Video Dumpster Diving
By Shorty LaBrea
Every Thursday, my newspaper prints a chart of the hottest video
rentals of the week. But, where's my chart for the least rentals
of the week, a list of those films that just sat on the shelf, collecting
dust, while other more popular movies with real stars went home
with suburbanites? There's only one way to find out who are the
also-rans in the race for home video supremacy-by digging through
your video store's Priced To Sell video bin. These are the movies
that were pre-ordered and abandoned, the Duckies of the video store
that forever go unrented while night after night, Brian DePalma's
Snake Eyes slow-dances with Andrew McCarthy.
Some of these movies are worth renting, some are worth owning,
and some you just feel sorry for. Here are a few of the movies that
sat up and barked the last time I went digging.
They Live (1988)
wriiten & directed by John Carpenter
At the end of the Reagan era, Carpenter criticizes the business-oriented
conservatism of the decade under the guise of a sci-fi horror flick
where the aliens are among us and in control. Rowdy Roddy Piper
(in flannel,but sans kilt) and Keith David (not to be confused with
An Officer & A Gentleman's David Keith) are given plenty
of opportunity to chew gum and kick ass, including each other's.
See the longest fistfight ever captured on celluloid. Alien stomping
fun long before Devlin & Emmerich stole their classic H.G. Wells
Nosferatu: The First Vampire (1998)
You know this reissue of F.W. Murnau's 1922 classic, Nosferatu:
A Symphony of Horror, is going to be a little different when
the tape begins with an introduction by David Carradine(!). Purists
are sure to be upset by the new soundtrack by Type O Negative. I
wasn't crazy about it myself at first, but the goth-rock definitely
grew on me, then again I really like Moroder's score to the 1984
edition of Metropolis. The film itself has been digitally
remastered, giving you the best picture quality that you can expect
from a movie that's older than your grandmother and twice as scary.
written and directed by Peter Hyams
Some images stick with you forever. One of mine, a man exploding
in an elevator, has been with me for fifteen years. Fortunately,
this image was only in a movie, and that movie starred Sean 'I've
rubbed up against Catherine Zeta-Jones' Connery in this sci-fi High
Noon update. The original had a higher level of tension and
Gary Cooper, but this version has Frances Sternhagen and utilizes
the Ridley Scott Alien school of under-acting. Neither great
nor awful, but any film that dispatches bad guys with explosive
decompression is worth a look.
The Hitcher (1986)
written by Eric Red / directed by Robert Harmon
I'm going out on a limb and say that this is the best sound job
ever done for a horror film. Sparse sound effects evoke the solitude
of the open road. The subtle soundtrack subconsciously puts you
on edge without grabbing you by the nostrils and dragging you across
the floor. Rutger Hauer defintely earns the title for one of the
scariest guys to walk the earth. This is also much closer to C.
Thomas Howell's recent work with Roger Corman than his Soul Man
days. Don't plan any roadtrips after this one.