Pliers, Pussies & the Enduring Class of John Vernon

In the flat blaxploitation parody I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, baddie John Vernon prickles at the insinuation that playing an exploitation villain is beneath him. “Lots of famous people have done exploitation movies,” he tells the hero before listing the likes of Shelley Winters and Angie Dickinson. OK, mate, fair point, but I doubt you […]

Starring debuts #8: Alan Rickman in Die Hard (1988)

Film Title

Die Hard

Synopsis

A bare-footed, vest-wearing cop takes on a group of crack terrorists

Director

John McTierman

Cast

Bruce Willis
Alan Rickman
Bonnie Bedelia
Reginald VelJohnson
Alexander Godunov

You know Alan Rickman’s done his job remarkably well in Die Hard when he plunges to his death from a high-rise building and we feel a bit sad. Unlike Kong, it wasn’t beauty that killed the charismatic beast, but a combination of old-fashioned greed and sheer bad luck. Rickman plays Hans Gruber, a debonair German […]

Blaxploitation #4: Boss Nigger (1975)

Film Title

Boss Nigger

Synopsis

Blazing Saddles pretty much played straight

Director

Jack Arnold

Cast

Fred Williamson
D'Urville Martin
R.G. Armstrong
William Smith
Carmen Hayworth
Barbara Leigh

What the hell are these cats up to? Two fearsome bounty hunters Boss (Williamson) and Amos (Martin), who kill up to five outlaws at a time, take a break from their day job to forcibly outwit the piss-weak, double-dealing mayor of San Miguel and become the law. As you can imagine, the vast majority of […]

Cruising For A Few Good Movies

In the atrocious Interview with the Vampire the effete Tom Cruise tells his supernatural buddy Brad Pitt: “Life without me would be even more unbearable.” Well, kids, whaddya reckon? Is Our Tom telling the truth? Can you imagine your existence sans Maverick or never having witnessed all those heroic dashes with his choppy hands? No […]

Starring debuts #7: Richard E. Grant in Withnail and I (1987)

Big-budget action maestro Michael Bay could probably learn a thing or two from Withnail. Namely, that if you get the characterization and dialogue right, you don’t need any explosions or mayhem to make a great movie. After all, what does the titular character accomplish during the 107 minutes of this cult classic? He tries to […]

Blaxploitation #3: Black Caesar (1973)

Film Title

Black Caesar

Synopsis

An ex-shoeshine boy takes on the Mob in Harlem

Director

Larry Cohen

Cast

Fred Williamson
Gloria Hendry
Art Lund
D'Urville Martin

What the hell are these cats up to? After a stretch in prison, Tommy Gibbs (Williamson) plans to take over his Mafia-run neighborhood and show whitey how it’s done. Do I dig the threads? Given it’s mostly set in 1965, a heartbeat before everything went to sartorial shit, yes. Tommy favors sharp suits and a […]

Blaxploitation #2: Mandingo (1975)

Film Title

Mandingo

Synopsis

Let the good times roll in the Antebellum South

Director

Richard Fleischer

Cast

James Mason
Perry King
Susan George
Richard Ward
Ken Norton
Brenda Sykes

What the hell are these cats up to? Falconhurst is a dilapidated plantation run by the tyrannical aging widower, Warren Maxwell (Mason), and his limping son, Hammond (King). Their slaves try to stay alive under an increasingly unstable regime, often being forced into impossible choices. Into this toxic mix comes Hammond’s new wife, the drunken, […]

Blaxploitation #1: Super Fly (1972)

Film Title

Super Fly (1972)

Synopsis

Coke, afros and a bit too much restraint in 1970s New York

Director

Gordon Parks Jr.

Cast

Ron O'Neal
Carl Lee
Julius W. Harris
Sheila Frazier

What the hell are these cats up to? A successful Harlem coke dealer with the extraordinary name YoungBlood Priest (O’Neal) wants one last big deal before going straight. His partner Eddie (Lee), who appears to be doing an impersonation of Sammy Davis Jr. throughout, wants to stay in the game. Stop groaning at the back […]

C’mon, Billy

C’mon Billy, Come to me, You know I’m waiting, I love you endlessly, C’mon Billy, You’re the only one… These mania-infused lyrics are from a glorious PJ Harvey paean and it’s only when she goes on to reveal ‘having his son’ that I twig she isn’t singing about the late, great Billy Wilder. But even […]

Starring Debuts #6: Harvey Stephens in The Omen (1976)

Film Title

The Omen

Synopsis

The Antichrist begins his diaper-clad reign on Earth

Director

Richard Donner

Cast

Gregory Peck
Lee Remick
Billie Whitelaw
David Warner
Harvey Stephens

According to the nursery rhyme, little boys are made of snips, snails and puppy dogs’ tails. However, some parents being driven up the wall by their misbehaving spawn probably believe they’re actually jam-packed with satanic DNA. Take Damien Thorn. There’s just no hope with this kid. Appoint a nice nanny to look after him? She’ll […]