After Arnie’s comparisons during our Halloween Ends recording, I decided to rewatch John Carpenter’s adaptation of Christine (1983). Quite the silly premise that barely works, the special effects hold up great all these later, yet the actor who performed Corey Cunningham in Halloween Ends did a better job making me care about his journey into darkness than the actor portraying Arnie Cunningham, who I have only ever seen otherwise as the son in Back to School. This week I also took in another 1983 Stephen King movie, The Dead Zone. Christopher Walken is SO good in the lead role, and David Cronenberg’s direction is spot-on. Definitely recommend that one. Listen to the guys do full reviews of both of these movies as part of Now Playing Podcast’s Stephen King retrospective series.
Currently, I’m up to 52 movies on my annual October horror binge. That doesn’t mean I’ve watched 52 movies, but I’m like Netflix. If it’s on – even if it’s on mute and I’m paying half-attention – that counts as a view. You better believe, however, that William Lustig’s 1988 slasher Maniac Cop got my full attention the other night. The story of a rampaging, possibly undead police officer and the undeniably charismatic leading man assigned to take him down (the GOAT Tom Atkins) has gained a deserved reputation as a cult classic over the last three decades. It’s all because of Lustig’s no-budget, grindhouse approach to the material. Shot in New York City, back when filmmakers could afford to, Lustig immerses us in a world of urban decay, populated by flawed heroes (like Bruce Campbell’s philandering cop) and a big bad monster man that could only be played by the late, great Robert Z’Dar. It just looks and feels so real, and so un-Hollywood. No one’s winning any awards here, but Maniac Cop is a fun slasher, and the sequel’s even better. Spoiler: Tom Atkins isn’t in the sequel, but they did get Leo Rossi! Maybe someday, if we work the hosts real hard, we could get a Maniac Cop retrospective.
Revisiting Rudy (1993) for the first time since the ’90s made me realise this just might be my second favourite sports movie ever, behind Rocky. This inspirational true story follows much the same template in that it’s about an aspiring athlete not seeking fame or fortune, or to be the best in the world, it’s about realising that one goal you set for yourself and achieving that. Sean Astin was a perfect choice to play Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, who despite the odds and the negativity of those around him is determined to be admitted to the prestigious Notre Dame University and play for their football team, despite the insurmountable odds. Director David Anspaugh, who also directed another classic sports movie – Hoosiers – just knows exactly what tone and buttons to push as we instantly are drawn into Rudy’s plight. The final 10 minutes might rank as one of my favourite movie sequences ever, with Jerry Goldsmith’s rousing and moving score just beautifully enhancing what is a perfect finale to a near-perfect film. Strong recommend.