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.

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


Monday, December 27, 2010

Sunset Heat (1992)


I saw Sunset Heat about five years ago on EncoreAction. It not only had DTVC Hall of Famer Dennis Hopper, but also Michael Paré, Adam Ant, Little Richard, and a musical score done by the legendary Jan Hammer (as an aside, Michael Talbott, Switek from Miami Vice, is also in this for two scenes as a bartender). The problem was, when I started the DTVC a couple years later, I couldn't find it. It took me a while before I finally tracked it down, but here it is, kicking off our Dennis Hopper tribute week.

Sunset Heat has Michael Paré as Eric Wright (not to be confused with Easy-E), a photographer with a past who returns home to LA from New York to see his buddy, Adam Ant. Turns out Ant's get rich quick scheme involves robbing some dudes involved in a drug transaction, and when the Candyman (the guy who played him I mean) recognizes his accent, and then his (Ant's) bumbling partner (Joe Lara in a tiny role) gives away that the Candyman is right, all hell breaks loose,a nd Ant runs off with the cash. Turns out the drugs were Hopper's, and he and Paré used to be partners in crime, before Paré went straight. Well, Hopper wants his cash back, and he has some leverage on Paré to get him to retrieve it.


I really enjoyed this movie. It isn't so much an action film as much as a sexy Film Noir thriller, with sex scenes that are more at home in a Skin-a-max flick. Paré and Hopper are at perfect in their Film Noir roles, definite throwbacks to their 1940s counterparts; but the film itself is definitely a product of its time, from the music to the clothes. The Jan Hammer music was great, but a little sparse, and that might be my only complaint. Throw in a bunch of great cameos, including Little Richard, and you have a winner.

It's great to be able to say this for the first time, but as always, we start with the film's Hall of Famer, which was Dennis Hopper. He always makes a great baddie, and Sunset Heat was no exception. You could tell that he understood the type of movie this was trying to be, and he really sold it. There's one great scene near the end, where he's in a limo with Paré's girlfriend-- who was Hopper's girlfriend, but before that, she was Paré's, it makes more sense when you watch the movie-- and I don't know if he forgot his lines, or the script called for him to improvise, but he seems to be looking for anything to say, and is going for anything he can find to prompt him. I think he said like five times "we're going to see your boyfriend!", and then he grabs her hands, which are bound in front of her, and he's like "and your hands are tied!" For me, that's part of what made Hopper great, that he could roll with punches like that in these lower-budget movies.


Mr. Kenner at Movies in the Attic has been wanting me to get more Paré up here for some time now, and I couldn't agree with him more, but every time I make an effort, something else always comes up and he gets pushed to the back. Watching him here, though, made me realize how bad that is of me, and that I need to make him a priority again. Yes, you get to see a lot of his bare buttocks, so depending on whom you're attracted to, that could be a plus or a minus. (There is plenty of hot chick nude action as well, so there's enough for everybody.) In Sunset Heat, he had a great combination of 1990s cool, with a throwback to 1940s Film Noir leading man aesthetic. His Brooklyn accent definitely helped, but just the way he carried himself, I can't think of any actor currently in the Hall of Fame that could've pulled his role off the way he did.

This film had a great supporting cast, as I alluded to above. You had Adam Ant, the Candyman, Little Richard, John Talbott, and Joe Lara. There was also Diagnosis Murder's Charlie Schlatter, and Daphne Ashbrook, who was in the Olivier Gruner film Automatic. This is one of the funnest things about watching DTV movies, seeing how many people I recognize in them. Sometimes it's like "oh, it's That Guy, who is that?", while others I'm like "holy shit, Little Richard! Yes, that's so awesome!" More DTV movies should recognize this and load up on as many recognizable names as possible, even if they're only in the film for a scene or two.


Speaking of which, do you recognize the woman above? If you do, you're better at this game than I am, because I didn't know who she was until I saw the name in the credits-- I didn't even think it was an actor worth knowing, I thought it was just an extra. Well, I was wrong, it's Julie Strain. What do you know, huh? This is it, her only scene. She plays a human statue, and hands this character actor in the picture with her a plate of strawberries or something. Can you imagine how much that catering company must cost? Hey, it was Hopper's party, he can afford it.

As far as I can tell, here in the States, this only available on VHS. Total shame, because it's really great, and worth checking out. I'd keep an eye out in bargain bins for it, or if you have digital cable, you may see it on one of the Encore channels sometime in the future.

For more info:


  1. Nice to see a review of this one!

    Also saw it about 5 or 6 years ago.

    Was doing a Dennis Hopper marathon. He's made a lot of odd movies. Very interested to see which Hopper movies you have coming up.

  2. I liked this one too. In fact I liked this and the even better Men Of Means which is also good film noir. The main reason I like Michael Pare is because he works so well in downbeat roles and film noirish films. In terms of action I liked Instant Justice, World Gone Wild and Blink Of An Eye but overall his best straight to video work is in fact when it comes to these noirish type films.

    He even made The Debt almost decent, as I still see that one as an interesting failure. The problem with that one is Lamas' serious miscasting.

    Pare is one of the more dependable actors in the market, so he's definitely a shoo-in for the hall of fame. Indeed he is far more consistent than C. Thomas Howell and he has charisma. Like I said, I like the guy. Streets Of Fire was my favorite movie with him.

    Dennis Hopper was great, I gotta say it's hard to believe Hopper died, not to mention that he didn't do many high profile roles after the 1980s. I mean aside from Speed, he just vanished, which he shouldn't have. Hopper was also in Luck Of The Draw with Eric Roberts, Sasha Mitchell, Michael Madsen,William Forsythe and James Marshall (Who I have no idea why he was the star) Indeed his speech to Sasha Mitchell and Eric Roberts on how they didn't want it enough was priceless.

    He was good in Land Of The Dead I guess, but one good role in the last 16 years is ridiculous. Harvey Keitel is going the same route. I think once you're a certain age it's too late to really be a star. I mean it's why Tarantino couldn't revive David Carradine or Pam Grier's career.

    Same thing happened to Bronson. Clint Eastwood would've had the same thing had he not directed. Women tend to stop making important movies at say 54 and that's if you're talented (Where is Ellen Barkin or Jobeth Williams?) with men it's like 66 or so. I mean Stallone is only big because he is directing his movies.

    DeNiro meanwhile is phoning it in, even Pacino you don't see much anymore. Michael Douglas (Wall Street 2 bombed, but before that...)James Woods, Nick Nolte and Danny Glover. You don't see these guys much anymore.

  3. I know, Ty, I've been wanting to do a review of it for a long time, and I'm glad I finally make it happen. Glad you dug this too.

    One of the things about Hopper, Kenner, is that he had issues with substance abuse, similar to Tom Seizemore. It led to many studios turning away from him, because they weren't sure what his work would be like. He did get it together, though, and I think in the 90s to 2000s he had a pretty solid string of roles. Maybe they weren't the best Hollywood pictures, but they were big names and pretty popular.

    Funny you should mention Luck of the Draw. I'm just sayin'...