by Anthony King
But first, a quick recap. This time of year I almost exclusively want to watch classic Christmas movies and/or sleazy exploitation. Once January hits, though, it's all exploitation movies and westerns. Don't ask me why; them's just the rules. The four exploitationers I watched this past week ranged from Fulci doing a classic family tale to Lieutenant Marion Cobretti.
A Killing Affair (1986) stars Peter Weller as Baton Morris, a drifter who takes a woman hostage in her own home. Kathy Baker is Maggie, whose husband Baton has murdered because, so he claims, Maggie's husband killed Baton's wife and children. A manhunt ensues, romantic feelings develop between Baton and Maggie, and it becomes this sweaty, Southern-fried psychological thriller. It's clunky in spots and most of the supporting performances are laughable, but Weller and Baker are spectacular, and I haven't been able to forget this movie. I woke up one morning with a kung-fu itch that needed relieved so I threw on a Shaw Bros. film I hadn't seen. Clan of the White Lotus (1980), directed by and co-starring Lo Lieh, follows Hung seeking revenge against White Lotus for the murder of his girlfriend and best friend. Hung learns from his friend's pregnant widow and her friend more delicate, slower moves that can defeat White Lotus. It's classic Shaw Bros. with beautiful sets, vibrant colors, and a feast for the ears. I then introduced my wife to a gentleman named Cobra (1986). She was so enthralled she ALMOST watched half of it. This may be sacrilege, but I prefer Cobra to Tango & Cash (1989). The soundtrack kicks ass, Brian Thompson is terrifying as the Night Slasher, Andy Robinson gets his comeuppance, Reni Santoni and Stallone are so good together, and Brigitte Nielsen is at her best. Cobra is the cinematic equivalent to sprinkling crushed up speed pills directly into your eyeballs followed by chugging a quart of Mountain Dew.
I love movies (duh) and I'm going to watch several hundred every year. But when I read what I wrote in the previous paragraph about how watching movies is an obligation some of the time, that's when things get cloudy. How do I switch from “I NEED to watch this,” to “I WANT to watch this”? Simple, you might say. Just do it. Having recently gone through an existential crisis when it comes to how I view and experience art (specifically movies), I can keep folding in new (to me) concepts. Next year I'll be talking about Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space (1957), a movie I didn't particularly like the first time I saw it, and have been dreading re-watching it like one dreads they're most-hated chores. What if instead, though, I say, “I WANT to re-watch Plan 9 and read more about Ed Wood,” because I love learning about people. I WANT to watch more Ed Wood movies – including Ed Wood (1994), which I've never seen – so I can learn more about this fascinating person. And, like Adam Riske mentioned back in October, how about I watch what I want when I want. I've been wanting to rewatch Romano Scavolini's Dog Tags (1987), a remarkably odd Platoon rip-off that I loved the first time I saw it. Fuck it, I say. I want to watch Dog Tags, so I'm going to watch it.