AFTER DARK, MY SWEET (1990)

Directed By: James Foley 
Written By: James Foley & Robert Redlin 
Based on the novel by: Jim Thompson 
Cinematography By: Mark Plummer 
Editor: Howard E. Smith 

 Cast: Jason Patric, Rachel Ward, Bruce Dern 

An ex-boxer is drifting around after escaping from the mental hospital. He meets a widow who convinces him to help fix up the neglected estate her ex-husband left. Her Uncle talks them both into helping kidnap a rich boy for ransom money, and the ex-fighter must make decisions about his loyalties and what is right. 


This film was built up in my head over the years as a pulpy erotic drama. An undiscovered gem and over the years I avoided it to wait for the right moment to watch and appreciate it. And with that decision, I feel I doomed this movie to a level t could never live up to. I was Correct It’s not a bad film. 


 I like Rachel ward who I have been a fan of ever since the kidnapping thriller FORTRESS from the ’80s. Yes, I was into that 80’s fad of being interested in Australian culture. So her being in a erotic thriller. You would have thought I would jump at the chance to watch it as soon as possible. 

 I like how minimal this film is, for a major release it has a relatively small cast and really feels like it takes place in a small town and community. James Foley expertly directs it. The color schemes of the backgrounds are rich and styled.
 I like the fact that the kidnapping plot of the film is dealt with as more of a side plot in the background to developing the characters and the drama between them. 

 I really enjoyed Jason Patric’s performance our protagonist who we don’t even know if he is all there mentally. The other characters are intense as you never know if you can trust them entirely. Constantly wondering are on the level or deceiving. So it makes the situations more interesting.

I almost wish Jason Patric’s character could be used in a television series of movies. That’s how interesting he is and maybe get a chance to learn about his past more.  One of my problems with the film is for a film advertised as being erotic there is one graphic sex scene that isn’t very long. It’s quiet and is more than halfway through the film and more passionate than anything else. 

 I also found myself lost a few times as in the film as far as the plot. It’s a slow film as dry as the land it takes place on. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. 

 It’s not a total disappointment but I can’t say that I entirely like it. It’s worth checking out. 

 GRADE: B-

MERMAIDS (1990)

 Directed By: Richard Benjamin 
Written By: June Roberts
Based on the book by: Patty Dann
Cinematography: Howard Atherton 
Editor: Jacqueline Cambas 

Cast: Cher, Bob Hoskins, Winona Ryder, Christina Ricci, Michael Schoeffling, Caroline McWilliams, Jan Miner 

An unconventional single mother relocates with her two daughters to a small Massachusetts town in 1963, where a number of events and relationships both challenge and strengthen their familial bonds.


Cher is the Star of the film even though the film is more centered around Winona Ryder’s character and is at heart a coming-of-age film. Her character ark is a kind of sneak attack where all of a sudden the supporting performance is actually the main one. By the end, we realize she is the film’s heart and soul. 

Here the main spectacle was supposed to be Cher as after all she is the star of the film and is center stage in all the advertisements but while she is healthy in the film she comes on strong at the beginning then becomes more of a supporting background performer. The nemesis to a certain degree of the protagonist is her daughter played by Winona Ryder.

This is a film that is dependent on each element. As only Cher had the star power and the cool to be the spectacle. She ends up doing good character work, but also she is the only person at the time who could play a fabulous independent female character. who is strong and knows what she wants and is not ostracized for it. Where it fits her personality to a t. It also allows for her to shine as a character and show more shades and a bit of vulnerability.

If anything I applaud this movie for its cast. Young Christina Ricci’s debut film and Bob Hoskins as Cher’s love interest and father figure to her daughters. A shoe salesman who is an artist at heart and open-minded, who tries to domesticate the family but not forcefully. He is understanding and a nice guy. Not to mention Michael Schoeffling is older, but kind of playing an older version of the same type of character he played in SIXTEEN CANDLES more of a mystery but genuinely a nice guy

Though Winona Ryder at large walks away with the whole film. Playing a teenage neurotic girl who also is the narrator and makes this almost a woody Allen Esque adventure in pursuing a crush. Only while the film seems that way it is about more than that. As she is driven by teenage angst and catholic religious obsession. Not to mention the changing and challenging times of the 1960s

Directed by Richard Benjamin who was a replacement for original director Lasse Hallstrom. and then Frank Oz. Before he finally came along. Whereas you could see Hallstrom’s version in your thoughts. Richard Benjamin’s direction is sensitive and strong.  Even more impressive that he was more of a last-minute replacement. One of his best-directed pictures. While some others came close this was truly his most heartwarming and dramatic that hit all the buttons. His best next to this movie MY FAVORITE YEAR.

By the end, the film shows how when young something can be an obsession you think about day and night but also how once something new comes along it can easily be dropped and forgotten entirely. It’s a quality of youth but might also be an inherited quality. 

Though this film at times might seem more formulaic, one quality the film possesses. Is that it feels lived in. It’s comfortable and feels more natural. The habitat of the characters is refreshing and gives the scenes so much more strength and allows them to be subtle when they need to be. 

The film even has a memorable soundtrack. Including the theme song which is a remake but sung by the star Cher. 

I will admit this is more of an underrated film that I have enjoyed ever since it came out. 

Grade: B

PLEDGE NIGHT (1990)

Directed & Edited By: Paul Ziller
Written By: Joyce Snyder 
Cinematography: Big Paul Smith 

Cast: Todd Eastland, Dennis Sullivan, Craig Derrick, Shannon McMahon, David Neal Evans, James Davies, Joey Belladonna, Will Kempke, Michael T. Henderson, Robert Lantini 

A college fraternity in the middle of hazing their new pledges during “hell week” incur the wrath of a long-deceased pledge who died during a hazing gone wrong 20 years ago.


This is what secondary markets were made for, as this is definitely a movie you would more capture on the straight-to-home video market or see on cable late at night. 

As it is lower budgeted and calls itself a horror film which it is, but actually is more like a comedy most of its run time about the hardships of pledging and then in the final act becomes a horror film.

Which at first seems like it will be about one of the frat brothers finally losing it and snapping into the role that he has been given to be the disturbed frat brother, but then it ends up being a supernatural tale.

Acid Sid the evil spirit seemingly bent on revenge is obviously the filmmakers trying to create an iconic horror character ala, Freddy Kruger. Who is not only a killer but the conductor of violence, a horror mascot, and vigilante as well as comic relief with his own liners.

The film has stilted and awkward acting and while it’s not the best-made film. It is entertaining in a simple, bad, and cheesy, it’s kind of way. As you can see the filmmakers are trying to have their heart and imagination in the right place.

The film is exploitive with plenty of nudity and sex with a misogynistic attitude throughout. Which also challenges the film’s villain’s mentality. Where this spirit is seeking revenge so it makes sense to kill the frat brothers and even the pledges who swear allegiance to the frat, but the sorority sisters might seem like collateral damage or maybe as collaborators so they are just as guilty but for some kills, they seem like more innocent victims there to up the body count and for nudity’s sake. Their kills seem more mean spirited

Even though as you get to know the characters you know who will end up being victims, but never in which order or how. This should be the new challenge to horror film fans who always can predict what will happen or how it will end. Challenge themselves with trying to come up with the kill order of the main characters. Not random one-scene characters who are collateral damage or in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Again this film is unintentionally campy and seems to be the type of film USA’s UP ALL NIGHT would have shown and appreciated giving the film the audience it craves. 

Unfortunately, this is left as a relic of another time. Hopefully to be discovered and either appreciated or ridiculed by an audience. 

Though it definitely plays more for a horror crowd who don’t mind their entertainment a little cheesy and somewhat predictable. It’s a good bad movie. 

Grade: C

THE HOT SPOT (1990)

 Directed By: Dennis Hopper
Written By: Nona Tyson & Charles Williams 
Based on The book “ HELL HATH NO FURY” by: Charles Williams 
Cinematography: Ueli Steiger 
Editor: Wende Phifer Mate

Cast: Don Johnson, Virginia Madsen, Jennifer Connolly, Willam Sadler, Barry Corbin, Charles Martin Smith, Leon Rippy, Jack Nance, Jerry Hardin, Virgil Frye 

Upon arriving at a small town, a drifter quickly gets into trouble with the local authorities – and the local women – after he robs a bank.


This is one of those films I have heard about over the years that has gained a certain reputation. As for some, it’s a lost classic for others it might be an overhyped potboiler. 

The film seems to be slow as the story is revealed in what feels like real-time. Which could feel monotonous for some audience Members, but actually works for the film. Not only as a slow burn but leaves the audience to kindly walk in the shoes of the characters. Never quite knowing what is going to happen next or the next shoe is going to drop.

As we go throughout of course this is a noir tale that feels familiar. As we recognize the types but still offers surprises. As to the depths of certain characters and the ever-present blackmailing of characters.

Though from the outset it seems obvious who is going to fall into bed with whom. As the obvious more attractive members of the cast are set. Showing who are the true stars of the film. They work in their roles but can’t say they subtly appear with the rest of the cast.

As director Dennis Hopper has so much talent in front of the camera and behind. Filled with plenty of character actors who more set the scenes even though they don’t have much to do but be there and be witnesses to the actions going on around them.

This fits into noir more comfortably as it is a cynical film where the more innocent characters are either made to suffer or are natural-born victims. Whereas the more deprived characters seem to be the more successful ones and the ones the film and more interest in as more naturally they are more interesting even if they all don’t make it to the end.

The film has the aura of the type of film you would find for straight to cable or straight to how. Video in it’s days of release. That is how it was more discovered after being a box office bomb. Though it clearly deserved more credit than that. 

While the film certainly feels dirty and sleazy. it never quite feels as erotic or sexy as it should. That element while here and strong, especially As Virginia Madsen scorches the screen and has one of her finest performances. As a character who could easily have been cliche but offers up some surprises. It never feels like it rises to the occasion.

As it feels though, a driving force to the story oddly secondary and more means to an end. It’s necessary but not concentrated and maybe Dennis hopper as a known hedonist decided to try to pull back a little and focus on performances.

Strangely Dennis Hopper directed movies other than EASY RIDER & OUT OF THE BLUE. Always come off as sterile to a degree which includes this one. Though that might be out of expectations considering the man and his legacy. His later directed films seem more sedate as they slowly come from wilder independent to oddly more mainstream studio films. 

Jennifer Connolly plays the young innocent who is hiding her own secrets though also pulls at the heartstrings of the amoral drifter. Who he kind of see’s as his salvation or someone for him to rescue. As she seems usually In over her head or taken advantage of. Though in this film there is no denying her talent or her beauty.

As here he makes no short cuts or quick cuts. It feels kind of old school. As when these types of stories are brought to the big screen. Commonly they either play slick like they are smarter than the audience or believe the audience knows all the cliches so they offer more a sense of humor or spin on them or they tighten the narrative and scenes so much that each one feels either rushed or full of tension even when there doesn’t need to be. 

This takes its time and still offers up its own little surprises as well as what is expected. 

Grade: C+

BLOOD GAMES (1990)

Directed By: Tanya Rosenberg
Written By: Craig Clyde, James Hennessy & George Saunders 
Story By: Jim Makichuk 
Cinematography: Sam Gart
Editor: Rick Mitchell

Cast: Gregory Scott Cummins, Laura Albert, Shelley Abblett, Luke Shay, Ross Hagen, Don Dowe, George Buck Flower, Julie Hall, Paula Manga, Sabrina Hills

A team of softball players get lost in the woods after their bus breaks down. They get attacked, beaten, raped and murdered by some psychotic men. The women fight back with baseball bats and bows and arrows.


This film is quite the throwback. As I believe i saw this back in the day on late-night HBO as a kid.

The film is simple and stupid yet entertaining. As it was released in 1990 but feels made from pure 1980’s ideas all the way.

As essentially it pits an innocent team of female softball players versus what seems like a whole county of evil redneck men bent on revenge. Even though the females are assaulted the perpetrator is killed by accident but he is seen as innocent and the ladies as bloodthirsty. 

The film is made by a female filmmaker. So that it feels more sympathetic to the female character as heroes and survivors. Even though they have short-cut tight semi revealing outfits. They are rarely nude and the sex that the film shows is violent and involves rape. So that while it heaps on the violence. It stays not explosive when it comes to sex and nudity. Giving the female characters a sense of pride. It treats them more as human beings and less as sex objects. They are treated more respectful 

Even when it comes to the deaths of characters. When it’s a male you feel a kind of happiness. More like they deserved it. Whereas when it is a female character it is tragic and makes you in the audience want to get emotional. 

The villains come off at times as more comedic releif than at least two of the characters do. Who manages to survive despite being thought of, or left for dead in many accidents throughout. Though early on they are more comedic releif until the hunt begins. Where they are rarely scary just armed doofuses and then only own becomes a threat later in the film. Even though most of the male characters believe themselves to be badass. That only appears to be true in numbers.

Titillation was used to their advantage constantly though more accidentally and as a survival technique. 

The film stands as a kind Of statement in a genre that usually leaves female characters as the damsels in distress who can’t help themselves, wives & girlfriends meant to be by someone’s side but barely have anything to do or as sex objects. This film sets the female characters apart from that not necessarily in a better quality of filmmaking.

The one Minority character gets killed off early and quickly. 

The initial premise that sets this film up is ridiculous. Why would the females team coach/manager trust the town’s matriarch in a fair game? Also is the female team professional traveling along to take on exhibition games and pick-up games? Are they hustling unsuspecting towns and teams which should be tipped off by their team bus and matching uniforms? Are they using sexism to help them be underestimated and hoping that by showing their talent that men will see them in a different way and then be respectful? That seems like the premise for another film. As this film seems to want to set up and get to the action quickly. 

The film is barely 90 minutes. Though while it doesn’t feel longer than Its running time. It could have been easily 10 minutes shorter 

This film is ultimately meant to be a tale of survival. 

Grade: C+

WELCOME HOME, ROXY CARMICHAEL (1990)

Directed By: Jim Abrahms

Written By: Karen Leigh Hopkins Cinematography: Paul Elliott

Editor: Bruce Green

Cast: Winona Ryder, Jeff Daniels, Laila Robins, Frances Fisher, Dinah Manoff, Thomas Wilson Brown, Graham Beckel, Stephen Tobolowsky, Robin Thomas, Beth Grant, Heidi Swedberg, Carla Gugino, Ava Fabian

 Although Roxy left town more than fifteen years ago, her memory has never faded. Her expected return starts to impact a number of lives, including that of her former partner Denton Webb. But it is Dinky, the adopted daughter of the Bossettis and ignored by most of her classmates as a strange loner, who may be most changed. She is convinced she is Roxie’s secret child.


I saw this movie in a sneak preview when I was around 12 years old. I was very excited to watch it. As at the time I was still nursing a heavy cinematic crush on Winona Ryder after the 1, 2 punch of HEATHERS and BEETLEJUICE. She was my type of lady.

Unfortunately at the time while I thought the movie was ok on the end i found it disappointing, so disappointing I avoided it over the years and considered it a minor failure. She came back later that year with the far better (to me at least) MERMAIDS. starring with Cher and a young Christina Ricci. 

I decided to watch this film once again recently and while it’s still not a favorite. It is more understandable to me now more so then when I was younger. I seemed to miss quite a few things.

Like the lesbian relationship between two characters. That watching it now seems brave for that kind of material at the time. It also explains why the character of Dinah Manoff is so obsessed with Roxy Carmichael’s return. At first thought it was a rivalry and jealousy thing. Now realize it went much deeper than that.

While it follows a similar tread of Jeff Daniels character. His is more understandable as they had a relationship and Carmichael’s relationship with Manoff’s character seems more like a friendship that had a fling. Though both are felt deep and fell hard by this woman and hurt by her leaving. 

At least Daniels character seems to try to get over her by getting married and having children but can’t seem to let her go. So her return makes him kind of obsessed and slowly eats at his wife. Who knows she can never be number one in his heart. 

The film’s clear star is Winona Ryder as even as an ensemble she is in the middle of it all and the film is built around her upcoming stardom

The movie breaks down more into a small town ensemble film. Where we meet many characters and see how their intermix and mingle in this town. As the big event is the return of hometown hero Roxy Carmichael. 

The feelings and situations this creates that ultimately by the end comes to a head but also ends up almost much ado about nothing.

While Ryder’s character is one of many she makes the impression the most as she is an outsider in this town and looking to escape. As she Is adopted she latches onto the legend that Roxy Carmichael has a daughter she gave up for adoption. That she must be her as she is so different from everyone in the town. Even as a boy in town is falling for her but is embarrassed by his attraction because of what his friends might think. Add to it her adoptive parents where only the father seems to get along and care about her. Also the only friend the girl seems to have is a teacher who tries to defend her against bullying. Whereas other teachers turn a blind eye.

Another aspect I never realized was that all of Roxy Carmichael’s songs are sung by Singer/Songwriter Melissa Ethridge who was a rising singer-songwriter at the time and whose music i didn’t notice or become a big fan of until she did the soundtrack for the Movie WHERE THE DAY TAKES YOU. 

Directed By Jim Abrahms who usually directs spoofs and occasionally directs dramas. He gives the film heart and a few laughable scenes.

This film feels more like a novel brought to life. That is entertaining enough even if it Never feels quite like it comes alive. Not does there seem to be a point to it all. Just a slice of life. That tries to be filling but comes off sweeter than anything.

Grade: C+

FLATLINERS (1990)

FLATLINERS, Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Oliver Platt, William Baldwin, 1990

Directed By: Joel Schumacher
Written By: Peter Filardi
Director Of Photography: Jan De Bont
Editor: Robert Brown 


 Cast: Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, William Baldwin, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, Hope Davis, Kimberly Scott, Aeryk Egan

Medical students begin to explore the realm of near death experiences, hoping for insights. Each has their heart stopped and is revived. They begin having flashes of walking nightmares from their childhood, reflecting sins they committed or had committed against them. The experiences continue to intensify, and they begin to be physically beaten by their visions as they try and go deeper into the death experience to find a cure.

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REVERSAL OF FORTUNE (1990)

reversaloffortune

Directed By: Barbet Schroeder
Written By: Nicholas Kazan
Based on the book By: Alan Dershowitz
Cinematography By: Luciano Tovoli
Editor: Lee Percy 


Cast: Jeremy Irons, Ron Silver, Glenn Close, Annabella Sciorra, Uta Hagen, Christine Baranski, Julie Hagerty, Fisher Stevens, Jack Gilpin, Felicity Huffman, Bill Camp, Lisa Gay Hamilton 


Alan Dershowitz a brilliant professor of law is hired by wealthy socialite Claus von Bulow to attempt to overturn his two convictions for attempted murder of his extremely wealthy wife. Based on a true story the film concentrates not on the trial like other legal thrillers, but on the preparatory work that Dershowitz and his students put in as they attempt to disprove the prosecution’s case and achieve the Reversal of Fortune of the title.
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CRY BABY (1990)

cry-4

 

Written & Directed By: John Waters
Cinematography By: David Insely
Editor: Janice Hampton 


Cast: Johnny Depp, Amy Locane, Polly Bergen, Ricki Lake, Traci Lords, Susan Tyrrell, Troy Donahue, Willem Dafoe, Patricia Hearst, Iggy Pop, Joe Dellasandro, Darren E. Burrows, Mink Stole, Joey Heatherton, Kim McGuire, Stephen Mailer, Kim Webb, Alan J. Wendl, David Nelson

Allison is a “square” good girl who has decided she wants to be bad and falls hard for Cry-Baby Walker, a Greaser (or “Drape” in John Waters parlance). Spoofing Elvis movies and Juvenile Delinquency scare films of the ’50s, this movie follows the adventures of Cry-Baby who, though he is sent to juvie, is determined to cross class (and taste) boundaries to get Allison back.

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