“The best movies you totally forgot about”
That’s the marketing slogan for this Lionsgate collection of mostly 1980’s films that never really broke any ground in their box office releases. They are, for the most part, cheap comedies. A few have somewhat of a cult following. None of them ever really set the receipts on fire. At just under $15 each, likely less if you shop around, they are good for a couple of laughs, but little more than that.
Unfortunately, this collection does not add anything to the titles that have been released before. For the ones that were not, well… there’s a reason why after 15 years of DVD releases these were skipped over. Believe it or not, these eight films combined for under $32 million at the box office. That’s total domestic and international gross.
Here’s a breakdown of the films in the collection:
Andrew (Cryer) is a stock broker who is set to testify against the mob. He and his misfit fellow brokers are being protected by the FBI. Of course, when you’ve got the munchies, you gotta eat. So, they sneak out for some food and end up in a zany cat and mouse game with the hit men. Taking cover in a nearby school Andrew goes undercover unwittingly as a student. It’s now time for the film to shift gears into a high school comedy that touches on all of the stereotypes as Andrew, posing as Max takes the student body by storm. There’s the student government election, the hot chick (Annabeth Gish), the clueless adults, and the bully jocks. Throw in a lot of MTV generation 80’s music video segments and you have a film that pretty much sums up a segment of the 1980’s comedy scene. About the best thing this movie has going for it is the late John Spencer from The West Wing as one of the FBI agents.
Homer & Eddie:
Homer (Belushi) gets word that his dad is dying so he makes the trek from Arizona all the way to Oregon. Now, Homer’s not the sharpest tool in the box. He had a brain injury as a child, and things don’t go so well for the lovable but hapless guy. He accepts a ride from some hoods who rip him off and leave him with nothing. Alone in a junk yard he runs into Eddie (Goldberg). She’s completely insane. Together they’re going to get Homer’s money back and get him to Oregon. The side trips are where the action is putting the unlikely duo in what were intended to be charming and funny situations. The problem is that this movie hasn’t completely decided what it is intended to be. Many of the circumstances scream comedy, but it’s not really a comedy. It’s trying to be a heartwarming journey tale, but never quite settles into the part. Goldberg’s character is reportedly dying but doesn’t take it all that seriously. There are even moments the film attempts to be a romantic comedy, of sorts. There isn’t a physical relationship between the two, that part is taken up by a Karen Black cameo that is too stupid to reveal, but there is a sort of romance between them. The film never could find the right audience and slipped into obscurity in spite of the fact that it contained two pretty heavy hitters in the lead roles.
This might well be the more mainstream film in the collection. It was an early role for child actress Drew Barrymore. The Brodsky’s are breaking up. Albert (O’Neal) and Lucy (Long) are a well known Hollywood power team. Now they are entering into a messy split. Albert has had a fling with a young starlet played here by a relatively unknown Sharon Stone at the time. The break up is heading to court, but not by the principles. Young daughter Casey (Barrymore) has hired a lawyer and wants to divorce her parents. The film relies heavily on flashbacks as the witnesses talk about the relationship from its beginnings to its eventual hardships and its impact on poor little Casey. The film ends in one of those warm and fuzzy climax moments that you saw coming from the first ten minutes. The movie did receive some unwelcome press as it was revealed to have been not so subtly based on the real life break up of Peter Bogdanovich and his wife. To make the whole thing a little more surreal, the husband and wife team of Nancy Myers and Charles Shyer that wrote and directed this film actually went through a nasty split themselves in 1999. There are too many overtly stereotypical characters. The film also attempts to capitalize on Barrymore’s cuteness but it wears thin after a short time. What started as a clever concept gets old very fast, which might explain the film’s original success and swift descent into obscurity.
Morgan Stewart’s Coming Home:
To show how obscure this one is, I’d never even heard of it before it arrived as part of this collection. Here’s some Hollywood insider information for you. Say you’ve been involved in a movie that you are pretty embarrassed to have been associated with. For some reason or another you begin to realize your own movie sucks. What do you do? In Hollywood the director’s guild allows you to replace your name with one of a handful of “psudonames” that Hollywood insiders immediately recognize for what it is. Alan Smithee is one of those names. Look carefully at the credits here and you’ll find the name Alan Smithee appears several times. Both Paul Aaron and Terry Winsor opted to use the name in place of their own screen credit. So, why should I watch a film even the director’s thought sucked? Because it came to my door via Lionsgate, and I take my duty to you guys seriously. No, really. I do. Long story short (too late) John Cryer stars as the titular Morgan Stewart. He’s away at an expensive boarding school out of the hair of his wealthy self-absorbed parents. When the holidays finally arrive Morgan is asked to finally come home and spend some time as a family. But, don’t you believe it. You see Senator Stewart, Morgan’s dad needs some points with his constituents in his latest campaign. He needs to be seen as a family man. Of course, comedy is intended to ensue as the family reunites and tries to act like their closer than The Waltons. The end is the predictable moment where Morgan saves the day, and his Senator pop from the evil campaign manager. Am I asleep yet?
The Night Before:
This film is notable only as one of Keanu Reeves early disasters. This is one of those lost weekend plots. Winston wakes up the day after his prom with no memory of what happened the night before. His date’s father is a cop who wants Winston’s butt badly. It seems his daughter (Loughlin) might have been sold into slavery to a guy named Tito on Prom Night. If only Winston could remember. If only I could forget.
Unlike most of the films in this collection, this one actually is funny. Linda Blair and Leslie Nielsen star in this send up of Blair’s most famous role as Regan in The Exorcist.
David Annandale said it best in his full on review of the film: As a child, Nancy (Linda Blair, who played “Regan” in the original — get it?) was possessed by the devil, but was saved by Father Leslie Nielsen. But now she has been repossessed, and the battle begins anew. Repossessed adopts the approach of the Airplane and Naked Gun films, but has none of their skill. There are a couple of okay chuckles, but most of this plays like a bad high school sketch show. Writer/director Bob Logan forgot that what made Neil…en so funny in the other films was his dead straight approach to the material. Here he mugs like Jerry Lewis. But then, so does everybody else. Mortifying. You can check his entire review here: Repossessed
Marty (Scuddamore) wasn’t treated very well in high school. When he is scared for life by one of taunts gone badly he retreats into his own twisted world. Now it’s five years later and Marty has arranged a reunion for his old “pals”. This is obviously a riff on Carrie and a few other teen splatter films. It takes the “Ten Little Indians” theme and plays it for laughs. The film is most notable in that the movie’s lead Simon Scuddamore did kill himself right after making the movie. The film also features horrordom queen Caroline Munro.
My Best Friend Is A Vampire:
Jeremy (Leonard) is a typical high school loser. One night he gets bitten by a hot chick with some rather long fangs. Now he’s beginning to take on the characteristics of a vampire, which is bad news for Jeremy, because the Van Helsing clone McCarthy (Warner) wants to stake out his own claim on Jeremy and his hot babe. This comedic look at the undead has one fatal flaw. It’s unfunny. The film uses the old mistaken identity gag to keep Jeremy out of McCarthy’s sites, at least for a time.
All of the films of this collection are in full frame format, except for Hiding Out which is in it’s original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. These releases are cheap and intended mostly for laughs. The transfers here certainly bare that out. Without exception the films show print damage and suffer from poor transfers. Colors are often washed and these things look like television broadcasts and not box office films on DVD release. If you’re getting any of these titles, it’s not going to be for the audio or video presentation. If it is, you are going to be disappointed. These prints are not even average presentations.
All contain Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks and with little exception they might as well have been 2.0 presentations. Some, like Hiding Out, have a pretty good collection of tunes but they fall flat on the very basic bare bones track.
All of the films come with very lame “trivia tracks” These are subtitles that run throughout the film offering general information and a few true/false questions.
The release of Lionsgate’s Lost Collection is strictly a gimmick. There wasn’t much of an audience for these films when they were new. I doubt there is more than a fleeting late night television interest now. If these were horror or science fiction films they would surely have been fodder for The Mystery Science Fiction Theater treatment… hey now that’s an idea. Otherwise, you’re better off taking a pass. I ended up getting these films to review and so I had to get into them. “but now I just ask myself “How do I get out?”