Despite generally loving movies about the supernatural, and in spite of “The Plague of the Zombies” being very much ahead of its time in its implementing of voodoo as a means of our villain enacting his devious plan, I was indifferent toward “The Plague of the Zombies.” I can’t say that I completely hated it, but while it packs in some tension and great mood set pieces, I wasn’t too sad when it finally drew to a close.
Take the unabashed violence of the eighties action films where all that stood between peace and war was one guy with a gun, throw in a slasher film, and you have what is one of my absolute childhood favorites. “Cobra” brings me back to a time where I’d watch Marion Cobretti bring down a thug with the cold hard steel of his Colt .45 and still have time to go home and unwind with some left over pizza. Thankfully “Cobra” still pretty much holds up today as a mixing of two very popular genres from the decade, and it works for the most part.
Director/Star Bradley Cooper’s “A Star is Born” will likely go down in history as one of the greatest remakes of all time. Cooper doesn’t try so much to remake a story that’s been already remade, but rethink it for a modern culture. In the end “A Star is Born” excels because it doesn’t lose sight of what it wants to convey as an epic romance, and a tale about identity, and stardom. It’s a beautiful and often soul shattering drama that Cooper directs with immense humility and is able to derive wonderful performances all around.
For all three of you fans of the “Poison Ivy” movie series wondering when we’d finally see all four of the films from the series on Blu-Ray, Shout Factory finally brings it to us with extras and restorations. Truth is I’m eagerly awaiting the “Devil in the Flesh” duology on Blu-Ray (Sidenote: Do you think anyone has the balls to release the entire “Wild Things” saga?), but for now we have this neat box set of some of the best worst erotic trash that’s ever been brought to movie fans from Warner bros. And just in time for Valentine’s Day and Women in Horror Month, too! You can ogle a pre-career renaissance Drew Barrymore, or up and comer Jaime Pressly, or a post-“Degrassi” Miriam McDonald.
There’s no wrong option, is the bullet point of my explanation.
Jamie Blanks’ “Valentine” is one of the many latter day slasher films that would completely steal from the premise of “Slaughter High” and retrofit it to a new generation, as well as blatantly ape the gimmick of “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” “Valentine” is one of the more ambitious slashers that not only steals from “Slaughter High” but also jumps on the valentine holiday as its primary gimmick for the stalking and slashing. “My Bloody Valentine” always has my loyalty, while “Valentine” is just a sub-par absolutely vanilla slasher thriller with the classic whodunit plot motivation that also became a common element of latter day slashers post-“Scream.”
One of most controversial and divisive story arcs of the nineties is brought to the small screen in an epic fashion, and DC and Warner manage to adapt the final half of the “Death of Superman” storyline for a broader audience. While nineties kids will love to see the whole mystery of the Four Supermen once again, DC works within the limitations of the characters they’re allowed to use, and re-imagines most of the storyline of the Reign of the Supermen, right down the primary antagonist working behind the scenes.
Norman Jewison’s “In the Heat of the Night” remains one of Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger’s banner dramas, it’s a tense, taut, and engrossing crime thriller that brings to life one of the most compelling on screen heroes I’ve ever seen. Based on John Ball’s series of books about African American gumshoe named Virgil Tibbs, Jewison brings to the screen the first of the books. “Heat,” as written by Stirling Silliphant for the big screen is an imperfect drama with a little bit too much fat to the narrative, but in the end it comes out as a pretty as remarkable drama about the racially turbulent South and a man trying to uncover a crime that reaches far deeper than anyone, even the police chief, realizes.
Director James Yukich’s “Double Dragon” is a nineties anomaly that’s right up there with “Super Mario Bros: The Movie,” and “Street Fighter: The Movie.” It’s so deliriously awful and willingly misses the point of the source material it adapts, and yet it’s delightfully entertaining. As an artifact of the decade, it’s a fun tribute to everything 1990’s (Mark Dacascos and Scott Wolf!), as a video game movie it’s a fascinating example of what not to do, and as an action movie it’s a serviceable amalgam of martial arts, comedy, science fiction, post apocalyptic fantasy, and chop socky schlock. If you can divorce yourself from the video game, “Double Dragon” works as a fascinating but entertaining botched cash in on a video game series that was so much better.