The King of Comedy (1983)

kingofcomedy_1Starring Robert De Niro, Jerry Lewis, Diahnne Abbott, Sandra Bernhard, Shelley Hack, Margo Winkler, Frederick De Cordova, Ed Herlihy, Lou Brown

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Expectations: Moderate.


The experience of watching The King of Comedy felt like looking at a shirt with a single loose thread. At first everything seems perfect, but once you notice the flaw, it’s all you can focus on. Robert De Niro’s character Rupert Pupkin is this thread personified, and as Scorsese pulls him through the film, I wondered how far he would take it. He couldn’t possibly pull the whole shirt apart, could he? The King of Comedy goes in directions I never would have expected, and this is exactly what makes it a riveting experience. It was a flop upon its initial release, but thankfully intrepid film fans have kept this one alive over the years, as it most definitely deserves to be seen.

As good as it is, though, it’s not a film for everyone. The comedy that runs throughout the film is dark and uncomfortable; the type of stuff that you feel bad for laughing at. What makes the comedy so uncomfortable is that Rupert Pupkin is such a sad character at his heart. He’s likeable to a point because De Niro’s inherent charm goes a long way, but with each passing scene Pupkin pushes this boundary further and further towards the edge, daring you to keep following him. He is a fascinating character; a king in his own mind, Pupkin just has to convince everyone else of it.

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Troll (1986)

TROLLStarring Noah Hathaway, Michael Moriarty, Jenny Beck, June Lockhart, Sonny Bono, Shelley Hack, Phil Fondacaro, Anne Lockhart, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Gary Sandy

Directed by John Carl Buechler

Expectations: Moderate.

There’s a lot of films that are just plain bad. There are a few though that can transcend the steamy birthing pit of awful and become something truly enjoyable. Troll is one such film and it was a distinct pleasure to watch. I felt like the stars had aligned, the tides had synchronized, the rubber band at the crux of the universe had been perfectly tightened. I locked into the Troll mythos and never looked back. This is truly one of the crowning gems of the Empire International catalog.

Troll tells the story of a family moving into a new apartment building. Upon their arrival the young daughter of the clan explores the downstairs laundry room and is accosted by a troll! The troll assumes control of her body and takes her place amongst the family. Immediately it is obvious that she has changed, as she ravenously tears into an open-faced hamburger and then wigs out with the thrill of consuming meat and runs around the entire building screaming, “Ratburgers!” The troll continues its rampage throughout the film, slowly taking over the entire building, one apartment at a time.

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