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Cult Thriller/Crime

Reviews of the best Cult Crime and Thriller Movies

An Eye for An Eye DVDAn Eye For An Eye – Directed by Steve Carver – 1981 – 106 minutes – Starring Chuck Norris, Mako, Richard Roundtree [Shaft], Christopher Lee [Dracula], Matt Clark, Maggie Cooper and Professor Toru Tanaka. Good all round Martial Arts Thriller. Chuck Norris is Sean Kane, a cop whose partner is brutally murdered in front of him; cue repeated fiery flashbacks to the traumatic event. His partner’s reporter girlfriend, Linda Chan is also murdered, leading Kane to suspect a cover up. After resigning from the police force, Kane makes it his mission to find out who killed Linda and his partner and dish out his own brand of justice upon them. He is joined on his quest by Linda’s father, James Chan [Mako] and together they uncover high level corruption involving Morgan Canfield [Christopher Lee]. Kane and Chan will have their work cut out for them facing Canfield’s myriad minions, headed by the brutal Professor, a man so hard he has a PHD in pain! How will Chuck roundhouse kick his way out of this one? An Eye for An Eye is a well crafted entertainment which maintains a near-perfect blend of Action, Comedy and incident. It is chock full of crisply delivered fight scenes, handily occurring in short, sharp, effective bursts throughout, with director Steve Carver delivering an immensely satisfying Action Thriller which remains one of the best showcases for Chuck Norris’s talents. Trivia: Mako received an Oscar nomination for his role in Steve McQueen vehicle, The Sand Pebbles [1966]; he went on to play ‘The Wizard’ in the two Conan films. An Eye for An Eye was Professor Toru Tanaka’s acting debut; the former Wrestler and US armed forces soldier also co-starred in subsequent Chuck Norris flick, Missing in Action 2: The Beginning [1985]. If you like this you may also like: Good Guys Wear Black [1977] – Chuck’s leading man debut is an efficient, interestingly plotted, political conspiracy Thriller involving Special Ops in Vietnam. A Force of One [1979] – A well made cop Thriller follow up to Good Guys Wear Black, with a fine turn from our boy Chuck. Code of Silence [1985] – Chuck is on peak form as tough cop Eddie Cusack in this excellent Crime Thriller.
 

Assault On Precinct 13 DVDAssault on Precinct 13Directed by John Carpenter – 1976 – 91 minutes - Starring Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston, Laurie Zimmer, Tony Burton, Nancy Loomis, Frank Doubleday and Charles Cyphers.  A flawless low budget Action Thriller from B-movie maestro John Carpenter. Assault is quite simply one of the tautest and most purely exciting movies ever made; it doesn’t contain one ounce of fat. Rookie Cop Ethan Bishop [Austin Stoker] is given the task of redirecting people to the newly located police station from an abandoned station in Los Angeles. Meanwhile a bus which is transferring convicts, including the cooler than cool Napoleon Wilson [Darwin Joston] to another prison, is forced to stop at the nearest station when one convict becomes ill. Nearby, a father and his young daughter are trying to find Grandma’s new house to visit her. However the father wasn’t counting on the intervention of a murderous gang, one of whom he ultimately kills before fleeing for his life. The father and two of the convicts become holed up in the abandoned precinct with Ethan Bishop, where they are set upon by an unstoppable gang who are seeking revenge against the father. The scene is set for the ultimate siege. John Carpenter’s gritty, ultra low budget film is much more than the sum of its parts and is an ingeniously developed effort with well-rounded characters played by impressive, largely unknown actors who deliver Carpenter’s excellent, witty dialogue to perfection. The film’s various shootouts have a real sense of thrilling urgency to them and there’s no guarantee of who will live or die in Carpenter’s tough, hard as nails universe.Trivia: Actress Nancy Loomis’s name is a stage name; her real name is Nancy Kyes. Actor Tony Burton was once a pro heavyweight boxer and is famous for his recurring role as ‘Duke’, Apollo and Rocky’s trainer in the Rocky franchiseIf you like this you may also like: Prince of Darkness [1987] – John Carpenter’s apocalyptic siege movie plays like Assault on Precinct 13’s Horror brethren. Donald Pleasance and Victor Wong star in this satanic shocker. Escape from New York [1981] – Carpenter’s legendary Sci-Fi Action flick, starring an eye-patched Kurt Russell as amoral convict Snake Plissken, who is sent on a mission to rescue the president [Donald Pleasance] from New York.

 

The Boston StranglerThe Boston Strangler - Directed by Richard Fleischer - 1968 - 116mins - Starring Tony Curtis, Henry Fonda, George Kennedy, Hurd Hatfield and Murray Hamilton.  A documentary-style feature film from Richard Fleischer, who uses innovative camera techniques and split-screen images in his re-telling of the horrific real-life Boston Strangler story. This now legendary case involved ‘ordinary’ family-man Albert DeSalvo's murder of 11 women during the early 1960’s, and although the movie does as times stray from the facts, it never fails to provide gripping drama. Despite being made during the 1960’s it doesn’t shirk away from frank discussions on then-taboo subjects such as homosexuality, police brutality, rape and the treatment of mental illness. In fact it’s like a breath of fresh air from a lot of the stuffy melodramas being made only a few years earlier. All of the excellent cast are on top form, particularly Tony Curtis who gives one of the best performances of his career. Trivia: Based on the book by Gerold Frank, the screenplay was written by Edward Anhalt. Anhalt also wrote the script for another Tony Curtis film, 1966's saucy comedy Boeing Boeing with Jerry Lewis - quite a different task for both men! Director Richard Fleischer work includes a diverse spectrum of well known movies for over 40 years. These include 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Vikings, Doctor Dolittle, Soylent Green, Mr Majestyk, The Jazz Singer and Conan The Destroyer. If you like this you may also like: Armored Car Robbery [1950] - Early Fleischer film about a seemingly well planned crime that goes wrong. Peeping Tom [1960] - the now classic movie about an obsessed cameraman who films his victims as he kills them. Capote [2005] - Philip Seymour Hoffman is perfect as the troubled writer researching his book In Cold Blood. Don't Answer The Phone [1980] - One for fun! This fairly terrible B-movie features a serial killer strangling scanily clad young women. 

Branded To Kill DVDBranded to KillDirected by Seijun Suzuki – 1967 – 91 minutes – Starring Jo Shishido, Mariko Ogawa, Anne Mari, Koji Nambara, Isao Tamagawa and Hiroshi Minami.  A surreal, often barely comprehensible hit man Thriller about two rival assassins, no.1 and no.3 coming to blows. Hanada aka. No.3, is the third best assassin in Japan’s organised crime sector, he also has a unique sexual fetish; he is aroused by the smell of boiling rice. Hanada meets a strange, beautiful, morbidly death obsessed woman named Misako, who sends him on a near fatal mission. Unfortunately Hanada misses his intended assassination target and finds himself on the run from his former employers, all of whom now want him dead, as does the mysterious no.1 killer, who begins a perversely unpredictable game of cat and mouse with no.3 in which the only winner will be the last man standing, if indeed there will be any winner at all. Far stranger than it sounds, this film has a truly unique atmosphere and is stunningly shot in black and white widescreen format, as well as employing wilfully bizarre editing techniques which have no desire to stick to tried and tested standard chronology. Director Seijun Suzuki generates a disturbing, darkly erotic visual and thematic frisson, whereby the undercurrent of violence remains constant, seemingly able to break free at any given moment. The film continually develops in a wholly unpredictable and delightful fashion; the last half hour has to be seen to be believed, as the film morphs into an outrageously quirky black comedy; the two killers both refuse to back down in their psychological mind games and battles of will and wits, with both stubbornly sharing a particularly personal encounter to genuinely hilarious effect. The film’s climax is brutally nihilistic and as surprising and inventive as the scenes preceding it. Branded to Kill is not for everyone and will infuriate those expecting a semblance of standard narrative technique; however the film’s tone and style are unforgettable and ultimately rewarding and will be appreciated by anyone seeking something different from the norm. A perversely unconventional treat of Japanese cinema. Trivia: Branded to Kill’s director, Seijun Suzuki, was ‘relieved’ from his contract with Nikkatsu studios after they saw the deranged finished film, which had deviated considerably from the original, more conventional script. If you like this you may also like: Tokyo Drifter [1966] – Another demented effort from Seijun Suzuki, albeit of a very different kind, Tokyo Drifter is a fun, camp, highly stylised, vibrantly colourful Action Thriller with a superbly catchy theme tune. 

Class of 1984 DVDClass of 1984Directed by Mark L. Lester – 1981 – 98 minutes – Starring Perry King, Merrie Lynn Ross, Timothy Van Patten, Roddy McDowall and Michael J. Fox. The School exploitation film to end them all! Set in an inner city High School in the near future [or at least it was when the film was made!] where things have gotten so bad that students must pass through a metal detector to enter the school. New teacher Mr. Norris has arrived and is shown the ropes by fellow teacher Terry [Roddy McDowall]. However when Mr. Norris starts trying to reform some of the ne’er do well students, said psychotic gang member students take a disliking to their new teacher and set about gang raping his wife and generally terrorising the Hell out of him. Unfortunately for the punk students, Mr. Norris is not a man to be pushed too far and he heads to the school for bloody retribution in the ultimate confrontation between teacher and students. Well acted and packing a mightily satisfying punch, Class of 1984 is a gritty, disturbing, powerfully effective exploitation film. See it. Trivia: Class of 1984 was something of a cause celebre in its heyday. The BBFC naturally objected to the films exploitative look at teacher-student relations as well as the rape and revenge aspects and removed 4 minutes and 14 seconds of carnage from the film. The film was rejected outright for video and only resurfaced in 2005 when it was finally passed uncut for DVD. If you like this you may also like: The Exterminator [1980] – An infamous exploitation title with a chequered censorship history in the UK, this Death Wish cash-in provides more entertainment than its fore bearer and remains an enjoyably silly vigilante sleaze-fest with several memorably depraved set pieces. Showdown in Little Tokyo [1991] – A subsequent Mark L. Lester effort, this film offers a near perfect blend of cheesy action and exploitation. Starring Dolph Lundgren and Brandon Lee.  

Diva DVDDiva - Directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix - 117mins - 1981 - Starring Fredric Andrei, Wilhelmenia Fernandez, Thuy An Luu, Richard Bohringer, Dominique Pinon and Jacques Fabbri. This French crime thriller really is a stand out piece of filmmaking. Jules [Frederic Andrei], a young Parisian postman, finds himself in possession of two cassette tapes that are in great demand. The first is a pirate recording of the famous opera singer Cynthia Hawkins, with whom he is obsessed. As she has never released an album the sales of this bootleg recording could net a fortune, so the existence of a tape has attracted the unwanted attention of a couple of Asian heavies. The second cassette contains evidence to convict a corrupt cop which was dropped into the postbag on Jules moped by a witness being chased by hit men. Again Jules possession of this cassette draws unwanted attention both from the dirty cop and his thugs as well as other police officers - with Jules unsure who to trust. With this twisting plot the film adds some stunning visual styles, a gorgeous soundtrack and some dialogue so cool it could chill your Chardonnay to perfection. It really is no surprise that it is said to have influenced so many other filmmakers and started a New-Wave in 80's French cinema. Trivia - This was Director Jean-Jacques Beineix feature film debut. He went on to have an international hit with Betty Blue. The film is based on a novel by Delacorta. The actress playing the opera Diva Cynthia Hawkins [Wilhelmenia Fernandez] actually sang her own songs in the film. If you like this you may also like - Rivals AKA ‘Les liens du sang’ [2008], Le serpent [2006] and the very violent Dobermann [1997] are all great examples of French crime cinema in recent years. If you enjoyed the chase in The French Connection [1971], you’re sure to love the moped chase in Diva.  

52 Pick-Uo DVD52 Pick-Up - Directed by John Frankenheimer – 1986 – 110 minutes – Starring Roy Scheider [Jaws], Ann-Margret [Grumpy Old Men], John Glover, Vanity, Clarence Williams III, Robert Trebor, Doug McClure and Kelly Preston.  A criminally unknown Los Angeles set Crime Thriller which provides a welcome starring role for Roy Scheider. Scheider plays Harry Mitchell, a successful businessman whose wife Barbara [Ann-Margret] is running for city council. By rights he should be content with his lot, but Harry has a shameful secret; he’s been having an affair with a younger woman. Unfortunately for Harry, he’s been under regular surveillance from three extortionists who have considerately filmed his sexual liaisons and are now demanding a ransom in exchange for their keeping proof of his philandering under wraps. Harry decides not to pay; the blackmailers move to plan b. In a horrible, truly uncomfortable scene, they abduct Harry and place him in front of a video monitor. The monitor is turned on and a repulsed Harry is forced at gunpoint to witness the filmed killing of his mistress, which Alan Raimy, leader of the blackmailers, takes great delight in prolonging by pausing moments and playing them frame by frame. Harry has naturally been framed for the murder and the blackmailers demand a yearly payment of $100,000 or they’ll send the ‘evidence’ to the police. Harry is determined to fight these men, refusing to back down and comply with their demands, but Alan Raimy is not a man to cross… 52 Pick-Up is an excellent, superbly acted and directed thriller which boasts three of the most memorable villains in cinema history; the callous, chillingly amusing Raimy, impeccably played by the underrated John Glover; the nervous, weak, ultimately sympathetic Leo, played with sweaty believability by Robert Trebor; the terrifyingly convincing Clarence Williams III as Bobby Shy, one of the scuzziest, scariest, mean looking, all-round sadistic Bastards to make an appearance in front of unsuspecting audiences. 52 Pick-Up will be too convincingly grimy for some audiences; director Frankenheimer depicts the harsh, seedy world of writer Elmore Leonard with considerable pervasiveness. Fans of dark Crime movies however should look no further. Trivia: The film was originally heavily cut by the BBFC in order to obtain an ‘18’ certificate; 1 minute and 42 seconds of footage was removed, rendering the central snuff footage sequence incomprehensible. The video release was similarly cut; mercifully the film was passed uncut for DVD in 2004. The film features blink and you’ll miss it cameos from porn actors/actresses Ron Jeremy, Amber Lynn, Sharon Mitchell, Tom Byron, Herschel Savage, Lorrie Lovett and Barbara Summers. 52 Pick-Up was the second attempt to adapt Elmore Leonard’s novel; the first attempt was The Ambassador [1984], which starred Rock Hudson and was less than faithful to its source material. If you like this you may also like: Seconds [1966] – An overlooked masterwork from director John Frankenheimer, Seconds is a truly unforgettable, disturbing Science-Fiction Thriller. Cat Chaser [1989] – Another Elmore Leonard adaptation that deserves more love. Directed by Abel Ferrara and starring Peter Weller and Kelly McGillis, Cat Chaser is a low key, hard boiled Crime Thriller set in the Florida Keys. 

The Girl Who Knew Too Much DVDThe Girl Who Knew Too MuchDirected by Mario Bava – 1963 – 86 minutes – Starring Leticia Roman, John Saxon, Valentina Cortese, Titti Tomaino, Marta Melocco, Luigi Bonos, Robert Buchanan, Milo Quesada, Lucia Modugno and Gustavo De Nardo.  A truly delightful Giallo Thriller made with a pleasingly light touch by Italian maestro Mario Bava and atmospherically shot in silky black and white. The Girl Who Knew Too Much [wonderful title!] delivers an intriguing Mystery focusing on an alleged murder witnessed in Rome by attractive heroine/protagonist Nora Davis [Leticia Roman], a visiting tourist. Bava’s sly, involving direction playfully keeps the audience guessing with regards to the nature of the crime, which is portrayed from Nora’s viewpoint while she’s in a state of increasing wooziness. Bava also gleefully injects a welcome, quirky humour into proceedings with some élan. Far from upsetting the tonal balance, this only serves to increase tension and heighten suspense. Another plus point is American actor John Saxon, who stars as Doctor Marcello; his presence acts as a nice counterbalance to Roman’s heroine. The two actors’ interactions occupy a similar character dynamic to that seen in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic The Lady Vanishes [1938], wherein Margaret Lockwood has to convince Michael Redgrave that an old woman has gone missing despite a train full of people apparently claiming the old woman doesn’t exist. Here Roman’s fresh-faced mystery novel aficionado has to continually prompt Saxon’s weary realist, who has an increasingly hard time protecting her from her own active imagination and steadfast dedication to solve the murder case single-handedly. A stylish, surprising, highly enjoyable Mystery Thriller with a nice dose of Comedy, The Girl Who Knew Too Much is an underrated gem. Trivia: The Girl Who Knew Too Much is obviously a reference to Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much films [1934, 1956]. The film was re-edited and renamed The Evil Eye for its’ original US theatrical release. The US version is longer than the Italian cut of the film, containing more tongue in cheek humour. Due to rights issues the US version is currently unavailable thus depriving people of hearing John Saxon’s voice. If you like this you may also like: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage [1968] – Dario Argento’s directorial debut is a classic example of Giallo and remains one of his very best works. Tenebre [1982] – Another Dario Argento Giallo. This demented Horror Thriller features John Saxon in support and boasts several eye-popping gory set-piece killings. 
 


The Grifters DVDThe Grifters - Directed by Stephen Frears – 1990 – 119 minutes – Starring Angelica Huston [The Addams Family, The Royal Tenenbaums], John Cusack, Annette Bening [American Beauty, Mars attacks], Pat Hingle, Charles Napier, J.T. Walsh, Steven Tobolowsky [Groundhog Day], Eddie Jones and Jeremy Piven. A dark, blackly comic look at a group of unscrupulous con artists and their fractured relationships with one another, Stephen Frears’ film is a stylishly low key, exceptionally acted treat; Film Noir served extra chilled. The film places a tight knit focus on three characters; Lilly Dillon [a superb Angelica Huston], her son Roy [John Cusack] and his current squeeze Myra Langtry [Annette Bening]. The relationship between Lilly and Roy is a skewered, deeply complex one and far from the typical mother-son dynamic; particular emphasis is placed on the fact that Lily gave birth to Roy at a very young age. When Roy first meets his mother in the film it is clearly their first get together for quite some time; their ambiguous, conflicted feelings towards one another makes it immediately apparent why they don’t see one another more often. Lilly pointedly despises and resents Roy’s deceitful new floozy Myra; she sees in her a mirror image of her younger self. To complicate matters, Lilly is also on the run from her unwieldy employer Bobo Justus [a frightening Pat Hingle], an unsavoury ‘bookie’ who is mad as Hell when he finds out she’s pulled a fast one and swindled from him. Myra meanwhile is devising various unconscionable schemes of her own. A mesmerising Noir Thriller which spirals inexorably until its painfully inevitable conclusion, The Grifters is a wholly convincing, powerfully resonant film which will stick with you discomfortingly much like the unsavoury Bobo. Trivia: Martin Scorsese provides the films’ opening narration. If you like this you may also like: Bloody Mama [1970] – Roger Corman’s downbeat, depression era Gangster Thriller starring Shelley Winters, Robert De Niro and Bruce Dern. Pat Hingle co-stars and steals the show. The Getaway [1972] – Sam Peckinpah’s classic Crime Thriller with Steve McQueen. Like The Grifters it was based on a novel by Jim Thompson.

Jack's Back DVDJack’s Back – 1988 – Directed by Rowdy Herrington – Starring James Spader, Cynthia Gibb, Robert Picardo, Jim Haynie and Chris Mulkey. This excellent thriller involves a Jack the Ripper copycat killer in Los Angeles, who is committing murders to coincide with the 100 years anniversary of the original grisly deaths. James Spader stars as John Westford a young doctor who believes he has discovered who the copycat is. However before he can tell anyone he is found dead with the killer making his death look like a suicide. During his murder John’s twin brother Rick [James Spader again] starts to have visions of his brother’s death, and rushing to his workplace finds a crime scene and discovers that his dream was in fact reality. In trying to explain to the police what he had seen in his vision and that John had known the copycat killer, he reveals things that only the murderer should know and in doing so becomes a suspect in the murders himself. Eventually Rick has to go on the run from the police and try to uncover the real Ripper, which becomes a race against the clock before he kills again. The twisting storyline really does keep you guessing right up until the last reel.
Trivia: Director Rowdy Herrington started out working on the crew for movies such as Repo Man and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Jack’s Back was both his writing and directing debut. He went on to direct the Patrick Swayze action classic Road House [1989]. If you like this you may also like: From the same era James Spader was on good form in the dark thriller Bad Influence [1990] with Rob Lowe. And just to tie in with both Swayze and Lowe, the rather gorgeous Cynthia Gibb starred with the two of them in the fun sporting drama Youngblood [1986]. 

The Long Good FridayThe Long Good Friday – Directed by John Mackenzie – 1980 – 114mins – Starring Bob Hoskins, Paul Freeman, Helen Mirren, P.H. Moriarty and Bryan Marshall.  This superior British Gangster movie stars Bob Hoskins as a cockney geezer done good who now controls the bars, strip clubs and casinos in London, and most of the dodgy deals that are carried out in them. It’s Good Friday and he’s busy entertaining some New York Mafia on his yacht when he hears that someone has planted bombs at his venues and are steadily wiping out his friends and more importantly his assets. As you can imagine he’s not a happy man with the situation proving particularly embarrassing in front of his important guests, from whom he was hoping to get backing to redevelopment London Docklands for an Olympics bid.  Leaving his sultry wife Helen Mirren to entertain the visitors, he sets out with his team of heavies to discover who is behind the explosions and to dish out some bloody vengeance. The result is a brutal tale of London villainy, double dealing and retribution. Although the language and content may not exactly be PC today, this remains one of the best examples of the gangster genre in British cinema. Trivia: Pierce Brosnan makes his movie debut; his character is billed as ‘1st Irishman’. Dexter Fletcher also makes an earlier screen appearance billed as ‘Kid’. The exciting original music in the film was composed by Francis Monkman from British prog rock band Sky. If you like this you may also like: Get Carter [1971] Tough London gangster Michael Caine investigates the death of his brother. Layer Cake [2004] Daniel Craig battles to become the top gangster in this adaption of J.J. Connelly's bestselling novel.

The NannyThe Nanny - Directed by Seth Holt - 1965 - 91mins - Starring Bette Davis, William Dix, Wendy Craig, James Villiers and Jill Bennett. This impressive Hammer thriller stars Bette Davis as a well respected Nanny who has been in the employ of the Fane family for many years. Recently her main duties have included looking after Mrs Fane who has been on the edge of a nervous breakdown since the death of her daughter two years ago. With the release from a secure hospital of her ten year old son Joey, who was blamed for his sisters death, relationships within the household become very strained. Joey claims that he is innocent and is convinced that Nanny had something to do with the death, but his unruly manner makes his presence disruptive to family life, much to the disapproval of his authoritarian father and fragile mother. The hard working and dutiful Nanny is seen as the victim to this out-of-control child and when Mrs Fane is poisoned Joey is immediately considered responsible. Filmed in atmospheric black and white that lends itself nicely to the creepiness of the story and the excellent performance of Bette Davis. Child actor William Dix also delivers a convincing portrayal as the troubled son desperate to prove his innocence. Trivia: The film was based on a novel by pulp novelist Marryam Modell (under the pen-name Evelyn Piper). Modell also wrote the novel Bunny Lake Is Missing, which coincidentally was made into a film in the same year as The Nanny. Child actor William Dix went on to star in the musical hit Doctor Dolittle before seemingly disappearing. If you like this you may also like: Straight on Till Morning [1972] is another excellent Hammer chiller which is often overlooked.  

The Silent PartnerThe Silent Partner – Directed by Daryl Duke – 1978 – 106mins – Starring Elliott Gould, Christopher Plummer, Susannah York and Celine Lomez.
This exciting intelligent thriller features Elliott Gould as a rather staid and boring bank clerk who becomes aware that the bank is to be shortly robbed. With some time to prepare this allows Gould to hatch his own plan so that when the robbery finally happens he only hands over small denominations to the crook and pockets the rest of the money for himself. Everything seems to go to plan until the robber, played expertly as a violent psychopath by Christopher Plummer, learns that he has been duped and starts menacing Gould to get the remainder of the cash. Gould again hatches a plan to outsmart Plummer, but he doesn’t realise the lengths this sadistic criminal will go to in order to get his hands on the loot. Trivia: Look out for John Candy in an early screen role as a bumbling bank teller. The movie is based on the novel Think of a Number by Danish author Anders Bodelsen that had already been made into a Danish movie in 1969. If you like this you may also like: If you like twisty crime thrillers Blood Simple [1984] or Fargo [1996] by the Coen brothers take some beating.
 

Silent RageSilent RageDirected by Michael Miller – 1982 – 103 minutes – Starring Chuck Norris, Ron Silver, Steven Keats, Toni Kalem, Stephen Furst, William Finley, Brian Libby and Lillette Zoe Raley as ‘Tatooed Biker Mama’.  Chuck Norris is back as small town Sheriff Dan Stevens. The film begins with a loving family man going insane and hacking his wife to death with an axe; Sheriff Stevens is sent in to stop the killer from harming anyone else. He manages to detain the man, but the maniac breaks free and kills one of his police captors; the cops are forced to shoot the maniac to death. When more killings begin in his town, Stevens investigates and is pitted against a mad killer who it transpires is the reanimated body of the man he and his colleagues had previously shot dead. You read that right; it’s Chuck Norris vs. Zombie killer and every bit as good as that sounds! Ron Silver co-stars as a Doctor who is opposed to his colleagues’ experimental tampering with the dead, but his warnings go unheeded and a la Frankenstein the reanimated monster kills his creators; indeed he kills a good deal more people than that! However he hasn’t counted on Sheriff Chuck Norris, who when he isn’t busy kicking the shit out of a gang of marauding bikers, or re-courting his ex, is more than capable of giving any invincible madman a run for his money. As the film’s awesome tagline states: ‘Science created him. Chuck Norris must destroy him!’ Silent Rage is truly a film that has it all; it even includes a Chuck Norris sex scene for the ladies [or any men that way inclined]! Chuck gets hot and heavy with a lucky lady to the strains of slushy pop ballad, ‘It’s a time for love’. Chuck junior doesn’t make an appearance though – sorry ladies! Silent Rage is an intriguing mishmash of Chuck Norris Karate Action, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and John Carpenter’s Halloween, an endearingly bonkers cult gem with fine performances and a cool synth score; it’s worth checking out. Trivia: While the film passed uncut upon its initial cinema release, the video release wasn’t safe from the scissor-happy BBFC of the 1980s; they cut 41 seconds, removing random moments of violence throughout and toning down intense scenes, damaging the impact and cohesiveness of the film.  If you like this you may also like: The Octagon [1980] – Cult Ninja movie starring Chuck Norris and Lee Van Cleef. Forced Vengeance [1982] – Norris returns in this woodenly acted but brutally effective Martial Arts Exploitation movie. 

  

TargetsTargets - Directed by Peter Bogdanovich – 1968 – 90 minutes – Starring Boris Karloff, Tim O’Kelly, Peter Bogdanovich, Nancy Hsueh and Arthur Peterson. A testament to the uniqueness of this brilliant, endlessly fascinating film is that it feels like two styles of filmmaking combined; on the one hand it presents us with a post modern look at the making of the typical Roger Corman horror fantasies with a wonderful Boris Karloff, and in stark contrast to this is another grittier story about a chillingly normal and even more frighteningly, unmotivated psychopath. These contrasting styles serve to add to the film's juxtaposition and ultimate conflict between fantasy and reality. In some ways Targets could be seen as a commentary about a transition period of film in general, going from the more traditional horror of the early 1930s to the mid 1960s into the less comforting everyday horrors which were becoming increasingly commonplace in the real world in the late 1960s. Tellingly, at one point in Targets Boris admits that the days of his type of film are largely over. More than anything, Targets along with Bonnie and Clyde [1967] and Night of The Living Dead [1968] poignantly represents the end of an era. Trivia: Unlike the vast majority of films, Targets has no music score. Director Peter Bogdanovich was allowed to direct this, his debut film on the condition that he used Boris Karloff for two days shooting and that he incorporated footage from Producer Roger Corman’s film The Terror. The films’ very low budget is estimated to have been a paltry $130,000. The films’ impressive location shooting was done without permission. Director Peter Bogdanovich also stars as director Sammy Michaels, a character named in tribute to the great writer-director Samuel Fuller, who made important un-credited contributions to Targets’ screenplay. If you like this you may also like: Dirty Harry [1971] – Clint Eastwood has to stop a psychopath with a similar penchant for sniping at innocent people. The Sorcerers [1967] – Another bleak modern classic starring Boris Karloff, who plays a man who devises a device with the power to control peoples’ minds and enable Boris and his wife to feel the sensations they are feeling. 

Vice SquadVice SquadDirected by Gary Sherman – 1981 – 97 minutes – Starring Season Hubley, Gary Swanson, Wings Hauser, Pepe Serna, Beverly Todd and Nina Blackwood.  In this hard-hitting cult classic, Season Hubley stars as Princess, an L.A. Business woman who has also turned to prostitution to support herself and her young child. After being caught attempting to ply her wares, Princess is strong armed by a detective into going under cover to set up a sadistic pimp named ‘Ramrod’; when she is shown the horrific remnants of her friend Ginger, a prostitute Ramrod has brutalised to death, she agrees to assist the police. Ramrod is successfully taken into custody but manages to escape from his police captors and he is Hell-bent on getting revenge on Princess for setting him up. At this point the film becomes a race against time as the cops try to get to Princess before the crazed pimp tracks her down. Vice Squad is a gritty, down and dirty thriller with terrific performances from Season Hubley and a ferocious, horrifyingly convincing Wings Hauser as Ramrod. Trivia: The films’ opening credits song ‘Neon Slime’ was performed by star Wings Hauser. Vice Squad caused a huge ruckus at the BBFC [British Board of Film Classification] upon its submission in 1981 and they demanded over 6 minutes of cuts in order to grant the film its’ X rating. If you like this you may also like: Death Line [1972] - Gary Sherman’s excellent directorial debut, a horror drama about a group of people who were trapped underground by a cave-in many years ago, only to have developed a taste for human flesh, their situation necessitating the eating of their dead companions in order to survive. With their own number depleting, they begin attacking unsuspecting victims in the London Underground. Starring Donald Pleasance. Dead & Buried [1981] – Another cult classic from Director Gary Sherman, Dead & Buried is a wonderfully nasty horror thriller with a shocking twist ending.  Coffy [1973] – A gritty blaxploitation revenge thriller starring Pam Grier which revels in its’ unrelenting focus on the pimps and lowlife scumbags of the movie world. 


Zero EffectZero Effect - Directed by Jake Kasdan - 1998 - 116 minutes - Starring Bill Pullman, Ben Stiller, Kim Dickens, Ryan O'Neal and Angela Featherstone. Bill Pullman is perfectly cast as the reclusive, yet brilliant, very private detective Daryl Zero. Lacking communication and personal skills, he relies on his assistant [played by Ben Stiller], to act as a front man and only ventures out of his hidden apartment when forced to work on a case. The case in question on this occasion is for millionaire Ryan O'Neal who hires him to help find his blackmailers and a set of lost keys. However things are not as simple as they sound and Zero's quirky techniques seems to have met their match when he finds himself attracted to Kim Dickens paramedic and quarry. An unusual, eccentric and funny mystery movie, also featuring a particularly inventive and entertaining soundtrack for a Hollywood movie. Trivia: This was writer and directors Jake Kasdan's first movie, he went on to make the music-biog parody Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story [2007]. In 2002 he also made a TV pilot of Zero Effect for NBC starring Alan Cumming in the title role. They decided not to proceed with a series. If you like this you may also like: Without a Clue [1988] the rather disappointing comedy with Ben Kingsley's brilliant but shy detective Dr. Watson, hiring an actor [Michael Caine] to play a character Sherlock Holmes to deflect all the attention.








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