All posts tagged: Jeff Johnson

Popdose Tributes: Leslie Nielsen and Irvin Kershner

The Reaper respects no holiday, and so it is that two film luminaries passed this past weekend. The first, Leslie Nielsen, needs no introduction. While he first came to notoriety as a dramatic actor, with the sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet jumping immediately to mind, it was his string of spoofs with the Abrhams and Zuckers of the world that will immortalize him – Dr. Rumack in Airplane!, Lt. Frank Drebin in the Naked Gun films. There are too many gags, one-liners and pratfalls to adequately reel off. So cyclical was his career that when he returned to a dramatic role, such as that in Barbara Streisand’s Nuts, it was first a shock to see him in that context, and second, a shock he was so good at it. He assumed his comedic turns so thoroughly that he made you forget the funniest aspect was he was always playing it for real. Latter spoofs from other creators like Spy Hard and Dracula: Dead and Loving It failed to fully capture the helzapoppin’ energy, and sub-machine gun …

Revival House: “They’re eating the guests, sir.”

With Piranha 3D in theaters now, I thought it might be fun to revisit an old favorite from 1978. Movies like Piranha happened in the good old days of drive-in theaters, when a producer like Roger Corman knew that his low-budget exploitation flicks would always find an audience. The thing is, the talent pool he drew from back then is a very impressive list nowadays, including Ron Howard (1977’s Grand Theft Auto), Jonathan Demme (1974’s women-in-prison opus Caged Heat), Martin Scorsese (1972’s Boxcar Bertha), Francis Ford Coppola (1963’s Dementia 13), and Joe Dante, the director of Piranha. With Allan Arkush, Dante had previously codirected Hollywood Boulevard (1976) for Corman, but Piranha was his first solo directorial effort. I must admit a particular affinity for Dante’s films, most likely due to the fact that our brains were both warped at a very young age by watching far too many Warner Bros. cartoons. I saw Gremlins (1984) no less than six times in the theater during its run, and the underrated Explorers (1985) made my Revival House list of …

Revival House: Eleven Great Buddy-Cop Flicks

Two men, forced to work together, learning to respect each other along the way. Sometimes one is a loose cannon, sometimes they’re from different cultures, sometimes from opposite sides of the law — just about every variation of the cliché has been played out. And sometimes, despite the familiarity of it all, the results are still fun. Here are some of my favorites, starting with number 11. Red Heat (1988). “Moscow’s toughest detective. Chicago’s craziest cop. There’s only one thing more dangerous than making them mad: making them partners.” The tagline pretty much says it all. Walter Hill directs this story of a Russian cop (Arnold Schwarzenegger) forced to team with an American detective (James Belushi) to catch a Soviet drug dealer who flees to the U.S. Riddled with clichés of the genre, but nevertheless a fun ride.

Shoot to Kill (1988). “A ruthless killer. A beautiful hostage. Two men follow them into the mountains. One for love. One for revenge.” FBI agent Stantin (Sidney Poitier) is forced …

Revival House: “We all go a little mad sometimes …”

I’m a little late jumping on the 50th anniversary of the release of Psycho (which opened June 16th 1960), but I had the opportunity recently to attend a special event with the San Francisco Symphony — a screening of the film while the symphony performed Bernard Herrmann’s iconic score live. Knowing what I’ve read about the reportedly temperamental Herrmann, I’m sure he would have hated to hear his music in the concert hall accompanied by the sounds of the movie. As a film music geek, I would have preferred a performance of the complete Psycho score by itself, but I still knew I was experiencing something quite special. I have to admit a couple of times that I got caught up in the film and suddenly became aware that music was playing, which is saying a lot for someone like me. There is very little doubt that director Alfred Hitchcock and composer Bernard Herrmann were masters of their craft and one of the great cinematic collaborations in the history of film. Their first film together …