Today I take a look at the 1981 dark comedy, Neighbors, starring John Belushi and Dan Akroyd. I’ll explain why I feel this is one of the best dark comedies and why it has stayed fresh in my mind over so many years. Check out the video review below:
While not the first to do it, The Blair Witch Project was the first movie to really bring the “found footage” style of movie to the masses. Telling the tale of three student filmmakers (stole that line from Wikipedia), who went out to make a documentary about the Blair Witch, a legendary figure, and never came back.
The film starts out with a message stating tat the movie was put together from the footage found in the cameras after the three film students had disappeared. The three, Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael Williams had headed out to make a documentary about an evil witch, or spirit that is rumoured to haunt the woods outside of Burkittsville, Maryland (formerly known as “Blair”). They talk to locals who tell them the tales they heard as children growing up in Burkittsville, and how the witch tale was used to keep kids in line. They also hear the tail of a tragedy that happened in the 1940s with the disappearance of several local children, as well as several men from the community. Well, the three decide to head off into the woods in search of the Witch, or at lease evidence of such. Soon they find themselves hopelessly lost and it seems the focus of some weird nocturnal activities. They hear weird sounds at night and fins strange constructs of twigs and wood as well as neatly stacked rocks around their tent in the morning. As time passes and they become more and more loss, the individuals start really showing their stress in the way they interact with each other. The weird sounds and such continue and increase, adding to the stress of the group. When one member of the group disappears in the night, and fails to return, it just gets worse. You know things are just not likely to work out for our little group of film makers.
The Blair Witch Project did a great job of capturing the initial enthusiasm of the three, as well as there slide to desperation , and breakdown of the three main characters. They manage to remain believable (for the most part), and while you may grow frustrated with them at times, it’s at times where youy as a watcher are supposed to get frustrated with them. Is this a good movie? Damn straight.
Check out the trailer below, and if you haven’t seen it yet, go out and get yourself a copy.
2013’s Free Ride stars Anna Paquin and is based on a true story as a mom in the 1970’s that escapes an abusive relationship with her kids and heads to Florida. Once there she starts working for a major pot importer whom she meets through a friend. She is raising two daughters and not doing a particular job about that. Stuff happens, people get hurt/go to jail etc…
Okay, the acting isn’t bad in this film, but the story is freakin’ boring. Coming in at only an hour and twenty-six minutes, it felt like a damned eternity. You know, just because you have a story to tell, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should, We learn that the story/movie is written by one of the daughters… Next time stick to your diary, as this is a waste of time.
Check out the trailer below, but don’t be fooled by it as it’s all smoke and mirrors – the trailer is all you really need.
Eastwood Week Movie 4 – The Gauntlet (1977) – Never Count an Eastwood Character Out, and Never Set Him Up, And Most Of All, Never Bet Against Him
In 1977’s The Gauntlet, Clint Eastwood plays Ben Shockley, an alcoholic, circling the drain, Phoenix cop, sent by the police commissioner to Las Vegas to pick up a witness and escort them to Phoenix for an upcoming trial. Described as a two bit witness in a two bit trial, Ben is told he is given the job because he get’s jobs done. Arriving in Vegas, Ben is surprised to find out the witness is a female, August “Gus” Malley (played by Sandra Locke), and deathly afraid of leaving her cell, stating she and anyone with her would be killed. Ignoring her warning, Ben ushers her to an ambulance to leave the jail, and to rendezvous with with a rented car. After that car explodes (killing an Emergency Medical Technician), and then a chase and shoot out, Ben starts believing Gus as to the seriousness of the situation. As the situation progresses, more and more attempts are made on both Ben’s and Gus’ life, it becomes obvious (to Gus at first), that someone inside the Phoenix force is plotting to kill the two. When Ben asks some probing questions as to who Gus is being asked to testify against, it becomes obvious who the rat in the force is, and that they are up against something very big, and the only chance for either of them is to get to the Phoenix City Hall, but it’s not going to be easy. So what’s Ben going to do? He highjacks a Greyhound bus, shields the drivers section, and lets the Phoenix Police Department, which has been told erroneously, that Ben is a killer, that he is coming in, even providing the exact route they will be taking. The route is lined with police on all sides, hence the title of the movie, The Gauntlet, who unload countless rounds into the bus trying to stop them. Well, apparently they never saw any other Eastwood films, as if they did they would know that their efforts would fail. Once at City Hall, the bad guy (watch the movie to figure out who that really is), is outed under duress by a co-conspirator, who is then promptly silenced by that bad guy…and them something else happens (hehehe… sorry, I know that is cheezy).
Well, this is another damned fine Clint Eastwood movie and you should see this one – ton’s of action and great dialogue. What are you waiting for?
Check out the trailer below:
Eastwood Week Movie 3 – Any Which Way You Can (1980)–Clint’s Great Follow Up To Every Which Way But Loose
Any Which Way You Can is the 1980 follow up to the block buster comedy, Every Which Way But Loose, and it is damned funny. Clint Eastwood returns as the Truck Driver/prize fighter, Orangutan owning Philo Beddle, as well as Geoffrey Lewis as Orville Boggs as Philo’s best human buddy, and Manis the Ape as Clyde, Philo’s best non human buddy. Also returning is Ruth Gordon as Philo’s cantankerous mother and Sandra Locke as Philo’s love interest, Lynn Halsey-Taylor. In this movie, we find Philo has continued his side line as a tough son of a bitch prize fighter. Only he’s decided to retire, having noticed he was starting to enjoy the pain. Unfortunately, the Mafia wants to setup a match between Philo and Jack Wilson, a new style of fighter that mixes boxing and martial arts together, and has managed to kill three opponents and scramble the brains of a fourth victim. Approached by the Mafia, hoping to setup this fight, Philo initially says no, but when the mob ups it to $50,000, win or lose, Philo changes his mind and accepts the fight. When Philo and Jack actually meet, it turns out that they actually get a long. They decide there is no real reason for the fight and mutually decide to call it off. The Mafia, seeing that they are about to lose the biggest grossing illegal prize fight ever, decide to kidnap Lynn Halsey-Taylor, Philo’s returning (and redeemed), love interest in order to force the fight. Frank and Philo take care of that situation, but both realize that they can’t leave the question of who would have won the fight open, so they decide to battle it out. Oh! Also returning the is Black Widows: a comical outlaw biker gang that really have it in for Philo, despite the fact that when ever they come into conflict with him, he ends up kicking their ass and they end up with less bikes. This time though, things end on a high note for them and their relationship with Philo.
This is such a fun movie, and watched back to back with Every Which Way But Loose would make for a great evening of movie watching. I heartily recommend this film and it’s predecessor. Check out the trailer below:
Eastwood Week Movie 2 – Every Which Way But Loose (1978) – Clint’s a Prize Fighting, Orangutan Owner With A Big Heart and Bigger Fists
Damn this is a fun movie. I saw this one back in 1978 when my Uncle Andre brought me to see it with him. I was eight, going on nine and I had a freakin’ field day. I loved the movie then, and I love the movie now.
Clint Eastwood plays Philo Beddoe, a truck driver who sidelines as a prize fighter to supplement his income. Philo is also the owner of Clyde, an Orang-utan that he won in a fight. Philo’s best buddy is Orville Bogg. Philo falls for a tiny blonde country singer by the name of Lynn Halsey-Taylor (Sandra Locke), who he pusues (though she doesn’t try to get away). Lynn tells Philo of her abusive, controlling boyfriend who doesn’t mind is she sees guys on the side. She paints a bleak picture of a controlling jerk. Philo falls for this and her story of wanting to save up for a Country music club of her own, needing only $7000 (and unsure of how much she has as the jerk boyfriend controls all the cash). Philo, feeling for her, offers to take care of that boyfriend – something she declines. Instead, he starts giving her cash to get her toward that goal of getting her club. Well, one day Philo goes to the hotel where she was staying to find she and the abuser have left, leaving little or no trace. Philo decides he should follow/find her (thinking she may be in trouble). Orville and Clyde come along for the ride, quickly picking up a very cute Beverly D’Angelo who was working at a side of the road fruit stand – Orville charmed her and she decided to joining the search for Lynn. Philo take a couple of fights along the way to raise some cash. At one fight, after winning, the guys in charge of the betting try to screw them out of their winnings, only to be put in their place by an up until then quiet Beverly D’Angelo. Very funny. Of course the seach for Lynn doesn’t end particularly happy. Feeling bad for himself, Philo takes a fight against Tank Murdock, the king of the illegal fights. A great fight ends the movie, with a little bit of a twist…
Damn this is a good, funny movie. I strongly suggest you see this one. Check out the trailer below:
How have I not seen High Plains Drifter before this? this 1973 Western is a gritty, dark tale. A tale of deceit, of murder and vengeance. Heck, it’s even a ghost story. This is a very unique film, and a very good one at that. A drifter enters a small town, apparently looking for a drink, a shave, a bath and a bed. Once there he is confronted by three guys, Company men, they are called. In defense he kills all three. The local sheriff tells him they were known to be trouble and that he didn’t have to worry about charges. Heck, the sheriff would like to hire him to protect the town from three gun fighters, just released from jail that will most likely be coming back to the town to seek vengeance for their incarceration. The stranger, played by Clint Eastwood, at first declines, but when the sheriff offers him “anything he wants,” he accepts the job, and goes about making big changes to the town. These changes cause some of the town to question the decision to put him in charge of the town’s defense. The stranger is also troubled by dreams, dreams of the town’s Marshal being whipped to death by the men who he is hired to protect the town. While the murder is taking place, the people of the town stand by and do nothing to stop it. Is it a dream? Or are these memories? It seems pretty obvious to me. The stranger gets the town busy making changes. He run drills simulating an attack and has the town folk put up resistance, preparing them for the inevitable attack that is to come. He also orders unusual things to be done, like painting the town red, and having the towns people tear apart a livery barn to build picnic tables an such… The business men of the town are really questioning their initial decision to hire this stranger. So much so that they try to kill him themselves… Yeah, good luck boys. When the attack comes, the towns people’s weak attempts at fighting off the gun men come to little, and eventually (hell, pretty damned quickly), they have the upper hand, and have gathered the remaining towns folk together in the saloon. Well, this isn’t over folks – they still have to deal with the Stranger…
Okay, let’s not give it all away. I will say that this is a creepy, dark Western. It’s also one of the best Westerns I have ever seen. Actually this is just a really good movie, chock full of darkness and hidden meanings. Heck, it’s a Western and a Ghost story, and it does both great. For the first movie of Eastwood Week, I have to say it’s an incredible start. Check out the trailer below, and then immediately go find yourself a copy and watch it today!