Double Feature Weekend – Shock Treatment (1981)

Director: Jim Sharman

Writer: Jim Sharman, Richard O’Brien (Screenplay)

Starring: Jessica Harper, Cliff De Young, Richard O’Brien, Patricia Quinn, Charles Gray, Ruby Wax, Nell Campbell, Rik Mayall

 

Plot: Janet and Brad become contestants on a game show… but wind up as captives instead.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Way Before It’s Time

 

Story: Shock Treatment starts as Brad (de Young) and Janet (Harper) are part of a marriage television show where Brad gets taken away for treatment through Dr Cosmo (O’Brien) and Dr Nation (Quinn).

With each day becoming a new day on the show Janet leaves Brad in the hands of the doctors while she considers her options.

When Brad finds, himself becoming the face of a fast food franchise Janet learns that they have become trapped in this twisted world with no escape as her star power continues to grow.

 

Thoughts on Shock Treatment

 

Characters/PerformanceReturning us to Janet and Brad is an interesting idea but they both seem very different people, Janet gets drawn to the idea of becoming a big star leaving people behind to do this, Brad spends most of the film tied up which doesn’t give him a lot of time to do anything. The Doctors are good without being anything special which is what could be said for the rest of the characters too.

Performance wise, Jessica Harper is great in the leading role but it would be fair to say none of the other stars really stand out on the level she reaches through this film.

StoryThe story is in places complicated, but it does poke fun at reality television which for the time was something unknown, watching it now and seeing how people look at success we do get to see a huge difference in what people think. On the other hand, this is so far away from the Rocky Picture Show we don’t need to use the same characters.

Comedy/MusicalThis doesn’t reach that many levels of comedy but I do think the musical numbers are an improvement from the Rocky Horror.

SettingsThe whole film is set inside a studio showing us just how Janet rose and fell from celebrity status which feels like the television show we are watching.

Special EffectsWe don’t have many special effects here once again but when needed they are good.

Final ThoughtsThis does take the characters in a direction you wouldn’t expect and has fun poking fun at television shows but otherwise it isn’t anything special.

 

Overall: Strange sequel with little connection.

Rating

 

 

Advertisements

Chariots of Fire (1981)

chaiotsDirector: Hugh Hudson

Writer: Colin Welland (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicholas Farrell, Nigel Havers, Ian Charleson, Ben Cross, Daniel Gerroll, Ian Holm

 

Plot: Two British track athletes, one a determined Jew and the other a devout Christian, compete in the 1924 Olympics.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Dated Sports Biopic

 

Story: Chariots of Fire starts in 1919 Cambridge University as we follow Harold Abrahams (Cross), and Aubrey Montague (Farrell) in the elite university of England. Here we get to see how fast the Jewish Harold is, also in Scotland we get to see Eric Liddell (Charleson) a rugby player turned runner that is also in the elite of the racing speed but he is a devote Christian who doesn’t believe in playing sports on a Sunday.

What follows is seeing the paths both Eric and Harold take to become the best in the nation as they become favourites for the British team heading into the Olympics. The two become rivals but their own personal beliefs could become a barrier in going for the gold medal.

 

Thoughts on Chariots of Fire

 

Characters/PerformanceHaving the characters based on the real people makes it difficult to say anything bad about them, we have two men who have been forced to put aside their difference in religious beliefs to make an impact on the sport they love taking part in. this is a story of success which is easy to enjoy for all that are involved.

Performance wise everything is good without being anything truly special by anyone involved through the film.stars

StoryThis is a story about how two men put aside their difference to make their way to the top of the sport of athletes, it is easy to follow but does come off slightly too posh in places when you look at how the British come off.

Biography/SportsLooking into the way we follow the two men’s journey to the Olympics we get to see how the races unfold which is all good but I would say this is one of the more average biopics that I have seen.

SettingsThe settings show us the upper classes going into the sport of running, which is all good with the races at the Olympics coming off great for settings.genre

Final ThoughtsMy final thoughts are that this is slightly too British showing you had to come from money to achieve in sports at this time, I also don’t feel the film does enough to show us all of the characters involved.

 

Overall: Nice but no cigar especially when we prefer the struggle to make it and become the story of success, rather than the winner.

Ratingrating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Mad Max 2 The Road Warrior (1981)

roadDirector: George Miller

Writer: Terry Hayes, George Miller, Brian Hannant (Screenplay)

Starring: Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Michal Preston, Max Phipps Vernon Wells, Kjell Nilsson, Virginia Hey, William Zappa

 

Plot: In the post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland, a cynical drifter agrees to help a small, gasoline rich, community escape a band of bandits.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Big, Better and Bloodier

 

Story: Mad Max 2 The Road Warrior starts by showing us the dystopian world Max (Gibson) roams and just how destructive it has become with oil running low. Max is now deadlier than ever taking zero prisoners when it comes to fighting on the road.

When Max meets, the wasteland guy The Gyro Captain (Spence) he learns about an endless supply of gas which keep Max supplied for years but there is one problem it is controlled by warriors who are under threat from The Humengus (Nilsson) and his bloody thirsty gang that want the gas for themselves.

Max reluctant helps the warriors defend the gas from the gang in what is a battle in the middle of the desert for the most valuable resource in the new world gas.

 

Thoughts on Mad Max 2 The Road Warrior

 

StoryThe story picks up where the last one finished with the character of Max now ready to rule the wasteland, the first film introduced us to Max this one unleashes him to be the bad ass action character we need and the story shows just how he is willing to work for the greater good when need be. This also enters into the time when stories were simple and this one shows just how simple story telling can be something the audience of the Fury Road chapter learnt in 2015.

Action/ThrillerThe action is bigger with the chases being riskier and edge of your seat throughout but this time when it comes to the genres it makes everything very clear that this a post-apocalyptic world we are now in. The film uses the genres to improve this film to the next level.

Characters/PerformanceMad Max is the strong silent type not having many lines in the whole film and this works for Gibson who continues to shine in the role, this time we get some comic relief to lighten the higher end action going on. The villains on the other side feel like a much bigger threat and wildly over the top so much so that not one but two of the references whether it be the nickname of image became huge through the World Wrestling Federation.

SettingsThe settings are again very simple but effective as nearly the whole movie is set on battle to protect the gas supply, this continues the trend this film set by making sure the story is big but simple.

Special EffectsWhen it comes to the special effects everything is all perfectly placed stunt work to make sure the chase or battle scenes come off to their full effect.

Final ThoughtsThis is the improvement the fans wanted from the original, everything is bigger, bloodier and just overall way more entertaining.

 

Overall: How all action films should improve themselves.

Ratingcard

 

 

John Travolta Weekend – Blow Out (1981)

blowDirector: Brian De Palma

Writer: Brian De Palma (Screenplay)

Starring: John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow, Dennis Franz, Peter Boyden, Curt May, John Aquino, John McMartin

 

Plot: A movie sound recordist accidentally records the evidence that proves that a car accident was actually murder and consequently finds himself in danger.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Horror Mystery Thriller

 

Story: Blow Out starts with Jack Terry (Travolta) a sound engineer that has been working on his latest film, a low budget horror film. While working on finding the latest sound effects Jack witnesses a car accident saving Sally (Allen) from drowning. Learning that the potential future President was killed in the accident Jack is ask to forget about saving the girl for the Governors family.

Learning this was no accident Jack sets out to prove he recorded the murder only to find himself and Sally in danger from the people responsible for the murder and cover up. Jack finds himself being tracked down by hitman Burke (Lithgow) who is out to clean up any loose ends with the cover up.

Blow Out is a conspiracy thriller that was showing just how easy it could have been to cover up a crime for the time it was made. We get a scandal that can ruin a Presidential campaign which is just the beginning of the story but when he is killed we get the next chapter as one man must prove this was no accident. The film is filled with tension from early on which drives us to want to see what will happen to our characters.

Travolta is great in the leading role show he was still at the top of his game in the early 80s, while Nancy Allen does well with what is a very weak female character written to be very naïve and not used to the world. John Lithgow is fabulous as this cold-hearted killer which we do get to see much later in his career with performance in Raising Cain and Dexter. The rest of the supporting cast ends up being very generic not making too much of an impact on the final film. This is easily one of the most underrated films of the 80s and can still be watched today as if it was a fresh release.

 

Overall: One of the most underrated films I have seen, tense from start to finish.

Ratingcard

 

 

Dr Death’s Cinema Surgery Monthly Movie Club – Escape From New York (1981)

I would like to start out by saying this is the first of two reviews from the latest showing from Dr Death’s Cinema Surgery Monthly Movie Club and I would suggest fans to check out the site and come and join the club.

 logo

Director: John Carpenter

Writer: John Carpenter, Nick Castle (Screenplay)

Starring: Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes, Season Hubley, Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins

 

Plot: In 1997, when the US President crashes into Manhattan, now a giant maximum security prison, a convicted bank robber is sent in for a rescue.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Cult Classic Filled With Venom

 

Story: Escape From New York starts by taking us into the future 1997 (now the past) where Manhattan has been turned into a maximum security prison with no guards and no escape. When the President’s (Pleasence) plane gets hijacked and hauntingly crashed into Manhattan island right when the world is looking to become at peace. Everyone on the American side is panicking and an organised rescue mission is out of the question. Hauk (Cleef) the warden takes a chance to offer soon to be prisoner Snake Plissken (Russell) a pardon if he can retrieve the President and a tape important to the peace talks. Hauk injects Snake with explosives that will detonate in 22 hours before sending him on his way.

Snake arrives in the city by landing on the World Trade Centre where he ends up meeting a string of colourful criminals with some being good Cabbie (Borgnine) Brain (Stanton) and the evil Duke (Hayes) who runs the island. We follow Snake as he locates the President and has to find a way before the explosives go off killing him.

Escape From New York is always considered a bit of a cult classic with the easy to follow race against time rescue mission. We get the traditional mix of villains with the anti-hero having to navigate and for the most part know who he can trust. We also have the all too generic last resort being the criminal, granted this was one of the early usages of the idea. While certain parts of this film have dated it would be fair to say the most part this still looks very fresh and puts us into a world where the future is different to anything we could have imagined. I do feel this is what the action genre was always about the fun of slightly over the top action and tough guy persona leading the way. (7/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Kurt Russell: Snake Plissken is the ex-special force soldier who has fallen onto the wrong side of the law. He gets given a chance for a pardon but then gets betrayed by Hauk giving him just 22 hours to save his own life and save the President. Snake has a tough guy persona playing everything cool even if the odds are completely against him. Kurt gives this character the mark of being the coolest character he has portrayed on film. (8/10)

 snake

Lee Van Cleef: Hauk is the warden of the prison who comes up with the idea of putting Snake on the one man mission to save the day, he is smart enough Snake could be a slippery customer but shows faith in him even if he starts to think the mission could have gone wrong. Lee does a good job in the power position trying to cover his own arse. (7/10)

 

Ernest Borgnine: Cabbie just seems to show up when Snake needs wheels or directions, he makes for good comic relief as he doesn’t seem to take the situation too seriously. Ernest does make for a good supporting character. (7/10)

 

Donald Pleasence: President who spends nearly the whole film captured by The Duke and has to play the prisoner to the prisoners in a clever role reversal. Donald does a solid job but never gets to show off his acting skills. (6/10)

 

Isaac Hayes: The Duke is the king of Manhattan and after what could have been the coolest and awkward entrance with his chandelling cover car we get to see how what he says goes and that he wants out with the President being his leverage. Isaac makes for a good villain of the piece and wants just what all prisoners would want, freedom. (7/10)

duke

Support Cast: Escape From New York has a supporting cast of weird and wonderful characters but the stand out two have to be Brain (Harry Dean Stanton) and Maggie (Adrienne Barbeau) who help Snake along the way.

 

Director Review: John Carpenter – John showed how he can challenge anyone with his action films even if they are not all the cops and robbers, focusing more on the future we could have. (9/10)

 

Action: Escape From New York is filled with action, we have bullets flying all over the place, stealth like kills and a brilliant car chase across a mine filled bridge. (9/10)

Sci-Fi: Escape From New York takes us into a bleak future where everything is a lot darker with Manhattan being a prison now but it also gives us the chance to see how close we could have become to peace. (8/10)

Settings: Escape From New York turns Manhattan into a warzone with prisoners coming out of every corner looking for their next victims. A point has to go out for a brilliant shot looking at Manhattan from a distance with the Twin Towers front and centre, very haunting image. (8/10)
Special Effects
: Escape From New York does use very dated computer technology but for the most part never relies on the special effects. (8/10)

Suggestion: Escape From New York is one that all action horror sci-fi fans must watch because it really is just easy to watch and enjoy. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Snake in general.

Worst Part:  Let’s be picky here and go with the idea of how Air Force One got hijacked in the first place.

Action Scene Of The Film: Car chase across the land mined bridge.

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Has a sequel ‘Escape From LA

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $25 Million

Budget: $6 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

Tagline: 1997. New York City is now a maximum security prison. Breaking out is impossible. Breaking in is insane.

Trivia: Clint Eastwood was considered for the role of Snake Plissken. Kurt Russell based Snake on Eastwood.

 

Overall: Escape From New York really is a classic that should be watched by all because once you do the best eye patched character will no longer be Nick Fury it will be Snake Plissken.

Rating 80