Horror Film Review: Angel Heart (dir by Alan Parker)


First released in 1987 and set in 1955, Angel Heart tells the story of Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke).

With a name like Harry Angel, it’s perhaps not surprising that Harry is a private investigator.  Harry operates out of New York.  He’s got a shabby apartment.  He wears wrinkled clothes.  He rarely shaves.  He smokes almost constantly.  (In a rare moment of comedy, the camera catches Harry blithely emptying a full ashtray in the middle of the street.)  Harry looks like he reeks of tobacco, beer, sweat, and lost dreams.  And yet, it’s difficult not to like Harry.  He’s got a charming smile, even if his face is often bruised from his latest beating.  He speaks in a low whisper and it’s hard not to get the feeling that Harry is actually kind of shy.  He’s incredibly sleazy but there’s something about him that just makes the viewer want to take care of him.

Harry is hired by a mysterious man named Louis Cyphere (Robert De Niro, cheerfully overacting).  Louis wants Harry to track down a singer named Johnny Favor.  As Cyphere explains it, he did a favor for Johnny and Johnny has yet to pay Cyphere what he owes.  Johnny has been suffering from PTSD ever since he served in World War II.  When last seen, Johnny was receiving electroshock treatment in an upstate hospital.

Harry’s search for Johnny leads him into an increasingly complex and disturbing conspiracy.  He meets a doctor who is addicted to morphine and, when the doctor turns up dead, Harry coolly uses the dead man’s shoe to light his match.  Eventually, Harry’s investigation leads him to New Orleans, where he meets both Johnny’s wife (Charlotte Rampling) and Johnny’s unacknowledged daughter, Epiphany (Lisa Bonet).  As Harry searches for Johnny, he deals with strange visions of his own mysterious past.  He sees himself wandering around Times Square shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Harry also finds himself having to deal with the fact that almost everyone that he talks to ends up being brutally murdered.  Every time that Harry tries to quit the case, Cyphere offers him more money.  (Cyphere tends to show up whenever Harry finds himself on the verge of abandoning his search.)

Angel Heart moves at its own deliberate pace.  In fact, the first hour can feel a bit slow but that first hour definitely pays off during the second half of the film.  By the time that Harry starts to truly uncover what has happened to Johnny, the audience actually cares about Harry and is actually worried about what’s going to happen to him when he reaches the end of the case.  Mickey Rourke was (and is) an eccentric actor but he’s at his most effective in Angel Heart.  A lesser actor would have just played Harry as being a typical hardboiled detective.  Rourke plays Harry as being a lost soul, a vulnerable man who is often as confused and scared as the people that he’s looking for.  By the end of the film, Harry realizes that the answer to the mystery was right in front of them and his look of despair is surprisingly powerful.  If De Niro gives a good performance that is almost totally on the surface, Rourke gives the type of performance that allows the audience to explore what’s going on beneath the surface of a character who many would initially view as being a cliché.  Mickey Rourke’s Harry Angel is right up there with Bogart’s Sam Spade and Jack Nicholson’s Jake Gittes.  He’s a familiar character who also seems to be a human being.

Full of sex, violence, and increasingly disturbing imagery, Angel Heart is not for everyone.  Alan Parker’s direction emphasizes the darkness of Harry’s world and the bleakness of his situation.  The film ends with a twist that may not be totally unexpected but which is still undeniably disturbing.  The more you think about it, the most disturbing it gets.  Angel Heart is an atmospheric and intelligent chiller.  It’s existential horror at its most nightmarish.

The TSL’s Grindhouse: Dead in Tombstone (dir by Roel Reine)


In the 2013 film, Dead in Tombstone, Danny Trejo plays Guerrero De La Cruz, an old west outlaw who is loyal to his family, who has no problem robbing banks, but who also is not a fan of unnecessary bloodshed. Even though the film opens with Guerrero and his gang gunning down a posse of men, that’s just because they were saving the life of Red (Anthony Michael Hall), who just happens to be Guerrero’s half-brother. No sooner than you can say, “In what world could Danny Trejo and Anthony Michael Hall possibly be related?,” Red is asking Guerrero to help him pull off a daring robbery.

Guerrero helps Red because Guerrero is all about family. Unfortunately, Red is all about money and, not wanting to share the loot after the robbery, he promptly guns Guerrero down. Not only does Red shoot Guerrero but he insists that each member of the gang shoot him as well, implicating all of them in the crime.

Guerrero dies and promptly goes to Hell, where he’s met by Lucifer (Mickey Rourke). Guerrero doesn’t want to go to to Hell. He wants to get revenge. He offers to send a lot more souls down to Hell if Lucifer gives him a chance to return to the world of the living so that he can kill Red and the former members of his gang. Amused, Lucifer agrees but with a condition: Guerrero only has 24 hours to kill all six of his killers and Guerrero has to do all of the killing himself. He can’t hire someone else to do it or ask anyone for help. Guerrero agrees.

Unfortunately, as Guerrero soon discovers, he’s not the only one who wants Red dead. He’s going to have to move quickly if he’s going to kill all the members of the gang before Calathea (Dina Meyer), the wife of a sheriff killed by Red, gets a chance to do it herself!

Dead In Tombstone is one of those films that sounds a lot more interesting than it is. The concept behind the film is actually a pretty neat one and I like the idea of Guerrero actually having competition. This isn’t one of those westerns where everyone patiently waits their turn to go after the bad guys. The entire world wants these guys dead! Plus, who wouldn’t be excited about the idea of watching Danny Trejo and Mickey Rouke act opposite each other? With his weathered features and stoic demeanor, Danny Trejo is the perfect choice to play an outlaw and, for that matter, Rourke’s gravelly whisper and permanent smirk are put to good use in the role of the Devil. And while Anthony Michael Hall might seem like an odd choice to play Danny Trejo’s half-brother, he’s still properly villainous and loathsome in the role of Red.

And yet, the overall film itself is a bit uneven. The film looks good (especially for a straight-to-video project) but it never really seems to develop any sort of narrative momentum and there’s more than a few slow spots. At times, the film seems to be unsure of just how seiously it wants to take itself and, as a result, the story exists in a kind of limbo between being a straight western with supernatural elements and send-up of the whole genre. The end result is pretty uneven but the dream combination of Rourke and Trejo still makes it worth watching.

Spring Breakdown: Eureka (dir by Nicolas Roeg)


 

In this 1983 film, Gene Hackman plays Jack McCann, a prospector who is determined to either get rich or freeze to death as he wanders around Alaska in the 1920s.  When he’s not having sex and philosophical discussions with the local witch, Freida (Helena Kallianiotes), Jack desperately searches for gold.  Jack is convinced that gold is all that he needs to be happy, though Freida counsels him that it’s also important to pursue more Earthly delights.  Everywhere Jack looks, he sees people dying in the snow.  In fact, Jack nearly dies himself until he stumbles across a mountain full of gold.  As gold dust pours down on him, he celebrates while having flashbacks to Freida writhing in ecstasy.  It’s just that type of film.  When Jack tells Freida about his claim, he asks what’s going to happen next.  Freida tells him that it’s both the end and the beginning.  Once again, it’s just that type of film.

At this point, Eureka jumps ahead 20 years.  The year is 1945.  World War II is coming to an end.  Jack is no longer freezing and starving to death in Alaska.  Now, he is one of the world’s richest men.  He even owns his own island in the Caribbean.  Jack has a huge house, a beautiful view of the ocean, and all the money in the world.  One could even say that his life has become an exclusive beach vacation, an eternal Spring Break, if you will.  And yet, even with all of his money, Jack has fallen victim to ennui.  He was happier when he was poor and starving and seeking warmth from Freida.  Now, he’s got an alcoholic wife (Jane LaPotaire) and his daughter, Tracy (Theresa Russell), is in love with a dissolute aristocrat named Claude (Rutger Hauer), to whom Jack takes an instant dislike.  Claude claims that Jack has stolen his wealth from the Earth.  Claude is the type who eats gold and then promises to return it to Jack as soon as he can.  That’s something that actually happens.  It’s kind of silly but Rutger Hauer is such a charmer that he nearly pulls it off.

Claude and Tracy aren’t the only thing that Jack has to worry about.  An American gangster named Mayakofsky (Joe Pesci) wants to take over Jack’s island so that he can build a casino on it.  However, despite the best efforts of Mayakofsky’s attorney (Mickey Rourke), Jack is still not willing to sell.  When hitman Joe Spinell shows up outside the estate, are Jack’s days of ennui numbered?

Of course, they are!  That’s not really a spoiler.  Eureka is (loosely) based on the real-life murder of Sir Harry Oakes, an American-born prospector who was thought to be one of the world’s richest men when he was brutally murdered in the 40s.  Jack is, of course, a stand-in for Oakes while Mayakofsky is based on Meyer Lansky, the mobster who many people suspect ordered Oakes’s murder.  Lansky was never charged with the crime.  Instead, Oakes’s son-in-law, Count Alfred de Marigny, was arrested and charged with the crime.  After a trial that made international news and was described as being “the trial of the century,” de Marigny was acquitted and the murder of Harry Oakes remains officially unsolved.

It’s an interesting story and it seems like one that should perfectly translate to film.  Surprisingly though, Eureka doesn’t really do it justice.  The film was directed by one of the masters of cinematic surrealism, Nicolas Roeg.  Roeg, of course, is probably best remembered for films like Performance, Don’t Look Now, Walkabout, and The Man Who Fell To Earth.  As one might expect from a Roeg film, Eureka is visually stunning but, as a director, Roeg can’t seem to decide whether he’s more interested in Jack’s ennui or in all the soapy melodrama surrounding Jack’s murder.  As such, neither element of the film gets explored with any particular depth and the resulting film, while always watchable, still feels rather shallow and disjointed.  (After taking forever to reach the end of Jack’s story, Eureka then turns into a rather conventional courtroom drama.  Theresa Russell does get to utter the immortal line, “Did you cut off my father’s head?” but otherwise, it’s kind of dry.)  The film is at its strongest when Jack is just a prospector in Alaska.  The harsh landscape and the crazed dialogue is perfect for Roeg’s dream-like style.  Once the film moves to the Caribbean, it suffers the same fate that befell Jack when he become rich.  It loses its spark.

That said, Eureka has its moments.  Any film that features Gene Hackman, Mickey Rourke, Joe Pesci, Rutger Hauer, and Joe Spinell all acting opposite of each other is going to have at least a few scenes worth watching.  I particularly liked Pesci’s surprisingly subdued performance as Mayakofsky.  With everyone else in the film chewing every piece of scenery on the island, Pesci wisely underplays and is all the more menacing for it.  While Eureka ultimately doesn’t add up too much, it’s worth watching at least once for the cast.

Finally, my personal theory is that Harry Oakes’s murder had more to do with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (formerly King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson) than it did with Meyer Lansky.  (The Duke was the governor of the Bahamas at the time of Oakes’s murder.)  But that’s just my opinion.

Cinemax Friday: Wild Orchid (1989, directed by Zalman King)


Emily (played by blank-faced model Carrie Otis) is a lawyer who can speak French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, and Italian but who has never spoken the language of love.  A high-powered New York firm hires her away from her former employer in Chicago on the requirement that she immediately head down to Rio de Janeiro.  Claudia Dennis (Jacqueline Bisset) is trying to close the deal on buying a luxury hotel and she needs a lawyer now!

Claudia, however, has plans for Emily that go beyond real estate.  As soon as Emily arrives, Claudia arranges for her to go on a date with the wealthy and mysterious James Wheeler (Mikey Rourke).  Wheeler is single but he’s so far refused all of Claudia’s advances.  She wants to know if he’s adverse to all women or just her.  Wheeler is very taken with Emily but he’s been hurt so many times in the past that he can’t stand to be touched.  Instead, he gets his thrills by being a voyeur.

It leads to a trip through Rio, where everyone but Emily is comfortable with their sexuality.  When Wheeler isn’t encouraging her to watch a married couple have sex in the back seat of a limo, Claudia is encouraging Emily to disguise herself as a man and enjoy the nonstop carnival of life in Rio.  There’s a lot of business double-dealing, many shots of Mickey Rourke riding on his motorcycle, and a final sex scene between Rourke and Otis that is one of the most rumored about in history.  For all of the scenes of Wheeler explaining his philosophy of life, Wild Orchid doesn’t add up too much, though it certainly tries to.

Wild Orchid was a mainstay on late night Cinemax through most of the 90s.  This was Carrie Otis’s first film and to say that she gives a bad performance does a disservice to hard-working bad actors everywhere.  There’s bad and then there’s Carrie Otis in Wild Orchid bad.  She walks through the film with the same blank expression her face, playing a genius who can speak several languages but often seeming as if she’s struggling to handle speaking in just one language.  She looks good, though, and all the movie really requires her to do is to look awkward while Rourke and Bisset chew up the scenery.

On the one hand, Wild Orchid is the type of bad movie that squanders the talents of actors like Mickey Rourke, Jacqueline Bisset, and Bruce Greenwod (who has a small role as a sleazy lawyer) but, on the other hand, it’s a Zalman King film so it may be insanely pretentious but it’s also rarely boring.  Visually, King goes all out to portray Rio as being the world’s ultimate erotic city and the dialogue tries so hard to be profound that you’ll have to listen twice just to make sure you heard it correctly.  My favorite line?  “We all have to lose ourselves sometimes to find ourselves, don’t you think?”  Mickey Rourke says that and he delivers it as only he could.

Wild Orchid may have been a box office bust but it was popular on cable and on the rental market, largely because of that final scene between Rourke and Otis.  Mikey Rourke later married Carrie Otis.  Neither returned for Wild Orchid II: Two Shades of Blue.

The Pledge (2001, directed by Sean Penn)


Jerry Black (Jack Nicholson) is a detective who, on the verge of retirement, goes to one final crime scene.  The victim is a child named Ginny Larsen and when Ginny’s mother (Patricia Clarkson) demands that Jerry not only promise to find the murderer but that he pledge of his immortal soul that he’ll do it, it’s a pledge that Jerry takes seriously.  Jerry’s partner, Stan (Aaron Eckhart), manages to get a confession from a developmentally disabled man named Jay Wadenah (Benicio del Toro) but Jerry doesn’t believe that the confession is authentic.  When Wadenah commits suicide in his cell, the police are ready to close the case but Jerry remembers his pledge.  He remains determined to find the real killer.

Even though he’s retired, the case continues to obsess Jerry.  He becomes convinced that Ginny was the latest victim of a serial killer and he even buys a gas station because it’s located in the center of where most of the murders were committed.  Jerry befriend a local waitress named Lori (Robin Wright) and, when Lori tells him about her abusive ex, he invites Lori and her daughter to stay with him.  Lori’s daughter, Chrissy (Pauline Roberts), is around Ginny’s age and when she tells Jerry about a “wizard” who gives her toys, Jerry becomes convinced that she’s being targeted by the same man who killed Ginny.  Even as Jerry and Lori fall in love, the increasingly unhinged Jerry makes plans to use Chrissy as bait to bring the killer out of hiding.

The Pledge was Sean Penn’s third film as a director.  As with all of Penn’s directorial efforts, with the notable exception of Into The Wild, The Pledge is relentlessly grim.  Freed, by virtue of his celebrity, from worrying about whether or not anyone would actually want to sit through a depressing two-hour film about murdered children, Penn tells a story with no definite resolution and no real hope for the future.  The Pledge is a cop film without action and a mystery without a real solution and a character study of a man whose mind you don’t want to enter.  It’s well-made and it will keep you guess but it’s also slow-paced and not for the easily depressed.

The cast is made up of familiar character actors, most of whom probably took their roles as a favor to Penn.  Harry Dean Stanton, Tom Noonan, Patricia Clarkson, Sam Shephard, Vanessa Redgrave, Helen Mirren, and Mickey Rourke have all got small roles and they all give good performances, even if it’s sometimes distracting to have even the smallest, most inconsequential of roles played by someone familiar.  Most importantly, The Pledge actually gives Jack Nicholson a real role to play.  Jerry Black is actually an interesting and complex human being and Nicholson dials back his usual shtick and instead actually makes the effort to explore what makes Jerry tick and what lays at the root of his obsession.

Though definitely not for everyone, The Pledge sticks with you and shows what Jack Nicholson, who now appears to be retired from acting, was capable of when given the right role.

A Movie A Day #67: Animal Factory (2000, directed by Steve Buscemi)


Edward Furlong is Ron Decker, a spoiled 18 year-old from a rich family who is arrested and sent to prison when he’s caught with a small amount of marijuana.  Being younger and smaller than the other prisoners, Ron is soon being targeted by everyone from the prison’s Puerto Rican gang to the sadistic Buck Rowan (Tom Arnold).  Fortunately, for Ron, prison veteran Earl Copen (Williem DaFoe) takes him under his wing and provides him with protection.  Earl is the philosopher-king of the prison.  As he likes to put it, “This is my prison, after all.”  If he can stay out of trouble, Ron has a chance to get out early but, with Buck stalking him, that’s not going to be easy.

Based on a novel by ex-con Edward Bunker, Animal Factory was the second film to be directed by Bunker’s Reservoir Dogs co-stars, Steve Buscemi.  Though it was overlooked at the time, Animal Factory is a minor masterpiece.  Taking a low key approach, Buscemi emphasizes the monotony of prison life just as much as the sudden bursts of violence and shows why someone like Ron Decker can go into prison as an innocent and come out as an animal.  DaFoe and Furlong give two of their best performances as Earl and Ron while a cast of familiar faces — Danny Trejo, Mickey Rourke, Chris Bauer, Mark Boone Junior — make up the prison’s population.  Most surprising of all is Tom Arnold, giving Animal Factory‘s best performance as the prison’s most dangerous predator.

Film Review: Ashby (dir by Tony McNamara)


Ashby

At first glance, Ed Wallis (Nat Wolff) seems like your typical nerdy high school student.  An introvert who has a hard time making friends, Ed is a talented writer but what he really wants to do is play for his school’s legendary football team.  One thing that sets Ed apart from cinematic nerds of the past is that he is not lacking in confidence.  He’s shy but he understands what he’s capable of accomplishing.  He knows he’s a good writer.  He also know that he has the potential to be a good football player.  When he crashes the team’s practice and manages to talk Coach Burton (Kevin Dunn) into giving him a shot, Ed proves that he’s the faster than anyone else on the team.  And when one of the other players starts to bully him, Ed has no trouble convincing the quarterback to stand up for him.  After all, as Ed explains it, if Ed’s not in a good mood than he’s not going to catch anything that the quarterback throws.  And if Ed doesn’t make those catches, the quarterback won’t have a good game and, if he doesn’t have a good game, he won’t get any scholarship offers.

At first, Ed’s determination to play football horrifies both his mother, June (Sarah Silverman), and his best (and only) friend, Eloise (Emma Roberts).  June is a single mother who terrifies Ed by openly discussing her sex life with him.  Eloise, meanwhile, is a self-styled misfit who is nicknamed “weird girl” by Ed’s fellow jocks.  It’s only after they see Ed playing on the field (and, not coincidentally, making the winning catch), that June and Eloise start to support Ed’s athletic dreams…

Meanwhile, Ed is getting to know his neighbor, Ashby (Mickey Rourke).  Ashby is a former CIA agent who has just been informed that he has only a few months to live.  Ed needs to talk to an old person for a class assignment.  Ashby needs someone to drive him around town.  At first, Ashby refuses to open up to Ed but slowly, Ashby starts to lower his defenses.  Ashby is soon coming to Ed’s football games, flirting with June, and serving as a substitute father figure.

Of course, Asby is also murdering people.  Though Ed doesn’t know it, the reason that Ashby keeps asking him for a ride is because Ashby is determined to track down and kill three men who he feels betrayed him.  Ashby does this with the full knowledge that eventually, the CIA is going to send somebody to take him out…

Ashby is a mix of genres that don’t really go together.  It’s a gentle coming-of-age comedy that’s also a violent revenge thriller.  The end result is an extremely messy film that never finds a consistent tone.  And yet, at the same time, that inconsistency is a part of the film’s strange charm.  The film is so determined to make its oddball mix of genres work that you actually do find yourself rooting for it, even if it doesn’t quite succeed.  Ashby is one of those films that shouldn’t work and yet, somehow, it does.

Some credit for that has to go to director Tony McNamara.  He directs with a good eyes for detail (the satiric portrayal of both high school and suburbia feels totally authentic) and he keeps the action moving at such a quick pace that you really don’t have time to obsess over the film’s mishmash of themes and tones.

Even more credit, however, I think has to be given to the cast, all of whom show an admirable commitment to bringing their eccentric characters to life.  Mickey Rourke’s plays Ashby as if he might be a distant relation to his character from The Wrestler while Sarah Silverman is so perfectly cast as June that you occasionally find yourself wishing that the entire film could be just about her.  I’ve lost track of how many times Emma Roberts has been cast as a quirky high school girlfriend but she still brings as much depth as she can to her underwritten character.

Ultimately, though, the film belongs to Nat Wolff, who was so good (as was Emma Roberts) in last year’s Palo Alto.  Wolff’s character in Ashby may not have much in common with the sociopath that he played in Palo Alto or the blind friend he played in The Fault In Our Stars, but Wolff brings a sly charm to all three roles and that charm convince the audience to not only accept but even embrace some of the film’s inconsistencies.  Nat Wolff truly holds Asbhy together, helping the film to survive some of its more uneven moments.

Ashby has been given a limited theatrical release and is available through VOD.  It’s definitely an uneven film but it’s worth seeing.

Embracing the Melodrama Part II #114: The Wrestler (dir by Darren Aronofsky)


The_Wrestler_poster

I’m always a little surprised by how much I like the 2008 film The Wrestler.

Actually, to be honest, I’m more than a little surprised.  I’m a lot surprise.  First off, The Wrestler takes place in the world of professional wrestling and that’s a world that I not only know nothing about but which I also have very little interest.  (My cousin Gustavo — Hi, Gus! — loved the Rock.  That’s about the extent of my knowledge.)  Add to that, The Wrestler doesn’t take place in the world of televised pro wrestling.  (I may know nothing about wrestling but I do know a lot about television.)  Instead, this is a world of backroom matches, broken dreams, and fading lives.

Secondly, The Wrestler features, as its hero, a man in his 50s who is still a total and complete fuckup.  The character of Randy “The Ram” Robinson (played, in an Oscar-nominated performance, by Mickey Rourke) is perhaps epitomized by the fact that, after going out of his way to try to reconnect with his daughter, Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood), and setting up a dinner date so that they can finally talk and get to know each other, Randy ends up getting consumed with self-pity, getting drunk, getting high, getting laid, and ultimately standing up his daughter.  And whenever I see that part of the movie, I hate Randy just as much as Stephanie does because I know exactly how she feels.  Stephanie can’t forgive Randy and neither can I.

And yet, oddly enough, I still care what happens to Randy.  Randy is a former wrestling superstar, a guy who was big in the 1980s but now lives in a haze of obscurity and self-pity.  He now wrestles on the weekend, works a demeaning job at a super market deli, and occasionally plays an old video game which features him as a character.  His only real friend (and source of strength) is Cassidy (Marisa Tomei), a stripper who knows what its like to get older in a profession dominated by the young.

Randy does have one final chance at a comeback, when he agrees to an exhibition fight against his former nemesis, a  “villainous” wrestler known at The Ayatollah (Ernest Miller).  (It’s interesting to note that, outside of the ring, “bad guy” Ayatollah seems to be everything that “good guy” Randy is not, i.e., responsible, stable, and content with his life.)

However, there’s one problem.  Randy has a heart condition and he has been told that continuing to wrestle could kill him.  Will Randy give up the only thing that he’s ever been good at or will Randy potentially sacrifice his life to have one last chance to hear the cheers of the crowd?

Randy Robinson is another one of director Darren Aronofsky’s obsessive protagonists, a character who is so obsessed with something that he’s sacrificed everything else to pursue it.  Fortunately, Aronofsky is a master of making these type of characters sympathetic.  Over the course of the film, Randy fucks up so much that you really are tempted to just give up on him but Aronofsky directs the film with such compassion and Rourke gives such a vulnerable and emotionally raw performance that you find yourself giving Randy another chance despite your better instincts.  The film’s melancholy ending is effective because you know that it really is the only way that Randy’s story can end.

I’m always surprised to like The Wrestler.

But I do.

Trailer: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (Official Teaser)


Sin City A Dame to Kill For

Hard to imagine it’s been 9 years since the original Sin City hit the big screen. It was a comic book adaptation that many thought wouldn’t work, especially how Rodriguez envisioned it to be slavishly loyal to not just Miller’s dialogue but also his unique art style.

The original film’s success quickly ramped up rumors that a sequel was already being planned using the second graphic novel in the Sin City series. Rodriguez himself stated he wanted Angelina Jolie for the role of Ava Lord, the titular “Dame to Kill For”, but after years and years of delay the role finally landed on Eva Green‘s lap (not a bad choice and one I fully support).

So, we’re now going back to Basin City for more tales of booze, broads and bullets in this hyper-noir film that should be loved or hated in equal measures by those who have followed Frank Miller’s career. Once again the directing duties have been split between Rodriguez and Miller. Here’s to hoping that Miller has learned how to be a much better directer after his last film, The Spirit, tanked.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is set for an August 22, 2014 release date.

6 Trailers In Search Of a Title


Without further delay, here’s the latest edition of Lisa’s favorite grindhouse and exploitation trailers.

1) Something Weird (1967)

I just had to start out with this because it represents everything that I love about these old school exploitation trailers.  It’s just so shameless and cheerful about it all.  This film is from Herschell Gordon Lewis and it features ESP, a really kinda scary witch, and a random LSD trip.  The title of this film also inspired the name of one of my favorite companies, Something Weird Video.  (I make it a point to buy something from Something Weird every chance I get.  My most recent Something Weird video is a film from the 60s called Sinderella and the Golden Bra.  Haven’t gotten a chance to watch it yet but with a title like that, how could it be bad?)

2) Fade to Black (1980)

This is actually a really, really bad movie and I think the trailer goes on for a bit too long but it does have a few vaguely effective moments — i.e., when Dennis Christopher stares at the camera with half of his face painted.  Plus, you can catch a young Mickey Rourke acting a lot like Michael Madsen. 

3) Monster Shark (1984)  

Now you may think that since this Italian film was directed by Lamberto Bava (credited here as John Old, Jr. because his father, Mario, was occasionally credited as John Old, Sr.) and has the word “shark” in the title that it’s yet another rip-off of Jaws.  Well, joke’s on you because, as they state repeatedly in the trailer, “It’s not a shark!”  Even if you didn’t know this was an Italian film before watching the trailer, it wouldn’t be hard to guess.  First off, there’s the dubbing.  Then there’s the scene of the film’s main character wandering around aimlessly.  (Most Italian horror trailers feature at least one scene of someone just walking around.)  And finally, there’s the fact that this is yet another trailer that uses a sped-up version of Goblin’s Beyond The Darkness soundtrack for its background music.  While I haven’t seen this film yet, I plan to just to find out who Bob is.

 4) Van Nuys Boulevard (1979)

Originally, I was planning on including the trailer for a Ted V. Mikels’ film called The Worm Eaters right here but I reconsidered because, quite frankly, The Worm Eaters is one of the most disgusting, stomach-churning things I’ve ever seen.  I’m going to wait until I find five other equally disgusting trailers to feature it with and then I’m going to put them all up under the heading: 6 Trailers To Inspire Vomit.  Until then, enjoy a far more pleasant trailer — Van Nuys Blvd.  This trailer rhymes!  I’m tempted to say that I could have written it but then again, I only write free verse poetry.  Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah, Van Nuys Blvd.

5) Vice Squad (1982)

However, there was a darker side to Van Nuys Blvd. and here it is: Vice Squad, starring Wings Hauser.  Eventually, I’ll review this film but until I do, check out our new friend Trash Film Guru’s review.

6) Crosstalk (1982)

We’ll conclude with the only thing scarier than Wings Hauser in Vice Squad — a computer that has not only witnessed a murder but enjoyed it!