Monday, November 4, 2013

Instant Gratification Theater: Warner Instant roundup

Some more of what I've been watching on Warner Arhive Instant:

Zero Hour: My good buddy Ivan gave this airplane-in-peril flick a shout-out a while back but mentioned the elephant in the room (fortunately not "Elephant on a Plane," which would be an entirely different film): The team of Zucker-Abrams-Zucker used this as the template for their classic disaster movie spoof "Airplane!" Indeed, it's impossible to see 'Zero Hour" without thinking of "Airplane!" but it's still a fine movie in its own right. The problem is isolating it to just its own right.

What jumps out at me is just how much ZAZ used of "Zero Hour." It's not just the broad outlines of the story, as I always assumed, but entire scenes, characterizations, even dialogue that they lifted for their comedy. It makes watching this and not giggling occasionally an impossible task. Yet the original is so well crafted that even with the blatant parallels, you find yourself wrapped up in Dana Andrews' struggles to land that plane in the face of adversity and his own traumatic past. At least I did. I give "Zero Hour" a strong recommendation. Yes, I also re-watched "Airplane" not too long afterwards, and I found it as funny as ever.

Disembodied: This wild jungle flick features Alison Hayes scheming and gyrating suggestively (not at the same time...but, well, actually, probably, yeah), Paul Kelly out of his urban "Naked City" element, and VOODOO! Need I say more? It's a fun B-movie that pretty much delivers what it promises. I wouldn't want to shell out full price for the DVD, but it's a nice watch on streaming video.

Skyjacked: I'm thinking this disaster flick also inspired "Airplane!" though I don't usually see people make that connection. Chuck Heston pilots a commercial airliner that receives an onboard bomb threat, and he and an ALL-STAR CAST must try to survive. Do they meet the hijacker's demands? Well, I'll say that it's a really fun disaster in the sky picture, and then there is a bit of a shift at a certain pivotal point. When "Skyjacked" becomes less disaster flick and more action/thriller centered more on Heston, it's not nearly as fun. Again, though, it's well worth a watch.

I can't get out of here without listing a bunch of the stars of "Skyjacked:" Clint Walker, Rosey Grier, James Brolin, Jeanne Crain, Susan Dey, Mariette Hartley, Nicholas "Spider-Man" Hammond, Walter Pidgeon...Need I say more? No, I needn't. If you're into these movies, you get about 3/4 of a really good one here. Again, well worth a watch on streaming.

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