Category Archives: Flashback

Let’s Scare Jessica to Death

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Release Date: August 27, 1971
Runtime: 89 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Director: John Hancock
Cast: Zohra Lampert; Barton Heyman; Kevin O’Connor; Gretchen Corbett; Alan Manson; Mariclare Costello

This low-key quickie hearkens back to a sort of golden age for low-budget chillers. While not as gruesome as some of its contemporaries (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes), this film makes tremendous use of its spooky old house and outdoor locations. Despite a horrendous title, Let’s Scare Jessica To Death is an effective little creeper: high on atmosphere and long on style. Continue reading

Mike’s Murder

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Release Date: March 9, 1984 (screened June 22, 2014 – 16th Annual Provincetown Film Festival)
Runtime: 109 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Warner Bros.
Director: James Bridges
Cast: Debra Winger; Mark Keyloun; Darrell Larson; Paul Winfield; Brooke Alderson

This is an often overlooked, unseen 1984 film from director James Bridges (“The China Syndrome,” “Urban Cowboy”). While not entirely successful, it’s still an interesting curio and a helluva time capsule for 1980s enthusiasts. Continue reading

Sorcerer

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Release Date: June 24, 1977
Runtime: 121 minutes
Rating: PG
Studio: Paramount Pictures / Universal Pictures
Director: William Friedkin
Cast: Roy Scheider; Bruno Cremer; Francisco Rabal; Amidou

God bless the Film Forum! If it wasn’t for this extraordinary little theater on W. Houston, special engagements of overlooked movies like “Sorcerer” might never be seen on the big screen again, relegated to not-exactly-the-same laptop viewing.

A reimagining of the classic French thriller “The Wages of Fear,” William Friedkin’s follow up to his groundbreaking and genre-defining “The Exorcist” was an ambitious flop back in 1977. The victim of shifting tastes in popular entertainment at the dawn of the blockbuster era, as well as timing (it opened a weekend before “Star Wars,” the phenomenal success of which immediately shattered any chance it had at success), “Sorcerer” has thankfully enjoyed a resurgence in critical acclaim over the years, and rightfully so. While not a perfect movie, it nonetheless fits very much within Friedkin’s oeuvre of hyper-intense, challenging work. Shit, movies don’t get much more intense than this! Continue reading

Taxi zum Klo

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Release Date: January 9, 1981
Runtime: 98 minutes
Rating: NR – Adults Only
Studio: Exportfilm Bischoff & Company
Director: Frank Ripploh
Cast: Frank Ripploh; Bernd Broaderup; Peter Fahrni

This is an interesting piece for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it is notable for being a pioneering film for gay cinema. Released in 1981, “Tazi zum Klo” (Take Me to the Toilet” in German…nice), was a fairly mainstream movie, one that could never be made today, at least not without being labeled as out-and-out porn. Secondly, it showcased the sometimes blissful, sometimes complex relationship between two gay men in pre-AIDS, early 80’s West Berlin. One must not forget that at that time, it was somewhat shocking and definitely controversial to show two men, not only in a sexual relationship, but in ANY emotionally binding relationship. Thirdly, the lack of modesty of the main character: writer, director, star, Frank Ripploh. This film is clearly an exorcism of demons for this guy and he holds nothing back in chronicling his life for us. He is unapologetic for his rather hedonistic lifestyle and wants us to join him in this journey. In fact, the first words spoken in the film are, “Do you want to come cruising with me? Good.” Continue reading

Pretty Woman

It’s Flashback Friday!

This Week’s Flashback Movie….

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Pretty-Woman

 

 

Release Date: March 23, 1990
Runtime: 119 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Touchstone Pictures (Disney)
Director: Garry Marshall
Cast: Richard Gere; Julia Roberts; Hector Elizondo; Laura San Giacomo; Jason Alexander; Ralph Bellamy

Do you remember where you were when Julia Roberts became a movie star? You were probably one of the millions sitting in the pre-stadium seating movie theater in the spring of 1990 watching a star being born. Garry Marshall’s modern retelling of “Pygmalion” is, when you break it down, a light and fluffy, if rather fair movie. But from the moment Roberts struts down Hollywood Boulevard on her way to snag a john in those thigh-high boots, we are under her spell and everything else plays second fiddle. Continue reading

Graffiti Bridge

It’s Flashback Friday!

This Week’s Flashback Movie….

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Release Date: November 2, 1990
Runtime: 95 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Studio: Warner Bros.
Director: Prince
Cast: Prince; Morris Day; Ingrid Chavez; Jerome Benton; Mavis Staples; Tevin Campbell

[SPOILERS]

Prince is an extremely talented guy. His music and his moves are hallmarks of the 1980s. “Graffiti Bridge,” his unofficial 1990 sequel to his seminal 1984 hit “Purple Rain,” will not dissuade anyone from thinking as much. His prowess as a filmmaker, however, is another story. Continue reading

An Unmarried Woman

It’s Flashback Friday!

This Week’s Flashback Movie….

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Release Date: March 5, 1978
Runtime: 124 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Director: Paul Mazursky
Cast: Jill Clayburgh; Alan Bates; Michael Murphy; Cliff Gorman; Lisa Lucas; Kelly Bishop

You know the expression “to feel like a fly on the wall?” That’s pretty much how I felt while watching “An Unmarried Woman,” Paul Mazursky’s 1978 drama about a woman finding herself after her husband dumps her.

The late Jill Clayburgh plays Erica, a seemingly happily married woman. Her husband works on Wall Street, she has a well-adjusted teenage daughter, she lives comfortably on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, she has a group of girlfriends with whom she regularly meets for drinks…a pretty normal, stress-free life. Then her husband drops a bomb. He is leaving her for a younger woman. What does Erica do now? Who is she if not a wife and mother? Continue reading

Body of Evidence

It’s Flashback Friday!

This Week’s Flashback Movie….

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Body-of-Evidence

 

Release Date: January 15, 1993
Runtime: 99 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: MGM
Director: Uli Edel
Cast: Willem Dafoe; Madonna; Joe Mantegna; Anne Archer; Julianne Moore; Frank Langella; Jurgen Prochnow

Hoo-boy!!! This one’s a doozy! No one in this train wreck could possibly have thought that they were in a good movie. If they did, I have some waterfront property in Kansas to sell them.

In the wake of the success of “Basic Instinct” in the spring of 1992, the erotic thriller was a “hot” commodity. There was “Whispers in the Dark” in August of that year, “Guilty As Sin” in June of ’93, and William Friedkin’s “Jade” in 1995. Even “Basic Instinct” star Sharon Stone got back in the sack for “Sliver” in 1993. Most were lame excuses for big name stars to get naked. But none was more ridiculous than “Body of Evidence,” released in January (nuff said) of 1993. Starring Madonna and Willem Dafoe, this has to be one of the least intelligent movies ever put to celluloid. Continue reading

Duel

It’s Flashback Friday!

This Week’s Flashback Movie….

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Duel

 

 

Release Date: November 13, 1971
Runtime: 90 minutes
Rating: PG
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Dennis Weaver; Jacqueline Scott; Eddie Firestone

This is the movie that put a young Steven Spielberg on the map. Originally produced for television (released theatrically in Europe), and based on a story by Richard Matheson (“I Am Legend”; “Stir of Echoes”), it has all the Spielbergian trademarks for which he would later become one of our foremost auteurs.

On the surface, this sounds like the dumbest movie ever: man is menaced by a maniacal big rig, driven by a faceless driver. That’s essentially it. Yet in the hands of a young and eager Spielberg, it ends up being one of the most intense movies you’re likely to see, and holds up beautifully in the forty-plus years since it was initially released. Continue reading

When Time Ran Out

It’s Flashback Friday!

This Week’s Flashback Movie….

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Release Date: March 28, 1980
Runtime: 121 minutes
Rating: PG
Studio: Warner Brothers
Director: James Goldstone
Cast: Paul Newman; Jacqueline Bisset; William Holden; Edward Albert; Ernest Borgnine; Burgess Meredith; Red Buttons; Veronica Hamel; Alex Karras; James Franciscus

This is your typical Irwin Allen disaster flick that offers no new surprises and doesn’t stray from his well-worn formula. Continue reading