September 15, 2019

Blu-ray Giveaway: THE FIRST KING

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TTuePHsN-c
VIEW THE TRAILER
FREE KITTENS MOVIE GUIDE is giving away Blu-ray copies of WELL GO USA's THE FIRST KING to a few lucky readers.
Available on Blu-ray, DVD 9/24
Romulus and Remus end up taking part in a journey that will lead one of them to be the founder of the greatest nation ever seen. However, the fate of the chosen one is sealed after killing his own brother in THE FIRST KING, debuting on digital, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD September 24 from Well Go USA Entertainment. Directed by Matteo Rovere (director of the critically acclaimed box office smash Drifters), THE FIRST KING stars Alessandro Borghi as Remus and Alessio Lapice as Romulus.  Bonus materials include a “Making of” featurette.

TO ENTER: Simply drop us a message at freekittensmovieguide@gmail.com. CONTEST ENDS 9/24.

I SPY: Attitude Ain't Enough

https://www.millcreekent.com/
I SPY (2002)
Starring Eddie Murphy, Owen Wilson, Famke Janssen, Malcolm McDowell, Gary Cole. Directed by Betty Thomas. (97 min)
ON BLU-RAY FROM

Review by Tiger the Terrible😼

2002’s I Spy was heavily promoted as “Attitude meets espionage.” That alone probably raised enough red flags for the movie to totally tank at the box office. No film touting its so-called attitude has ever been any good. What the hell does a movie ‘with attitude’ even mean?

That’s not to say characters with attitude can’t be amusing. Back when he was still funny, Eddie Murphy was the undisputed master of endearing brashness. Those days were long gone by the time of I Spy. As narcissistic pro boxer Kelly Robinson, he’s an overbearing, obnoxious cartoon character. There isn’t a single moment where Kelly is funny or likable. It may not be entirely Eddie’s fault. One gets the impression he was simply told by producers to “do your Eddie Murphy thing,” apparently unaware the novelty had worn off a decade earlier.

The number of card-carrying members in Owen Wilson's fan club, including Owen Wilson.
Then there’s Owen Wilson, who’s never made any film better and rendered some of them worse. He more-or-less plays the same guy in every movie, which is fine if one finds it appealing. I always thought his passive persona was really irritating, certainly ill-suited to playing a secret agent. Here, he mostly serves as straight-man to Eddie’s chest-thumping and to act stupidly twitterpated by Famke Janssen.

Upon meeting Eddie Murphy, Malcolm contemplates a bit of ultra-violence.
The story is generic, the action implausible and dull, including a lengthy chase through Budapest that stretches credibility to its limit. Malcolm McDowell and Gary Cole are completely wasted in supporting roles that fail to exploit their talents. I Spy is ultimately a depressingly cynical film that bares almost no resemblance to the classic TV show that supposedly inspired it. Superficial ‘attitude’ is all it has, and even that has aged badly.

KITTY CONSENSUS:
MEH. LIKE SHARING THE BED WITH THE DOG.

September 14, 2019

A BUCKET OF BLOOD is a Fitting Eulogy

https://olivefilms.com/
A BUCKET OF BLOOD (1959)
Starring Dick Miller, Barboura Morris, Antony Carbone, Julian Burton, Ed Nelson, Bert Convy. Directed by Roger Corman. (66 min)
AVAILABLE ON DVD FROM OLIVE FILMS

Review by Mr. Paws😸

Who didn't love Dick Miller? Not only did the guy appear in every movie ever made, he was the sole reason anyone knew what the hell a Kentucky Harvester was.

Everyone had to start somewhere and decades before he became Joe Dante's good luck charm, Miller was Roger Corman's go-to guy. The two made dozens of drive-in delights together and only Corman ever saw fit to cast him in lead roles. One such film was A Bucket of Blood.

Olive Films released a bare-bones DVD of the film in 2018. Dick Miller has-since passed away and I can’t think of a more appropriate eulogy than a Blu-ray restoration of his magnum opus, accompanied by a batch of charming, previously unseen bonus features dedicated mostly to him.

"I'm gonna need more clay for those."
A Bucket of Blood is a micro-budget horror comedy that features Miller as Walter Paisley, the dimwitted busboy of an ultra-hip coffee bar where artists and poets hang out. To them - as well as his boss, Leonard - he's a fool. But Walter wants to be an artist, too, mostly to impress co-corker Carla (Barboura Morris). When he accidentally kills a cat, Walter gets the idea to cover the animal in clay and claim it as his first sculpture, which he calls Dead Cat.

Dead Cat is a hit with the locals, who now praise Walter as a genius. So he continues making his "art," murdering several hapless folks and turning them into sculptures. Leonard soon discovers what Walter's been doing, but seeing potential profit, he decides to host an exhibit of the kid's work rather than turn him in.

Walter brings a frying pan to a gunfight.
A Bucket of Blood is typical Corman of the time. Shot cheaply and quickly, the film has a twisted sense of humor that helps the viewers overlook its technical shortcomings, making it sort-of a kindred spirit to the more legendary Little Shop of Horrors (which was shot on many of the same sets). Miller, of course, goes all-in with a wonderfully goofy performance.

But the main reason to pick this up is for the bonus features (outlined below), most of which pay affectionate tribute to Miller and the kitschy classic that gave him the rare opportunity carry an entire film. Throwing in a great 4K restoration and amusing cover art, this is a huge upgrade over the DVD release.

Rest in Peace Dick Miller. You’re already missed.

EXTRA KIBBLES
FEATURETTES - “Creation is. All Else is Not” (Producer/director Roger Corman discusses the film and Dick Miller’s role); “Call Me Paisley” (Miller and his wife, Laine, in a charming interview).
AUDIO INTERVIEW – With screenwriter Charles B. Griffith.
AUDIO COMMENTARY – By Elijah Drenner, who directed the documentary, That Guy, Dick Miller.
BITS OF BUCKET” - Video essay. Includes clips and text of unused scenes.
ESSAY – By Miller biographer Caelum Vatnsdal (the same essay is included in a supplemental booklet).
9 MINUTE GERMAN PROLOGUE – From 1962, where film was marketed as a sequel to House of Wax (subtitled).
SUPER 8 DIGEST VERSION – I remember these things...little 8 minute reels you could play on projectors at home.
ENGLISH & GERMAN THEATRICAL TRAILERS
ON-SET PHOTO GALLERY
KITTY CONSENSUS:
PURR-R-R...LIKE A GOOD SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS.

HELLRAISER Unboxed

https://arrowfilms.com/    https://arrowfilms.com/

HELLRAISER (1987) & HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II (1988)

HELLRAISER - Starring Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Doug Bradley, Sean Chapman, Oliver Smith, Robert Hines. Directed by Clive Barker. (93 min)
HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II - Starring Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Kenneth Cranham, Doug Bradly, Imogen Boorman, William Hope, Sean Chapman, Oliver Smith, Barbie Wilde. Directed by Tony Randel. (99 min)
ON BLU-RAY FROM ARROW VIDEO

Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat😸

As ‘80s horror icons go, Pinhead was always the most interesting. Unlike Jason or Freddy, he’s conceptually more creative, his backstory more intriguing and worthy of further exploration. Hence, there was plenty of justification for Hellraiser sequels...for awhile, anyway. Sure, the franchise eventually devolved into series of direct-to-video dumpster fires, but the first three films remain well worth revisiting. They are uniquely different from each other in both story and scope, expanding Clive Barker’s perversely compelling universe while instilling Pinhead with an atypical amount of complexity.

Despite his storied standing among horror fans, some tend to forget Pinhead isn’t really a villain in the first two films. He doesn’t become a balls-out bad guy until Hellraiser III, and even then, we know enough about his past that he’s (almost) a tragic figure. As presented in Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Pinhead could be considered one of horror cinema’s first antiheroes.

"Was it good for you, too?"
The original Hellraiser was pretty unique for its time. Author Clive Barker was still a relatively new kid on the block, his brand of dark fantasy being the antithesis of Stephen King, not-to-mention the teen-centric slashers that filled theaters and lined video shelves. Even as a first-time director, no one was better-qualified to put his lurid imagination on the big screen. Considering the relatively low budget, the film is atmospheric and stylish, with gruesomely imaginative make-up effects and violence. Three decades later, the film holds up remarkably well, only a few wonky visual effects disrupting the overall tone. Having not seen the film for a couple of decades, I’d forgotten how little screen-time Pinhead himself (Doug Bradley) actually has. However, Claire Higgins as Julia and Sean Chapman/Oliver Smith as her lover, Frank, make a wonderfully contemptible pair of antagonists, which also compensates for newcomer Ashley Laurence’s comparatively bland performance as Kirstie.

Pinhead looks unimpressed.
I might be in the minority on this, but I always felt Hellbound: Hellraiser II was a better film. Though far gorier and disturbing than Hellraiser, this one pushes into the realm of dark fantasy rather than pure horror. More ambitious and visually imaginative, Hellbound eschews the claustrophobic atmosphere of the original to finally show us a concept of Hell that was previously only hinted at. Even Ashley Laurence improves her game, up to the challenge of making Kirstie tougher and more resilient. The film also features the most twisted villain in the entire franchise: Dr. Channard (Kenneth Cranham), whose detached sadism makes Frank Cotton look a poster boy for empathy. It’s a shame he’s seldom mentioned among horror’s most despicable villains. But the most intriguing aspect of the film is Pinhead’s backstory. Revealing without being over-explanatory, we’re provided just enough knowledge about his past to add a surprising touch of poignancy to the climax.

Both of these discs and their bonus features were first released in 2016 as part of Arrow’s Hellraiser: The Scarlet Box collection. That set also included Hellraiser III and is pretty tough to find without emptying your bank account (here in the states, anyway). Now available separately, both are well-worth picking up since they are considerable upgrades from any previous editions. Each is chock-full of supplemental material, including feature-length documentaries for both films. As someone who thinks Hellraiser III is equally deserving of its own comprehensive release, it’s too bad Arrow has yet to make it available. Or maybe I’m in the minority on that one, too, but there’s no arguing Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II being modern classics that belong on any self-respecting horror fan’s shelf.

EXTRA KIBBLES

HELLRAISER:
"LEVIATHAN: THE STORY OF HELLRAISER” - 90 minute retrospective documentary covering nearly every aspect of the film. Lots of great interviews, production details and anecdotes.
"UNDER THE SKIN: DOUG BRADLEY ON HELLRAISER” - Interview with Pinhead himself.
"BEING FRANK: SEAN CHAPMAN ON HELLRAISER” - The actor talks about his role in the film.
"SOUNDTRACK HELL” - Stephen Thrower of the industrial band, Coil, discusses the music they created for the music score, which was ultimately never used as New World Pictures insisted on a more traditional score. We hear snippets of a few tracks. Quite interesting.
2 AUDIO COMMENTARIES – One by Clive Barker, the other by Barker & Ashley Lawrence.
VINTAGE FEATURETTE -Hellraiser Resurrection”
ORIGINAL EPK
3 TRAILERS
IMAGE GALLERY
REVERSIBLE COVER – We kinda prefer the newly commissioned artwork.

HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II:
"LEVIATHAN: THE STORY OF HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II” - Like the one listed above, this time running just over two hours.
"UNDER THE SKIN: DOUG BRADLEY ON HELLRAISER II” - A continuation of the same interview from the Hellraiser disc.
"BEING FRANK: SEAN CHAPMAN ON HELLRAISER II” - A continuation of the same interview from the Hellraiser disc. This is a bit more reveal, since Chapman is candid about his character’s lack of purpose in the film.
VINTAGE FEATURETTE - “Lost in the Labyrinth”
VINTAGE ON-SET INTERVIEWS
BEHIND-THE-SCENES FOOTAGE
SURGEON SCENE - Four minute clip of an unfinished scene that’s been the subject of rumor and speculation for years.
2 AUDIO COMMENTARIES – One by director Tony Randel, the other by Randel, Ashley Lawrence & screenwriter Peter Atkins.
BD-ROM SCREENPLAY DRAFTS
TRAILERS & TV SPOTS
3 IMAGE GALLERIES – Storyboards (including some which were never filmed), stills and promo material
REVERSIBLE COVER – Again, we like the newer artwork.

KITTY CONSENSUS:
MEE-OW! LIKE TAUNTING A MOUSE TO DEATH.

September 11, 2019

4 FUZZY FRIGHT FLICKS

https://www.millcreekent.com/collections/dvd/products/savage-nature-collection
SAVAGE NATURE: 4 DEADLY FILMS
Flu Birds (2008), Monster Wolf (2010), Wolvesbayne (2009), Headless Horseman (2007). Various Directors. (361 min)
ON DVD FROM

Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat😼

I’ve reviewed several collections of thematically-similar films from Mill Creek Entertainment and one thing I’ve learned is you can’t really assess them like regular releases. Most of the movies premiered on the SyFy channel, meaning lots of questionable CGI, silly plots and no-name casts supported by a fading star or two trying to stay gainfully employed. So only an idiot would appraise a film like Flu Birds by comparing it to, say, Contagion.

It makes a lot more sense to decide how this collection stacks-up to similar budget bin bonanzas, and in that respect, Savage Nature gets pretty high marks. If nothing else, there’s a bounty of beastly bloodletting.

Unfortunately, the title creatures in Flu Birds look more like flying dinosaurs than fowl gone afoul. An obnoxious batch of twenty-something teenagers are hunted through the woods by mutated, disease-carrying birds. Some get eaten, while those who survive an attack contract a flesh-eating virus that eventually kills them. Former Last Starfighter Lance Guest is on-hand as a local ranger who comes to the rescue. The film is dumb but lively, with a few nicely gruesome kills.

Half the man he used to be.
Monsterwolf is the best of the lot. When a greedy developer (Robert Picardo) violates sacred Indian ground, he unleashes a supernatural hound that commences slaughtering anyone who works for him or sold their land. Jason London – who’s appeared in more of these things than Dean Cain – teams up with an old flame to try and send it back where it belongs, but not before it kills those who more-or-less have it coming. The CG effects are chuckleworthy, but the story itself isn’t bad and Picardo looks like he’s having fun.

Consider this man fetched.
Headless Horseman was directed by Anthony C. Ferrante before hitting the big time – so to speak – with Sharknado. Updating the classic tale in order to feature a gaggle of dumb teenagers, this one could use some of the self-aware silliness Ferrante is famous for, but it’s bloody as hell and some of the make-up effects are well done for its budget.

The one pooch of the package is Wolvesbayne, featuring Jason London’s brother Jeremy as a narcissistic property buyer who gets caught-up in an ongoing war between werewolves and vampires. Interminably boring and highly derivative, it wastes the talents of supporting stars Mark Dacascos and Yancy Butler. Not only that, the film has been badly formatted, with most scenes looking like uncomfortable close-ups.

But three out of four ain’t bad and batting .750 will likely win a game for you. None of the films are gonna make anyone’s top 10 list (or even top 100), but there’s some gory fun to be had here. Comparatively speaking, Savage Nature is one of Mill Creek’s better recent collections of silly cinema.

EXTRA KIBBLES
DIGITAL COPY
KITTY CONSENSUS:
PURR-R-R...LIKE A GOOD SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS.

September 10, 2019

THE POOP SCOOP: Kittenhood Obscurities Edition

http://uni.pictures/HobbsShawTrailer
VIEW THE TRAILER
HOBBS & SHAW Available on Digital 10/15 & 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on 11/5
Hobbs & Shaw features over 80 minutes of never-before-seen bonus content including an alternate opening, deleted and extended scenes and several featurettes with the filmmakers and cast that take fans further into the thrilling story. A hit with audiences, Hobbs & Shaw earned an “A-” CinemaScore and is “the most exciting movie of the year” (Shawn Edwards, FOX-TV), with non-stop action across the globe, from Los Angeles to London and from the toxic wasteland of Chernobyl to the lush beauty of Samoa.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sp9m8nfF5rY
VIEW THE EXTENDED TRAILER
New Extended Trailer for METALLICA & SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY: S&M² in Theaters 10/9
Trafalgar Releasing released the second trailer for the forthcoming concert film Metallica and San Francisco Symphony: S&M² coming to cinemas worldwide on October 9. This new extended trailer features scenes cut from the original 1999 Metallica and San Francisco Symphony show at the Berkeley Community Theatre, gearing fans up for this must-see celebration of the 20th anniversary of Metallica’s groundbreaking S&M concerts and album. This new trailer releases today as fans prepare for this weekend’s sold-out shows which will see Metallica reunite with the San Francisco Symphony, with performances led in-part by legendary conductor Michael Tilson Thomas. The film, Metallica and San Francisco Symphony: S&M² was recorded live during the September 6th and 8th Chase Center concerts, in advance of its release in theaters around the globe this October. Fans can find tickets for this one-night-only cinema event at metallica.film

KITTENHOOD OBSCURITIES 

FFOLKES on Blu-ray 10/1
Screen legends Roger Moore (The Spy Who Loved Me), Anthony Perkins (Psycho) and James Mason (Lolita) star in this fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat espionage thriller. Madman Lou Kramer (Perkins) captures and threatens to destroy a vital North Sea oil rig in 24 hours unless the British government delivers a huge ransom. Only one man has the skills to defeat him -- Rufus Excalibur Ffolkes (Moore), a reclusive underwater expert who leads an elite commando team in a race-against-the-clock high-seas assault. Veteran filmmaker Andrew V. McLaglen (The Wild Geese, The Devil's Brigade) directed this entertaining, action-packed, humorous and offbeat thriller in a genre all its own. 
 
1979 Cult Classic, PROPHECY on Blu-ray 11/26
Robert Foxworth (Damien: Omen II) and Talia Shire (Rocky, The Godfather) star as a doctor and his wife who travel to Maine to research the impact of the lumber industry on the local environment. They begin to investigate a succession of mysterious and terrifying events: ecological freaks of nature and a series of bizarre and grisly human deaths. Something unimaginably horrible waits in the woods ... something unwittingly created by man, that will become an uncontrollable, merciless machine of destruction. Veteran director John Frankenheimer (The Island Of Dr. Moreau) presents "a gritty, violent, and deadly film that [packs] a death punch with very vivid, nightmarish special effects ..." (Bloody Disgusting). 

September 8, 2019

Jason Goes TO HELL AND BACK

https://epic-pictures.com/film/to-hell-and-back-the-kane-hodder-story#shop
TO HELL AND BACK: THE KANE HODDER STORY (2017)
Featuring Kane Hodder, Mike Aloisi, John Carl Buechler, Adam Green, Jack Coleman, Sean S. Cunningham, Robert Englund, Cassandra Peterson, Zach Galligan, Sid Haig, Danielle Harris, Bill Moseley, Felissa Rose, Ted White (who also played Jason once). Directed by Derek Dennis Herbert. (106 min)
ON BLU-RAY FROM EPIC PICTURES

Review by Fluffy the Fearless😺

Man, talk about bouncing back from adversity…

To horror fans worldwide, Kane Hodder needs no introduction. He’s the guy who managed to give Jason Voorhees something resembling a personality. In the process, this stuntman-turned-actor became a horror icon even without a mask. Ironically, his own story is arguably more compelling than any movie he ever appeared in.

To Hell and Back gives us Kane’s life and career straight from the horse’s mouth, corroborated by interviews with dozens of peers, friends and his own family. It hasn’t been an easy ride. He was viciously bullied in school and considered suicide more than once. Most harrowing, however, was when Hodder’s career – and life - nearly ended during a fire stunt gone wrong. Even more horrifying were the six months of recovery and rehabilitation he was forced to endure afterwards.

"Six more payments and this baby's all mine!"
Hodder is very candid and goes into distressing detail when describing what he’s had to overcome, even choking up a few times as he struggles remain composed. Considering his menacing onscreen image and public persona, it’s a poignantly captivating moment. Since he managed to not-only overcome his injuries but deal with considerable PTSD for years, Hodder’s story is often surprisingly inspirational.

Daddy Day Care III: The Final Chapter
Elsewhere, he comes across as a nice guy who’s easy to work with and continues to be grateful for his legions of fans. Colleagues and friends paint him as the consummate professional, selfless and dedicated to his craft. Speaking of which, To Hell and Back is loaded with clips and anecdotes from many of his films, with obvious emphasis on the Friday the 13th and Hatchet franchises (Hodder’s best-known roles). He also discusses how he felt being excluded from Freddy vs. Jason, which upset him greatly at the time and remains perplexing today.

Showing a side of a horror icon we don’t normally see, To Hell and Back is revealing, inspirational and, most importantly, pretty damn entertaining. Though it’s clearly a must-see for fans – and features some of his greatest kills – even those who don’t know Kane Hodder from The Caine Mutiny might find his story interesting.

EXTRA KIBBLES
DELETED/EXTENDED SCENES – There’s a ton of ‘em, mostly extended interviews.
TRAILERS
KITTY CONSENSUS:
MEE-OW! LIKE TAUNTING A MOUSE TO DEATH.

September 6, 2019

ECHO IN THE CANYON: There's Something Happening Here...

https://mpimedia.com/
ECHO IN THE CANYON (2018)
Featuring Jakob Dylan, Tom Petty, Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, Roger McQuinn, Michelle Phillips, David Crosby, Jackson Browne, Lou Adler, John Sebastian, Beck, Fiona Apple, Norah Jones, Cat Power. Directed by Andrew Slater. (83 min)
ON BLU-RAY FROM MPI MEDIA GROUP

Review by Fluffy the Fearless😼

The canyon in-question is Laurel Canyon, the echo being the music genre known as the California Sound, made famous by a variety of influential and legendary musicians, most of whom apparently lived within walking distance of each other.

Echo in the Canyon is part documentary, part concert film, which gives us the history of the subgenre as told by its purveyors, along with peers who admired them. With Bob’s son Jakob Dylan sort-of serving as our guide, we get first-hand stories about the music’s origins, influence and popularity. Most of the film’s focus is on The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, The Mamas & the Papas and, of course, The Beach Boys. Surprisingly – and somewhat conspicuously - The Doors aren’t included or even discussed (perhaps they were the “scary neighbors” of Laurel Canyon).

"Wha...?"
Though there’s plenty of vintage footage, the candid interviews are the best part of the film. These guys are now senior citizens and a few seem to have indulged in the 1960s with more enthusiasm than their contemporaries (as some of Dylan’s bemused reactions will attest). Others come-across as a little sad those days didn’t last forever (probably because most of these bands were together only a few years). David Crosby is still pretty full of himself, however, while Michelle Phillips doesn’t apparently feel any remorse over cheating on husband John Phillips with bandmate Denny Doherty...maybe because the incident inspired one of their most enduring songs.

In his spare time, David Crosby moonlights as a Build-a-Bear model.
Less interesting is the concert footage featuring several modern artists – such as Dylan, Beck, Fiona Apple and Norah Jones - paying tribute to these bands by performing some of their best-known songs. While there’s nothing particularly wrong with their renditions, they’re comparatively unremarkable, like the work of a solid cover band. I think most longtime fans of this music would prefer performances by the original artists (even if most are decades past their prime). The closest we come to that are a few scenes of Dylan jamming in the studio with Brian Wilson and Stephen Stills.

Still, Echo in the Canyon paints a vivid picture of a short-lived movement and its long-lasting impact, both musically and culturally. Though I never really cared for the California Sound, the story behind it is pretty interesting and I felt an appreciation for the influence it had on music and artists I do care about. 

KITTY CONSENSUS:
PURR-R-R...LIKE A GOOD SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS. 

September 4, 2019

TRUE BELIEVER: A "Before" Movie

https://www.millcreekent.com/collections/blu-ray
TRUE BELIEVER (1989)
Starring James Woods, Robert Downey Jr., Yuji Okumoto, Kurtwood Smith, Margaret Colin, Miguel Fernandes, Tom Bower, Charles Hallahan, Joel Polis, Luis Guzman. Directed by Joseph Ruben. (109 min).
ON BLU-RAY FROM
MILL CREEK ENTERTAINMENT

Review by Mr. Paws😸

True Believer is one of those ‘before’ movies.

Decades before being deified as Iron Man, little Robert Downey Jr was just starting to wear big-boy pants and still had his baby fat. Then there’s the always-great Kurtwood Smith, long before turning ‘dumbass’ into a catch-phrase. But the movie belongs to James Woods, the one-time A-lister who eventually torpedoed his own career by devolving into a paranoid right-wing nut-job (he's probably picking-out curtains with Jon Voight as we speak).

The meds are kickin' in.
In 1989, however, Woods’ patented brand of manic thespianism elevated more-than-a-few unremarkable films to something memorable. Case-in-point, True Believer is merely an average courtroom drama given a welcome turbo-boost by his presence. He plays Eddie Dodd, a once-idealistic lawyer who now spends his time smoking pot and defending drug-dealers. When young protege Roger Baron (Downey) suggests they represent a prison inmate who claims he was falsely charged, Dodd eventually takes the case, even though all the evidence suggests he’s guilty.

Dodd is self-serving, fast-talking, cynical, overly cocky and just a bit sleazy. In other words...a character Woods was born to play. He doesn’t simply chew the scenery...he gobbles it up and spits out the bones while the supporting cast struggles to keep up. Smith and Downey have their moments and you’ll probably wanna pinch the latter’s chubby little cheeks, but it’s Woods’ show all the way and his performance is easily the best part of the entire film. Whoever did his hair, however, should have been strung-up.

Since James Woods was at his Woodsiest during this era, True Believer is a fitting addition to Mill Creek Entertainment’s ongoing Retro VHS series. As usual, this release has no bells or whistles besides the throwback slipcase, but the film itself is entertaining, not-to-mention an interesting look back at a few careers before they took drastically different paths.

KITTY CONSENSUS:
PURR-R-R...LIKE A GOOD SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS.