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]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Postmortem (1998)

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I've had this one in my Instant Queue for awhile now, but it came to my attention when Albert Pyun mentioned it in a Facebook post (which, if you have Facebook, "liking" Albert Pyun is the best way to keep up with movie news and other projects he's working on) amid the turmoil surrounding Charlie Sheen. He talked about how professional Sheen was, even in the face of the long shooting days and the tight schedule. It made me think that maybe this was a good time to review this film too.

Postmortem has Sheen (credited as "Charles Sheen") as a former serial killer profiler who solves a grizzly child murderer case, which ruins him inside and causes him to turn to alcohol. The success of a book on the case gives him the financial freedom to runaway to Scotland, where he can bury his torment in alcohol even more. Problem is, a serial killer in Glasgow has targeted Sheen, dropping clues and even one of his victims in Sheen's backyard. Now he's in deep, and may even find redemption in solving another case.

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Let's talk about the movie first. This sounds like a gritty serial killer drama, and though it is, it had some interesting differences. One, the killings, instead of being extremely sadistic and gory, are very clean-- like literally. A very cool departure, considering what else was out there in the market at that time, and how much more gruesome the market would get. I also liked the sweeping crane shots, and constantly moving camera angles, which might have been more cinematographer George Mooradian. I usually don't notice technical aspects like that, but this was very apparent, and it served to give us, the viewer, a constantly shifting perspective, almost mimicking the detectives, Sheen and Michael Halsey, and the way they're constantly trying to see things in different ways. For the most part, I don't go in for movies like this-- and I wouldn't have this one either if it wasn't an Albert Pyun flick-- so I'm not sure how to recommend it, but if you like serial killer suspense movies, I think this one works.

It's hard in watching this now to not see similarities to Sheen's character and his life, both then and now. I have to imagine in acting for this part, that he was drawing on his own experiences with addiction, which made the role very compelling. What's happened now, though, in his real life, is that as opposed to the movie, where he could gain redemption by stopping a serial killer and saving a girl's life, to gain redemption for ruining his career through addiction and a hard partying lifestyle, he had to play ball, if that makes sense. He had to do the sitcom, and worse, he had to play the butt of Michael Jordan's jokes in underwear commercials. Can we blame him for wanting to break-out? The problem is, the average person says "why wouldn't you want to play ball? And if you don't, it must mean you've fallen off the wagon again", which isn't always the case. We'll see what happens, but I think judging from how well he was able to play ball for so long, his talent as an actor can't be in question.

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This is definitely a departure from what we're used to seeing from Pyun here at the DTVC-- and I probably wouldn't have done it so soon if it wasn't so relevant with current events, considering we have a few others of his, like Nemesis 4 to get to too-- but I'm glad I got to see it. Like I said above, I generally don't go in for this genre, but with the unique shooting elements, plus the Sheen redemptive aspect, it had a little more than your run-of-the-mill Kiss the Girls or The Bone Collector.

I really loved Michael Halsey in this, though I also loved him in Mean Guns. He plays a Glasgow detective who reluctantly takes Sheen's help, then grows to respect him. This kind of movie needs this kind of character, and often, in the big screen versions, they get an older bigger name who just mails it in. You know Halsey won't mail it in, and by not mailing it in, he plays the part he's supposed to play: the glue that keeps the rest of the film together.

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Another great performance was Ivana Miličević, who played a Scottish woman working under Halsey in the police department. Her accent had hints of Bosnia in it, which actually could've been a cool thing if they'd changed her character name to something Slavic, and had her be an immigrant; but the accent aside, she worked really well too. It's an easy move for film makers to throw her into a skimpy outfit-- though her skirts were pretty short here too-- and have her just be window dressing, but to have her be an integral part of the investigation, and to have her pull it off, was really cool.

This is currently available on Watch Instantly, and it might be worth giving a look, both in lieu of what's going on with Sheen right now, but also to see what Pyun does with the genre, and to see Sheen draw on the demons from his past back then to create a very compelling character. Of course, if you're not into this genre, those elements alone might not be enough to keep your attention-- even though they were for me.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0130192/

13 comments:

  1. Thought this wasn't bad. Most of the "Charles Sheen" movies were pretty silly though: Bad Day On The Block, Free Money, Letter From Death Row, and No Code Of Conduct.

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  2. This is a pretty cool flick. Sheen is good in it and it's an underrated Pyun effort.

    I thought No Code of Conduct was pretty good too...

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  3. Thanks Matt!

    Appreciate the look back at one of my DTV efforts from the 1990's. Charlie was wonderful to work with and enjoyed the people and crew in Scotland. Shot it all in 10 days. Sheen shot all his stuff in 6 days.

    By the way, the Cyborg Director's Cut has been preparing to ship and I can't wait for you to review!

    Also FOUND THE TICKER DIRECTOR'S CUT!

    Albert

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  4. I have to say that Post Mortem is one of my films that was released very close to the way I envisioned. I think the distributor came into the cutting room and made small changes that I was okay with.

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  5. I did do No Code of Conduct, and I would say the quality of that doesn't compare to this film.

    I had a hunch that this was one you had more creative control on, because it felt like such a departure from the norm in this genre-- which was very refreshing, so I'm glad it wasn't messed with. It seems like after Seven, the trend has been towards more and more gruesome, and Postmortem was the exact opposite. I also liked that you were able to get a guy like Michael Halsey to play the Scottish detective, because he really brought the whole thing together; and shooting in six days might have been the best thing for Sheen, because it probably forced him to let himself go into his character, which was what this film needed for it to work.

    That's great news about the Cyborg director's cut, and now there's a Ticker one as well? I can't wait to see that too!

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  6. Looks interesting. I may need to check this out one day.

    Albert, great news on a Ticker directors cut! It sounds like you are rummaging through a box of tapes that you found in the cupboard :D I look forward to receiving and hopefully reviewing my copy of Cyborg DC too. Also really keen to check out Bulletface!

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  7. Not a bad movie, remember renting it about 10 years ago (although MEAN GUNS is still my favourite Pyun movie, alongside NEMESIS and BRAIN SMASHER)
    Is the TICKER (Directors Cut) getting a release? As a unrepentant Seagal junkie, i'd give my best mates left nut, to see a copy!!!!

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  8. My Ticker director's cut was just found two days ago. The whole Cyborg Director's cut push has everyone I ever worked with hunting for my director's cuts of movies that were particularly butchered by studios (Nemesis, Ticker, Captain America, Radioactive Dreams and especially Adrenalin). I had found my cut of Captain america in storage last year. We are remastering it now for re-release in June.

    Ticker we will try to get out next. Kind of working my way through the worst butchered to least. After Ticker, Adrenalin.

    Thanks for everyone's support.

    Albert

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  9. It's going to be great to check these out, and it looks like Lee will be able to see a Ticker director's cut without forfeiting any of his friend's anatomy.

    Now we just need someone from Europe to come forward with that missing Air France crate with the footage from the three Urban pictures.

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  10. Boy...what an organization that is..Air France. We showed them the cargo manifest that revealed the movie reels were signed in at De Gaulle and at LAX...but no movie reels! They just shrugged their shoulders and said "It happens".

    Matt did you write to curnanpictures@gmail.com with your mailing address?

    Albert

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  11. I did, about ten days ago, and I got a reply from Cynthia about Tales and Captain America. I believe this was before Cyborg was found.

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  12. Matt - can you resend and put Review in the subject box to curnanpictures@gmail.com

    It's pure chaos here right now.

    By the way - I believe every shot in Post Mortem was done using a steadi-cam. It was a concept George and I discussed because I knew we had to find a style that would add style while allowing a very fast shoot.

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  13. Okay, I just sent it this morning. I can imagine things must be pretty hectic with Tales still finishing up and now all these Director's Cuts.

    Wow, a steadi-cam? That's really cool. I can see that for some of the shots, but other ones looked like they were done on a crane or a tracking device, the way the camera moved through the scene. It definitely worked though-- that style helped make the movie.

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