Dungeon Classics #23: Payback

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

Payback (1999, USA)

Director: Brian Helgeland
Cast: Mel Gibson, Gregg Henry, Maria Bello
Running Time: 100 mins.

In this highly entertaining remake of John Boorman’s Point Blank, Mel Gibson’s Porter (Lee Marvin’s Walker in Point Blank) takes on a powerful crime syndicate to get back the 70.000 dollars one of its members (Gregg Henry) stole from him. The cast of this little film is delicious, especially Gibson as the smart and ferocious robber (“what’s his first name?’ I don’t know, I’ve only ever known him as Porter”). Payback is like an ultra violent comic book noir movie with a wisecracking criminal in the lead who tears up the whole city for a lousy 70.000 bucks. It is the principle I guess. Why is Payback a Dungeon Classic? Because it is one of these special kinds of movies in which literally nothing sucks. Everything is kind of great about it, and that is why it deserves this special status. Get ready to root for the bad guy, is the tagline. And that is exactly right: you will be with Porter all the way. In Australia, where Mel Gibson was raised, they had to change the tagline by the way: to root is ‘to fuck’ in Ozzy slang.

Dungeon Classics #22: The Last Boy Scout

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

The Last Boy Scout (1991, USA)

Director: Tony Scott
Cast: Bruce Willis, Damon Wayans, Chelsea Field, Noble Willingham
Running Time: 105 mins.

The Last Boy Scout, which was written by Shane Black who also wrote Lethal Weapon, is an action packed buddy flick. A drunken and cynical L.A. snoop Joe Hallenbeck (Willis) teams up with the charming Jimmy Dix (Wayans), an ex pro football player, to investigate the murder of Dix’ girlfriend (played by Hale Berry). They stumble upon a major conspiracy by a bunch of mean gangsters who are corrupting sports betting in football. It’s a testosterone-fueled spectacle for men who were at the top of their game at that time (Willis, Scott, Black and producer Joel Silver). Apparently they hated working together and also changed the script, which according to Black was much better first (read it here). It still has the trademark coarse dialogue, humor and violence though. Willis and Wayans have a great chemistry (although they hated the collaboration they have said) and the movie has some awesome supporting parts; especially Joe’s foul mouthed daughter Darian Hallenbeck (Danielle Harris) is very memorable. The best reason to watch this is Willis’ delivery of terrific lines such as; ‘so you tripped, slipped on the floor and accidently stuck your dick in my wife?’ There is just no denying it; the guy has considerable talent as a leading man action star. And this is the perfect showcase for this talent. They don’t make ‘m like this anymore.

Dungeon Classics #21: Coffee and Cigarettes

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

Coffee and Cigarettes (2003, USA | Japan | Italy)

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Cast: Bill Murray, Tom Waits, Iggy Pop, Roberto Benigni
Running Time: 95 mins.

Coffee and Cigarettes is director Jim Jarmusch’s collection of 12 black and white shorts featuring mostly well-known people playing themselves. They all feature a duo sharing coffee and cigarettes in a bar or a lounge. Jarmusch can write great dialogues – he is up there with Tarantino and the Coen Brothers – and they are the best thing about this unique project. Then there is the wonderful cast: Bill Murray, Roberto Benigni, Steven Wright, RZA, The GZA, Steve Buscemi, Cate Blanchett, Isaach De Bankolé, Jack White, Meg White, Alfred Molina, Steve Coogan and others. Some of the shorts are better than others, but they are all worth the watch. My personal top 3:
3. Cousins (with Cate Blanchett & Cate Blanchett)
2. Those Things’ll Kill Ya (with Joseph Rigano & Vinny Vella)
1. Somewhere in California (with Iggy Pop & Tom Waits)
This is a movie that is just made for the coffee and cigarettes generation. My generation.

Dungeon Classics #20: From Dusk Till Dawn

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

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996, USA | Mexico)

Director: Robert Rodriguez
Cast: George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Juliette Lewis, Harvey Keitel
Running Time: 108 mins.

The early nineties saw the rise of filmmakers and friends Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriquez (they both debuted in 1992). They collaborated a number of times, but From Dusk Till Dawn is probably the greatest success in terms of cult appeal. Tarantino wrote the script and plays one of the lead roles and Rodriquez directed and edited the movie. The result is a cult classic. The first half is like watching a Tarantino neo-western crime movie. The dialogue is pure Tarantino and thus essential stuff for the cinema obsessive. The cast is excellent with Clooney in a formidable lead role as ruthless criminal Seth Gecko. The dynamic with his crazy, rapist brother Richard (played by Tarantino) ensures many extremely funny moments. During the second half, From Dusk Till Dawn surprisingly turns into a horror movie. A vampire flick to be more precise. It surely is thrilling, though not as good as the terrific first half. But some great supporting parts (by a.o. Fred Williamson and Tom Savini) add to the bloody fun.