Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2016 - Daniel Budnik ""

Friday, January 20, 2017

Film Discoveries of 2016 - Daniel Budnik

Daniel R. Budnik’s writing can be found at Some Polish American Guy Reviews Things. He is part of four podcasts: Podcastmania – a free-for-all horror good time, The Made For TV Mayhem Show, which he co-hosts with Amanda Reyes and his own shows, Eventually Supertrain: The Short-Lived TV Show Podcast and Dan's Drive-In Double Feature. He is co-author of Bleeding Skull: A 1980s Trash-Horror Odyssey. His second book 80s Action Films On The Cheap is due out in the Winter of 2016/17. 
Check out his many cool RPS lists here:
Snowed Under (1936)
TCM advertised this as a movie about a playwright getting snowed into a New England cabin as he’s trying to finish his new play…  with two ex-wives! And one of them is Glenda Farrell. The combination of being snowed in somewhere lovely (which hasn’t happened to me in years but I love) with Glenda Farrell was too much to pass up. And the film is an hour-long charmer. It’s rarely laugh-out-loud funny but it’s always teetering on being very amusing. The movie flies along and is anchored by its best (non-Glenda Farrell) component: the sets. The main room of the house is fantastic, almost a stage set. The set of the exterior of the house, with a wonderful bridge drenched in snow, is glorious.

McQ (1974)
John Wayne is “Dirty Harry!” But they call him McQ and he’s a cop in a rough, corrupt world. Wayne doesn’t seem terribly put out by it though. I think he had stopped “acting” years before this. He’s at the point in his career where he shows up and he ambles around like a side of beef. Luckily, everyone else involved in the film is working hard to make this thriller great fun. Director John Sturges keeps things moving along. There are several great action scenes, including a climactic car chase on a beach. The other actors (including Colleen Dewhurst and Eddie Albert) give it their all. I never once saw John Wayne fall asleep during a scene! That’s something. As you might guess, I prefer Wayne in his cheap & cheerful B-westerns of the 30s. That’s why it took me so long to watch this one. But, McQ is worth a watch. Probably two, regardless of Wayne.
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Breakheart Pass (1975)
The movie poster image of this film is one of my all-time favorites. I put off watching the film for years because I thought it could never match up with that image. Then, it came out on Blu-Ray and I thought “It is time.” Hey! The image on the poster is in the movie! It’s slightly less dramatic but it’s in the midst of a very exciting fight on top of a snow-covered, moving train. The film is kind of a murder mystery on a train filled with soldiers going to an outpost that’s been stricken with diphtheria. Bronson shows up as a fugitive of some sort. Then, killings begin. And the mystery builds…  and I watched it twice in a row, which I rarely ever do with a movie. I really enjoyed this. Don’t look up anything about it. Go in and watch…  It’s not a world changer. It’s simply a fantastically entertaining movie.
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Killer Force (1976)
This is a tense thriller bout diamond smugglers that is constantly verging on being slightly goofy. Starring Telly Savalas! Peter Fonda! Maud Adams! O.J. Simpson! Hugh O’Brian! Christopher Lee! And everyone else in the world! I don’t really have a review of it. I bought it on a whim because of the poster and the cast. It’s almost dumb. Not quite but almost. And I really got a kick out of it. It keeps a nice pace. It has several different storylines going on at once. Did I mention that nutty cast? Some of whom act as if they’re in a different movie from the others (i.e. not everyone seems to take it very seriously). Killer Force is the cinematic definition of A Hoot. The Blu-Ray has an alternate ending that would have been a game changer, like the alternate ending of Revenge of the Living Dead Girls. I can’t decide whether they should have used it or not.
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The Slipper and the Rose (1976)
This musical is a joyous variation on Cinderella starring Gemma Craven and Richard Chamberlain. The adaptation is charming. The songs are lovely. The production design is wonderful. I watched this right after Florence Henderson died…  I had wanted to watch Song of Norway. Somehow, I ended up watching this instead thinking it would be in the same rather goofy vein. It’s not. It’s really delightful. I won’t say more. Wander in and enjoy. You might end up singing. If you do, record it and let us all hear it, please.
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Two Minute Warning (1976)
There is a sniper hidden in the battlements of an epic football stadium. He has something diabolical planned for the two minute warning. Maybe Cop Charlton Heston and S.W.A.T. guy John Cassavetes can stop him before he starts firing and riots ensue? Two Minute Warning sets itself up like a disaster film, with scads of people being introduced to us from all walks of cinema and TV. As we meet everyone and the game begins, the sniper intricately (shades of Targets) sets up his arsenal. (His opening scene in a hotel room where he tests his scope is chilling.) Then, the suspense ratchets up and up as we move towards the big two minute warning. It’s semi-standard disaster type stuff with a few alterations: 1) it’s rated R so it’s a bit rougher than the others of its type 2) Heston & Cassavetes! A very interesting duo and 3) the closing sequence. The riots that close out the film are just crazy. And…  when you’ve finished the film, watch the TV version (on the Shout Factory release). It is a re-edited, re-cut, semi-incoherent mess that I loved.
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The Girl Who Saved The World (1979)
Susan Anton plays Susan Williams! Her brother, a newspaper reporter, was killed by some shady gentlemen planning on doing something bad to the world. She’s going to find out why, even if it costs her her life! This is the 90 minute edit of the 11 15-minute segments of the Stop Susan Williams sections of the Kenneth Johnson TV show Cliff Hangers!  During the first 11 episodes of my podcast Eventually Supertrain, I covered this show in detail. I love it. This TV movie edit is crazy. The majority of the movie consists of the cliffhangers from each chapter, plus their resolutions, with a bit of exposition included. The story is rendered into a whirlwind of traps and escapes. It slows down at the end but the viewer already has Structural Whiplash from the strange integrity of the piece. It’s the perfect way to NOT edit something like this. As a Cliff Hangers! fan, it’s a fascinating, screwball experience. (One of the other segments The Curse of Dracula was made into two TV movies and makes more sense.) I might actually be recommending folks seek out Cliff Hangers! rather than this TV movie but, either way, you will be entertained.

Swap Meet (1979)
On November 27th at 2:01 PM, I learned that there was a late 1970s film called Swap Meet. I’d never heard of it before. By 3:30 PM, I had watched Swap Meet and a need that I didn’t know I had until 89 minutes before had been satiated. Thank you, Modern Society. A raucous comedy set in a Swap Meet! How could this not be great? Well, it’s not great but it’s a fun way to pass some time on a Sunday afternoon when you’ve watched King Frat one too many times. A bunch of goofy folks, slobs and jerks convene at some sort of all-day, every day swap meet selling their wares and getting in trouble. (Two of the guys peel sheets of metal off of the Hollywood sign to sell as souvenirs.) When night falls, it’s a drive-in. So, the viewer gets the best of both worlds. The film is effervescent, light and completely forgettable. But, for the apx. 80-90 minutes when you’re watching it, it is the only thing in the world. It doesn’t even matter that when the ending came I couldn’t quite remember why everyone was doing what they were doing. (That could be my aging memory.) If it ends with the good people being happy, we’ve all had a good time. Swap Meet! Watch it right now.

Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes (1989)
I watched this for a Patty Duke double feature on the Made For TV Mayhem podcast. We matched it up with Look What’s Happened To Rosemary’s Baby. I had zero expectations going in. I was pleasantly surprised. The film is well-written, well-acted, surprisingly gruesome and pretty creepy. The one part where it shoots itself in the foot is that it’s about a possessed lamp. On paper, this probably sounded awesome. In reality, it’s a giant goofy evil lamp that looks like the tree from the “Mel” segment of Tales That Witness Madness. However, if you can set that aside, Amityville 4 works. It does everything that you want from a movie like this and it has a guy getting his hand mangled in a garbage disposal and a plumber getting drowned in gloopy glop from a sewer pipe. Enjoy.
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