Reviews by Netta Gilboa
ALICE IN ACIDLAND (Something Weird Video, 67 minutes) This 1968 film is about a young girl's experiences with LSD is told from the narrated point of view of a psychiatrist. Filmed in both black and white and color, this is about teenagers, skin and sensationalism. A good double feature to run with Reefer Madness.
AMATEUR (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 105 minutes) In this unusual thriller, an ex-nun who writes pornographic stories for a living runs into an amnesiac and helps him discover his identity. His past turns out to include a porno actress and corporate assassins who want him dead. Stars Isabelle Huppert, Martin Donovan and Elina Lowensohn. Don't miss this if you like cult films or enjoy the bizarre.
A MONTH BY THE LAKE (Miramax Home Entertainment, 91 minutes) Vanessa Redgrave and Uma Thurman star in this film about people who meet at a vacation resort. One of them falls for one of the guests and the other flirts with the guest and convinces him to stay. Ultimately he picks the woman who really wanted him and the film ends happily. The box described it as a "sexy comedy" but I found it more of a romantic drama. Either way, it will probably be most enjoyed by older female viewers.
ANIMAL INSTINCTS: THE SEDUCTRESS (A-Pix Entertainment, 102 minutes) This highly erotic film features both sex and plot. It's about an female book author who is quite the exhibitionist and takes up with a blind lover who supposedly can't see. There are some great scenes in this one and if you enjoy adult films but find them sorely lacking in content, you might enjoy this R-rated film instead. Great plot, great acting, great photography. Truly unique in its genre.
THE ARISTOCATS (Walt Disney Home Video, 79 minutes) This animated classic is about a family of cats who become desirable for the wrong reasons after their owner dies and leaves them a fortune. The cats get kidnapped but take their future into their own hands and go off to hang out with other cats. Don't miss this if you're a cat lover! It's been one of the rarer, lesser-known Disney films. I'd never seen it before this limited video release but it reminded me of 101 Dalmatians. Very heartwarming.
BACK FIRE! (A-Pix Entertainment, 93 minutes) This slapstick comedy stars Kathy Ireland, Shelly Winters, Telly Savalas and Robert Mitchum. It involves an all-woman fire brigade forced to deal with someone who is blowing up the toilets of New York City. I hated this because I lack the sense of humor to appreciate fart and toilet jokes. However, it's clearly well done and fans of stupid comedy like Airplane will surely love this.
BARNUM (Water Bearer Films, 113 minutes) This is a filmed version of the musical play about the personal and professional life of Phineas T. Barnum. Included is information about Barnum's early days as a sideshow promoter, a museum director and culminating in the co-founding of the Barnum and Bailey Circus which lives on to this day. Uses lots of circus props and stars Michael Crawford. A must for fans of musicals and of the circus as well as for entrepreneurs everywhere.
BLACK ORCHID (Western Visuals) For those who prefer wall-to-wall sex to romantic plots, this adult film features a variety of sexual scenarios with many of the top names in the business. See Ari, Ona Z, Veronica Hart, Steve Drake, Jonathan Morgan, Alana, Kimberly Kupps and many others. In fact, the amount of big-name stars here is a good indication of the wide variety of styles used in the film. Some of the photography even uses special effects and those scenes are definitely filmed by a first-rate cameraman. I prefer a deeper plot than this offered, but this is probably going to please more adult film fans than it will disappoint.
BLUE IN THE FACE (Miramax Home Entertainment, 84 minutes) If you liked Smoke, this is its sequel. Harvey Keitel returns as the manager of a neighborhood smoke shop and in a series of vignettes he interacts with members of the community played by such luminaries as Roseanne, Madonna, Lou Reed, Michael J. Fox and Lily Tomlin. Some of the stars are so good in these cameo roles that you don't even realize who it is immediately. A must if you liked Smoke, have lived in New York City or like any of the people who star in this.
CATWALK (Arrow Video Inc., 95 minutes) Yet another film about the modeling business, this time from the eyes of supermodel Christy Turlington as she travels to Milan, Paris and New York on a Spring Fashion tour. This is well done and includes footage of many other famous models and a slew of designers as well. Lots of frank talk, backstage footage, parties, posing for photos, and everything else you'd expect. This is a must if you aspire to be a model and also offers good insight into the fashion business as a whole. It's a good addition to what's becoming a genre of documentaries about supermodels and the top echelon of the world of modeling.
THE CROSSING GUARD (Miramax Home Entertainment, 111 minutes) Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston star in this action thriller directed by Sean Penn. How can you go wrong with talent like that? The complex plot is not revealed up front and needs to be watched more than once to be fully understood. Worth investing the time in.
DEAD PRESIDENTS (Hollywood Pictures Home Video, 119 minutes) Primarily about a group of people involved in a heist that goes haywire, this film is also about bonding, the Vietnam War, Black men, and many other things. Extremely well done, this is the type of film worth seeing more than once. Lots of non-stop action scenes, but also lots of character development which results in making you care about what you're seeing when someone dies or gets injured. Highly recommended both as a look at some parts of the Black experience and as a first-class action film.
DEATH: THE ULTIMATE HORROR (SAE Video, 93 minutes) Fans of blood, guts and gore will be thrilled by this video which focuses on death scenes. Included is footage from around the world including car bombings, soccer riots, plane crashes, amputations, bullfights, etc. The tape ends with the on-camera suicide of Pennsylvania State Treasurer R. Bud Dwyer. It's obvious there'll be sequels. This picks up where Faces of Death left off and improves on the genre with narration to explain what you are seeing and from where.
THE DEVIL'S JOINT (Something Weird Video, 65 minutes) This 1969 black and white drug documentary traces the history of drug scare films from the 1920s and 1930s. Most people remember Reefer Madness from this time period, but it turns out to be only one of many such films. The perspective here is pro-marijuana, or at least tolerant of people's desire to use it. This is a good addition to any collection of early films, and will obviously also interest fans of "pot" and people studying the history of drug use. Recommended as being one of the best of its genre for sure.
EROTIKA (Western Visuals, 94 minutes) This adult film by director Robert McCallum stars Samantha Strong, Rebecca Bardoux, Nikki Sinn, Porsche Lynn, Tanya Storm, Buck Adams and Randi Hart. It's about a young girl who breaks free of an overprotective, abusive father after his sudden death and then declines a marriage proposal to travel and go find herself. Filmed in the mountains of California, the deserts of Nevada, Las Vegas, Malibu and the French Riviera, this film was also shot on 35mm and doesn't scrimp on money to achieve high quality results. There's plenty of sex, in romantic settings too, and lots of dialogue and plot to appeal to both women and men who seek something more than just photography of non-stop coupling and close-ups of human anatomy. Surprisingly well done for its genre.
AN EYE FOR AN EYE (Paramount Home Video, 102 minutes) Sally Field, Kiefer Sutherland, Ed Harris, Joe Mantegna and Beverly D'Angelo star in this John Schlesinger film about a woman whose daughter is raped and then murdered and who gets no help from the law. The killer is found but let go on a technicality, he kills again and is then let go once more. So Fields' character decides against the advice of her husband and friends to go after the guy herself. Believable plot, great acting and a gut-wrenching, non-flinching exploration of what it's like to go through this kind of ordeal and pain. Highly recommended.
FATHER OF THE BRIDE PART II (Touchstone Home Video, 106 minutes) Steve Martin, Diane Keaton and Martin Short are back in this sequel. This time both Martin' daughter and wife are pregnant and of course they go into labor at the same time. This is one of Martin's better movies and he and Keaton do a good job with the lines. The plot's not all that realistic, but the film does not disappoint and more than does its job of relaxing you while you watch it.
THE FEAR (A-Pix Entertainment, 96 minutes) This horror film involves a psychologist in training who takes several people on a trip for fear therapy. They stumble across a wooded mannequin named Morty who seems to have a life of his own. Then the killings start. The film is pretty typical for the genre, complete with special effects, but the soundtrack is better than average as it includes music by Flatlinerz, Gravediggaz and Esham.
FLYING SAUCERS ARE REAL (Stanton T. Friedman, PO Box 958, Houlton, ME 04730-0958, 85 minutes) Using nine eyewitness accounts, this video discusses the Roswell incident in detail as well as focusing on Friedman's attempts to gain access to documents using Freedom of Information Act requests. Lots of photos and videotaped footage are included and the interviewees discuss recovering and transporting flying saucers as well as having direct contact with the autopsy of the alien bodies. If this subject interests you, this tape is of high quality and is a good way to find out more.
FOR BETTER OR WORSE (Turner Home Entertainment, 95 minutes) Jason Alexander, Lolita Davidovich, Joe Mantegna and James Woods star in this comedy about larceny, lust and lunacy. Included are special appearances by Rob Reiner and Rip Torn. It's about two brothers, a very special girl and ultimately a wedding. Cute.
FOUR ROOMS (Miramax Home Entertainment, 98 minutes) This superb film loosely ties together four vignettes about a bellhop working in a hotel on New Year's Eve who is forced to deal with and service some very crazy guests. Starring Madonna, Jennifer Beals, Marisa Tomei and Antonio Banderas, the vignettes involve a coven of witches, a man who has his lover tied up and is holding a gun to her head, a couple who want their children watched by the bellhop instead of a baby-sitter and a group of drunk friends who bet a luxury car against one of their fingers while planning to light a lighter 10 times to see who wins. This is another winner from the makers of Pulp Fiction.
FROM DUSK TILL DAWN (Dimension Home Video, 108 minutes) Harvey Keitel, George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino and Juliette Lewis star in this action-thriller about two brothers who go on the run and take a family hostage in order to escape to Mexico. They head for a strip bar that turns out to be a hangout for vampires and the film's plot turns to a battle between vampires and humans. The special effects are incredibly well done and provide an added bonus to a film with powerful stars and a riveting plot. It's almost like two movies in one as the beginning is a psychological exploration of the criminals' lives while the end is a straight horror film focusing on who will survive and who will die. Worth seeing if you like vampire films, any of the actors or films about criminals and their exploits.
GEORGIA (Miramax Home Entertainment, 117 minutes) Jennifer Jason Leigh and Mare Winningham star in this film about two sisters who sing and who each try to follow their dreams. Leigh gives a stellar performance and shows she could easily have been a recording superstar instead of an actress. This is worth seeing for her singing segments alone. It's also a female bonding film and has a strong, believable plot. Well done.
GHOSTS (Western Visuals, Inc., 90 minutes) Although this adult film has a consistent plot, it also features non-stop sex and will be most enjoyed by those who seek action not dialogue. Kaitlyn Ashley, Jordan Lee, Brittany O'Connell and Joey Silvera star in this film about a couple who buy a house and discover it is haunted by a horny ghost. The sex scenes involve everything from dildos to lesbian sex to group sex to an abundance of anal scenes. The cinematography is better than average with superb camera angles and positions. Those who enjoy seeing what sexual organs look like up close will enjoy this film more than most.
HEAT (Warner Home Video) Cops and robbers is the theme in this action film which stars Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Val Kilmer and Jon Voight. Although it's very long (requiring two videocassettes), it's also compelling as a team of high-tech criminals rob banks and other places guaranteed to provide millions of dollars per haul. An equally skilled team of police experts attempts to catch them but finds the bad guys foil their plans more often than not. Good plot, great acting and great camera work serve to hold your interest even though this is one long movie. Ideal for home video as you can take a break at any point in the middle.
HEAVY METAL (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 90 minutes) After being held up for many years for legal reasons involving musical rights, finally this classic animated rock film is available on home video. It even includes additional footage which was left out until now. The film is a series of interrelated vignettes and includes animated music by bands like Black Sabbath, Cheap Trick, Devo, Blue Oyster Cult, Journey, Sammy Hager, Grand Funk Railroad, Donald Fagen and Stevie Nicks. Once the rage at midnight movie theaters, this is definitely a collectible tape that will only be available for a limited time. If you like animated films by people like Ralph Bakshi, or you're a fan of the bands mentioned, purchase this while you can.
ICE CREAM MAN (A-Pix Entertainment, 85 minutes) This horror film involves a child who watches a murder of the local ice cream driver and grows up to become a murderer himself. It's fairly typical for its genre although I appreciated the fact that it didn't involve a plot about a killer who only targets women. Be forewarned the story line leaves room for a sequel at the end. Stars Clint Howard as the killer with a supporting cast that includes Lee Majors II, Jan Michael Vincent and David Haughton.
JUMANJI (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 104 minutes) Robin Williams takes a back seat to computerized animals in this amazing film about a board game which transports players into the untamed jungles of Jumanji. When two kids play it, Williams returns from the jungle after being transported there 26 years ago. The animals return too, causing much havoc to the town and anything that interacts with them. Don't miss this great for all ages treat!
THE JUROR (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 118 minutes) Demi Moore and Alec Baldwin star in this nail-biting action drama about a female juror who gets threatened by the Mafia after she's picked to be a juror in a murder case involving a Mafia head. Even though I thought I knew what the plot would involve there were many surprises here towards the end, making this much better and more enjoyable than expected. Great plot, with lots of surprise twists, great dialogue and great acting too. Don't miss it for a solid exploration of the many gray areas of our legal system and the poor saps who get entangled with it in any capacity.
LOVE, CHEAT & STEAL (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 96 minutes) Eric Roberts and John Lithgow star in this psychological thriller about an ex-husband who breaks out of jail and comes back to interfere with his ex's new life. This film offers lots of double crosses, surprise twists and an unexpected ending. Much better than average, I'd call this a sleeper worth seeing.
LUST & DESIRE (Western Visuals, Inc.) This big-budget adult film is not only shot on 35mm but also features outdoor car scenes shot in Las Vegas. The plot involves two Vegas showgirls who work as strippers and do lesbian scenes. They accidentally witness a murder and try to flee. Of course they get caught and end up having lots of sex including an intense double penetration scene. Directed by Robert McCallum, this stars Nicole London, Jordan Lee, Kimberly Kummings, Mike Horner, Holly Body and many more. This offers a good balance between the desire for plot and the need for constant sex scenes.
MIGHTY APHRODITE (Miramax Home Entertainment, 95 minutes) Woody Allen is back in this comedy about being married and raising children. Allen and his wife adopt a baby and he decides to go find his sons' birth mother. She turns out to be a hooker and they develop a platonic friendship in which he makes it his mission to get her out of "the life" and find her a suitable husband. Of Allen's movies this one is most like Love and Death and Annie Hall. I loved it.
MOLLY & GINA (A-Pix Entertainment, 93 minutes) Two women have in common that their boyfriends just got murdered. They hit the underworld of LA in an attempt to uncover why. Stars Peter Fonda, Natasha Wagner and Frances Fisher. Held my interest because it had lots of action and good acting considering the limitations of the genre.
MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS (Hollywood Pictures Home Video, 143 minutes) Richard Dreyfuss is superb in this film about a composer who becomes a high school music teacher and slowly finds his calling. He ends up teaching for 30 years while raising a son who, ironically, is 90% deaf. Don't miss this if you like music, teachers, Dreyfuss or movies that touch the heart. It's got a great plot, great acting and even a great ending which is rare.
MR. WRONG (Touchstone Home Video, 97 minutes) Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Pullman star in this comedy about a lonely female who meets a great guy that turns out to be a really, really bad choice. The film starts off great and sucks you in, but the boyfriend's character is so extreme it quickly becomes unbelievable and thus turns from funny to stupid. The acting is great, but the plot just comes apart. This might appeal to people who like slapstick comedy and stupid comedy, but if you look for realism or meaning in the films you watch avoid this one.
THE NARCOTIC STORY (Something Weird Video, 75 minutes) Made in 1958, this documentary lumps all illegal drugs together and attempts to warn the public about their evils. Combining footage of the drugs themselves with footage of users in action, this film also explores the role of the police, narcotic investigators, and society as a whole. The tone is quite preachy but there's lots of good material here, especially the footage of the 1950s community such as suburban life, malt shops, etc. Worth seeing if you think drugs originated with the 1960s hippies or if you have never seen an anti-drug film. Worth owning if you grew up in the 1950s or are a historian of that time period.
NIXON (Hollywood Pictures Home Video, 191 minutes) Oliver Stone directed this long, long film which takes many liberties portraying Richard Nixon's life. It starts off with Watergate and then flashes back and forth through time. The cast is great and includes Anthony Hopkins, James Woods, Ed Harris and Joan Allen. However, I found the plot drawn out, boring and hard to follow too. Recommended only for history and buffs and fans of the political process. If you saw the film in a theater and liked it, there are over 20 minutes of new footage included here. My reaction? Yawn.
ONE WAY OUT (Arrow Video Inc., 106 minutes) Mixing kidnapping, seduction and robbery, this film involves a con who is released from prison and looks forward to going straight. When he returns home however he discovers his brother has been screwed and the farm they love has been foreclosed on. He decides to extract revenge, but it gets out of hand and he and his cohorts find themselves in over their heads. Stars Michael Ironside, Jack Gwaltney, Jeff Monahan and Annie Golden.
OUT OF SYNC (LIVE Entertainment, 105 minutes) LL Cool J and Howard Hesseman star in this action film about a disc jockey who runs into problems with his bookie, the bookie's enforcers and the local police. He cuts himself a deal to work in a club run by a drug dealer but falls in love with the dealer's girlfriend which only gets him into more trouble. Good plot and great acting. Worth seeing.
SABRINA (Paramount Home Video, 127 minutes) Harrison Ford stars in this romantic film about a wealthy family where two sons both get smitten by the same girl. She is outside of their social class and Ford's character tries to keep her away from his brother so the brother will marry the "right" girl. In the process, he falls for her and reevaluates his priorities and beliefs. Good plot and great acting make this worth seeing.
SEPARATE LIVES (Vidmark Entertainment, 102 minutes) James Belushi and Linda Hamilton star in this suspense thriller about a Psychology teacher who asks one of her students, an ex-cop, to watch her. Turns out she has blackouts and leads a second life as a sex worker. Belushi's character gets sucked in despite his best efforts not to. Hamilton's personalities start to switch back and forth more and more often, leading to an edge-of-your-seat climax.
SHATTERED DREAMS (Live Entertainment, 94 minutes) Although the subject of battered women sounds quite predictable from the outset, this film focuses not on the beatings but rather the true story of a woman whose husband becomes an important figure in Washington and how he tried to keep her from coming forward. Lindsay Wagner is superb as Charlotte Fedders who now lectures frequently on domestic violence. Worth seeing if the subject interests you, you've ever been a victim or have dealt with someone who was victimized and didn't fully understand why they stayed.
SIGHTINGS: THE PSYCHIC EXPERIENCE (Paramount Home Video, 57 minutes) This episode from the popular TV show focuses on psychics who can predict things they should theoretically have no way of knowing. Includes interviews with both psychics and those who have been helped by them. Well done.
THE SHOW (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 92 minutes) Rap and hip-hop music are explored in this documentary about the musicians and their music. Included are interviews with and performances by Dr. Dre, Run DMC, Snoop Doggy Dog, Naughty By Nature, Slick Rick, Notorious B.I.G. and Wu-Tang Clan. While this genre is generally not my taste, the film does a superb job of explaining it to novices and of allowing the artists to explain how and why they do what they do.
THINGS TO DO IN DENVER WHEN YOU'RE DEAD (Miramax Home Entertainment, 115 minutes) Andy Garcia, Christopher Walken and Gabrielle Anwar star in this thriller about a guy forced to rough someone up after borrowing money to save his video store. He hires some friends to help him, but the beating doesn't go as planned and results in two deaths. As a result the team gets told they'll be killed and they have 48 hours to straighten the mess out. Believable plot, good acting and a thriller that will hold your interest until the end.
TIE-DIED (BMG Video, 88 minutes) Fans of the Grateful Dead are the theme of this documentary. Made without the cooperation of the band, it profiles famous deadheads, vendors, people who follow the band and everyday people who attend the shows. There's no mincing of criticism here, about everything from how the scene fell apart to statements condemning drug dealers and some users, to criticisms of the lifestyle by its most hard-core devotees. I found this a very fair portrayal of the 1994 parking lot scene which is what the film sets out to depict. Also on the video is an eight minute film which interviews author Ken Kesey about his work, drugs and his friendship with the Grateful Dead. A must for Dead fans and worth a look for those who always wondered what the big deal about the Grateful Dead was to their fans, and what the scene was all about underneath the music.
UNDERCOVER (A-Pix Entertainment, 93 minutes) Athena Massey grabs your attention as a policewoman who goes undercover in a brothel to catch a killer. It's a plot you've seen before, but rarely is such a film as captivating. I simply must rave about both the plot and execution here. It had me glued to my seat from beginning to end which is rare for an erotic thriller based on an old theme. Highly recommended if you like a little sex in your R-rated films.
WHEN THE DARK MAN CALLS (Paramount Home Video, 89 minutes)
Joan Van Ark stars in this psychological thriller about a talk-radio
host stalked by the man convicted of murdering her parents after
he has served 25 years in prison for the crime. This one differs
slightly from other films in the genre because it turns out he's
not the only cause of her problems. Decent script and good acting
but nothing special.