If you liked the show, you’ll love the movie.
Bright, funny. Glad my daughter insisted on seeing this twice so I could catch all the dialogue. Highly entertaining for kids and parents – for a change.
A Must See. Cleverly written with fantastic performances. A finely crafted film from beginning to end.
This was disappointing. All that money and the special effects now available should have produced a more inspiring, well maybe more inspired, story.
10. DAWN OF THE DEAD – 2004. Zach Snyder’s re-imagining of George Romero’s classic zombie epic uses the same premise, although the characters and much of the overall story are very different. Like Romero’s version, much of the action takes place at a shopping mall, although director Synder doesn’t use the setting as an extra character the way George did in the original. Instead he ratchets up the tension with fast moving zombies and exciting action set pieces. The film benefits greatly from a terrific cast which includes Sarah Polley, Jake Weber, Ving Rhames and Miki Pheiffer. It’s very well done, and it’s quickly become one of my all time favorites!
9. THE MIST – 2007. Frank Darabont’s (Shawshank Redemption) film version of the Stephen King novella plays like a two hour episode of the Twilight Zone. The story about a small town engulfed by a mysterious mist is a great metaphor about human nature. Thomas Jane, Laurie Holden, Toby Jones and Marcia Gay Harden (terrific playing a religious fanatic) make for a solid cast. Its ending has gotten a mixed response, but it is one the viewer can’t forget! Personally, I admire director Darabont for having the guts to go with it! In time, The Mist will become a Classic!
8. TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE – 1974. One might assume by its premise that this film would be a total blood bath, but it’s actually not. It’s a frightening experience about a group of five Texas friends who, unfortunately, wander into the house of one of the great horror characters of all time in LEATHERFACE (Gunnar Hansen), plus his family of cannibals. The atmosphere in this film is intense to say the least, and most of the horror is perceived rather than actual! The story is loosely based on the murderer, Ed Gein, who also served as inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs. Amazingly the film was shot on a budget of $140,000 and grossed $30,859,000. It made a name for its director, Tobe Hooper. People never looked at a chainsaw the same way after this film came out!
7. EVIL DEAD 2 – 1981. Director Sam Raimi and CULT icon Bruce Campbell team up for this horror/comedy sequel that is a highly inventive piece of filmmaking. The movie features a great physical performance by Campbell, playing the character of Ash Williams, as he fights off zombies, evil spirits and even his own possessed hand! I got a chance to meet Campbell at a horror convention in NYC around 15 years ago and he actually did a backflip on a hard wooden floor for the audience that was there – a really nice guy!
6. FRIGHT NIGHT – 1985. This film makes my list because I think actor Chris Sarandon (Jerry Dandridge) plays as good a vampire as anyone in the history of movies. William Ragsdale does a great job as the lead character, Charlie Brewster, a young guy who discovers he lives next door to a vampire. Roddy McDowell co-stars in a memorable performance as washed up late night TV horror host, Peter Vincent, who goes along with Charlie on a fact finding mission for the money, only to be surprised that he’s actually telling the truth. I remember seeing Roddy McDowell at a horror convention as well and had him sign a still photo of his character in the film. He was a class act indeed and a real gentleman! Actor Stephen Geoffreys, who plays Ragsdale’s best friend Ed (Evil), is terrific in this film. This is a highly entertaining movie!
5. THE THING -1982. John Carpenter and Kurt Russell team up for the second time (the first being Escape from NY) for this remake of the 1951 classic The Thing from Another World, and make an even better movie. The story about a group of scientists in the Antarctic who come under siege by an alien organism has great atmosphere, and a feeling of bleakness that make this film a MUST watch for fans of this genre! The special effects pre-CGI by Stan Winston are astonishing!
The blood testing sequence is classic!
4. HALLOWEEN – 1978. John Carpenter made a name for himself with this critically acclaimed film shot on a mere $325,000 budget.The film went on to pull in $47,000,000 at the box-office, making it one of the biggest independent films ever produced! Jamie Lee Curtis, who played the character of Laurie Stode, was a solid lead and veteran actor, Donald Pleasence, added much class as child psychiatrist Dr Sam Loomis, a part he would play five times in the series. The musical score, composed by Carpenter himself, is classic! In an interesting footnote: Carpenter bought a William Shatner mask in a store, painted it white, and used it for the famous look of his villain Michael Myers, also known as the Shape! Nick Castle, who directed the film The Last Starfighter, played the role of Myers. The film’s sequel, HALLOWEEN 2, is a direct continuation that was criticized for its more graphic approach. Despite that criticism, I like the film a lot, and watch both films every Halloween!
3. NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST – 1984. Wes Craven reportedly came up with the concept for the film when he read a newspaper article about young man who claimed that someone was trying to kill him in his dreams and started to do whatever he could to stay awake. Unlike most of the sequels, which lighten up the Freddy Krueger character, this original film took him and its concept very seriously. Craven scored big time when he cast little known actor, ROBERT ENGLUND, in the role of the former child molester Freddy, who has come back to get revenge on the children of Elm St in their dreams. The movie was filmed for just $1,800,000 and grossed $25,000,000 at the U.S box-office. Countless sequels were produced, making the character of Freddy Krueger part of America’s pop culture. As far as horror goes this is one of the very best concepts ever in the genre.
2. DAWN OF THE DEAD – 1978, George Romero’s second Zombie outing is truly the Gone with the Wind of the genre as it works on so many levels. It’s part horror, part end of the world story, part social commentary and all GREATNESS! Besides The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dawn of the Dead is the most popular midnight movie of all time.
1, THE EXORCIST-1973, I put this at number ONE because from an emotional standpoint, of all the horror films, I think this one had the biggest impact over any other in film history. I guess you can’t have a better match up than God versus the Devil and audiences were floored by this film version of the bestselling William Peter Blatty novel. A reported 30 young actress auditioned for the part of Reagan, the little girl who gets possessed in the story. The part went to Linda Blair, a role she will be known for until the end of time! Actor Jason Miller, in his first feature film, is terrific playing the role of the conflicted father Karris. The pea soup scene is one of the genres most memorable sequences! The film was nominated for Ten Oscars including best picture. It lost out to The Sting. As horror films go, there’s none better!
With Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps opening this weekend I thought I would do a retrospective of my all time favorite sequels.
10. ROCKY BALBOA – 2006. Thirty-one years after the 1976 original classic, Sylvester Stallone comes back in style to create a perfect bookend to one of the great characters in America’s pop-culture. The film’s big highlights include Rocky’s speech to the boxing commission on the state of his boxing license and the montage training sequence featuring a 59-year-old Rocky Balboa which is priceless. I must admit I got chills watching it in a movie theater!
9. DIE HARD 2 – DIE HARDER – 1990. How could the same thing happen to the same guy twice? Well, it did in this very well done follow-up to perhaps the greatest pure action movie ever made. This time, Bruce Willis’s John McClane takes on terrorists at Dulles Airport outside of Washington D.C. Solid story, great action set pieces, a cool twist at the three quarter mark and solid direction from Renny Harlin make this film a big winner! Yippee Ki Yay…
8. LETHAL WEAPON 2 – 1989. Richard Donner’s follow-up to his terrific buddy cop film, Lethal Weapon. Part 2 is even better, mixing humor with realistic violence to create a flawless genre piece. Joe Pesci is a great addition as Leo Getz. His chemistry with Mel Gibson’s, Riggs, and Danny Glover’s, Murtaugh, is sensational. Actor Joss Ackland is a solid villain and his tag line “I have diplomatic immunity” is quite memorable.
7. ROAD WARRIOR – 1981. George Miller’s sequel to MAD MAX features some of the most jaw dropping stunts ever put on film. As action movies go, there aren’t many better!
6. ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES – 1971. A terrific Sci-Fi time travel film that takes the premise of the Original and reinvents it brilliantly. The film featured stellar performances by Roddy McDowell and Kim Hunter, once again playing Chimpanzees Cornelius and Zira, who take on the same dilemma of the Taylor (Charlton Heston) character from the first entry in the series. Like other films in the franchise, Escape dealt with important issues like Race, Social Status, Animal Experimentation and Women’s Rights! A really smart, well done, movie!
5. THE DARK KNIGHT – 2008. Expanding on the terrific BATMAN BEGINS, director Chris Nolan upped the ante making everything a little bigger, a little more intense, and richer in scope. Heath Ledger’s JOKER will be part of movie lore till the end of time!
4. THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK – 1980. The very best of the STAR WARS films and also the greatest cliffhanger in movie history.
3. ALIENS – 1986. James Cameron took the horror concept of Ridley Scott’s ALIEN and created one of the greatest action movies ever made. Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley remains the very best female action hero ever and her character’s emotional bond with the little girl Newt (Carrie Henn – who is now a school teacher) is the film’s emotional core! It’s hard to believe this epic film was produced for just 18 million dollars.
2. DAWN OF THE DEAD – 1979. This film is regarded by many, including myself, as the GONE WITH THE WIND of the horror genre. George Romero’s follow-up to his landmark 1968 film, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, is an amazing achievement considering it was produced for roughly one million dollars. Shot mostly at the MONROEVILLE MALL in Pittsburgh, PA, the epic zombie action horror movie is a complete and totally satisfying experience. It was also one of the most popular MIDNIGHT movies ever! One of my all time favorites, I watch it two or three times a year!
1. THE GODFATHER 2 – 1974. Believe it or not, this was the first film to use the number 2 in its title. For me, it’s a tribute to great storytelling as Francis Ford Coppola was at the top of his game here, telling multiple stories with the film working as both a sequel, and a prequel. Robert DeNiro won the Oscar for best supporting actor with all of his dialogue spoken in Italian. The sequence at the senate commission hearings is one of the greatest scenes ever shot!
By: Contributing Editor, Michael Cooper
Seth Rogen, who seemed to be the worst choice to play a superhero since Tim Burton picked Michael Keaton, has followed in Keaton’s footsteps by pulling it off.
Rogen plays an irresponsible playboy living off daddy’s money until his father is killed and, all of a sudden, responsibility is dropped in his lap. Last year at Comic-Con, the new Black Beauty was unveiled and all of a sudden the greatly anticipated Green Hornet movie actually looked like it was finally going to be made. Next Month on July 22nd The Black Beauty will be on hand once again in San Diego, but this time on screen and in 3D!
With the release of the first screen trailer earlier this month (see below) The Green Hornet is really here. It certainly was a long strange journey; first in the hands of Kevin Smith, who dropped out saying he was in over his head, and then, as if Smith wasn’t a strange enough choice, comedian Seth Rogen suddenly enters the scene. He drops 40 pounds and announces that he is not only writing the Green Hornet but is actually going to play the lead!
Next we have Martial Arts expert Stephen Chow, the logical choice to play Kato, but when he isn’t allowed to direct he drops out. The next thing you know Taiwan pop star Jay Chau who, to the best of my knowledge has never swung a set of nunchucks in his life, is the new Kato.
To top it all off Michel Gondry, best known for a Levi Blue Jeans ad and writing the screenplay/directing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a movie I find close to unwatchable, is at the helm of the project
Did you know that the Green Hornet made his debut on radio way back in 1936? The creative team that, three years earlier, had introduced the Lone Ranger and Tonto, Fran Striker, and George W. Trendle, brought The Hornet and Kato to life. They linked the masks of both the Lone Ranger and the Green Hornet by making newspaper publisher Britt Reid, the son of the Ranger’s nephew Dan Reid. WOW! How’s that for some strange continuity. Also, the original Black Beauty was a Pierce Arrow and Kato was Japanese.
Like so many other crime fighters on the radio, the Hornet made the transition to the movies in the 1940’s. Since it wasn’t politically correct to have a Japanese crime fighter, Kato quickly became a Korean from Chinese descent.
Picked to play Kato in the second of two movie serials was none other than Charlie Chan’s #1 son, Keye Luke, who later went on to fame as Master Po in Kung Fu and Mr. Wing in the Gremlins movies. Warren Hull was the Hornet and the radio sidekick’s secretary, Lenore Case, investigative reporter Mike Axford and Walter Brooke, the rock-solid District Attorney, also followed from Radio to the big screen.
The Hornet’s creators tried to follow the success of the Lone Ranger in the 1950’s to television but there were no takers. The 1960’s restored the Hornet’s heartbeat. The popularity of The Batman TV series in the 1966 sent ABC executives looking for another crimefighter in the Batman mode and new life was breathed into a forgotten character.
In 1966 Van Williams and Bruce Lee became the best known Green Hornet / Kato, but the ABC series died after just 26 episodes.
Van Williams continued to make public apperances as the Hornet and, with the success Bruce Lee was having, the show continued to run in syndication for the next 20 years. In Japan it became known as “The Kato Show”. Williams is the only surviving cast member and hopefully we’ll see a cameo in the movie.
The next sign of life for the franchise came in an homage from Quinton Tarrantino in 2003 with “Kill Bill.” The Japanese bad guys all wore Kato masks and the legendary Hornet theme music ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ was featured.
For the remainder of 2010 we’ll continue to get sneak peaks of The Green Hornet. It has now been pushed to a January 2011 release so the 3-D special effects can be perfected. I can’t wait to see it!
With my anticipation on the high side for the remake of “The Crazies” hitting theaters this weekend I thought I would revisit a look at my all time favorite B-Movies. I simply love these types of films.
I thought I would take a little time to talk about some of my favorite movies many might like to call guilty pleasures. While none of these ever had a chance to win any Oscars or get high critical marks, they are all cool films that I REALLY enjoy but fall into that B-movie category!
10. MALONE 1987- After being the biggest box-office star for five years running, BURT REYNOLD’s career started to fade with one box-office bomb after another but, for some reason, I always found Malone to be a lot of fun. Reynolds stars as a CIA operative who gets stuck in a small town after his car breaks down and winds up helping a father and his daughter (Cynthia Gibb) from a no good town bigwig (Cliff Robertson) who wants to steal their land. Reynold’s toupee was one of his worst, but the film is fun if you’re into revenge dramas. The movies tag line was “He didn’t start the fight but he’ll sure as hell finish it.”
9. FOOD OF THE GODS 1976 – Went to see this on a Saturday afternoon thirty-two years ago at the now long closed Mayfair Theater in Brooklyn NY and loved it. Marjoe Gortner ( Earthquake) stars in the film about a group of people under siege by giant rats and insects after an experimental food makes them grow hundreds of times their normal size. No doubt it’s cheesy but it’s also effective and a lot of fun. Gortner makes for a pretty good hero! Not available on DVD only VHS.
8. RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 1985 – If you like zombie movies (and who doesn’t) this is a MUST see! Director Dan O’ Bannon pays homage to George Romero with this totally inspired horror comedy that is well known for the lines “MORE BRAINS” and “SEND MORE COPS.” Actors James Karen and Thom Mathews are both terrific, supplying the film with its comic relief. A must watch for Halloween week!
7. DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS 1962 – Post apocalyptic Sci- fi film about a meteor shower that not only renders the world’s population blind but causes plant life to uproot and kill most of the population of London where the story takes place. Howard Keel stars in the film as one of the few people left who can see. I first saw this movie when I was a kid on a local station’s Saturday afternoon broadcast and always liked it immensely. There’s a scene at a train station where mass chaos ensues because no one can see except the film’s hero and a little girl that is really well staged and creepy. It’s one of the film’s best sequences. There’s been talk of a remake for years but so far it’s never materialized.
6. MIRACLE MILE 1988 – This one has a really great concept about a guy (Anthony Edwards) who picks up a ringing pay phone in the early morning hours and finds out that nuclear missiles could be on the way to Los Angeles in the next 70 minutes. This causes him to search frantically for a girl (Mare Winningham) he just met the morning before. This one is suspenseful with really good atmosphere. It also featured a really COOL soundtrack by Tangerine Dream. While not successful on its release, the film has built a following over the years.
5. NIGHT OF THE COMET 1984 – I remember seeing this film as part of a double feature at the Kingsway theater in Brooklyn NY having no idea what the film was about. This is yet another end-of-the-world low budget film that centers its storyline on two Southern California valley girls played by CATHERINE MARY STEWART AND MARY MARONEY who must deal with life after a comet wipes out most of the earth’s population. The scene in the shopping mall when the song “Girls just want to have fun” is playing is an absolute BLAST! To this day I always thought Catherine Mary Stewart was one of the very best looking and appealing women I’ve ever seen on screen! I never understood why she didn’t have a big career!
4. THE BLOB 1958 – This was one of my favorite films when I was a boy – I would watch it every time it came on TV. STEVE MCQUEEN, billed as Steven, was a solid center in his first movie playing a teen who meets up with a Jell-O like substance from outer space, which is eating his fellow townsfolk. 50 years after its release this movie holds up beautifully, as it captured a time and place that really makes this material work! A true CULT classic!
3. DEATH WISH 3 1985 – The third entry in the CHARLES BRONSON vigilante series is so wildly over the top that it plays out more like a cartoon than anything based in reality but, as B-films go, it’s terrific entertainment if you leave your brain at the door. I loved Bronson’s Paul Kersey character and director Michael Winner has a blast with this installment. The story’s setting takes the action back to New York in a run down ultra violent neighborhood where Bronson’s Kersey mows down so many baddies that it has to be seen to be believed. Actor Gavin O’Herlihy is terrific as the story’s villain. Bronson stated he would never do another Death Wish film after this because he felt director Winner went overboard with the violence but he ended up doing two more! Believe it or not, Bronson was 63 years old when he did this movie – amazing!
2. ROADHOUSE 1989 – Critics weren’t kind when it was originally released, but this film has had a long life as a fan favorite. I saw it three times in a theater the same week it came out. PATRICK SWAYZE was in top form as Dalton, a professional bouncer, hired to clean up the Double Deuce bar in Jasper Missouri which has been over taken by a group of thugs on orders from the town’s criminal kingpin, Brad Wesley; a role played with relish by Ben Gazzara. Sam Elliott practically steals the film as Swayze’s aging mentor. Notice that this Joel Silver produced movie uses the same musical score as Die Hard during its fight scenes.
1. THE OMEGA MAN 1971 – I always loved Charlton Heston and I love this movie which was the second film version of I am Legend. While not totally faithful to the novel, the film is compelling with Heston playing Robert Neville, the last man on earth after germ warfare has wiped out mankind. His death sequence at the hands of a sphere thrown by the movies villain, Matthias (Anthony Zerbe), near the film’s conclusion is an absolute classic. The musical score by composer Ron Grainer is totally unique and enjoyable. It’s one of my all time favorites.