, which led me to dig into his large filmography of past and future films. I'm "still" digging into them and discovering many of them for the very first time. I just love so many of his films, but for a guy who has made so many, even I can admit that they don't all work. But then, there are many that do, and it's these that I just love to death and end up being some of my all-time favorite films.

Released in 1994, while Pyun was on somewhat of a creative winning streak having delivered classics and personal favorites like Nemesis, Dollman, Brainsmasher, Knights and Arcade, Hong Kong '97 is pretty much classic Pyun all the way. Tons of action, a killer cast, a plethora of unnecessary nudity, and Robert Patrick walking around in a big black trench-coat looking cool, kicking ass and taking names. Really, this film has everything you'd want in an Albert Pyun shoot 'em up and Hong Kong '97 does not disappoint.

Let's begin with this mighty excellent cast. There's of course Robert Patrick, 3 years after his star-making turn as the T-1000 in T2, and having quite the busy year with many projects and films being released, including Double Dragon and the PM Entertainment classic Zero Tolerance. He's just a pure badass in here and honestly, has never looked cooler. I had actually hoped that this would have been the beginning of a long and lustrous career as a B-Movie action god, but sadly that didn't happen. He would stay insanely busy, even today in a number of films in every genre and a lot of tv shows. Then there's B-Movie legend Tim Thomerson (Dollman, Trancers), the one and only Brion James (Tango & Cash, Another 48 Hrs., Red Heat, The Horror Show), and Ming-Na Wen (Streetfighter). This exceptional cast of true badasses really kind of threw me for a loop. It's rare when a small film like this can gather such a legendary cast of B-Movie gods, so when it happens, under the direction of Albert Pyun no less, I'm always game to give it a try.

While this film doesn't necessarily reach the level of awesome that some of his better known films like Nemesis and Dollman do, it won't let you down either. The action, while pretty standard stuff with nothing about them being a standout, are plentiful and nicely shot. If there was an action sequence that would stick out among the others, it would probably be the first one with Patrick as he's naked in a room with a gorgeous woman, when a bunch of guys come in through the balcony and a nude shootout ensues. What makes this more interesting, aside from the nudity, is that it just looks so damn cool. The background is awash in a neon red and blue color palate and it's such a slick looking sequence.

Brion James, Tim Thomerson & Robert Patrick in HK
Of course, aside from the action, the film tries really hard to take a political approach to the material. When there's not a random shootout happening, it's a deep rooted story about the transfer of power from Britain to China in 1997. And I don't know, for me it was in these moments, with all the politics and whatnot, where the film would slow down significantly. Not to say that that's a bad thing at all, because believe it or not, there's an actual story here and not just a bunch of action. Some people might dig the political stuff.

If you're a fan of action, or of Albert Pyun, or even of Robert Patrick, this is definitely a must-watch. A fun, stylish and slick looking film whose success lye's squarely on the shoulders of both Pyun's ultra-slick direction and Robert Patrick's ultra-cool hitman.

How to see it:
As far as I know, it's only ever been released on VHS here in the states. No DVD or even a Lasserdisc as far as I'm aware. I'm sure there's a DVD release out there somewhere else in the world, and an upgrade here in the U.S. would be really killer. Here's to hoping.

Correction and Update: 8/22/17
Chris was very kind enough to point out that this was indeed released on Laserdisc back in the 90's. I hope to come across one someday. I'd love to add it to my collection. 


Tales From The Crypt: The Complete Series

A few months ago someone mentioned that Amazon had mistakenly listed this set for far less than the actual retail price. Obviously a LOT of people jumped on it, myself included, before Amazon caught wind of this and immediately took it down, but not before I was able to snag one for myself. I can only assume that this mistake was only available for a mere few short hours before Amazon noticed the flood of TftC pre-orders coming in. And that's what this was, a pre-order for an eventual release a month later in August. But you know, if it wasn't for that mistake, and the fact that someone was blasting it on Facebook, I probably never would have given it a thought or ever considered purchasing it. You see, I am old enough to remember watching these when they first came out on HBO, beginning in 1989 and lasting 7 seasons. While I didn't watch every single one, I managed to take in roughly a quarter of them on those Saturday nights and some of them have stuck with me ever since, while a few I only remember random bits and pieces. For example, I remember Arnold Schwarzenegger directed an early episode, but he didn't appear in it. And I remember at the time how odd a choice that was for him, especially since you'd think he would naturally gravitate towards action. And then I also remember a really great episode titled "Yellow" directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Eric Douglas. But surprisingly, I didn't love the show. I think I was maybe too young to fully appreciate it really. That's why when it was announced that this new "complete" set was being released, I didn't even bat an eye or think any more of it. I liked it, but didn't love it. But all that shows is how wrong I was all these years. When that person mentioned about this set being offered for such a cheap price, I figured it would be a fun trip down memory lane and something to watch for a long time until Halloween. And if I didn't like it, I figured hey, I hardly spent anything on it, so no big loss. I could always trade them for something else I want with fellow collectors. 

So digging into these episodes, most for the very first time, has been a huge blast of nostalgic fun.
Already knee-deep into Season 2 (Season 1 was shockingly short, but Season 2 is three times as long), I've already watched episodes, most regarded as certified cult classics, directed by Mary Lambert (Pet Sematary), Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon, Goonies), Walter Hill (48 Hrs, The Warriors), Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future) and Tom Holland (Fright Night, Child's Play), and we've only just begun to scratch the surface of amazing talent in these episodes. I haven't even gotten into the actors! But let me tell you. What a list! If you grew up watching films and television religiously in the 80's and 90's, then you're in for a real treat. The plethora of big names and often seen, but rarely identified character actors will blow your mind.

I have to admit, having been watching about a dozen episodes now, with dozens and dozens more to get through, I can tell you that this set, no matter what the cost, is worth every penny. Knowing how good these are, and how much fun I'm having going through them, I'd be just as happy paying $100 for this set and be fine with it. It's that good. But you're in luck, because as is with any deal, the "flippers" were out in full force with this one, snatching up as many as they could during Amazon's incorrect pre-order launch, just to flip online and make a quick buck. So you can grab a brand new set of this on eBay for roughly $40-$50 with free shipping included. That's a steal and one helluva deal. My advice is to grab them while you can, because I don't know how long they'll last at this price, and like I said, it's worth every penny.


Revisiting Young Guns II

Directed by: Geoff Murphy
Category: Western

While I've always liked this film, for some reason it's taken me this long, literally many many years, to finally give it a revisit. But you know, it's about as perfect a time as any as I've been hitting some pretty fantastic westerns as of late, with checking out Silverado for the very first time being hands-down the crowing jewel this past year for westerns for me. What's funny is that I've actually been wanting to see this for a few months, even going as far as posting about it on both Facebook and Instagram randomly. So imagine my surprise, and excitement, when I saw that Crackle began offering both Young Guns films this very month. I love how the universe works sometimes.

Young Guns II has very quickly become one of my all-time favorite westerns, even slightly surpassing Tombstone. Gasp! But I'm telling you, this absurdly entertaining sequel has it all and then some. Any issues I had with the first film, and there were a few, are completely corrected with this entry. In fact, I couldn't think of a single thing to complain about here. It's about as perfect and badass as a western could possibly get, and I know, that's a bold statement, but holy shit this was fun.

Released just 2 years after the classic original, this film picks up years after the events of the first film, where Doc (Keifer Sutherland) has moved on and tried to put The Regulators behind him, while Billy (Emilio Estevez) continues his exploits and has a few new members of the group along for the ride. When the governor puts a bounty on Billy's head, he recruits former Regulators member and friend of Billy's, Pat Garrett (William Peterson) to bring him in.

Much like the first film, this one is filled to the bring with an insanely excellent cast in both the large ensemble as well as nearly all of the bit background players. If you're anywhere near my age (41), you'll spend a good portion of the film pointing out nearly every single notable actor and what you remember them from, no matter how small or insignificant their roles are in here, because to us, they're classic character actors and we've seen them dozens of times in some of our favorite films. And it's a blast seeing them all together in this film that never ceases to constantly surprise and entertain.

New Zealand director Geoff Murphy, whose most notable screen credit prior to this was the TV Movie The Quiet Earth, absolutely blows this one out of the water and completely stunned me with how beautiful and stylish this was, even for a western. Together with legendary DoP Dean Semler, these two create some truly stunning camerawork and imagery. Each shot was such a composition of precision and grace, constantly wowing me. While there are other great notable visually stunning westerns out there like High Planes Drifter, Dances With Wolves, Unforgiven and Tombstone, all of which I love, I personally feel that the work done here far exceeded my expectations and deliver (for me) the kind of visual experience I crave for these kinds of films.

I've always been a fan of Murphy, often considering him a vastly underrated director. I remember when Freejack first came out in 1992 and being in my early 20's and just loving his specific style in the way he directed. It reminded me a lot of Peter Hyams, and even Kathryn Bigelow. I loved it. And I have to say that his work here impresses me more than in any other film I've seen of his. In fact, this is making me itch to revisit both Freejack and Under Siege 2. Because of this film, I immediately just pulled the trigger and finally ordered another western he made a few years later, The Last Outlaw with Mickey Rourke for HBO. Needless to say, I'm pretty stoked for that one.

While I enjoyed Young Guns, I absolutely LOVED Young Guns II. It's just a better film all around, all tied together by Emilio Estevez' legendary portrayal of Billy The Kid. And as great as nearly every single aspect of this production is from the direction, to the writing, ensemble casting, cinematography and Alan Silvestri's thunderous (now iconic) score, it's really Estevez' performance that seals the deal. Even though I'd seen this several times before, I was just as enthralled this time, if not more, by his highly charming portrayal and infectious laughter. And it really is just a helluva good time from start to finish, maintaining a pleasant pace and vibe throughout. It's also a surprisingly macho film, with it's Bon Jovi title track and Alan Silvestri's retro-cool score punching your eardrums nearly every second. And let's not forget the legend that is William motherucking Peterson (Manhunter, To Live and Die in L.A.), killing it here as the legendary Pat Garrett. Seriously, I have a man-crush for the guy. I can go on and on about how great this often forgotten western is, but I think it's best for you to discover, or rediscover that for yourself.

I realize that this post got a bit long when it could easily have been condensed. But when I get excited about a film and I have no one to talk about it to, I just can't help myself. This is where I can let it out. Hope you don't mind!

How to see it:
Currently, it's available to stream for FREE on Crackle in HD. Right now, that is the best and only way to see this visually stunning film in HD as a blu ray has yet to be released. It's also been released numerous times as a standalone DVD or in a set or compilation of other similar films, all of which you can pick up for generally cheap. Still waiting on that blu ray though.

Cult Classics Innocent Blood & The Hidden Coming to Blu Ray via Warner Archives

Warner Archives has just announced 2 upcoming titles that I've been waiting years for: the John Landis classic Innocent Blood and Jack Sholder's insanely fun and killer sci-fi/action classic The Hidden. 

Yes, you read that correctly. I know, I'm kind of in shock too. I never thought we'd actually ever get Innocent Blood, a criminally forgotten and vastly underrated gem, in it's proper widescreen aspect ratio. Because as you may (or may not) know, this John Landis early 90's horror/drama/gangster/comedy/romance classic has only ever gotten a single DVD release, and much like with Fright Night 2 (1988), it's in full frame. The only time it was ever released in widescreen was on Laserdisc, which I own and cherish. So this is a big deal, and not only because of it's aspect ratio, but also because it's in dire need of a significant digital upgrade and improvement over it's Laserdisc and DVD release, which were both  bordering on "poor" to "standard" in quality. So yea, as you can imagine, I'm all kinds of crazy about this news.

Here are the specs for both releases via DVD News Flash:

- New 2017 1080p HD Transfer
- 115 minute International Version (Unrated)
- English Subtitles
- Original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, 16x9 Widescreen
- DTS HD master audio 2.0 stereo
- Theatrical Trailer 

Next is the 1987 cult classic The Hidden. This was Kyle MacLachlan's third film after Dune and Blue Velvet, and easily one of the most suitable for him. Here he plays an alien who comes to Earth to track an alien killer, so he takes on the form of a human FBI agent and with the help of an L.A. cop (Michael Nouri) track down this alien killer.

It really is one of the best examples of this kind of film. Directed with pizzazz by Nightmare on Elm St. Part 2 director Jack Sholder, and starring a plethora of killer character actors like Danny Trejo and Claudia Christian (she never looked better), this literally has everything you could want in a low-budget sci-fi action film. It's top notch entertainment done with such a professional's touch that I'm shocked it never made it into theaters. While we've surprisingly gotten some pretty sweet releases of this on VHS & Laserdisc (both in widescreen), and a single DVD release, a blu ray is a damn welcome surprise and I'm stoked to see a vastly superior cleaned-up version in the near future. No word on a street date yet, but hopefully it's not too far away. Stay tuned for more details.

- New 1080p HD Remaster
- Run Time: 97 minutes
- Subtitles: English
- Original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, 16x9 widescreen
- DTS HD master audio
- Commentary by Jack Sholder and Tim Hunter
- SFX footage with commentary by Jack Sholder
- Theatrical Trailer


Documentary Dynamite!: Batman & Bill

Let me start off by saying that this intensely engaging documentary just blew us away. Not knowing any of the backstory going in, I can honestly say that by the end of it, we were just simply floored by the revelation that this documentary presents.

Guess what? Bob Kane was not the sole creator/artist of the original Batman. No sir. In fact, he freely admitted that little fact during numerous interviews throughout his life. What's even more mind-blowing is that this isn't something that's openly discussed, yet you will find out exactly why in this thought-provoking film.

This documentary tells the story of Thomas Andrae, an author who's mission is to set the record straight about who really created the character of Batman, as well as many important pieces of the Batman universe. While the world has only ever known that person to be Bob Kane, there were in fact 2 people who did it, and just how much each contributed is the focus of this exhaustive and highly entertaining documentary. The other persons name is Bill Finger, an artist for hire who went completely uncredited and unnoticed as a co-creator of Batman his entire life, while Bob Kane achieved legendary status and became rich beyond his wildest dreams. Bill Finger lived a very meager life and died broke and penniless. Thomas Andrae is on a crusade to right that wrong, even though Finger has since long passed, he can at least ensure that Finger's name and legacy will always be associated with that creation.

This is a MUST WATCH for any comic book fan, even if you're not necessarily a Batman fan. The details, truths and revelations will leave you floored and stunned. On the flipside, Andrae's quest to right a wrong decades later also shows you that there are still good people in the world, and for someone who doesn't want anything in return, other than for the world to know, and for WB to acknowledge this fact, is admirable.

How to watch it:
It's a Hulu original documentary, so unfortunately you have to have Hulu to watch it. But hey, for $8 a month, it's a steal. I use Hulu more now than I do Netflix as I find their content more to my liking and tastes.


90's Action Attack!: The Hard Corpse

Directed by: Sheldon Lettich
Category: Action

I have to admit that around Maximum Risk and Knockoff (late 90's era JCVD), Jean-Claude lost me. I found no enjoyment in either of those films, and while I absolutely loved Double Team (1997), anything after went straight to home video, which usually means low-quality films, and that's just never a good sign. I did try a few of his films here and there, but I could never sit through one completely. They just weren't any good. So I pretty much strayed from him films until 2008's JCVD. But even then, with his career seemingly at a resurgence, nothing that came after that was any good either. In fact, the only thing I actually liked from him in the last 20 years is easily the Amazon show pilot for Van Johnson, where he was just absolutely brilliant. I haven't heard anything new about it yet, but I do hope it gets picked up for a series.

Philippe Savauge (JCVD), an army vet, suffering from PTSD, is hired as a bodyguard for local boxing champ Wayne Barclay (Razaaq Adoti). When a local drug kingpin, Terrell Singletery (Viv Leacock) is released from a prison stint, he sets his sights on exacting revenge on Barclay from a long-running feud. Savauge soon realizes he has his work cut out for him and things get even more complicated when it seems like Barclay's sister and manager Tamara (Vivica A. Fox) might have a thing for Savauge. 

The Hard Corpse reunites Van Damme with  his Lionheart and Double Impact writer/director Sheldon Lettich, and honestly, that was the only selling point for me to actually make the effort to watch this. Sure it had been many, many years since either of them had a hit, but I went in hopeful. And you know, it wasn't bad. Not at all the kind of film I was expecting, but it wasn't terrible either. It was shockingly able to keep my attention even though it ultimately ended up being the kind of film that I don't necessarily seek out. And after having seen it, it's not a film I will probably ever watch again and won't go down as one of Jean-Claude's better films.

There's really not much motivation for you to actually check this out, unless you're a die hard completest of JCVD films. There's really not a lot of action, and you only ever see him use his martial arts skills during one scene in the film. Even then, it comes across so half-assed, You'd never know these two (Lettich and Van Damme) were the same team behind some of his earlier classics like Bloodsport, Lionheart and Double Impact (a personal favorite). But still, it's not a bad film. Just not a good or enjoyable one. Sheldon Lettich, while one of the few who spearheaded the whole martial arts/action movement in the late 80's to early 90's has clearly lost his mojo by this film. While he would only ever direct 8 films in his career, this would be his last. What makes the experience more trying is that Van Damme just looks so tired and uninterested here. He literally looks like he couldn't give a shit anymore than he already does and comes across as completely bored and unmotivated. Sad day indeed. Not one of his worst, but you can certainly find a better way to spend an hour and a half of your time.


80's Action Attack!: Commando Squad

VHS scan courtesy of SerialKillerCalendar.com
Up until this past year, I'd never actually seen a Fred Olen Ray film before. I'd certainly heard of him, as he's often referred to as a schlock director, along the same lines as Roger Corman and Jim Wynorski, which is awesome to me. What's even more bizarre is that I just love that kind of stuff. So the fact that it's taken me this long to get to his films kinda blows my mind. That's not to say all, or even half, of his films are good. They're not. I've dug into them randomly and for a guy who dips his toes into everything from softcore porn to family films, his quality varies significantly from one film to the next. I'm discovering that my favorite's from him so far are his early films that he did in the 80's, which is where we are right now with Commando Squad.

Released in 1987, the same year he directed the insanely badass and legendary Cyclone, and a year before his most famous film Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Commando Squad stars Playboy Playmate and actress Kathy Shower along with the one and only B-Movie badass Brian Thompson (Cobra, Hired to Kill). Shower plays an undercover drug enforcement officer who must go to Mexico to rescue a former flame and partner (Thompson) after he's been kidnapped by former narcotics officer turned drug kingpin Morgan Denny (William Smith).

On the surface, Commando Squad should have been a slamdunk. It has everything you'd want for a film like this, and all the right ingredients are right here. And it works for the most part, but it never quite reaches the level of awesome it could have. After 2 back to back knockouts with Armed Response and Cyclone, it's hard not to go into this without some rather high expectations. And I did, only to be somewhat let down because this, while not bad, wasn't nearly as good, fun or entertaining as either of those. And you know, I realize they can't all be, especially from a guy who typically directs a good 5 films every single year. You have to expect that they're not all going to be awesome. But it's frustrating, especially with this film, because it could be, so easily. It's all there, yet missing only 1 single thing that really could have made it great, and that one thing being action. Yes. For an action film, it's pretty devoid of it for the most part. Not to say that there isn't any, because there is. In fact, the film begins with a solid action sequence, and ends with an even bigger one that kinda sorta makes up for the lack of it throughout the middle, but it's just not enough and for a film that boasts one of the best B-Movie lineups around, with one of the best covers, from a director who knocked it out of the park with his 2 previous efforts, there just needed to be more. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't badass either.

If you're going to walk away with anything, it will probably be it's excellent B-Movie cast. Seriously, it was just missing David Carradine. Brian Thompson is always a badass, so the guy needs no introduction here. The other lead however, is Kathy Shower, a former Playboy Playmate. She wasn't bad at all, but there's just something bothering me about her in this. In real life, and on this most excellent cover, she has huge blonde hair, yet in the film she wears a short black wig. It's even explained that it's because she's undercover, and there's even a single scene where she actually takes it off for less than a minute, before she puts it back on for the remainder of the film. And it's frustratingly obvious it's a wig, and considering she has this gorgeous big blonde hair on the cover art, it's a bit confusing that she never sports it at all in the entire film, even when she's not being undercover. It was just an odd decision.

This won't become a low-budget favorite the way other recent's like Cyclone, Hired to Kill and Bulletproof, but it was an entertaining watch from a director who's more miss than hit. I was really hoping for B-Movie gold, and sadly it's far from it. Still, there's enough here to give it a watch. Just don't expect it to blow you away.

How to watch it:
As far as I can tell, this has only ever been released on VHS, in a big clamshell edition from Trans World Entertainment, which isn't hard to come across for under $10. Other than that, I've never seen this on any DVD set or as a cheap standalone edition. I've also never seen this on Laserdisc, but I could be wrong.


Revisiting Die Hard With A Vengeance

Of the original trilogy, I'd always liked this one the least in the 22 years since it's release. Sure I revisit it often for one reason or another, but never near as many times as the first two. My main beef that I'd always had, and still do, is that I just did not like how McTiernan shot this. I didn't like the grittiness to it, and I sure as hell didn't like the over-indulgent and totally unnecessary handheld shaky-cam approach. Yes I know it's a petty complain and criticism, but the visual aspect of every single film I watch plays a huge and significant role in how I will enjoy it. For me, the visuals play just as big, if not bigger, role in how I will enjoy any film. That's why as someone who grew up on films from directors like Russell Mulcahy, Peter Hyams, John McTiernan, Craig R. Baxley and John Carpenter, it's extremely hard to find any solid enjoyment from films directed by newcomers like Pierre Morel, Louis Leterrier and Michael Bay, who's frenetic shaky-cam approach makes me sick both physically and mentally. But anyway, let's dig in.

I remember when this was coming out, how excited I was that the legendary John McTiernan was returning to the series after bowing out and letting Renny Harlin direct the sequel. It was a big deal, because McTiernan has never directed a sequel before. And though I felt he was beginning this new transition to grittier more freestyle camerawork after having seen Last Action Hero, I was still optimistic, hoping he would go back to his roots. But my initial reaction to this was when I realized my worst fears became realized. But as they say, time heals all wounds, so I went into DHwaV with an open mind and I can honestly say that having revisited this again, I absolutely loved it. While I do still feel that McTiernan did a bit too much of the freestyle approach, it actually wasn't as often as I recall. In fact, some of the shots in here are absolutely gorgeous, done in a way that only John McTiernan could do. I've since seen a number of interviews with McTiernan where he says he never wanted to do the same thing he did with the first Die Hard, because that would be boring. So in that sense, I guess I can understand, but I just don't think the handheld approach, and the extent he took it, were all that necessary. There are many moments where the film still looks gritty and dirty, yet with his gorgeous compositions, New York and the action sequences also looked stunning. And its here where I struggle with trying to understand if he could do this, why couldn't he just keep it up for the entire film?? Because for all those slick camera shots, there are just as many nauseating and frustrating ones where it's as if the camera shakes were intentional and not a result of something else. A prime example is a moment when McClane and Zeus are in a car crash, and their car has flipped upside down in the rain. As McClane is running towards the other car that caused the crash, you can't even tell what the fuck is going on because of the overzealous shaky-cam bullshit. It's just frustrating.

As a film, DHwaV is about as great and solid as they come for these types of films. This one literally begins with a bang and does not let up for the entirety of it's running time, and that's really one of the things that makes this a standout among the many Die Hard films. And there's so much action, tension and frenetic energy because it never lets up for a single second. And that's another one of it's many qualities that makes this one a standout among the others. As much as I love the first 2, with Part 2 being my favorite, I can also appreciate and respect what they did with this one, and I think it's this constant frenzy and chaos that helps me look past the shaky-cam aspect. Shooting this film in what looks like the dead of summer heat, in New York City, gives the film an aura of intensity. It's so chaotic and just being in that city at that time gives the film a huge boost of authenticity. Today, I doubt they would ever attempt that as it would be such a monumental effort. It would just be too expensive and too hard, but when you see it here, and it's not another random city substituting for NYC, it's so visceral. Every element just adds to the experience, making it a nonstop barrage of chaos in every frame.

I feel a tad silly for not liking this as much as the others for all these years, when in fact it's quite an excellent entry in the Die Hard franchise, and just as good as the first 2, in a different way. Certainly leaps and bounds better than any Die Hard film that followed. And for me, it's also a special one in that it's the last time Bruce Willis actually looked, acted and dressed like John McClane. When I see him in any of the later films, I don't even recognize him. That's John McClane? It's certainly not the Willis from decades earlier, and it's not the same character either. He's somehow turned into a superhero and it's become a bit unsettling. I know there is talk of a new Die Hard film titled Die Hard: Year One, this time going back to his early years and serving as both a prequel and sequel in some capacity. I hope they can learn from all the backlash the last few films have received. But then again, maybe not, as the director is supposed to be Len Wiseman, who directed Live Free or Die Hard. Sigh.

What are your thoughts? Comment! Let's discuss!


I Finally Watched Hudson Hawk...

Now here is a film that often comes up in discussions with me. Why? Because as much as I love nearly everyone involved in this production, at the height of their creative popularity, I just can't stand it. I've never been able to get into this one......at all. And I've tried. So many times I've tried, and each time I walk away confused as to why people love this film so much. So when I saw it recently available on Crackle for free, I decided to give it another shot. It's been many, many years since my last visit, so maybe time has softened my feelings a bit and I can finally appreciate it. It's been known to happen.

Nope! Not at all. Again, I walk away confused. Why is this film so dearly loved by those that are passionate about it? I can see what they were trying to do, but it just didn't work. I feel they were trying to go for slapstick silly comedy, yet none of it lands. I sat in my chair cringing at the horrible unfunny bits that were supposed to be funny so often that you'd think I was in a dentist office getting my teeth pulled. I squirmed at every moment when you were supposed to laugh, yet I didn't hate it. There were things that I found amusing, yet not amusing enough that I actually wanted to finish it, because I didn't. I had to stop it a little over half way, but hey! That's the farthest I've ever gone with this one. I was just bored more than anything, and if the film had been this dull and unfunny up until this point, there was just not enough interest for me to keep going.

I will say though that I loved seeing Bruce Willis look like he was actually enjoying himself. He's clearly having a good time here, and I honestly can't remember the last time I thought that. When this was made and released (1991), Willis was the biggest stars on the planet, not just in the action genre, as he liked to mix it up greatly from film to film. At the time, he was turning out 3-4 films a year (that's a lot!), and continues to do so today, making him an incredibly busy working powerhouse. Yet, as I've mentioned before in other posts, I'm just not a fan of the guy Willis has become. He always looks like he's phoning it in, or just acts like he doesn't give a shit anymore. At least that's how I see him. Nothing he's released in the last 20 years has shown a hint of what Willis was doing before then, when he looked like he was having a good time and put in some solid effort. Now he just comes off as bored as he sleepwalks through his roles. I really hope he snaps out of it someday though. I mean, I know he's not the only one. Bronson made a huge career out of being exactly that in the 80's: the older action star who's unemotional portrayals in cop/action/thrillers was the norm. And it worked for him. He basically played the same exact character the same way in nearly every film he was in when he worked for Cannon Films, and it was acceptable. So maybe that's what Willis is trying to do?

As far as the production goes, the film looks great. No expense was spared and you can see it all over the screen. Though I didn't care for the characters, the large ensemble of actors were impressive to me and I genuinely enjoy them in other films. But it's really the behind-the-camera group that kind of throws me for a loop with this one. For starters, it's produced by mega-producer Joel Silver, who at the time was as big as they come and produced nearly every big action classic under the same from Commando, Lethal Weapon and Die Hard, to Predator, Action Jackson and The Last Boy Scout. He also produced a similar film titled The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, which I fucking love to death and find much more successful as a film than this one. He would continue a winning streak, despite Hudson Hawk's box office failure, and would eventually produce the Matrix series.

The screenplay is credited to the legendary Steven E. de Souza (does he really need an introduction?) and Daniel Waters. Waters was responsible for the cult hit Heathers, and who also.......shockingly, wrote The Adventures of Ford Fairlane the previous year in 1990. He would then deliver Batman Returns in '92 and Demolition Man in '93 followed by a few forgettable films and hasn't really stayed all that busy since. Certainly not like he was in the early 90's. Director Michael Lehmann, who previously collaborated with Daniel Waters on Heathers, just doesn't seem the right choice for an action comedy. Nothing he'd done previously (only 2 comedies) would lead you to believe that he can handle the action sequences, and truthfully, while he's not terrible at it, they never deliver a solid punch the way they should. He's just not up to the task and it shows all over the screen. And maybe that's part of why this film just doesn't work for me. Maybe if a more experienced director, someone capable of handling the action, was behind the camera then maybe they could have made a better film. Not a great one, but with some proper editing and action sequences, it could have been passable instead of goofy. After a few comedies, drama's and dramedies, Lehmann would stick to television, where he continues to work today.

I feel that both Hudson Hawk and The Adventures of Ford Fairlane exist in the same universe, yet I'd much rather watch Ford Fairlane any day of the week before I ever give this one another chance. I was completely thrown by how goofy this was. And I'm pretty sure I'm not alone, as it was a huge box office misfire for everyone involved. I guess people going into the theater for an action caper felt misled when in fact, it's a slapstick comedy musical with sprinkles of action and everything is just so over-exaggerated. In the end, Hudson Hawk is a hugely frustrating experience because it fails so miserably, yet most of the right ingredients are all there. They're just not utilized well at all and the film suffers horribly. Too bad. Done right, it could have been something pretty great. Needless to say, most involved with this disaster didn't suffer too greatly as their career's continued to flourish. Though I did read somewhere that producer Joel Silver was the one who suffered the most to some capacity.

Please comment! Let's discuss!


Quick Shot Review: 80's Horror with Monkey Shines

Directed by: George A. Romero
Category: Horror

This has been sitting in my Hulu Plus list for a while now, but with the recent passing of George A. Romero, I figured now would be as good a time as any to finally revisit this one. I did see it when it was first released in 1988, but I haven't seen it since, so I remember virtually nothing about it. When I learned that this was the film he followed up Day of the Dead with, I was more stoked to see what he had to offer, because he had been on a killer winning streak up until this point. So I was curious to see if that streak could keep going with this. Let's find out.

The answer, sadly, is a big fat no. As excited as we were to revisit this, and how this really could have been something different in terms of horror, which this was clearly marketed as, this just didn't deliver at all in any capacity: visually, emotionally or structurally. First off, it's a drama/thriller more than anything. And even in that genre, there just wasn't any sort of proper tension, thrills or intensity to really generate any sort of reaction from you, the audience in a way that would make you care or feel something. And shockingly, despite it's interesting subject matter, Monkey Shines is surprisingly dull from beginning to end. While the actors do a fine job in their respective roles, there's just not enough to like about this as a whole to keep you invested. We had hoped that the ending would somehow make up for whatever was lacking leading up to that point, but just like the rest of the film, it ends without a bang. Too bad, because we were really looking forward to some solid 80's horror from one of the masters of horror. And that was another issue I had with this. While Romero has never really been the strongest visual director, except for Creepshow, even when he wasn't trying, his films always had a very Romero-esque look and vibe to them. You could just tell it was a Romero film, but with this one, it just comes off as very uninspired and straight-forward. Like anybody could have directed it. You would never know after watching it that you just saw a George Romero film. Interesting note: For the longest time, I could have sworn it came from a Stephen King story. Guess I was wrong.

How to see it:
Currently on Hulu Plus in a beautiful HD print. Be warned, it's pretty dull though. And if you don't like seeing the mistreatment of animals, even in the very slightest, then this movie is not for you.


Revisiting Brandon Lee's Rapid Fire

Directed by: Dwight H. Little
Category: Action

I'll be honest. I've never thought much about this film. And now that I revisit it, I'm completely thrown as to why that was for so many years. Initially, I just didn't feel that it had much of a badass action vibe to it. I felt that it was too freestyle in terms of style, and I felt that Lee deserved so much better for his first breakout solo film. Because it was directed by Dwight H. Little, who did such a fantastic and highly stylized job with Seagal's Marked for Death just a few years before, naturally I was excited, only to be letdown (at the time), which caused me to ignore this for all these years.

But you know, I'm always willing to give films another chance, which is what I did the other day with this one, only to discover that I absolutely loved it this time around. And I made sure to pay attention to all the things I didn't like about it before, yet somehow this time around I didn't feel the same way. I thought it was a slick looking film (better than my memory dictated), with plenty of action and a highly charming and charismatic lead that we lost in his prime. Furthermore, it's the supporting cast of who's who 90's staples that really makes this work to a much higher level than you'd expect. If nothing else, Rapid Fire is a perfect example of the 90's martial arts action genre, of which there are many great examples such as The Perfect Weapon, Hard to Kill, Marked for Death, Sudden Death and so on, before the genre slowly began to fade away into the DTV market exclusively. But man, what an epic run we had in the 90's.

I think the main thing that really works in this film, even if, for arguments sake, everything else didn't (and it did!!!), was how charming and and natural Brandon Lee was. Even when he's being whinny or a jerk, you still like the guy when he turns on the charm. He's a natural in front of the camera, and more so when he's kicking ass and taking names. Who knows how far he could have gone, or big he could have gotten? At least we have the last 3 films he did, the most important.

Director Dwight H. Little was thick in the middle of his prime when he directed this. Having just begun his career just a few years earlier, he scored big time with the absurd, yet highly entertaining low-budget action film Getting Even (I love this movie!!) in 1986, where he would then segway into the horror genre with Halloween 4 (1988) and the Robert Englund starring Phantom of the Opera (1989), 2 films that I just don't like very much at all, no matter how many times I revisit them. And maybe that's why he decided to go back to his action roots the following year with Steven Seagal's Marked for Death (1990), one of my personal favorites of Seagal's large filmography. So he would seem like a natural fit to deliver another solid action film 2 years later, this time to really shine a spotlight on Brandon Lee, who was finally getting to make a name for himself after a string of low-budget films, the best being the insanely awesome Showdown in Little Tokyo with Dolph Lundgren. It worked, because while not a box office smash, it did gain some cult status and Lee emerged a new rising action star. Of course, we all know his biggest hit would come with his following film, The Crow, and that would be his last.

As much of a fan as I am with how slick Marked for Death looked, I never felt that way about this one, and it's because of this that I always felt it could have been better, which is surprising since Little used the same Director of Photography, Ric Waite, for both films. While I still agree with that sentiment, it's not nearly as bad as I remember. While a bit more gritty than MfD, there are still moments of camera badassery sprinkled throughout and though there is a lot more use of handheld in here than I like, he does a good job of mixing it with really good camera setups here and there. Sadly, Little's next film would be Free Willy 2 (???), followed by the Wesley Snipes thriller Murder at 1600, before heading straight to television work in a variety of genre's, where he's stayed ever since. Hey, at least we have Getting Even, Marked for Death and Rapid Fire that we can revisit whenever we like.

The action is fast and fierce, with enough balance of both gun fights and fist fights to satisfy any fan of either style. And that's really one of the things I liked most about this. There are just as many car chases, explosions, crashes and gun fights as there are martial arts battles, which gloriously comes to a head in the end when Brandon Lee battles legendary badass Al Leong, here having a more significant role than we're used to. While he's not the main villain of the film, he's the big guy Lee has to throw down with at the end and it's fucking brutal and awesome. I don't know for sure, but it looked and felt like Lee either did the choreography himself, or at least helped in designing all of the hand to hand combat scenes, because they're so different from what you would normally see in these types of films. A bit rough, with some interesting techniques all around, yet highly brutal, it showcases Lee's immense physical talents as a martial artist in a different way than you'd expect.

One of the brightest spots about this was it's supporting cast. Powers Boothe is always a pleasure to watch, but interestingly enough, he's not the villain here, but rather a cop who uses Lee's character to his advantage to bring a drug kingpin down. And you'll definitely notice a few other faces like Tony Longo, Basil Wallace (villain from Marked for Death), Kate Hodge, (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3Nick Mancuso (Under Seige), Raymond J. Barry and more, but the real standouts are the random Asian actors that were constantly used in nearly every one of these films. With this one, I counted 4 Big Trouble in Little China alums (Al Leong, Donald Li, Gerald Okamura and James Lew) in various small roles, but there cold have been more. And you'll know them when you see them, because they were in every action film back then in some capacity.

I really couldn't find anything major to complain about. Nearly every aspect of this production knocked it out of the park. Sure it looks and feels very 90's, but that's also one of it's biggest strengths. Films like this that are made today are highly forgettable. Nothing about them ever stand out, yet here is a prime example of why. Solid score courtesy of Christopher Young, tight fight choreography, a ton of action, a totally unnecessary love-making scene, an eclectic kickass supporting cast, and Brandon Lee delivering the goods as an action star lead. Really, you can't get any better than this.

How to see it:
Plenty of releases in all formats except Blu Ray, which would really be nice. But I'm sure it's only a matter of time. The DVD is surprisingly not common, but not that hard or expensive to get either.


Bad Movie Night Presents: Turkish Rambo aka Rampage

Category: Bad Movie Night

Soooo you may have noticed that it's been quite a while since I've posted a Bad Movie Night review. It just seems like they're becoming harder and harder to find these days, as I've pretty much tapped out that little niche sub-genre as much as I could. But I know there are still more out there, I just need to find them. Sometimes it's through sheer chance, like with this one. Someone posted an amazing clip from this movie some time back on Facebook, and I immediately set out to track this down, which unfortunately would have to be a bootleg rip since it's never gotten any form of release here in the states. But let me tell you. I was not at all prepared for the insanity that was to follow once I finally sat down to watch this. So let's dig in.

What a weird fucked up movie this was, but in the best possible way. And you'll know what I mean by that right in the beginning, because unlike the U.S. films, Rambo starts the film off by being a murderer, in one of this film's first WTF?! moments, setting the tone for what's to follow. And it also begins with a weird inexplicable barrage of clips and scenes that make absolutely no sense. It's only until halfway through the film do you realize that what you saw in the beginning were random clips of the film strung together in no order whatsoever. A totally random and odd way to begin a film for sure, and done in such a way that you don't even realize that that was the intention until much later on in the film when you begin seeing those very same clips. I'm telling you, Turkish Rambo is spectacularly odd and fucked up.

What really makes this stand out from all the other Rambo ripoff's is that it doesn't follow the story of either First Blood or the sequel. In fact it doesn't even follow the same origin story of the character at all. It's it's own beast, and quite wonderful in a hilariously awful and WTF? way, with it's severe low-budget DYI quality only adding to the experience. Seriously, it looks like it took them a week to make this, and maybe it did? Most of the acting is laughably terrible, with many of the actors (or non-actors I should say) looking directly into the camera at any given moment. Hell, bodybuilder turned actor Serdar, who portrays Rambo, barely utters a word in the entire film, which might be a good thing to hide the fact that he can't act. And guess what? He's actually not bad once he does begin talking. But the one in here who takes the cake is main bad guy Ziya, portrayed by Turkish actor Huseyin Peyda, who looks like an old Hispanic version of Vincent Price. He's hands-down the standout in the film and he's just so angry and over-the-top raging in every single scene he's in for no reason at all that he absolutely steals the show.

If you enjoy entertaining bad movies, or love Rambo ripoffs, you will absolutely love this one. While not as great as the legendary The Intruder, or even the equally great Strike Commando, it's worthy of being in the same league of legendary Badass Rambo Ripoff's and certainly worth tracking down. Invite you're friends, it will surely be a hilariously good time.

How to see it:
This one will take some detective work. Never officially released anywhere in the states, there are plenty of bootlegs you can purchase from a number of online sites like ioffer and sometimes eBay. It might even pop up in it's entirely on YouTube from time to time too. You're just going to have to hunt for it. But trust me, it's worth the effort. I should warn you though, I've never come across a decent print or copy. Each one has been beat to shit, including the one I used to review this film. So good luck. I know Neon Harbor and Dark Maze worked together to release a limited edition DVD run of this some time back, but it's since become Out of Print. So who knows? Maybe someday someone else will take up the cause.