Dungeon Classics #6: Escape from L.A.

FilmDungeon’s Chief Editor JK sorts through the Dungeon’s DVD-collection to look for old cult favorites….

Escape from L.A. (1996, USA)

Director: John Carpenter
Cast: Kurt Russell, Steve Buscemi, Stacy Keach
Running Time: 101 mins.

In 2013, an earthquake has separated a ruined L.A. from the rest of the United States. This is now the place where the government – which is run by a religious nutcase – sends their outcasts and prisoners. When the daughter of the president is kidnapped by a Che Guevara-like revolutionary, the eye-patch wearing Snake Plissken is send to retrieve her from Los Angeles. Turns out, the daughter stole a secret weapon – the Doomsday Device – that America can use to destroy its enemies, or vice versa. As soon as our cynical hero, played by the terrific Kurt Russell, arrives in L.A. it is non stop action delivered with a big smile. Carpenter and his team obviously had fun coming up the inventive set pieces, like the Hollywood sign on fire. The colorful cast of supporting characters Snake meets on his journey, includes some of the finest cult actors and actresses: Peter Fonda, Valeria Golino, Bruce Campbell, Steve Buscemi and Pam Grier. A bleak vision on the future of America that is over-the-top, but – amazingly – still rings true in a sense.

Dungeon Classics #5: Escape from Absolom

FilmDungeon’s Chief Editor JK sorts through the Dungeon’s DVD-collection to look for old cult favorites….

Escape from Absolom (1994, USA)

Director: Martin Campbell
Cast: Ray Liotta, Lance Henriksen, Stuart Wilson
Running Time: 114 mins.

Actually, this movie – also known as No Escape – is not that good. But it’s childhood nostalgia and has a few things going for it. Ray Liotta is a great actor for starters. And the costumes, that remind of Mad Max, are awesome. In the year 2022 (close now) all US prisons are run by private enterprises (sounds realistic enough). Liotta’s character is a marine who has shot and killed his commanding officer. He is shipped off to a desolated island where there are no guards and no walls; convicts run the show. There are two camps: the barbaric outsiders and the more civilized insiders. Liotta joins the later. He has escape on the brain constantly… but first, there is some fighting that needs to be done. From the producers of Aliens and The Terminator, the tagline promises. No, it’s not that good, but like I said: sweet memories.

Why Bringing Back Palpatine in Ep IX was the Right Decision

Like always when a Star Wars movie is released, the fans and general public are bitching and complaining. One of the major complaints about the recently released Episode XI: The Rise of Skywalker, was that it brought back the presumed dead emperor Palpatine. They think this is a chickenshit move to please fans who were unhappy about the direction the previous installment – The Last Jedi – was taking the franchise. I’m about to tell them why they are wrong.

First of all, if you accept the decision to make episode VII, VIII and IX in the first place, you’ll have to accept the rise of a powerful new enemy. It is called Star Wars after all; there has to be conflict between the forces of good and evil. This enemy must also be very powerful. At least as powerful as the defeated empire. Or there won’t be much tension. This new force of evil became The First Order.

Secondly, who is gonna command this mighty new enemy? It seemed that Supreme Leader Snoke was the brains behind it, but that would have been strange and unsatisfying. Don’t forget, it took Palpatine a whole trilogy (episode I, II, and III) to build up the Galactic Empire through an elaborate Master Plan. Are we supposed to believe that out of nowhere, a dark lord would arrive and overpower the newly established republic? No way. Only the master of the dark arts of the Sith could manage such a feat.

And thus, Palpatine somehow survived his fall in Return of the Jedi, and in the shadows of Exegol worked on his revenge. I like the idea that he created Snoke to do his bidding. And now, finally after 42 years of Star Wars films, he is finally defeated and the force is balanced once again. Yes I know, Anakin Skywalker had already brought balance. But again, if you accept the decision to make new movies in the Skywalker timeline, you’ll have to accept that there are still major tremors in the force that have to be evened out.

Yes, The Rise of Skywalker, is a safe movie. Rather than taking chances it sticks to the familiar elements Lucas created long ago. But it is visually stunning, features great acting, and brings an emotional punch or two. J. J. Abrams did an excellent job and now, Star Wars is really really finished. We might have to wait a very long time before the next really epic fantasy series comes along…

Perfecte kerstfilm: Die Hard (1988)

Mijn favoriete film voor de feestdagen. Een actiefilm met een intelligent script. Iets wat niet te vaak voorkomt. Bruce (wat is hij jong hier!) Willis speelt de eigenwijze New Yorkse agent John McClane, die op kerstavond in een groot kantoorgebouw te maken krijgt met een groep Duitse ‘terroristen’ (eigenlijk meer dieven), die luisteren naar namen als Hans, Karl, Marco en Heinrich. De perfecte schurken. Buiten het uitmuntende script is het vooral genieten van de optredens van Willis en lead terrorist Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), de briljante actiescènes, de humor en het prachtige camerawerk van onze eigen Jan de Bont. Zo worden ze niet meer gemaakt.