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Posts tagged “1981

Neighbors (1981) A Perfect Dark Comedy

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:

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Escape From L.A. (1996) – Snake Plissken Is Back In A Parody Of His Own, Old Adventure

Escape_From_LAEscape From LA is the 1996 unnecessary sequel to the classic 1981 action film, Escape from New York. In Escape From New York, Snake Plissken (played by Kurt Russell), is enlisted to rescue the President, who’s plane has crashed in New York. New York, once a bustling metropolis, has been turned into a giant prison without guards, and run by different factions of criminals. Plissken goes in, and against all odds, rescues the President. In the 1996 sequel, Snake is back (and still being played by Kurt Russell). This time he is expected to retrieve a control for a space based nuclear weapons platform that was stolen by the new, President for Life’s daughter in an act of defiance, and brought to LA, now also a prison, separated from the rest of the continental United States by an earthquake, and given to Cuervo Jones (Georges Corraface), an ex Peruvian Shining Path rebel, and leader of the most powerful faction of criminals in L.A. Snake originally turns down the job… that is until he finds out he has no real choice in the matter, and only has about a day to complete the task…or else. Once in L.A., Plissken goes about the task of locating the President’s daughter and Cuervo. At first it seems like he may get some help from "Map to the Stars" Eddie (Steve Buscemi), but maybe…. just maybe Eddie has his own plans.

Anyway, Plissken gets captured, gets loose, gets into some fights (with and without weapons), and of course, gets the job done. But with almost all movies, things just aren’t that simple. Who is the true bad guy?

This is a silly, parody o the original Escape From New York. I could see some true fans of the original possibly hating this movie, but if you watch it with the mindset similar to mine, where you were looking for some silly action entertainment, then you might like it. Just don’t go in expecting a serious, action movie and you should be okay.

Check out the trailer below:


Dragonslayer (1981) – To This Day, Still One Of My Favourite Movie Dragon Designs

DragonslayerPoster1981’s movie, Dragonslayer, blew my twelve year old mind when I fist sat through this movie with my good friend, Robin. Now, 23 years later, I am still liking this movie.

Staring Peter MacNicol (better known to some as the short, curly haired lawyer, John Cage, from the TV show Ally McBeal), as Galen Bradwarden, a young apprentice of the Wizard, Ulrich of Craggenmoor (Ralph Richardson), who takes up the Wizard’s quest to slay the Dragon, Vermithrax Pejorative, after Ulrich is apparently killed while proving a point by brutish henchman Tyrian, right hand of King Casiodorus (Peter Eyre). Ulrich had just accepted the task of killing the Dragon when a delegation of peasants approached him asking for his help. Kind Casiodorus had implemented a lottery, offering up a female virgin each year to appease the beast. The people have had enough of the Lottery and living under the fear of the Dragon, and are at their wits end. Now seeing their hopes die almost immediately, with the death of Ulrich, they head back to their town. Soon, though, they are joined by Galen, who has just inherited the Wizard’s magic amulet, who states that he will take up his former Master’s task and slay the Dragon himself. Along the way he risks strong resistance from the King, who believes his lottery system is best for his people, and is temporarily jailed so as not to meddle with the lottery. It’s not until the King’s own daughter is in jeopardy that the King releases Galen in the hopes Galen can actually end the Dragon menace. Along the journey, Galen discovers one of their party is not what they seem (no, not a traitor)…

So, this early 190’s fantasy film still looks beautiful (not something that most movies with special effects from that era can say), and is still interesting. As stated in the title of the review/write up, the Dragon in this movie is still one of my favourite designs of a Dragon in movies, ever. Maybe it’s second to Smaug, now, though I’ll decide that after the third and final Hobbit movie. Still, this movie, in my opinion, still hold up well. I heartily suggest this as a must watch for any fan of the Fantasy genre.


Southern Comfort (1981)–A Great, Forgotten Film

SouthernComfortThe last time I watched 1981’s Southern Comfort I was 11 and I loved it. Now, there are a lot of things that I loved when I was 11 that I’m not into now – luckily this in one thing that has held up over the years.

Southern Comfort tells the story of a group of Army reservists in the Louisiana National Guard on  weekend exercises in the Bayou’s swamps when they run into trouble with some Cajun’s living in said swamps. The trouble all starts when they decided to steal some canoes they find at a cabin in order to cross the water in order to get to their rendezvous. While making the crossings, they notice on the shore a group of people, most likely the owners of the canoes they are travelling in. One of their members, Private Stuckey (played by Lewis Smith) decides to fire off his M60 full of blanks to scare the Cajuns, as a joke. The Cajuns fire back, striking the squad leader, Staff Sgt. Poole (played by  Peter Coyote), killing him instantly. In in immediate confusion, one of the canoes is tipped over and the map gets lost. The squad’s second in command, Sgt. Casper (played by Les Lannom) takes the leadership role and attempts to lead the group out of the swamp, hoping to find the interstate highway. Sgt. Casper, despite his best attempts is not a natural leader, and manages to get the squad lost, while they are being hunted by the Cajun’s that killed Poole. The group happen upon a trapper’s cabin and take the occupant hostage, believing him to be with the group that killed Poole and is pursuing them. In the trapper’s cabin, they find a store house of guns, ammo and dynamite – all things they can use in their attempt to get out of the swamp… Unfortunately a particularly gung-ho member of the squad, Bowden (played by Alan Autry) destroys the cabin and it’s contents, leaving them without the weapons. The group takes the Cajun prisoner and continue on their trek. Along the way certain members of the group grow more belligerent and aggressive, becoming more and more uncontrollable. Throughout the whole time, two soldiers Spencer and Hardin (played by Keith Caradine and Powers Boothe) manage to keep their heads and wits about themselves, and eventually decide to fend for themselves after Casper proves to be useless and more and more of the group end up dead.

This is a powerful film with good performances from all the actors. It also shows an interesting slice of the Cajun culture. A gritty, great film, I definitely suggest this one as a much watch.

Check out the trailer below:


Cannonball Run (1981) – Stupid, Simple Fun

imageIt’s been a long time since I first (and last) watched Cannonball Run – 30 years actually… Boy does that make me feel old.

Cannonball Run hit theatres back in 1981 and despite being super cheezy, manages to be a really funny movie. The movie takes it’s name from the Cannonball Run, a cross country (U.S.A.), big money race that draws cars from all over. Along the long race the teams actively attempt to sabotage each other.Staring Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise co-star as racer J.J. McClure and his buddy, mechanic Victor Prinzi who pose as paramedics and drive an Ambulance. Roger Moore plays Seymour Goldfarb, Jr. who poses as no one other than… Roger Moore /James Bond. Rat Packers Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. play aging former race car driver Jamie Blake and scam artist Morris Fenderbaum who disguise themselves as priests and drive a red Ferrari. Adrienne Barbeau and Tara Buckman play as Marcie Thatcher and Jill Rivers – the “hot chicks” that use their womanly charms to wriggle out of legal troubles along the way. Jamie Farr (you know: Klinger from M.A.S.H.) appears as Sheik Abdul ben Falafel Jackie Chan goes mostly uncredited as “Mitsubishi Driver #1.” So, yeah, it’s a pretty eclectic and silly cast and it still fun to watch. It’s not a movie to watch if you want depth – this is a silly race movie with a silly cast and silly situations.

Have some fun and give Cannonball Run a watch. Check out the trailer here:


The Burning (1981) – Early 80s Killer at a Camp

1981’s The Burning is about a camp caretaker that is horribly disfigured in fire after a mean spirited prank, played by campers goes horrible wrong. Years later, he returns to the camp to exact revenge on new, innocent campers.

This is a typically bad camper/slaughter movie. Not a lot of work put in to the script or the acting. The senior campers go across the lake for a three day excursion when all hell breaks loose. First, the canoes get lost, a girl disappears, a group goes out on a handmade raft to get help and are brutally slaughtered. As time goes by, more and more die… like these kind of movies. This is pre-Friday the 13th (I think) and therefore before this format was really perfected – I say this is a terrible film, though there may be those that might believe that this is a formative movie -those people are wrong.

Pretty straight forward. One surprise was the fact that Jason Alexander (George from Seinfeld fame) and Brian Backner (Mark “Rat” Ratner in Fast Times at Ridgemont High) are part of the cast.

Take my advice: Leave this one alone.

Here is the trailer:


Harry’s War (1981) – A Must Watch Lost Classic from the Depths of the 80s

Harry’s War is one of those movies I have often thought about since seeing it back in the 80s, but was unable to ever find a copy to watch. I think this is one of the truly underrated movies of all time.

Harry’s War is a movie about the injustice of unfair taxation and the fact that the Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.) is seemingly above the law and able to trump the rights guaranteed to the U.S. population in the Constitution (by the way, I am not an American, so I look at this from the outside). It’s about one man that has exhausted all legal avenues and is forced to take action… to declare war on the I.R.S.

Starring one of those “That Guy” actors as the title character, Edward Herrmann is Harry Johnson – lowley, meek postman that inherits his adopted  ’Aunt’ Beverly Payne’s (played by Geraldine Page) soup kitchen/Antique/military surplus when she dies in tax court fighting the I.R.S. Running a charitable service, providing food ans comfort to those less off than her, she has come under the scrutiny of the I.R.S. and particularly that of Ernie Scelera, IRS District Director (David Ogden Stiers of M,A,S,H. fame), who believes that she ia actually running a political organization ans shirking her tax obligation. Scelera make it his mission to bring down Payne, saddling her with a $150,000+ tax bill, and no fair way to contest it. 

Asking Harry to come and help, he does just that, and shortly after arriving, is asked to take over the operation, as Payne just doesn’t have the strength anymore to keep going AND battle the I.R.S. Harry picks up the torch and beging the fight. Soon, court Aunt Patne passes away and Harry must take both burdens – which he does. After not gainig any traction with the I.R.S. by following their rules, he declsres war on the I.R.S. publicly by driving through the wall of a local news station and publicly declaring his intenet in the middle of an interview with Director Scelera.

The rest of the story is the physical and willful battle between the little guy and the Big Government Juggernaut. Attempts to isolate Harry from the press are foiled and he gains a grass roots following. Even when the army is brought in, they aren’t exactly sure they’re on the right side of the battle.

This is a feel good story with a serious message that still manages to stay funny – not an easy thing to do. A good cast, and good writing manages to overcome an obviously low budget. 

This movie has been traditionally very hard to find, as it only aired on TV once since it left the theatres it was released once on VHS, and then in 2005 saw the same VHS copy slapped onto a DVD. Both are long out of print. I was surprised this morning when it popped up on Netflix as a suggestion for me – I of course watched it immediately.

Available on Netflix, I have also found a copy on Youtube, though it is missing the first 5 or so minutes, I will link to it, as enough of the film is there that you should have no issue following the story – the only thing you miss is a bunch of people enjoying a meal provided by “Aunt” Payne and a little political diatribe – and you see the guy with the beard start a tape recorder recording. If you don’t have Netflix, then I say watch the Youtube copy – It’s better than not watching at all.

Just watch this movie – it’s awesome.

Here’s a little over nine and a half minutes of the film, to get a feeling for it:

And Here’s the whole movie, minus 5 minutes or so: