Streets of Fire (1984): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray]

After years of just being available on DVD and Blu-Ray in other countries and regions, Shout Factory comes to the rescue to deliver fans a deluxe edition of one of the most underrated action films ever made. Something of a spiritual sequel to Walter Hill’s “The Warriors,” director Hill sets his latest gang land picture in an undisclosed period between the 20’s and 40’s in what is apparently New York. Sadly, Hill intended the film to be the first of a trilogy, but while we never got that wish, “Streets of Fire” still manages to be a single adventure rich in character and pulp appeal. Starring the incredible beautiful Diane Lane, and the fantastic Michael Pare, “Streets of Fire” is a rock and roll musical, romance, gangster, action, adventure. It has everything for mostly everyone and it gets better with every viewing.

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The Hills Have Eyes (1977): Deluxe Edition [Blu-Ray]

Wes Craven’s survival horror film is a bit rough around the edges in terms of editing and acting, but that’s also why it’s so stark and creepy. It’s a gritty and grimy film much like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and its tone lends it something of a semi-documentary aesthetic. Everything, right down to the final shot feels so probable and possible of happening in this universe. It’s the destruction of the nuclear family by the ultimate clan of what society would normally deem the antithesis of the traditional family. Not to mention it’s the society cannibalizing one another right down to the very last man. I initially didn’t enjoy “The Hills Have Eyes” when I saw it a decade ago, but watching it again has allowed me to really enjoy what Craven intended and how soaked in dread and violence it is.

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Donnie Darko (2001) (4-Disc Limited Edition Blu-Ray/DVD)

On the anniversary of Richard Kelly’s unparalleled masterpiece, “Donnie Darko” is given a wonderful treatment a la Arrow Video. The set features not only the theatrical cut, but the extended director’s cut, as well as a plethora of special features and unique collectibles for fans of the universe he’s created. Except for “S. Darko” (Kelly has publicly denounced that alleged “sequel” to his film). That said, “Donnie Darko” from Arrow depends on your enjoyment of the movie, since the original film was given a nifty release years ago, as well as the Director’s Cut, but both cuts differ vastly in quality and pacing. I’ve expressed my love for “Donnie Darko” in the past, as it’s a stunning and gripping labyrinth of mystery that combines horror, fantasy, surrealism, and existentialism in a tale about parallel universes and fate.

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Monster Trucks (2017)

I think Nickelodeon has things bassackwards when it comes to “Monster Trucks.” In the nineties and perhaps even eighties, a normal company would have released a “Monster Trucks” toy line followed by its very own movie. Instead we have a long gestating kids movie about glowing monsters that hide in trucks that transform in to… monster trucks—or something. And there’s not a toy line to be had. I say that because “Monster Trucks” watches more like a pitch movie for a franchise than it does an actual movie. “Monster Trucks” was created by a four year old (no seriously, look it up), and intended to be aimed at younger kids (Honest) as a sort of pseudo-Transformers. Which in and of itself is pointless when young kids are still very much all about Transformers.

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Over the Top (1987)

I always respected how Sylvester Stallone tries to make a lot of his big screen action heroes something of blue collared, under appreciated men who are just working to get by. There was “Rocky” that helped boost how interesting boxing can be, and while arm wrestling never took off in the eighties, “Over the Top” is a decent action film about an estranged father and son making amends. “Over the Top” is admittedly a childhood favorite, and a movie I watched over a thousand times as a kid. Stallone is great, Robert Loggia is great, and director Menahem Globan charismatically films every single instance of arm wrestling as an epic moment of pride, and manhood.

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Young Guns (1988)

This is the story of The Regulators. No wait, this is the story of Billy the Kid. No this is the story of how Billy the Kid met Pat Garrett. Oh hell, it’s all of that and essentially a remake of “The Cowboys.” Rather than a small group of boys who avenge their mentor in a dramatic finale, this group of young men avenges their caretaker in the beginning and we’re stuck with them for the duration. And they do so in a very long and cheesy Western that jumps in and out of so many sub-plots that it becomes exhausting. Christopher Cain’s “Young Guns” is really only a film you’ll likely love if you were between 13 and 19 in 1988. It’s another attempt to tack the brat pack on to a movie genre, and it pretty much fails from the moment we’re introduced to various characters in a goofy opening credits sequence. Every character is essentially some kind of gimmicky contributor to the narrative, only delivering broad Western cliches.

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Blood Father (2016)

Jean-François Richet’s “Blood Father” is supposed to be considered Mel Gibson’s cinematic comeback as the action hero we all knew and love before… you know. “Blood Father” is one in the many growing titles of fifty something men displaying vigilante justice, and Gibson plays well to type. He’s that crusty fifty something man who often resembles Martin Riggs if Riggs became a convict, and attempted to spend his life redeeming himself or something. Gibson plays Link, an ex-convict working hard to live out the rest of his life as quietly as possible. But things don’t go as planned when his estranged daughter, who is involved with a vicious gangster, shows up at his door begging for shelter. But when her boyfriend is convinced she knows too much, he goes looking for her.

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