So I still use than damn red envelope Netflix service! Yes, it’s true, DVDs still come to my residence regularly. Yes, I may be one of the last people in the country but hey let’s be honest, the selection of DVD’s they have are far and away better than the forgettable movies & bland series they churn out onto their streaming service. Well, yesterday they delivered an interesting one to my mail box: 2003’s ‘Highwaymen’ from Robert Harmon the director of 1986’s ‘The Hitcher’, easily one of the best highway horror movies of ALL time. Well it turns out Harmon had another trick up his sleeve that he saved for the 2000’s, between his run on the Tom Selleck ‘Jesse Stone’ movies (ok that I was surprised to find out about). Hey that’s besides the point because Harmon clearly has some skills when he gets into his element of car related horror, at least I think so!
I had very, very low expectations for ‘Highwaymen’, the early 2000’s aren’t exactly my choice era for movie viewing and my discovery of his ‘Jesse Stone’ flicks didn’t exactly add to the excitement (or maybe I’m missing something? Are the Jesse Stone movies actually totally RAD?!). However from the opening of this one my interest was peaked and a weird movie that hung around in my queue for ages began to transform into somewhat of a forgotten gem before my very eyes. Jim Cavezial stars as traumatized husband who witnesses his wife murdered in broad daylight, while walking on the side of a country road from a clearly intentional hit and run. From there we skip ahead in time and it seems the same 1972 Cadillac Eldorado is back on the road and out for some more deadly “hit and run” fun, this time targeting two women driving at night on the highway. From behind the beastly car’s wheel we can see a strange man with crude prosthetic limbs aggressively shifting the gears and enjoying the roadway terror all too much.
Only one of the women survives the encounter and ends up meeting Cavezial seemingly “by chance” and the two embark on a creepy road adventure to get revenge on the maniac serial killer driver. I was pleasantly surprised by how entertaining this one was and that might be because of just how absurd this one’s plot really is and how straight it’s all played. You’re going to have to suspend your disbelief for pretty much every action sequence here, as I said it’s totally absurd but in the best ways possible.
That’s not say they’re not totally enjoyable, action packed and thrilling, Harmon’s got the chops here and jam packs some crazy ass shit into a barely 80 minute run time and it’s all beautifully filmed. There’s some epic road battles here and the psycho villain (who’d probably hung out with Rutger Hauer’s character from the Hitcher back in the 80’s), simply referred to as “Fargo” is a bizarre creation as he’s essentially merged with his vintage car to cause ultimate terror on the highway. Throw in a little ridiculous backstory and you’e got a pretty unique little highway horror flick that’s pace never lets up.
If you’re looking for a quick, action packed, car based horror thriller this one is a pretty fun one that’d be perfect to pair up as the opening act for a double feature with the 1986 cult classic ‘The Hitcher’! It’s not gotten much love over the years, probably because no one’s really heard of it or given it a chance (damn you Jesse Stone!). However as far as road based horror goes I think Highwayman is on it’s way to becoming a cult classic as it’s, at least in my opinion, in my opinion aged quite well over the last 17 years! Give it a shot!
“Stranger Things” is the series to binge on this summer, I absolutely loved it. Secondly it’s very obvious that The Duffer Brothers are fans of The Goonies, E.T., Poltergeist, Gremlins, Close Encounters and fully succeeded in replicating the nostalgic vibe of those movies for the Netflix series this summer. They gave us that special feeling we’ve all missed for so many years, especially if you grew up in those times. People are already clamoring for a second season, so what are we all supposed to do in the meantime? Well I’ve put together a list of some movies that I think likely were an inspiration to the hit series that you might have totally missed out or haven’t seen in a while!
Most of these flicks follow the “Amblin” formula. Amblin cranked out a lot of the spooky 80’s Speilberg style movies. It was a formula that seemed to put kids on dangerous adventures, most often supernatural ones, usually in small towns or the suburbs and most often trying to prove to their parents some crazy story to be true with often times unlucky results. These stories were filled with wonder and most of all they were so undeniably fun to watch that to see a series like Stranger Things in this day and age is a breath of fresh air. So here today in response I’d like to honor 10 of the lesser known movies you’ve gotta hunt down if you dug Stranger Things as much as I did.
1. The Gate (1986) To say they weren’t influenced by this movie when making Stranger Things would be a crime!!
Ok so check this out, here’s two of my favorite movie covers /posters for two of the coolest 80’s movies ever! Dreamscape and A Nightmare on Elm Street, now I know that probably everyone is very familiar with the artwork of both of these BUT I found out recently something when I was trying to figure out if these two movies shared the same cover artist. They do not but they share something else quite sinister I found out. It turns out that the artwork of a Nightmare on Elm Street features a familiar face from the Dreamscape movie universe- OR perhaps it’s the other way around?! If you look closely first at the Dreamscape art done by Drew Struzan take note of the snake creature above the title, who makes several appearances in the movie:
Ok now let’s take a look at the equally incredible artwork by Matthew Peak who did the artwork first five Elm Street flicks. Look closely above the blade of the pinky finger on the right, do you see it? It’s the snake creature from Dreamscape…..
Here’s it blown up a bit…
Both of these movies came out in 1984 and as I did more research on it it was indeed added by Matthew Peak as an homage and this could be proof that maybe just maybe Dreamscape and A Nightmare on Elmstreet are shared universes- Now if this took place today I’m certain you’d likely see Dennis Quaid in an Elm Street sequel where enters the dreams of Freddy’s victims and takes on Mr. Krueger himself! Damn what a missed opportunity-how awesome would that have been?!!!
A lot of people may have forgotten about Maxx FX from the eighties, or most likely never heard of the guy at all- and what a shame that is! Maxx Fx was the guy that Barbie would have ditched Ken for if she wasn’t a total lame-o back in 1989! Unfortunately Maxx had a short lifespan, and the special fx action figure / doll only had one official costume, that of horror icon Freddy Krueger!
But if you’re a little confused let me put it this way the Maxx FX doll came with the clothing, the mask and accessories to transform him into Freddy. This awesome idea was not supposed to stop with Freddy, it was supposed to continue on with many more movie monsters, unfortunately Matchbox put the kibosh on the action figure early on.
As the awesome Maxx Fx website states Maxx Fx was a make up artist and a crimefighter and could become anyone he wanted! I highly suggest getting the whole story and taking a look at what could have been with the entire toyline, it was a brilliant idea and Matchbox totally dropped the ball!! In the meantime enjoy this cool ass Maxx FX commercial from 1989! Eat it KEN! And Barbie you BLEW it!!
This one too!