Anchor Bay Entertainment has been releasing a nice selection of studio catalog films lately and unlikely trip of gems is definitely worth checking out.
First up is an early Robert Downey Jr. dramady called The Pick Up Artist co-starring 80s darling Molly Ringwald. One of the first waves of films that made Downey a star, The Pick Up Artist was touted as being the same type of film as the other brat pack films of the era but was actually more of a character drama than anything. Covering serious personal issues in the character of Jack Jericho, Downey brought a strange and alluring depth to what could have been a very two dimensional womanizer character. The same goes for Ringwalds character who could have been just another conquest but actually turns out to be a woman in debt to the mob. The story is very unconventional and can be quite dramatic at times, even with Downey’s strange hyper personality during this time period. You can see glimpses in The Pick Up Artist of not only the career Downey was to have ahead of him, but also his personal troubles.
Written and directed by James Toback, who later became an Oscar nominee for his screenplay for Bugsy, The Pick Up Artist is much more than it seems on the surface and is worth revisiting.
Next up was Silver Streak. The Gene Wilder/Richard Pryor comedy was a film I had always heard about and never had a chance to see. Wilder plays a book editor who takes a train trip from Los Angeles to Chicago and believes he witnesses a murder while on board. When no one believes his story, he does some investigating of his own along with a woman he meets, which only gets him deeper into the dark goings on aboard the ‘Silver Streak’.
This was just a hell of a fun movie and kind of a comedy riff off of classic Hitchcock films. Wilder is brilliant as usual but surprisingly Pryor does not even come into the story until later in the film, but when he does, he steals every scene he is in. This is classic stuff and especially for fans of Wilder, this is a must see.
Last in was a lesser known Roger Corman film from 1990 that I have been a big fan of since its original release, Frankenstein Unbound. A scientist (John Hurt) in 2031 is hurtled through time with his fancy car to Switzerland in 1817 and meets the real Dr. Victor Frankenstein, inadvertently helping his with his reanimation experiments.
This is a crazy movie that somehow worked and has pretty much all you could want and more in a great film. First off you get the best elements of horror and sci-fi working together in a tight and entertaining story, and you get it carried out by the likes of John Hurt, Raul Julia, Bridget Fonda, Jason Patric and Michael Hutchence in INXS. A wonderful blend of numerous genres, Frankenstein Unbound is fast paced, inventive and unique. Knowing this one is probably widely unheard of, this new release is a good reason to get yourself acquainted with it while you have the chance.
All films available now on DVD and Blu-ray. (Frankenstein Unbound on DVD only)
The Pick Up Artist – 3.5/6
Silver Streak – 4/6
Frankenstein Unbound – 4/6