Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '88 - Scott Drebit ""

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!

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