Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '89 - Dan Gorman ""

Friday, September 20, 2019

Underrated '89 - Dan Gorman

Dan Gorman is the co-host of Notes from the Back Row, a magazine-style cinema podcast with new episodes every-other week. He can also be found co-running CHUD Buddies, an online B-Movie screening collective and Discord community or finally just sitting around on Twitter as @yckmd.

Fatal Exposure (1989)
Directed by Peter B. Good
This shot-on-film but edited-on-video gem features Jack Rippington (grandson of, you guessed it, Jack the Ripper) who is on a mission to kill ladies and drink their blood (at least once he downs a pint and belches like he just slammed a Coors.) Why is he doing this? Because his grandfather told him that's how you get to be a real man. Also, he wants a son so he can "show him the magic of being A RIPPINGTON." This is essential viewing for VCR jockeys looking for their next unknown thrill.

This head-spinning epic is stuffed with solid gore, ridiculous dialogue and a main character who DIRECTLY ADDRESSES YOU, THE VIEWER. Someone get this one on a BluRay, stat!!!
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Prancer (1989)
Directed by John D. Hancock
John D. Hancock's film is as magical as it is unrelentingly depressing; this tale of a young girl, her struggling apple-farmer father, and a reindeer - who might just be Prancer - absolutely won me over. Bring some tissues though, because: Niagara Falls, Frankie Angel.

Probably the most popular/well-known film to grace my “Underrated 1989” list, but having seen Prancer for the first time last year and falling in love with it, I just couldn’t bring myself to not include this. I still can’t believe that this movie isn't kept in high regard, because it's a masterpiece in my eyes.

Prancer seems to sit in an odd place in film history; growing up, I couldn’t even count the amount of times I’d run into this movie on a friend-of-the-family’s movie shelf, or sitting somewhere in the basement of a pal’s house - it even seemed to pop up in every Walmart DVD bin ever, with a cloyingly sweet cover. Maybe a whole generation of kids my age pushed this bleakly realistic and depressing movie out of our minds?
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American Hunter (1989)
Directed by Arizal
Before seeing American Hunter, I had already checked out Final Score by Indonesian director Arizal (known for pumping out action flicks from ‘74 through ‘94) but that film left me a little cold.

Where Final Score had a bit more of a queasy set-up which hindered the fun-level significantly, American Hunter by comparison is a non-stop barrage of awkward lines ("You saved my life!" "....GREAT"), hilarious crowd ADR, fist fight after fist fight, shootouts, modest car flips, impressively reckless car flips, and one extremely plain faced and drably paced helicopter chase.

Nightwish (1989)
Directed by Bruce R. Cook
This is some primo hooey; another pesudo-gem that seems lost to time despite having a lot going for it - though I guess the fact that the plot is a bunch of nonsense about experiments and reaching beyond to the other side (doing so through some kind of proto-flatlining) doesn't help. Nor does the unfortunate character work from one particular actor - oof.

But! It's chock full of green-lighting, glowing floating snake... things.. every once in a while a nice goopy effect shows up, and there's some fairly charming late-80s atmosphere.

This probably won't be for everyone, especially since the characters are essentially annoying nobodies, but I had a lot of fun here otherwise. And I'll say this, lots of movies from this era have incomprehensible plots or over-complicated stories, but not too many of them actually try to tie them together somehow, and Nightwish almost accomplishes that. So, points for some level of ambition here.
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Dead Bang (1989)
Directed by John Frankenheimer
Frankenheimer followed up the sleazy and wonderful 52-Pick Up with this workmanlike thriller about a cop (played by Miami Vice's Don Johnson) who is tracking down a cop-killing member of a small but deadly group of white supremacists.

I say this is dialed back ever-so-slightly, because we're still left room for Johnson to accidentally barf on a perp after chasing him down while nursing a hangover. The final showdown has squibs-a-plenty, and there's a solid explosion in an earlier shoot-out.

It's all thoroughly watchable and very entertaining, but it certainly doesn't reach the heights of even 52-Pick Up.
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Action U.S.A. (1989)
Directed by John Stewart
Listen: while this movie can’t hold a candle to the kind of action-fests that PM ENTERTAINMENT churned out in the 90s (see: RAGE for my personal favourite), as far as late-eighties action flicks goes, this one has the goddamn goods.

When was the last time a movie made you involuntarily toss your arms in the air and clap them over your head? Because ACTION U.S.A. made me do that. One second I was watching the opening car chase, and the next a car was barreling through a camper which exploded for no reason and boy, was I happy.

This movie has everything you need: terrible acting and hilarious dialogue, fantastic stunts (helicopters! dudes on fire hurtling off bridges!), and groan-worthy attempts at comedy. The only downside is that there are a few draggy stretches, but the stunts more than make up for it. Watch with some friends and get your high-five hand ready.

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