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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:


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_canIf you read my review of Every Which Way But Loose, then you know I like that movie. Well, this is the sequel to that movie, and you know what? I like this one too.

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 1 – High Plains Drifter (1973)

High_Plains_Drifter_posterWow… Wowwowwow.

Wow.

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!


Vampire Week Movie 5 – Shadow of the Vampire (2000)–The Troubles of Casting a Vampire – In Your Vampire Movie

ShadowoftheVampireposterSet during the shooting of the iconic 1922 Vampire film, Nosferatu, Shadow of the Vampire tells the tale of the dangers that can face you when you look for too much realism in your films. Staring John Malkovich as famous German Director, Frederich Wilhelm Murnau, during his filming of the above mentioned Nosferatu. Taking his cast and crew to film on location in Czechoslovakia, where he instroduces the rest of the crew to the star of the film, Max Schreck, whom, Murnau explains, will be in character for the entire time of the filming, and will only be seen at night. Schreck is played masterfully by Willem Dafoe. When members of the crew start to disappear, we see interesting back and forth  between Murnau and the Vampire, in which we find out that Murnau has made a very interesting and questionable bargain with the Vampire: His good behaviour for the life of one of his cast. Shame it’s so difficult to deal with the undead. 

Shadow of the Vampire puts a new twist to the Vampire movie: it’s a movie about the making of a vampire movie – wherein the Director of said movie chose to hire a real Vampire to play the title role. The cast is composed of a lot of “A” Listers and they all do an amazing job in this unusual film. The story is gripping, and the switch between regular filming, and the representation of what Murnau is capturing on his cameras is a great way to capture the dualism of the story. After watching this, I was compelled to watch the original, 1922 Nosferatu the very next day. If you enjoy horror movies, plot twists and damn good acting then you owe it to yourself to watch this film. Check out the trailer below:


Tarantino Week–Movie 5–Jackie Brown (1997)

Jackie_Brown70'sYou know what? I think Tarantino likes the 1970’s.. well, so do I, so do I.

Jackie Brown is such a throwback to the Blaxploitation films of the 1970’s that I almost think that Tarantino travelled back in time to gather up some magic, earth toned 70’s mojo to pack into this film… or not.

Starring Pam Grier (yeah, the tough chick from… those 70’s Blaxploitation films… see? I told you!), as Jackie Brown, a tough attractive flight attendant, who supplements her meagre wage by smuggling cash into the US from Mexico for a gun runner named Ordell Roberts, played by the seriously awesome Samuel L. Jackson. When one of Ordell’s mules gets caught and incarcerated, Ordell aranges for their bail, and kills them so they won’t turn informant. Soon after, Jackie herself gets caught by the feds bringing in cash and drugs (which were placed on her, without her knowledge). Refusing to testify against Ordell, she is locked up. Despite her refusal to talk, Ordell is still worried that she may talk to the feds, so he arranges her release, and plans on killing her too. Turning the tables on Ordell (a pistol will do things like that), she negotiates with Ordell to pretend to be working with the feds while smuggling a crap load of cash for Ordell.

This movie, like almost all Tarantino films, is freakin’ jam packed full of great stars. Honestly, here is a list of the stars in this crazy, throwback of a movie:

-This list was copied directly from the Wikipedia article on this movie which can be found here .

Oozing cool, Jackie Brown delivers 1970’s awesomeness, updated (just enough), for a (mostly), modern audience. If you haven’t seen this film, and like the style of Tarantino films, then this is for you. If you like your films, antiseptically clean, then walk away…and why are you reading this blog anyway?

Check out the trailer below, and why not watch this masterpiece tonight?


Tarantino Week–Movie 4–Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pulp_Fiction_cover1994’s epic movie, Pulp Fiction, is a crazy, head spinning movie that just doesn’t give you a chance to take a breath. Like almost all Tarantino movies, it has a cast that is virtually a who’ who of Hollywood (as of 1994).

Pulp Fiction is a homage to the crazy B-Movies of the 60’s and 70’s, right down to the out of order timeline of events in the film. You’ve got a couple of thugs, or muscle for a Mobster by the name of Marcel, Vincent Vega (John Travolta), and Jules Winfield (Samuel L. Jackson), who among other jobs, are sent to collect a briefcase with…something in it, from some young guys, who apparently believe Marcel is a bitch (watch the movie…). Things go wrong and things get messy.

We also have a sub story about a boxer, Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis), who’s been paid heavily by none other than non-bitch Marcel, to take a dive in his upcoming fight.. yeah, things go wrong, and Butch and his weird and annoying French girlfriend are on the run.  Later, Butch and Marcel end up captives to some hillbilly homosexual sadist rapists. Things get crazy again. Release the Gimp. and in another segment, Butch surprises Vincent… with deadly results.

We also have Vincent, charged with keeping Marcel’s wife, Mia (Uma Thurman), entertained while Marcel is away. The two end up at a cool, over the top, 50’s style diner. There’s some talk of a $5 milk shake and a great dance off… and then later, back at Marcel’s and Mia’s things get crazy, Mia ends up almost dead, rushed to Vincent’s heroin dealer’s house with a syringe of adrenalin sticking out of her chest.

Somewhere in the middle, a crazy criminal couple (Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer) decide they want to rob the restaurant where Vincent and Jules are chilling out in. Things get intese this time, with Jules and holding a gun to Roth’s neck and explaining the deal to him…

Damn this movie is cool – awesome and out of sight. Some people (my wonderful wife included), do not like the fact that the story line is not linear, but I think that’s part of what makes the movie as great as it is. Should you watch this film? Yes, many times.

Check out the trailer below:


Tarantino Week–Movie 3: True Romance (1993)

True_romance

True Romance is a crazy, wild ride of a movie. Written by Quentin Tarantino, and starring Christian Slater as Clarence Worley and Patricia Arquette as Alabama Whitman, a young couple who meet at a Sonny Chiba triple play at a theatre in Detroit. They hit off real good, have dinner and then both end up at Clarence’s apartment, having sex. Alabama then admits she’s a hooker hired by his boss, to help him blow off some steam. She also admits that she’s managed to fall in love with him over the course of the evening.  This is fortunate, as apparently Clarence has fallen in love with her also. Having known each other for a whole night, they do the logical thing and get married. Now Clarence has to deal with Alabama’s Pimp, Drexl (Gary Oldman). What confronting the pimp, and after a ruckus, and a visit from Clarence’s muse/alter ego/imaginary friend in his head, Drexl ends up dead, and Clarence accidentally ends up with a suitcase full of cocaine. The newly webs hatch a plan to sell the cocaine and restart their lives somewhere warm… Well, the coke was the Mobs, and soon the two are being tracked down by some unsavoury characters, one being the always awesome Christopher Walken as gangster Vincenzo Coccotti. Before the duo leave Detroit for California, they stop by Clarence’s estranged fathers, a police officer by the name of Clifford, played by Dennis Hopper a Detroit police officer, to find out what the police believe the motive for Drexl’s murder. After they leave, Coccotti and his crew end up at Cliffords to drill him on the location of Clarence and Alabama… A great exchange between two great actors happens…only one survives.

Off to Cali, the dynamic duo meet up with an old friends of Clarence, who begrudgingly agrees to help him sell the cocaine to a director he kind of knows, using a go between, played by Bronson Pinchot. Things go wrong, cops get involved, a meeting happend and everything goes to crap…

This movie is crazy and cool – crazy cool? Yeah. Unlike the Kill Bill movies (and the others I will be reviewing), this is written by Tarantino, but directed by Tony Scott, and therefore has a different feeling than Tanatino directed films – but don’t think that is a bad thing, it’s just different. This is a great film and deserves to be watched.

Check out the trailer:


Tarantino Week–Movie 2: Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)

Kill_bill_vol_two_verWhen we finished Quentin Tarantino’s 2003 movie, Kill Bill Volume 1, Bill (played by  David Caradine) was still alive… This pretty much guaranteed us a Volume 2.

Volume 2, released in early 2004, opens with a flash beck to Bill shooting Uma Thurman’s character, The Bride, and leaving her, presumably, for dead on the floor of a small church. Then we see The Bride herself, driving, recounting what happened in Volume 1, and then calmly letting us know that she is going to kill Bill. Soon we see Bill, speaking to his brother,Budd (played by Michael Madsen), himself a former Deadly Viper, warning him that The Bride is most likely on her way to kill him. Budd, who now spends his time working as a bouncer in a titty bar, explains that they all deserve any kind of vengeance that the Bride may bestow upon them, for what they did to her. Later, The Bride, expecting to ambush Budd, end up on the wrong side of a 12 gauge shotgun packed full of rock salt. Incapacitated, Budd buries her alive, in a cemetery, and calls fellow Viper, Elle Driver (played by Daryl Hannah), bragging of his deed, and offering up The Bride’s Hanzo sword to her for a cool million dollars – an offer she snaps at. Meanwhile, we flashback to The Bride…who flashes back to her martial arts training at the hands of a merciless master by the name of Pai Mei (Gordon Liu). We see a young Bride as she develops her techniques through repetition and the seeming heartlessness of her master. Eventually it is obvious that she has won his respect. Now we flashback to the present, with the Bride using one of the many techniques taught to her by Pai Mei to escape. Meanwhile, back at Budd’s trailer, Elle has shown up to get the sword. Providing Budd a suitcase full of cash (a million dollars, I presume), she inspects the weapon while Budd starts grabbing handfuls of cash out of the suitcase… Only to find a surprise – a deadly surprise, waits for him in all that cash. Now with Budd out of the way, The Bride has made her way back to Budd’s place to find Elle – which is good, because she too was on the Bride’s list of those that have to die… A great sword fight breaks out, and along the way we discover that Elle, who also was sent to learn under Pai Mei, had killed the old master by poisoning his meal. We also lean that the Master had plucked one of Ell’s eyes out during her training for being insubordinate to the old man. Enrages, The Bride takes instant justice by relieving Elle of her remaining eye…

Now on to Bill… The Bride, now referred to as Beatrix, has tracked Bill to Mexico. Meeting an elderly, dirt bag of a gentleman by the name of Esteban Vihaio, who tells her Bill’s location, because he believes Bill would want him to. Making it to Bill’s, she receives a shocks when she discovers some interesting personal info…and a dart of truth serum to the neck. More flashbacks and some serious talking, and then battle… awesome battle.

You know the name of the movies, so you figure out what the outcome is (watch the movies if you haven’t already).  These two movies were meant to be released as a single movie, but the run time would be over 4 hours so they were broken into two. Watch both back to back for the original intended experience, The Kill Bill movies are fantastic and you should watch them.

Check out the trailer below:


Tarantino Week–Movie 1: Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)

barneymiller-29-2cQuentin Tarantino’s 2003 movie, Kill Bill Volume 1 tells the story of “The Bride” (played by Uma Thurman), a former member of an assassination team known as the Deadly Vipers, and her journey of revenge against her former fellow assassins, and Bill, her former master and leader of the Deadly Vipers, for attacking and massacring her wedding party and leaving her for dead during a wedding rehearsal.

Thurman’s character, in this iteration of the Kill Bill Saga is known simply as the Bride. Waking from a coma, four years after Bill left her for dead on the floor of a church, he Bride takes little time to start her path of vengeance… starting right there in the hospital,taking out the redneck that paid a greaseball orderly to have sex with her… Oh, and she takes out that orderly, quickly. also… and takes off with his ridiculous, bright yellow truck, labeled “The Pussy Wagon”. First stop. after the killing in the hospital is to the home of Vernita Green (played by Vivica A. Fox). The two do epic battle with a short break in the middle when Vernita’s young daughter comes home. Soon the action restarts, and ends with The Bride heading to her next destination/victim, O-Ren Ishii (played by Lucy Liu), a former Viper and now leader of a consortium of Yakuza families. A flashback shows us just how she won the respect and fear of the male dominated Yakuza families. When The Bride shows up in Japan, she defeats what seems to be an almost endless number of minions, known as the Crazy 88s. The scene ends with a very stylistically shot scene with The Bride and Oren in a samurai sword battle. Pretty evenly matched… but you know who is going to win, and she does so in a spectacular fashion. Upon leaving, she leaves one former member of the Deadly Vipers alive: Sophie Fatale, (played by Julie Dreyfus), is left alive, albeit minus one arm, to send the message that The Bride is coming for him. Mixed up in the story ids a sub story, where the Bride travels to the island of Okinawa, and convinces the esteemed, but now retired sword smith, Hattori Hanzō (played by the awesome Sonny Chiba), to craft her a samurai sword. At first he declines… that is until she tells him the sword is to be used to Kill Bill. Now he’s in…
Kill Bill Vol. 1 is a little disjointed. Like Tarantino’s other masterpiece, Pulp Fiction, it has a disjointed timeline – the scenes are just not in linear order. I believe this may be in homage to the cheezy B-Movies of the past where projectionists would sometimes play the reels out of order, either due to mis-labeling or just carelessness. Either way, I like it.

Watch Kill Bill Volume 1… and if you’ve seen it, watch it again.

Check out the trailer below:


Another Great Movie Deal: Die Hard 25th Anniversary BLU-RAY Collection For $20!

S I was walking though the Blu-Ray section at my local Wal-Mart when I found the Die Hard 25th Anniversary Blu-Ray  Collection. It includes Die Hard (1988), Die Hard 2 – Die Harder (1990) ,  Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995) and Live Free Or Die Hard (2007). All these awesome action movies in one cooly designed set with an added disc of extras…. all for $20! These are good action (and Christmas), movies and this is a good addition to one’s BLU-RAY collection.

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Just Arrived: A Box of 40 HD-DVD Movies (Player to Arrive Next Week)

So I bought a box of 40 HD-DVD movies on Ebay last week and they jusy arrives. What is HD-DVD? It was the format that lost out to Blu-Ray. Same resolution, different incompatible format (remember the Bets vs. VHS video casstte war? This is the Beta of high definition formats). This is a dead format. Why would I buy them if it’s a dead format? They were super cheap, like the HD-DVD add on for the XBOX 360. A crap load of HD movies for cheap is a no brainer to me. I paid $40 for 40 movies and I am super happy about it.

Here’s the list of movies:

Adventures of Robin Hood, The
Ant Bully, The
Arctic Tale
Aviator, The

Batman Begins
Beowulf
Blades of Glory
Caddyshack
Constantine
Corpse Bride
Dead Silence
Disturbia
Dreamgirls
Failure to Launch
Four Brothers
Fugitive, The
Goodfellas
Happy Feet
Heartbreak Kid
Hot Rod
Jerk, The
Kiss Kiss bang Bang
Lethal Weapon
Last Samurai, The
Mighty Heart, A
Million Dollar Baby
Nacho Libre
Next
Norbit
Ocean’s Thirteen
Perfect Storm, The
Polar Express, the
Searchers, the
Superman Returns
Swordfish
TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Training Day
Transformers
Unforgiven