Stagecoach (1986, directed by Ted Post)


The year is 1880 and Geronimo and his Apaches are on a warpath against the people who have taken their land.  Despite the warnings of the local Calvary officers, one stagecoach tries to make the long journey from Arizona to New Mexico.  The seven passengers may start out as strangers but they’re going to have to work together to survive the journey.  The most famous passenger is dentist-turned-gunslinger Doc Holliday (Willie Nelson).  The most infamous is the Ringo Kid (Kris Kristofferson), an outlaw who has recently escaped from prison and who is looking for revenge against the men who framed him for a crime that he didn’t commit.  Henry Gatewood (Anthony Fraciosa) is a banker who has embezzled money and is looking to make a quick escape.  Foppish Trevor Peacock (Anthony Newley) sells liquor.  Dallas (Elizabeth Ashley) is a former prostitute looking to start a new life.  Mrs. Mallory (Mary Crosby) is nine months pregnant and traveling to reunite with her husband, an officer in the Calvary.  Finally, Hatfield (Waylon Jennings) is a chivalrous gambler.  Riding atop the stagecoach is Buck (John Schneider), who gets paid 8 dollars a month to risk his life taking people through Apache country, and Curly (Johnny Cash), the tough-but-fair town marshal who plans to arrest the Ringo Kid as soon as they reach civilization.

Made for television, Stagecoch is an adequate remake of the John Ford classic.  The story remains basically the same, with the main difference being that the majority of the characters are now played by country-western singers who are a few years too old for their roles.  Doc Holliday, who died of “consumption” when he was in his 30s, is played by Willie Nelson, who doesn’t look a day under 70.  The Ringo Kid is played by Kris Kristofferson, who, despite having literally played Billy the Kid a decade earlier, still doesn’t look like he’s ever been called a “kid” at any point in his life.  Compared to their original counterparts, the remake’s characters have been slightly tweaked so that they fit with the outlaw country images of the singers playing them.  Doc Holliday sympathizes with Geronimo and says that his use of whiskey is “medicinal.”  Kristofferson’s Ringo Kid is more openly contemptuous of authority than John Wayne’s.  Waylon Jennings is less of a cynic in the role of Hatfield than John Carradine was and Johnny Cash sits atop the stagecoach like a man on a holy mission.

The cast is the main reason to watch this version of Stagecoach.  The film can’t match the original but Nelson, Kristofferson, Jennings, and Cash obviously enjoyed playing opposite each other and, even if Nelson and Kristofferson are miscast, all of them bring some needed country-western authenticity to their roles.  As for the non-singers, Mary Crosby, Elizabeth Ashley, and John Schneider all make the best impressions while both Franciosa and Newley seem too 20th Century for their western roles.  Director Ted Post does a good job with the action scenes and keeps the story moving, even if the remake’s status as a TV production keeps him from capturing visual grandeur of Ford’s original.  Stagecoach is a respectful remake of a classic, one that can be appreciated when western fans on its own merits.

Cocaine Wars (1985, directed by Hector Olivera)


In 1980s Bolivia, the most powerful drug lord is Gonzalo Reyes (Federico Luppi).  Working with General Lujan (Rodolfo Ranni), Reyes runs his own concentration camp, where people are forced to process the cocaine that is then sold in the United States.  Reyes’s pilot is an American named Cliff Adams (John Schneider).  Reyes eventually gives Cliff a very important assignment.  He wants Cliff to assassinate Marcelo Villalba (John Vitali), a crusading journalist who is running for president of the country.

What Reyes and Lugan don’t know but soon learn is that Cliff is actually a Miami-based DEA agent who has been working deep undercover.  Despite his assignment and the fact that even the U.S. government seems to consider Villalba to be expendable, Cliff refuses to carry out the assassination.  Soon, he and his girlfriend (Kathryn Witt) and their friend Bailey (Royal Dano) are being pursued by Reyes and Lujan.  Cliff’s girlfriend is also a reporter and she has compiled a story that, if it is published, will blow the lid off of Reyes and Lujan’s partndership.

Produced by Roger Corman and filmed in Argentina, Cocaine Wars is very much a product of its time.  In the 1980s, America was all about the War on Drugs, especially the War on Cocaine.  However, some of the world’s biggest drug lords were working with the tactic approval of some of America’s most important allies in South and Central America.  For as long as it was convenient and strategically useful, the American government would look the other way.  It was only when the situation became internationally embarrassing, as in the case of Panama’s General Manuel Noriega, that the U.S. would actually step in.  This was certainly the case in Bolivia, where drug lords were so essential to overthrowing the government that the subsequent coup was referred to as being “the cocaine coup.”  General Lujan is a stand-in for a large number of Bolivian military men who continually overthrew the country’s democratically-elected leaders.  By including several Germans among Reyes’s organization, Cocaine Wars also acknowledges the role that Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie played in not only propping up a series of Bolivian strongmen and drug organizations but also teaching the Bolivian secret police how to torture information out of political prisoners.  While Cocaine Wars is not primarily a political film, it is still notable as an early example of a film that pointed out why the War on Drugs was destined for failure.

As for the film itself, it is a standard low-budget action film.  There aren’t any huge surprises to be found but, at 82 minutes, it moves quickly and it has enough action to satisfy fans of the genre.  John Schneider may not have been Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzengger, or even Chuck Norris but that works to the movie’s advantage.  Unlike those bigger-than-life heroes, Schneider does not come across as being indestructible and that adds a little more suspense to the inevitable gunfights and torture scenes.  Schneider is a likable and effective action lead, even if you never do forget that you’re essentially watching a TV actor taking a stab at the big screen.

The Films of 2020: Roped (dir by Shaun Piccinino)


Ah, the rodeo.

Though they’re not quite as ever-present as people up north seem to assume, rodeos are still a pretty big deal down here in the Southwest.  Now, I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about the rodeo, largely due to the fact that I spent the early part of my life constantly moving from the city to the country to the city and then back to the country again.  The city girl side of me looks at the rodeo and says, “That’s a silly tradition that’s dangerous to both the animals and the participants and there’s no way that I would ever let any future child of mine have anything to do with it.”  However, the country girl side of me hears the words “rodeo,” and shouts, “Hell yeah!”  Seriously, there’s nothing more exciting than watching a handsome cowboy try to ride a bull without getting killed.

And believe me, rodeos can be dangerous.  There’s an episode of King of the Hill in which Hank and Peggy take Bobby to the rodeo and Peggy mentions that one of her relatives was sent home from Vietnam because he was having rodeo nightmares.  I could believe it.  Rodeos are not petting zoos, despite what some people may think.  Bulls and broncos can be dangerous when they’re angry and a rodeo clown can only provide so much protection.  In fact, there’s some towns that have actually considered baning the rodeo.

Roped takes place in one such town.  City councilman Robert Peterson (Casper Van Dien) doesn’t want the rodeo coming anywhere near his home.  He argues that the rodeo is unfair to animals and that it corrupts the youth.  It’s kind of like Footloose, except instead of banning dancing, the councilman wants to ban a rather foul-smelling carnival in which people are occasionally killed.

Of course, what the councilman doesn’t know is that his own teenage daughter, Tracy (played by Lorynn York) is falling in love with a rodeo cowboy!  Colton Burtenshaw (Josh Swickard) is a up-and-coming star on the rodeo circuit and it’s pretty much love at first sight as soon as he and Tracy meet.  Of course, this means that Tracy is going to have to defy her father and Colton’s going to have to prove that the rodeo isn’t as bad as everyone thinks that it is.  It’s time for laughs, tragedy, love, and sheep.  Yes, you read that right.

Anyway, you can probably guess everything that happens in Roped.  This is a low-budget movie that’s designed for the “I wish they still made movies like they used to do” crowd and, for what it is, it’s not that bad.  It’s hardly a great or even a memorable film but it gets the job done and it’ll appeal to people who have nostalgic memories of the rodeo.  There’s not an edgy moment to be found in the film but people looking for edgy movies probably won’t be watching Roped in the first place.  It’s a nice-looking film and Lorynn York and Josh Swickard make for a cute couple, in both the film and real life.  (York and Scwickard married shortly after making this movie.)  Plus — hey, Casper Van Dien’s in the movie!  Van Dien’s always fun to watch, especially when he’s playing a well-meaning but misguided authority figure.

As I wrap up this review, one final word about the rodeo: it’s pronounced “roe-dee-oh.”  Don’t come down here and say you want to see a “ro-day-oh.”  Those clowns can turn on you quickly.

Ministry of Vengeance (1989, directed by Peter Maris)


David Miller (John Schneider) is a former soldier who served in the Vietnam War.  Though David managed to survive the war, the majority of his platoon did not and he is still haunted by the day when he was forced to blow up a kid who was working for the VC.  After getting out of the army, David renounces violence and war and he becomes an Episcopal priest.  (His denomination is never really made clear but he wears a collar and he’s got a family so I assume he’s Episcopal.)  He marries Gail (Meg Register) and they have a daughter named Kim (Joey Peters).  Eventually, the Millers find themselves in Rome, where David works with a kindly minister named Hughes (George Kennedy) and preaches the word of the God and the gospel of nonviolence.

Unfortunately, the Millers just happen to be in an airport when it’s attacked by a group of terrorists led by Ali Aboud (Robert Miano).  As David watches, Aboud personally executes his wife and daughter.  Though David survives the attack because Aboud says, “Leave the priest alive!,” his faith is shaken and he goes from renouncing violence to renouncing peace.  After the local CIA agent (Yaphet Kott) refuses to tell David the name or the location of the terrorist who killed his family, David just happens to open up a magazine and finds himself staring at a picture of Ali Aboud.  Ministry of Vengeance may claim to be about faith but it’s mostly about coincidence.

After David discovers that Aboud is in Lebanon, he decides it’s time for him to fly over and dispense some “eye for an eye” justice.  First, David has to get trained by his old drill instructor (James Tolkan).  Once he’s back in fighting shape, David heads off to Lebanon, little aware that Aboud is actually a CIA informant and that the agency is prepared to kill to protect its assets.

Ministry of Vengeance is one of those direct-to-video films where the majority of the budget was spent on getting a handful of “name” actors to make a brief appearance and give the entire production the feel of being a legitimate movie.  So, along with George Kennedy and Yaphet Kotto, Ned Beatty shows up as a quirky minister in Lebanon while Prince’s former protegee, Apollonia Kotero, plays Beatty’s daughter.  None of them get to do as much as you might like.  It’s always good to see Kotto, even if he’s appearing in a bad film, but his role here is mostly just a glorified cameo.  Most of the film is about John Schneider, trying to balance his faith with his desire for vengeance.  That’s a potentially interesting angle to bring to the story but the movie’s handling of the issue is shallow.  David has doubts about his mission but only when it’s convenient for the film’s narrative.

There are a few good action scenes.  James Tolkan is a blast in the R. Lee Ermey roll of the hardass drill sergeant.  Otherwise, Ministry of Vengeance is as forgettable as a guest sermon.

Spring Breakdown: Super Shark (dir by Fred Olen Ray)


So, here’s the thing: when I was making out my list of films to review for Spring Breakdown, I was under the impression that the 2011 film, Super Shark, was a Spring Break film.  I was convinced that it was a film about a giant shark that ate a bunch of people over the course of Spring Break.

Fortunately, right before posting this review, I decided to rewatch Super Shark.  Normally, I probably wouldn’t have because I’m currently on vacation but it’s also currently raining and it’s also about 7 degrees outside.  (That’s 7 degrees Celsius but it’s still pretty cold.)  It’s like God was reading through my drafts folder last night and said, “Uh-oh.  Lisa needs to rewatch the movie before she posts the review.”

Anyway, upon rewatching Super Shark, I discovered that 1) the film is still awesome as Hell and 2) it’s not actually a Spring Break film.  Instead, it’s a summer film.  There’s even a scene where two lifeguards talk about what a great time they’re going to have working on the beach during the summer.  So, technically, I probably shouldn’t be reviewing this film as part of a Spring Break series but …. well, I’m going to do it anyways.  I mean, it may be a summer film but it plays out like a Spring Break film.  Plus, it’s got a giant shark.

Not surprisingly, for a film called Super Shark, the giant shark is the main attraction.  The CGI’s a bit dodgy and the shark does look a bit cartoonish but that actually adds to the film’s charm.  Whereas Steven Spielberg dealt with the reality of a fake-looking shark by keeping the shark off-screen as much as possible, directed Fred Olen Ray takes the opposite approach and seriously, more power to him.  Ray puts the shark in as many scenes as possible, as if he’s saying, “Yes, this is a low-budget B-movie and why should we pretend that it’s anything other than that?”  There’s an honesty to this approach that’s impossible not to respect.

The shark is prehistoric in origin.  It was safely separated from society until the big bad oil company did some bad corporate stuff and, as a result, the shark is now free to ruin everyone’s summer.  You know that whole thing about how sharks have to stay in the water or they’ll die?  That’s not a problem for Super Shark.  Super Shark will jump on the beach and eat you, he doesn’t care.  In fact, Super Shark is such a rebel that he’ll even take on a tank and win!  WE LOVE YOU, SUPER SHARK!

As always, there’s a group of humans around who don’t love Super Shark as much as the viewers.  There’s the evil corporate guy played by John Schneider.  He’s into money and drilling.  And then there’s the scientist played by Sarah Lieving.  She hates corporations and she doesn’t like sharks.  There’s a DJ played by Jimmie “JJ” Walker.  And then there’s the lifeguards and the beachgoers and the people who just want to participate in a wholesome bikini contest.  Sorry, everyone, Super Shark has other plans.

Anyway, I have a weakness for films about giant sharks attacking oil wells and eating people on the beach.  It’s a silly film but it’s obviously been designed to be silly.  This isn’t Jaws nor is this a serious film about the issues surrounding underwater drilling.   This is a B-movie about a giant shark and if you can’t enjoy something like this, I worry about you.  This is a film that you watch with your friends and you have a lot of fun talking back to the screen.  Don’t take it seriously and just enjoy the giant shark action.  Who could ask for a better summer?  Or a better Spring Break for that matter?

 

Horror on the Lens: The Curse (dir by David Keith)


Today’s horror on the lens is 1987’s The Curse!

This slice of rural horror is based on H.P. Lovecraft’s The Colour From Outer Space and, somewhat oddly, it was produced by Lucio Fulci.  The Curse, in this case, is a meteorite the lands near a farm and poisons all the crops.  Mayhem follows.

Seriously, country livin’ sucks.  That’s why I’m glad to live in the suburbs, away from all the aliens and the poisoned meteorites.

Hallmark Review: Sandra Brown’s White Hot (2016, dir. Mark Jean)


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Pro tip! Don’t stay up till 3 in the morning trying to figure out the locations used in a Hallmark movie. Sure, it means you can make some nice jokes, but the next few days you are exhausted. Plus, I was going to go hiking today. Now that’s shot. Oh, and so is some guy in a shack because boat guy, shown above, showed up while “haunting bluegrass music” played according to my captions.

Now we cut to San Francisco because of the Golden Gate stock footage. Inside we meet our interior designer named Sayre Hoyle played by Shenae Grimes-Beech. Hmm…I guess she got married. However, she”ll always be Darcy from Degrassi: TNG to me. While her name is Sayre, they just call her Sar throughout the movie, or at least that’s what my captions kept saying. She’s making a sales pitch. I’m not sure what Latin gibberish on her laptop has to do with interior design,…

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but when her phone goes off, she simply says “cue music” and the deal is done! Good job on the phone too!

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All the shots of cellphone screens are done well in this movie. Unfortunately, the call is from Beck Merchant (Sean Faris), her father’s lawyer, telling her that her brother Danny (Kelly McCabe) is dead. She is told that she has a message on her voicemail with the details, but we cut to her office to find out her brother has left a cryptic and foreshadowing message as well.

Now we cut to a swamp to establish they are in Louisiana before cutting to this…

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to make sure we don’t forget that Camden, Maine exists.

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Now we meet the family lawyer Beck Merchant who represents her dad’s company called Hoyle Enterprises. He invites her back to the family estate. By the family estate, I mean the house from Unleashing Mr. Darcy.

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Unleashing Mr. Darcy (2016, dir. David Winning)

Unleashing Mr. Darcy (2016, dir. David Winning)

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Unleashing Mr. Darcy (2016, dir. David Winning)

Unleashing Mr. Darcy (2016, dir. David Winning)

I forgot to mention that the J.R. of the family, named Huff Hoyle, is played by John Schneider. If Schneider wants that house, then he’ll have it torn down and moved from New York to Louisiana piece by piece!

Next we meet Sar’s only surviving brother Chris played by Jeremy Guilbaut.

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Am I the only one that thinks Jeremy could do a good impression of Kyle MacLachlan? Take a look at this shot.

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See! Also, I’m sure Schneider imports cherry pie from Twin Peaks. Only the best for his family.

Now we go inside and meet Sar’s mother Alma played by Marilyn Norry. Then the cops come in to talk to her brother, Huff, and the lawyer.

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They’ve come to tell them that frogs have entered town and appear to be headed for Huff estate. That’s my requisite Frogs (1972) joke. They have actually come to tell them that the dead brother named Danny appears to have died from an accidental firearms discharge. Old cop believes that determination, but young cop isn’t so sure. He raises some good points. To the best of his knowledge Danny was never an outdoorsman so why the heck would he be out fishing where they found him. There was also no bait. The whole thing smells funny to him. But Schneider is having none of this.

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Sar then talks to the lawyer and an old boyfriend named Clark comes up. This is when we go to visit Danny so that we can meet the crazy guy from this movie.

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It’s funny. I can totally see this guy in another movie warning kids not to go to Camp Crystal Lake. This is Slap Watkins (Primo Allon).

We now go to a school to meet Jessica (Kristen Comerford). She’s a former close friend of Danny’s. This scene exists to tell us in no uncertain terms that not only did Danny hate fishing, but also guns. It is suspicious that he supposedly was fishing at the time and found with a gun.

Now we cut to a shot to remind us that Telluride, Colorado exists,…

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before cutting inside a clothing store so that we can find out she and Clark were an item in high school before the lawyer shows up. They decide to go and talk over breakfast.

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They go to Schneider’s favorite diner. He saw Rae’s at 2901 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA, and had a duplicate made in Louisiana, but with the generic name Diner. That was Rae’s one request.

All jokes and plot summary aside for a moment. Here is what the stock footage Hallmark bought for this shot from FootageBank actually looks like.

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Look at how they changed the signs and added shadows to it. I’m not an expert in Photoshop so that may be incredibly easy for all I know, but I’m impressed.

Edit: Look to the comments section to find out how I was wrong to be impressed here. Chuck does a great job explaining why this doesn’t look right.

Back in the movie, the scene in the restaurant is there to tell us how the lawyer went to LSU with Chris, pledged his fraternity, and when the company lawyer retired, they hired him. The lawyer also drops the information that the father pushed for a thorough investigation after the recent death, but they found nothing so that it will be suspicious later when Sar instantly finds something the cops didn’t notice in plain sight.

Sar now goes to visit Jessica again to find out more information. We find out that Danny was well liked by the workers at Huff’s factory. She also brings up a recent accident at the plant. Apparently, as a result, Danny’s tires were slashed. Also, we discover that Danny cancelled plans for a picnic on the day he died.

Now we cut to a police station that I don’t know where it’s from, but they did the photoshopping thing to it too. This time you can actually see it just below where it says “Sheriff”.

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Of course there’s an American Flag. There’s one inside too hanging on the wall. Sar’s not happy with the sheriff and neither am I. Look at that!

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Guy gives Louisiana, British Columbian sheriffs a bad name. Just in case we didn’t know the sheriff isn’t on the level.

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The young cop and Sar go to visit the fishing shack where they meet up with the lawyer. This scene is to tell us that her and Danny used to hide things in the walls. Sar also finds a nightclub matchbook meaning the cops didn’t do their job, or someone planted it. We go back to the house to remind us Schneider is the head of the family, wants this matchbook looked into, and we find out that Danny didn’t go to nightclubs.

Off to the family factory and we run into Clark (Sean Poague). The lawyer takes her on a tour of the factory. This is when we discover the recent accident that killed a worker is not what this cross is referring to.

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A man named Sonny Holzer died a long time ago when the lawyer was a kid.

Next important thing is that we learn a reporter is saying that Danny might have been killed in revenge. Who am I kidding? It’s John Schneider going into his angry father mode again.

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If the crazy guy in Hearts of Spring was the real highlight of that film, then Schneider’s outbursts in this make him the equivalent. After Schneider reluctantly leaves the room after finishing his dinner table scene, we find out from the lawyer about that recent accident. A guy named Billy Pollock died only a month prior. The story is that he was drinking a lot when it happened.

We go and meet Billy’s wife, but it really isn’t important. What’s important is that Sar appears to go onto some cross between Pinterest and Facebook.

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Kind of weird, but it’s there because of the baseball photo. The people in the photo are tagged. The person in the middle is Danny and the person on right is Slap. That’s when who else but the lawyer calls her up. They go to a cajun restaurant.

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You have no idea how much I searched to find where this was located. It’s a cajun food restaurant, appears to have the address 8667, and I knew the stock footage sites to search because they are in the credits of the movie, but nope. Even with all that info, this is still a mystery to me. Sometimes you have to let things go, or not because the lawyer and Sar now sit down to talk so we get some more details. Turns out that after information was leaked to the paper about the accident that killed Billy, Slap was fired and Pollack was “cut…from the payroll.” Danny was the one who had to give Slap his pink slip.

Now someone pretends they are going to run into Sar’s car with theirs while she is parked.

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That doesn’t faze a Shenae Grimes! The woman survived this creeper who was just as much of a threat many years prior.

Degrassi: The Next Generation

Degrassi: The Next Generation

That means it’s off to the factory so Clark can drop some info. He had stumbled upon Danny and Chris arguing because Danny thought that Billy was murdered. Chris apparently didn’t care how he died. Don’t dig up info on the company. End of story!

Now the spotlight starts to turn on Chris. That’s when Schneider bursts into the room because John knows it’s been too long since he did his thing.

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This outburst winds him up in the hospital because this time it was too much for his heart. They take him to the photoshopped version of the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center.

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We really can jump over a lot now. Slap tries to kill Sar with a knife. We have a conversation between the lawyer and Sar that hints Huff may have had something to do with the really old accident that we now learned happened 20 years ago. After Sar talks with the wife of the guy who died 20 years prior, we find out his lawyer died too. Turns out also that Huff ordered Clark to be beaten. We saw him in the hospital looking pretty bad.

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Now we can really really skip over things. Slap takes Sar hostage with a gun. He ends up getting shot by the cops in Mission, British Columbia where they shot this, which is close to where they did parts of Garage Sale Mystery: Guilty Until Proven Innocent.

This is when I say, if you don’t want the ending spoiled, then stop here. I recommend this one so you can stop here if you don’t want to know the ending. To separate this from the ending below, I have embedded the famous coffee scene from the Twin Peaks inspired game Deadly Premonition since I did reference Twin Peaks earlier.

Okay, here’s the deal. Huff killed the guy 20 years prior. We also find out that his lawyer didn’t die by accident either. It turns out Beck is the son of said lawyer. He got close to the family in the hope of exposing Huff for the murder of his father and Huff’s general corruption that lead to this whole string of incidents. As for the more recent murder, that wasn’t Huff. Well, not directly. Huff told his son Clark to deal with the issue with Billy Pollock, which he did. He got Slap riled up by making sure he got fired by Danny. Slap then went and killed Danny as a result. Danny caught it on a tiny camera, which Sar found in one of those hidden places I mentioned earlier. The matchbook was placed by Beck to help lead Sar while maintaining his cover with the family. So off to jail goes Huff and Clark.

Then even in this movie it ends with a kiss between Sar and the lawyer.

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I already said it, but I do recommend this one. I’m not a fan these cozy mysteries that Hallmark is churning out lately. The Gourmet Detective being an exception. This, and Jesse Stone: Lost in Paradise, are just better. The cozy mystery ones tend to be too whitewashed, obvious, and sometimes they really don’t go for it. By that I mean like in Flower Shop Mystery: Mum’s The Word. They needed to cut a lot of the setup between the two crime solvers. Just let them do their thing. The acting here is good all around. I especially liked John Schneider and his over the top moments. It was also nice to see Shenae Grimes again. Those are my final thoughts. Check it out!

Hallmark Review: Come Dance at My Wedding (2009, dir. Mark Jean)


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Since including the music I was listening too while writing the review went over swimmingly last time *cough*, here’s a song that was a hit during the mini-Swing revival of the mid-to-late 1990s (Go Daddy-O by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy).

I think this is also a particularly perfect choice for this film as well because while there are three other characters in the film, this is really the father’s film. The father being Tanner Gray played by John Schneider.

The film begins with some dancing in kind of a dance floor nowhere. It just exists. By that I mean something like the eternal dance floor where there is always a couple dancing. Every time the film would come back from a commercial break there would a couple dancing in the dark for a few seconds before returning to the characters.

Now we are introduced to our leading lady named Cyd Merriman (Brooke Nevin). Named after Cyd Charisse of course, but the film will have the father be ignorant of that just in case the audience didn’t know even though his character would absolutely know that fact.

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She runs a dance studio in a small town. We also meet her fiancee in these opening scenes named Zach Callahan (Christopher Jacot).

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Notice the lighting in these shots. They will keep that style of lighting throughout the film whenever they are in the studio. However, those scenes will stand in rather strong contrast to the rest of the way the movie is shot. It’s a neat way of visually making the place special to us in order to fit with the way the characters think of it.

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In short order, we are also introduced to Laura Williams (Roma Downey).

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She’s here to plead with us to not let her next movie be Keeping Up with the Randalls. Actually she’s here because she’s a friend of the family who is also their lawyer. Cyd’s mother recently passed away and there is a stipulation in the will that the father she didn’t know she really had–he didn’t know he had a daughter either–now are co-owners of the dance studio. It also works out for him, unfortunately, because he is let go from his job at the same time he finds out.

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In reality it’s plot convenience, but nevertheless. Meanwhile, we spend some more time at the studio, with Downey, and with the fiancee. Spoiler alert! The fiancee is not played like a bad guy as you might expect from a Hallmark movie. He’s a really good guy in this. Now the father shows up in town with the legal papers he received to talk with the daughter he didn’t know he had.

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I mentioned it at the start, but I really want to drive home that while Cyd, Zach, and Laura have roles in the movie that are important, this really is the story of Tanner Grey. He sits down with his daughter to talk about who he is and what happened in the past. It basically comes down to that he wanted to see the world and he eventually did just that. He never really says he regrets going out and seeing the world or anything. It was a good thing for him and he appreciated what he was able to see as a young man, but you can tell that the loss of his wife over it is something that has always dragged on him.

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Cyd wants to sell the dance studio to some developers who want to revamp the town so she can take that money to work towards becoming a child psychologist. This film does have some of the standard big business evil/we need to defend our small towns nonsense that you see in other Hallmark movies, but here it’s really out of place. Especially when that isn’t the reason Tanner isn’t ready to just sign over his half of the studio. We find out two things as the film progresses. One, now that Cyd’s mother is gone and seeing as she appears to be on a similar trajectory to leaving town the way he did, he wants to take it slow to make sure they all have a real grasp on the situation. In particular, why the mother essentially grabbed him out of her past and forced him into the current situation via the will. He doesn’t take that lightly. We also find out that Tanner likes to dance.

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And honestly, that really sums up the movie. There isn’t a whole lot to talk about with this film. Hallmark movies don’t really have the time and money to spend on having a plot driven story, but that doesn’t seem to stop them by trying to maximize plot and minimize the amount of character development needed to crank out a movie. This time they really did try to go the character driven route with this studio that almost exists outside time as a centerpiece of the film in a similar way that the film Love, Again did with the bridge.

Throughout the film we get closer to Tanner as we see him teach more of the dance classes and in conversations with Downey. All the while, Cyd tries to come to grips with this turning point in her life while her fiancee is always on her side. He always stays on her side. I remember him having a scene at the end of the film that was similar to a scene the father had in the recent South Korean film Marriage Blue. In that film, an older man’s daughter is going to get married but she hides a much more wild side of herself from a lot of people, including her father. She shows up to tell him the truth. At first we think we’re going to get the response you often see in movies where someone comes out as being gay to their parents and in turns out they already knew, but not quite. He’s just happy for her, is a little surprised she bothered keeping it a secret, and is a little ticked off that his future son-in-law has known more about his daughter than him this whole time. Zach has a similar moment where he isn’t happier or sad for her when she decides to keep the studio. As long as she was being true to herself, then he’s happy to be right there with her.

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One other thing I want to mention is a scene actor John Schneider has near the end. It’s a sweet and understated conversation he has with Downey.

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He basically pours his heart out here about everything he has been thinking about concerning the whole situation and why he is ready to walk away now if it is necessary. It’s a nice and well done piece of acting that you usually don’t see in these Hallmark movies.

My final verdict on this one is that I do recommend it. There are little things I would have tweaked like the big business threat thing which was just out of place, but it’s still one of the good ones as far as Hallmark goes.

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Clearly though, the only thing missing from this movie was Billy Idol singing at their wedding.

And okay, I know you saw the title and I mentioned music so you all probably expected it. Here’s Ballroom Blitz by Sweet.

What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night: Eddie Macon’s Run (dir. by Jeff Kanew)


Last night, as morning slowly approached, I curled up on the couch in my comfy Hello Kitty bathrobe and turned the TV over to the Retro Channel, where I watched a film from 1983.  The name of that film?  Eddie Macon’s Run.

Why Was I Watching It?

The short answer is insomnia.  The long answer is that, when I checked the guide to see what was on TV at 3 in the morning, Eddie Macon’s Run was the only film listed that I had never heard of before.  Since my life’s goal is to see every single film ever made, I knew I would have to watch this mysterious Eddie Macon’s Run at some point so I figured, “Why not tonight?”

What Was It About?

Eddie Macon’s running!  Okay, well, there’s actually a little more to it than that…

Eddie (played by John Schneider, who has appeared in countless SyFy films) is a nice, blue-collar guy who finds himself wrongly imprisoned in Hunstville, Texas.  During the prison rodeo, Eddie manages to escape and soon, he’s running down to Mexico where his wife and son are waiting.  Kirk Douglas plays the cop who chases Eddie across Texas.  Whenever Douglas shows up on screen, we hear a saxophone playing on the soundtrack.  Scenes of Eddie thinking about his family are accompanied by country songs that, the credits reveal, were sung by John Schneider.  Yes, it’s that type of film.

What Worked?

To be honest, the main thing that worked for me about this film is that it was shot on location in rural South Texas.  That’s the same part of Texas that my mom grew up in and whenever I would bug her to tell me a story about when she was “my age,” the stories always took place in South Texas and I always enjoy seeing it in films (even if that film, as in the case of this one, goes out of its way to make South Texas seem like the 9th circle of Hell).

John Schneider, all hot and sexy here, gave a surprisingly good performance.

Kirk Douglas, meanwhile, didn’t really give that good of a performance but my God, that man could grimace with the best of them.

A kind of youngish John Goodman shows up for about 2 minutes and the whole process of going, “Oh my God, is that John Goodman!?  I think that is John Goodman!” provided a nice break from the film’s general monotony.

What Did Not Work?

This is one of those films that, though it was filmed in Texas, was obviously made by Yankees.  As such, the movie is full of actors who were obviously imported from up north and who are painful to listen to as they attempt to recreate the accents of South Texas.   

The film, itself, moved about as slowly as the sun going down over the flat plains in North Texas.  Seriously — for a film that featured nonstop running and Kirk Douglas finding about a hundred different ways to clench his jaw, Eddie Macon’s Run sure was boring.  There’s a scene where Eddie is menaced by two ranchers and I swear to God, it seemed to last for a few hours. 

It also quickly became apparent that the only way for the film’s plot to be believable was for every single character in the film to be a complete idiot. 

“Oh My God!  Just Like Me!” Moment

Eddie eventually meets the niece of the governor of Texas (played by Lee Purcell) and she agrees to help Eddie run because it’s “just a slow Wednesday.”  That’s totally why I would get involved with an escaped fugitive as well.

Lessons Learned

Give me a couch and put me in a Hello Kitty bathrobe and I’ll watch anything.