Castor’s Underrated Hallow’s Eve Gems – Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992)

What was almost a synergy between Ivan Reitman and Chevy Chase ultimately became a John Carpenter spy thriller. Which is probably for the best since Chase at this lull in his career was adamant about abdicating comedies for more serious roles. In that regard, Memoirs of an Invisible Man was a departure for both Chase and Carpenter and outside of the dazzling special effects (the bubblegum chewing is convincingly levitating), it is a swooning, hard-boiled adventure.

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Castor’s Underrated Hallow’s Eve Gems – The Brain (1988)

Canuckspoilation this is not. It must be a godsend to be an independent filmmaker in Canadian during the 70’s and 80’s considering the lucrative tax incentives that the crew would receive for production there. Films like The Brain were financed to capitalize on that loophole and predominantly, the creature design of Mark Williams which the film splurges no time on revealing after the opening credits.

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Castor’s Underrated Hallow’s Eve Gems – The Mangler (1995)

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Ted Levine needs a salt scrub and herbal skin treatment after seeing his pasty, perspiring complexion here. From the speed-ramping scene of him nearly colliding into a moving van to his ingestion of antacids (and booze), Officer Hunton (Levine) is a surly prick from the start. Yet it is refreshing to see such a loutish main character who is basically moonlighting in police work for the pension after twenty years instead of a good Samaritan.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Payday (1973)

Payday (1973)

Back in July of this year (2019), the entertainment industry mourned the loss of Rip Torn. A cousin to Sissy Spacek, Torn wasn’t a victim of nepotism. He earned his stripes through acclaimed supporting roles in The Man Who Fell to Earth, Cross Creek, Defending Your Life and above all, The Larry Sanders Show in which he was Artie, Larry’s intrepid, exhortative producer. Lead roles were Spartan throughout his prolific career but one firebrand role swaggered along with Payday, a corrosive portrait of a country singer with a self-destructive habit for lawsuits, promiscuity and volatile spells.

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The Reviewinator: Rambo – Last Blood (2019)

“In a way, it was funny, a seventy-two-year-old man setting the pace, running them all into the ground.” This quote from David Morrell’s original novel First Blood, though referring to a different character, has become strangely prophetic and frighteningly accurate when watching a 72-year-old Sylvester Stallone outlast, outshoot, and outslice the bad guys in Rambo: Last Blood. Though I’ve never been more curious to know if First Blood‘s original ending may have been a greater mercy for the franchise.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Loose Cannons (1990)

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The dreaded, infamous 0% on Rotten Tomatoes is a label to be both reviled for and applauded for. It’s as rare as white peacocks or purple carrots. However, the quantity of the viewers should also be titrated when evaluating whether a goose egg is earned or merely a biased sampling. Before writing my defense of Bob Clark’s offbeat action-comedy Loose Cannons, I found nary a positive review for this. This is a hill I must conquer and perish upon alone.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Schlock (1973)

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It’s common wisdom that comedy writer-directors should never moonlight as the main performer in their movies. Mel Brooks could be inconsistent and Seth MacFarlane is mostly inept. However, with the application of Rick Baker’s hirsute makeup, John Landis transmogrifies himself into Shlockthropus and it is not blandishing overstatement to say he is an uproarious silent comedian in the title role.

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The Reviewinator: IT – Chapters 1 & 2 (2017/2019)

I usually don’t combine reviews unless it’s a TV show, but since the two chapters of IT are clearly two halves of a whole, I decided to make an exception. Whereas the Stephen King book zig-zags between the child characters and they’re grown-up counterparts up to and including its climactic chapters, these modern film versions follow the same half-and-half structure as the 1990 made-for-TV original, with the kids’ story in the first half and the grown-ups’ story in the second.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Fierce Creatures (1997)

For years after A Fish Called Wanda (and the Oscar-garnering exhibition for Kevin Kline), the team behind the 1988 masterstroke dawdled to craft a reunion. While Fierce Creatures isn’t roborean with a heist plotline and the flatulence sound effects are sophomoric, it is an exuberantly funny follow-up with a loopy sense of humor (ex. The high-jinx with an animatronic panda).

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Toy Soldiers (1991)

Some characters never get their due. For instance, Andrew Divoff has forged a career of being relegated to sadistic psychopaths from the snarling biker in Another 48 Hrs. to the malevolent djinn in Wishmaster. In David Koepp’s innovatively formulaic, invigorating Toy Soldiers, his vaguely ethnic looks are reconstituted to be a Colombian terrorist and he is one of the keys to this derivative sleeper’s success.

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