8 items from 2015
Cult director Larry Cohen’s sophomore feature, Black Caesar gets a Blu-ray treatment courtesy of Olive Films. One of two bona fide Blaxploitation efforts Cohen made with Fred Williamson before lurching into the upper echelon of cult genre with his notable guerilla techniques, this basic reworking of 1930s gangster films, (borrowing from items such as Mervyn LeRoy’s iconic presentation of Edward G. Robinson in Little Caesar) displays a bit more integrity in its characterizations than many of these exploitation efforts lack. Reworking a familiar bildungsroman trajectory, Cohen positions his protagonist as an opportunistic product of his environment, leaving us with a moral uncertainty as his hero is completely consumed, an inevitable result of continued sustenance from the gutter. By today’s standards, it’s incredibly problematic rendering of urban certainties has the tendency to repulse, and yet Cohen instills Williamson with a bit of presence and dignity often lacking »
- Nicholas Bell
Thirty years ago, Marty McFly was riding high with the smash hit Back To The Future, while Sylvester Stallone enjoyed his most successful year yet with the one-two punch of Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rocky IV. It was an era of family sci-fi and teen comedies and bullet-spraying action, where The Breakfast Club and Teen Wolf rubbed shoulders with Death Wish 3 and Commando. Then there were low-key dramas like Out Of Africa and The Color Purple, which were both awards magnets at the Oscars.
Away from all those big hits, 1985 saw the release of a wealth of less successful movies, some of which found a second life on the then-huge home video circuit. Here's our pick of 20 underappreciated films from the year of Rambo, »
By Brandon Engel
We've all seen Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Hellraiser. But for true horror aficionados, much of the charm of the genre lies in low budget, low production value, and extreme, outrageous effects and plots. Read on to learn more about five of the forgotten horror films of the 80’s that, while an exercise in bad taste, will provide the horror fan with a truly enjoyable viewing experience.
While poorly received upon its 1988 debut, Pumpkinhead has built up a cult following in the years since its release. The movie tells of a small rural town besieged by an ancient, gigantic monster (the titular character), who is called into being by a father who wants to exact revenge on the teenagers who have injured his young son in a dirt biking accident. The film, which starred genre favorite Lance Henriksen as the vengeful patriarch, spawned one direct to »
- email@example.com (Cinema Retro)
On June 14th, prolific cult filmmaker Larry Cohen’s (It’s Alive, Maniac Cop) wonderfully eclectic horror comedy The Stuff will celebrate its 30th anniversary. Released during the heyday of Reaganomics, Cohen’s playful take on modern consumerism explored society’s growing compulsions for fast food and other potentially (or even directly) harmful products that we were all happily consuming without any real knowledge of just what we were putting inside our bodies. It may not be as well-known as some of its genre peers, but The Stuff has always been a favorite of mine, especially considering the amount of ambition and passion Cohen displays onscreen from start to finish.
The Stuff is centered around a mysterious, fluffy food product known only as, well, “The Stuff.” Discovered bubbling up from the grounds in a remote mining area, the highly addictive substance is quickly marketed out as pretty much the greatest »
- Heather Wixson
From anime to pitch-black thrillers, here's our pick of the underappreciated movies of 1987...
Sometimes, the challenge with these lists isn't just what to put in, but what to leave out. We loved Princess Bride, but with a decent showing at the box office and a huge cult following, isn't it a bit too popular to be described as underappreciated? Likewise Joe Dante's Innerspace, a fabulously geeky, comic reworking of the 60s sci-fi flick, Fantastic Voyage.
What we've gone for instead is a mix of genre fare, dramas and animated films that may have garnered a cult following since, but didn't do well either critically or financially at the time of release. Some of the movies on our list just about made their money back, but none made anything close to the sort of returns enjoyed by the likes of 1987's biggest films - Three Men And A Baby, Fatal Attraction »
Larry Cohen hasn’t directed a film since 1996 (Original Gangstas), but he’s stayed busy as a writer with thrillers like Phone Booth, Best Seller and Cellular. It’s a bit of a shame as the man’s directorial touch is usually a guarantee that a movie is going to be a fun ride — think It’s Alive, The Stuff, The Ambulance — and one of his best is 1982’s flying monster movie, Q the Winged Serpent. Scream Factory released the film to Blu-ray in 2013 complete with a new commentary track from Cohen, and we decided it was time to give it a spin. It was a smart decision as the track is a fun, informative and occasionally surprising listen. Keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary track for Q the Winged Serpent. Q the Winged Serpent (1982) Commentator: Larry Cohen (writer/director) 1. They had an early preview of the film prior to distribution, and »
- Rob Hunter
“….God told me to!”
God Told Me To screens midnights this Friday and Saturday (March 6th and 7th) at The Hi-Pointe Theater (1005 McCausland Ave., St. Louis, Mo 63117)
In the Fall of 1976, my father dropped me off at the Hi-Pointe Theater after church one Sunday because I’d been bugging him about seeing the new horror film Rabid by David Cronenberg, a director who would soon become a favorite. Rabid was the first half of a double feature that afternoon, paired with something called Demon, which I knew nothing about except that it was rated R and was called Demon. While I loved the gory Rabid (and still do), my 14-year old mind was mostly just bewildered by the deranged religious madness and paranormal confusion on display in the less-gruesome Demon. About a dozen years later, I rented the VHS of Larry Cohen’s God Told Me To, and was surprised »
- Tom Stockman
Reviewed by Kevin Scott
God Told Me Too (1976)
Written by: Larry Cohen
Directed by: Larry Cohen
Cast: Tony Lo Bianco (Peter J. Nicholas), Deborah Raffin (Casey Forster), Sandy Dennis (Martha Nicholas), Sylvia Sydney (Elizabeth Mullin), Richard Lynch (Bernard Phillips), Andy Kaufman (Police Officer).
This film is unquestionably one of the most unique films that I have watched or reviewed. I don’t just throw that statement nonchalantly out here. It was written by Larry Cohen, who horror fans will primarily know from the “It’s Alive” films and the really eclectic sequel to “Salem’s Lot”. He’s done everything, and is a prolific writer and director. One of my all-time favorites of his is “The Stuff” about some killer yogurt, and I don’t mean “killer” as in it just tastes good. I’ve seen a lot of his work, and “God Told Me To” has to be the most complex. »
8 items from 2015
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