ANIMAL HOUSE (1978)

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Tribute to Verna Bloom: Animal House at the Aero April 4, 2019. Photo: Matt Average

ANIMAL HOUSE (1978)

Director: John Landis

Starring: John Belushi, John Vernon, Tom Hulce, Verna Bloom, Martha Smith, Kevin Bacon, Mark Metcalf, Tim Matheson, Karen Allen, Stephen Furst, Mary Louise Weller, Donald Sutherland, James Daughton

Still one of the absolute best comedies ever. Even better when seen with an audience. Even better when director John Landis and Martha Smith (Babs Jansen) are there to talk about the movie. 

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Martha Smith, and John Landis at the Aero, April 4, 2019. Photograph: Matt Average

THE DEVASTATOR (1988)

THE DEVASTATOR (aka Hostile Takeover, aka Office Party) (1988)

Canada

Director: George Mihalka

Starring: David Warner (Eugene Bracken), Michael Ironside (Larry Gaylord), Kate

Vernon (Sally), Will Lyman (Smolen), John Vernon (Mayor)

Music: Billy Bryans, Aaron Davis

Viewed: Streaming Amazon Prime

Transfer quality: Bad

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A man takes three co-workers hostage while working overtime on Thanksgiving weekend. He has no demands. –IMDB

This short description should have come with a spoiler alert, because that was pretty much it.

Man, this was a long slog. I had to pause this more than once to check that I was watching the right movie.

There’s a moment towards the middle of this where I got excited that I would get to see “The Devastator,” when Police Chief Smolen (Will Lyman) rues the Mayor’s (John Vernon, Animal House, Savage Streets) decision to bring in the SWAT team for assistance and refers to SWAT commander Garlas (Anthony Sherwood, Terror Train, Heartbreak High) as “Robocop.” I actually woke up and sat up in my chair a bit, hopeful that this shallow attempt at a “deep” philosophical movie was going to ride off the rails into something amazing. I was sadly mistaken, however, as Garlas turned out to be just a cut-rate Billy Dee Williams trying, very unconvincingly I might add, to out strut Chief Smolen. So no Devastator, terrible soundtrack, and an atrocious transfer…seriously, the only redeeming value of this film is that it gives you the ability to link Scanners to Animal House in a game of 7 degrees of Kevin Bacon.

I suppose rebranding this film as “The Devastator” achieved its goal of suckering me into wasting an hour and a half of my movie watching time, but I wasn’t happy about it. I’m not even convinced this is a legit title, as IMDB lists the possible titles as Hostile Takeover and Office Party. Screw you, Amazon. (DC)

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Nate Wilson: NW  Devon Cahill: DC  Heath Row: HR  Matt Average: MR

 

POINT BLANK (1967) / THE OUTFIT (1973)

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Point Blank, and The Outfit at the New Beverly, March, 28, 2019. Photo: Matt Average

 

POINT BLANK (1967)

Director: John Boorman

Cinematography: Philip H. Lathrop

Starring: Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, John Vernon, Keenan Wynn, Carol O’Connor, Lloyd Bochner

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THE OUTFIT (1973)

Director: John Flynn

Starring: Robert Duvall, Karen Black, Joe Don Baker, Robert Ryan

Excellent double bill last night at the New Beverly. I’ve seen both films before, but never on the big screen, which is obviously how these two films are best seen, especially the excellent cinematography of Philip H. Lathrop in Point Blank. I’m also a Richard Stark (Donald Westlake) fan, and these are two of the best, if not the best, adaptations of his Parker series. 

Point Blank is based off the novel The Hunter, and if you haven’t read it yet, I strongly urge you to get a copy of both the novel, and the graphic novel from Darwyn Cooke. In the movie Parker is called Walker, and he’s out to get his money back from Mal, who double crossed him during a robbery that takes place on Alcatraz, shooting Walker and leaving him for dead, running of with his share of the take, as well as his wife. Hellbent on revenge he swims from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, a feat that is considered impossible, but this is Parker, er uh, I mean Walker.

Walker (Lee Marvin) is the epitome of cool in this movie. There’s an undeniable confidence in his mission, how he carries it out, and he always looks great in every scene. It makes me want to start wearing suits. When men get in his way to stop him he remains undeterred, usually answering it’s all about getting his money, no matter what. As he tells Brewster (Carol O’Connor), “Somebody has to pay.”

The Outfit is based off of Stark’s novel of the same name, and Parker is now Earl Macklin (Robert Duvall). Upon being released from prison Macklin finds out his brother was murdered by two mob hit men for robbing a bank that was mob owned. He sets out for revenge, along with his girlfriend Bett Harrow (Karen Black, who is great in this) and  Jack Cody (Joe Don Baker), along the way stopping off to deal with the names that pop up in their search for who is at the top. 

Macklin is a straight forward get the job done type. Though you can see he does care about his friends. Bett is the most human of all in this movie, especially when she reaches her breaking point. When she says she’s going home to her daddy, she says it in such a heartfelt way that it makes her real, something more than just a background piece or a prop on a man’s arm as these type of movies tend to portray women.  (MA)

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Nate Wilson: NW   Devon Cahill: DC   MA: Matt Average