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Good story ...a bigger budget would have helped
Spasms stars Oliver Reed as Jason Kincaid, a wealthy big game hunter who, while hunting in the jungle of a remote island, becomes cursed by a demonic serpent. Since the encounter, the hunter is telepathically linked to each attack done by the snake by way of an all-blue color perspective. The serpent is eventually captured after a vicious rampage against the island's native inhabitants and smuggled to North America for research when it escapes it's handlers. From there all hell breaks loose setting up a final, fateful confrontation with Reed's character. Spasms is a fairly decent suspense movie that will keep you riveted as you follow the snake's indiscriminate path toward each doomed victim it encounters. Special effects are generally good for it's time, showing some of the damage impact of the serpent's poison on it's victims but shots of the rarely shown snake itself does reveal some limitations due to lack of budget...this movie would be a good candidate for a CGI enhanced remake with increased budget to tie up the original's loose ends; mainly the believability of the snake itself. The movie is loosely adapted from the novel "Death Bite". Spasms is an increasingly hard to find title which so far is only available in it's out-of-print VHS format.
Into the Sun (2005)
The perfect Seagal movie...
Action fans no doubt know of Steven Seagal as the ultimate 90s action star who blended bone-crunching martial arts with more conventional use of weaponry & street smarts. In the last 10 years, his star had fallen to the point that he fell out of favor in Hollywood and could only make movies on the very cheap, direct to video labels. He successfully makes a long-awaited and overdue comeback with the release of "Into the Sun". He is essentially back "in his element" fighting the bad guys while appearing invincible. Semi-autobiographical, (Seagal lived for a time in Japan) he successfully blends traditional Japanese sword fighting with his known Aikido skills. "Into the Sun" features a well-written story of Seagal's fight to bring down a young upstart in the Japanese Yakuza mob family. The film goes along at a crisp pace with great music, fight choreography, and brilliant cinematography, successfully put to maximum effect without appearing over the top. This author would dare say that this comeback movie was better than all those big-budget efforts earlier in his career. It definitely hits the mark of the kind of Seagal movie worth watching multiple times. Give it a look and see if you don't agree.
Kiss: X-treme Close-Up (1992)
The most complete documentary of the band, as told by it's founding members.
I recently purchased this DVD for my collection to replace my worn-out VHS tape and I have to say from a documentary point of view this is the best video about the band released so far, before or since. Founding members Gene "Demon" Simmons (bassist/vocalist) and Paul "Rockstar" Stanley (rhythm guitarist/vocalist) give their 2 cents about the history of KISS, chronicling their early days in Wicked Lester up to their 1992 Revenge Tour. Lots of interesting inside stories are confirmed by various band members, in between music videos, along with plenty of archived interviews from over the last 20 years that provide fascinating tidbits detailing the history of the band's global success. Very entertaining to watch overall and if you are a KISS fan then its a must-have for your DVD collection. (The DVD version pairs with the "KISS Konfidential" concert movie as a bonus!) Overall it's well put-together compared to the earlier, immaturely made "KISS-Exposed".
The Color of Money (1986)
Great drama! Great talent...
Excellent film about a veteran pool hustler (Paul Newman) who eyes, mentors and develops a young but extremely talented hot-shot player (Tom Cruise). The chemistry between them is volatile and dynamic, and it earned Newman an Oscar for best actor in 1986. As "Fast-Eddie" Felson, Newman and a clever Scorsese, recreate his successful film role in "The Hustler". Felson shows his young protégé the hustler credo: "That money won is twice as sweet as money earned". This sets off a series of events during the film that starts off cool and risky for Newman but ends heartwarmingly rewarding for both characters. You can't help but feel good about it. Its perhaps the best film between them. I put it in my Top 10 list of favorite films. Its the kind of movie you could watch over and over and never feel tired of it. 9 out of 10 stars.
Dirty Harry (1971)
Eastwood is top-notch as "Dirty Harry"
After many successful westerns to his credit, Eastwood reinvented himself as the now-famous police inspector who hunted down a relentless rooftop sniper: Detective Harry Callahan. What would follow would be one of the biggest cult followings ever associated with a film from Hollywood. "This is a 44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world-do you feel lucky?" The now-famous phrase he would say to the bad guy at the end of a long shootout, teasingly testing his mettle. Its the phrase that will forever be connected to the movie. Anybody who's a fan knows this. His grit and style from his earlier westerns really resonates well in Dirty Harry. Nobodys meaner than Callahan. Not even the most sicko nut of criminals, could really phase him. Its the ultimate guy movie. When a film's popularity can spawn 4 sequels and dozens of copycat movies, then that has to stand for something. 9 out of 10 Stars.
True Romance (1993)
A dazzling film about pop culture...
Before there was Pulp Fiction, there was True Romance, which continued writer Quentin Tarantino's obsession with pop culture. Arguably his best film to date. He didn't direct this movie, Tony Scott did, which notably spares the viewer those awful back and forth scene sequences typical in Tarantino directed films. Major kudos are in order for the casting director; who featured one of the finest casts in movie history, although its standard formula in Tarantino films. True Romance basically puts together a story of true love between two people who won't let any obstacle get in their way, no matter how dire the situation becomes. Its bold and dynamic. Christian Slater is dynamite in the lead role, you can tell he had a lot of fun playing his character. Val Kilmer plays "Angelic Elvis" who provides a small dose of good conscience on Slater's shoulder, and Patricia Arquette co-stars as the love of his life. Has all the familiar faces: Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman, James Gandolfini, Chris Penn, Tom Sizemore, Victor Argo, among others. The confrontation scene between Hopper and Walken is a must-see highlight! The gunfight at the end and the prelude that leads up to it is non-stop drama and excitement. Movie is worth multiple looks, if not for just the memorable scenes by themselves.
Carlito's Way (1993)
A masterpiece...DePalma & Pacino are solid...
Great reunion picture brings back director Brian DePalma & actor Al Pacino for the second time, following their epic gangster film "Scarface". While Scarface is more raw, stylish, and edgy, it seems to be trapped in it's own era of dated production. Carlito's Way comes across as a much more refreshing and polished effort. Though not a sequel to the first film, Carlito's Way puts together a good story all its own. The story-plot is similar to "King of NY", as a big name gangster returns to the streets after lengthy incarceration, balancing the police on one side and the underworld on the other. But that is where the similarity ends. Pacino plays Carlito Brigante, a "reformed" Puerto Rican hood just released from prison in 1975. He gets a second chance at life but soon becomes tangled in a tragic web spun by his previous reputation and one fatal decision. The movie has plenty of familiar faces; Sean Penn, Luis Guzman, Penelope A. Miller, John Leguizamo... This is one of those movies I instantly fell in love with after watching it for the first time back in '93. Carlito's Way is a solid film worth multiple viewings.
The Wild Life (1984)
A wild film about living life to the fullest...
Great party movie, following the adventures of Bill & Tom, two high school buddies at opposite ends of the spectrum. Bill (Eric Stolz) prefers to live life straight-laced, while his friend Tom (Chris Penn) takes nothing seriously except partying all the time. When Bill moves out of his mother's house to live on his own he faces many issues, from his girlfriend, to his brother, to his landlord. Meanwhile, his friend Tom moves in to keep the rent down but proceeds to turn Bill's life upside down. This movie is non-stop comedy from start to finish and is a personal favorite of mine. Soundtrack features guitar virtuoso Edward Van Halen throughout the movie, also features cameos by rockers Lee Ving and Ron Wood. 70s Pornstar legend Kitten Navidad also makes an appearance! Classic 80s movie is worth multiple looks. Now all that needs to be done is a much anticipated DVD release! If you enjoyed this movie, take a look at "The Last American Virgin" which is similar to "Wild Life". I rate both highly.
The Last American Virgin (1982)
A fun, honest, and memorable film...
Many teenage sex comedy movies come and go without much fanfare, however, every so often a movie might come along thats honest, funny, entertaining AND memorable. The Last American Virgin is a special movie that has found its place and has stood the test of time blending all four ingredients. This film follows three friends (Gary, Rick and David "The Big Apple") misadventures into the world of first-time sex and true love. Along the way they learn hard lessons and the value of true friendship. We follow hopeless romantic Gary (The main character) on his quest to win over the girl of his dreams which leads him down an uncertain road with a surprise twist at it's ending. If you haven't been lucky enough to see this movie yet, by all means take a look...sprinkled with many memorable 80s songs throughout to keep things moving at an even pace. L.A.V. truly is an original film, a rarity among films of it's genre.
Magnum Force (1973)
A sequel with a new story...
This sequel to the entertaining "Dirty Harry" stands with few peers when it comes to successful follow-ups. Most don't stand on their own feet but Magnum Force does solidly. Changing the plot but not the style is good formula in movies, rather than playing out what was already done in the original, which is why so many sequels fail. "Magnum Force" is my second favorite film by Eastwood after "High Plains Drifter". Harry still likes to do things his way although rather than focusing his energy on the bad guys, he's focused on some crooked cops in his own department! Follows in the original's footsteps with lots of great views of San Francisco (My Birthplace!) I always feel at home when watching this movie. This is another film that is played a lot on TV because its so good on it's own. Felton Perry does a good job as Harry's partner, comparable to Reni Santoni in the original. Didn't like any of the sequels that followed this movie with the exception of Sudden Impact. Magnum Force is a film that rates highly as watchable again & again.
King of New York (1990)
Edgy Crime Drama, Gripping & Entertaining...
A little known gangster movie with a huge subcore of fans, King of NY is a watchable film that blends street smarts w/entertaining dialog. Its better than the comparable New Jack City, with a much more edgier and stylistic story about its characters. Though it is a dated film it still manages to hold on to it's sense of realism which is the underlying theme that director Abel Ferrara intended it to be. Its title character makes it all work. Frank White (Christopher Walken) is a "reformed" kingpin, just released from prison. He tries to repair his city's loose ends, but by his reputation, is misunderstood by his rivals and peers in the underworld. The police also question his motives, which puts White in the middle of a double edged sword. The movie's ending is unexpected...Without revealing too much, its a movie worth watching, and worth a second watch for that matter. I give it a solid 7 out of 10 stars.
On Deadly Ground (1994)
An underrated film with an important message...
On Deadly Ground is one environmentalist's attack against a bully oil corporation who puts profits in front of environmental concerns. This is the bottom line of the movie. It has it's good points as well as some weak points but I commend Seagal for putting this issue out there for all the world to see. That in and of itself should be applauded. Its unflinching and honest, especially at the end with his environmental speech with the Native Alaskans. Sure, to many it may seem over the top, but we could all learn something about the preservation of our environment from careless corporations. The film was made at the height of Steven Seagal's success in the movies. He had free reign to direct and deliver not only an action movie but to incorporate his political beliefs into it. It is, without a doubt, a movie with a chip on it's proverbial shoulder. Environmentalists will no doubt love to see Seagal kick some corporate butt, which he does a good job of... Those of you who are positively steamed with the corporate scandals of today, Enron/Worldcom to name a few, should take a look at this movie, it may just give you peace of mind. If your simply a Seagal fan like I am and you enjoyed watching this film for the action only, then I would recommend watching the following films: "Marked for Death" and "Out for Justice" two of his best!
High Plains Drifter (1973)
Clint Eastwood's Signature Film!
Of all of his westerns, his performance in 'Drifter was time and again the movie that, unarguably to me, defined his career. From the opening minutes when he rides into town, and coolly walks up to the bar, to the time he vaporizes into thin air when the credits roll, his performance in this film was gritty, flawless and truly Eastwood. Another quality to the movie is it's blend of atmosphere and story, no wonder why its played over and over again on TV. I remember watching it for the first time when I was around 12 (1985) I was very impressionable then and I remember how cool it was to watch Clint go thru his motions during the movie. Nobody knew his name or where he came from, and he didn't oblige them by making them guess throughout the movie. He shot his gun with lethal accuracy when anyone gave him trouble, and was noncommittal to the cowardly townsfolk who wanted his help to take care of the outlaws released from jail. He did things his own way. Those are just some of the reasons why I gave this film 9 stars out of a perfect 10.