Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Scorpion Releasing - THE FIRST POWER and JENNIFER on Blu-ray ""

Friday, October 24, 2014

Scorpion Releasing - THE FIRST POWER and JENNIFER on Blu-ray

THE FIRST POWER (1990; Robert Resnikoff)
"Satan Has Created the Perfect Killer. One Who Cannot Be Stopped. Be Warned."
I remember this film being kind of a big deal to me when it came out on VHS. I rented and watched it several times from my local mom and pop video shop. I was a fan of Lou Diamond Phillips from various 80s films (YOUNG GUNS, LA BAMBA etc), but I think I was caught off guard (in a good way) seeing him in a horror movie. I think it was also an early movie for me that exhibited this sense of dread, like "everything is not necessarily gonna be okay" in this world. It featured a pretty powerful villain (Jeff Kober) and I think I was probably mesmerized by the idea of how Phillip's character was gonna stop him. I think I also remember just being creeped out by the movie. The paranoid terror of it was not something I had seems ton of at that point in my horror-watching "career". I think the movie also appealed to me in a big way at the age that I saw it because it had lots of great action (ie stunts) mixed in with its horror elements. The stunt work in this movie is pretty spectacular and apparently there were many injuries sustained in the process. This might be part of the reason why the movie resonates like it does. Today it would look so much different in the world of CG effects.
Lou Diamond Phillips fills out a cool niche cast which also includes Tracy Griffith (Melanie Griffith's little sister), Jeff Korber and Mykelti Williamson. I know that Tracy Griffith certainly caught my eye as a kid and I can still see why upin rewatching the film. Her fiery red hair, flirtatious nature and natural beauty (you can see a lot of her sister in her) hooked me immediately. She did some other movies besides this one, but I'll always associate her with THE FIRST POWER. As for Jeff Kober, as I said, he is one hell of an antagonistic force in this movie. The dude is downright unnerving and out and out scary. He's played many heavy roles in his career, but this is by far his most effective. His presence just makes the film better and more memorable. It should also be mentioned that Stewart Copeland did the score to the film and it's solid stuff and it goes a long way to elevate the creepy, paranoid atmosphere of the movie.
One enjoyable thing this time around was seeing the film as the Los Angeles movie that it is (the last time I watched, I had never even been to L.A.).

Special Features:
-"Power of Logan: An Interview with Lou Diamond Phillips" (32 mins). Actor Phillips discusses how he came to be involved in THE FIRST POWER (same producer as his film RENEGADES), working with a first time director, the demanding nature of the shoot, the rest of the cast, and other production details. He did most of his own stunts in the film and he has many great stories about that experience. He comes off as a very jovial, fun guy and has a ton of stuff to say about the movie.
"Channing Lives: An Interview with Jeff Kober" (17 mins). Actor Kober talks about his involvement in the film, the script and his character as well as how it related to the occult and his process for developing his character. He is highly affable in the interview which is best because he is so darned evil in the film. 

JENNIFER (1978; Brice Mack)
"She's Got the Power...and You Haven't Got a Prayer!"
Have you ever wondered what CARRIE would have been like if she had psychic control of snakes instead of straight telekinesis? Well JENNIFER is the film that answers that question. I love how this trailer makes no mention of her snake control powers, but rather makes it very much look like she is a telekinetic just like CARRIE:
I guess you can't blame the producers too much for trying to fool folks a little bit here. The snake powers aren't quite as sexy as telekinesis I suppose. Jennifer is a hillbilly kid on scholarship to a snooty private school and her rich girl classmates do not like her at all. Another thing that stands out about the movie is just how mean the rich girls are to her. I mean we're talking terrible, from egging her books and stealing her clothes to attempting to drown her in the school's pool and more! I totally understand that a film like this really has to establish its villains in a big and pronounced way and JENNIFER certainly does that. It has to be done this way so that when Jennifer finally cuts loose on them, we don't blame her in the slightest and wish these bullies the worst fates possible. I've just always found that to be an interesting structural dynamic in terms of story with a supernatural high school revenge movie like this. As I said before, I can totally see why it was made to look like CARRIE and clearly the whole film was produced to capitalize on the popularity of that film. One neat thing though is that Jennifer's snake control powers are pretty interesting and organic to her backwoods character. It fits that she would have these abilities somehow, based on where she comes from. She's kinda like a female Aquaman. On land. With snakes. Jennifer is played by Lisa Pelikan who some may remember from things like LIONHEART (1990), GHOULIES, JULIA and RETURN TO THE BLUE LAGOON. Also headlining this movie is singer/actor/gameshow host Bert Convy. Convy was quite active in 1978 and also had a roles on both FANTASY ISLAND and THE LOVE BOAT that same year. Here he is singing on the Tonight Show in 1978:
Lastly, another dude you'll likely recognize is that of Jeff Corey. Corey has one of those character actor faces that made him perfect as background in hundreds of movies over the years, especially westerns and period pieces.  He's an absolute "that guy" actor and is perhaps best remembered for roles in films like BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, TRUE GRIT, LITTLE BIG MAN and CONAN THE DESTROYER. He makes a nice addition to any cast and is a boost to this movie for sure.

1 comment:

George White said...

Corey is in CONAN THE DESTROYER not Barbarian. He's also in the Wild Geese...