Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '87 Eric Hillis ""

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Underrated '87 Eric Hillis

Eric Hillis is a freelance film critic and editor of
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Cherry 2000 (Dir: Steve De Jarnatt)
Director Steve De Jarnatt gave us two of the '80s most under-rated movies in Miracle Mile and this post-apocalyptic sci-fi satire. At the time of release many of its concepts seemed laughable, but it predicted the likes of social media, 'real girl' dolls and the increasing necessity for written sexual consent. Melanie Griffith was the Kristen Stewart of her day; audiences thought she couldn't act but filmmakers loved her, and she's at her charismatic best here.
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Opera (Dir: Dario Argento)
The general consensus will tell you Argento's golden period ended with  1982's Tenebrae, but for me his last great thriller was '87's Opera. Packed with outlandish set-pieces and wonderful cinematic invention, it almost plays like Argento's Greatest Hits. Sadly the great man would never come close to such heights again.
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House of Games (Dir: David Mamet)
1987 was quite a year for David Mamet. Along with providing the screenplay for Brian De Palma's The Untouchables, he made his directorial debut with this impeccably crafted con artist thriller. Joe Mantegna seizes a rare leading man role as the con man who teaches Lindsay Crouse's psychiatrist the tricks of his trade. American storytelling at its tightest.
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Deadly Prey (Dir: David A Prior)
Director David A Prior's Deadly Prey is a hilariously over the top First Blood rip-off that's unintentionally a far more effective parody of '80s gung-ho action movies than either of the Hot Shots movies. The ultimate Friday night six-pack entertainment, this one has to be seen (and heard, given the amount of classic lines its script offers) to be believed.
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Stage Fright (Dir: Michele Soavi)
1987 was the last great year for Italian horror. The same year Argento gave us Opera, his protege Michele Soavi made his directorial debut with his own bloodsoaked backstage thriller. A bunch of luvvies sporting some of the most offensive examples of '80s hair and clothing are picked off by a killer sporting a giant bird head. Soavi crafts some nerve-wracking suspense sequences, but he failed to fulfill his promise in subsequent efforts.
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The Dead (Dir: John Huston)
Few of Hollywood's golden age filmmakers were still active by 1987, but John Huston bowed out with one of his finest, an adaptation of the James Joyce short story. Set at a gathering in a turn of the century Dublin home, Huston's film is elegant but uncomfortable, as repressed secrets rise like steam from a cup of tea. His daughter, Anjelica, gives one of her finest performances here.
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Killer Workout (Dir: David A Prior)
What a year for David A Prior! Killer Workout does for the slasher genre what Deadly Prey does for macho action. Set in a health spa, the film features a gaggle of leg-warmer and leotard sporting bimbos offed by a vengeful villain. The movie often hilariously halts the plot to deliver aerobics sequences set to some undeniably catchy '80s dance tunes. Also known by the superior title Aerobicide!
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Best Seller (Dir: John Flynn)
The great Larry Cohen penned the screenplay for this under-rated thriller. Brian Dennehy is a writer who spends time with James Woods' corporate hitman while researching a biography of the killer. Woods has rarely been more sinister and Dennehy excels as the vulnerable everyman. Point Break and The Hard Way owe this one a large debt.
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Dark Age (Dir: Arch Nicholson)
Before finding his signature role as the villain of the Wolf Creek franchise, Aussie star John Jarratt was the handsome lead of a slew of '80s Ozploitation features. In Dark Age he's a Northern Territory ranger tasked with disposing of a giant crocodile that has terrorized the region. While it's a fun monster movie, it also has a social conscience, exploring the costs of colonialism on the local aboriginal community, who treat the croc as a God.
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White of the Eye (Dir: Donald Cammell)
European filmmakers have long had a fascination with the American South West. Britain's Donald Cammell set his 1987 thriller in Arizona, shooting that corner of the US in his own distinctive style. With David Keith as the sound system installer who may be responsible for a series of murders in the area, White of the Eye is one of the decade's most visually impressive works.
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