Castor’s Underrated Gems – Bat*21 (1988)

Bat*21 streaming: where to watch movie online?

The heedlessly invigorating Bat*21 is fundamentally a role-reversal prequel to Behind Enemy Lines with Gene Hackman evading enemies on the ground while Danny Glover is his audio guide back to safety. Although Lieutenant Colonel Iceal E. Hambleton (Hackman) was a consultant for the film, it never panegyrizes him with untoward hero-worship. The film doesn’t sputter over prolonged introduction to Hambleton before he is deployed into North Vietnam. After a round of golf, Hackman is reconnoitering ahead of a bombing strike when missiles penetrate his aircraft.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Villain (1971)

Once more into the frat of Cockney hooliganism, Villain is a pungently facinorous crime drama which loosens the reigns from Richard Burton. Burton was usually the staid rock of Gibraltar in films but, as Vic Dakin, he is a frothing, on-the-verge-of-conniption thug. And he is sinfully jolly in the role. Along with the diametric casting, another variation to the recipe is that Vic is a preening homosexual who will mutilate a snitch and dangle the carcass of a balcony before serving breakfast to his invalid “mum”.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Lone Star (1996)

Lone Star (1996 film) - Wikipedia

In one of the sporadic examples of Chris Cooper in the lead role, John Sayles embroiders a tapestry of the imperialistic town of Frontera, Texas, in which the Mexicans outnumber Caucasians and yet still travail under them in subservient serfdom. At a PTA meeting, the history behind the Mexican Independence origins circa the 1860’s are vehemently debated as redacting the truth if the textbooks are guidelines and not veracious absolution. The proposition of a new jail is more about fear-mongering political gamesmanship than garrisoning the neighborhood. At times, Sayles is closer to a civic pundit than a filmmaker and yet, Lone Star is a punctilious, torrid, neo-western medley of Sayles’ novelistic proclivities.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Holocaust 2000 (1977)

The Chosen (1977) - IMDb

Holocaust 2000 (a.k.a. The Chosen) is usually disregarded as an Omen rip-off but it is much more prescient about the biblical apocalypse via ripped-from-the-headlines topics like thermonuclear power, a technocracy and the United States tampering with Middle East affairs. For certain, the Ennio Morricone score poaches the Latin chants from Jerry Goldsmith. Other than those overlaps and the ironically named Angel (Simon Ward) being the hellspawn of Satan, Holocaust 2000 isn’t lockstep in formulaic imitation.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – The President’s Analyst (1967)

The President's Analyst (1967) - IMDb

Psychotherapy was almost an anomaly in the late 60’s when holistic healing and astrology were paramount. Now, the profession of introspection is more pertinent. The fly-on-the-wall sessions between Sidney (James Coburn) and his patients are quite tantalizing and often feel like a breach of the confidentiality clause. In order to obviate litigation from the government, covert organizations are camouflaged as the Federal Bureau of Regulation (FBR) and the Central Enquiries Agency (CEA).

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Sitting Target (1972)

Amazon.com: Sitting Target: Douglas Hickox, Oliver Reed, Jill St ...

In the eruptive, lurid Sitting Target, the inimitable Oliver Reed is an incretionary “animal in a cage” as Cockney convict Harry Lomart. He does push-ups from the pipes above his prison cell. Moreover, Harry is not an alpha male who will be cuckolded during his 15-year sentence. Edward Scaife’s ultrastylish cinematography partitions the reflections during an increasingly moribund conversation between Harry and his wife Pat (Jill St. John) like split-screen panels.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Replicant (2001)

Replicant (film) - Wikipedia

For a science-fiction gimmick dabbling in cloning and symbiotic mnemonic cortices, the most fatuous element is Van Damme’s Tommy Wiseau wig. The neonatal technology for cellular duplication is sketchy and preposterous. Is The Torch so notorious that the NSA would experiment with such a financially exorbitant gamble to pursue him? How can the replicant recollect the Torch’s home invasions via osmosis?

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Darker Than Amber (1970)

Darker Than Amber movie poster

Firstly, this Travis McGee test run deserves better than an infuscate, pixelated VHS-rip DVD which was the only outlet to watch this humdinger. Walter Hill’s Extreme Prejudice and Trancers also suffered from similar transfer issues. The nighttime scenes are borderline indecipherable but the soundtrack isn’t terribly waterlogged thankfully. Beware, the DVD version that runs 91 minutes, it excises the film’s infamously dropsical scuffle and displays chopping editing for scene buttons.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Dark of the Sun (1968)

Dark of the Sun and Other Lot (MGM, 1968). Posters (2) (40" X 60 ...

Jacques Loussier’s progressive score tipples through the ear canals with mischievousness. A rescue-mission-as-subterfuge-for-a-treasure-trove framework is practically a porcine genre unto itself but it is the Simba Rebellion (as opposed to World War II Europe) as a backdrop and the central mercenaries that carve out the differences. Australian juggernaut Rod Taylor fraternizes seamlessly with Jim Brown who is less avaricious than his companion since he semi-sarcastically remarks that Africa is “his country”.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Possession (1981)

Amazon.com: Andrzej Zulawski's POSSESSION (1981) UNCUT Special ...

Sometimes the phrase “I don’t know” can be the most crippling statement. The uncertainty can propel people to extremism. Ingeniously, Sam Neill’s Mark is a castoff from a John Le Carre espionage novel. Andrzej Zulawski swirls the camera around Neill and his increasingly paranoid eyes dilate with furor. Like a scene from a Pink Panther movie, the couple sit diagonally from each other in a restaurant while Mark’s male ego is shattered irrevocably.

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