Wow, I got quite a bit done last night. I was able to watch two movies and write a column about them for The Hub, which means I'm now two weeks ahead of schedule. Last week's issue had my review of THE HILLS HAVE EYES (the original, of course). The new issue out today has SWAMP FIRE and CAPTIVE GIRL, the only two movies to co-star former Tarzan actors Buster Crabbe and Johnny Weissmuller. In fact, SWAMP FIRE is unique in that it's the only film in which Weissmuller ever played a character not named Tarzan or Jungle Jim. He appeared in a handful of movies playing himself, including the last three "Jungle Jim" movies, where he was really playing the same character, but the producers let the license lapse or something, and the character was renamed "Johnny Weissmuller".
The following week will be a look at two recent movies released directly to DVD (more or less). END GAME was presumably intended for theatrical release--it's a loud thriller with a good cast including Cuba Gooding, Jr., James Woods, Angie Harmon, Anne Archer, Burt Reynolds, Jack Scalia and David Selby--but Millennium/Nu Image probably lacked the funds to properly launch it, so it finally came out on DVD a couple of weeks ago.
I also wrote about LOST, which did get into a few theaters last summer and even played at a film festival or two as early as 2004. It recently came out on DVD, and is an interesting little thriller. Dean Cain, the former Superman who is all over the place these days, doing TV guest shots on LAS VEGAS and LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT, doing supporting roles in big features like OUT OF TIME (he was good in it), starring in DTV fare like DRAGON FIGHTER (which sucks) and FIRETRAP, is the star of LOST and practically its only on-screen actor. The term "tour de force" is tailor-made for Cain's performance in LOST, in which he plays an arrogant bank executive who loses his way figuratively and literally in the Nevada desert and comes into contact with vicious bank robbers led by the great Danny Trejo. There are some interesting story twists and good pacing in this low-budget movie, which lives or dies on Cain's performance. He's virtually the only face we see for 80 minutes, and you might be surprised to learn that he's up to the task.
UPDATED: I think I'm getting my weeks mixed up and I'm further ahead than I thought. Today's issue of The Hub should have my BILLY JACK review. I was reminded of it, because I just happened to hear the theme, Coven's "One Tin Soldier," on the radio coming back to work from lunch. I think the song is actually marvelous. Its lyrics are, okay, kinda corny, but Jinx Dawson, Coven's lead singer, has a great voice and makes the downbeat story pay off. "One Tin Soldier" was originally performed by a Canadian band called The Original Caste, I think around 1969 (I have three versions on iTunes: this original, Coven's original single, and a Coven remake with a fuller arrangement--that one's my favorite). That version is good too, and you can see how it would have appealed to Tom Laughlin, BILLY JACK's writer/producer/director/star. I don't know why he wanted a cover version for BILLY JACK's lyrical title sequence, but it put Coven into the Top 40 for the first (and only) time, and BILLY JACK was a huge hit, so I guess it worked out for everybody.