Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '98 - Scott Drebit ""

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Underrated '98 - Scott Drebit

Scott Drebit is Senior Columnist for, where he looks at old horror movies and TV stuff (Drive-In Dust Offs, It Came from the Tube); at home he just looks at old stuff in the mirror. You can also find him on Twitter @phantasm2.

Thanks as always to Brian for inviting me to fire up the filmic time machine and pick out some films that I think could always use some more love. Here we go, back to ’98!

PHANTASM IV: OBLIVION (Directed by Don Coscarelli)
I’ve always held the Phantasm series very near and dear; the original is one of my top three films of all time, and there’s connective tissue (if not consistency of tone) through the leadership of Mr. Coscarelli. Upon hearing about the release of Oblivion, I raced to the video store to grab a copy (there was no need; it wasn’t flying off the shelf) and breathlessly threw it on once home. Continuing right where Lord of the Dead (’94) left off, it was not the slick, humor infused spectacle of the third, but a quieter, elegiac look at life, loss, and familial love. With a fraction of the budget of Lord, Coscarelli (with ingeniously added unused footage from the first) manages to bring the series to a melancholic end. As for the belated follow up, Ravager? It’s a fun family reunion and fitting way to say goodbye to the legendary Angus Scrimm. But for me, the saga concludes with Oblivion.
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DISTURBING BEHAVIOR (Directed by David Nutter)
I remember seeing this when it came out and falling asleep in the theatre. Not because I wasn’t enjoying it, but rather the fact I was working a back breaking job in construction and was exhausted. So, my viewing would have to be completed on home video, where I noticed a clever, sharp, and very of it’s time take on The Stepford Wives; high school has always been about fitting in or finding one’s own identity, so what better place for conspiracy-filled science to stake a claim? The cast is solid (James Marsden, Nick Stahl, Katie Holmes, and William Sadler), Nutter offers up that X-Files patina, and the soundtrack has the alt-rock you were listening to in your Discman.
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OUT OF SIGHT (Directed by Steven Soderbergh)
Living in the shadow of Tarantino’ Jackie Brown (which I love), Steven Soderbergh’s adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel finds that sweet spot between humor, character, and plot that effortlessly flowed from Leonard’s pen. George Clooney is a bank robber and Jennifer Lopez is the agent determined to bring him down, and their chemistry is undeniable. The supporting cast, however (Steve Zahn, Catherine Keener, Ving Rhames, Dennis Farina, Don Cheadle, Albert Brooks), were born to play Leonard roles and really make his words sing. It may not be Soderbergh’s most personal film, but damned if it isn’t one of his most pleasurable.
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BRIDE OF CHUCKY (Directed by Ronny Yu)
After the straightforward thrills of Tom Holland’s original Child’s Play, the goofy charms of 2, and the Chucky-hits-the-Military blandness of 3, Hong Kong’s Ronny Yu was brought aboard Don Mancini’s baby to offer something a little different, and not a moment too soon. Bride of Chucky has our Good Guy doll finding a mate in the form of Charles Lee Ray’s missus, Tiffany, played with incomparable relish by Jennifer Tilly. Once she is transformed into doll form, the film really takes off; this is where the series truly becomes self-referential, and if you miss the clever thrills of the original, well, that’s too bad because this is the direction the series takes from here on out (although Curse of Chucky returns to the roots in many ways). Yu’s heightened sense of style adds a great deal to the shenanigans; it’s a beautiful film to look at, even when you’re watching tawdry motel room doll-on-doll sex. This is my second favorite of the series (so far; Chucky’s still truckin’) after the original.
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That’s it for me. Thanks again Brian for your tireless work in rocking the movie discourse! We’re all the better for it.

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