You don’t know how good you have it. These days everyone has Iron Man, and Captain America, Oscar winning Spider-Man movies, and massive team movies from DC and Marvel. Aquaman is a friggin’ box office juggernaut. In 1996, though we had slim pickings, and, well the best we could get was a truly terrible, painfully dull cinematic adaptation of a pulpy Dark Horse comic that doubled as a remake for “Casablanca.” No seriously, this is as good as it got for us comic book fan boys.
This is the story of Paula Parker, a petulant prepubescent princess whose depravities produced a plethora of death and deception. For shame, parents of Paula Parker, you dare not look after your teen daughter in the age of the fifties where crime was rampant. For the first time on Blu-Ray, it’s also a worthwhile title for collectors thanks to AGFA, “The Violent Years” is one of the many infamous baby boomer products of fear and hysteria that warned of a world filled with darkness, crime, debauchery, and premarital sex. Make no mistake, your teen would smoke the marijuana, and tongue kiss way before they matured in to upstanding citizens.
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.
NOW SEEKING FUNDING ON KICKSTARTER – Jason Turner’s “Sentinel” reminds me a lot of the Harry Canyon segment from “Heavy Metal” except so much more of a neo-noir cyberpunk love letter than the former. Presented as a motion comic, Jason Turner plays Ex-Cop Alex Calibourne, a man with enhanced body augmentations that lives in a crime ridden albeit futuristic city named Iron City. Calibourne lives and breathes by his robotic enhancements, and uses his artificial intelligence J.E.S.S., a sassy female AI, to guide him through his adventures in the underworld.
This involves his run ins with bar patrons, battling random thugs, and dealing with a potential femme fatale. The animation for the motion comic is pretty excellent, prompting a very dime novel aesthetic that channels the likes of “Blade Runner.” The character of Alex Calibourne aka “Iron Joe” is a fascinating anti-hero prone to falling for dames, and lurking in dark bars, despite being technologically advanced. I enjoyed the interplay between Irons and J.E.S.S., a very outspoken AI in the form of the classic noir secretary, who is most definitely feeling something for Calibourne.
This becomes evident as he begins sinking deeper and deeper in to a new assignment involving being a bodyguard for a very beautiful night club singer. Jason Turner has a unique vision and his format of a motion comic works in favor of his intended anthology movie in the vein of “Heavy Metal.” In the aforementioned film no two segments were alike, and it breaks the monotony to present the adventures of the Sentinel in various mediums. “Sentinel” is a neat and mesmerizing beginning to a unique crime hero, and Turner realizes him well enough to where you definitely root for him, and want to see where he goes next.
It’s difficult to explain “Streets of Fire” to anyone and make it sound coherent. Walter Hill’s action film has just about everything, and ends up creating one of the most vivid and exciting amalgams of genres and themes I’ve ever seen. “Streets of Fire” is a film you just have to sit down, shut up, and experience. It’s a post depression, mid-fifties, action, crime thriller and romance noir with a rock and roll and soul beat. See? I can’t sum this movie up in one whole sentence, and I’m not going to try to. I’m ashamed I took so many years getting around to watching “Streets of Fire,” but goddamn I’m very glad that I did.
For me, “Sparks” was an easy sell. I’m someone who loves serials, and classic pulp heroes that used their fists and fell for dames while fighting crime. Though “Sparks” is obviously an indie production, it garners the spirit of classic pulp heroes through and through. From a murder mystery, hard boiled cops, masked heroes, and the like, “Sparks” is an entertaining throwback to pulp heroes that, while flawed, is still worth a watch. If only for the great cast. Directors Todd Burrows and Christopher Folino leave no stone unturned in their ode to classic forties comic books, even featuring characters that smoke like it’s going out of style.
If there’s anything really good I can say about “Nurse 3D” is that you certainly won’t be bored. Will you be entertained? Well, that’s debatable, but bored? Likely not. I certainly wasn’t bored through “Nurse 3D.” Granted, it’s one of those so bad it’s good exploitation horror movies, but it’s definitely a good time, and kept me watching from minute one. It also has its fair share of gorgeous women including Paz De La Huerta, and Katrina Bowden. Broken down objectively, director Douglas Aarniokoski’s “Nurse 3D” is simply just another obsession horror film, but takes the formula and completely drops it on its head. Director Douglas Aarniokoski films the story in a pulpy glossy lens, that makes the film feel like a neo-noir horror comedy very detracted from reality.
Director Justin Baird’s “The Big Kiss Off” is a very charming movie with a lot of good intent behind it. Often times good intentions count for much, but they don’t always turn around a good movie. The good news is that “The Big Kiss Off” strives to be a new age PI crime comedy, and works because it really does present within it a tight narrative that is interesting, even when it falters every now and then.