Rupert Pupkin Speaks ""

Monday, December 11, 2017

Just The Discs - Episode 33 - Another Big Pile of Horror

On this episode, Brian runs through a stack of horror discs from Scream Factory, Warner Archive, Indicator, Kino Lorber Studio Classics, VCI and GarageHouse pictures.

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Here is a listing of the Discs discussed in this episode:
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (Scream Factory)
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DAWN OF THE DEAD (Scream Factory)
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LAND OF THE DEAD (Scream Factory)
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NIGHT SCHOOL (Warner Archive)
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SEE NO EVIL (Indicator)
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NIGHTKILL (Kino Lorber)
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NIGHT ANGEL (Kino Lorber)
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SATAN'S CHEERLEADERS (VCI)
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WEB OF THE SPIDER (GarageHouse Pictures)
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Friday, December 8, 2017

Underrated '97 - Justin LaLiberty

Justin LaLiberty holds degrees in Critical Film Studies and Film Preservation in Archiving. He is currently responsible for programming at Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers, NY and is an itinerant projectionist, ready to run reels if you've got 'em. He is a regular contributor to Paracinema and can usually be found in whichever NYC art-house is showing the most sordid content on a given day.
GRIDLOCK’D and GANG RELATED (Vondie Curtis-Hall, Jim Kouf)
In the year following his death, Tupac Shakur would star in two genre films that would solidify him as one of the best musicians turned actors we would ever see. Vondie Curtis-Hall’s freewheeling drug comedy/drama crime film GRIDLOCK’D is HEAVEN KNOWS WHAT for the Tarantino era with a vibrant script and Tupac playing opposite a frenetic Tim Roth – an inspired pairing that joins the ranks of the great buddy cinema duos. Jim Kouf’s GANG RELATED, a police procedural where nothing is what it seems, pairs Tupac with Jim Belushi as well as a supporting cast featuring the likes of James Earl Jones and Dennis Quaid. It’s a clever, tight crime film that should be mentioned in the same breath as other policers of that year like COP LAND and DONNIE BRASCO but seldom, if ever, does.
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OFFICE KILLER (Cindy Sherman)
Famed photographer Cindy Sherman turned in this blackest of black comedies featuring Molly Ringwald as an office worker turned killer who offs her co-workers in some surprisingly nasty ways. Another entry in the strange trend of hip NYC artists directing feature films in the 90s, including Julian Schnabel’s BASQUIAT and Robert Longo’s JOHNNY MNEMONIC. Sherman does some great work here, and it looks beautiful as expected, but it has never reached the audience it deserves – striking hard to ignore similarities to SERIAL MOM and AMERICAN PSYCHO. Oh, and Todd Haynes helped write the dialogue. So there’s that.
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BREAKDOWN (Jonathan Mostow)
You know what would be better than DUEL? DUEL starring Kurt Russell and JT Walsh. Wonderfully taut, meat and potatoes genre cinema from a major studio – the likes of which we rarely see anymore. Written and directed by Jonathan Mostow (U-571, TERMINATOR 3).
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U-TURN (Oliver Stone)
I don’t always like Oliver Stone, but when I do, I really do. Based on the book Stray Dogs by John Ridley (who would go on to script 12 YEARS A SLAVE), this is savage neo-noir cinema with a stellar cast including Nick Nolte, Powers Boothe, Jon Voight, Joaquin Phoenix, Billy Bob Thornton and, yeah, Sean Penn. Mean spirited and relentlessly nasty, it was almost exclusively maligned by critics when it came out and still hasn’t really found its audience. The cast of weird characters feels in line with WILD AT HEART, it has more to say about America in the late 90s than pretty much any other film of the year and the music is composed by Ennio Morricone.
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DRIVE (Steve Wang)
I live for this type of 90s DTV, no holds barred action cinema – including pretty much anything starring Mark Dacascos. Absurdly plotted sci-fi cinema where Dascascos plays an “enhanced” human on the run from the Chinese mob and pairs up with Malik (Kadeem Hardison) who he actually takes hostage. It’s really just an inconsequential way to get the two to partner in a bunch of fight scenes and have some buddy action movie banter. The fight scenes here are the real highlight and they’re plentiful and intense, deftly directed by special effects maven and THE GUYVER director Steve Wang.
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HIDEOUS! (Charles Band)
Leave it to Charles Band to create the world's only mutant soap opera. If nothing else, putting a topless, gun wielding woman in a gorilla mask exclaiming "I am proud! I am woman!" may be the most progressive thing that Full Moon has done. Pure trash spectacle.
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MEAN GUNS (Albert Pyun)
I know that a title isn’t everything but you just know exactly what you’re getting when you turn on a movie titled MEAN GUNS that’s directed by Albert Pyun, especially when your two leads are Christopher Lambert and Ice-T. A relentless, two hour onslaught of violence where 100 gangsters are put inside a prison and given weapons to go all out on each other. It’s like the 90s DTV mash-up of BATTLE ROYALE and RIKI-OH you didn’t know you needed in your life.
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EVE’S BAYOU (Kasi Lemmons)
Between EVE’S BAYOU and THE CAVEMAN’S VALENTINE, Kasi Lemmons is one of the more unheralded, unique voices in American cinema of the late 90s/early 2000s. EVE’S BAYOU is a coming of age film punctuated with family turmoil and voodoo, unapologetically from a specific place and people. Lemmons serves as both writer and director and assembled a diverse crew including a female DP, editor and costume designer. And the principle cast is 100% African American. This is singular work and deserves to be known much more than it is.
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THE RAGE (Sidney J. Furie)
From the director of SUPERMAN IV, LADYBUGS and THE ENTITY comes Gary Busey being a maniac in THE RAGE! Busey is at his unhinged best as a “deranged pervert” who wields a machete and tosses around severed heads. He’s being pursued by the 90s best renegade, Lorenzo Lamas who’s boss is Roy Scheider – playing the corrupt law enforcement role with alternate zeal and sleepiness. Oh, and David Carradine shows up for some reason. Dumb, violent 90s DTV cinema that makes inspired use of a log truck.
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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Underrated '97 - Michele Eggen

Michele is a Horror movie watcher, blogger, contributing writer for @WickedHorrorTv. Her writing can also be found here: http://thegirlwholoveshorror.blogspot.com/
Follow her on Twitter @micheleneggen.

The Ugly (Scott Reynolds)
New Zealand is always a great place to explore for different and interesting horror films, and The Ugly is no exception. I only just recently saw it for the first time and was blown away not only by its dark grittiness, but also by the innovative way it chooses to look inside the mind of a serial killer. Simon is a murderer currently in an asylum who seeks the help of psychiatrist Dr. Shumaker to re-evaluate him. Simon has a voice in his head, an alter ego he calls "the ugly," that he can only make stop talking by killing. What I really love is the editing and film making style of The Ugly. Like I said, it is very dark, as dark as the black they use for the blood, and the flashbacks and visions that Simon has in the interview room put the audience in just as much a confused state as Simon himself.
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Rainy Dog (Takashi Miike)
As someone used to Takashi Miike's more horror-like fare, Rainy Dog was a totally welcome surprise for me. It is the second film in his Black Society trilogy which also includes Shinjuku Triad Society and Ley Lines (all now available on Blu-Ray from Arrow Video). The main character is kind of a loner hitman, soon on the run after a family member of his latest mark seeks revenge. On the run with him is his young mute son who is unceremoniously dropped off at his house by an ex-lover at the beginning of the film, and a sex worker named Lily whom he befriends along the way. Though there is some harsh yakuza violence, what will really get you about this story is the unconventional family that these three people form. There is also an obvious western vibe to the movie that I really loved, which is punctuated even more in the climax through the music and the resolution of the story.
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Donnie Brasco (Mike Newell)
While Donnie Brasco is certainly not a lesser known film by any means, it seems like it often gets left out of the conversation of great Mafia movies. For the most part, sure, it is not as exciting or sexy as The Godfather or GoodFellas. But what is wonderful about it is that it's a beautiful character study and an exploration of morality, with just as many compelling dramatic beats as acts of gruesome violence. More than anything really, I love that Donnie Brasco gives us such a different look at Al Pacino. His character here is not the powerhouse that we are used to seeing him as. He is a relatively low man on the totem pole, but this is the only life he knows, and you can tell throughout the whole movie how he just can't bear the thought of losing it.
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Murder at 1600 (Dwight Little)
One critic called Murder at 1600 a "by-the-numbers, formulaic government conspiracy thriller," and you know what? That's exactly why I love it. A glut of similar films came out around this time, and this is one I always enjoyed for its murder-mystery plot and political intrigue, not to mention the characters and cast. Like, can we just talk for a minute about how awesome it is to see Diane Lane as an action star, showing up Wesley Snipes with her sharp-shooting skills? She also ends up being the real hero of the movie, and it is amazing to see that kind of thing done with a female role. That's not to say that Snipes doesn't also play his part well - he's great as the headstrong and cocky detective with a comedic side. Murder at 1600 is fun popcorn fare, and that is never a bad thing to me.
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That Darn Cat (Bob Spiers)
I remember this movie having quite the run on the Disney channel for a while, and every time I caught it, I had to sit down and watch it. As a remake of the 1965 film with Hayley Mills, That Darn Cat is for the slightly older Disney crowd (Christina Ricci's character was around my age so of course I wanted to BE her) with its cheeky but still completely charming attitude. The cast is full of seasoned and well-known actors who all give their characters just the right kind of quirk to make this movie way more enjoyable than one would expect given the plotline. Who doesn't love an apathetic older couple who kidnap someone just because they are bored? Or a pair of rival mechanics constantly arguing across the street? For a Disney film, this is one of my favorites, and one I think I could enjoy at any age.
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