by Louis Fowler
Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.
Nicolas Meyer has written some of the most entertaining classics of our time: The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Time After Time and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Sadly, his latest, The Hessen Conspiracy, doesn't fall into that category — it's merely an “OK” movie, at best. Billy Zane is perfectly cast as a suave, take-no-guff colonel in the latter days of World War II. Stationed at an abandoned castle, Zane and his crew come upon millions of dollars worth of royal gems and jewelry. Together with a brash lieutenant (a radiant Lyne Renee, who exudes 1940s' glam), they hatch a scheme to get the riches to America and sell them to the highest bidder. When the movie gets to America, however, it drags so much that you want to push the fast-forward button.
No one makes low-budget genre fare better than Roger Corman. Be it sea creatures in rubber-suits or slimy alien rapists, Corman can always deliver the goods. But what happens when he tries to get serious? What happens when he tries to make an “issue” movie? Well, the results are even more entertaining than when he doesn't. Yep, Fire on the Amazon is a movie about the devastation of the rainforests and one man's fight to stop it. Of course, when that man happens to be the ridiculously coiffed Craig Sheffer, looking like he came straight from a grunge-era Playgirl photo shoot, the results will be nothing more than ineffectually comedic. If that weren't enough, this also happens to be on of the earliest films to star Sandra Bullock, and, true to Corman form, she has a sex scene. Does the rainforest get saved? No, but Bullock does get many long-winded speeches about displaced native peoples that actually made me almost want to do something. Almost.
Have we really come this far in comedy? One Night With Dice, the notorious Andrew Dice Clay comedy special from 1986, is loaded with so many anti-homosexual epithets that it damn near borders on a hate crime. But, if you ask me, the real crime is that Clay is just plain not funny. From the embarrassing opening rap number, featuring trademarked white-guy lyrics (“My name is Dice and I'm here to say ...”) to his finale featuring impressions of John Travolta, Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino asking a teacher to use the commode, you gotta ask yourself: Why was this guy such a comedic sensation in the late ’80s? Because he was so politically incorrect, was it taking a rebellious stand to proclaim your fandom of him? Because all that really did was prove that you have no taste in comedy. If anything, One Night is an interesting relic from a bygone era, hideously shot on video in an uninterested room. Think Eddie Murphy's Delirious for the Caucasian crowd.