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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Announcement

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.

--Matt

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dangerously Close (1986)

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This is one I've been meaning to do for a long time, having not seen it in forever, and not knowing until I started this blog that it was an Albert Pyun film. Sometime in the mid-2000s I saw the video for the Smithereens "Blood and Roses", complete with the movie footage in it-- there's a version that doesn't have the movie footage-- and I really wanted to see this again, and just never got around to it. Now I'm here, and we're making it happen. Also, this has been reviewed by our friends Kenner at Movies in the Attic and Ty at Comeuppance Reviews, and both of them are pretty different from the one I'm about to write.

Dangerously Close is about a prep school that has been forced to allow poorer kids from outside the district to attend through a magnet program. These kids have been targeted by a school-run vigilante group called the Sentinels, and now the Sentinels have upped the ante to the point that a core group now kidnap kids they've identified as the worst delinquents, and they scare them in a game called Hunt Down, hoping they'll transfer soon after. Then we throw Danny into this. He's one of the poor kids, but he's also an overachiever and wants what the Sentinels were born with, and wants to befriend them instead of just clean their pools. But is he in too deep when their leader, Randy (John Stockwell), invites him to hang out with them, because Danny runs the school newspaper, and they want to recruit him for propaganda? And if he's in too deep, how does he dig himself out before he too is a victim?

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This one really worked for me. Very stylish, well shot, and I liked it as a different take on high school movies outside of "geeks" and "jocks". Haves vs. have-nots, but with the twist that you have Danny, who straddles both worlds due to his socioeconomic status, and doesn't know where he belongs, but ultimately is the one who can crack the case because of his ability to move in all circles. Then there's the soundtrack. I already mentioned the Smithereens, whose song plays over the credits. There's also Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love", a couple good ones from Depeche Mode and TSOL, and a great cover of "Suspicious Minds" by Fine Young Cannibals. This is just a good, 80s high school movie with loads of style and tension.

There is always the question, when you're dealing with an Albert Pyun film, of how much he had control over the finished product. Cannon and Golan-Globus were also the team that took Cyborg away from him, so you never know. If it is different, I'm curious to know to what degree, because this was pretty sweet, and I think he did a great job with it. I loved the overall mood of it, it was dripping with tension, but it looked very 80s, and he captured a lot of that. I saw somewhere that someone had this as Pyun's best, and though I wouldn't go that far, it's definitely a solid entry in his filmography.

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It's time to play everyone's favorite game: name that Pyun mainstay! We'll start with that dreamy fellow above us, Thom Mathews. Then there's the film's top billed star, John Stockwell, whom you may remember from Radioactive Dreams. Don Michael Paul was in Alien From LA (he also did Down Twisted, which is one we haven't gotten to yet.) DTVC favorite Anthony De Longis was in this, I believe, as the high school cop (I couldn't tell, because he always had his sunglasses on). De Longis was in The Sword and the Sorcerer. Finally, the girl who played Judy Jetson in Vicious Lips has a small cameo as a student council member. After all that, though, it would appear that Thom Mathews is the only real Pyun mainstay-- though I imagine he didn't know at the time how many more Pyun films he'd find himself in.

I mentioned the music above, but I can't write this entire thing without bringing it up again. Two Depeche Mode songs, which were fantastic. The biggest song was had Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love". My personal favorite was the Fine Young Cannibal's cover of "Suspicious Minds", which is also on their 1985 self-titled album. On top of that, the theatrical score was really great too, very Miami Vice, which added a haunting element to the rest of the mood. Part of the fun of revisiting an 80s movie is the music, and this doesn't disappoint-- I wonder if the soundtrack grossed more than the film did at the box office.

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Another thing I love is the one-piece bathing suit. Don't get me wrong, I'm as happy with a woman in a bikini as the next guy, but I still love the old one-piece, and we don't see it as often today as we did back then. Remember the girl in the hot white one-piece in Huey Lewis and the News' "If This is It"? Of course you do. Here we have Carey Lowell, she of Law and Order fame, and now Mrs. Richard Gere, rocking the one-piece on the beach. Earlier she wears it in and out of the pool in one of the coolest shots of the movie. I don't know if that's a black lit matte painting that he uses to get that look or what, but it was really cool (I stuck that one in the image page, which also has the Smithereens video for "Blood and Roses). Anyway, as we always do, here's to you one-piece bathing suit, you were one of the good ones.

And also as we always do, it's time to rein this in before we go completely off topic. This is only available on VHS, but it's affordable used so that's good. I had the Media Home Entertainment version, but it looks like there's a Vestron Video version out there as well. No idea on which is better, plus, a used VHS of this at this point isn't going to be in the best shape anyway (take a look at some of the images I grabbed for instance). I think this is worth getting though if you see it in an old VHS bin. Just a solid, 80s high school thriller, directed by Albert Pyun.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090904/

10 comments:

  1. This is one I've been meaning to review for awhile now, along with 'Radioactive Dreams.' For me, it is the perfect Pyun film for the period of his career in question (1982-1988)- it borders the earlier DIY films and the GG products, so it's a bit of a crossover to movies like 'Alien From LA' and 'Down Twisted.'

    Everything about it screams "twisted" John Hughes- the soundtrack is a bit more cutting edge than other films of the day (DM's Black Celebration?), and the acting (although LOL bad) and ambience really appeal to me.
    Great review! This has inspired me to actually get off my ass and write some more!

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  2. Sounds fun. I'll have to check it out. BTW: Don Michael Paul also wrote Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man!

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  3. two depeche mode songs? sold!

    that girl on the cover kinda looks like katie holmes, pre-stepford.

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  4. That's awesome man, I can't wait to see more of your reviews. I know your busy with other things. I'm glad you enjoyed this one as much as I did, because I really think he did a great job. And I like that description-- "Twisted John Hughes".

    I think both of you guys will enjoy this one. The girl is none other than Carey Lowell, from Law and Order. I still need to see Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, and I'm embarrassed to say I haven't yet.

    And SNS, of your two comments, I kept the one that had you signed in with your OpenID, that way people can jump right to your site by clicking on it. Was that the right move?

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  5. Great review! We loved the "Kroog Warrior!"

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  6. Hahaha, yes, I loved Kroog Warrior as well. Moe Porne mentioned him on Twitter today too. I loved it when he decked John Stockwell, then ran him through the cafeteria.

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  7. Haven't seen this in so long. I think when it first came out on video in '87. I must see it again. I remember liking it.

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  8. Thanks for the Review DTV. FYI - while those 80's songs were a big part of the inspiration of style, it was really the opera from Diva that really hooked me into the style. I loved Diva and was grateful to have Cannon provide the funds to get the 80's music plus the opera. This was my cut and only had to make a few changes. I enjoyed making the film and enjoyed the cast which included Dedee Pfieffer (Michelle's sister), and Robert Russler. It was the first film where I encountered a very young George Clooney as well during casting. It was Stockwell's first paid writing gig and he did a fine job. I'm always asked about that sign reading 3KM. Its because that was when the US was still thinking about going metric.

    Albert Pyun

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  9. I was dangerously close to commending you on an excellent review, but then you go and mention that you haven't seen Harley Davidson & Marlboro Man (DMP lost my respect by making a PG-13 Seagal, though)... It's still an excellent review. I also liked this. The 80s style and the music really worked. Funnily, I first saw this before a Miami Vice episode that also used the Smithereens song to excellent effect ("The Savage" from season 3). I read the other reviews and see their point, but for me, this wasn't so much about the plot as it was about the style and mood. I see we were on the same page there.

    OT: Charlies Napier has passed away. Silver lining in this cloud: he lived a long, good life and this gives us an excellent excuse to catch up on old Russ Meyer-flicks! Still, may he rest in peace. One of the few guys who really had a granite jaw.

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  10. TJ, the Napier news is sad, I'll probably do something next week for it, though I sent out a Tweet about it last night (you should follow me on twitter if you aren't already.) Oh, and good on the Miami Vice mention. I need to go back and watch season 3 again.

    Cinema Du Meep, this one does hold up over time, so if you can get your hands on a copy, I know you'll enjoy it.

    Albert, thank you again for stopping by and commenting, especially on the music, because I can't believe I forgot to mention the opera. I too loved the mood it added, plus it enhanced that haves vs. have-nots tension, because nothing is seen more as haves pastime than opera. I also forgot to mention Deedee Pfeiffer, even though I capped an image of her, so I'm glad you mentioned her too, I've always liked her. And George Clooney? That's fantastic. Was he trying out for a Sentinel role?

    I'm glad too that this was your cut, because I really enjoyed it. By the way, how are things going with Tales? Hope it's coming along well, and I can't wait to check it out.

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