Friday, February 3, 2017

I Stream, You Stream Vol. 19

by Patrick Bromley
Get ready for 1987 week with these streaming picks!

F This Movie Fest 6 is taking place on February 11,  which means all next week we're celebrating the movies of 1987. Spend this weekend putting yourself back in an '87 state of mind with some of these selections.
Black Widow (1987, dir. Bob Rafelson) This is the kind of movie that really doesn't get made anymore: a smart, literate thriller for adults. Even more incredible is that it stars two women (Debra Winger and Theresa Russell) who are written as intelligent and capable and do more than fight over a man. Both stars do some of their best work in this story of a possible murderer (Russell) who marries rich men and kills them for their money; Winger plays the DOJ agent trying to take her down by befriending her. It's a neo-noir lost to the annals of random cable television sightings, but it deserves better. (Watch on Netflix Instant)
The Untouchables (1987, dir. Brian De Palma) Outside of maybe Mission: Impossible, this gangster classic (a David Mamet-penned adaptation of the 1957 book and subsequent TV series) is probably Brian De Palma's most commercial movie. It's a film that's accessible to mainstream audiences while still retaining so much of the style and movie-ness that makes De Palma great and one of those rare blockbusters where everyone is working at the top of his or her game, from the incredible cast to De Palma to Mamet to Steven Burum as DP to Ennio Morricone's score. It's a first-rate entertainment that never panders or insults your intelligence. It's also a hugely important entry in De Palma's filmography, as its success is what allowed him to make his longtime passion project Casualties of War. (Watch on Hulu)
Bad Taste (1987, dir. Peter Jackson) I said in the original post for F This Movie Fest that '87 is maybe one of the last great years for a certain kind of genre movie that was popular in the '80s. Here's a movie that's both the proof and the exception to that rule. On the one hand, this gory, absurd New Zealand comedy is right at home in the imaginative practical effects horror of the decade, but to suggest that it's the beginning of the end is inaccurate as this is the first feature from writer/director Peter Jackson, who would go on to make a bunch of cool movies and revolutionize the industry for both better and worse. I wrote about where Bad Taste fits into his career after revisiting the movie a year ago; give it a read after you watch this one. (Watch on Amazon Prime Video)
Over the Top (1987, dir. Menahem Golan) I always think that Sylvester Stallone went through a major slump between Rambo: First Blood Part II and his 1993 comeback in Cliffhanger and Demolition Man, but that's forgetting that one of his best movies -- Tango & Cash -- was released in 1989 (#KurtRussellRule). But I think I perceive the slump thanks to movies like this one from 1987, in which Stallone plays a truck driver named Hawk who's trying to reconnect with his son and win a bunch of arm wrestling tournaments. My love for Cannon Films is well-documented on this site, and Over the Top finds them making a grab at legitimacy with a big star vehicle that's as much family drama as it is exploitation. I don't think it works and the movie is a ways down on my list of favorite Stallone films, but it's a fascinating look at where both the star and the company were in 1987. Between this and Masters of the Universe, '87 marked the last big attempt by Cannon to play with the majors. It was all downhill after this. (Watch on Crackle)
Jack's Back (1987, dir. Rowdy Herrington) The first feature from gaffer-turned-filmmaker Rowdy Herrington (best known as the man who gave us Road House) is a nifty little thriller featuring James Spader in a dual role investigating a series of murders that appear to be copying from Jack the Ripper's playbook. There is style to spare and there are genuine surprise to be found which I dare not reveal, but this is probably my favorite of all Herrington's work. The presence of Cynthia Gibb has never hurt a movie. (Watch on Shudder)


  1. I think JACK'S BACK is a truly solid little number. Young edgy Spader was a fun Spader. Also I cannot second the Cynthia Gibbs sentiment enough.

  2. The Untouchables is also available on Amazon Prime, for anyone who doesn't have Hulu.

    I've been meaning to watch it for the longest time. I've yet to see a lot of De Palma's "prestige" movies like The Untouchables, Scarface and Carlito's Way. I should really try and remedy that asap.

  3. Holy shit. This could've very easily been the line-up for #fthismoviefest 6. Fantastic list.

  4. How dare you sir. Over the top is a master piece

  5. I watched this again not too long ago and I'm thinking that the title is in reference to the son's performance. Over The Top is basically Kramer Vs Kramer with arm wrestling, but in the best possible way. I'm pretty sure Lincoln Hawk (pure gold) drives his truck through a house full of people in an effort to prove what a great father he is. I've also found the source of the friction between the father and son. It's the Hawk name. Who would want to go through life as Mike Hawk?
    Also, other than Ghostbusters and Purple Rain, was Kenny Loggins required by law to submit songs for every movie that was made in the mid-80s?