Saturday, July 8, 2017

Three Films Make A Post: One Man's Quest is Another Man's Destiny

Innerspace (1987): Remember when they were still giving Joe Dante quite a lot of money to make his films? In theory, this one’s a pretty mainstream SF comedy starring the always excellent Dennis Quaid and the surprisingly un-annoying Martin Short and a pretty wasted in the role Meg Ryan, showing off a lot of neat effects. In practice, Dante lets things increasingly drift from mild wackiness into outright insanity (with slapstick) until an incredible scene of Kevin McCarthy and Wendy Schaal being shrunk to half size and trying to operate a coin phone becomes rather par for the course. It’s also so well timed most of Dante’s flights of craziness (of course all swathed in a big yet never intrusive dollop of movie quotes and film love because this is Dante, after all) are outrageously funny, and I say that as someone who has only a marginal tolerance for slapstick.

And by the by, hidden under what looks like a film that’s about an effeminate guy finding his inner macho, this is rather a movie about a guy breaking out of a grey life to find what he loves. Among other things.

Fright Night Part 2 (1988): At the time, Tommy Lee Wallace’s sequel to the rightfully beloved horror comedy didn’t get too much love as far as I can remember, but from my chair in 2017, it does look rather good. I like how much it works as an actual sequel that often cleverly plays with elements of the first film instead of just repeating them; I also love the cast with William Ragsdale and Roddy McDowell returning to their roles with relish, guys like Brian Thompson and Jon Gries getting space to do their respective things; how Traci Lind’s girlfriend character actually turns into the heroine of the piece for half an hour or so; how bizarre – and probably totally normal for the late 80s Julie Carmen’s outfits and hair are; how many silly and fun ideas are packed into the film. And last but not least, how good the film is at being funny (and damn, is it ever funny) while still keeping the horror parts of the film exciting.

Mind over Murder (1979): This is a very neat little thriller/horror film made for US TV in the prime era for this sort of thing. It starts like an Eyes of Laura Mars style clairvoyant versus killer movie, with vision sequences that make creative and pretty trippy use of slow motion and frozen images but turns into something that feels as close to a 70s exploitation horror movie as you probably could get away with on TV in this era, with secret horror hero Andrew Prine making great, creepy use of his experience playing crazy people in some of said exploitation films, suggestions of a nice bit of depravity (with charming moments like Prine asking the heroine if she wants him to “make love” to her or kill her first while shirtlessly preening in front of her). It’s tight, features the obligatory asshole boyfriend for our heroine Deborah Raffin, and shows its director Ivan Nagy as doing really inventive work in the aesthetic framework of a 70s TV movie.

No comments: