Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '98 - Daniel Budnik ""

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Underrated '98 - Daniel Budnik

Dan Budnik's second book, '80s Action Movies On The Cheap, is available now and can be ordered from Amazon. His first book, Bleeding Skull!: A 1980s Trash-Horror Odyssey, is out of print but can still be found by those who look hard enough. His writing is on the Some Polish American Guy Reviews Things blog and the Bleeding Skull! website. He is host of the Eventually Supertrain and the Dan's Drive-In Double Feature podcasts, located at He is also co-host of The Made For TV Mayhem Show and part of the Podcastmania horror discussion.

My favorite film from ‘98 is Rushmore. Hands down. I don’t consider it underrated (maybe under watched) so it’s not on here. When I began this list, that was the first movie that came to mind. The second thing that came to mind was that there would be a slasher film or two on here. I, then, had to restrain myself from making this a list of slasher films. (Sorry, Urban Legend.) Then, I had to stop myself from making this nothing but sequels. This is the first list I’ve done for Mr. Pupkin where some of the picks are films that I saw when they came out (in theaters or on home video) but haven’t watched since. That means this list is a little vaguer than my other ones. However, I stand by everything on here, even when I can’t fully remember it. (Except maybe the first one.)

Children of the Corn 5
I saw this once on DVD back in ‘99. I hadn’t seen 3 or 4. I hadn’t seen the first two in years. I rented it on a whim, possibly because of Ethan Wiley’s name. I’m a fan of the House movies so I gave it a whirl. I remember quite enjoying it. I remember corn, some children, a fire and that’s about it. Whenever I think about the 10 films in the Children of the Corn series (and I do think about them), I always think “I remember that 5th one being pretty good. I should watch some more of those.” I guess what I’m really saying is “Arrow Video, please release a 12-disc Blu-Ray set (2 discs with extras) of the Children of the Corn movies. Thank you.”
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I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
I saw the first one in the theater. I saw this one at home. I haven’t seen the first one since opening night. I have seen this sequel three times. It’s a hoot. It’s the point that we all knew the new wave of slashers would hit: the absurd point. Slashers are always kind of silly at their heart. But, this is the one where any pretense at not being completely ridiculous goes out the window. Everything about it is incredibly contrived. Too many main characters survive. The poster is awful. The karaoke scene is brilliant. My overwhelming remembrance of it after the first viewing was “cleavage.” I could go on and on, so I’ll just stop and say I like it. I like it a lot.
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Phantasm 4: Oblivion
I remember being mighty excited for this one when it came out. I was a big fan of the first three. I watched Oblivion, enjoyed it and carried on with my life. It felt slightly different from the first three, but I couldn’t quite pinpoint what that difference was. I recently watched it again and someone had to tell me what was different. It’s very cheap. I hadn’t noticed. It’s very spare compared to the first three. But, it’s just as weird and just as wonderful as those. You’ve got the Tall Man, Mike, Reggie, Jody (sort of) and lots of weird sci-fi multi-dimensional gates and guys who may or may not be the Tall Man and… the film is absolutely loaded with concepts and craziness. When you don’t have the cash, bring on the imagination. Thank you, Don.
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Santa Claus (1898)
George Albert Smith tells the very simple but extremely delightful story of two children being put to bed on Christmas Eve, awaiting Santa. We see the children sleeping on one side of the screen as Santa draws closer on the other. SPOILER: These kids have a happy Christmas. The film is only about a minute and a half, but it encapsulates everything that is wonderful and breathtaking within the Modern Cinematograph movement.

Slappy And the Stinkers
I haven’t seen it. But, with that title, it must be underrated. Think Rafferty And the Gold Dust Twins or Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma’s Hung You in the Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Sad.
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Snake Eyes
I love the films of De Palma. Sure, we all do. But, I went to see this on opening morning. Did you? Nic Cage in a casino doing crazy stuff. That incredibly long opening take. Boxing. Terrorists. Something with a giant globe. (?) You got me. This is another one of “those” films. I saw it when it came out and haven’t seen it since. But, I stand by the fact that it’s super fun De Palma. I remember having an awesome time in the theater. It’s one of those films like Raising Cain where he’s just going nuts and the viewer wins. Plus, Nic Cage!
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Star Trek Insurrection
I’m a fan of most of the Trek films. Insurrection falls into the category of “could have been an extended episode of the show” but as Next Gen was a great show I can’t fault it there. The peaceful and immortal Ba’ku come into conflict with the not-so-nice Son’a who want the Ba’ku’s planet for their own, so they can become immortal. And, the wacky Enterprise crew gets mixed up in there. Picard gets a bit of a romance, which is always fun. It’s not a classic like First Contact or Wrath of Khan. It’s simply a good Trek film with a good story, well told. And, it’s always great to see the gang. Plus, I was an extra in the Ba’ku village for about a month. I’ve watched it twice and haven’t seen me yet. I’m sure I’m in there somewhere.
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The Truman Show
I was working as an intern at New Line Cinema when this script came in. The Development person handed it to me and I sat outside and read it. I knew nothing about it. I was blown away. As you go through the story, Truman seems to be living a completely normal life. There are only tiny hints, here and there, that something strange might be happening. Eventually, but only after many pages have passed, do you learn what’s going on. It’s gloriously written, and I was completely surprised. Then, the movie came out. The main conceit of the film is all over the publicity and is completely ruined. You no longer take Truman’s journey with him. You know the destination. You’re watching him journey alone. The film is fine. I think I’m calling this one an Underrated Script. If you haven’t seen it, read/ watch nothing about it. You will be surprised.
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X-Files: Fight The Future
Lodged in between the S5 closer “The End” and the S6 opener “The Beginning,’ Scully & Mulder go big in the Summer of ’98. I didn’t start watching X-Files until 2001. A friend dragged me to a theater in Burbank to see this and I had a great time. I didn’t understand a damn thing that was going on, but it was a sold-out crowd and the excitement of the crowd was infectious. I’ve watched the show all the way through three times now. So, I’ve seen this three more times. It answers a few questions but leaves just as many wide open. The joy here is seeing our main characters up on the big screen, larger and more epic than ever before. It’s a lot of fun. Comparing it to the stark and quiet second movie makes for an interesting evening. (Now, that’s an underrated film.)
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