Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '88 - Brandon Smith ""

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Underrated '88 - Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith has been a film junkie since the yesteryears of VHS and Laserdisc, also a hardcore advocate of physical media. @bsmith8168 is dedicated to seeking out any under seen and underrated film from around the globe. In his spare time he helps out the good people at AGFA to help in the preservation and distribution of many of oft talked of titles that many thought lost in the malaise of the grindhouse era.

James Woods used to be known as a great actor, unfortunately he is has chosen a different path for himself. Either way Woods is amazing in this James Ellroy adaption that is gritty in all the right places. Woods plays a cop that's marriage is falling apart, because he can't separate himself from his job and is in the beginning of losing his family. At the same time he stumbles upon a grisly crime scene which involves a mutilated girl and all the signs of a serial killer. Woods is pretty sleazy throughout so he kind of has his real life hard to like character going for him. This film has one of the best endings in any film ever. Woods has zero fucks to give.
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Dead Heat
Buddy cop film meets Re-Animator complete with crazy practical effects and balls to walls action. Two cops run into a jewelry heist performed by some crazed nut jobs that are reanimated corpses. When the duo goes after the people responsible for the robbers they are confronted by a huge multi-faced biker zombie, which results in the death of one of the cops momentarily. The film is equally parts goofy and gooey. The perfect mix for a film of this era, tons of fun and stupid.
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Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis
Large scale epic fantasy film from Japan about a 10th century general's evil reincarnation that returns to the 20th century to destroy Tokyo. The film is loaded with big name Japanese actors Shintar├┤ Katsu, Hisashi Igawa, and J├┤ Shishdo. Not to mention enough practical effects and stop motion animation to make it feel like you are watching some long long Harryhausen film. The story is a little all over the place, but for an '80s adult action fantasy film this is tops.
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Late '80s oddity that features a crazed homicidal priest that is randomly shooting people while driving down the freeway. A female survivor that's boyfriend was gunned down teams up with an ex-cop that has his own dirty past and a talk radio host that receives calls from the killer on the regular. The film has that wild exploitive flair that was the norm at this time and creates a anything goes atmosphere that is exciting throughout the film. There is a plethora of car/gun carnage that has it's own message on gun control and road rage that is just as relevant today as then.
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Demon City Shinjuku
From the director of Ninja Scroll and Wicked City comes yet another crazed anime film that is loaded with crazy demon monsters and cool characters. The film starts with a showdown between good and evil, evil wins and basically destroys Tokyo in the process. Ten years later the son of the man that dies in the intro is now old enough to go after the demon that killed his father and is about unleaded doom on the planet. Pretty familiar storyline that is highlighted through some eye popping visuals, a subway fight and a killer snake woman that take the cake. This is the beginning of when Japanese animation started to be a major player in the west and is still a marvel today.
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Every time I watch an Indian film I have an unease about the runtime, which this one clocks in at just under two and a half hours. Veerana is epic in every way, after a witch/vampire is captured and burned alive her satanic cult takes back her corpse to their lair where a ritual is performed so she can take possession of another's body. She takes over the young daughter of the man that captured her and in return her father is captured by the head satanist, who returns the possessed girl to her uncle and lives with them to over time kill off the entire family. Just another day in Bollywood, the film features lots of zany characters. There is a stoner that nobody believes what he sees due to the fact that he is baked all the time, a would be horror film director that breaks the fourth wall constantly, and of the lead cultist that creepily smiles at everyone all the time. The filmmakers seem to be trying to emulate a chunk of American horror films there's a bit of The Evil Dead, The Exorcist, and a bunch of vampire film references. Overall the film is a riot start to finish and probably more under seen than underrated.
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The Dreaming
Wild Australian horror film that is about a nurse who has a young aborigine patient that dies and somehow she is possessed by the girl with seeing visions from the past. At the same the nurse's father is excavating a cave that was inhabited by aborigines that where pillaged by whaler pirates over 200 years ago. There is a remarkable resemblance to The Fog, the flashback dream sequences are what make this film. The look of the whalers is utterly menacing and it's hard to look away. There is a good amount of tension throughout and the film turns into an almost straight up slasher in the final act. I'm a sucker for Australian exploitation films so this feels like it was made for me, but it does need to be reassessed.
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Death Collector
No budget indie new wave that has plenty going for it including a stellar minimalist soundtrack, a bevy of non-actors, and some pretty well written dialogue. The film is set in some near future dystopia where there was a glitch in the banks and everybody lost their shit when they lost all there money. The setting is that typical '80s post apocalyptic urban setting that is loaded with cretins like Robocop or Street Trash where you can't tell if it's the future or just a really shitty part of a big city. There is a syndicate type of villain that is running the city and early on is involved in the death of the protagonist's brother, which leaves him in prison and wanting revenge. The film is shaped like a Western and has all the makings of something more than it is including a pretty badass final showdown act.
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Touch of Death
Lucio Fulci delivers yet again in this oft referenced later period film about a gigolo that brazenly kills off well to do widows to steal there fortunes and blow it on the ponies. It doesn't sound like the biggest showstopper of a storyline, but in the hands of Fulci this Lifetime movie scenario is lifted to ridiculous heights. The gigolo is not only seen in multiple situations of embarrassment as he tries to woe these desperate and in most cases hideous women that ends in of course unsettling ultraviolence and in some cases a meal?!? One of the best films of Fulci's final arc, the 88 Films BluRay is wonderful and a must own for any Fulci fans.
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Cyber Ninja
Obscure late '80s Japanese action film that is parts Terminator, '70s Samurai film, and Power Rangers. This film is nuts there are flying Japanese castle spaceships, telescopes that can see clearly through buildings, and of course ninjas. The film is set in the future, where Japan resembles 18th century feudal Japan only now with laser swords and laser throwing stars. Cheap, strange, but still entertaining and enjoyable with a story that involves a captured princess, two separated brothers, a cyborg ninja fighting to get his soul back, and an evil space lord. It's like the Japanese Star Wars that you didn't know you needed.
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Crazy straight to video thriller that has lots of crazy shit going on all the time. The film is ugly, there are basically no characters to root for and you know that no one is going to get out easy, which makes it even more fun. There isn't really a main character, the focus shifts all the time it has an almost low grade Altman feel to it trapped inside a batshit crazy '80s trash films. The film starts with a scene of a man killing off a family inside some sort of Vietnam flashback, then it switches to a jail cell with a new young inmate getting harassed by a scuzzy racist Frank Stallone and the beginning of a prison break, then the focus is on some random ass family that is having issues with the parents and some pain in the ass kids. The film sounds like a complete mess, but it all works together and creates a ever growing fiasco that results in a massive body count and the most random family building exercises ever put to celluloid. God bless the '80s!
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One and done director Lloyd Fonvielle's Noir thriller has quite a lot going for it. Tommy Lee Jones is a down on his luck private investigator hired on to convince a man's dead wife to quit stalking him. The mystery woman is played by an amazingly attractive Virginia Madsen, who does a great job of being equally seductive and otherworldly. Jones is great as normal and with his typical take no shit attitude ties in well with his character. There are a couple scenes that seem hokey, one sex scene in particular, but thanks to some eerie imagery it makes the film more credible. As far as ghost story films go, this is not The Shining but it's still an enjoyable film with good performances.
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