Monday, August 26, 2013

B Movie Monday: Deathstalker

Deathstalker is the first in a line of cheaply made action fantasy films that were shot in Argentina from B movie king Roger Corman. It stars Rick Hill as Deathstalker, a warrior on a quest to unite a sword, a chalice and an amulet and gain the ultimate power. He is also trying to rescue a princess, the prisoner of an evil sorcerer named Munkar. Along the way Deathstalker gets involved in a fighting tournament, where the winner inherits Munkar's kingdom.

The acting is distinctly B movie quality, the delivery of lines is cheesy and the characters are given almost no personality. Rick Hill was decent as Deathstalker, and had some good lines. Even the villain of the film played by Bernard Erhard did a good job in his role. The supporting actors Richard Brooker and Lana Clarkson were good in their roles, but could have been used more and a little better than they were.

For a film of this quality, trying to keep the costs as low as possible, I will say it had some good shots and special effects in it. During a scene when a prisoner is being dragged through a forest by a horse, they showed it through a first person view and it really looked cool. The effects weren't anything outstanding by today's standards, but for a film made on a shoe string budget, was decent for the time.

The story is the weakest part of this film. It really does nothing to get you invested in it or the characters. This is to be expected since nearly all movies like this didn't rely on story, it was action and naked ladies that drove this genre. For what it was though,  the plot was a good, but average bare bones fantasy story.

For a B movie, this isn't the worst film ever and was actually pretty good. If you just set your expectations low enough and don't go in expecting a ton of fast paced action, good acting or anything resembling a plot, you might have some fun with this one. If you like your action/ fantasy films to be so cheesy and full of half naked ladies, you might want to give Deathstalker a watch.

Verdict: So bad its great


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Diary of a Hitman

Diary of a Hitman is a 1991 film starring Forest Whitaker, Peter White and Sherilyn Fenn. It tells the story of Dekker, a Hitman who is ready to get out of the business, but takes one last job. The client wants him to kill his wife Jain, and their young child,  nearly sending Dekker over the edge with questioning if he can take on such a gruesome task for his final job.

The acting in the film is outstanding, Whitaker clearly stealing the show. The intensity that he brings to scenes is powerful and entertaining to watch. His scenes with Sherilyn Fenn in the apartment is full of great delivery of dialog from both actors. The scenes featuring James Belushi as a cop and Sharon Stone as Jain's sister were brief, but well acted.

The writing in this movie was outstanding. The story is well paced and the character progression is great, seeing our "hero" of the story going through the motions of trying to complete his final hit. It should be noted that the films writer Kenneth Pressman actually wrote the play "Insiders Price", and adapted it for this film.

The music in the film was interesting since while the film was made in 1991, it still has an 80s vibe to it. It works because really, the early 90's were still pretty much the 80's as far as music was concerned. The music does set the tone for each scene correctly and aids in making some scenes have more impact.

Overall this was a good film in my eyes, blending the tense dramatic moments with plenty of thrills. For a film about a hitman, there is surprisingly little action to it aside from some driving scenes and the occasional action segment. What makes this film good is the actors and the story they told which had me hooked from beginning to end. If you're looking for a drama / thriller movie , you can do much worse than Diary of a Hitman.

Rating: 4/5

Friday, August 2, 2013

Favorite Film Props

Film props are an amazing thing in some movie lovers eyes. Where as prop departments see a gun or a device, fans see artwork. Personally I feel that a props are a crucial element to any film, and they add to the world that the film is trying to create. We all have our favorites, so here is a list of my favorite film props.

Proton Packs (Ghostbusters / Ghostbusters 2): From a distance they looked great, up close they got even better. The Proton Packs were something which in my eyes were designed and built to look like actual real functioning pieces of hardware. They looked like something a mad scientist would assemble in his garage and to a kid in the 80's were some of the coolest things around.

Conan's Sword (Conan The Barbarian / Conan The Destroyer): This is the first sword from a movie that I fell in love with. The design of the sword looks simple from a distance, but once you get up close you notice how detailed it is. It's a great design that stands the test of time, and even made a cameo in the recent Schwarzenegger film "The Last Stand".

Lightsabers (Star Wars): "An elegant weapon, for a more civilized age". In George Lucas's epic space opera, the lightsabers stood out in a universe where the most used weapon was a blaster. The lightsabers were the weapons of the Jedi Knights and were mostly used in duels in the original trilogy. In episodes 1-3 we got a lot more action and variations in design. All in all they are one of my favorite weapons from any film / film series.

 Rocketeer's Jet pack (The Rocketeer): The Jet pack from the Rocketeer is something that I've always loved. While its not as complex as one might expect, and doesn't really show a ton of moving parts, its beauty is in its simplicity. It was aerodynamic and just freaking cool to look at.

Hoverboard (Back to The Future 2 and 3): The Hoverboard was a basic looking prop, but what made it great was the way it was brought to life in the film. The scenes this was featured in were so well done that you believed they were real, and to me thats the best kind of prop. I didn't hear until years later that people actually called Mattel to buy them, and were outraged when it wasn't real. This rumor was actually started by Robert Zemeckis, supposedly after being asked countless times how they did the effects in the movie.

Robocop's Gun (Robocop): What made this gun cool was it was based on a real weapon, but also looked futuristic. Obviously the gun its based off of didn't have unlimited ammo, but this one fit the look of the whole Robocop costume. Hopefully the gun from the Robocop Reboot is just as cool looking as the original's.

Freddy's Glove ( A Nightmare On Elm Street): What made this glove interesting was not only how sinister looking it was, but it looked like something a sick, sadistic person like Fred Kruger would make in a home workshop. It also made for a hell of an image on screen and was always used effectively in the films, even when they were at their worst. This glove even made a cameo in Evil Dead 2 in the tool shed.

MIB Guns ( Men In Black):  All the props from Men In Black were great, but the guns really stood out for me. They were made so well that you couldn't tell what weapons inspired the base designs.They also looked like they were adapted alien technology. Sleek, futuristic, and most of all awesome looking, these weapons earned a spot on my list.

Kurgan's Sword ( Highlander): I could do an entire post about the swords from the Highlander series, but instead I'll limit it to the one that left the biggest impression. Kurgan's sword was big and bad ass looking and fit the character to a T. The above clip shows one of the best scenes from the film, check it out and I think you'll agree that it's one awesome weapon.

Excalibur (Excalibur): Sure the movie maybe a little campy and hasn't aged all that well, but I still love the design for Excalibur they used in this movie. It was a simple design, but in my eyes still a beautiful one. The way they used the lighting with the sword really made it stand out during the film. There have been many other versions of Excalibur, and while some have come close (The Last Legion), this one is still my favorite.

There you have it, a list of my favorite film props. Did I miss one of your favorites? Let me know in the comments section!

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