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.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Down Twisted (1987)
This is one I've been wanting to do for a while now, and was excited when I finally got my hands on it. It's another Albert Pyun flick from the mid-80s, has a great cast, and looks like a great time. If it's half as good as Dangerously Close was, we should be happy.
Down Twisted is about a famous, priceless artifact that is stolen and replaced with a replica. The problem is, as it's being shipped back to LA, it's lost, and the parties involved are trying to get it back and figure out who the double-crosser was. Enter Carey Lowell, who is looking forward to her upcoming job interview so she can quit her dead-end waitress job and move-on-up in the world, Jeffersons style. Her dead-beat roommate just happens to be one of the people who knows where the artifact is, and she gets Carey all mixed-up in it. Now she's been shanghaied and shipped across the Atlantic to some Banana Republic with some weenie lawyer, played by Charles Rocket, that seems to know more than he's letting on. The only thing we know is this: when the deal goes down, it's going down twisted.
I really enjoyed this. It had a couple lulls, especially as the loose ends are sorting themselves out and coming together near the end, but overall it's just a fun 80s Albert Pyun flick. It has its Pyun mainstays, it has cool music-- including "No One Lives Forever" from Oingo Boingo and the "Suspicious Minds" cover by Fine Young Cannibals that was also in Dangerously Close--, and has tons of nice 80s style. I think it's one of those ones though where you really have to love the 80s to love the movie, because, as I said, it does have it's slow moments, and it might feel predictable; but if you get geeked from seeing Norbert Weisser, or Thom Mathews in a blue blazer, or Oingo Boingo playing over the opening credits, this is the flick for you.
I wonder how I'd feel about this film if this were review number 70 instead of 762, if I didn't get as geeked about Thom Mathews and Norbert Weisser as I do now with however many Pyun flicks under my belt. I guess what I would say is that I didn't enjoy Vicious Lips as much as this one, and I didn't enjoy this as much as Dangerously Close, so it's not just that I'll like any Pyun 80s flicks no matter what; but I still think it is good to control for my movie going experience as I recommend or don't recommend something. A lot of the fun in this is Pyun's ability to mix genres, and I loved how we have that low-budget 50s adventure flick combined with the style and aesthetics of the 80s-- plus, the 80s adventure flick post Indiana Jones; and I think it works better here than it did in Alien from LA.
One of the things Pyun is known for is his use of female protagonists, and this film is the first of three in a row where he first does that, the two after being Vicious Lips and Alien from LA. It's interesting, because when we think of Pyun, the fist things that come to mind are Sword and the Sorcerer, Cyborg, and Nemesis, which are all led by the classic male protagonist, but I think it's a testament to Pyun as a director that he's constantly trying to go outside of that tradition and give us female leads that are more than just damsels in distress. Carey Lowell here is essentially that first of many, and what I liked about her character was that she would fluctuate back and forth between assertive and vulnerable, making her the most realistic element in an otherwise larger than life movie. It didn't hurt that she's stunning too, and had a lot of close-ups.
It's time to play the Pyun mainstay game again, and we have some good ones here. First and foremost, Thom Mathews, who you can see is bleached blond and rocking a too sweet blue blazer in that scene above. He plays like a hatchet man or something, walking around with a gun with a silencer and a scowl on his face, chewing up scenery. Then we had Norbert Weisser, who has actually been in more Pyun flicks than Mathews. He plays the money man that wants to buy the artifact. After those two there's Nicholas Guest, who plays the guy that double crosses everyone, and is thrown out the window by Mathews. Australian Linda Kerridge plays Mathews associate. This is the first of three straight she does with Pyun, the other two being Vicious Lips and Alien from LA. Finally, in a small cameo, Don Michael Paul plays an airplane mechanic. He's best known for Dangerously Close, but also plays Kathy Ireland's jerk ex-boyfriend in Alien from LA.
Down Twisted can boast that it is the first big screen role for Courtney Cox, who would then go on to have a bigger role in another Cannon/Golan-Globus flick in the following year, Masters of the Universe. All she does here is bump into Carey Lowell as the two are waiting tables, then talks to Lowell about her job interview when their shift is done. I wonder if they pulled her off the Masters of the Universe lot, or if she needed to nail those two scenes in this in order to get the big role opposite Dolph. She probably made more per episode in the last seasons of Friends than the entire acting budgets of either of those films.
This is a used VHS only as far as I can tell, but it can be found for under $10, which I think is a good deal. If you're a big 80s person, or a VHS collector, this is one you should look for. Yes, it might be a little slow in parts, but it has tons of great names, a fun plot, and a solid mix of 80s style and 50s low-budget adventure flick. If you come across it in your travels, I think it's worth picking up.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092922/