John Carpenter Presents “Body Bags” (1993) / Z-View

Body Bags (1993) 

Directors: John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, Larry Sulkis

Screenplay:  Billy Brown, Dan Angel

Stars: John Carpenter, Tom Arnold, Tobe Hooper, Robert Carradine, Alex Datcher, Peter Jason, Molly Cheek, Wes Craven, Sam Raimi, David Naughton, George ‘Buck’ Flower, David Warner, Sheena Easton, Greg Nicotero, Debbie Harry, Mark Hamill, Twiggy, John Agar, Roger Corman, Charles Napier and Stacy Keach.

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

A scary coroner (Carpenter) introduces three tales…

  • The Gas Station.  A serial killer is operating in an area where a young woman has her first night working at a remote gas station.
  • Hair.  Richard Coberts (Keach) is a vain man concerned about losing his hair.  Nothing he’s tried so far as worked.  Then he learns about a new procedure guaranteed to grow hair.
  • Eye.  A pro baseball player (Hamill) on the verge of being called up to the big league gets into an accident that destroys one of his eyes.  Thinking he has nothing to lose, he agrees to an experimental eye transplant…

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Body Bags was developed as a series for Showtime.  It would be their answer to HBO’s Tales from the Crypt.  Ultimately Showtime decided to not go forward with the project.

Body Bags is full of famous people showing up in cameos.

I would rank the three segments: The Gas Station (3 of 5), Hair (2 of 5) and Eye (2 of 5).

Body Bags (1993) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“American Fiction” (2023) written & directed by Cord Jefferson, starring Jeffrey Wright / Z-View

American Fiction (2023) 

Director: Cord Jefferson

Screenplay: Cord Jefferson based on ERASURE by Percival Everett

Stars: Jeffrey Wright, Tracee Ellis Ross, John Ortiz, Erika Alexander, Leslie Uggams, Adam Brody, Sterling K. Brown, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Raymond Anthony Thomas, Okieriete Onaodowan, Miriam Shor, J.C. MacKenzie and Keith David.

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

Thelonious “Monk” Ellison (Wright) is a writer and college professor.  Monk has had a couple of books published.  Although the books were critically praised, they were far from best sellers.  Monk’s latest book was turned down with publishers saying it wasn’t “black enough”.

To compound things, Monk’s mom’s mental health is rapidly deteriorating.  It’s clear she’s going to need the support of her family.  Monk’s brother just went through a divorce.  He won’t be much help.  His sister is willing, but there are issues.  Monk is feeling the pressure of life bearing down.

Monk’s exasperation grows when the novel WE’S LIVES IN DA GHETTO makes the best seller list.  The novel panders to the lowest common denominator and features typical black stereotypes.  Out of frustration, Monk begins writing.  His story features everything one would expect in a blaxploitation story – drugs, gangs, a deadbeat dad and a son who couldn’t rise above his surroundings.  When Monk is finished he has a book length story.  As a joke he submits it under the name Stagg R. Leigh, an ex-con who is one the run from the cops.

When Monk gets several offers as high as $750,000, he realizes that nobody gets the joke.  He tells his editor to decline the deal, but his mother’s bills are adding up.  So…

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

American Fiction was nominated for five Academy Awards and won one…

  • nominee Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)Laura Karpman
  • nominee Best Motion Picture of the YearBen LeClair, Nikos Karamigios, Cord Jefferson, Jermaine Johnson
  • nominee Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading RoleJeffrey Wright
  • nominee Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting RoleSterling K. Brown
  • winner Best Adapted ScreenplayCord Jefferson

I thought American Fiction would be funny.  It is.  I didn’t realize how much heart it would have.  American Fiction is one of the best movie surprises I’ve had in recent years.

American Fiction is Cord Jefferson’s directorial debut.

American Fiction (2023) rates 5 of 5 stars.

“The Killer” (2024) directed by John Woo – The Trailer is Here!

I like the looks of this.  Deal me in.

From the Oscar® winning producer of Oppenheimer, the kinetic action thriller stars Emmy nominee Nathalie Emmanuel (The Fast Saga, Game of Thrones) as Zee, a mysterious and infamous assassin known, and feared, in the Parisian underworld as the Queen of the Dead.

But when, during an assignment from her shadowy mentor and handler (Avatar’s Sam Worthington), Zee refuses to kill a blinded young woman (Diana Silvers; Ma, Booksmart) in a Paris nightclub, the decision will disintegrate Zee’s alliances, attract the attention of a savvy police investigator (Golden Globe nominee Omar Sy; Jurassic World franchise, Lupin), and plunge her into a sinister criminal conspiracy that will set her on a collision course with her own past.

Premieres August 23rd on Peacock.

“Amityville Uprising” (2022) / Z-View

Amityville Uprising (2022) 

Director: Thomas J. Churchill

Screenplay: Thomas J. Churchill

Stars: Scott C. Roe, Mike Ferguson, Kelly Lynn Reiter, Troy Fromin.

Tagline: To Serve. To Protect. And to Fight the Undead.

The Plot…

An explosion at a military base produces a cloud that releases acid rain over Amityville.  The contaminated downpour turns town folk into zombies.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Amityville Uprising sounded like a low budget drive-in movie that might be a fun way to spend an hour and a half.  I tapped out after 31 minutes.  I was still waiting to see a zombie.

Amityville Uprising (2022) rates 1 of 5 stars.

RIP: James B. Sikking

James B. Sikking died Saturday due to complications from dementia.  Mr. Sikking was 90.

James B. Sikking was best known for his role as Howard Hunter, the leader of the S.W.A.T. squad on Hill Street Blues.  For this portrayal he was nominated for one Primetime Emmy Award:

  • 1984 nominee Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama SeriesHill Street Blues

After graduating high school Mr. Sikking served in Korea in the U.S. Army.  He graduated from the University of California.  With 159 credits on his acting resume, James B. Sikking worked in both television and feature films throughout his career.

Television projects that feature James B. Sikking include: Assignment: Underwater; Perry Mason; General Hospital; Combat! (2 episodes); Rawhide; The Outer Limits (2 episodes); The Loner; O.K. Crackerby!; The Long, Hot Summer; The Virginian; Honey West; My Favorite Martian; My Mother, the Car; The Fugitive (3 episodes); 12 O’Clock High; Run for Your Life; Sail to Glory; The Invaders; Gomer Pyle; Bonanza (2 episodes); Adam-12; The Survivors; Here Come the Brides (2 episodes); The Young Lawyers; Love American Style; Hogan’s Heroes (3 episodes); The Bold Ones: The New Doctors; The Immortal; The Name of the Game; Night Gallery (2 episodes); Cade’s County; Ironside; Longstreet; Mission Impossible (2 episodes); Man on a String; The Bob Newhart Show; Banyon; The Doris Day Show (3 episodes); M*A*S*H*; The Streets of San Francisco; Mod Squad (3 episodes); Search; The Rookies (2 episodes); Mannix (2 episodes); Room 222 (2 episodes); The Six Million Dollar Man: The Solid Gold Kidnapping; Columbo; The F.B.I. (11 episodes); Cannon (2 episodes); Ellery Queen; Rich Man – Poor Man – Book II (2 episodes); Police Story; Little House on the Prairie; Delvecchio (3 episodes); Eight is Enough; The Feather and Father Gang (2 episodes); Man from Atlantis; Rafferty; Young Joe, the Forgotten Kennedy; Kill Me if You Can; The Last Hurrah; Starsky and Hutch; The Bionic Woman; The Incredible Hulk; The Rockford Files (2 episodes); Lucan; A Woman Called Moses (2 episodes); Hawaii 5-0 (2 episodes); Charlie’s Angels (2 episodes); The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo; The Jesse Owens Story; L.A. Law; Hill Street Blues (144 episodes); Who’s the Boss; Brotherhood of the Rose; Hunter (3 episodes); Around the World in 80 Days (3 episodes); Doogie Houser, M.D. (97 episodes); In Pursuit of Honor; The Ring; Brooklyn South (20 episodes); Invasion America (13 episodes); Batman Beyond (2 episodes); Rocket Power (2 episodes); The Guardian (2 episodes); Curb Your Enthusiasm (2 episodes) and The Closer.

Feature films that feature James B. Sikking include: Five Guns West; The Strangler; Von Ryan’s Express; In Like Flint; Point Blank; Charro; Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting; Escape from the Planet of the Apes; The Magnificent Seven Ride; The New Centurions; The Terminal Man; Capricorn One; The Electric Horseman; Ordinary People; Outland; The Star Chamber; Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; Narrow Margin and The Pelican Brief; 

It’s hard to pin down the first time I saw James B. Sikking acting.  That’s because he was in so many television shows I watched as a kid.  Looking at his resume he was in so many great shows and movies (and I didn’t list them all).  My favorite performance was his role on Hill Street Blues.  He also had a small but impactful role in Point Blank that quickly comes to mind when Mr. Sikking’s name is mentioned.

Out thoughts and prayers go out to James B. Sikking’s family, friends and fans.

“Terminator Zero” – The Trailer is Here!

Terminator Zero has my interest.  And look at that cast! Timothy Olyphant and Rosario Dawson!

From Skydance, Production I.G, Masashi Kudō and Mattson Tomlin comes one of the most anticipated anime series of the year, TERMINATOR ZERO.
Starring Timothy Olyphant, Rosario Dawson, Sonoya Mizuno, André Holland & Ann DowdTERMINATOR ZERO premieres on August 29th (Judgement Day) only on Netflix.

“Crawlspace” (2022) starring Henry Thomas / Z-View

Crawlspace (2022) 

Director: L. Gustavo Cooper

Screenplay: Jacob D. Wehrman

Stars: Henry Thomas, Bradley Stryker, C. Ernst Harth, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Andrei Kovski and Charles Jarman.

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

Robert Mitchell (Thomas) is in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is underneath a remote, isolated cabin working on the plumbing.  Three men arrive unaware that Mitchell is below them.  Two of the men begin to torture the third.  They want to know where he hid a small fortune of stolen loot.

Mitchell hears a commotion and witnesses the man’s murder.  The killers become aware of Mitchell and the loot hidden below. It then becomes a game of cat and mouse as the murderers attempt to kill Mitchell.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Crawlspace isn’t a great movie, but it is fun.  Even more so if you pretend that Mitchell is actually Home Alone‘s Kevin who grew up to be a plumber.  ; )

Crawlspace (2022)  rates 3 of 5 stars.

“Brats” (2024) directed by Andrew McCarthy / Z-View

Brats (2024) 

Director: Andrew McCarthy

Stars: Andrew McCarthy, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Jon Cryer, Bret Easton Ellis, Lea Thompson, Timothy Hutton, Demi Moore, Howard Deutch and Rob Lowe.

Tagline: Everybody wanted to be in the Brat Pack. Except them.

The Plot…

In the 1980s a group of young actors and actresses were getting rich and famous.  They often appeared in movies as an ensemble. The were young, rich and in demand.  Things took a sideways turn when a writer for New York magazine wrote a profile about the group headlined Hollywood’s Brat Pack.

The label took hold even though it wasn’t clear which young actors were in the so-called pack.  For many painted with the Brat the impact was quick and negative.  Movies were cancelled.  Work became hard to get.  Who in Hollywood wanted to work with young brats who felt entitled and never paid their dues.

Now, 40 years later, Andrew McCarthy, one of the so-called Brat Pack decided to reach out to others tarnished by the label.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

While I haven’t seen many of the movies that would fall into the Brat Pack resume, I was interested in this documentary.  The Brat Pack label went viral.  Everyone knew what it meant even if no one was sure who exactly was in the pack.

It was interesting to see many of the stars.  I was happy that those who participated in the documentary were in good places.

I was surprised how difficult it was for Andrew McCarthy to contact some of the people he reached out to.  Good on Andrew for being humble about it and for getting a laugh from the situation as the movie ended.

Demi Moore seemed to be at ease with how things have worked out for her.  I was happy to see that.

Of all the folks negatively impacted by the Brat Pack label, it seemed that Andrew McCarthy took it hardest.  It felt like doing this doc brought him some peace of mind.  I hope so.

Brats (2024)  rates 4 of 5 stars.

“Lockout” (2012) starring Guy Pearce & Maggie Grace / Z-View

Lockout (2012) 

Director: Stephen Saint Leger, James Mather

Screenplay: Stephen Saint Leger, James Mather, Luc Besson, story by Luc Besson, (influenced by Escape from New York by John Carpenter, Nick Castle and Escape from L.A. by John Carpenter, Debra Hill, Kurt Russell)

Stars: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Peter Stormare, Vincent Regan, Joe Gilgun, Tim Plester, Peter Hudson and Lennie James.

Tagline: Take no prisoners.

The Plot…

The year is 2079.  When a riot results in convicts taking over the Earth’s orbiting prison, it’s only a matter of time before they learn that the President’s daughter, Emilie (Grace) is there.  Emilie has disguised herself as part of the prison medical staff.

The President and his advisors know the prisoners will execute all captured staff if an assault team is sent up.  They decide that one capable man, working alone could infiltrate the prison and rescue the President’s daughter.

The man for the job is a former government agent named Snow (Pearce).  Snow was recently framed for the murder of Colonel Frank Armstrong.  Armstrong had discovered a double-agent was working at the upper levels of our government.  Snow reluctantly agrees to the suicide mission.

The clock is ticking…

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

There’s no denying the parallels to John Carpenter’s Escape from New York.  So much so that John Carpenter sued the film’s makers for plagiarism and won.

I’m a huge fan of Lockout.  Pearce was the right choice to play Snow the buff, wise cracking bad ass.  (When Pearce auditioned for the role, the directors told him he was too skinny.  He promised to bulk up.  Obviously he kept his word.)

Joe Gilgun plays a psycho convict to perfection.

Lockout (2012)  rates 4 of 5 stars.