Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Meep Pic Of The Week: Jekyll & Hyde Together Again (1982)

Jekyll & Hyde...Together Again
A Paramount Pictures release 
Original theatrical release date: December 3rd, 1982  
DVD Release: Yes

Imagine if you will that we lived in a world where a movie was birthed out of the cocaine craze of the early 80's. Also imagine that movie to be completely in the vein of Airplane!... A send-up of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale in a modern hospital setting. The 70's had their Airport movies, in the early 80's our eyes were glued to the TV with St. Elsewhere, Trapper John and the seemingly never ending MASH. Thankfully we live in this world because we get to watch a completely nutso film like Jekyll & Hyde Together Again.

It's been a long favorite of mine for years, I've given the VHS a good run. MIRACULOUSLY it has been released on DVD from Legend Films a couple of years back. This movie will make you giddy with delight. Leading man (and Friday's co-star) Mark Blankfield handles his dual role really well and has great comic timing. What ever happened to him? And for that matter, what about his cute & bitchy co-star Krista Errickson (Little Darlings)

There's a joke or three a minute here, not all of them work, but you'll be satisfied and begging for more by film's end. Like the totally inappropriate but accurate tagline suggests, It's a real toot!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine & My 10 Favorite Films Of 1986 List

Hot Tub Time Machine ***

A fun time at the movies having a blast to the past. While not quite on the level of some of the more recent buddy comedies as this month's She's Out Of My League or last year's The Hangover, TUB makes a valid stake for a place in the drawer of 80's nostalgia. Although the leg warmer and jheri curl jokes are there, the picture plays more like a mis-mash of every 80's movie cliche. In addition to it's numerous references to Back To The Future (Crispin Glover even shows up to help foil the boys' density---Oops, I meant destiny---in Cinema's best running joke about a missing arm) you'll find tons of references to films of that decade. The references and sense of 80's movie recall are integral here and deeply ingrained in the film right down to it's crude directing and editing style. This might as well as be the lost sequel to Ski School.


On the down side the picture does bring a more modern sensibility of crass humor that doesn't always balance. Rob Corddroy goes a wee bit too over-the-top and the bodily fluid jokes are maybe one (probably two) too many. There's a sloppily put together romance sub-plot for John Cusack that never gels, but at least there's a fun John Hughes recall to come out of it. Special mention should go to Craig Robinson as Nick. His deadpan delivery is truly like no other. He totally stole this 80's lovin' movie show. Hopefully he gets more work outside of his rather wasted role on the why-hasn't-it-been-cancelled-by-now The Office.

See Hot Tub Time Machine if you have a guilty (or not so guilty) pleasure for films with copious amounts of drugs, partying, bare breasts, 80's music, zany jock villains and a general good time.

To celebrate the release of this 80's flashback, here's a visual list of my 10 favorite movie shows to come out of that very same year:

And special mention to my favorite guilty pleasure of 1986, the ever re-watchable:

I've gone this far... Here are my 10 Favorite Horror Movie Shows of 1986:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Roger Corman back on DVD

Cult movie fans rejoice!

Starting in May the DVD label Shout Factory! will be releasing films from Roger Corman's New World Pictures library.

A lot of these titles have been out of print for some time now. There will be all new transfers & special editions and others will mark the first time the films have been available on the format. BLU-RAY will be made available for a few titles as well.


Rock 'N Roll High School - DVD & BLU-RAY

Death Race 2000 - DVD & BLU-RAY
Death Sport/Battle Truck


Attack Of The Crab Monsters/Not Of This Earth
Forbidden World
Galaxy Of Terror


Piranha - DVD & BLU-RAY
Humanoids From The Deep
Up From The Depths/Demon Of Paradise

Battle Beyond The Stars
Not Of This Earth (1988)
Time Walker/Death Space

And more to come!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

New Movie Show Review: She's Out Of My League (2010)

She's Out Of My League ***1/2
I found She's Out Of My League to follow closely along the lines of films like The 40 Year Old Virgin and There's Something About Mary. What separates these modern comedies from the others is that while being actually funny, they have a big heart. Heart is something generally missing in these days of bloated CGI, soulless redos and movie star ego. Although LEAGUE is not a perfect movie, it was a welcome change of pace. Sitting through the excruciating pains of recent romantic comedies like Couples Retreat, Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past, The Invention Of Lying, All About Steve, The Ugly Truth, Away We Go and the overrated 500 Days Of Summer (I really couldn't muster up the courage to go see the sure-to-be dreadful Valentine's Day, When In Rome and the newly released The Bounty Hunter) I didn't think a movie with a real sense of heart would emerge after all of these by-the-numbers/pretentious messes. She's Out Of My League is a movie about an average guy who struggles with his self esteem and suddenly finds himself in a relationship with someone he instantly deems better then himself. His friends validate this by rating her a "hard 10". We immediately buy into that relationship because it's leading man Jay Baruchel is funny and clearly charming in his own way. And he's an actual nice guy. We'll never confuse the over-cast Gerard Butler or Ashton Kutcher with ever being that. Co-star Alice Eve hits the right notes as the perceived perfect girl as well.
One of these fellas rocks as hard as Hall & Oates.
The picture puts much focus on Baruchel's friends (who actually give the movie it's funniest moments) and his family. My lord, his family. What a terrible bunch. How often do you watch a romantic comedy where they paint their leading character's family in such a manner other than complete saints. As over-the-top as it sometimes get, LEAGUE gets this absolutely right. There are a lot of bits of truths to be found within all the silly and crudeness. This movie really made me laugh and smile. I'm very happy I got over being so burnt out over the junk in this genre that I gave it a chance.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

More Warner Archive goodness!

The great ladies and gents over at Warner Brothers have finally released these favorites of mine on the Warner Archive line. Two neat classics: One nutty thriller: Two wonderfully gritty films from 1978: Two killer TV-Movies: And one guilty pleasure:

Friday, March 19, 2010

New Movie Show Review: George A. Romero's Survival Of The Dead (2010)

Survival Of The Dead ***

Zombies from the very beginning with 1968's seminal Night Of The Living Dead have been George A. Romero's game, and it makes me happy to report that the master is back in it.

2005's Land Of The Dead was a great surprise. Romero hadn't directed a zombie film for 20 years since Day Of The Dead, so I wasn't sure what direction he could possibly take with his series. LAND ended up being a potent mix of crackerjack action, fun characterizations and sly commentary.

2008's Diary Of The Dead I felt was a misstep for the filmmaker as it got too bogged down in it's documentary/first person style and ideas about information or rather disinformation spread through media. It felt all theme and barely a movie. I guess I should have appreciated that more as how often in this genre can you see a film that is so bold in eschewing it's entertainment for something more intellectual. Humor and fun characters would have definitely helped.

Survival Of The Dead
is in a lot of ways Romero scaling back the Zombie tales he's trying to tell to give it more immediacy while trying to explore his themes. Tribalism and humanity's primal need to engage in war is on the card for this go round and Romero manages to deliver his message and return to the humor, wacky characters and even some of the crackerjack action of LAND and Dawn Of The Dead.

I wouldn't place this new film as one of the best in the series, it still trails behind his first 4 Zombie films. The gore is there, but by now it's mostly replaced with digital enhancement. One will always long for the days when a nice squib really did the trick. Some of the gun play and set pieces should have been better choreographed (LAND really benefited from it's bigger budget) And the story revolving around 2 Irish clans set on an island off of Delaware was a bit hard to ease into. But after awhile I got involved and found myself having fun with it.

It should be noted that Zombies with each of Romero's films are becoming increasingly incidental. Which is kind of what I really liked about this new film. In this new movie world of Zombie films that need to be jazzed up whatever way possible to keep the audiences interested, George A. Romero is still making stories about people first.

I prefer the UK DVD artwork:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Capsule Movie Show Reviews - March 2010

The Men Who Stare At Goats ** - A briefly funny satire about the Iraq War that never really satisfies as a movie. Some good performances but a very hit or miss affair. Catch The Hurt Locker instead.

2012 * 1/2 - Rolland Emmerich's latest disaster movie is just that. Some nonsense involving the earth's crust and retro-fitted super Arks that will save you if you're either part of John Cusack's family or a billionaire. You're way better off catching up on your 70's disaster flicks.

The Blind Side
**1/2 - A well put together sports drama that perhaps would have benefited from more sports and less drama. Still, it was fairly effective. Sandra Bullock may have stolen the Oscar from Meryl Streep, but if Julia Roberts can have one, why not Sandy...

The Twilight Saga: New Moon * 1/2 - I liked the first Twilight film, but there really isn't much to recommend here. Unless you like endless Slo-Mo and whining about lost love. Quite the hack job by director Chris Weitz.

Precious *** - A surprisingly robust drama with a great lead performance by newcomer Gabourey Sidibe. Monique may have gotten all the attention, but Gabourey is the one who really shines.

Gentlemen Broncos *** - One bizarre movie show. It took me awhile after seeing Jared Hess' third film to really gauge how much I liked it. It's a mix of smart and scatological humor that doesn't always stick, but there's no denying that it's a true original.

The Young Victoria **1/2 - A strong performance by Emily Blunt is The Young Victoria's greatest asset. The film itself is rather a conventional period drama that while good looking, is pretty dull.

Bright Star **** - Jane Campion's latest about the poet John Keats is my second favorite directed film of 2009 after Bigelow's The Hurt Locker. Shame Campion wasn't given the recognition she so deserved. A truly beautiful film.

Couples Retreat * - A dog of movie about couples in beach front therapy felt like a trial to sit through for it's nearly 2 hour running time. Shouldn't comedy actually be funny?

Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever *** - A silly, over-the-top mess from director Ti West (House Of The Devil) It works because it never takes itself seriously.... This is after all a sequel to Eli Roth's silly and fun movie from 2002.

The Informant! **1/2 - I ended up liking The Informant more than I thought I would. But even then, this picture really doesn't go out of it's way to exceed your expectations. A fun retro score by Marvin Hamlisch and a good supporting cast make up for it's obviousness.

The Box
**1/2 - I was with Richard Kelly's latest for awhile, but then the movie retreads and ends up in the exact place I feared it might go. There are some good touches here, but the picture's short story origins really show.

The September Issue *** - A fascinating and surprisingly entertaining look into Vogue's most influential issue. You really get an idea of it's subject and the inner workings of a high profile magazine.

Whip It ***1/2 - I really enjoyed Drew Barrymore's debut film. It's part coming of age film, part sports drama and Drew injects a lot of personality into the film. Special nods to the very funny supporting performance by Andrew Wilson and the totally bitchy Juliette Lewis.

Coco Before Chanel **1/2 - Like The Young Victoria, this period drama left me a little sleepy. Still, it's always interesting to see the origins of one's genius put on display so lovingly.

**** excellent
***1/2 very good
*** recommended
**1/2 not bad
** not so hot
*1/2 skip it, buddy
* don't even think about it, mister

Monday, March 15, 2010

Meep Pic Of The Week: Rich Girl (1991)

Rich Girl was released by the blink and you missed it "Studio Three Film Corporation" in May of 1991 to little box office and then onto RCA Columbia Home Video that December (Remember when it took at least 6 months or more for a movie to hit Home Video?) They changed up the artwork for the VHS to cash in the success of Pretty Woman, emulating that hit film's poster art.

Even though Rich Girl is a B movie at heart (and a thinly veiled Dirty Dancing clone by way of Modern Rock 'N Roll) I find it impossibly charming. Thanks to a spirited performance by the eternally cute Jill Schoelen and the brooding Don Michael Paul, you can't help but end up really caring about it's nutty characters who are trapped within the confines of the routine plot of girl who falls for boy from the wrong side of the tracks.

Rich Girl's tagline: "He was like nothing she'd ever known. And everything she'd ever wanted."
Rich Girl absolutely wins me over every single time I watch it, and against all odds has become a real favorite over the years. Because after all I have here to enjoy: Very catchy music that felt dated even in 1991 to listen to, Cherie Currie from The Runaways playing a drug addled member of the band, sleazy coke head ex-boyfriends trying to stop blossoming love, that guy from Flashdance who plays a club owner in every movie and always seems to be named Rocco, talk of playing the Spanish Guitar, sleazy coke head topless groupies, the principal from The Breakfast Club playing a jerk once again, the timeless tradition of the rebel with a motorcycle, a sub-plot stolen right out of Pretty In Pink, Schoelen looking for a job montage and so much more.

The aforementioned coke head sleazy ex-boyfriend. But you probably figured that out already. 
This picture show is kinda up there for me with the 1987 Ally Sheedy Fairy Tale MAID TO ORDER. In fact, they'd make a killer double feature. You'll have to track down Rich Girl as it shamefully hasn't been released on DVD. But if you're in the mood for something very late 80's feeling with charm and cheese to spare, give the crazy mixed up kids of Rich Girl a try.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Gods Of Cinema: Jeff Lieberman

Jeff Lieberman has only 5 feature films under his belt as director, and I found something special in each and every one of them. His films are in turns intelligent, primal and funny. You get a sense of someone with a genuine point of view behind the lens and someone who's not afraid to reflect some personality up on the screen. Jeff's one of the most unsung filmmakers who has worked in genre films. 1976's Blue Sunshine is exactly as it seems. It's one trip of a movie show! Zalman King of all people plays the Hitchcockian wrong man falsely accused of murder. Bald headed mass hysteria and zany LSD antics ensue. Squirm, also 1976, is one of the smarter and more satisfying 'Nature Runs Amok' films released in the wake of Jaws. Watch as scores of worms take over a rural community and cause absolute mayhem. But who can blame them, we harnessed the electricity that woke them up in the first place. The atmosphere and tension displayed in Lieberman's previous film Squirm reaches absolute heights with 1981's stellar Just Before Dawn. A small group of nature lovin' campers encounter one nasty inbred fella. My favorite of the slasher films set against nature. Remote Control (1988) is a sly nod to the Science Fiction films of the 1950's. Set inside a video store, Remote poses the silly yet fun idea of Aliens taking over the world with the evil inside of that top loading VCR you know you had back in the day. I never would have imagined I'd enjoy a horror film set on Halloween as much as I have since John Carpenter's original first 2 films, but I sure enjoyed the heck out of Satan's Little Helper (2004) A young boy befriends a mysterious costumed madman on Halloween. Soon he and his family have one serious problem on their hands.
Jeff, we love you. Make more movie shows!
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