TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: CODE OF SILENCE (1985)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

bars

CODE OF SILENCE (1985)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

In terms of overall quality, Code of Silence is probably the best movie Chuck Norris ever made. It may not be as fun as Lone Wolf McQuade, or as over the top as Invasion U.S.A., but it is the closest to a mainstream movie he was ever in, till his extended cameo in Expendables 2.

Code of Silence is a simple story of honest Chicago cop Eddie Cusack (Norris) who is not only stuck in the middle of a war between Columbian and Italian mob families, but is the only cop willing to speak out against a corrupt and incompetent fellow officer (Ralph Foody) who gunned down an unarmed teen. This makes Cusack an outsider to criminal and cop alike and forces him to go it alone to rescue a kidnapped mafioso’s daughter (Molly Hagan).

The script by Michael Butler, Dennis Shryack and Mike Gray may not be anything new plot-wise, but this action/thriller is fast paced and well directed by Andrew Davis, who would go on to direct Steven Seagal’s best flick, Under Siege and the Harrison Ford hit, The Fugitive. Davis also gets a good performance out of the often wooden Norris and makes good use of the Chicago locations. The flick has a nice supporting cast including vets Henry Silva (Alligator), Dennis Farina, Bert Remsen and The Dark Knight’s Ron Dean and the action scenes are well-staged and entertaining. A bar fight scene in particular stands out as classic Chuck Norris, with our hero taking on…well, everybody. All in all, it’s a solid action/thriller and proved Norris could make the move into A-list flicks with the right projects, but…

…Despite being a box office success and a moderate critical hit as well, Chuck chose to enter a multi-picture deal with schlock-meister Cannon Films (probably the $17 million for 10 movies was key) and sank any chance of further mainstream theatrical success (none of his future films with Cannon would top or equal Code’s $20 million gross). Had Norris not been lured into staying with Cannon, he might have had a more mainstream action movie career like Arnold and Sly. As for Code of Silence, I saw this fun flick in a theater back in 1985 and it remains one of my favorite Chuck Norris movies along with Lone Wolf McQuade, Silent Rage and The Octagon.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 bullets.

bars
Advertisements

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE FINAL TERROR (1983)

MZNJ_New_TONnow playing

final terror

bars

THE FINAL TERROR (1983)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

The Final Terror is a fairly entertaining 80s slasher that follows the formula closely and is probably more renown for the talent involved, who would go on to bigger and better things. The story finds a group of forest rangers (including future stars Rachel Ward and Daryl Hannah) going on a trip to a remote part of a dense wooded area to clear some streams of debris. They are warned by creepy bus driver Eggar (another future star, Joe Pantoliano) not to…and it turns out for a good reason. Someone…or something…is lurking in those woods and starts to claim the lives of the young forest rangers, one by one. Now it’s a fight for survival against an unseen foe who wants them all dead!

Film is written by three people (including Alien co-scribe Ron Shusett) and directed well by Andrew Davis who would achieve success directing high-profile action flicks like Under Siege and The Fugitive. There is a moderate pace, which was normal for films of this era and Davis achieves a nice atmosphere of foreboding and some decent suspense. He also gives the film a nice visual style, multi-tasking by doing the cinematography as well. There is also an atmospheric and very 80s electronic score by Susan Justin, who did the score for Corman’s 1982 Forbidden World. There is some generous bloodshed, though nothing overly gory, nor is the body count all that high. This flick was filmed in 1981 before body count and outrageous kills became the status quo and took two years to find distribution. Like most of the slashers of this era, the story has a character with an unstable past being our prime suspect, with a disturbing reveal in the last act…though one we’re not completely shocked by. It’s a nice combination of slasher and wilderness survival flick that may not be a true classic, but may be a bit better, with the added nostalgia, than initially given credit for.

The cast is a mix of future stars and familiar faces. The performances are all adequate, but none indicate that some of our rangers will hone their craft well in future projects. Aside from outright soon-to-be stars like Ward, Hannah and Joe Pantoliano, we also have familiar faces like Mark Metcalf (Animal House, TV’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer), T.J. Hooker’s Adrian Zmed, Lewis Smith (Buckaroo Banzai) and John Friedrich who worked prolifically on TV. Again, no one really stands out here, but some of them went on to successful careers after, including the director. It gives the film an added nostalgic element like the similar The Burning, which had it’s own future stars in it’s cast.

Overall, it’s not a great movie or an outright classic horror, but it is an entertaining 80s slasher and one that would yield quite a few talents that would garner future fame or notoriety in other films or TV. It has some nice atmosphere and some decent kills and combines a traditional slasher with a wilderness survival flick. It is very 80s and would probably make a nice double feature with Don Coscarelli’s Survival Quest or the before mentioned The Burning.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 blades.

final terror rating

 

 

 

 

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: ANGEL (1984)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

Angel-Poster

bars

ANGEL (1984)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Angel is a fun exploitation flick that is not only very 80s, but the first movie released by New World Pictures after being sold by Roger Corman…and it was their first hit, grossing almost six times it’s original cost back.

The film tells the story of 15 year old Molly Stewart (Donna Wilkes), a scholarly prep school student who supports herself, after being abandoned by her mother and years earlier by her father, turning tricks on the Hollywood strip. Hooking under the name Angel, Molly is working at a dangerous time. There is a serial killer (John Diehl) on the loose targeting the ladies of the night and more than one of Angel’s friends have been slaughtered. Worse still, is that Angel has seen his face and is now a target herself. Will Angel be just another victim or will the resourceful teen turn the hunter into the hunted?

Flick is directed by Robert Vincent O’Neill, who co-wrote with Joseph Michael Cala and despite being an exploitation flick through and through, O’Neil manages to give it some heart. He surrounds Angel with an eccentric group of colorful friends, such as former cowboy star Kit (Rory Calhoun), foul mouthed dyke Solly (Susan Tyrell) and transvestite Mae (Dick Shawn). There is actually a bit of a sweet element to the story, underneath the blood and boobs, as Molly yearns for the day she can get off the street and the sympathetic cop (Cliff Gorman) who would like to see her succeed. Sure the story is cliché and we know the moment it begins, her life as a hooker with a heart of gold will be discovered at school, but O’Neil does have fun with his story without ever making fun of it. He also does provide some suspense and generates some sympathy for the killer’s hooker victims. This because the street people are portrayed as human beings who are a community among themselves and it is only a somewhat bland killer that fails the film a bit. That and his unintentionally funny…or maybe it was intentional?…choice of disguising himself as a Hare Krishna, when on the lam from the cops and on the hunt for Angel. Otherwise the film achieves what it sets out to do in grand exploitation style.

The cast won’t get any awards, but fill their parts well. Cutie Donna Wilkes was 24 when hired to play the 15 year old Molly and she’s fine. She gives us a sweet but very tough young girl who refuses to be a victim. She could have had a bit more range, but for a B-Movie like this, she’s more than adequate. Same can be said of Gorman’s tough cop. His character is a bit of a bland cliché, but works in the context of the film. Again, the silent killer (he only speaks once) played by Diehl is a bit bland, but is creepy enough to make it work. The supporting characters really shine as Calhoun, Tyrell and Shawn all add some life to the proceedings with their eccentric portrayals of some of the lost souls of the Hollywood Strip. They also do well in creating a foster family for Angel and they look out for her and their affection for each other seems genuine. Also worth mentioning is Donna McDaniel who gives her hooker Crystal a very likable personality in her brief screen time.

This is not Shakespeare, but it is fun. It’s an exploitation flick and knows it and never apologizes for it. It gives it’s cliché story a bit of a heart and treats the story with respect even if it is a B-Movie about a teenage hooker and a serial killer. It’s not a great flick by any stretch, but it is entertaining for what it is and gives us some surprisingly sympathetic and likable characters. Add a lot of fun 80s nostalgia and you have a perfectly suitable Saturday Night flick on the couch with some of your favorite poisons. Box office gross of Angel generated 3 sequels, none of which equaled it’s success.

MonsterZero NJ extra trivia: Cinematographer on this flick was Andrew Davis who went on to direct Chuck Norris in Code Of Silence, Steven Seagal in Under Siege and Harrison Ford in The Fugitive!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 Angels.

angel rating

 

 

 

bars