SCOTT’S FILM GEEK JOURNAL #42: Strippers, Drugs and Nuclear Bombs

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You may have noticed that there is no new episode of the 1985 podcast this week. In fact, there will be no new episodes of that podcast for the foreseeable future. Various things have popped up which have forced us to discontinue production on the show.

I will however continue to watch some of the 1985 films we were slated to review. The catch? I won’t be watching all the 1985 films we were slated to review. This suits me fine, since I had seen more than enough lackluster Australian melodramas to last me a lifetime. Here are three of the films we were scheduled to look at, that were released on May 31, 1985.

SCOTT’S FILM GEEK JOURNAL – ENTRY 42

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defcon_four_xlgDEF CON 4 (1985) – In space, a top secret space station waits with a cache of nuclear missiles as a detriment in case World War III starts. They watch in horror as a nuclear war does indeed start on the Earth below, and they play a part in it. As weeks go by, they get very few messages from Earth and it sounds as if all the governments of the world have collapsed while fallout has claimed the lives of millions. The station is unexpectedly brought down to Earth, something the crewmen on board barely survive.

One of the astronauts travels out of the spaceship to discover a world of disease, cannibalism and people who have gone to drastic measures in order to survive. Eventually, he is kidnapped and brought to a fascist compound being run by a sadistic teenager.

Aaaaand that’s when the film really goes to hell. The early scenes of DEF CON 4 are quite chilling and interesting. Perhaps not enough to sustain an entire film, but still memorable and worth watching. Then, they get to Earth and things still aren’t terrible. Maury Chaykin gives a performance that blows everyone else in the cast out of the water. But once they get to the compound, the film becomes ridiculous. We’re expected to believe these societies started popping up in a matter of weeks when everyone else behaves as if it’s been going on for years. Moreover, it doesn’t seem possible for someone who was obviously just a high school jock now leads a heavily-armed battalion that keeps the underlings quaking in fear. Watching DEF CON 4 is seeing a good film slowly devolve before your eyes.  ★★ (out of ★★★★)

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fear_cityFEAR CITY (1985) – Abel Ferrara returns once again to the seedy underbelly of pre-Times Square makeover New York City. In this film, a serial killer with a penchant for martial arts is targeting exotic dancers and sex workers. This is effecting the livelihood of ex-prizefighter Matt Rossi (Tom Berenger) and his friend Nicky (Jack Scalia), who work as fair but firm managers for several of the girls. Bit by bit, Matt watches as the killer targets the girls he’s close to, including his recovering drug addict girlfriend (Melanie Griffith). Though he took a vow of never using violence again, he starts to rethink that as the killings hit closer and closer to home.

Ferrara excels by combining the high art of his directing style with the low class of his subject matter. It’s a technique he had already utilized in films like DRILLER KILLER and MS. 45. FEAR CITY winds up being immensely entertaining. In addition to the previously mentioned actors, the film also stars Billy Dee Williams, Rae Dawn Chong and Maria Conchita Alonso. In truth, the Williams scenes don’t work as well, since he seems a bit too hard-nosed to be believed. But all in all, FEAR CITY winds up being a film with lots of violence and nudity, that also offers interesting characters from a culture that is often treated far more one-dimensionally.  ★★★ (out of ★★★★)

WARNING: The following trailer contains nudity and is NSFW.

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fletchFLETCH (1985) – Based on the more dramatic novels of Gregory McDonald, FLETCH details the exploits of Irwin M. Fletcher (Chevy Chase), a newspaper columnist who writes under the name of Jane Doe. As the film begins, he is undercover, trying to find out how large amounts of drugs have been funneled into the beach over the past few months. While doing this, a wealthy man named Alan Stanwyk (Tim Matheson), believing him to be just another junkie, offers him a large sum of money to murder him. When he discovers that his reasons for this request were not truthful, he starts digging into this as well and finds out that Stanwyk is tied into the drug trafficking and that the conspiracy is bigger than Fletch previously believed.

The main hook of the story is how Fletch assumes a number of different identities to get to the bottom of the mystery. Chase carries the film himself, appearing in literally every scene of this film.

It’s hard to tell younger people who are only familiar with the humorless man that doesn’t work well with others. But once upon time, Chevy Chase wasn’t just funny, he was one of the funniest people on the planet. FLETCH is his best film in my opinion, and has been one of my all-time favorite comedies ever since its release. It’s non-stop laughs for me from beginning to end and if you haven’t seen it, I suggest you remedy that right away.   ★★★★ (out of ★★★★)

And now that you’ve seen this, look at this fan-made trailer, made to look like a high-octane thriller. Someone get this guy a job cutting actual trailers!

 

TOP FIVE BOX OFFICE CHAMPS – MAY 31-JUNE 2, 1985

1. RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II (2,074 screens) – $14.8 million ($53.7 million cumulative – 2 weeks in release)
2. FLETCH (1,225 screens) – $7.0 million (1 week in release)
3. A VIEW TO A KILL (1,588 screens) – $6.7 million ($22.9 million cumulative – 2 weeks in release)
4. BREWSTER’S MILLIONS (1,520 screens) – $5.4 million ($18.5 million cumulative – 2 weeks in release)
5. BEVERLY HILLS COP (1,073 screens) – $1.5 million ($220 million cumulative – 26 weeks in release! That’s half a year and still in the Top 5!)

source: Box Office Mojo

Number of films covered in the Journal so far: 195

Miss any of the previous Journal entries? Check them out here!

And tune into my new web series, Moviocrity!



Categories: Scott W. Davis, Scott's Film Geek Journal

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