Evil Dead II (1987)

EvilDead2_1Evil Dead II (1987)
AKA Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn

Starring Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley DePaiva, Ted Raimi, Denise Bixler, Richard Domeier, John Peakes, Lou Hancock

Directed by Sam Raimi

Expectations: One of my favorites.

fourstar


The Evil Dead is one of the few perfect films in my eyes. Sure, it’s low-budget and it definitely shows, but the experience is second to none and it’s a total blast from start to finish. The prospect of making a sequel must have been daunting to Sam Raimi and company, but the choice to go in a completely different, yet similar direction was every bit the right one. To simply retread the same ground would be useless and boring, so why not let everyone in on how much Raimi loves The Three Stooges? It’s as inspired a horror film sequel idea as there ever was.

But by going in this direction, I do think that Evil Dead 2 isn’t as good a film as the first. Evil Dead 2 doesn’t feel quite as tight, but it more than makes up for this with laughs and a ridiculous amount of madcap energy. Even though this was always my favorite film of the series, I think age has led me to appreciate just how impressive the low-budget success of The Evil Dead was. But when it comes down to it, these petty discussions of one film being better than the other are ultimately pointless, because both of them are pure, unbridled awesome.

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Stephen reviews: Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise (1987)

honneamise_1Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise [王立宇宙軍 オネアミスの翼 Ōritsu Uchūgun: Oneamisu no Tsubasa] (1987)

Starring Leo Morimoto, Mitsuki Yayoi, Aya Murata, Bin Shimada, Hiroshi Izawa, Hirotaka Suzuoki, Kazuyuki Sogabe, Kouji Totani, Masahiro Anzai, Masato Hirano, Yoshito Yasuhara

Directed by Hiroyuki Yamaga


This is the first anime produced by studio Gainax (though they did make earlier works as a different company, Daicon Film), who are famous for reshaping the entire anime industry with Neon Genesis Evangelion. It’s an art film rather than a genre film, and thus it has been acclaimed by critics (including Roger Ebert) while languishing in the commercial market. It is pretty unusual for an anime to avoid any genre alignment. Even the artsiest of anime usually fall into a genre category as well, such as the romance film Utena or the psychological thriller Perfect Blue.

I suppose I could lump it into the science fiction category since it deals with scientific content, but even that would be a stretch as the technology, though fictional, is outdated and for the most part realistic (such as the airplanes using rear propellers, a design which was seriously considered during the early days of aviation). Perhaps it fits in a broad interpretation of steampunk, but I feel uncomfortable giving it that classification either. There are some action scenes in the second half, but they aren’t central to the story really. At that point I may as well call it a romance, which is also true as far as it goes, but as with the other genres it could technically fall in, it’s just not what the film is about.

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The Running Man (1987)

runningman_2Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Conchita Alonso, Richard Dawson, Yaphet Kotto, Jim Brown, Jesse Ventura, Erland van Lidth, Marvin J. McIntyre, Gus Rethwisch, Professor Toru Tanaka, Mick Fleetwood, Dweezil Zappa, Kurt Fuller

Directed by Paul Michael Glaser

Expectations: Super high, this is one of my favorite movies.

fourstar


As with Commando, I’m unable to give The Running Man anything less than a full and total endorsement of four stars. I’ve seen this film more times than I could ever remember; at this point it almost seems like I was the one who escaped from prison and got roped into a sadistic, future game show when the girl I kidnapped ratted me out. But my love of The Running Man isn’t blind, and now that I’m tasked with sharing my thoughts, I’ll do my best to relate why I think it’s such a great movie.

The film began its life under director Andrew Davis, who was just coming off of the Chuck Norris movie Code of Silence and would later go on to make such films as Under Siege, The Fugitive and Collateral Damage. Davis was fired after one week of filming, and Arnold is on record saying that this hurt the film because the replacement director, Paul Michael Glaser, shot it like a TV show. I love Arnold, but I have to disagree. The Running Man is gorgeous, and the look is one of the main reasons it succeeds. The film bursts with colors, from bright neons to dark blacks and blues. Thick fog and dirty mists swirl around our characters, filling many of the shots with a level of intoxicating cinematography usually unseen in genre fare like this.

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A Return to Salem’s Lot (1987)

returntosalemslot_4Starring Michael Moriarty, Ricky Addison Reed, Samuel Fuller, Andrew Duggan, Evelyn Keyes, Jill Gatsby, June Havoc, Ronee Blakley, James Dixon, David Holbrook, Katja Crosby, Tara Reid

Directed by Larry Cohen

Expectations: Moderate. I’m interested, but I hear it’s dumb.

On the general scale:
twostar

On the B-movie scale:
threehalfstar


A Return to Salem’s Lot is like the much trashier stepchild of Salem’s Lot, as the two stories are definitely not of the same lineage. This “sequel” to Salem’s Lot bears no resemblance in any way to the novel or the Tobe Hooper-directed TV adaptation, other than the name of the town and the fact that there are vampires around. No one mentions any of the previous film’s events or characters; even the foreboding representation of evil in the town, the Marsten House, is oddly missing. This would lead a viewer to believe that the companies behind A Return to Salem’s Lot didn’t own the rights to the novel or something, but in the end none of this really matters if you’re a B-Movie fan.

A Return to Salem’s Lot was directed by B-Movie legend Larry Cohen. My knowledge of his films is still rather sparse at best, but I can attest to the fact that what I have seen has been pure gold. His script for William Lustig’s classic Maniac Cop is superb, and his film The Stuff is the best film you’ll ever see about killer yogurt. A Return to Salem’s Lot is definitely not in that upper echelon of B-Movies, but I found more than enough to be intrigued and entertained by.

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Buy & Cell (1987)

buyandcell_1Starring Robert Carradine, Michael Winslow, Malcolm McDowell, Lise Cutter, Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb, Ben Vereen, Tony Plana, Roddy Piper, Michael Goodwin, Fred Travalena, Mickey Knox, West Buchanan, Tony Carroll

Directed by Robert Boris

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:
twostar

On the B-movie scale:
twohalfstar


When a comedy opens with a suicide and it plays the scene for laughs, you know you have a tonally strange film on your hands. Buy & Cell is a hard film to get into, but once it finds its footing and kicks into the plot proper, it’s a pretty fun “Let’s stick it to the rich assholes” ’80s movie. I’d say this one is strictly for those that consider themselves ’80s aficionados, as just about everyone else will be left wondering why there’s crazy ideas like a schizophrenic character that thinks he’s a VCR (complete with rewinding himself) or how these prisoners could have an entire dance club and hot tub squirreled away in their rec room. It’s not so much a matter of “Why?” in an ’80s film, but “Why Not?”

Robert Carradine, the quintessential ’80s nerd thanks to Revenge of the Nerds, plays Herbie, an employee at a stock brokerage firm who’s been set up as a fall guy for the owner’s embezzlement of company funds. Herbie is sentenced to 13 years of hard time in the federal penitentiary, but he doesn’t go in scared or all that nervous. He knows he’s innocent, so he instead chooses to bide his time. The warden (Malcolm McDowell) is another shady asshole, asking Herbie to work for him on the side, trading stocks. Herbie refuses, but when his cellmate Sly (Michael Winslow) needs some fast cash to get out of some major debts, Herbie decides to give investment banking one more shot for the good of the prisoners. Like I said, why not?

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Galactic Gigolo (1987)

galacticgigolo_6Galactic Gigolo (1987)
AKA Club Earth

Starring Carmine Capobianco, Debi Thibeault, Frank Stewart, Ruth Collins, Donna Davidge, Michael Citriniti, Tony Kruk, David Coughlin, Angela Nicholas, Barry Finkel, Todd Kimsey, J.E.L. Gitter, Don Sirasky, Bill Gillogly

Directed by Gorman Bechard

Expectations: Moderately high.

On the general scale:
twostar

On the B-movie scale:
twohalfstar


After a few weeks off from the Full Moon series, I wanted to come back with a bang — an intergalactic bang! Galactic Gigolo tells the story of Eoj, a traveler from the planet Kroywen who won a two-week trip to Prospect, CT (AKA “The Horniest Town in the Galaxy”). Its reputation is apparently legendary universe-wide. Eoj is a broccoli on Kroywen (which is populated entirely by sentient vegetables), but thankfully he has the ability to transform himself into anything imaginable while visiting Earth. For his trip to Prospect, he chooses the form of “The Loveable Sleaze-oid” (Carmine Capobianco) and creates quite the stir upon his arrival.

Contrary to what that plot description might lead you to believe, Galactic Gigolo is not a heartfelt, emotional drama. I know… hard to believe. No, Galactic Gigolo is a dumb, stupid, low-brow sex comedy, and I mean that in the best way possible. Galactic Gigolo knows exactly how wild and absurd its premise is, and it revels in that. Therefore, it can be a bit disconcerting if you’re not ready for it. Even if you are properly prepared, it’s still not as funny as it thinks it is, but it’s all in good fun, and it’s definitely the best space-faring sex comedy about a shapeshifting broccoli that I’ve ever seen. The climax is a series of Three Stooges style gags and a bunch of pies to the face, so that should tell you right there if the movie is right for you.

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Superman (1987)

superman1987AKA The Indian Superman, Hindi Superman

Starring Puneet Issar, Shakti Kapoor, Piloo J. Wadia, Bob Christo, Dharmendra, Sonia Sahni, Urmila Bhatt, Ashok Kumar, Ranjeeta Kaur, Birbal, Preeti Ganguli, Rajan Haksar, Dinesh Hingoo, Jagdeep, Jankidas, Lalita Kumari, Guddi Maruti, Murad, Sudhir

Directed by B. Gupta

Expectations: I hope it’s got as many thrills as the Tollywood version of Superman.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-movie scale:
onestar


Wow. Sometimes it takes a truly awful film to remind you of the risk involved in watching low-budget films. This version of the Superman story comes to us courtesy of the Bollywood film industry, although I somehow doubt that this is representative of their normal output, even in 1987. It is a horrible film, with very few redeeming qualities at all. And, sad to say, many of those redeeming qualities are just the novelty of watching degraded versions of footage shot by Richard Donner for Superman. The Tollywood version, which I reviewed yesterday, was so full of life and imagination, but this version is a Superman-sized abomination.

I can only relate my general understanding of the story, as I was forced to watch the film without subtitles. This is always a daunting task, as the success of the film hinges solely on its visual filmmaking and storytelling. I’m sure that seeing this with a better understanding of what was going on would help it some, but no amount of understanding can erase just how lackluster this entire production is. Thankfully, the storyline basically follows that of the original Superman film, so I was treading on familiar ground.

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