Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Junesploitation Day 10: Cops!

Vigilante enforcers -- lurking in the dark...waiting to kill!

57 comments:

  1. THE TAKING OF BEVERLY HILLS (1991, YouTube, Chaybee: 6/4/2015)
    A victim of regime change after Orion's bankruptcy delayed its theatrical release by two years, this Sidney J. Furie joint (yeah, right!) takes the then-new "Die Hard" template and goes Wile E. Coyote with it. The only thing more awe-inspiring than $20 million worth of Mexican-built Beverly Hills homes blowing up is Ken Wahl's epic mullet. Whal and sidekick Matt Frewer (apparently the only honest cop at BHPD) are in their own 'buddy cop' movie while Harley Jane Kozak, Robert Davi and a rogue's gallery of henchmen (Lee Ving, Branscombe Richmond, etc.) star in theirs. The first half feels like a half-hearted satire on consumerism (with opening credits longer than "Superman's"!) until QB-turned-hero Boomer Hayes starts tossing Molotov cocktails and ninja stars at tanks. Worth the praise Patrick's been heaping on it for years. 4 BATHROOM TACKLING MACHINES (out of 5)

    CRIME BUSTERS (1977, A.Prime, Mikko Viinikka: 6/4/2015)
    Typical vehicle for the Terence Hill/Bud Spencer brand of comedy (imagine Popeye and Bluto as reluctant partners beating on bad guys, "Streets of Rage" style). The duo get drafted to be Florida cops when trying to rob a supermarket, and every attempt to get thrown off the force results in promotions. It's 15-20 minutes too long, repetitive (the opening scene essentially loops three consecutive times) and a little racist with a subplot involving the family of a dead Chinese man. But when it clicks (the Orange Bowl brawl, any scene with David "The Big Lebowsky" Huddleston as the police captain, etc.) "Crime Busters" made me laugh out loud. YMMV. 3.5 'MONSIEURS SCARFACE' (out of 5)

    NIGHTHAWKS (1981, Netflix, Kyle Mulford: 6/17/16)
    Remember when $5 million paid for a solid shot-in-New York action pic with real stars (Rocky, Lando, Roy Batty, The Bionic Woman, Frank Zito and the bald chick from the first "Star Trek" movie! :-O) and impressive set-pieces (bus diving into the East River beneath the Roosevelt Island Tram)? Today it'd either be all CG or the budget would balloon to eight digits. Anywho, two NYC street cops go after a European terrorist when he decides to make Gotham his calling card for potential new gigs. "Nighthawks" starts alternating between NY and wherever Wulfgar is in Europe, and I wish the filmmakers had stuck with the gritty urban hellhole pic in which Billy Dee curses up a storm. Alas, Rutger Hauer steals the movie by showing how vulnerable and constantly improvising Wulfgar is. 3 SOCIAL DISTANCING-DEFICIENT DISCOTHEQUES (out of 5)

    THE LAST OF THE FINEST (1990, Tubi, hibachijustice: 6/29/2018)
    An elite four-man LAPD unit is suspended after their latest reckless bust against entrenched drug dealers results in $18 million going up in smoke. Typical weekly procedural TV plot follows, but the cast and direction by John Mackenzie ("The Long Good Friday") elevate the material. Brian Dennehy (in a rare leading man role) crushes it as the fatherly boss of nerdy Joe Pantoliano, hothead Jeff Fahey and settling-down wild man Bill Paxton. In a rarity for this genre, the families of the cops are made aware of the risks and dangers their husbands/fathers are up against. The finale goes way too Hollywood, but the actors make this worth a look. 3 EXPLODING SEPTIC TANKS (out of 5)

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    1. i love those Bud Specer/Terrence Hill movies. i bought a bunch of DVDs a couple of years ago, but i'm limited in what i can get. limited because the only way i can watch them is with the French Dub. they're hilarious (when you know french).

      also, Sergio Corbucci directed a couple of those (and his brother, Bruno).

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    2. I did some soul-searching after watching "Crime Busters" and have concluded that Hill/Spencer comedies (along with the first Christopher Reeves' "Superman" movies) were my "Star Wars" when I was a kid. Never saw the Lucas films until their '97 re-issue in theaters, because back when they premiered in El Salvador in the late 70's/early 80's I had zero interest in seeing them. But whenever a new Hill/Spencer comedy came out me and my mother (dad had left us by then :'( ) wound up packed like sardines in theaters made for 200 people that somehow sat 500! People would sit on the aisles and lean back on the legs of the person behind them, double file... we were lucky there wasn't a fire. I can still remember the roar of a packed-beyond-capacity theater showing "Watch Out, We're Mad" or "A Friend Is A Treasure" as my earliest recollections of enjoying movies as entertainment vehicles, not just cartoons with pretty colors. :-)

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  2. KILLER COP (1974, dir. Luciano Ercoli) on Amazon Prime

    The English title is more sensationalistic than the actual film. The Italian title, The Police Have Their Hands Tied, is more apt. When a bomb goes off in the lobby of a hotel in some unnamed Italian city, a big investigation is launched to determine who is responsible. Commissioner Rolandi, a narcotics officer who was present at the hotel that day, launches his own personal investigation when he senses that the official one is going in the wrong direction.

    Killer Cop is a solid downbeat poliziotteschi starring Claudio Cassinelli as Rolandi. When that Stelvio Cipriani score kicked in during the opening credits, I knew immediately that I would like this. This may be a good entry for Eurocrime newbies because Killer Cop lacks the harsh content that is common in the genre. This is no Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man exercise in mysogyny. An added bonus is that the mystery element is handle well.

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  3. Sharky's Machine (1981, dir. Burt Reynolds)

    I tried to power my way through this one, but I can't help it if current events have soured my appreciation of hero cops in films. Surely, this is a product of its time, but Burt Reynolds's Sharky is an asshole. Sure, he's a walking sex symbol and the entire film is built around making that shine. But when it comes down to it, he's a violent prick who slaps around the female lead, goes fist-to-nunchuck with a two non-specific-asian henchman and slaps around black men like it's going out of style. Surely this movie was not regressive and racist by 1981's standards, but it is difficult to watch this one now.

    I'm certainly not throwing shade on Patrick's choice of the genre for today, cop movies are a staple of fun b-movie thrills. I hope to go back to unapologetically loving cop action flicks soon, but for now watching police walk around fucking people up leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

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    1. If you let current events get to you then today and tomorrow (Blaxploitation!) are gonna be exercises in frustration. Just choose a fun-to-watch flick and enjoy it for what it was when made, not what it's supposed to be going forward.

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    2. Totally understandable, no need to feel bad.

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    3. You’re certainly not alone...I think everyone has been struggling with this while personally reevaluating their relationship with these kinds of films. I’m all for attempting to appreciate older movies with an appropriate historical context, but I think it would be a mistake to entirely dismiss them as artifacts of a bygone era: it’s also important to recognize how they directly fed into our current reality by normalizing certain behaviors and lionizing structures of unchecked power and authority. I think we can still enjoy these kinds of movies, but hopefully moving forward that enjoyment is paired with a greater consideration of whether these movies endorse this kind of behavior or implicitly criticize it. Just my two cents!

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  4. Checking out Infernal Affairs (2002) for the first time today, excited to see how this inspired The Departed.

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  5. The Case Against Brooklyn (1958)

    Maybe my favorite discovery of Junesploitation 2020 so far. Darren McGavin is a cop who goes undercover to investigate corruption in the department and becomes tangled in a web of deceit and murder. McGavin is terrific in the lead, tough as nails and with ambition to match, and Margaret Hayes as a woman he gets dangerously close to is excellent and heartbreaking as well.

    The movie is gritty and propulsive and even though much of the material is somewhat dated, a lot of the style and tone feels startlingly contemporary. Obviously the police force is not militarized in the movie as it is today, but the basic theme of whether it’s possible to be a cop without getting dirty is as relevant as it ever was. Absolutely worth a look.

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  6. Shoot First, Die Later (Il poliziotto è marcio) (1974, dir. Fernando Di Leo)

    Dialogue written by aliens, wonky dubbing, and one of the weirdest endings ever. This was made it Italy, you say? Never would've guessed.

    The couple of car chases are fun and the 70's fashion is delectable. The plot is secondary, until that final scene totally redeems it.

    This has one of the craziest posters around. And the English title is miles better than the original one.

    The lead character jokingly saying to his girlfriend he's going to kill her and will get away with it because he's a cop wasn't a pleasant scene to begin with, but right now...

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  7. Who's The Man? (1993)

    It's fine.

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  8. 10 To Midnight (1983, dir. J. Lee Thompson)

    Another movie I discovered through the Kill By Kill podcast. When watching a gritty cop thriller, have you ever thought "This movie could use a lot, a whole lot, more naked male ass." For those that said yes, this is the movie for you. Wildly entertaining, this might be the best thing I've seen this month (Although Dr. Giggles might disagree). It's a cop thriller crossed with a slasher. Looking forward to listening to the podcast which has Eric Szyszka (from WHM) as guest.

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    1. Holy crap. J. Lee Thompson directed a bunch of great stuff. The original Cape Fear (1962), The Guns Of Navarone (1961), and a personal favourite North West Frontier (1959) which is a wonderful "train" movie set in the British Raj. And 2 of the Planet Of The Apes movies. Later in his career he did mostly exploitation movies, and collaborated with Bronson a bunch.

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    2. It was this sleazipiece that got me into J. Lee Thompson, just a really solid director. And I would recomend his Bronson movies becuase he is usually able to ground the insanity like in 10 to Midnight.

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    3. I watched Happy Birthday to Me for slasher day, also directed by J. Lee Thompson and it's proven to be one of my favorite discoveries of the month!

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    4. I'm loving the Junesploitation!-sponsored reassessment of J. Lee Thompson's work. :-) Maybe because he used to be a director of good movies that could only get work-for-hire during the Cannon years when he got older (same boat Charles Bronson was in) he got lumped together with Michael Winner-type bottom feeders. But stuff like the criminally underrated "Cabo Blanco," 1984's "The Ambassador" (streaming free on YouTube) and the aforementioned "10 to Midnight" (which I consider a mini-masterpiece of deftly handling police procedural, psychological thriller and sleazy-as-fuck exploitation) show there's more to Thompson than latter-day dreck like "Death Wish IV" and "Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects."

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    5. Thanks for the suggestions, Vargas and Cole. I've added them to my watchlist (although The Ambassador was already on there, perhaps from a previous Junesploitation!)

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  9. If anyone is looking for a unique movie to watch for Cops day, I highly recommend Cop Car with Kevin Bacon. Don't read the synopsis, just watch. Really loved it when I saw it recently.

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  10. The Protector (1985, dir. James Glickenhaus)

    I put this on without even realizing it was a Glickenhaus joint, which was a great surprise. It's got his usual mayhem coupled with Jackie Chan action, so that's pretty cool. Not great, but still awesome.

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  11. Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

    Great premise, less than perfect execution, as if the story and characters couldn't always keep up with the admittedly impressive cinematography. I enjoyed the dense atmosphere of the build-up a lot, but the siege itself was honestly a bit disappointing and the ending felt strangely anticlimactic. Fantastic music throughout, though!

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  12. DANGEROUS MEN (2005-ish)
    The movie that allegedly was filmed in short bits over 20 years. The end result is perhaps disjointed. It starts about a woman who becomes a vigilante, then pivots to a story about a cop fighting a bunch of bikers. There’s a lot of random scenes that go nowhere and super-gross sleaze in between. It feels more like a YouTube compilation video than a feature film, but I couldn’t stop watching. I just had to see what happened next.

    30 days of HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT II, day 10
    A lot of people who watch this movie comment on how the actor playing the younger version of Michael Ironside’s character looks (and acts!) just like Ironside. I looked him up and that’s actor Steve Atkinson. His IMDb is pretty slight, but there’s one terrific trivia nugget. In the 1989 horror flick Mindfield he AGAIN played the young version of Michael Ironside’s character! Now every time I see Ironside in something, I'll want this guy to play the young version.

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    1. The title theme of Dangerous Men is worth the price of admission. Trust me, look it up on Youtube and your day will be made.

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  13. Maniac Cop 2 (1980) Man, this just starts kicking ass at frame one. I haven’t seen Maniac Cop 1, but I doubt it matters. The heroes of the first one are replaced real quick anyway. This was so good! This would’ve fit in great as a slasher movie yesterday, too. It’s really effective and spooky horror, kickass amazing action and stunts, great New York feeling and characters played by a perfect cast, and some decent gore and nudity. Kind of a perfect B movie, really. And the song over the end credits? Fresh.

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    1. No need to see the first, but it's a decent 'B' flick with some merit. "MC2" is wild, and the third "MC" a troubled production/mixed bag. You picked the right "Maniac" on jour first try. 🤓

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  14. Live Like a Cop Die Like a Man (1976, Ruggero Deodato)

    Well this movie was bonkers in a way I wasn't expecting. Butch Cassidy and the Sun Dance Kid are given too much power and terrorise a poor group of mobsters who just want to run their gambling operation in peace.

    I loved it. Deodato takes evreything to 11. It's pitched at hysterical. Again, like in Body Count Deodato is just pushing troups you know but to the nth degree. But here it's just much more effective. That quarie scene is incrediable.

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  15. Frequency (2000, dir. Gregory Hoblit)

    Call it corny, but it worked for me! All the scenes where Caviezel and Quaid were talking to each other were especially winning

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  16. Detox (aka the Director's cut of Eye See You) (2002, dir. Jim Gillespie)

    This movie should have been so much better but it turns out to be less than the sum of its parts. Great cast: Sylvester Stallone, Kris Kristofferson, Robert Patrick, Stephen Lang, Dina Meyer, Jeffrey Wright, Tom Berenger. Cool concept: A serial killer who only targets cops kills Stallone's wife. Stallone goes to a refuge for disturbed cops isolated in the winter wilderness, and then the cops start dying one by one in a whodunit fashion. Maybe it was the completely bland setting, but it just didn't do it for me.

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  17. Dark Blue (2002) Dir. Ron Shelton

    I thought this may be a rough watch considering current events, but the LA Riots seemed to be more shoehorned in than anything, tangentially related to the plot and mostly used as a backdrop for the third act. I wanted to like this more but something about it seemed very amateurish.

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    1. What did you think of Kurt Russell's performance though? In a career filled with exceptional work I really think this is one of his highlights.

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    2. Russell's always good, but I don't think Ayer's dialog does him any favors though.

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  18. FIREWORKS (1997, dir. Takeshi Kitano) on the DVR

    Detective Nishi has a lot on his mind. A wife dying of cancer, a young child who passed away, and a colleague who gets shot and paralyzed are just a few of his troubles. In his downward spiral, Nishi does not say a word about anything to anyone, which makes him an even more dangerous man. When his rage flairs, it comes quick and very violently.

    Fireworks is much more of a character drama than an action film. There is a deliberately contemplative quality to the film. The pacing is not rushed, and the demeanor of the Nishi is seldom outwardly affected by an emotion. It is very clear, though, that emotions are bubbling inside of him.

    This is not the best material for a Junesploitation watch. It is by no means exploitation and maybe tries too hard to be serious as a drama.

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  19. The Tough Ones (1976, dir. Umberto Lenzi)

    Dirtyharrysploitation?

    Maurizio Merli stars as a hyper-aggresive, violent sonuvabitch cop who is everything you don't want a cop to be. Seriously, everything offensive you could fear (hope?) to get out of this day is present in this flick.

    But how is it as a movie? I'll defer to Patrick's review on the Wrong Reel podcast, but it was okay for me. Certainly entertaining, but I don't know that it came together very well for me. This isn't my chosen Italian subgenre though, and I'm nowhere near seasoned with it.

    Also I'm a little drunk, so take that as you will. ;)

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    1. Drunk Epler watches the best movies. 🥳🤤

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  20. Dragnet (1987)

    I knew Cop day could end up being a rough one this year so it seemed like a good idea to go with something light-hearted. This may possibly be the movie I've seen the most in my life simply by virtue of my family getting cable right when this hit so there's a comfortable familiarity there.

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  21. Day 10

    Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991)

    Pretty standard Dolph Lundgren tough guy cop movie. Violence, titties, and attitude flow aplenty. The movie is crazy short, it feels like it was butchered in post. Dolph and Lee have a fun, goofy mismatched chemistry. Cary-Hiroyki Tagawa and Toshishiro Obata are nasty and menacing as the super bad and the bad dudes assistant. For all the earned R ratedness of the movie does feel bland and been there done that. Dolph looks like he needs some coffee to wake himself up. Seeing Brandon Lee in this just reminds me again that he was going to be huge after The Crow. He had movie star looks/charisma and he was still coming into his own as an actor.

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  22. The Seven Ups (1973)

    Needlessly confusing action film owes a lot to The French Connection, which clearly inspired it. Roy Schneider and Tony LoBianco return from French Connection, along with a car chase that tries to top the famous one in the earlier film. Joe Spinell shows up in a meaty supporting part. You’ll never look at the car wash the same way again!

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    1. Every time I go Thru a car wash, I definitely think of that scene.

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  23. Dead Heat (1986) dir. Mark Goldblatt

    The premise begs a tagline that - dare I use it as my review - would fully get me added to a watch list.

    Happy Junesploitation Everybody!

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  24. I watched all three Hanzo the Razor films today and holy $&!∆ that was a lot of fun. If you're a fan of Lone Wolf and Cub, then you'll probably dig the style this is going for.

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  25. SuperFuzz aka Super Snooper aka
    Poliziotto superpiù (1980)

    Officer Speed (Terrance Hill) gets super powers, his partner Earnest Borgnine doesn't believe him. Then you hear the following lyrics ad nauseum:
    He's a super snooper
    really super trooper
    a wonder cop a one like you never saw
    he's a super snooper
    really super trooper
    a wonder cop a roller the side of the law.

    Every action scene, every punch line, is punctuated with this song.

    I'm now going to listen to "Let it Go" from the frozen soundtrack for the next 5 hours and hope that scrubs the theme from my brain.

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  26. We Own The Night (2007, dir. James Gray)

    Digital rain, I never would've guessed!

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  27. Black Rain (1989)

    It's hard not to like Michael Douglas. He knows how to play a jerk with a heart of gold. I thought his friendship with Andy Garcia worked pretty well. Ken Takakura was terrific. It's an enjoyable buddy cop action drama.

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  28. Demolition Man (1993)

    This movie still gives me joy joy feelings.

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  29. King of New York (1990)

    Christopher Walken as Robin Hood is excellent. Laurence Fishburne is completely insane and wonderful. Wesley Snipes and David Caruso as partners is weird but great. There are a couple of great death scenes that elevate the movie. I'm glad that I finally saw it.

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  30. Bad Lieutenant (1992)

    UNINTENDED ABEL FERRARA DOUBLE FEATURE! A slow decent into hell that seemed inevitable. Harvey Keitel never seemed to doubt that this was how it was going to go down. These Ferrara films really feel like someone doing 90s exploitation and I am here for it. Drugs, prostitution, alcohol, gambling and hating his kids gives him exploitation bingo.

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  31. Red Dragon (2002) and Silence of the Lambs (1991)

    Feds technically rather than Cops, but it's what my friends were streaming for our weekly movie night and it's fits well enough with the day's theme.

    Not much new to say about Silence especially. Just waiting on Patrick and Rob to do a Manhunter/Red Dragon episode (think it would make sense to do them together).

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  32. Death Sentence (2007)

    This again feels like someone doing 70s exploitation. And that someone is James Wan. I thought it was better than its reputation. Kevin Bacon goes all out. It gets brutal. No one is safe.

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  33. Maniac Cop 2 (1990, dir. William Lustig)

    What a wild, messy movie. It feels like a comic book movie in which the supervillain teams up with another villain but the superhero never bothers to show up to fight them. It really clicks into place once Cordell becomes our protagonist, but man, the film is really kept afloat by its restless need to top itself with another insane set piece every 10 minutes. Between that breakneck pace, the fidgety sense of narrative ADHD, and the odd bits of texture via weird throwaway dialogue sprinkled throughout, this is very much a Larry Cohen joint. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go find a way to download the rap song about the Maniac Cop that plays over the end credits.

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    1. Cohen produced and wrote "Maniac Cop 2," but William Lustig's direction also contributed a lot to the wild messiness. I can't understand why these two deliver the goods in the sequel but in the prequel (with 'B' movie Gods like Atkins, Roundtree and Campbell) it just doesn't come together as well as here. Maybe they needed "MC" to suck a little bit to lay the groundwork for "MC2" going over the top so spectacularly.

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  34. Samurai Cop (1991)

    A great Bad Movie. I could talk about every little weird detail for hours.

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  35. The Pink Panther (1963):

    I really need to watch more of these big, horny hangout comedies from the '60s. They're relaxing mid-morning viewing.

    Hot Fuzz (2007):

    The key to avoiding Junesploitation burnout is mixing is comfort rewatches. This is the ultimate.

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  36. Wolfcop (2014)

    Ever see a werewolf transformation start dick first?

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