Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '88 - Patrick Bromley ""

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Underrated '88 - Patrick Bromley

Patrick Bromley is the Editor-in-Chief of F This Movie! (fthismovie.net) 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:
http://www.fthismovie.net/2018/07/ftm-445-underrated-88.html


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.

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