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Disco Godfather (1979)

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Coming across a Rudy Ray Moore movie unknowingly is a mixed bag.  At the time of viewing this, the only one I had seen was The Human Tornado, which struck me as somebody's vanity project.  Dolemite will get watched and reviewed here at some point, but, for me, a little of his "acting" goes a long way.

After watching Disco Godfather, though, I realized how important he was, silly movies aside.  His status in the African-American community at the time this movie was made puts it into much more perspective.

Tucker Williams (Moore) is an ex-cop that has opened the Blueberry Hill Disco and become the Disco Godfather.  A local celebrity and DJ, his club is now the most renowned in the city, and it understandably draws both good and bad elements.  The bad elements are pushing PCP to the inner city youth, a fact that Williams becomes aware of when his nephew Buck (Julius Carry), an up-and-coming basketball star, freaks out in his club and has to be hospitalized.

Williams begins…

Not of This Earth (1988)

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In the late 1980s direct Jim Wynorski bet Roger Corman that he could remake the 1957 movie Not of This Earth for the same budget (adjusted for inflation) and on the same time scale.  I have no idea who won the bet, but what resulted was the same movie, except with more modern dialogue and references, as well as a good deal of nudity.

To promote it, Traci Lords, fresh off her scandal of making a series of adult movies while underage, was cast in the lead.

An alien (Arthur Roberts) travels to Earth and hides under the name of Mr. Johnson.  When he seeks help for his blood condition from Dr. Rochelle (Ace Mask), he decides to hire nurse Nadine Story (Lords) to attend him privately for twice-daily blood transfusions.  Through mind control, he sets Dr. Rochelle on the path of trying to find him a cure, while being unable to tell anyone about Mr. Johnson's strange nature.

Transfusions are not enough, and Mr. Johnson finds himself going around town to get the blood of animals and peopl…

Starcrash (1978)

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I remember back when I was a kid and Knight Rider was in its first run that I noticed Starcrash playing on the late show.  Even at that age I recognized it for what it was, and barely got through five minutes before shutting it off.  Needless to say, the reason I was even curious was because of David Hasselhoff, and I never even made it to any of his parts. 

I also never made it to Caroline Munro in a leather bikini, which may have changed my mind at that point if I did. 

Over the years I have seen this come up in many lists of bad movies that just have to be seen.  I finally got around to watching the whole thing and, as my luck would have it, right when it was coming up (unbeknownst to me) as an episode on the new Mystery Science Theater 3000.  Needless to say, they had a great time with it, and it was one of the highlights of the new season.

Stella Starr (Munro) and her navigator Akton (Marjoe Gortner) are fleeing from Imperial police when they come across an Imperial launch that …

The Thing (1982)

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It should come as no surprise that remaking older films is as old as film making itself.  The popular versions of The Wizard of Oz and Ben-Hur are themselves remakes, as are many films that people don't really expect (the Will Smith version of I Am Legend was the third take on the Richard Matheson book, for example).  While many of the remakes are just as good (or even superior) to the originals, cashing in on the original is always the point. 

What many forget is that you can cash in and still make a great movie.  That is exactly what John Carpenter did with 1982's The Thing, a remake of 1951's The Thing from Another World, itself based on the novella Who Goes There? by John Campbell. 

The boredom and peace of an American scientific outpost in Antarctica is shattered when a helicopter from a nearby Norwegian base lands, apparently in pursuit of one of a sled dog.  After one of the research team is shot, Garry (Donald Moffat), the head of the facility, kills the man, whil…

The Black Godfather (1974)

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Blaxploitation may be one of the most misunderstood genres.  While initial movies like Superfly and Shaft received mainstream audience and critical attention, much of the attention seemed to focus on the violent aspects of the films - so much that many devolved into self-parody over the next few years.  However, while they had their initial run, it proved two things: anyone who had some ambition, a few friends and a camera could possibly make a decent profit on an independent film, and American audiences, regardless of race, were becoming open to some of the ideals within these movies.

I understand that many of the messages about racism, second-class treatment of African-American citizens and police brutality got lost among the sex and violence, but they were there.  Many of the movies featured flawed heroes, but heroes none-the-less.  They were all human beings, and that resonated with white audiences - a little too well in the end, since it was ultimately white audiences being a bi…

The Nude Bomb (1980)

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Get Smart! is one of those comedies from the 1960s that one can still appreciate.  It was one of the few that got making fun of James Bond and its imitators correctly, while being surprisingly innovative and exciting at the same time.  The fact that Mel Brooks was involved had more than a little do with it, but all the writers did a good job in keeping the show consistent.  And, of course, there was always Barbara Feldon as Agent 99, adding both sexiness and competence in her pairing with Maxwell Smart (Don Adams). 

The show lasted until 1970.  Brooks had moved on to making hit movies, and American television was moving on as well.  Still, the show remained popular in reruns so, 10 years later, a Get Smart! movie still sounded like a great idea.  The Nude Bomb is a prime example of how Hollywood is often a place where great ideas go, get a job waiting tables, get discovered, get worked over and then crawl away to die in a flophouse. 

Maxwell Smart may no longer be in CONTROL, but he s…

The Burglars (1971)

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The big Hollywood heist film, largely known for its larger-than-life antiheroes, stuntwork and long, drawn-out car chases.  Before the action film changed to what most of us are familiar with in the 1980s, the above largely began to define American films from the late '60s and into the 1970s.  From well-regarded films such as Bullitt and The French Connection to hangers-on like Grand Theft Auto, it became a source of escapist entertainment for American audiences and something for critics to hang their disdain on.

After all, European films (if you consciously ignored most mainstream films coming out of England and Italy) were so much more intellectual, right?  This was real cinema. 

Except it turns out that European audiences like their heists and their car chases just as much as we do.  That is why Le casse, released under the English title The Burglars, had the biggest opening in France up to that time.  Give art its due, but seeing Jean-Paul Belmondo jumping between buses to es…