Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Trailer (s) of the Week: R.I.P. Edition

This week's Trailers of the Week are dedicated to two film directors who passed away last week.

First, the trailer for John Flynn's Rolling Thunder which I recently saw as part of Quentin Tarantino's Grindhouse Festival at the New Beverly Cinema for the first time in a theatre (I had rented it once about seven years ago on a grainy pan and scan video) and it lived up to its reputation as a transcendent exploitation film. In the film, William Devane plays a Vietnam vet who returns after being held in a POW camp to much pomp and circumstance only to discover how much the world has changed, that his wife wants to divorce him and marrying the guy she's been shacking up with ever since she heard Devane has been assumed dead and then becomes a victim of a crime that costs him financially, emotionally and physically (he loses a hand) to add insult to injury, Roscoe P. Coltrane from The Dukes of Hazzard is involved. Tommy Lee Jones is great as a fellow vet who, like Devane, is looking for some purpose in his life since his return from Vietnam and is more than willing to help his buddy seek vengeance, Jones' line in the trailer "Let me just get my stuff" brought down the house at the New Beverly, its just delivered so perfectly matter-of-fact, as is a later line when he tells a prostitute "I gotta go kill a bunch of people". Sadly, this film is not on DVD yet, hopefully Flynn's death will spark interest in the film. Here's the trailer:

Flynn also directed a few other interesting projects, including the unreleased on DVD, and unseen by me The Outfit based on a Donald Westlake novel and featuring Robert Duvall in the same role played by Lee Marvin in Point Blank and Mel Gibson in Payback. He also directed Lock Up, Best Seller and what I've heard more than one person call the best Steven Seagal vehicle, Out For Justice (is that the ultimate damning with faint praise?).

Bob Clark's sad death, along with his son, at the hands of a drunken driver has been more documented, but pretty much all the summaries of his career referenced only A Christmas Story and Porky's. While I can't think of a single family Christmas that hasn't featured at least a few minutes screening of A Christmas Story since I was a teenager (I even remember seeing it in the theatre at the age of seven), Clark made another great Christmas themed film, Black Christmas. It saddens me that I have to make sure to refer to it as the "original" Black Christmas,to avoid confusion with the horribly remade 2006 version. I've been somewhat obsessed with this film since I was 17, and I tend to watch it at least once a year. The remake tries to over explain every small detail left with a modicum of mystery in the original which accounts for a lot of my love for Clark's film. In addition to creating the holiday-themed slasher film (predating Halloween by four years), the film also features great performances by 60's Juliet and major crush of this author Olivia Hussey, Bruce Lee and Freddy Krueger co-star John Saxson, a pre-Lois Lane Margot, a post 2001 Keir Dullea, and SCTV's Andrea Martin. I find it revealing that while the remake emphasized gore it stayed miles away from addressing one of the original film's more interesting political touches, that the main character had just had an abortion. Here's the trailer:

So after you go and see Grindhouse hunt down these films that inspired Tarantino and Rodriquez. Oh, and while you are at it, burn any and all copies of the Black Christmas remake.

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