Tuesday, March 14, 2017

From Avco to Dino: Smooth Running

The title for this installment is rather ironic since we are covering a period where Embassy was running much more smoothly than I have been in terms of updating this site. Other issues and such. But I'm back so let's get to it! The quality continued for the studio as they continued to churn out film after film with the occasional one catching on and becoming a classic. Won't be talking about every movie here but the posters will be shown simply because early 80's posters are awesome.

This is a Canadian drama, the plot of which is rather succinctly described in the tagline in the image.

Now this is more like it! One of my favorite John Carpenter films, The Fog is an atmospheric, enjoyably creepy little ghost story that would be tops in my eyes even without having good roles for Adrienne Barbeau and Jamie Lee Curtis. A more detailed review from me can be found here.

Charles Bronson stars in this poorly received riff on Casablanca directed by his frequent collaborator J. Lee Thompson.

This one is a fairly well liked blend of cop film and romantic comedy from Joseph Wambaugh.

Embassy released seven more films in 1980, none of which were overly impressive (though the amount of Canadian tax shelter content does make me smile) but they were solid enough at times. Honestly don't have much to say about most of them but they have some pretty nice posters!





Got a little to say about this one as it's one of the cheesier slashers of the early part of the decade. Good cast with Leslie Nielsen and Jamie Lee Curtis and some rather amazing disco dancing that dates this rather badly.

I reviewed the cheesy sequel some time back and I have to say this might be worse simply because it's just a trashy Death Wish cash-in whereas the sequel at least is fun.

Enjoyable sounding spy thriller with Walter Matthau deciding to write his memoirs of being a spy for the CIA over the agency's strenuous (as in shooting at the guy) objections.

An underrated indie horror flick that riffs on The Omen.

Embassy kicked off a very profitable 1981 with several solid films, the first of which being this enjoyable tale of psychic bloodletting from David Cronenberg. Michael Ironside is typically awesome as the bad guy and the Dick Smith special effects work is top notch, especially the exploding head at the beginning and the psychic duel at the end.


I've written about this at length so let's just cut to the chase and say it's really, really damn good.




I really dig this underrated, moody little zombie film directed by Gary Sherman. James Farentino plays the Sheriff of a small coastal town that is beset by the undead. There is a big twist courtesy of mortician/mad scientist Jack Albertson and the f/x work from Stan Winston is terrific. It's a refreshingly different take on the genre as there is no flesh eating but plenty of atmosphere, sort of like a gory Val Lewton film.


Another great flick for 1981 that I've covered elsewhere on the site. John Carpenter and Kurt Russell always make for a good combo.
Solid Chuck Norris film that is one of the first things I reviewed on the blog. Chuck is decent as the tough guy hero, Christopher Lee is fine as the bad guy and the action packed finale is fun, especially Chuck's showdown with hulking henchman Toru Tanaka.



Embassy's last release of 1981 was this entertaining fantasy flick from Terry Gilliam that boasts an all-star cast (John Cleese as Robin Hood; good roles for David Warner and Sean Connery, the cast alone makes it worth seeing), a fun story and inventive direction make this one an 80's gem.

Embassy ended 1981 with a 90 million dollar profit and while Robert Rehme ended up leaving at the end of the year, he nevertheless made a solid contribution. Embassy's days would be numbered after 1981 but they will always have this year and the one before to talk about.

Coming soon (honest): Farewell Embassy, Hello Dino!

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About Me

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