Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Vegas Strip War (1984)

Network: NBC
Original Air Date: November 25th, 1984

I have to wonder how on earth they got Rock Hudson to star in this plodding, ill advised drama/thriller about warring casinos on the infamous Las Vegas Boulevard. I get how they got Sharon Stone, she was still virtually an unknown actress at the time (with questionable chops) and I even get how they got James Earl Jones to do a fascinating Don King rip off (this guy can do anything), but the Rock? I dunno, it’s not connecting for me. But then again, so little does…

Sharon and Rock enjoy the pokey!

The Vegas Strip War is mostly of interest to people (like me) who love to see films shot in Vegas. I grew up there and am always fascinated with how the town continually changes. There is this fantastic scene featuring Rock hanging out in Downtown Vegas, which used to be the hub of the city. The empty, rain slicked street really captures a city that no longer is.

But enough pontificating on my part, how bad is this movie?

It’s bad.

I mean it’s really bad. Like confoundingly-confusingly-ploddingly-suckily bad.

So Fine

Rock is Neil Chaine, owner of the Desert Inn. He loves to ply his customers with wine, women, cars and lots of attention. He’s a good businessman, but is suddenly pushed out by the board members of his casino for alleged mob ties. Somehow, all the love he gets in the first five minutes of the film turn nasty as he’s ousted during an impromptu board meeting in a horse stable! So he goes across the street and buys the Tropicana! And then all bets are off as Neil charms his way into success, near defeat and then back to success again.

So Fine Part II

Nothing in this film makes sense. It’s written like a grand Shakespearian tragedy with long bits of dialog that mean nothing and have no real logic. There’s a nice bit of racism to be had as well, featuring Pat Morita as the rich Asian man who rings in other rich “orientals” and Jones accusing everyone of disliking him because he’s black (that is until Sharon Stone puts a cork in his bottle! It’s not as dirty as that sounds…). It’s fairly predictable, kind of unwatchable and yet sort of captivating. As I’ve said before, if you like films that take place in Sin City, this is a must.

You've got to be kidding me?!?

This was not only Rock Hudson’s last made for TV movie but it was also his last film before he succumbed to the AIDS virus a year later. Watching The Vegas Strip War now feels bittersweet because it’s hard to detach this dim-witted tele-flick from the very real heartbreak that was the last days of Rock Hudson’s life. He’s in fine form here and looks pretty good. He might not have left this earthly plane with a scorcher, but this true professional exited this life like the star he was. That makes me happy.

So Streets of Fire!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Patrick Swayze 1952 - 2009

There is absolutely nothing I can say that won't be said better by someone else on the internet. Patrick Swayze was an icon. Pure and simple. He appeared in some of the best loved films of the 80s into the 90s. He seemed like a true gentleman and proved you could be straight and still dance like that. He was, for many of us, the guy we grew up watching. And we loved him.

Patrick had his hand in more than a few television projects, his final being The Beast which aired earlier this year on A&E. As he struggled with pancreatic cancer, my love and admiration only grew for him. I am deeply saddened by his passing.

Here's a couple of stills of Patrick in Return of the Rebels:

Strangely enough, I finally got to see this movie only a couple of weeks ago. I started writing my review of it last week between classes. Patrick is the bad guy, and man, he's oh-so-good at it! I will post the review with more stills when I finish it.

Patrick in Renegades:

This has to be my all time favorite thing Patrick ever did (with Roadhouse coming in a close second!). Before 21 Jump Street, Patrick and his merry band of reformed street thugs went undercover as cool young things, infiltrating all that is evil for the young... Originally a made for TV movie which aired in 1982, it became a very short lived series in 1983... only six episodes. I remember watching ever single one.

Patrick also appeared in the following television movies/mini-series:

The Comeback Kid (1980)
Pigs vs. Freaks (1984)
North & South (1985)
North & South: Book II (1986)
King Solomon's Mines (2004)
Icon (2005)

RIP Patrick. You were one of a kind. I'll miss you.

Here is the opening credits for Renegade, aka the best show ever:

Monday, September 7, 2009

Dark Night of the Scarecrow DVD Postponed!!!

Say it ain't so!!!!

I just saw a post at Horror Yearbook regarding the postponement of the DVD release of Dark Night of the Scarecrow, the single most anticipated DVD release of the year! Apparently the original DVD company fell through. Needless to say, a tear or two was shed. But read the article - writer J.D. Feigelson is looking for another distributor. Fingers crossed J.D.! I know you've put a lot of work into getting this movie to its audience.

Strangely, 2009 has seen the release of several other awesome television movies such as Bad Ronald, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark & The Bermuda Depths (all through Warner Archive). With the exception of a few other titles, the release of Scarecrow would mean the very top films in the sub-genre had become available to a whole new crowd. I have faith this will happen, just not right this second.

Hang tight Bubba!!!

That's Bubba literally hanging tight!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dick Berg 1922 - 2009

Long time television producer Dick Berg (aka Richard Berg III), whose company Stonehenge Productions was responsible for several awesome television movies such as Someone I Touched, The Spell and Are You in the House Alone (featuring an early & quite menacing performance by Dennis Quaid) has passed away at the age of 87.

His incredible filmography boggles the mind.

The LA Times wrote a fantastic article about Mr. Berg that you should read if you are unfamiliar with his work. Like Levinson & Link or Aaron Spelling, this man's heart was in it and I just love him for it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Darkness and the Light

OK, let's start with the dark first, shall we?

You can pop on over to Pretty Scary to read my review of a movie called Drifter: Henry Lee Lucas, which features Antonio Sabato Jr. (Melrose Place, General Hospital) as one of the most menacing killers in the history of true crime. OK, so Antonio is not a bad actor. In fact, he is downright fun, but such an odd choice to play one of the most revolting killers of our time. However, I thought I might take this time to make note of how Henry has gotten hotter as time progresses:

The Real Henry... not so hawt:

The late Robert A. Burns as a version of Henry
in the underrated Confessions of a Serial Killer, also not hawt:

Michael Rooker in the ultimate portrayal in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.
OK, he's pretty hawt:

Antonio Sabato, Jr. as seen in Drifter is way too hawt:

I find it interesting (and slightly sad) how film seems to be leaning more towards an attractive face rather than someone who is right for the part. I mean, I like Antonio a lot, but what a miscast...

Now that I'm done with my little dissertation on beauty and serial killers, let's get on with it!

The Streaming TV Movie of the Week

Policewoman Centerfold is a tame, but totally engaging film that aired on NBC on October 17th, 1983. Based on a true story, Melody Anderson is uber-hawt Jennifer Oaks, a girl who sends her pictures to a Playboy-esque magazine as a joke. Well, the laughs on her folks, because they love her and invite her to California for a pretty sexy and racy photo shoot (the end result looking surprisingly authentic). The magazine people tell her that she'll gain confidence, but they forget to mention that she's also invited a lot of heartache from her co-workers at the police force. Also, her cop partner/boyfriend Nick Velano (Ed Marinaro, talk about hawt!) ain't too thrilled by it either. So there goes Jennifer taking on the man! Btw, Donna Pescow plays her BFF, the woman who totally encourages Jennifer to do the shoot and then chastises her for doing it. Wow, what a tangled web we weave Donna! The cast is great, especially Melody who is strikingly beautiful but not so much that you're distracted by it. She does blue collar OK and makes the character sympathetic and likable.

It's streaming on Netflix as we speak, so please stop by and give it a watch.

And one final note, Amanda By Night is now a college girl. My classes started yesterday and all I can say is YIKES! So, I will do my best to post when I can, but I have no set schedule as of now. And yet I have so much up my sleeve, but my time management skills suck. But please keep looking into the ether for updates, reviews, whatnot.

OK, as you were.