October Horrorshow: Maniac (1980)

Maniac[This is where a trailer for the film would normally be, but the trailer spoils a shocking moment in the film that I think is best experienced without firsthand knowledge. Seek it out elsewhere if one must see it.]

 

This is not a horror movie for those looking for traditional scares. This is a horror movie for those who have become accustomed to the sight of a specter in a mirror or a zombie just around the corner. This is a horror movie with a killer of no less eccentricity than a vampire or a werewolf, only the killer in this film blends in. He’s a next-door neighbor or a familiar face at the neighborhood grocer’s. He’s one of us. And when he’s explored he’s not shown as some unholy or supernatural freak. He is, just like the title, a maniac.

Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Maniac (1980)”

Stallone Month: Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams are…NIGHTHAWKS!

Nighthawks, the 1981 film from director Bruce Malmuth and screenwriter David Shaber, sets itself up as a gritty New York City crime drama. The opening features blighted locations from the city’s darkest days, there’s a strong and stupidly simple anti-drug message, and there’s even a police lieutenant with a strong temper. I was expecting a cross between Dirty Harry and The French Connection with that setup. But instead of chasing after some drug lords or a typical big city psycho, the heroes of Nighthawks, NYPD Detective Sergeants Deke DaSilva and Matthew Fox (Sly and Williams), are drafted into a new unit that is after terrorists. Continue readingStallone Month: Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams are…NIGHTHAWKS!”

Stallone Month: Rocky II, or, Mediocre Rocky

Hollywood legend is replete with stories of Sylvester Stallone’s efforts to get Rocky made. Part of the fable is that Sly wanted to direct, but eventually had to agree to hand directorial duties over to someone with experience. Sly kept the starring role and Rocky was his screenplay, but John G. Avildsen sat in the director’s chair. The resulting film won Best Picture and Director, plus Best Film Editing, at the Academy Awards. When it came time for a sequel, however, Sly used the capital he had earned to secure the directing gig in addition to starring and screenwriting roles, after Avildsen declined to direct due to a scheduling conflict. The result is a film identical in theme, plot, location, and stars to Rocky, but which is inferior in execution. Continue readingStallone Month: Rocky II, or, Mediocre Rocky”

Stallone Month: Paradise Alley

Before there was Rocky, there was Paradise Alley. That might not make any sense, since Paradise Alley was made two years after Rocky. But back in the mid-1970s, when Sylvester Stallone made his pitch to Rocky producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler, this was the screenplay Sly wanted to make. They passed, but according to Sly, they said they would look at any other ideas he had. He went home that night and began to write Rocky. But there was still this screenplay out there, and after the success of Rocky, Sly was able to make this film. Not only did he write the screenplay, he also directed, starred, and, God help us, sang the opening theme song, Too Close to Paradise. All of this is very Orson Wellesian, in that it’s an overindulgent exercise in filmmaking, storytelling, and acting, but it doesn’t have the benefit of being any good. Continue readingStallone Month: Paradise Alley”

Stallone Month: Rocky

For no other reason than that I feel like it, I hereby declare this to be Sylvester Stallone Month here at Missile Test. For the next 31 days, this site will feature reviews of Sylvester Stallone films, from the early days of his career into the 2010s. I did this a few years back with Arnold Schwarzenegger because, not only do I like his films, I found myself fascinated with the progression of his career. I have a similar regard for Sly. Taken at face value, he’s just another action film star from the 1980s. But pay attention to the credits in his films, and one will find that he wrote and directed many of the films in which he appears. Sylvester Stallone is a filmmaker, and one who has been very successful in plotting his own course through Hollywood. Continue readingStallone Month: Rocky”