1995 / Director. Albert Pyun. Movie #22
HEATSEEKER is classic Pyun. Having made several martial arts films including KICKBOXER 2, KICKBOXER 4 and BLOODMATCH Albert Pyun returned to the genre that he seems at ease with the most. He's also no stranger to sci-fi and in HEATSEEKER he combined both. Set in the not too distant future half of Earth is populated with cyborg technology. Bio-enhancements are the new steroids and giant corporations dominate the world. The world's largest corporation, Sianon Corp, holds an international martial arts tournament on a remote island where cybertronic companies compete to showcase their most enhanced cyborg technology. As a drawcard Sianon invites the worlds best human fighter to participate. When he declines the corporation kidnaps his girlfriend and forces him into the competition. Pitted against opponents of super human strength it's a brutal contest of muscle vs machine. Despite being made in '95 HEATSEEKER feels like a classic 80s action movie, which is to it's credit. The film is tight and moves along quickly. There isn't a lot of mucking around or overblown melodrama. Pyun handles the action really well with the camera being used creatively. Of course having that 80's feel means that the fight sequences are packed with those cheesy sound fx. Each point of contact is compounded with wonderful biffo noises, as though someone whacked an electronic drum kit. I love this stuff. It takes me back to good times when movies were raw and action was sweaty. The VFX are nicely done and the moments of flesh being torn open to reveal metal are just awesome. If you loved KICKBOXER or BLOODSPORT then you will get a kick out of HEATSEEKER. Throw in some CYBORG and UNIVERSAL SOLDIER and you've got a nostalgic and forgotten gem.
If the movie had starred a bigger name like Jean Claude Vanne Damm or Steven Segal then it's reception and longevity would have been secured. The only way I was able to get my hands on the film was by way of German import and I've got to say... it's never looked better!
1954 / Director. Alfred Hitchcock.
People always ask me what my favourite films are. My answer changes all of the time, however, a few films remain true. REAR WINDOW is one of them. It probably isn't Hitchcock's best film, but it's definitely my personal favourite. James Stewart is also my favourite actor of all time and with the added beauty of Grace Kelly REAR WINDOW is an exercise in immaculate, daring and ingenious filmmaking. There's a reason why Hitchcock is touted as the "master of suspense" and you can cherry-pick at all of his films and point to his brilliance. Thank God my parent's introduced me to him from an early age. Stewart plays a photojournalist who is holed up in his apartment with a broken leg. With boredom threatening to send him mad he occupies his time by watching his neighbours. He lives in an apartment complex and his rear window looks out into a courtyard. Before long he knows everyone's business and one particular neighbour begins to raise suspicion when his behavior and a missing wife pose sinister questions. This is as close to a perfect film as you're going to get. Filmed entirely on an amazing soundstage, Hitchcock employed all sorts of techniques, setting the film apart from others. Most notable is the lack of soundtrack. Rather than exploiting a whimsical and suspenseful score, as he is famous for, he uses natural ambience to hold the atmosphere together. In fact you could watch the film countless times and still discover new nuances. The sound of traffic, weather and voices are just some of the noises carefully placed throughout the story. The film is also set during a balmy heat wave, which plays a huge part in the character point of view. The muggy stench of summer keeps James Stewart on edge and suggests that his suspicions are a delusional obsession brought upon by a stifling humidity. With his curious girlfriend and a snoopy call-nurse keen to investigate, the film soon takes a tense and thrilling turn culminating in a brilliantly taut climax. Unbelievably I meet people all of the time who have never seen an Alfred Hitchcock film. Quite often their reasons are because the films are "old". Needless to say these people astonish me. Almost every Hitchcock film is timeless and one of them alone packs more tension and atmosphere than any 10 modern thrillers combined. The thrillers that are made now owe everything to Hitchcock and it wouldn't hurt people to reflect upon them every now and then. REAR WINDOW is an excellent entry point to the world of Hitch and I shouldn't need to encourage people to explore it.
1989 / Director. Amy Heckering.
1990 / Director. Amy Heckering.
1993 / Director. Tom Ropelewski.
I honestly don't want to dedicate 3 separate posts to the LOOK WHO'S TALKING series and so I'm just going to skim over the surface here. It's been a long weekend and we've been watching family movies with the kids over the past couple of days. I hadn't seen the first LOOK WHO'S TALKING for a long time and I always enjoyed it when I was younger. Watching it again as an adult, it's appeal was more of a nostalgic sense. It's not exactly a good film but it has it's moments. I'm sure you all know the movie and it's concept. Talking babies... yadda yadda yadda. It's fairly puerile stuff but John Travolta, Kirsty Alley, George Segal and Bruce Willis add a touch of class. If you're a parent (or just a soft touch) then it's hard to resist the adorable baby performances, particularly the toddler moments. The second two films in the series suck. Part 2 repeats the same formula, with a second child who is voiced by the excruciating Rosanne Barr. Watching or even worse LISTENING to her has you looking for the nearest jackhammer to pound out her voice. The one strength that this sequel has is it's cutesy moments. A new toddler plays Mikey and he's uber adorable. And then came the agonising 3rd movie LOOK WHO'S TALKING NOW. I remember reading Roger Ebert's review years ago and he made the valid point that the movie's title is stupid. Dog's aren't people and so the movie should be titled LOOK WHAT'S TALKING. Good point... and yes... THE DOGS TALK. What began with a charming romantic comedy had been reduced to this shit. It's not worth the time discussing any further. Years ago I read a story about Quentin Tarantino pitching PULP FICTION to John Travolta. As we all know, Tarantino resurrected Travolta's career. The chapter from the book told of Travolta's rude awakening. QT made put it simply by saying that he had two options... 1) take a chance on Pulp Fiction OR 2) Make Look Who's Fucking Talking 4. The choice was simple. The rest is history - and it saddens me to read that Neil Moritz has been trying to reboot the franchise. Oh dear... as if the TV series wasn't painful enough.
1946 / Director. Jean Yarbrough.
SHE-WOLF OF LONDON is something of an oddity. The title suggests that it's a sequel to the 1935 film WEREWOLF OF LONDON and Universal Pictures have even included it in their Wolfman Legacy collection. Needless to say it bares no relation to any other film and given that almost 70 years have past, it's no huge spoiler to reveal that there is NO werewolf whatsoever in this story. A series of murders occur in a park nearby to a manor occupied by four women. One of those is young Phyllis who believes she is responsible. Her family's history includes a centuries old pagan curse, which tells of her bloodline being connected with wolves. Phyllis thinks she has the curse and the film is told as a murder mystery, rather than a horror. I would love to have been around and seen the reaction when this was released because it's marketing was hugely misleading. Unsuspecting audiences expected shock and horror and got something entirely different. It's not a bad film by any means but it does lack the quality and atmosphere of earlier Universal monster movies. With a short running time of 58 minutes and an incredibly simplistic script, it also lacks the charm which made those movies so wonderful. It's more of less a cash-cow movie upon it's release it was originally screened as part of a double feature with THE CAT CREEPS. I'm a sucker for classic monster movies and this fails to deliver as one of them - but it does succeed in a Hitchcockian thriller sense. I've seen it a few times and it's proven to be a nice nostalgic way to pass an hour.
2012 / Director. Dan Rosen.
You might be familiar with BROKEN LIZARD. They're the guys who gave us PUDDLE CRUISER, SUPER TROOPERS, CLUB DRED, BEERFEST AND THE SLAMMIN' SALMON. They have a unique brand of humour and in my opinion they've been one of the best comedy troupes since KIDS IN THE HALL. In addition to the films they've written and directed they have also produced a couple of movies on the side. THE BABYMAKERS and STARSKY & HUTCH are two of them and FREELOADERS is another. This is not a great film. It is nowhere near the standard we've come to expect from these guys - and yet it has it's charm. A group of friends are freeloading off Adam Duritz (the lead singer of The Counting Crows). They have been living in his Beverly Hills Mansion freely for 6 years and while Adam is globetrotting with his band, they've been reaping the benefits. It's a free ride for these bludgers until Adam announces that he's getting married and will be selling the house. With one month to leave and nowhere to go these slow-thinkers hash a plan to thwart the sale. Enter a ruthless and uber sexy real estate agent played by Jane Seymour. You will need to leave your brain at the door and give FREELOADERS some leniency. For the first 30 minutes I contemplated switching off. The comedy was scarce and the situation bored me... but I'm glad I kept watching because with the arrival of the BROKEN LIZARD boys themselves and a self-referential and satirical Dave Foley, the film picks up. Local Aussie funny guy Josh Lawson leads the film and it's surprising and unexpected to see him land such a prominent role. He's starting to do some big things in the States and good on him. His American accent is solid and his nice-guy persona has all of the hallmarks of future typecast. I'll be keen to see what he does over the next few years. He was recently in THE CAMPAIGN and will appear in ANCHORMAN 2 and so he's keeping good company with Will Ferrell. With enough decent gags to make it worthwhile, I was able to forgive the ones which fell flat. Dave Foley steals the show and it's worth it for him alone. Keep in mind that this is not an "official" BROKEN LIZARD film, but rather one they backed as producers. Could have been better. Could have been worse.