It’s stunning how subtle and delicate “45 Years” introduces itself, only to end on such a heavy and gut wrenching final scene that leaves you with the weight of questions and uneasy answers. From beginning to end, director Andrew Haigh confronts many of life’s very difficult problems, including how easy it is for a relationship approaching a century, can be dismantled in only a week. Haigh almost seems to count down to the final day where couple Kate and Geoff celebrates their four and a half decades together as a married couple. Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling are stellar as a seemingly mundane husband and wife whose life is changed one day with a letter that arrives for Geoff.
By 1993, Robocop had turned from a Christ allegory with a vicious blood streak to a bonafide kids’ mascot who was appearing on lunch boxes and Saturday morning cartoons. Thus was the weird period of the eighties and nineties where even folks like Conan, Rambo, Chuck Norris, and heck, even Freddy Krueger became kiddie fodder. The official final go around for Robocop is a tame and pretty dull 1993 film that director Fred Dekker is saddled with, that takes Robocop in to more family friendly territory right down to having a spunky child sidekick. Not much has happened for Robocop and Detroit since the first two films, as the city is still very much under the death grip of crime, while OCP still controls every going on. Dekker has a lot of catching up to do and sadly doesn’t deliver much in the way of a great sequel, as “Robocop 3” essentially repeats a lot of the same beats from the first two films.
Irvin Kershner has a knack for taking original films and amplifying what makes them work initially. With “RoboCop 2,” Kershner takes the RoboCop mythology to new heights creating a film that’s significantly more memorable than the original and arguably better. That’s a controversial statement for sure but when a lot of fans think of RoboCop, they think about the RoboCop 2 unit which becomes something of a parallel to Alex Murphy. Where in Alex is still grasping with bits and pieces of his humanity and consciousness, our villain Cain fully embraces the technological shell he is transplanted in and begins to wreak absolute havoc.
For fans that missed out on the original release of “Hey Vern! It’s Ernest!” Mill Creek Entertainment offers up an eighties oddity that entertained me when I was but a wee four year old lad on Saturday mornings. “Hey Vern! It’s Ernest” is a show in the tradition of “Pee Wee’s Playhouse” that is—well—pretty much like Pee Wee’s Playhouse, except where Pee Wee Herman is a man child with a bunch of colorful friends, Vern, as played by Jim Varney, is kind of a Southern blue collared man prone to changing characters at the drop of a hat and getting in to all kinds of wacky misadventures. Varney immortalized the character of Ernest in the eighties, and he became something of an underdog hero in the late eighties to early nineties starring in various films and ad campaigns. “Hey Vern!” had a brief run as opposed to “Pee Wee’s Playhouse” but shares the same wonky attitude and surreal comedy that can be appreciated by cult audiences alike.
If there’s anything that Stephen King loves to write about, it’s powerful children with god-like abilities, and I imagine considering most of his stories connect in to a universe, someone with Danny Torrance’s abilities is married to someone with the abilities from “Firestarter.” Mike Lester’s adaptation of the Stephen King novel is not a masterpiece, but I still insist it’s a fun movie with a good amount of effort behind it. The only thing it really suffers from is being ahead of its time. I imagine were we given a new adaptation “Firestarter” might be a mix of dazzling and disturbing a la “Carrie.” As it is, “Firestarter” is mostly a compelling horror drama about another very powerful young girl who is being hunted by the government.
I would love to have been a fly on the wall during the pitch meeting for “Red Dawn.” Let’s take some of the most popular all-American teen stars, some of whom are from the Brat Pack and pit them against foreign invaders trying to take over America. Imagine! The All-American brat pack fighting terrorism! No one would dare fuck with Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen! People will come in droves! That said, “Red Dawn” is a childhood favorite and one my brother and I watched over and over whenever it was on television. Yes, it’s goofy, and violent, and a jingoistic fantasy, but it’s also a fun, action packed, and interesting concept with its “Rah Rah America!” patriotism heavily steeped in a “What If?” narrative.
Severin films feeds the appetites of action movie buffs once again with their second part of “Kung Fu Trailers of Fury.” The region free Blu-Ray comes packed with over two hours over kung fu movie trailers that also delves in to comedy, animation, and drama, even. There are thirty five trailers total that skim over the massive landscape of Asian cinema, and fans will be very pleased to indulge in an uncut look at some of the best and most noteworthy films in the sub-genre. While the trailers aren’t all at even volume, with most of them presenting louder or softer volume as a whole, the trailers are offered in their original aspect ratios.
Stu Segall’s attempt at a horror movie is only seventy minute in length but feels like it goes on for an eternity. Resembling a really cheap and gory cop drama, “Drive In Massacre” is painfully paced and poorly plotted with a tone that is literally all over the place. Sometimes it’s a slasher, sometimes a murder mystery, sometime it tries to be a true crime drama, and other times, it opts for comedy. How are we supposed to take our heroes at all seriously when, in an effort to infiltrate the murderer targeting drive in couples, one of the officers decides to dress up as a woman? What is the intent behind “Drive-In Massacre”? Are we supposed to consider it a satire that was way ahead of its time? Was the director aiming for something in the vein of “The Town that Dreaded Sundown,” except it’s all confined to a local drive in?