by Joel G. Robertson (and a whole lotta friends!)
No ballyhoo from me, let’s just dig right into the steaming meat sauce and sour cream and onion potato chips with this second segment of movie thankfulness featuring Dale, Ian, Jeremy, Jona, and Kimster!
by Dale Lloyd (aka VivaVHS)
Wolf Lake (1978 – Released in 1980)
Wolf Lake is a film similar in vein to that of Deliverance or Straw Dogs.
It stars Rod Steiger as Charlie Devine, a tough and sadistic World War II ex-marine. He’s joined by his hunting buddies Wilbur (Jerry Hardin), George (Richard Herd) and Sweeney (Paul Mantee) who have all just arrived at their yearly organised trip to the resort of Wolf Lake.
David (played by David Huffman) is the caretaker at the lodge while the regular guide is away, and is tending to the lodge with his hippie girlfriend Linda (Robin Mattson). David is the epitome of the society dropout and also a Vietnam deserter.
Charlie’s cronies soon find this information out but decide to keep it from Charlie as he had lost his son to the war years earlier.
The tension keeps building all the time and you genuinely feel uneasy watching. Sure enough, the secret about David is slowly revealed to Charlie, and as expected he doesn’t take the news too well. The next half an hour or so plays out with Charlie playing things over in his mind, he keeps repeating that he’s going to get him but you never know when that will be.
There are scenes where Charlie is on the deck of the cabin firing at empty cans and bottles by the lake, all the time the bottles are being re-stacked by David, who is inches away from the bullets.
Another scene shows Charlie taking David with him on a boat ride out to an island on the other side of the lake. Charlie’s buddies are told to stay on the lodge, and you genuinely have no idea whether or not David will be returning.
David’s pacifism is put to a terrible test when his girlfriend is raped by the hunters. What then follows is a revenge movie of the highest order (think Rolling Thunder) with a tense and bloody climax.
Rod Steiger is absolutely amazing in this film and he pretty much steals every scene.
The only really negative thing about Wolf Lake, is that the plot stupidly spoils itself by showing brief but revealing images of vital scenes that occur much later on in the film. I think it has been re-edited since under the different title of The Honor Guard.
It’s odd to think that this is from the same director as Suburban Commando (which I also like), but don’t let that put you off. This is a strong watch, but one that deserves to be resurrected from the 70’s scrapheap and showcased to a wider audience.
Follow Dale on Twitter here… (@VivaVHS)
…and here! (@Dale_Lloyd)
by Ian Sowers
River’s Edge (1986)
When it comes to teen drama, I’ve always felt that the 80s were a golden age. For about ten years, starting in 1979 with Jonathan Kaplan’s brilliant OVER THE EDGE, a series of movies were released that dealt with teendom in all of its darkness, confusion and complexity.
Some of these movies, like Mark Lester’s CLASS OF 1984 and Penelope Spheeris’s SUBURBIA, were exploitative on the surface but with something serious and stimulating bubbling underneath. Others, such as Rick Rosenthal’s BAD BOYS and James Foley’s AT CLOSE RANGE (both starring Sean Penn), took teen dramas to practically Shakespearean levels of pathos and violence. And it wasn’t just the dramas that stood out: even movies that were ostensibly comedies, like Paul Brickman’s RISKY BUSINESS and Martha Coolidge’s VALLEY GIRL, felt grounded in something real.
A number of these movies remain well-known today, but far too many have been forgotten. I recently discovered that one of the best, Tim Hunter’s sublime RIVER’S EDGE, is out of print on DVD in the U.S., despite a cast that includes Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper and Crispin Glover.
Set in California, RIVER’S EDGE tells the story of a group of high school friends who discover that one of their circle has murdered his girlfriend. However, rather than rushing to the police to report the murder, or alternately helping their friend conceal his crime, the kids react by pretty much not reacting at all. Exceptions are Layne (Glover, never better), who embarks on a flailing, drug-addled attempt to protect the murderer, and Matt (Reeves), who seems more troubled by his lack of an emotional response to the crime than by the crime itself. As the young people struggle to fashion something resembling morality out of their ambivalence, it is Dennis Hopper as Feck — always with a sex doll by his side — who emerges as the film’s fierce heart.
Director Tim Hunter handles the whole affair with a deft and restrained touch, never forgetting to occasionally lighten the mood with humor. (Glover in particular induces laughter nearly every time he appears on screen.) Hunter previously co-wrote OVER THE EDGE and made his directorial debut with TEX, arguably the best and least affected of the S.E. Hinton adaptations. Unfortunately for us, Hunter stumbled badly with his next movie, the clunky neo-noir PAINT IT BLACK, and he’s spent most of the last twenty years directing TV shows (including “Twin Peaks” and “Mad Men”).
As already mentioned, RIVER’S EDGE is out of print on DVD in the U.S., but if you’ve never seen it, it’s worth tracking down. It was on DVD once, so maybe someone has it for rental, and you can always find people selling used copies. If you live in the UK, you’re lucky: it’s still on DVD there, in which case you should immediately order your own copy of this neglected masterpiece.
by Jeremy Hanke (Editor-in-Chief of MicroFilmmaker Magazine)
Hard Target (1993)
It was the action adventure saga that introduced Americans to John Woo, the godfather of slow-motion gunslinging films, and made Jean Claude Van Damme seem like a believable actor. The tale tells of a woman looking for her homeless father who’s been killed by a heartless group of mercenaries who’ve turned hunting humans into a sport. While the tale may not sound that different from other van Damme movies, the direction by John Woo made it great! From slow-motion steel arrows to beautifully choreographed exploding gas cans in barns, this movie had it all!
Where I Saw It: When I was first learning my filmmaking chops and would watch every action adventure movie I could find at Blockbuster, I ran across this gem from John Woo. While it’s not the best American Woo film (that honor would go to Face/Off, a few years later, in my opinion), it was an eye opening look at what action adventure could be like that used recognized American actors and locations.
Where you can see it: It’s available for purchase and rent at most online locations. (Occasionally, I’ll even see it resurface at Redbox.)
The Wraith (1986)
I would have to say 1986’s The Wraith starring a sober, hooker-free and young Charlie Sheen. Why? Because it featured an awesome soundtrack, a bad-ass car (Dodge M4S) that I will one day own when I strike gold, a pre-psychotic Randy Quaid and a terrible script that really didn’t make much sense but was fun as hell! In retrospect, I think the filmmakers were riding on the coattail of 1985’s Back to the Future (DeLorean), only with a supernatural kick.
“A Horror Movie for Every Generation”
When Joel presented me with the nearly impossible task of naming a “forgotten” flick that I am thankful for, almost immediately, visions of film reels danced in my head. There are thousands of great films throughout the decades that have been significant, many of which Joel has praised and mentioned on his site.
If you were to ask me tomorrow, I could probably name another classic movie that does not get enough recognition. However, after much pacing and nail biting, I narrowed my choice down to Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994), starring the, then, fresh faces of Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger. Of all of the Texas Chainsaw films, I feel that The Next Generation gets the least amount of attention. I have seen it several times, and very much enjoyed it after my first viewing.
The infamous killer family includes the psychopathic trucker, Vilmer, (played by McConaughey) who has a cybernetic leg; W.E., who compulsively quotes literature; Darla, who appears to have multiple personalities, along with a volatile, sexual relationship with Vilmer; and, last but not least, the cross-dressing cannibal, Leatherface.
The main protagonist, Jenny, is played by Zellweger. Despite some cheesiness, and elements of black comedy, I think the acting on McConaughey’s part, specifically, does a great job of portraying a menacing psychopath who is hell bent on terrorizing his victims to a point of complete submissiveness, before ending their lives…gruesomely.
This is a film that I feel is not appreciated for its ability to rattle the mental cages of its viewers. Despite the title use of “chainsaw”, there are no actual chainsaw death scenes; perhaps a bummer for the extreme blood and gore fans, but there is plenty of violence and psychological horror that will leave your head spinning, and reconsidering ever again stopping to ask for directions. …The Next Generation also seems to run on a mix of pure adrenalin (live bodies come crashing through windows a few times) and psychopathy, which keep me on the edge of my seat.
On a personal note, over the summer, I had one of those “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days,” (You know the kind) and I came across …The Next Generation on television. There is a scene towards the end of the film (not to divulge too much) where some craziness involving Vilmer’s cybernetic leg and remote controls ensues, followed by some human howling. Needless to say, it is, in my opinion, a classic, must-see scene. I laughed…hard; falling off of the bed kind of laughing, which was oh so good for the soul.
–Alright, we now return to our regularly scheduled horror, already in progress.–
Imagine being set on fire and, then, when you are lying in unimaginable shock and pain,
having your head, slowly, crushed in by a cybernetic leg. This is only one of the many scenes of violence and terror. For me, every time Leatherface is on the screen, it feels like a tragic scene out of an opera; add in glass shattering shrieks and chainsaw wielding, and I am officially freaked out. I recommend Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation if you want a true psychological scare with just a sprinkle of campy acting.
Joel here… don’t forget to tell us what flix you are most thankful for and be sure to check out the final and fantastic segment of this series tomorrow. We’ll be hearing from Will, Uncle Jasper, Darrell, Gary, Paul, Pete, and Mike, so until then remember…
… a flick is only forgotten if you’re not talking about it!