Home Of Pure Retro Movie Love.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Retro Movie Love Podcast Episode 26: Hollywood Pictures

Episode 26: Hollywood Pictures.
Meep explores Disney's geared for adults 1990's Film Release label Hollywood Pictures.

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iTunes (ep. 26):




Friday, June 26, 2015

New Blu-ray Reviews: Thrashin' (1986), The Mean Season (1985) & Stone Cold (1991)

THRASHIN’ from Olive Films
Original Theatrical Release Date: August 29, 1986
Blu-ray release date: June 23, 2015

The 1980’s was a grand time for every boy and girl into wheels of some kind. You had Rad, The Dirt Bike Kid, BMX Bandits, Quicksliver, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, The Wraith, the Doleron from Back to the Future I & II, Kitt from Knight Rider, the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard, The Fall Guy’s pickup truck, the Batmobile, the Ecto-1 and on and on and on. Naturally skateboarding would have it’s own movie and Thrashin’ lead the tiny pack (the other 80’s skateboard Movie Gleaming the Cube would come out 3 years later in 1989). I’m happy to report that Thrashin’ still holds up this nearly 30 years later.

To say a Movie is dated is an easy way to dismiss something old, but we here at Cinema Du Meep and Retro Movie Love revel in Movies that look their time period. Thrashin’ is so designed to be of it’s time, to really represent the skating culture of Southern California, that you can help but be lost in it all. And you know how some sports Movies have barely any sports in them? Well, there is no shortage of skateboarding in Thrashin’. This Movie is packed to the gills with impressive skateboard skills. Also, I really love to say the Movie title Thrashin'

Future bonafide Movie Star and Oscar Nominee Josh Brolin (Milk, No Country for Old Men) gets his own Movie after showing a lot of charisma in the previous year’s The Goonies. He does a fine job here, and you are along for the ride along with him. The same can be said of his co-star Pamela Gidley (Permanent Record, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me) who’s paired well with Brolin. And then there’s Robert Rusler as Hawk. Now he plays Gidley’s big brother (they look absolutely nothing alike) and in true Angsty Teen Movie mode, plays the rival of Brolin. Naturally he’s angry when Brolin makes eyes with his sister. Robert Rusler is outstanding in this Movie. Now that I think about it, he really was a standout in a lot of the smaller roles he had in the 80’s (Vamp, Weird Science, A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2, Shag). He has a good look and plays the bad boy very well. In some ways, he really should have had George Clooney’s career. And more Movie villains should have dangly dagger earrings.

I had a blast watching this one. And my three year old son very much so as well. He’s really into this and Rad (not on DVD or blu-ray, sadly), and I can’t blame him. Riding fast, being young and living it up the Cali way. It’s totally bitchin’.

The Blu-ray’s picture and sound are pretty good. The colors popped nicely and I got to oogle at all the eye candy quite easily. No posers here. This is the real deal, dude. 

Running time: 93 tubular minutes
Aspect ratio: 1080p 1.85: 1 transfer 
Sound: DTS-HD 2.0 
Region A

THE MEAN SEASON from Olive Films
Original Theatrical Release Date: February 15, 1985
Blu-ray release date: June 23, 2015

I love Kurt Russell. He’s is a god to us Retro Movie lovin’ kids. When we think of 80’s Kurt Russell naturally we think of his John Carpenter efforts: Escape From New York, The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China. I know I saw The Mean Season when it came out to theaters in 1985, but I sometimes forget that he was the star of this Movie along with Mariel Hemingway.

Not to say that The Mean Season is forgettable or anything. I don’t think it is at all. It’s a very atmospheric thriller that makes the most of it’s sweaty Florida locations and bubbling tension. Kurt Russell does disappear a bit into his role of a Miami Newspaper reporter who receives telephone calls from a murderer informing him of his next kill, pulling him back into a job he desperately wants out of. Mariel Hemingway plays his girlfriend, and Richard Jordan (The Secret of My Success, Interiors, Logan’s Run) is the caller. Look for standout supporting performances by: Richard Masur, Richard Bradford, Joey Pantoliano, Andy Garcia and William Smith. If anything this Movie is very well cast! 

If you’re in the mood for a good little suspenser, The Mean Season should fit the bill nicely. It won’t completely knock your socks off or anything, but it’s the kind of neat little Movie that I appreciate among the other, more high profile affairs that dominated the Video Stores, Movie Theaters and culture of my younger days. And Kurt Russell is in it. That should be reason enough for you guys. Captain Ron? Remember that Movie? You should. He’s great in that one, too. 

The Mean Season’s Blu-ray has a clean transfer and sound, and looked quite nicely on my High Definition Television. No extras, sadly. Would have loved to see cast interviews, though sadly Richard Jordan passed away in 1993. 

Running time: 103 minutes of sweaty thrills! 
Aspect ratio: 1080p 1.85: 1 transfer 
Sound: DTS-HD 2.0 
Region A

STONE COLD from Olive Films
Original Theatrical Release Date: May 17, 1991
Blu-ray release date: June 23, 2015

The Boz (Brian Bosworth) stars as Joe Huff, a cop who never plays by the rules who ends up going undercover for the FBI to infilarate a rowdy biker gang led by the evilicious Lance Henriksen and the batshit crazy William Forsythe. 

Stone Cold is basically Point Break with bikers instead of surfers. That other Film just so happened to be released that very summer, with Stone Cold beating it to the screen by only 3 weeks. Granted, Stone Cold is nowhere near as well made as Katheryn Bigelow’s Point Break, but it can’t be discounted. I find it to be a lot of fun, with a very memorable bad guy performance by Lance Henriksen. I also think the Boz is used very well here. Sure, he’s still in big, stiff muscly football player mode, but he has a charm about him that suits the role. I wish he had better efforts after this one. Also, his mullet is quite the co-star. Plus he has a dangly earring. Clearly a Movie must. 

Another highlight for me are the Action set pieces and stunts. This Film was directed by Craig R. Baxley who previously made the rather kick-ass I Come in Peace (AKA: Dark Angel) and was considered one of the best stunt men in the business. This guy really knows how to mount an Action scene. Sadly he was sent to TV-Movie jail after this Movie didn’t catch fire at the Box Office.

Stone Cold for me is a straight up Action gem. It may have been a Box Office bomb (only $9 million dollars on a $17 million dollars budget), but it’s gained a loyal fan base since with good reason. This is one of my go-to Action flicks from the era. Don’t expect anything deep and you’ll get what you need. Enjoy it with your favorite pet lizard or biker babe. 

Stone Cold was revved up and ready to go on my TV. Looked and sound great. Early 90’s Movies strangely haven’t presented well on some discs I’ve seen in the past, but Olive Films is pretty good at making sure these Movies are presented well. 

Running time: 92 Minutes of hot mullet action. 
Aspect ratio: 1080p 1.85: 1 transfer 
Sound: DTS-HD 2.0 
Region A

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Deadly Adoption (2015) Review

A Deadly Adoption (2015)
by Michael J. Ferrari 

“The Hand That Rocks The Cradle is the hand that rules the world” started out as a poem, and then became Julianne Moore’s signature line in one our favorite Thrillers. The early 90’s was a glorious time for the “Fill in the Blank From Hell” sub-genre. So many of those Movies occupied our cultural landscape. I had almost forgotten how much fun it all was, even if critics at the time were constantly sneering in disfavor (they probably still do). 

Since then, Lifetime Television and its ilk have been developing their own brand of “…From Hell” Movies - adjusting them to be a bit softer, easier to consume and meant to fit right into the status quo. Enough (lack of) thrills and (lack of) tension to satisfy the least discriminate viewer. If that sounds like I’m being harsh on the Network, well, I don’t mean it quite so cruelly. Those Films have their place in a world where we flock to shitty Michael Bay “Transformers” Movies and the latest cheap “Found Footage” Horror flick. There’s a lack of craftsmanship in a lot of what’s coming out today, but it doesn’t mean you won’t always be entertained. No-frills entertainment is, after all, what it’s all about in two hours or less, including commercials for cars, coffee, detergent and spots for annoying reality shows. 

"A Deadly Adoption", which stars Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig, is, I’m happy to report, a sly satire of the Lifetime “...From Hell” cycle. It’s played so straight you forget that there is a joke here. More perceptive audiences will be hip to it. Yes, it’s one, long joke, but played with the best poker faces imaginable. Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig are mixing it up here, allowing themselves to become second rate Actors in a second rate Movie because it’s just fun. The idea of Will Ferrell, who is gloriously (and scarily!) wigged and bearded and Kristen Wiig playing only to the drama of such a ridiculous scenario for me makes it far funnier than letting everyone in on the joke with a wink. These Movies are not meant to be taken seriously, so naturally it’s funny that they are taken that way. Though I’d imagine the actors having a good laugh about it away from the Production.

The face of a man no exclusively baby doll dress wearing pregnant hottie can resist. 

The Movie has a bunch of setups and payoffs and twists and turns that any viewer of Lifetime or some of the lesser 90’s Thrillers would see coming a million miles away. And that’s exactly what was fun about it. You can sit there and say, oh, that illness is coming back to haunt this person, and oh, so and so was a former boozer, you just know a bottle of whiskey is coming out. And, oh boy, that one’s being noisy!! Notice I’m trying to be tip toe to avoid any spoilers. Funny since you know exactly what you are getting into by the first few minutes. My favorite moment in the Movie? When Will Ferrell rattles off the full name for a certain disease. It’s such a subtle, funny moment. 

I miss a time when actors would try to break out of the conventionality of their careers. Kristen Wiig is easily one of the best to emerge from the last several years. She landed herself a huge hit with “Bridesmaids” and has refused to do a sequel in lieu of more interesting and dark projects like “Welcome to Me”, “The Skeleton Twins”, “Girl Most Likely” and “Hateship Loveship”. Soon she’ll be in the potential blockbuster “Ghostbusters” reboot and several other big projects, but we know her heart is in taking chances along with paying the bills (but let’s forget that "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" ever happened). Will Ferrell is also no stranger to satire. He and Adam McKay (who both produced this Lifetime Movie) supply steady streams of it in their bawdy Comedies and online videos. I would point out that ‘Stepbrothers” from 2008 had a nice, surprising heap of it. 

I feel like a lot of people will shrug this Movie off for being generic. But it’s generic quality is both comforting and on point with what the Lifetime Network does and will continue to do after the dusts settles from such stars headlining one of their projects. I’m of the mind that more Movie stars took such chances in their career. You have very popular actors like George Clooney and Brad Pitt, but you don’t see them starring in such trivial stuff. They are happy to sit squarely in their big budget, high-minded fare, hopefully baiting an Oscar or two in the process. I would love to see them in a Slasher Movie. Why can’t it be Meryl Streep revealed as the killer in a new "Scream" Movie? That would be glorious. She does have that Wes Craven connection, after all... You know someone like Charlize Theron is down for it. We need more people willing to surprise, even if it’s in something your grandma would approve of you watching like "A Deadly Adoption". Bravo guys!

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