Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '86 - Joe Gibson ""

Monday, May 2, 2016

Underrated '86 - Joe Gibson

Joe is a tireless regular contributor here at RPS and he made countless list for this site over the years. He is a true RPS hero.

He can be found on Letterboxd (a highly recommended follow) here:

Ever since I saw her speak at a weekend-long retrospective of her work last year, I've been happily in the tank for Penelope Spheeris. Her best work as an unmistakable sense of community in the margins of society, not something a cop action potboiler like this is going to be able to capture. But this is still embarrassingly rich fun, in the proud tradition of low-budget comedies that couldn't afford funny jokes. There's also an Asian cop who speaks with an American accent and isn't a stereotype (except maybe that of an LA cop), so points for representation on that front.

Lavardin is evidently a pretty popular character in France, with a TV series spin-off and God knows what all. This is a sequel to his first appearance, and both films were directed by Claude Chabrol. I admit it's been years since I saw this, but my main impression is that Lavardin is basically the Jack Bauer of French cops, roughing up suspects and beating out confessions just like Jack. One thing that watching French crime films has taught me is that the police absolutely do not fuck around over there.

This is another one I have not seen in years, but luckily my fellow Rupert Pupkin Speaks contributor Laird (throw a link here for me Brian, thank ya) is showing it for Weird Wednesday next month so I'll get to see it again. I can't resist including it here now, though. Bond meets Indiana Jones meets ninjas meets a lovable monkey meets probably a lot of other stuff I've forgotten. Ker-razy.

This is shaping up to be a pretty horror-heavy list, oh well. This is a trashy single-location slasher that stars Klaus Kinski as a demented Nazi landlord, aka the stuff dreams are made of. Kinski is exactly as unhinged as you would expect but I also have a hard crush on Talia Balsam in this - not as hard as Kinski's crush, thankfully. Pino Donaggio gives this an extremely welcome low-rent De Palma vibe, which is probably a huge part of why I like it so much.

52 PICKUPI don't actually know if I'd call this "underrated" exactly, more like "properly rated but still underseen." The 80s were a decade that largely did away with the grimy, serious entertainment of the 70s and replaced it with more kid-friendly, homogeneous stuff, but nobody told Elmore Leonard and John Frankenheimer about it. Save for the leather quotient of Roy Scheider's face (I have it at about a 7.5), you'd swear this was the product of 1976 Hollywood rather than ten years later.

Hooper's career post-TCM is basically a repeated exercise in refusing even an attempt at recapturing the magic of that one-of-a-kind movie, and he continued that even when he was hired to make a direct sequel to it. Where Texas Chain Saw Massacre feels like a documentary about Hell, this is a goofy cartoon, wacky, silly, over-the-top, and (like his Invaders From Mars) not particularly scary. Forget Slacker, this is the Austin I most want to live in.

Tobe Hooper's unashamedly hokey ET cash-in/50s scifi homage actually thins out the baroque surrealism of the original movie and adds such quaint touches as a villainous Louise Fletcher chasing after the film's boy hero, shaking her first in the air and promising to "get" him "for this!" Vintage goopy 80s' special effects, not scary exactly, but manna for the privileged few that are wired to appreciate such things. Hooper was God in the 80s, somebody influential needs to go back and reassess all that stuff.

1 comment:

C Chaka said...

The TCM2 poster is one of my top five favorite posters ever. It tells you exactly what you are getting yourself into.