Tag Archives: Sylvester Stallone

The Unsung Hero by Kent Hill

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It is always a delight indeed to sit down with the director of one of my favorite movies. Steve Carver (Big Bad Mama, Lone Wolf McQuade), acclaimed filmmaker and photographic artist extraordinaire has given us all, not only great cinema, but now his first book, Western Portraits: The Unsung Heroes & Villains of the Silver Screen (Edition Olms, 2019). Rendered in evocative tones reminiscent of Edward Sheriff Curtis’s immortal images, the stylized photographs in Western Portraits capture the allure and mystique of the Old West, complete with authentic costuming, weaponry and settings. Among the subjects who posed for the book are the popular actors Karl Malden, David Carradine, R. G. Armstrong, Stefanie Powers, L. Q. Jones, Denver Pyle and 77 others.

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From the epic feature film to the TV series and serial, this coffee table book puts the story of character actors and the significance of their memorable roles into an entertaining perspective. Appealing at once to lovers of classic cinema, Western history aficionados, writers, scholars and collectors of nostalgia and fine art photography, Western Portraits of Great Character Actors: The Unsung Heroes & Villains of the Silver Screen will awaken movie memories in people’s hearts while introducing others to the amazing work of these acting artists, serving as a record of the best of the Hollywood Western.

With collaborators C. Courtney Joyner – a writer whose first major output was a string of more than 25 movie screenplays beginning with The Offspring starring Vincent Price, and Prison directed by Renny Harlin. His novels include the new fantasy-adventure Nemo Rising and the Shotgun Western series, which have both been optioned for television – and Roger Corman – Legendary film director-producer – who contributed the foreword for Western Portraits alongside Joyner’s crafted series of insightful essays to accompany the photographs.

He learnt the art of story-boarding from the great Alfred Hitchcock, he learnt to make pasta with Sergio Leone, and has directed the man we remember as the American Ninja. Steve is so full of stories I hope his next book is definitely an autobiography, but in the meantime we have this glorious work to sit and marvel at. Some of the greatest character actors of all time (that have also been my guests, in the persons of Tim Thomerson and Fred Williamson) take center stage in a book the is the ultimate amalgamation of fine art and Hollywood yesteryear.

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Brooklyn native Steve Carver studied photography at the University of Buffalo and Washington University in St. Louis. He pursued a formal education in film-making at the American Film Institute’s Center for Advanced Film Studies, also participating in the Directors Guild of America’s apprenticeship program. Prolific motion picture producer Roger Corman hired Carver to direct four movies, including Big Bad Mama. Carver also directed American action star Chuck Norris in An Eye for an Eye and Lone Wolf McQuade.

Actor’s Spotlight: Nate’s Top Ten Rutger Hauer Performances

Rutger Hauer left us earlier this year and since then I’ve been revisiting his work, performances that although I’ve seen countless times somehow never get old. He leaves behind him a legacy of incredible work over a decades long career that has firm and lasting roots in the horror, action and science fiction genres. With a rough hewn, elemental figure, a honey soaked purr of a voice and electric eyes, the guy practically radiated originality, never one to rush a line, hurry a glance or let his gaze move too quickly. Here are my top ten personal favourite performances!

10. Martin in Paul Verhoeven’s Flesh + Blood

This is a rowdy, unconventional medieval adventure starring Hauer as the leader of a roving pack of mercenaries who kidnap a beautiful princess (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and use her as leverage for revenge against a warlord who betrayed them. One of the most un-Hollywood films about the Middle Ages, it chooses no moral ground, paints the characters as neither good nor evil especially Hauer’s roguish warrior and shows this time period in every ugly detail. Oh, and it probably has one of the most realistic and steamy sex scenes in all of cinema, with him and Leigh getting it on in a hot tub.

9. Harley Stone in Split Second

Futuristic London’s toughest renegade cop, Stone is searching for the serial killer that murdered his partner and eventually finds something far more… inhuman than he was expecting. It’s a terrific action hero role with just the right moments of humour, whether he’s bargaining with a canine club bouncer or toting giant heavy artillery through flooded catacombs, hunting his quarry.

8. Heymar ‘Wulfgar’ Reinhardt in Nighthawks

A ruthless terrorist holding New York City in a vice grip of violence and explosions, it’s up to super cops Billy Dee Williams and Sylvester Stallone to bring him down before he levels the whole city. This is a sensational action picture with many engaging set pieces (that gondola) and its Hauer’s bloodthirsty, coldly menacing villain turn that makes it ultimately memorable.

7. Xavier March in HBO’s Fatherland

What if Germany won WWII and Europe carried on under the leadership of the third reich? And what if the holocaust and every other Nazi atrocity was well and carefully hidden from the world? This film explores what it’s like for one high ranking Nazi party member (Hauer) to slowly discover that his country was responsible for the deaths of millions of souls, process that information and decide what to do with it. March is a good, kind man who is heartbroken and betrayed when he learns of his country’s crimes and Hauer intones his arc achingly well with subtlety and quiet devastation.

6. Ben Jordan in Arctic Blue

People go a little loopy in the land of the midnight sun, Hauer’s rowdy trapper included. After one violent encounter with a park ranger (Dylan Walsh) he finds himself pursued across the tundra by authorities and must come to terms with his past and the narrowing gap of his future. I like how he doesn’t play this rugged outlaw as a bad guy or a good guy but just a wild card outsider who can’t be tamed and seems to represent the harsh northern landscape he inhabits like an elemental force. Great hidden gem of a film too, I might add.

5. The Hobo in Jason Eisener’s Hobo With A Shotgun

A pissed of homeless dude who has had enough, the Hobo arms himself with a shotgun and takes on an extremely violent faction of the criminal underworld singlehandedly. This is one balls out, fucked up, blood n’ gore soaked slice of exploitation cheese and he finds both the ridiculous campy notes as well as a few surprisingly affecting ones. I wonder if he did his own stunts too because this guy gets put through an absolute fucking wringer throughout the film.

4. Etienne Of Navarre in Richard Donner’s Ladyhawke

This beloved medieval fantasy sees him play a Knight under a curse that causes him to transform into a wolf at night while the love of his life (Michelle Pfeiffer) is a hawk by day, keeping them forever apart. Originally Kurt Russell was going to play this role and Rutger was slated for the evil bishop (the role ultimately went to John Wood). Wise choice to let him lead because as much as I love Russell the guy just doesn’t suit the medieval aesthetic and Hauer gives him a grounded, ethereal aura that carries the film to great heights.

3. Nick Parker in Phillip Noyce’s Blind Fury

Parker is a Nam vet who loses his sense of sight but gains a sense of kicking major ass thanks to some heavy duty training he gets while lost in the Vietnamese villages for years. Back stateside he takes on all kinds of baddies with an epic set of skills and wicked cool stunt work. Hauer finds the charm and humour in Nick nicely and looks damn good swinging a katana around and slicing goons to ribbons left and right.

2. John Ryder in Robert Harmon’s The Hitcher

Blond hair, grey duster jacket, shotgun in hand, Ryder is one of the most iconic boogeymen in horror cinema, a mysterious figure trawling the highways looking for blood. Rutger plays him initially as an endearing, quiet gentleman who quickly morphs into a deranged, blue eyed angel of death, stalking a terrified young man (C. Thomas Howell) across the dusty back roads of the southwest. It’s a towering, terrifying performance full of many subtle notes, deep nuances and lots of bloodthirsty menace.

1. Roy Batty in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner

A rogue replicant, all Batty wanted was more life and he went about it by causing death, a tragic stroke of irony. There’s a childlike naïveté to these replicants, Hauer imbues their leader with a steady, measured and almost alien like grace and eventual resolution in the face of mortality. He improvised the final ‘Tears In Rain’ line which would go on to become one of the most beautiful and iconic pieces of poetic dialogue in cinema, as would his brilliant performance.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more!

-Nate Hill

DAVID MORRELL: It’s a long road by Kent Hill

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‘Cause the road is long yeah
Each step is only the beginning
No breaks just heartaches
Oh man is anybody winning…

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As LAST BLOOD approaches, you kinda know how it’s gonna go. John Rambo will win, he has to – he’s the hero. But now it’s a new war, outside his back door – by the looks of it. But, will this be last blood? There are Elvis guys, Beatles guys, Rocky guys and Rambo guys. Well, I’m a Rambo guy…..and here’s why – like this action monolith, I’m at my best when the stakes are high, and failure just doesn’t compute baby…

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But what do I think of, when I think of RAMBO. I think of my Grandmother. One of my Grandmother’s favorite movies, or at least the one I can remember her watching more than once, was RAMBO III. God bless her, she loved it. She was right there with him. Her favorite scene is the night infiltration and escape from the fortress. Man it was a treat to watch her watch that movie. “Gee whizz, he’s tough,” she’d say, with this tiny, elated grin.

From my guest’s, David Morrell, novel to Ted Kotcheff’s brilliant opener, through the 80s action-movie majesty of First Blood: Part 2, on to the comic book insanity of 3. Then, Stallone, like a bolt of lightning, too bright to ever be forgotten, brings back RAMBO (ROCKY too).

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And so we come to LAST BLOOD – will this be Stallone’s primal valentine to the character he and he alone embodies? Just like the characters he plays, so has his career seen thrilling heights (Cliffhanger …. literally) and – I don’t wish to piss off the STOP! OR MY MOM WILL SHOOT people, but while it has a nostalgic quality, it is but a relic that survives purely because of sociological interest. Just this man’s opinion…okay.

Then, just like Rambo, Sly finds something deep within. A flame, a light that was unwavering once. So, in what cinema history may recount as a stroke of genius, Stallone proceeds to pour a little of that old 80’s gasoline over the flame and BOOM!, Sly’s back. Hell, they’re all back, right?

But who’ll draw last blood? Is this finally the sun going down on a legend . . . or will this be something else. Redemption? Which ever way it goes it was a thrill to take the journey from FIRST to LAST BLOOD with the man, without whom, none of this would exist. David is so gracious, eloquent and insightful. His view of the way John Rambo has evolved is a unique insight, not only in terms of how a creator views his creation, but the wonderment of a fan – who’ll be at the cinema opening night . . . with the rest of us.

The same people who’d show up for KING CONAN . . . the same people who are gonna be there for MAVERICK, hell, if you believe what you read in the trades, COBRA is stirring – shit, I know I’ll be front of the queue for Tango and Cash 2.

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So there’s only one thing left for you to do now. Have a listen to David and me get romantic about RAMBO, then, go see LAST BLOOD…

…see  if we get to win this time.

STEVEN LAMBERT: From Reel to Real by Kent Hill

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Steven Lambert has crafted what is, the apotheosis of a war chest of cinematic tales, told in such a vivaciously detailed manor . . . you crave each and every page. It was staggering to read this man’s life and his journey from the neighborhoods of Brooklyn, to the Mount Olympus of the movies.

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Buckle up for what has to be the wildest tell-all, behind the scenes peek into movie history, bursting at the seams with an incredible life, never before told. A self-proclaimed “punk kid”, Lambert trained in the martial arts before becoming an in-demand stuntman in the final golden age of Hollywood, rising from glory to glory, working with and beside screen legends such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Harrison Ford, Al Pacino and James Woods.

Lambert relates such staggering exploits – putting his life on the line for death-defying stunts in films such as Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, where he literally hung from the Statue of Liberty without a harness, doubling Sho Kosugi, the original screen ninja, in films such as Revenge of the Ninja and Ninja III: The Domination. He witnessed the meltdowns and bad behavior from Nicolas Cage and Sean Penn on Racing With the Moon while doubling Penn. And, last but not least, “THE TRUTH” behind the Gene LeBell and Steven Seagal showdown on the set of Out for Justice.

But it’s not just action stars on offer . . . no . . . film-making masters also feature: such as Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Martin Scorsese, and Roland Emmerich – plus the infamous producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus of the infamous Cannon Group.

He’s heard and seen it all – from Chuck Norris to Charlton Heston. I personally could chat to Steve for days, but I’m honored to have been given the time I had, and was humbled to read his utterly absorbing tome that is so packed with awesomeness, you just gotta get out there and get it! From the Streets of Brooklyn, to the Halls of Hollywood – NOW!

(See link below)

GET STEVE’S BOOK HERE:

Thrill of the Hunt: Nate’s Top Ten Cop Vs Serial Killer Films

An obsessed, tormented renegade detective tracks down a disturbed, lone wolf maniac who kills innocent citizens for pleasure, compulsion and perhaps to agitate his pursuer and deliberately instigate a game of cat and mouse. This is an ages old motif that has permeated the thriller genre of Hollywood and beyond for eons, providing complex villains, self destructive protagonists, keen Agency profilers, blustery police captains, angsty mayors and no shortage of chases and carnage. Here are my personal top ten favourites!

10. Eye See You aka D Tox

This is commonly known as ‘that one shitty Sylvester Stallone film that no one saw, and I’ll be the first to admit it has its issues. However, I still enjoy it greatly, I love putting it on on a lazy rainy weekend day. Stallone plays a distraught big city FBI Agent whose girlfriend (Dina Meyer) was slaughtered by a vicious serial killer. After heading north into the mountains to a remote rehab facility for damaged cops (run by Kris Kristofferson no less) he soon begins to realize that the killer may have followed him there when people begin to turn up dead. This is a slightly cheesy, predictable thing but I really like the snowy Agatha Christie vibe and the cast is absolutely stacked with interesting talent including Tom Berenger, Robert Patrick, Jeffrey Wright, Stephen Lang, Charles Dutton, Sean Patrick Flanery, Robert Prosky, Chris Fulford, Polly Walker and more. But which one is the killer?

9. Scott Walker’s The Frozen Ground

Another snowy one, yay! This fantastic film follows Alaska State trooper Jack Halcombe (Nicolas Cage) as he hunts down nasty real life killer Robert Hansen (John Cusack, chilling) who abducted and killed countless girls back in the 80’s. This film is overlooked and works as a thriller, stern police procedural and affecting interpersonal drama. An eclectic supporting cast surrounds Cage and Cusack but the heart of the film for me is Vanessa Hudgens in a brilliant performance as a wayward teenage prostitute who winds up in Hansen’s crosshairs and eventually Halcombe’s protection.

8. Bruce Robinson’s Jennifer 8

There’s a killer loose in an eerie Pacific Northwest town and its up to big city detective Andy Garcia and local sheriff Lance Henriksen to stop them. This is one of Uma Thurman’s first roles as a blind girl who may be next on the killer’s list. Nothing groundbreaking here, but it’s tense, freaky and the rainy setting provides lots of dark groves and ominous alcoves where anyone might be hiding. Also John Malkovich shows up for like five minutes as some weirdo FBI interrogator and chews more scenery than the rest of his collective career combined.

7. E. Elias Merhige’s Suspect Zero

Not one you’d find on many top ten lists, but my aim with these blog posts is to shed light on unfairly maligned films or hidden gems that need a good dose of re-evaluation. Ben Kingsley plays a mysterious serial killer who is praying on other killers for murky reasons that relate to an ages old FBI program that tried to harness the power of clairvoyants. Aaron Eckhart and Carrie Ann Moss pursue him while stylistically fascinating filmmaker Merhige (remember Begotten?) gives an otherwise routine tale some stark, elemental visual horror elements that chill the spine, and Clint Mansell’s nervous score warbles on in the fringes of our awareness.

6. Harold Becker’s Sea Of Love

Al Pacino investigates a series of murders and gets into a sweaty affair with mysterious Ellen Barkin, who may have an involvement in the crimes. The killer here uses unique MO in luring people in via the personals section of the newspaper, which gives Pacino and partner John Goodman some hilarious ‘hands on’ stakeout opportunities. This is sexy stuff but the real danger lurking throughout is never smothered by too many steamy encounters, there’s always balance and when the killer does finally show up in person they’re played by a reliably scary familiar face.

5. Jonathan Demme’s The Silence Of The Lambs

This made waves upon release and holds up wonderfully to this day. Anthony Hopkins’s articulate, sophisticated Hannibal Lecter and Ted Levine’s perverse nut-job Buffalo Bill are still one of the most terrifying duo of killers to ever grace the same film with their collective presence. Jodie Foster ultimately steals the show as Agent Clarice Starling though and hers is a performance you get more out of each time you view the film, full of hidden hurt, dutiful observation and a keen survivor’s instinct.

4. David Fincher’s Seven

Kevin Spacey plays maybe the most heinous killer on this list and at least the most prolific and inventive in ways you’ll wish you didn’t see or hear. Weary veteran cop Morgan Freeman and eager rookie Brad Pitt are assigned to track him down, the hellish investigation inevitably leaking over into their personal lives. Atmosphere is key here and although Fincher never specifies where the bleak, rained out and despairingly lived-in city is located, one gets a darkly ardent sense of place all the same. Sheets of rain pour down, body after body is unearthed, each slain in increasingly gruesome ways and the uncanny feeling that the killer is just steps away haunts every scene like the constant darkness in the visual palette.

3. Gregory Hoblit’s Fallen

The killer isn’t quite human in this noir and supernatural tinged horror flick that finds homicide detective Denzel Washington searching for a killer who has resurfaced to strike again after being executed. Or has he? Or is it a copycat? It’s a conundrum that causes Denzel to question everything he knows and begins to wonder if this monster is something from another world. It’s a brilliant piece with burnished, gothic cinematography and lively supporting work from John Goodman, James Gandolfini, Embeth Davidtz, Donald Sutherland and a terrifying Elias Koteas.

2. David Fincher’s Zodiac

Score two for Fincher! Good on him, this is a sprawling, hyper realistic, meticulous examination of the murders that sent cops, journalists and civilians alike into a panic back in 70’s San Francisco. The film is constructed to follow the real life events as closely as possible and, as most already know, they never caught this guy which makes for a an eerie, dread soaked trip into paranoia and unease. Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo play the dogged, determined professionals who work tirelessly to snag this monster while Fincher expertly crafts some of the most flat out suspenseful, terrifyingly tense scenes ever put to film.

1. Sean Penn’s The Pledge

Jack Nicholson’s ex cop Jerry Black sits alone at a run down, remote Northwest gas station. There’s a haunted air about him as he rambles on to himself and if you’d just been led on the chase of a lifetime by an extremely elusive killer of young girls and then arrived at the excruciatingly unsatisfying conclusion he has, you might be a might frazzled too. Penn’s discomforting, unearthly film is a haunting meditation on obsession, what it does to a person, their choices and mental state when the ultimate result of a quest like this is essentially failure. Many were frustrated by the narrative but that’s where the real beauty lies for me. Penn beautifully illustrates a dark, oblique tale, Nicholson takes on one of his most challenging roles and wins the day, Hans Zimmer creates moody, atmospheric bliss with his score and the cast is peppered with exceptional talent including Benicio Del Toro, Robin Wright, Aaron Eckhart, Sam Shepard, Helen Mirren, Tom Noonan, Lois Smith, Vanessa Redgrave, Costas Mandylor, Patricia Clarkson, Dale Dickey, Harry Dean Stanton and a sensational cameo from Mickey Rourke in one of his very best roles.

Thanks for reading! Please share your favourites in this interesting genre as well!

-Nate Hill

GLORIOUS FURIOSITY: An Interview with Tamas Nadas by Kent Hill

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In this current climate where blockbusters saturate the public consciousness, it is encouraging indeed to see there is still an independent movement – and not only is it alive, but it is flourishing. One of the brightest stars in our indie cinematic heaven at the moment is the fiercely-driven man of many talents, Mr Tamas Nadas.

Tamas is a three-time world champion and eight-time European Champion – that on top of being a former US National Brazilian Ju-Jitsu Champion. In 2017, he won both a silver and bronze medal at the World Police & Fire Games (the second biggest tournament in the World after the summer Olympic Games). In 2018, he was inducted into the US Martial Arts Hall of Fame, and has since been developing projects for his production companies, Busy Day Productions and Dark Road Pictures

His production titled, FIERCE TARGET, is a lightning-paced, action extravaganza that tells the story of a rebel car thief who helps an imperiled 12-year-old girl. As their two worlds collide they are soon marked for death by a corrupt Senator, who orders his security team to conduct a ruthless campaign to erase them both from existence.

A cross between a couple of vintage offerings from ‘The Stath’ (The Transporter, Snatch), tossed into the blender with intense character driven, innovative, kick-ass action – well ladies and gentlemen – you have yourself all the makings of a bloody grand old time at the movies. Rounding out the luminous talents behind this finely crafted throwback to those beer, buddies and bad food action movie nights we have: Chloe Gunther Chung, Tamas Nadas (Millennium Bugs), Emilio Lavizzi (The Exchange), Bryan Hanna (Mega Shark vs Kolossus), Fabrice Sopoglian, Thom Mulligan (RoboWoman), Don Worley, and more. Written and directed by Emilio Lavizzi.

Tamas Nadas and Emilio Lavizzi both made the journey to the land of the free and the home of the brave for the same reason: to become actors. Meeting in California, they began this journey together, and the fruits of their labors are now pristine examples of how awesome a film can be if its makers are big on passion instead of budget. Fierce Target was written while Emilio lived in South of France. Inspiration lingered in the form of those machismo-dripping action/martial arts flicks that never shone like they did in the 80’s and ’90s. The fight choreography was made spartan, infusing the action with a gritty undercurrent.

Casual fans and aficionados alike of indie action goodness – I urge you most fervently to seek out, and above all enjoy, Fierce Target, and my chat with this kick-ass action-moviemaking maestro on the verge of glory…

FOR MORE VISIT:

https://www.facebook.com/FIERCE-TARGET-122459491923/

 

George P. Cosmatos’s Cobra

Sylvester Stallone has never been leaner, meaner and more badass than he was in Cobra, an absolutely unapologetic piece of hyper-violent, deliriously blessed trash from the 80’s, that glorious decade of synth pop music, neon lights and action spectacle supreme. As super cop Marion Cobretti, he uses a laser sighted sub machine gun and pearl handled colt pistol to deal out justice his own way in a hellish nocturnal LA that’s under the grip of a heinous serial killer dubbed the Night Slasher (a juiced up Brian Thompson). Slasher and his disciples are murdering left and right in the most violent and cold blooded ways, and the only witness left alive (Brigitte Nelson) has to tag along with Cobra and his deadly quest. A delightful simplicity can be found in these types of films, but this one isn’t just your garden variety actioner. There’s a reckless penchant for excess and stylistic flourish put into everything from Cobra’s gorgeous 1950 Mercury to his specific weapons to the Night Slasher’s gut ventilating melee knife to the beautifully threatening synth score to Stallone’s windshield size sunglasses, this thing is pure a*e*s*t*h*e*t*i*c! It’s no wonder that auteur stylist Nicolas Winding Refn was influenced by the tone of the film and by Cobra himself, who moodily chews on a matchstick later echoed by Ryan Gosling’s toothpick in the modern classic Drive. This is admittedly largely a brainless action flick, no doubt; Stallone dispatches literally hordes of psychopathic goons with his artillery and the final showdown takes place in that ages old, sparking scrap metal factory that we’ve seen in everything from Terminator 2 to Gone In 60 Seconds. Cobra has a wise cracking partner (Rene Santoni) and is hounded by idiotic, misguided superior officers (Art Lafleur and Andrew Robinson), plus he gets to utter some one liners, so all the tropes are there. But there’s just something so sleek and specific about the film’s design that sets it apart, attention to style and design that goes a long way in bringing vision to the screen. Cobra may be just another ultra violent action flick, but it’s cool in ways that others aren’t tuned in to, and I fucking loved it for that.

-Nate Hill