Rupert Pupkin Speaks ""

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Happy 8th Birthday to Warner Archive!

There are a lot of companies out there in the world of catalog Blu-ray releases. Eight years ago, one of my favorites of all of them was "born". I remember when I first heard that WAC (an affectionate nickname) was becoming a thing, I was immediately excited by not only their initial slate of DVDs, but also the possibilities of what might be in store from them. Since their inception, Warner Archive has become one of the coolest thing to happen to hardcore cinephiles and budding young film fans alike. They have helped me discover so much stuff from The Bowery Boys, to Wheeler and Woolsey as well as tons of other gems that were unknown to me. Below is a short list of my Top Three from WAC (at the moment - this could change tomorrow):

1. OUT OF THE PAST (1947; Jacques Tourneur) on Blu-ray
OUT OF THE PAST is the movie that really helped me understand what film noir is. Or what one school of thought (that I happen to agree with) thinks it is. That school of thought classifies noir not only by the visual aspects of light and shadow and the subject matter (detectives, criminals, femme fatales) but also by one key ingredient - fatalism. Fatalism is the thing that always hooked me most about the best noirs like this and say Edgar G. Ulmer's DETOUR. Those stories about a guy who just can't help but get fucked over. Maybe it's bad luck, maybe it's poor decision making but it doesn't matter because the bottom line is these guys lose the big game (metaphorically speaking) every time. I've heard a case made for something like THE MALTESE FALCON being a film noir and that's certainly a fair assumption, but it will never make my list for the lack of that fatalism. Bogart as Sam Spade is far too in control of his own destiny, too clever to be completely outwitted by the forces of badness. Sure he may get slipped a mickey or slightly duped, but overall he comes out on top. He's kind of a badass really. Not to take anything away from that film as it truly is one of my favorites of all time, but yeah it just doesn't quite exist in the same dirty, desperate universe as things like OUT OF THE PAST and DETOUR (at least not for me).
Robert Mitchum has that rare quality among movie stars in that he can be cool and yet can perfectly play the occasional sap when he wants to. Bogart has vulnerability too, but there's just something about Mitchum's particular brand of "cool" that makes it all the more impactful when the rug gets pulled out from under him. OUT OF THE PAST is of course based on the novel by Daniel Mainwaring (aka Geoffrey Homes) called BUILD MY GALLOWS HIGH. What a fitting title for the source material to a film like this. Like the title itself, the movie is filled with some of the greatest film noir dialogue ever written (James M. Cain is an uncredited writer which probably helped). I mean, it's the stuff that film noir parodies almost make fun of now, but not quite that. It's just so damned good.
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2. THE HUDSUCKER PROXY (1994; Joel & Ethan Coen) on Blu-ray
This movie came to me at just the right time. I missed it upon its initial theatrical release, but discovered it on VHS a year or so later. I was in the midst of changing my college major to film studies and had just taken an intro to film class with a professor who loved Howard Hawks. We were shown HIS GIRL FRIDAY right off the bat and it was an eye opening experience to say the least. I had dabbled in classic films and liked a lot of them, but had yet to experience that machine gun fire dialogue that the folks in HGF spew. It was breathtaking and I was immediately smitten. So when HUDSUCKER arrived on VHS at the video store I was working in, already being a Coen Bros fan, I had to check it out. Loved it. Such a loving tribute to fast-talking 30s cinema as well as being a Coen film through and through. It remains one of my favorite films they've ever done and might be considered my favorite depending on the day you ask me. I do adore the Coens and the direction their filmmaking has taken, but I always want to see them come back to the comedies they do so well.
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3. ONE WAY PASSAGE (1932; Tay Garnett) on DVD
One of my favorite romantic films and it's a pre-code movie and a tearjerker to boot. William Powell and Kay Francis are delightful together and the ending gets me every single time. Should be spoken of in the same sentence as CASABLANCA in terms of classic tales of love that still have a great deal of resonance even today, despite being from so long ago.
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Underrated '87 - Patrick Bromley

Patrick Bromley is Editor-in-Chief at fthismovie.net and host of the F This Movie! podcast. He also contributes to Daily Dead and Blumhouse.com. He loves all kinds of movies. Especially the good ones. Follow him on Twitter at @patrickbromley.

As a lifelong lover of genre movies — horror, action, sci-fi, exploitation — the 1980s were a Golden Age of Greatness. Between the proliferation of genre films getting made within the Hollywood system and the explosion of VHS that demanded a glut of low-budget, sensationalistic titles, so many of the movies I love and continue to watch to this day were released during the decade. By 1987, though, that trend was beginning to wind down, making it the last best year for a certain kind of movie. Some of them, like RoboCop and Predator, were big box office hits and are still rightfully regarded as classics. Some of them, though, fell through the cracks but are no less deserving of our attention. Here are but a few of those movies.

Number One With a Bullet (dir. Jack Smight) I’m a huge fan of both buddy cop movies and the movies released by Cannon Films in the 1980s, so of course I have to include Cannon’s 1987 buddy cop movie starring Billy Dee Williams and Robert Carradine as a pair of mismatched narcotics detectives attempting to bring down a drug lord. I can’t tell if the screenplay — credited to none other than Jim Belushi, among others — is meant to play straight or if it’s intended to be a spoof of buddy cop movies. Carradine seems miscast as Det. Nick Barzack (aka Ber-zerk), but that's part of the fun. Billy Dee Williams gets nothing to do but be cool, sleep with women and play the jazz trumpet like he just walked off the set of a Colt .45 commercial and no one told him he was shooting a movie. It seems to be a legitimate entry in the buddy cop genre, but then we'll get Doris Roberts playing a cartoon of a mother or a shot of Carradine cutting up pieces of raw steak with his pocket knife for dinner and chasing it with swigs of Worcestershire sauce straight from the bottle and I'm convinced it's all supposed to be funny. You know that scene in Cobra where Stallone cuts up a piece of pizza with scissors and eats it? That’s Robert Carradine’s entire character here. Fun fact: the music for the movie is done by Alf Clausen, best known for scoring 25 years of The Simpsons. This one comes and goes from streaming services and an MGM Vault DVD is available, but it’s the kind of movie that’s perfect for a Kino Lorber Blu-ray release.
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The Barbarians (dir. Ruggero Deodato) 1987 was one of the last gasps for the sword and sorcery genre that was hugely popular for a few years in the ‘80s, and though The Barbarians isn't one of the best examples of the genre I would lying if I said I don't have a lot of fun with it. The first of only a handful of attempts (others include Think Big, Double Trouble and Twin Switters) to turn bodybuilding twins David and Peter Paul -- aka "The Barbarian Brothers" -- into movie stars, The Barbarians is part action movie, part fantasy and part goofy comedy. It's pretty dopey and the brothers, while looking the part, demonstrate a lack of charisma, but there's a lot of good stuff here, too. Ruggero Deodato is a great filmmaker who knows how to put a movie together and Pino Donaggio's score is terrific, plus you get creepy Richard Lynch as a creepy villain. The Barbarians has a deliberate Saturday matinee quality and should be watched as a Saturday matinee.
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Enemy Territory (dir. Peter Manoogian) This solid little siege movie from the heyday of Empire pictures finds Gary Frank and Ray Parker Jr. (in a rare acting role) trapped in an apartment building while a gang called the Vampires -- led by Tony Todd -- tries to take them out. Parker Jr. is not a natural movie star, but this is a tight and tough little movie that has some things to say about race and class (Frank has a stack of cash he has to burn through as he navigates his way through the building). Jan-Michael Vincent and a young Stacey Dash show up as well. It's never been released on DVD and can be a little hard to come by, but worth seeking out if low-budget '80s action movies are your jam.
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Vicious Lips (dir. Albert Pyun) I can’t imagine making one of these “underrated ‘80s” lists without including a title from ever-prolific Albert Pyun, an oft-dismissed filmmaker who made a series of low-budget genre movies in the 1980s. By the late ‘80s and early ‘90s his aesthetic and personality really became clear thanks to films like his sci-fi horror/comedy musical Vicious Lips tells the futuristic story of an all-girl rock band who book a gig at a club on another planet, but they're stopped en route to the gig by a killer mutant who has boarded their ship. Though it sounds like a sci-fi horror movie, Pyun plays it mostly for laughs -- it's more Earth Girls are Easy than Alien. It's got the futuristic post-apocalyptic setting, the emphasis on musical numbers, the dream-like narrative -- all things we would eventually come to associate with Pyun's work. While it's not necessarily one of his best movies (though it is a lot of fun), Vicious Lips is one of the purest early expressions of an Albert Pyun movie. As proof that we are living in the Best Timeline for collectors of cult and genre movies, Vicious Lips — a title long unavailable on DVD at all — is now getting a Blu-ray release courtesy of Scream Factory. Lunar Madness indeed.
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Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (dir. Bruce Pittman) Outside of some '80s slasher charm and Jamie Lee Curtis' dancing, I’ve never been the biggest fan of the original Prom Night, a movie I find to be just ok. The sequel, Hello Mary Lou, is an improvement in every single way. A high school student is possessed by the spirit of a dead prom queen looking for revenge, and the results are spectacular. It’s basically an ‘80s riff on Carrie; the change to more supernatural horror improves the sequel, which has way more humor and energy than its predecessor and at least one kill (involving some lockers) that's an all-timer.
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Morgan Stewart’s Coming Home (dir. Alan Smithee) A cable-TV staple of my youth, this troubled production went through two directors, Paul Aaron and Terry Winsor, both of whom took their names off the movie in favor of the pseudonymous “Alan Smithee,” and set on the shelf for a a few years before it was finally released in 1987. But as a kid watching it on HBO, none of that mattered. What mattered is that main character Morgan Stewart (Jon Cryer) was a huge horror fan who wears a Day of the Dead t-shirt and waits in line to get George Romero’s autograph and takes his new girlfriend — who loves horror movies as much as he does! — to see Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Morgan Stewart was a hero and a role model to young me. The rest of the movie, a standard teen comedy in which black sheep Cryer gets wrapped up in his political father’s campaign, is fun but unremarkable. What makes it special to a horror nerd like me is that it presents a main character who loves all the same stuff that many of us reading a site like Rupert Pupkin Speaks love. We’re not often represented outside of the horror genre.
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As a huge fan of Rupert Pupkin Speaks and these “underrated” series, it’s a true honor to be able to participate with this list. Thanks to Brian Saur for inviting me to take part, for writing this blog and for doing so much to foster an endless love and enthusiasm for all kinds of movies all year long.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Underrated '87 - Sarah Jane

Sarah Jane has seen over 5,000 films. Her goal for 2017 is to watch 500+ movies. She hails from Southern California. She has spent time in England and Austin, TX. She now resides somewhere in the Southwest. She writes the Overlooked and Underseen column for TalkFilmSociety.com. She also occasionally gives her recommendations on the Splathouse Podcast. You can find her at @fookthis on Twitter and at letterboxd.com/fookthis.

The Year My Voice Broke – Directed by John Duigan
The first of two (though it was supposed to be three) films focusing on the story of Danny (Noah Taylor), a teenager growing up in the Australia in the 60s. It’s the coming of age story about Danny falling in love for the first time with Freya (Loene Carmen). Naturally, she’s in love with Trevor (played by the awesome Ben Mendelsohn). It’s touching and, at times, painful to watch but well worth it for the great performances from everyone. If you like this one, check out the continuing adventures of Danny in Flirting (1991). That one stars the very young Thandie Newton, Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts.
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Hollywood Shuffle – Directed by Robert Townsend
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen this movie. It must be at least 50. It just so fucking funny. Don’t let all the laughs fool you, though, Townsend has a message about racial stereotyping that was as true back then as it is today. Special shout out to John Witherspoon as Townsend’s boss at Winkie Dinkie Dog. This movie is a treasure and you owe it to yourself to see it.
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Some Kind of Wonderful – Directed by Howard Deutch
Oh, Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson), how I related to you. You were cool, you played drums, and you didn’t really give a shit what people thought about you except that one guy, Keith (Eric Stoltz), your best friend. He was the only thing that mattered. This was pretty much the story of my life in high school and I’m sure I’m not alone. John Hughes was the king of the 80s teen flick and everyone had their favorite. Some liked Pretty in Pink, others went for The Breakfast Club or Weird Science (RIP Paxton). Not me, though. Some Kind of Wonderful just spoke to me in a way the others did not. I know Hughes didn’t direct this one but he might has well have. This one also has a good soundtrack, too.
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Hope and Glory – Directed by John Boorman
The anglophile in is always ready to watch a movie about Britain during World War II. My mum is English and was born right around that time so it’s always held a fascination for me. The film was also written by Boorman, who wrote about his own experiences growing up during the war. We experience everything through the eyes of a 10 year old boy. There’s a lot of humor here but it doesn’t shy away from the horror of living through the Blitz. Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun also came out in 87 so Hope and Glory kinda got lost in that shuffle of British kids having to deal in World War II. I almost had Empire on this list but I think enough people know about that one. Really, you should watch both.
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Stage Fright – Michele Soavi
Soavi’s Stage Fright is one of my favorite slasher movies. That it’s Italian just adds to its greatness. Nearly all of it takes place within a theatre and, according to my husband who used to be a stage manager, the film actually manages to get what it is like working and rehersing in theatre. The real reason I love it so much is the choice of the killer’s mask; a gigantic owl head that is actually terrifying. This one doesn’t spare any gore so if you’re bothered by that, be warned. You should still watch it anyway, though. Soavi steals so much from Dario Argento but that’s okay. He learned everything he knows by working with the master. If you’re a John Morghen (AKA Giovanni Lombardo Radice), you’re in luck because he’s on full display here.
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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

New Release Roundup - March 21st, 2017

BEING THERE on Blu-ray (Criterion)
http://amzn.to/2mDLttW
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LIFEBOAT on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber)
http://amzn.to/2nvPLHX
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TEEN WITCH on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber)
http://amzn.to/2mXLLOU
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MULTIPLE MANIACS on Blu-ray (Criterion)
http://amzn.to/2nhMwDm
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CINEMA PARADISO on Blu-ray (Arrow Academy)
http://amzn.to/2mReAuC
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ROBOCOP 2 on Blu-ray (Scream Factory)
http://amzn.to/2mXFB1a
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ROBOCOP 3 on Blu-ray (Scream Factory)
http://amzn.to/2mDDkFW
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CHAMBER OF HORRORS on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
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INVISIBLE GHOST on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
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BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD The Complete Third Season on Blu-ray (Warner Archive)
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THE DELINQUENTS on Blu-ray (Olive Films)
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PHAEDRA on Blu-ray (Olive Films)
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WON TON TON, THE DOG WHO SAVED HOLLYWOOD on Blu-ray (Olive Films)
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BLAST-OFF on Blu-ray (Olive Films)
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A GAME OF DEATH on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
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DAKOTA on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
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TOWER (2016) (Kino Lorber)
http://amzn.to/2njReAm
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LIVE BY NIGHT on Blu-ray (Warner Bros)
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SING on Blu-ray (Universal)
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ASSASSIN'S CREED on Blu-ray (Fox)
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