Rupert Pupkin Speaks: 2018 ""

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Underrated '88 - Patrick Bromley

Patrick Bromley is the Editor-in-Chief of F This Movie! ( and a contributor to Daily Dead and Blumhouse. He hosts the F This Movie! podcast and also appears on the horror-themed podcast Corpse Club.

Check out Patrick and Brian on a recent episode of FThis Movie talking about Underrated '88 Films:

Action Jackson (dir. Craig R. Baxley)
The directorial debut of legendary stuntman Craig R. Baxley is just the first installment in his trilogy of awesomeness (which also includes I Come in Peace and Stone Cold). Carl Weathers gets his shot at headlining a big Hollywood action movie playing the titular ‘Action’ Jackson, a cop trying to bring down an evil real estate developer played by Craig T. Nelson. I love Action Jackson unabashedly, in part because it acts as a wonderful bridge between 1970s blaxploition and ‘80s excess. This is a movie that goes for it in every single way. It’s also heaven for lovers of ‘80s action, with a cast that also includes Vanity, Sharon Stone, Bill Duke, Robert Davi, Ed O’Ross, Mary Ellen Trainor, Sonny Landham, and Al f’ing Leong.
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Casual Sex? (dir. Geneviève Robert) 
What sounds like and was sold as a typical ‘80s sex comedy is something much smarter and sweeter – a bait and switch in the tradition of The Sure Thing. Lea Thompson and Victoria Jackson play best friends who vacation at a spa in the hopes of finding romance, and I don’t know that I’m spoiling anything by saying they do, but not in the way you expect. One of my favorite things about Casual Sex? Is that it’s the rare romantic comedy that doesn’t telegraph exactly where it’s going in the first few minutes, allowing for genuine surprise by the time everyone has paired off. The movie has a lot to say about dating in the ‘80s, although I think a lot of it is still applicable today. It also has one of my favorite last lines.
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Tougher Than Leather (dir. Rick Rubin) 
If Action Jackson brings blaxploitation into the ‘80s, Tougher Than Leather is pure ‘70s blaxploitation that happens to be 10 years too late. Better known as “the Run DMC movie,” Tougher Than Leather features the group as themselves and gets them wrapped up in a criminal plot that involves drugs and murder. Music producer Rick Rubin directs and stars as the villain, but shows no real talent for either. That’s just another of the movie’s novel charms, though. Because the movie was made basically to support Run D.M.C.’s album of the same name, there’s a ton of music in the movie and it’s all fantastic. Bonus points for the Beastie Boys!
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Shakedown (dir. James Glickenhaus) 
Peter Weller is a lawyer, Sam Elliott is a cop. You don’t need to know much more to want to see this one. After making a couple of low-budget action exploitation films like The Exterminator and The Soldier, this was Glickenhaus’ shot at the big time, working for a real studio with real movie stars and a decent budget. Not surprisingly, he knocks it out of the park. Both stars are terrific and there are a few great set pieces, including one at the end that involves an airplane. This movie has found some love in recent years – in part thanks to a Blu-ray from Shout! Factory – which has been nice to see. It’s a bummer that Glickenhaus only directed a couple more movies, because he brought something special to the genre.
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Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (dir. Dwight H. Little) 
I love the first four Halloween movies, but The Return of Michael Myers is my favorite of the bunch. I know this is blasphemy. I would never argue it’s a better movie than any of the others, but it’s the one to which I return the most and which puts me in the happiest place. I like all the characters – in particular Jamie (Danielle Harris) and Rachel (Ellie Cornell) – and Dwight H. Little really nails the autumnal atmosphere. This isn’t just an underrated ’88 movie; it’s one of my favorite horror movies ever. Dwight H. Little is such an underrated director. He’s my boy.
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Satisfaction (dir. Joan Freeman) 
The least defensible movie on this list, but I cannot deny the love I have for it. This was Hollywood’s lone attempt to turn Justine Bateman into a movie star by way of the short-lived NBC Films. It’s a “one crazy summer” movie in which Bateman and her band Mystery (which includes Trini Alvarado on drums, Scott Coffey on keybords, Britta Phillips on lead guitar, and Julia Roberts on bass) travel out to the coast to play shows. Bateman begins a romance with a record producer played by Liam Neeson. See? This movie has everything. The comedy isn’t especially funny, the script not especially smart, the music not especially good, compounded by the decision to have Bateman sing all of her own lead vocals. That doesn’t mean I’m not driving around with the soundtrack in my car 30 years later, because you better believe I am. NBC tried to pull one over on us by changing the title to Girls of Summer when they aired it on television in the late ‘80s, but they couldn’t fool me. Satisfaction 4 life.
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The Night Before (dir. Thom Eberhardt) 
The first of two underrated Keanu Reeves movies on this list! (And I could have just as easily included The Prince of Pennsylvania, a third underrated Keanu.) In his one real shot at a teen comedy, Keanu plays a sweet dork who scores a date for the prom with the most popular girl in school (Lori Loughlin), only to black out and sell her to a pimp. This is one of those “one crazy night” movies that I love, too offbeat to succeed as a teen movie but destined to be an HBO staple. It was. The great Thom Eberhardt (Soul Survivor, Night of the Comet) embraces some of the darker aspects of the comedy, and Keanu is positively winning in a performance that predicts Ted Theodore Logan just one year later. His delivery of “It’s a little owl!” will never not make me laugh.
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Permanent Record (dir. Marisa Silver) 
Keanu #2 couldn’t be more different than The Night Before. This devastating drama centers around the unexpected suicide of the brightest, most talented kid in school and how everyone in his life reacts: his family, his teachers, his fellow students, and his best friend, played by Keanu. The last scenes of Permanent Record are as moving as anything I’ve ever seen. I’m getting choked up just thinking about them. Anyway, Keanu is great and so is the movie.
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Dead Heat (dir. Mark Goldblatt) 
Another movie I’m not positive is still underrated, at least not among genre fans who have realized that a buddy cop comedy-slash-zombie film is an inspired concept, particularly when Treat Williams is playing one of the cops investigating his own murder. And his name is Roger Mortis!! I think you get it. Unfortunately, the other cop is played by Joe Piscopo, who never met a line he couldn’t make unfunny here. Doesn’t matter! The movie is too much fun to let Piscopo drag it down. It’s got Vincent Price AND Darren McGavin! Mark Goldblatt is really underrated as a director; coming from an editing background (he’s still one of the biggest editors working today), he knows how to put a movie together with no fat on it. I wish he had gotten more than two chances to make a movie.
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As always, thank you to Brian Saur and Rupert Pupkin Speaks not just for inviting me to participate in these “Underrated” series, but for providing them in the first place. It’s great to have a place on the internet that is passionate and positive and that champions all kinds of movies.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Underrated '88 - Scott Drebit

Scott Drebit is Senior Columnist at Daily Dead covering older films (Drive-In Dust Offs) and TV (It Came from the Tube). At home, the only thing he is Senior of is Aging.

Thanks as always to Brian for inviting me over to share some films that may have gotten lost in the cinematic landscape of ’88, or at the very least are worth another look 30 years down the road. I think time has been kind to the following films.

Prison (Directed by Renny Harlin)
This nasty little number was Finnish director Harlin’s calling card for A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, and in this prison-set revenge tale from beyond the grave he clearly shows a keen visual eye very much in the Freddy vein. Great effects, a mean vibe, and Viggo Mortensen in full on greasy mode make Prison worth a visit.
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Bad Dreams (Directed by Andrew Fleming)
Speaking of Freddy, Bad Dreams may seem like a cynical cash in (the trailer certainly sold it as such), but this story of a cult survivor (Jennifer Rubin) who is seemingly haunted by the long dead leader (Richard Lynch) has more on its mind than bedtime boogeymen. Dealing with loss and cult of personality with a smart script co-written by director Fleming (The Craft) and Steven E. deSouza (Die Hard), Bad Dreams shouldn’t be slept on.
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Brain Damage (Directed by Frank Henenlotter)
Six long years after the seedy New York monsterpiece Basket Case, director Henenlotter returned with a bigger budget to drop more of his exploitation magic on an unsuspecting public. This time around Frank tackles addiction; but if you think Belial’s maker has gone all preachy, stick around as a pustule-ridden parasite named Aylmer injects a hallucinogen into the neck of our hero Brian (Rick Hearst), but at a cost – Aylmer requires constant human sacrifice. Leaning even more into humor, Brain Damage is by turns trippy, silly, gory, goopy fun with something to say if you’re looking for it. Oh, and Aylmer croons like Bing Crosby if you’re still unsure about taking the trip.
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18 Again! (Directed by Paul Flaherty)
The late ‘80s saw an influx of Freaky Friday inspired body switch jams; Like Father, Like Son, Vice Versa, Big, and this all came out very close together like some mouse-eared multiverse and we mostly ate some of them up. For some strange reason, I have a soft spot for 18 Again!; it could be the fact that I was the titular age when it was released, or that its grandfather (George Burns)/grandson (Charlie Schlatter) dynamic was one I never got to enjoy at that age. It’s certainly not the plot, which plays out as predictably as all the others, nor does it give the 90-something Burns much to do; he bookends the film, first at his 81 birthday party (where he wishes he could be 18 again) and then at the end. Instead all lessons are learned by Schlatter, who gets to act like Burns for almost the entire running time, and he’s quite delightful in the part. I guess that would be the strange reason; Schlatter charmed the pants right off of me.
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The Nest (Directed by Terence H. Winkless)
Carnivorous cockroaches are the order of the day, and Roger Corman’s Concorde Pictures has ‘em. Robert Lansing (Empire of the Ants) is an island mayor who has let a mysterious corporation experiment with the little critters in the hopes they would eat themselves right out of the food chain; no such luck, and it’s up to sheriff Franc Luz (Ghost Town) and Lansing’s daughter Lisa Langois (Class of 1984) to save the day. The Nest is a nifty, slimy, gross update of the bug flicks so prevalent in the ‘70s, and I would be negligent if I didn’t mention Terri Treas (The Terror Within)’ sly turn as the horny scientist who gets turned on by the cock-a-roaches. Yeah, it’s that kind of film.
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Well that’s my rusty two cents; thanks as always to Brian for letting me prattle on. See you in the funnies!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Just The Discs - Episode 63 - FEMALE TROUBLE with XTRO

On this episode, JTD regular Stephanie Crawford is back to talk about one of her favorite people - John Waters - and his film FEMALE TROUBLE (now out from Criterion). Brian and Stephanie also examine the amazing craziness of the film XTRO, which is like E.T., but really not like E.T. at all (new on Blu-ray from Second Sight in the UK).

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The Discs discussed on this episode:

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XTRO (Second Sight)
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Monday, July 16, 2018

New Release Roundup for the Week of July 17th, 2018

ISLE OF DOGS on Blu-ray (Fox)
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ISLE OF DOGS Collectible Gift Set (Fox)
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JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN on Blu-ray (Disney Movie Club)

YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE on Blu-ray (Lionsgate)
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THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN on Blu-ray (Warner Archive)
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CINDERELLA LIBERTY on Blu-ray (Twilight Time)
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IRMA LA DOUCE on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
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SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE on Blu-ray (Criterion)
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THE CASE OF THE SCORPION'S TAIL on Blu-ray (Arrow Video)
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THE REVOLT OF MAMIE STOVER on Blu-ray (Twilight Time)
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GENGHIS KAHN on Blu-ray (Twilight Time)
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DOOM ASYLUM on Blu-ray (Arrow Video)
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