Tango & Cash is somewhat of a watershed moment for the excessive 1980s style of action flick. It’s so ridiculous and over-the-top that a viewer could be forgiven if they thought this film was a spoof. It is not. However, it is an excellent example of what can go right and wrong in an action film, and in film productions in general. Continue reading “Stallone Month: Tango & Cash”
Do NOT trust this trailer. This movie sucks.
Nothing is ever interesting enough for Hollywood. If you pitch them a movie about mountain climbers starring Sylvester Stallone, they follow that up by asking what the hook is. Alpine climbing in bad weather just isn’t compelling in their line of thinking, so the movie has to be augmented with a bunch of bad guys who robbed the Treasury Department. And that’s how we got the movie Cliffhanger. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Backdraft”
From IMDb’s trivia page on Escape from L.A.: Escape from LA [sic] was caught in development hell for over ten years. A script for the film was first commissioned in 1985 but John Carpenter thought it “too light, too campy.”
Too campy? Why? Were The Riddler and Two-Face in the original draft? I find it hard to believe that Carpenter rejected a script for this film because it was campy. This movie lives on camp. It’s not light, though. I’ll give Carpenter that. Escape from L.A. is a violent flick. A bit cartoonish, maybe, but that many bullets can’t be fired in a movie and still be considered light. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Escape from L.A.”
Paul W. S. Anderson is close to being the official filmmaker of Shitty Movie Sundays. I would present this honor outright to John Carpenter were it nor the fact he has displayed far too much competence as a filmmaker in the past, despite the fair amount of shitty films that mar his oeuvre. Other candidates could include b-movie monster master Bert I. Gordon, or even Cash Flagg, as a tribute to his recent demise. Flagg would be an interesting choice, as he was, without a doubt, one of the most unique filmmakers of all time, quality notwithstanding. Anderson, on the other hand, has written, directed, or produced some of the most quotidian dogs to ever make it to the silver screen, number of explosions notwithstanding. The only factor that keeps me from committing Shitty Movie Sundays to total Anderson worship is that he has peppered his career with films that are so shitty as to be unwatchable, and there is no joy in a bad film that repels the viewer so thoroughly that it can’t be sat through without giving up one’s movie-going self to the unique absurdity of substandard cinema. It’s almost a religion in that way. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Soldier”
As I was watching John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China recently, I was struck by the familiarity of the material. I felt I had seen it before, but in some other context. Confined, mazelike, and windowless environments; various tricks and traps the heroes must overcome; goons, monsters, and the bosses that control them, etc. And there it is. Big Trouble in Little China plays like a videogame. Considering it was released in 1986, before videogames became complex enough to compare, does that mean John Carpenter was breaking new ground, that Big Trouble in Little China is ahead of its time? No. It just reaffirms that the pacing and storytelling of today’s videogames are derivative of cinema. There are plenty of other films from around the same time that are akin to videogames (Aliens, Commando, and Total Recall all come immediately to mind, among many others). Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Big Trouble in Little China”
Last week saw a unique event in film. Four John Carpenter films landed in Brooklyn as part of a mini-retrospective at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). The featured films were Big Trouble in Little China, The Thing, They Live, and Escape from New York. All unique films from a unique filmmaker. B-movie schlock artist or perennially misunderstood genius, depending upon who’s doing the watching, Carpenter is a knowledgeable director who draws on his education, talents, and the best aspects of low-grade cinema to craft films that are unmistakably his. As soon as the opening credits roll, one enters Carpenter’s world. Viewer hears music (usually) from Carpenter’s own synthesizer, and the credits themselves are all the same white serif font on a black background, no matter which of his films is playing. Anamorphic lens effects and dark lighting cross among his works. Finally there is the thematic distrust of authority as a conceptual continuity throughout. All of this makes Carpenter’s films easily recognizable to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of his oeuvre. Continue reading “October Horrorshow, Retroactive: The Thing”