Wednesday, October 21, 2015

52 Pick-Up (1986)/Hero and the Terror (1988)

Given the recent DVD release of a fantastic new documentary on Cannon Films, I thought it would be fun to indulge in a double feature.  For the record, Electric Boogaloo: The Wild Untold Story of Cannon Films is fantastic.

Up until Get Shorty in 1995, 52 Pick-Up was the best display of the wonderful world of Elmore Leonard on the silver screen.  Partially adapted in the company's 1984 Robert Mitchum flick The Ambassador, this 1986 John Frankenheimer film is a tough, gritty, grimy little thriller starring Roy Scheider as a Los Angeles (because shooting in Detroit is more expensive or something, I guess) businessman who is being blackmailed by a slimy jerk played by John Glover and his goons.

Glover has footage of Scheider cheating in his wife (played nicely by Ann-Margret) and he quickly ups the stakes by framing the man for the murder of the woman he's been sleeping with.  Scheider retaliates with the usual table turning and pitting bad guy against bad guy and the end result is a solid but unexceptional thriller.  Good acting, a decent script and some nice direction help things work, though a more energetic pace with more of Leonard's dark wit would have been welcome.

I'm actually a little surprised at how much I enjoyed this rather middle of the road Chuck Norris film.  Chuck plays a heroic cop who is haunted by nightmares of the psycho killer he brought in, only to have to face his fears up close when said psycho escapes from prison and begins killing again.  Chuck is okay here, Steve James is typically underused (par for the course) and Jack O'Halloran is adequate as the huge, unstoppable killer.  Action is muted but solid, the pace is decent enough and while its quite stupid, it never gets to the point where it pisses me off.  Hero and the Terror is a perfectly acceptable rainy day movie, just have one or two actual good movies to bookend it with.

That's all for now.  Stay tuned for more very soon.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Esoterica XII: Random acts of movie watching

Time for another round of general mayhem from yours truly.  Here some brief reviews of flicks I've seen recently that either don't really warrant the full treatment or about which I just have very little to say.

 Scarecrows is a nifty low budget horror movie about a bunch of thieves who end up stranded at an abandoned farm in the middle of nowhere when one of their own turns on them.  In addition to dealing with him and some local hostages, they also have to deal with bloodthirsty scarecrows who have a knack for gruesomely killing the hell out of anything in their area.  The film is pretty solid with some nice gore and interesting characters though for such a short film, it does sort of drag in one or two spots.  Still, its well worth checking out.

 The teaming of two legendary actors was the key selling point for this one but really, it just doesn't quite play.  Jack Nicholson is fine as a cattle rustler looking to earn a living as he fights against a rancher whose daughter he's fallen for but everything grinds to a halt whenever Marlon Brando shows up as a bounty hunter hired to kill Jack and his friends.  It's a real tour de force, completely bonkers and over the top and while it's not exactly right for the movie, it at least keeps it interesting.  Not often you see Marlon Brando sporting a thick Irish accent and a dress sinking a nasty looking weapon that is more or less a multi-bladed Frisbee from hell into Harry Dean Stanton's brain.

 If you like cheesy Italian horror movies (reading this sight, I'm betting you do), this is... Well, it's one of them.  A ham radio enthusiast and his girlfriend end encountering a ghost girl and her evil clown doll in a haunted house.  Some good kills and a reasonable amount of 80's cheese make this an okay viewing but really, you can do a hell of a lot better than this and probably should.  The Rifftrax on it is good, though.

 Been getting into Italian crime pictures and this one is pretty solid, though a little off in some areas.  Mario Adorf plays Luca, a small time pimp wrongfully suspected of stealing mob money (in fact, local crime boss Adolfo Celi is the real culprit) and he is targeted by two American hit men played by Henry Silva and Woody Strode.  His wife and daughter are killed which sends him on a roaring rampage of revenge and there are some nice action beats including a good foot chase.  Performances are solid with Adorf and Silva coming off best.  It's a tough, gritty meat and potatoes 70's action movie.

 Better is this offbeat action comedy starring Tomas Milian as tough guy cop Nico (a role he would reprise several times) who is out to bust a purse snatching ring led by Jack Palance.  Milian and Palance are fun in their roles; the action is pretty good and it's also nicely funny in places.

That's all for now, until next time.

About Me

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