Category Archives: 1980

Blu-Ray News #371: The Hunter (1980).

Directed by Buzz Kulik
Starring Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach, Kathryn Harrold, LeVar Burton, Ben Johnson, Richard Venture, Tracey Walter

Imprint out of Australia has announced a deluxe Blu-Ray of Buzz Kulik’s The Hunter (1980), Steve McQueen’s last movie.

McQueen with the real Ralph “Papa” Thorson.

Based on the real-life bounty hunter Ralph “Papa” Thorson, the picture gives McQueen a chance to play around with his image. He’s feeling the aches and pains of age and needs reading glasses. And there’s a running gag about Thorson being a terrible driver. McQueen probably had a lot of fun tolling around in his character’s 1951 Chevrolet. The Thorson character has a love of goofy old things, from gas pumps to jukeboxes to wind-up toys, as did McQueen. They say McQueen had a lot of input on this one, even directing some stuff, and it shows.

Time has been kind to The Hunter. Back in 1980, it seemed rather small compared to what we expected from McQueen, and it had a bit of a TV-movie feel about it (Buzz Kulik was a long-time TV movie director). But now, its more eccentric, character-driven nature is a big part of its appeal — along with the opportunity to watch Steve McQueen for an hour-and-a-half. (I’d take it over 1974’s The Towering Inferno any day!)

Other highlights are a nice scene with Ben Johnson and McQueen in a Massey Ferguson combine chasing a Trans Am through a cornfield! The ensemble cast does a great job of elevating a pretty lazy script, and its episodic structure actually works in its favor.

Imprint has promised a commentary and vintage documentary, along with a collection of trailers and TV spots. But, with all releases like this, the main attraction is the movie itself, restored in high definition. I’m so happy to see this cool little action movie, and its star, get a nice valentine like this.

Someone once said that Steve McQueen could act with the back of his head. Lots of folks call him the “King Of Cool.” For me, any movie he’s in comes highly recommended.

4 Comments

Filed under DVD/Blu-ray News, Steve McQueen, Paramount, Ben Johnson, 1980, Imprint Films

4K/Blu-Ray News #369: Alligator (1980).

Directed by Lewis Teague
Starring Robert Forster, Robin Riker, Michael Gazzo, Jack Carter, Dean Jagger, Perry Lang, Sue Lyon, Angel Tompkins, Henry Silva, Mike Mazurki

John Sayles wrote the two best Jaws (1975) ripoffs: Piranha (1978) and Alligator (1980). Both combine a terrific 50s monster movie vibe, a real sense of humor and some actual scares. Scream Factory is bringing Lewis Teagies’s Alligator to 4K (on February 22) with a set that includes the film on both 4K and Blu-Ray discs, along with a third disc featuring the TV version of the film. It also comes packed with extras, from commentaries to interviews to trailers to a commercial for the Alligator game! 

The plot (cooked up by Sayles and Frank Ray Perilli) is pure genius. A young girl gets an alligator while on vacation in Florida, but after they get home, her dad flushes it down the toilet. 12 years later, and after getting ahold of an experimental growth formula, that alligator is now 36 feet long and munching on Chicago sewer workers. It’s up to a jaded cop (Robert Forster) and that girl, now a reptile expert (Robin Riker), to find the alligator and stop it. Forster really stands out in this, but the entire cast is great — especially Henry Silva as a big game hunter brought in to kill the monster.

I have a 36-foot-long soft spot for Alligator. Saw it countless times — from theater to cable to video. The VHS package is etched in my brain after renting it to about 14,000 people working in video stores while in college. I love that it’s getting such a swanked-out 4K release. It deserves it. (Sitting here all snowed in this morning, wish I had a copy of it right now!) By the way, Alligator II: The Mutation (1990) is coming out on Blu-Ray the same day.

Proof you really can find anything on the Internet: my quick search this morning turned up the newspaper ad for opening day at the theater where I saw Alligator back in November of 1980 — the Budco Barn 5 in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

1 Comment

Filed under DVD/Blu-ray News, Shout/Scream Factory, 1980, Henry Silva

Blu-Ray News #222: ffolkes (1980).

Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen
Starring Roger Moore, James Mason, Anthony Perkins, Michael Parks, David Hedison, Jack Watson, Lea Brodie, Brook Williams

Roger Moore made some really interesting films in the late 70s and early 80s — maybe out of guilt after appearing in Moonraker (1979). Andrew V. McLaglen’s ffolkes (1980, North Sea Highjack in the UK) is one of the better ones. (I’m also a big fan of 1978’s The Wild Geese.) Kino Lorber is bringing ffolkes to Blu-Ray, which I’m sure will make plenty of people very happy indeed.

With ffolkes, Moore gets to poke fun at the Bond thing — he’s an eccentric, bearded cat-loving terrorism expert instead of a suave playboy secret agent. He’s got a great cast along for the fun, too: James Mason, Anthony Perkins, Jack Watson, even Brooks Williams — who’s in a couple of my favorites, The Plague Of The Zombies (1966) and Where Eagles Dare (1969).

This is one of those movies where it looks like everyone was having a good time. It’s an under-seen gem. Highly recommended.

One final thing. The US poster for ffolkes is brilliant, with Bond artist Robert McGinnis spoofing his work for Diamonds Are Forever (1971).

3 Comments

Filed under 1980, Andrew V. McLaglen, DVD/Blu-ray News, James Bond, Kino Lorber, Robert McGinnis, Roger Moore

Blu-Ray News #169: The Changeling (1980).

Directed by Peter Medak
Starring George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere, Melvyn Douglas, Jean Marsh, John Colicos, Barry Morse

As I see it, The Changeling (1980) was one of the last really good horror movies. It’s just old-fashioned enough, while plenty modern — and it’s certainly scary. There’s even a strong murder mystery vibe to it. It’s really terrific.

George C. Scott’s a composer who, after his family is killed in an accident, moves into a Seattle mansion. It doesn’t take him long to figure out that something’s going on in his new home. Turns out Scott’s sharing his digs with the ghost of a murdered little boy, and that’s all you’re gonna get out of me.

Scott’s excellent, but the rest of the cast is just as good. Peter Medak’s direction and John Coquillon’s camerawork give us plenty of atmosphere, and Russell Hunter’s story is based on stuff he actually experienced in a mansion in Denver.

Severin has announced an upcoming extra-packed Blu-Ray of The Changeling, from a new 4K restoration. It’s also playing in New York this week.

I love haunted house movies — The Uninvited (1944), Robert Wise’s The Haunting (1963) and Legend Of Hell House (1973). The Changeling can hang with those heavyweights with no trouble. This upcoming Blu-Ray seems like a must.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1980, DVD/Blu-ray News, George C. Scott, Severin Films

May The Fourth Be With You.

God only knows how many blog posts will have that subject today.

But being that this is May 4th, the Star Wars day, here’s a post dedicated to my daughter Presley, who went Star Wars nuts over the last year.

The Empire Strikes Back (1980) is our favorite, so here are some location shots from the Hoth scenes.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1980, 20th Century-Fox, Making Movies