The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at] I'd love to check out what you got.



Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Styx (2001)

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One of the reasons I have become a connoisseur of bad cinema is my constant inability to fall asleep at a decent hour. This is especially true when I'm crashing at another person's place. One time in particular, I was using a friend's couch, and decided to turn his TV on to the digital cable station that plays all 80s music in order to aid my slumber. The last song I remember that night was Styx's : "The Best of Times", and subsequently the song was in my head for two weeks straight. I thought I was over it, until I saw this movie at my local video store. Though I was happy I'd found another DTVC Hall of Famer Peter Weller film, I was dismayed that I would have to endure another week or two of that song in my head.

Styx has nothing to do with the aforementioned band, but rather the river, which I'm assuming the band named themselves after too, at least in some way. Anyway, Peter Weller plays a safe cracker, who with Cocktail and FX's Brian Brown and the guy who played Bobby the Bruce in Braveheart, plans a huge bank heist. It all goes wrong when one of their lesser accomplices is high on coke and botches the plan, leaving Weller and the Braveheart guy narrowly escaping an explosion in the ambulance they drove. Brown, surprising no one, survived as well. Robert the Bruce gets into it big with a loan shark, Eddie Tapioca, and he and Weller have to do one more heist with Brown. There's plenty of double and triple and quadruple crosses, none of which matters. We're watching this for Weller, not the plot.

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The Weller is fantastic. This is probably the highest quality Weller that didn't make it's way into mainstream cinema (I consider Buckeroo Bonzai to be mainstream, but maybe I'm wrong). His one liners and facial expressions are so perfect. Every scene he's in is fantastic. I'm not sure how many of the one-liners were his or the product of the script, but I'm certain that either way the delivery was all him. I found myself constantly doing the Tiger Woods "I just hit a birdie putt on the 18th to seal another major" pump fist in response to something Weller did. This was the '68 Bordeaux of bad action performances.

I did a review earlier of a C. Thomas Howell film called War of the Worlds which smashed the myth that Australians just by being in a movie are awesome, because that film's Australian was annoying. Well, this film was definitely not an exception like the Howell movie, because Bryan Brown was the man solely on the merits of his Australianess. In one scene he responds to a Weller query with "absa-fuckin'-lutely". Even better, at the beginning, after they're trying to escape the botched heist, Brown is beating the guy who screwed things up. It's one of the best beatings in a movie ever, especially in the way it seemed Brown would mix in more beatings in the middle of things like taking off his coat or asking how they were going to get away.

These two performances were extremely necessary, because this was a wafer thin plot mining material that's been way over used. You can only double cross characters so much before it's just hack writing. You could see Weller and Brown hoist this fucker onto the roof of a late 50s model Cadillac and carry it from start to finish with impeccable style. Robert the Bruce wasn't bad either.

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Robert the Bruce's gambling addiction was probably the only thing handled with style by the writers. First, there was an amazing five-card draw game, which is a rarity in films now after the meteoric rise in popularity of Texas Hold 'Em. After the game, The Bruce was confronted by a loan shark, beautifully named Eddie Tapioca. I get the sense that the immense creativity of the beginning of the film couldn't last to the end, and that's why the writing was so bad the further you got in. But these early gambling scenes were solid.

When you see this film on the rack of your video store, or listed in your program guide, you have to ask yourself one question: how much do I like Peter Weller. For me, the answer's obvious, and if it's obvious for you too, get your hands on this at all costs. Who cares how bad and unoriginal the plot is? This is vintage: Weller, maybe the best of all the films of his I've reviewed on this site.

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