A War You Won’t Believe: First Blood and the Commercial Warrior

Sylvester Stallone has had quite the career.

Shooting to superstardom as boyish underdog Rocky Balboa, he would later become one of the most recognisable movie stars on the planet, sculpting his body and onscreen persona to shine as one of action cinema’s most indomitable forces. In the ’80s and ’90s, that’s where the money was for an actor of his profile. Movies such as Cobra, Cliffhanger and Demolition Man would thrill action junkies the world over, and Stallone had a knack for staying relevant. When it came to keeping his face in the limelight, Sly was second-to-none […]

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Kidnapped by K-Mart: Ruthless People and 1980s Amorality

A word of warning: if you haven’t already seen Ruthless People, then it’s best to go in cold, because it’s a deliciously, deviously plotted film, the kind that starts off with a great hook, gleefully allows itself to get tangled with all kinds of left-field threads and yet still manages to keep it all together.

The poster is clever (an enormous golden screw resembling an Academy Award) but ultimately gives nothing away. Of course, the trailer, in classic old-school fashion, gives almost everything away, so try to avoid that […]

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Shot to the Beat: House Party’s Rhythmic Revelry

The late 80s and early 90s saw an explosion of films that, at the time, were loosely referred to as urban or ‘Hood’ movies’.

It’s a crude term used to describe films that featured prominently black characters, usually set within a specific, limited geographical area or social setting that serves to define the significance of what is happening around them. Whether this be drug trafficking in New Jack City, gang or turf warfare in Menace II Society, the simmering racial tension surrounding Do the Right Thing or everyday life in the ghetto, portrayed so honestly, brutally and tragically in Boyz ‘N the Hood. Fuelled by the rising popularity of hip-hop and featuring […]

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The Burning (1981)

If you’re looking for an archetypal, non-franchise slasher, then look no further, because The Burning has it all.

In fact, Tony Maylam’s low-budget slice and dicer has all the prerequisites for a successful horror franchise: a horribly disfigured killer, an iconic weapon, and the kind of by-the-numbers revenge story that would provide the likes of Jason Voorhees with an entire decade of commercial decadence. Back before the movie industry became so regimented, producers were able to force their way into the industry with little more than a derivative screenplay and a cast of useless wannabees looking […]

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