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The Hole Review


Excellent
Director Dante knows a thing or two about making teen thrillers, and this film gets the atmosphere just right without indulging in cheap movie gimmicks.

Except for the 3D of course, which is used both sparingly and with a lot of wit.

Teenager Dane (Massoglia) is seriously annoyed that his mother (Polo) has uprooted him and his little brother Lucas (Gamble) yet again. But at least there's a cute girl, Julie (Bennett), living next door to their new house. Then Dane and Lucas discover a seemingly bottomless hole in the basement, and enlist Julie to figure out what it is. Soon all manner of scary things start happening, so they consult the house's creepy former resident (Dern), but he's no help at all.

Continue reading: The Hole Review

Big Bad Mama Review


Very Good
William Shatner and Tom Skerritt would probably rather you forget about the infamous Big Bad Mama, one of the best-known exploitation films ever made. Thanks begin with Shatner and Skerritt, both starring as pervy hangers-on to the film's star -- and the reason why Mama is so widely seen -- Angie Dickinson, a 43-year-old bombshell who turns to crime in order to keep her two trollop daughters clothed. Barely.

Using Bonnie & Clyde as its obvious base, producer Roger Corman and director Steve Carver add in a second Clyde, plus a little extra skin in the form of two teenage daughters who always seem to be falling out of their slips. Holding this clan together is Wilma McClatchie (Dickinson), who almost accidentally launches on a career of crime -- robbery, bank heists, and kidnapping, with an unknown goal in sight.

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Rock 'n' Roll High School Review


Very Good
The film legacy of The Beatles was A Hard Day's Night, and I guess the film legacy of The Ramones is this, Rock 'n' Roll High School, the 1979 oddity about an oppressive high school (Vince Lombardi High, where "winning is better than losing") and its most exuberant student, Riff Randell (P.J. Soles), who only wants to share her love of The Ramones with her fellow students.

The film's hijinks largely follow your typical school's-out-for-summer comedy. There's hazing, there's rebellion, there's sex, there's quirky supporting characters (including Clint Howard, who has an "office" situated in a bathroom stall), and there's loud music. But everything's just a bit off with Rock 'n' Roll High School, starting with its star, Soles, who at 29 years old was playing what had to be the oldest senior on record. Soles, who would later become known best (arguably) for playing one of the military police officers in Stripes, is believable as a Ramones fan, though her haircut needs some attention if she wants to be a serious punk rocker.

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Explorers Review


Very Good
A terrific little kid flick, I loved Explorers as a youth, even though I had no idea at the time that it would bring us Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix in their pre-star incarnations.

It's quite a juicy setup: Thanks to the power of dreams, young Ben (Hawke) and Wolfgang (Phoenix -- yes, a hippy kid is playing a German) invent the impossible: A sphere of energy that can travel at extreme speeds through space when connected to an Apple IIc and a 9-volt battery. (That's nothing compared to what they invent later: a machine that spontaneously generates oxygen!) Convinced that they're destined for greatness, they team up with local outcast Darren (Jason Presson), who gets them into the junkyard where they obtain a Tilt-A-Whirl car for use in their spaceship.

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After Hours Review


Extraordinary
It's one of cinema's greatest freak-outs. The mild-mannered and terminably hapless Paul (Griffin Dunne, in the defining role of his career) encounters Marcy (Rosanna Arquette, ditto) in a coffee shop, reading Tropic of Cancer, naturally. When he gets her number and takes a cab ride to a desolate and rain-drenched SoHo to meet her at her loft, things take a turn for the bizarre -- with Paul finding himself entangled with an intertwined web of people, including an obsessive cocktail waitress (Teri Garr), a suicidal girl, a possibly murderous sculptress (Linda Fiorentino), an unhinged ice cream truck driver (Catherine O'Hara), and a whole host of other characters that represent some of the wackiest nutjobs in cinema. No one else seems to notice it's so bizarre except for Paul: As Dick Miller's diner cook character puts it, when it's after hours, "Different rules apply."

By the end, Paul is on the run from an angry mob who thinks he's a burglar, fleeing in fear for his life. Will he escape? Well, rest assured that After Hours is actually a comedy. It's also one of my favorite Martin Scorsese movies (and a massive departure from his grittier fare), fresh every time you see it and full of little touches that you catch more of with each subsequent viewing. Check out the rows of Aqua Net in Garr's apartment. Or the "tie" she's wearing.

Continue reading: After Hours Review

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Dick Miller Movies

The Hole Movie Review

The Hole Movie Review

Director Dante knows a thing or two about making teen thrillers, and this film gets...

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