Monday, July 21, 2014

1989: Leftovers

A helping of leftovers from 1989.

With a little more quality or a little more cheese, this might have made either my honorable mentions list or the guilty pleasures one.  As it stands, Fright Night Part 2 is more or less a retread of the original with William Ragsdale and Roddy McDowell returning in their roles from the first film.  Like Phantasm II, the lead has been undergoing psychiatric treatment and now believes the entire first movie never happened.  Naturally, he comes around to feeling otherwise after a sexy woman played by Julie Carmen shows up, looking for Charlie (Ragsdale).  Said lady is the sister of the Chris Sarandon character from the first film and she is hell bent on revenge.  The end result is that we get some nice f/x work but not really much else worth mentioning.  It's a pretty blah sequel.

As tends to happen in Hollywood, every now and then there will be two or three similarly themed films released over the course of a year.  In 1998, we had two movies about Earth being potentially obliterated by a huge asteroid/comet with Armageddon and Deep Impact.  Hell, last year we had two films that could be describes as "Die Hard in the White House" with White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen.  In 1989, there were two instances of this...

First off, 1989 saw two buddy cop films where a human officer was teamed up with a dog.  In the case of Turner & Hooch, Tom Hanks is a neat-freak cop who has to solve the murder of the aforementioned dog's owner.  The dog is Hooch and... well as much of a dog lover as I am, this is one ugly ass mutt.  Cute though, in a way.  The film goes about the way one would expect except for the twist at the end where the dog gets killed saving Hanks.  Not often a film is going badly and then decides "Let's just sink this completely, nobody is gonna hate it less!"

Shockingly enough, of the two buddy cop films featuring a dog, the one with James frigging Belushi ends up being the better of the two.  I'll say that again, the kid brother of John Belushi made a movie that was better than one starring Tom Hanks that shared more or less the same plot.  Belushi is the cop and his partner in this case is Jerry Lee, a German Shepherd on the K-9 squad.  The film ends up being better simply because number one, when you see Tom Hanks doing this sort of thing you sort of feel bad for the guy.  The material is right up Belushi's alley though, so you end up not giving a damn.  Second, the dog lives at the end which I certainly prefer.  Having said that, both films are pretty lousy.

The only reason this isn't on my worst of the year or guilty pleasures list is that Terry Kiser does a rather stunning job as Bernie and honestly, it saves the film.  The film is as high concept as it gets: two guys who discover their boss is embezzling money and has ordered they be killed... unless he's around.  They're invited to his beach house where they find him dead and of course, hilarity and wackiness ensues as they try to convince everybody Bernie is still alive.  Kiser aside, the film is pretty awful but not so much that I ended up hating it.  It's really, stupid though.

Back to the similarly themed films motif for this year, we now come to two out of the three underwater science fiction/monster movies.  The third will be in a later post.

First off is Deep Star Six, arguably the worst of the lot. A bunch of character actors plays the members of a deep sea colonization experiment that runs afoul of a rather nasty beast from the depths.  Miguel Ferrer has a fun supporting role but for the most part, the rest of the cast is rather nondescript.  The creature is also a bit of a letdown as while the design by Mark Shostrom is pretty neat, we don't see nearly enough of it.

Better, but still a disappointment is Leviathan which sees an undersea mining crew menaced by something nasty.  Boasting an impressive cast (Peter Weller and Daniel Stern are quite enjoyable in their roles) and a great Stan Winston creature, this one is actually pretty damn good for the first half.  Unfortunately, the second the creature shows up is the second the film just goes on auto pilot.  It's a damn shame as the build is pretty terrific.

Richard Dreyfuss is a joy to watch in this comedy about a compulsive gambler who only wants to have the best day of his life at the horse races.  He gets his wish and the film tracks him as he wins and wins while his wife (Teri Garr who once again manages to annoy the hell out of me) is off to the side.  Dreyfuss carries the rather thin plot quite well and this one is worth a look.

We end with the first of two Sylvester Stallone films from this year.  Lock Up is a rather formulaic, yet enjoyable (in a very, very stupid way) prison film starring Sly as an ex-con thrown back in by a vindictive warden played by Donald Sutherland in one of his more restrained villainous roles.  It's too long, not really that well acted and not one of Stallone's better movies but if you enjoy cheesy, formulaic crap it's one to consider.

Coming Soon: The worst of 1989

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.