Archive for the ‘Flashback’ Category

If you were a noted film and television actor in the 1970’s, please raise your hand if you were not in an Irwin Allen film.

Are those crickets I hear?

The Towering Inferno is one of those great ’70’s disaster films that’s jam packed with everyone and their dog that was remotely famous. The movie’s got Paul Newman, Fred Astaire (…the hell?), O.J. Simpson (!), Steve McQueen, Richard Chamberlain and seventy thousand other character actors shoved into it.

In San Francisco, the world’s largest ever skyscraper is being unveiled, and on the night of the dedication the architect of the building (Paul Newman) discovers the electrical wiring isn’t up to specification and could cause massive fires all over the building. The people running the show fail to heed Paul Newman’s words, however, and soon fires are raging all over the building while 300 people party up on the top floor of The Glass Tower.

The Towering Inferno is an awesome slice of ’70’s cheese. It was made by the same guy who did The Poseidon Adventure and it features a constant gravitas-off (TM The Colbert Report) between Steve McQueen and Paul Newman. Between featuring styrofoam staircases blowing up, highly improbable fires, bad dialogue and hilariously awful acting (oh, Richard Chamberlain!) it’s a movie that probably wasn’t even considered “good” at the time. Steve McQueen’s cranky, hard-as-nails police chief is a hoot and seeing O.J. Simpson as a security guard rescuing cats is so unintentionally comical years later…

This is a long, long movie. At well over two hours and thirty minutes, it can seriously try your patience at times. Did the editor step out for long, long coffee breaks? I don’t know, but there’s so many subplots in the movie, you really don’t care about a lot of the characters, and really, that’s not the point of the movie; the point is the INFERNO 100 billion stories above the ground. The heavy-handed theme of “man shouldn’t build stuff so damn high” hammers you over the head so much that it only adds to the hilarious cheese factor.

Steve McQueen and Paul Newman make this movie happen.

Period, end of story.

I hope they never, ever remake it.


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I should preface this by saying that I hate Uwe Boll’s movies. (This is probably not an unpopular opinion among movie buffs.) I’ve sat through at least four of his movies, trying desperately to find something redeeming in the hot messes he makes, but so far, I haven’t found much.

In the comments in an earlier post there was a small discussion between me and The Best Haiku Writer Ever, also known as andrew, about Uwe Boll’s movies wherein it occurred to me via another commenter that not everyone was aware of the horrific nature of this man’s movies.

Uwe Boll is a German filmmaker/producer who uses German tax shelters in order to make his movie. From The All-Knowing Wikipedia:

Boll is able to acquire funding thanks to German tax laws that reward investments in film. The law allows investors in German-owned films to write off 100% of their investment as a tax deduction; it also allows them to invest borrowed money and write off any fees associated with the loan. The investor is then only required to pay taxes on the profits made by the movie; if the movie loses money, the investor gets a tax writeoff.

Germany, your contributions to cinema have been duly noted.

Boll usually prefers to make adaptations of video games, like the movie I have just watched. In short, I’m not sure that Boll actually puts anything but half-assed effort into his movies. I’m not sure how in the world he keeps on doing what he’s doing, but he manages. His movies have terrible acting, horrific directions, plots and scripts so shoddy they just should have been reworked about eighty times before anyone decided to put them to celluloid; what disturbs me most is that the man takes something that could be theoretically decent and somehow screws it up. I never get the feeling Uwe Boll loves movies or even thinks he should have to work hard at making a decent film. In short, his movies piss me off because they’re mediocre pieces of crap that he is content to continue to unleash upon the public. None of his movies have improved; in fact, House of the Dead is probably one of the better movies I’ve seen that he’s done — sadly.


So here we go, through House of the Dead.


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Oh my god, this movie is a thousand kinds of bad.   There’s nothing good-bad about it, either.


Okay, first of all, I want to ask Gabriel Byrne one question and one question only:  “Why were you in this remarkable piece of crap?”     Oh, Gabriel.   You and those pretty blue eyes are capable of so much better.

Point of No Return is a remake of a much finer French film, La Femme Nikita.   The basic plot is that Bridget Fonda plays a Nina-Simone obsessed junkie who is in a robbery gone wrong and she manages to receive the death penalty for her role in it.   The execution is faked and instead the government trains her up as an assassin.   Needless to say, Bridget Fonda’s character is not entirely thrilled about this whole turn of events.

This film feature one of the most hilarious execution scenes ever put to film.  Not only is the execution chamber highly stylized, Bridget Fonda’s face is classic.  It’s like she’s having a lobotomy instead of lethal injection and afterwards promptly pees all over herself.

Bridget Fonda’s  acting is atrocious in this.  Not only is it hard to believe she’s a junkie, it’s hard to believe anything other than the fact that she’s a whiny little snot at every turn of the movie.    She rages with almost pre-teen angst through all of her training, where it’s pretty obvious Gabriel Byrne isn’t trying to down Jameson’s in between sessions and backhanding her alternately.    Watching her efforts at being “frustrated” is like watching a child try and paint Rembrandt.   It’s hard to conceive that her boyfriend, played by a very scruffy, hobo looking Dermot Mulroney, wants anything to do with her, but somehow, he does.

After she completes her training, Bridget Fonda’s character, who is now known as Claudia, is sent to Venice, California as a home base.   We know this because we get some cracktastic montages of people rollerblading and lifting weights in the most hideous spandex day-glo outfits imaginable.

Needless to say,  Hobo Dermot Mulroney begins to get very suspicious.   She doesn’t seem to work a lot for someone in “sales” and she gets all these whacked out phone calls where she has to just up and leave.   For someone who’s a super-stealthy assassin, Claudia’s not very convincing at making excuses to leave to go kill some people.

Claudia now has to juggle her “regular” life with her “assassin” life and figure out a way to make the two balance.   I could imagine how shooting people in the head with sniper rifles as your day job would conflict with being a nine-to-five sorta person and having a wretched looking hobo for a boyfriend.   So there’s lots of drama.

I won’t spoil the ending, but needless to say, I don’t think you should want to throw something large and heavy at a main character that is supposed to be sympathetic.   Or wonder why Gabriel Byrne took this role in the first place.   Or wondering if Mr. Byrne saw the final product and promptly drank himself into a years long stupor.

Yeah, it’s that bad.

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Wow, I had not seen From Dusk Till Dawn in…forever.


To me personally, the movie isn’t scary.  It never has been.  It was always fun for me — fun to see Salma Hayek turn into some hideous vampire, fun to see Cheech Marin running around as 80 million different characters (alright, so more like…three), fun to see Quentin Tarantino being a psycho sick pervert.   I don’t know what’s freakier; Tarantino as a rapist or somehow having come across the knowledge that Tarantino has some sort of thing with feet, combined with long, long shots of Juliette Lewis’ bare toes.

It’s a fun movie.   Personally, you just have to put Robert Rodriguez’s name somewhere on the box and I’ll watch it.  I’m easy to please — I love guns and gore and the fact that you can almost certainly spot Danny Trejo in any one of his movies.   (Trejo = badass.)

It is most definitely a fun ride.  I lost my copy of the Dimension Collector’s Series a while ago in a move, probably a couple of moves ago, so I picked up a copy the other night for $7.50 and it was most definitely worth it to keep it.

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