Monday, July 15, 2019
You know you’re old when you begin writing about how things were when you were younger. But that’s the case with many movies that are offered now on DVD and blu-ray for the first time. They are timeless classics that were forgotten but that bring back fond memories of days gone by for those who lived then. For those of us in our teens in the 70s FM music was the way to go. A cleaner crisper sound with none of the static that AM offered. So it was only natural that a movie about the topic would arrive on the scene and it did in 1978 with the film appropriately entitled FM.
Jeff Dugan (Michael Brandon) is the station manager/program director for Q-SKY radio in Los Angeles. Having assembled the cream of the crop with the DJs on hand and programming the station with more music than most he’s been able to make the station number one in the market. But with that comes a problem.
The home office has just sent in sales manager Regis Lamar (Tom Tarpey). Lamar has plans to bring in ads for the US Army to the station. It doesn’t fit their format or their audience so if course Dugan isn’t very receptive to the idea. Eventually Lamar calls on the big wigs back at corporate to back him up which they do, dollar signs in their eyes.
This leads Dugan to quit the station. The other DJs back him up though, taking the studio hostage and barricading themselves in with supplies and telling their listeners what’s going on. The station is surrounded by the listeners who support the move and a showdown between those who truly love the music and the corporation that wants to do nothing more than profit from the popularity of the station butt heads.
The story is rather simple and based on an actual event though reinterpreted for the film. What makes the film work though is the characters that flesh out the story and their tales that wrap around it all. Eileen Brennan, a fantastic actress, portrays Mother, the eldest of the DJs who is ready to bring her career to an end, tired of the traveling and catering to callers seeking more than her ear. Martin Mull is Eric Swan, a letch if there ever was one, who dreams of hosting a game show and moving up in the world. Cleavon Little is Prince, the soft speaking sultry night time DJ who’s there to wind you up and help you along with a romantic evening. Alex Karras is Doc, a country DJs whose style doesn’t quite fit in at the station and who’s about to be cut with the lowest ratings in his time spot. And replacing Doc is Laura Coe (Cassie Yates) a soft spoken female DJ who also becomes the love interest of Dugan. Rounding out the group is Bobbie Douglas (Jay Fenichel), the station engineer who wants to be a DJ and gets the chance by doing news.
Each of these characters gets their own special spot in the movie highlighting their skills on air and off. These moments are skillfully placed around the story and help move it forward. Their moments add laughter that is appropriately placed alongside tender moments where you consider the life of a DJ and its ups and downs. Through it all the groups bands together in a family of sorts that stands next to and supports one another making the film a treat.
In addition to the actors the movie sported one of the best double album soundtracks ever recorded with not only hits of the time but a few concert performances that were included in the film by Jimmy Buffet and Linda Ronstadt as well as an autograph signing sequence with REO Speedwagon. The title song was made specifically for the song and “FM” by Steely Dan was a hit for the band.
The film never was a huge hit when released which always surprised me at the time and to this day. The people I’ve talked to who saw the film when it was released have always had as fond memories of the film as I have. Those of us who enjoyed it will be overjoyed at the release being offered now by Arrow Video. As always their presentation is amazing.
The movie has been transferred from original film elements giving a clear and clean picture. And it includes a number of extras like a new interview with Michael Brandon, Ezra Sacks who wrote the picture and an appreciation of the era of FM music by film and music critic Glenn Kenny.
This is not a film that you will likely find for rental. It’s a movie that fans of the film have longed would be released. If you loved the music, if you have great memories of FM radio and if you remember the movie now is your chance to own it in the best format possible. My guess is you’re already hearing the theme song in your head. Now give the movie a try.
The action genre is certainly seeing and upswing when it comes to films from the east. Chinese, Korean and now Vietnam. Well Go, a company that seems dedicated to bringing the best of these films to the world, has just released another film that combines the heart wrenching drama of child kidnapping with martial arts mayhem that will keep you watching from start to finish. The movie is FURIE and it packs a wallop.
Veronica Ngo stars as Hai Phuong, a woman with a past trying to make do and support her young daughter Mai by collecting debts for the local loan shark in a small town in Vietnam. Bullied due to her mother’s job choice one day while at the market Mai is hurt when Hai doesn’t believe her. Running off she is quickly grabbed by a set of kidnappers. Hai chases them down but they escape. Asking around she discovers their destination, Ho Chi Minh City.
Following any and all leads she heads to the city, a place she left long ago that’s filled with only bad memories. It was here that she disappointed her family, getting pregnant by a gangster who left her behind. In order to survive she became a gangster herself, a dangerous woman who could take on any and all comers in a fight. When her pregnancy doesn’t allow this any longer is when she left.
Back in Ho Chi Minh City, she seeks help from the acquaintances from her past. They turn her down. She goes to the police who seem less than interested but while scouring their office she sees a potential lead. Hai seeks out a known ex-gangster like herself, someone who is known to have information named Truc. A fight breaks out between the two and only because of his mother’s pleading does Hai allow him to live. He gives her information and she leaves.
Not long after a police detective named Luong comes to Truc’s as well. Truc is only to ready to give him what information he provided to Hai. Before he can make his way to the child trafficker’s hideout Hai gets there. Taking on all comers she defeats them one by one until she meets up with the leader of the gang. Beaten down one would think this would end it all. But with the help of Luong Hai once more lifts herself up, determined to save the one thing that matters to her more than life itself, her daughter.
It’s easy to see that the action in the film comes in the form of the various fights that Hai finds herself in. But the drama that combines well with the action here revolves around multiple stories. There is Hai and her past that catches up to her. There is Mai who wants to help but finds herself at odds with her mother. This normal relationship between parent and child, that certain amount of rebelliousness, works well with this story. Added to this is the story of child traffickers, a worldwide scourge that is seeing a much larger problem these days.
All of these items could have been tossed in a blender only to see how they poured out. Instead we have a well thought out drama with touches of violence that works on all levels. That’s not an easy task to accomplish and yet it is done well here.
Something is always “lost in translation” when you find yourself reading subtitles. That being said enough is still able to be gathered by the performances here that you find yourself caring for everyone involved. The story is well thought out and that provides each and every actor with the chance to come at this full throttle and give it their all. And that’s exactly what they do.
I’m a fan of martial arts films but this one was something a little different. It’s one of the more enjoyable ones I’ve seen in some time and can highly recommend. Be willing to look past the subtitles and enjoy the film on its own merits. Sometimes it’s nice to be open minded. You’ll never know what you’ve missed if you don’t try.
Click here to order.
Click here to order.
With the appearance of THE WALKING DEAD some years back now zombie films became the big thing for a while. Zombie films were popping up as fast as, well, zombies in a zombie movie. While that’s good on one hand for fans of the genre it’s bad as well. The genre became stale and predictable. So when something different comes along its worth making note of it. DEADSIGHT is that something new.
The film opens through the blurred vision of some inside an ambulance who then passes out. When he wakes, there’s no one around him. Still not quite able to see he discovers he’s handcuffed to the gurney. He finds a bottle of eye drops in his pocket and puts some in which helps a small bit. Still somewhat blind he replaces his bandages and tries to find out what happened.
Once outside it isn’t long before one of the ambulance attendees attacks him, growling while doing so. Ben (Adam Seybold), as we learn later is his name, defends himself but soon the other attendant is upon him. A truck coming by with an armed man in the back shoots hitting the attendant and saving Ben’s life but doesn’t stop.
While this is going on police officer Mara Madigan (Liv Collins) wakes up and gets ready for work. Obviously pregnant she dresses and heads out. She had heard Ben calling for help on the ambulance radio and heads his direction to find out what was going on. When she gets nearby a woman in the road stops her. Obviously in the midst of changing she steals Mara’s car and takes off down the road leaving Mara on foot.
Through determination and sheer luck Ben has made his way to a farmhouse, attacked once more outside. He takes down this zombie and begins to explore the house, counting off steps as he goes. Attacked once again it seems like the end for Ben when Mara shows up and shoots the zombie. Assessing the situation the pair decide to work together and make their way back to the ambulance. When it becomes apparent they can’t make it with Mara guiding Ben, she heads out on her own.
The predicaments that this pair come up against with Mara’s being pregnant and Ben being blind are what make this movie a bit different than most. This twist works well within the confines of the zombie genre and brings something new to the table. There’s little change in the zombies but the only options are fast of slow. In this film they’re both for some reason, perhaps due to the time of death. We also get an explanation for the outbreak for once, a variation of a flu shot that went bad.
The one thing that could ruin a movie like this is placing the roles of Ben and Mara in the hands of bad actors. While I’ve not heard of much by either Seybold or Collins both do a great job here. They play the roles as believable rather than ridiculing the characters. They also don’t overact, a problem found in many low budget films being made in the horror genre. And yes, this is a low budget film.
But that doesn’t stop it from being entertaining and interesting. In fact the low budget might actually be a plus here. The film works well in the rural setting (perhaps a tribute to NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, which can also be seen when someone is killed in a cemetery by hitting their head on the corner base of a tombstone), much better than it would have in an urban one. The pregnancy, while not the first seen in a zombie flick (the remake of DAWN OF THE DEAD) it plays well here as Mara is the only one who can see.
I’ve seen some review take the movie to task for issues that stem from the budget and I think that’s a bit unfair. For me I was interested throughout the movie never feeling that urge to press the fast forward button to get to the good parts. The combination of interesting story and solid acting made it worth watching and a film I would recommend to those who enjoy a good horror film with something new to offer.