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Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970)

Although often lumped in with the blaxploitation films of the period, Ossie Davis’ Cotton Comes to Harlem feels a lot less Superfly and a lot more like a classic ’70s buddy cop movie, albeit one set in a Harlem where the possibility of a race riot is always just a few minutes away. The result […]

Ruby (1977)

According to my trusty Leonard Maltin iPhone app, director Curtis Harrington was so disappointed with the television version of his Ruby, he insisted on taking the infamous Alan Smithee credit. Before it was retired, the pseudonym was used by filmmakers who felt their artistic vision had been so catastrophically usurped, they could not allow to […]

The Rapture (1991)

In retrospect, it seems amazing that writer/director Michael Tolkin was able to get The Rapture made. In the history of mainstream American filmmaking, it’s hard to come up with another example of a film that persuasively argues that even if the God worshipped by millions of evangelical Christians does exist, he/she/it is far too cruel […]

The Convent (2000)

The Convent is made with such obvious affection, I’m able to forgive that it literally plunges a knife into the heart of its least hateful character 30 minutes into its running time, and then makes us wait another 20 before Adrienne Barbeau shows up to kick some serious demon nun ass. It begins memorably in […]

Invitation to Hell (1984)

Unleashed the same year as A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wes Craven’s made-for-TV Invitation to Hell is another dark look at American suburbia, only without all of the good stuff that made his feature effort so memorable. Whereas Elm Street gave us Freddy Krueger, Hell does its best with soap star Susan Lucci, who is […]

Penelope (1966)

Not to be confused with the 2006 Christina Ricci flop of the same name, this Penelope is a charming star vehicle designed to exploit the fact that the camera loved Natalie Wood in a way we mere mortals will never know. Like many romantic comedies from the era, the film exists less as an excuse […]

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)

It’s getting to the point where people are making more postmodern meta-commentaries on the horror genre than they are making actual horror films. But that’s not a complaint. The whole reason I love the genre is because of the opportunities it allows for smart-asses to mess around with it. Which explains why I loved Tucker […]

Going Ape! (1981)

Some filmmakers find their creative niche early and stick with it to the end. Take Jeremy Joe Kronsberg, who catapulted to Hollywood fame as the screenwriter behind one of Clint Eastwood’s biggest hits, Every Which Way but Loose (or, as it’s better known, the one with the fucking orangutan. Unfortunately, Kronsberg was screwed out of […]

Salvage (2009)

Beth (Neve McIntosh, TV’s Case Histories), a divorced lawyer living in a British suburb, is out on the street trying to retrieve her estranged daughter from her neighbor’s house when a group of black-clad, special-forces types appears out of nowhere and guns down a terrified man brandishing a cleaver. Forced back into her home by […]

Return of the Living Dead III (1993)

The curse of genre sequels is that most people inevitably will dismiss them sight unseen. Put a Roman numeral after a title and at least half of your audience automatically will roll their eyes and look for something original, like the new remake. (See what I did there? It’s funny because remakes are the closest […]

Little Darlings (1980)

Little Darlings is a film that could reasonably only have been made in the period that marked the end of the ’70s and the beginning of the ’80s. This is because, like American Pie, Little Darlings is a film about teenagers making a bet to see who will be the first to lose their virginity, […]

No Time for Sergeants (1958)

Thanks to his legendary TV portrayals of Andy Taylor and Ben Matlock, everyone associates Andy Griffith with the small screen, but movie buffs would be wise to make the effort to seek out the films he made before he became everyone’s favorite single dad/small-town sheriff. Chances are, you’re at least familiar with his dramatic debut […]

Cold Turkey (1971)

The first and last directorial effort of legendary TV producer Norman Lear (All in the Family), 1971’s Cold Turkey lacks the bite of Robert Altman’s Nashville or the verisimilitude of Michael Ritchie’s Smile, but it suggests Lear could have become as gifted a cinematic satirist as either, if he had wanted. Like the best comedies […]

4 Movies I Saw in a Theater in 1995 and Only Barely Remember

1. Hackers — The only memory I have of this movie is the sound of someone audibly gasping the first time they saw Angelina Jolie onscreen. Luckily, I was the only person in the theater at the time, sparing me any unwanted embarrassment. 2. Johnny Mnemonic — More like Johnny Made-My-Butt-Numbic, right? Zing! I still […]

Never Too Young to Die (1986)

Today, Steven Paul is best known (if at all) as the guy who keeps Jon Voight working in such modern crapsterpieces as Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, Karate Dog and Bratz, but back in 1986, he was busy trying to live down the failure of his infamous 1982 Kurt Vonnegut adaptation, Slapstick (of Another Kind), which […]