Wednesday, January 13, 2010

DVD Evaders: Lisa (1990) and Samantha (1992)

Remember the early 90's? I sure do hope you can recall back that far! Because if you cannot, you are probably a bit too young to really get this blog. In any case, the 90's for us wasn't, let's say, the best of times for film. Sure, some pearls here and there, some diamonds in the rough there... Mostly the early 90's was THE time for the independent film.

Taking a cue from the crossover success of Soderbergh's Sex, Lies And Videotape, studios and production companies tiny and huge alike were releasing small films that hopefully would find an audience (most likely on home video) A lot of these pictures have long since been forgotten due to the sad, painful, slow death of the video store and a complete lack of cable play.

I dusted these two off my shelf... Hopefully one day they'll make it to a digital format of some kind for easy access to all and be launched rightfully back into the movie stratosphere.

Lisa (1990) Directed by Gary Sherman is essentially a teen coming of age film mixed with a slasher and the combination of the two totally gels here.

Lisa (Played by My Two Dad's Staci Keanan) is 14 and naturally rebelling against her mom (Cheryl Ladd) Through her frustrations she gets herself mixed up with an older man via a telephone prank. The problem is this man just happens to be killing women.

I've always been a fan of The Director Gary Sherman (Raw Meat, Vice Squad, Dead And Buried, Wanted Dear Or Alive and the underrated Poltergeist III) He really gives the movie a dramatic weight and keeps the thrills coming all the same. We are immersed in Lisa's world and it never condescends the teenage point of view. That is pretty rare.

LISA gets a lot right. It's had a lot of replay value over the years for me and with it's moody vibe it makes for absolute perfect late night viewing.

Samantha (1992) Directed by Stephen La Rocque was a starring vehicle for the offbeat charms of Martha Plimpton, and she does a great job here.

Plimpton plays Samantha, a young woman who on her 21st birthday has discovered that she's been adopted. She soon goes on a chaotic search for her biological parents to make some sense out of her life, while a blossoming romance brews between herself and her best friend (charmingly played by Dermot Mulroney)

SAMANTHA forgoes a lot of the cliches of the romantic comedy of the time with a lot of quirky humor and I appreciated it's off-kilter point of view. Martha Plimpton while not the most obvious leading lady is full of wit and gives a very fun performance. Screw Julia Roberts, I'd rather watch Plimpton--who was also great in the little seen "Eye Of God" from 1997.


LitaMalibu said...

I love Lisa (Hi, my name is Richard, I am in your house, and I am going to kill you!) AND Samantha! Ione Skye was such a perfect snot in that! I never miss a Martha Plimpton movie. I don't know if you ever listened to the Goonies commentary, but she is hilarious! And I still want her dress from 200 Cigarettes.

Cinema Du Meep said...

Oh my god, she totally upstaged everyone on that commentary. I totally agree. You can tell she's a well trained theater actress. She doesn't miss a beat.

And good call about Ione Skye being a good snot in that movie. I always thought she played that better than the nice girl next door.

The Film Connoisseur said...

I havent seen either, but got comments about them, its weird.

Gary Sherman, Ive always respected the guy. He made Poltergeist III practically without one single visual effect! Everything was done on camera, on the set. I applaud him for that, and for making a satasfying Poltergeist sequel that way. Kudos to him!

As for Martha Plimpton, Ive always liked her. Theres something about her thats kind of charming and offbeat. I liked her in Whats Eating Gilbert Grape? and in The Mosquito Coast. And of course, The Goonies.

Tower Farm said...

Oh, man...I am so with you. The 90s was kind of "the best of times, worst of times" when it comes to the film industry. I love so many VHS's that I still have from that era...and yet there are so, so many that make me feel sick!

Anyway...I am kind of obsessed with seeing "Lisa" thanks for bringing it to my attention!

Cinema Du Meep said...


I have a feeling you're going to really enjoy Lisa. I mean, who couldn't?

tomasiepants said...

So true! The late 80s and early 90s were the times for independent movies. I remember when video stores would pay $100 for VHS tapes. Plus, if Terminator 2 was out, I was forced to discover some "lesser-known" independent film. I was forced to rent R.O.T.O.R..... yeah it sucked, but it made me branch out. In today's times, Netflicks will never run out of TRANSFORMERS because it's a download. So therefore, I won't be forced to discover the Assylum's TRANSMORPHERS. Saw LISA at the theater BTW. Really enjoyed it!

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