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The Films of Bob Clark

She-Man: A Story of Fixation

Dead of Night

Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things

Black Christmas (December 11/06)

Though infused with a whole host of dated elements, Black Christmas remains a sporadically effective slasher that's buoyed by the use of several genre-specific devices that are still in use today (ie an opening point-of-view shot that undoubtedly inspired John Carpenter's Halloween). Set over several days during the Christmas season, the film follows an unknown assailant as he makes his way into a sorority house and begins terrorizing the residents (including Olivia Hussey's Jessica, Margot Kidder's Barbie, and Andrea Martin's Phyllis). Black Christmas' dearth of plot lends the proceedings a distinctly uneven sort of vibe, and while the film does possess a number of genuinely suspenseful moments (ie "the calls are coming from inside the house!"), one can't help but lament the inclusion of several needless subplots (ie a goofy cop that's the brunt of his co-workers' scorn). Hussey's exceedingly broad performance probably doesn't help matters, although - to be fair - she is trapped within the confines of a stereotypically idiotic character who makes all the wrong decisions (ie why is she going up the stairs?)

out of

Breaking Point

Murder by Decree



Porky's II: The Next Day

A Christmas Story

Rhinestone (July 5/05)

Well, it certainly comes as no surprise to learn that Rhinestone currently occupies a spot on the Internet Movie Database's bottom 100 films of all time. This is a disastrous mess of a movie that essentially killed director Bob Clark's career (pre-Rhinestone: A Christmas Story and Porky's. Post-Rhinestone: Baby Geniuses and The Karate Dog), and proved without a doubt that Sylvester Stallone should stay far, far away from comedies. Dolly Parton plays Jake, a country singer trapped in a contract with a sleazy manager (played by Ron Leibman). The story kicks off when Jake decides to bet said sleazy manager that she can turn anyone off the street into an honest-to-god country singer. Enter loud-mouthed New York cab driver Nick Martinelli (Stallone). Astonishingly enough, Rhinestone's screenplay is credited to Stallone and Field of Dreams writer/director Phil Alden Robinson (although, if the IMDb is to be believed, Stallone essentially rewrote the entire thing). There's virtually nothing here that works, from the terminally unfunny dialogue to Stallone's obnoxious over-the-top performance to the mediocre songs (of which there are many). Put it this way: Rhinestone makes one pine for the subtle nuance of Parton's Straight Talk.

no stars out of

Turk 182!

From The Hip (December 29/14)

An almost excessively erratic legal drama, From The Hip follows hotshot (yet green) attorney Robin Weathers (Judd Nelson) as he's assigned a seemingly unwinnable case by his irate bosses - with the film detailing Weathers' efforts at proving the innocence of a seriously sinister defendant (John Hurt's Douglas Benoit). It's perhaps not surprising to note that From The Hip fares best in its courtroom sequences, as such moments have been infused with a decidedly lurid sensibility that proves impossible to resist (eg there's a fantastically entertaining sequence in which Weathers debates with opposing counsel and the judge over his use of the word "asshole.") It's equally clear, however, that the film flounders in its non-legal interludes, as scripters David E. Kelley and Bob Clark are generally unable to elevate From The Hip's character and story-based elements above the level of a garden-variety soap opera. (Elizabeth Perkins, cast as Weathers' wife, is given exceedingly little to do, for example.) And although the movie hits a significant lull in its midsection, From The Hip bounces back with the introduction of Hurt's irresistibly sociopathic figure - with the narrative building to an almost impressively over-the-top showdown between Weathers and Benoit (ie it's just so unabashedly salacious and tawdry). The end result is a watchable effort that feels like a template for Kelley's subsequent small-screen endeavors (eg Picket Fences' Ray Walston even shows up as a cranky judge!), and yet there's certainly a good reason that the movie has essentially been forgotten in the years since its 1987 release.

out of

Loose Cannons

The American Clock

It Runs in the Family


Stolen Memories

The Ransom of Red Chief

Baby Geniuses

Catch a Falling Star

I'll Remember April

Now & Forever

Maniac Magee

The Karate Dog

Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2

© David Nusair