COMPILED BY ERIX ANTOINE
It was only a matter of time…
The B Action Movie Thread has been a gargantuan mainstay of this site for several years. So, in our continued efforts to dominate the internet in every conceivable way, here is a weekly column. A digest, if you will. Dig in and we’ll see you in the thread!
THIS WEEK ON THE B ACTION MOVIE THREAD (Last Week’s Installment)
Erix here with a summary of the B Thread discourse from pages 1439 to 1441.
We begin by mourning the passing of film legend Sidney Lumet. In true B Thread tradition, this leads to a lot of Q & A referencing. And I can think of little else to do but to post the above picture of Lumet accompanied by his smoking hot daughters.
Fat Elvis is more eloquent with his tribute as he posts his personal top ten Lumet films. And they are…
1. Dog Day Afternoon
2. The Verdict
3. The Hill
4. Prince of the City
7. 12 Angry Men
8. Running On Empty
9. The Offence
10 The Morning After
Moving right along… The B Thread offers all the film criticism you need. First up, NathanW with his review of Sucker Punch.
My review of SuckerPunch: Explosions. Pretty girls. I’m so confused. What’s happening now? More explosions. The end. The film did nothing for me, Snyder loaded the film with every visual technique he could think of, it almost felt like he wanted every single scene to be amazing and cool, that’s all this film really is, just a succession of money shots, the narrative seemed like an afterthought.
He didn’t care for Sucker Punch, much like most of the civilized world it seems… But, as he is our resident Asian cinema expert, he leaves us with this wonderful trailer for the classic Full Contact - it’s probably a better viewing option than Sucker Punch.
Moltisanti also regales us with some film criticism of his own. First up – he finally watches Jonah Hex.
Finished up watching HBO’s broadcast premier of JONAH HEX. Really couldn’t make hide nor hair of it. Left me with the impression that it was edited with a fork and spoon. Hard to believe that a movie about John Malkovich hurling explosive orange balls at America could be so drab. People who always complain that Will Arnett plays the same smarmy guy in every role he gets should check him out in HEX. He proves he’s quite capable of playing a dull military officer of no consequence.
Then, he offers us a glimpse at the James Garner spaghetti western A Man Called Sledge
Kind of an odd spaghetti western in that it was filmed in Italy but was directed by Vic Morrow. Garner plays Sledge, an outlaw whose gang pulls off a heist of $300,000 in gold from a heavily armed prison. Then the gang has a falling-out and all double-cross each other like outlaw gangs are want to do.
Not bad, but not really exceptional in any particular way aside from Garner’s odd resemblance to Burt Reynolds throughout the film. John Marley does good work as the “Old Man” who gives Garner the idea for the heist. You’ll all recall Marley as the movie mogul who gave the great “SHE WAS THE GREATEST PIECE OF ASS I EVER HAD AND I’VE HAD ‘EM ALL OVER THE WORLD!” speech in THE GODFATHER.
Much better than JONAH HEX.
What have I been up to? I’ve been revisiting some classics that I just acquired on Blu Ray. First… I revisited AIR FORCE ONE.
Still a terrific action picture that’s a lot of fun. I love the tragic subplot of Jurgen Prochnow. I enjoy how he doesn’t have a single line in the entire movie and dies like an asshole.
The big complaint I have with the movie is the same now as it was then – the arch villain is killed off almost a half hour before the movie is over. That was a miscalculation but it happened because they came up with a premise that is hard to sustain for more than 90 minutes. They should have kept the movie at a leaner 100 minute length and tightened up the climax. That way Oldman can die and we can get closing credits a few minutes later. The way it plays out, it seems like you just started watching another movie about dogfights over the Atlantic.
(Editor’s note – I should probably also add that I feel (as I did then) that Bill Smitrovich’s line: “NOBODY DOES THIS TO THE UNITED STATES!” should have been the tagline. If you’re going to be that direct, why not just put it up front? Instead, they went with “Harrison Ford is the president of The United States” and I guess that got butts in seats)
I also revisited Pale Rider, which I had not seen since the 90s.
It’s a good movie but I had forgotten what a slow burn it really is. It sounds weird to say this but, basically, NOTHING HAPPENS until the last half hour or so of the movie. Clint beats up Charlie Hallahan with a hickory stick. Then he hangs out with Michael Moriarty… Then that 12-year-old tells him she’s in love with him (and yet the American censors lopped a half hour off of LEON for basically the same thing) but it’s basically a lot of talk and mope until the final shootout, which is a great sequence of course. But, given that they were selling it as “the next great American western” in the trailers – and the movie is really just an underhanded remake of Shane, I can imagine some walked out of there disappointed in 1985.
Although John Russell gets that nice poetic death, I am a bigger fan of Moriarty taking out Richard Dysart.
In other news… duke fleed is very excited about comic book movies…
Tonight I faced some…STARK Reality, as I saw, Iron Man and War Machine Cure their…HAMMEROIDS, with Tony and Jim’s answer to…Preperation H,…Their nurse…The Black Widow, and of course, Stark Tech! I have now seen, Iron Man 2…5 Times! In less than…13 Months, we get to hear the call…AVENGERS ASSEMBLE, as, EARTH’S MIGHTIEST HEROES, fight MARVEL’s most…EEEEEEEEEvil Villains!
And felix brings us this week’s slice of Seagal…
The BIG NEWS is that Walter Hill has signed on to direct Stallone in Headshot. I think we can all rest easy that it isn’t Noam Murro (or Darren Lynn Bousman for that matter). We are all very excited. Moltisanti can probably speak for all of us when he says:
Oh boy. I was somewhat skeptical last week but now it’s time to celebrate. An extra scoop of off-brand chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream for me tonight.
And now… Let’s make with our Walter Hill top ten lists. See if you agree.
My New And Improved Top 10 Walter Hill!
1. Streets of Fire
2. 48 Hrs.
3. The Long Riders
4. Southern Comfort
5, Hard Times
6. The Driver
7. The Warriors
8. Extreme Prejudice
9. Johnny Handsome
S.D. Bob Plissken
1. The Warriors (1979)
2. 48 Hrs. (1982)
3. Last Man Standing (1996)
4. The Driver (1979)
5. Southern Comfort (1981)
6. Red Heat (1988)
7. Streets of Fire (1984)
8. The Long Riders (1980)
9. Another 48 Hrs. (1990)
10. Geronimo: An American Legend (1993)
1. Streets of Fire
2. 48 Hrs.
3. The Warriors
4. Extreme Prejudice
6. Johnny Handsome
7. The Driver
8. Southern Comfort
10. Hard Times
wadew1’s Walter Hill Essentials
Last Man Standing
I can’t make a top ten Walter Hill list. I’m too lazy.
But my favorite Walter Hill films are Johnny Handsome, Trespass, 48 HRS and Extreme Prejudice. I guess in that order, yeah. Which is not to say I don’t like the others you’ve mentioned. I pretty much like them all except those Westerns he did in the 90s and Red Heat is not high on my list either.
Oh… And we all agree, of course, that only ONE MAN should be responsible for Headshot’s musical score…
Finally, we’d like to welcome our newest contributor Mister Falcon.
Hello B-Action Movie Thread! Long time lurker, first time poster. I live in Oklahoma, am a fan of action, horror, sci-fi, etc. I was a teen during the Golden Age of the 80’s so of course I love that era, but I also have a fondness for the big, overblown action movies of the 90’s. I hope to contribute a little to the discussion here from time to time.
Oh, and to answer the question burning in your mind: no, I have never seen The Rookie. Someday, someday.
Yes… Get on that Mister Falcon, and welcome to our family.
Okay dear readers, that’s it for the thread this week… We leave you with this.
THE MIND OF RENE F. RANGEL
So we had a double feature of Arthur and Your Highness. Arthur was pretty funny, and Brand works well in the role saying lots of shit that almost doesn’t make sense, but has you laughing. …. It’s nowhere near as good as the original, but it’s still decent enough.
Watching The Laughing Policeman right now. Pretty damn good. Finally seeing a movie where Louis Gossett, Jr. has hair, and how surprisingly youthful Walter Matthau looks. Maybe it’s the black hair, but right from the beginning I was amazed by how young he looks even though he was already in his 50’s. I guess I’m just so used to seeing him in all of his later films. Lots of broads with big bazookas on display.
Thanks to the wonderful cinematic device that is Netflix Instant, I have access to numerous films, a lot of which are crap, but I don’t care, because it’s basically free to watch.
(Editor’s note – Rene had a rough time this week. A tree fell on him. But he’s doing much better now and he informed us that he sure butchered THE FUCK out of that tree afterward. In any case, let’s all give him our best)
* * * *
We now continue with our month-long retrospective of one of the great B Movie craftsmen – GEORGE P. COSMATOS.
THIS WEEK’S MOVIE
I Don’t Shop Here, or How I Learned to Cut My Pizza with Scissors: MIKE FLYNN – Movie Column Co-Author, College Student, and Communication Arts Major, Offers a Cultural and Ideological Analysis of COBRA
In America, there’s a burglary every 11 seconds…an armed robbery every 65 seconds…a violent crime every 25 seconds…a murder every 24 minutes, and 250 rapes a day.
Not even a minute into the film beginning, Cobra loudly announces itself as a dark, didactic parable exploring the dark side of Reagan-era America. Then, just when you thought it wasn’t enough like a really brooding public service announcement with the ominous statistics and gravelly voice-over by Sylvester Stallone, a bullet hurdles out of the gun carefully being revealed throughout the credits, as the title flashes on screen against a blood-red background.
The first minute of this film is exactly like the sort of spot you’d see during the USA Cartoon Express or a syndicated weekday afternoon programming block that would unquestionably scare the shit out of the target audience. Mind you, it’s a perfect way of opening the film: Cobra is the exact sort of film that came out of the afterbirth of the social and cultural gloom and edgy consumerism that cast over America in the mid-1980’s. Spiritually, the film is a sibling of “very special episodes” of sitcoms, civil unrest in Latin America, the crack cocaine epidemic, laser tag, slasher films, cyberpunk literature, and the video for Judas Priest’s “Turbo Lover”—basically, many aspects of pop culture from the era which can either be analyzed as morally abhorrent or intriguing cautionary tales.
Furthermore, the poster is pretty goddamn threatening too, and by threatening, I mean fucking awesome. Crime is a disease. MEET THE CURE. Throw in Stallone chewing that match, those awesome Lemmy sunglasses, a pistol with a cobra on the grip, and two grenades on his belt, plus the fact that he’s clutching a laser-sighted submachine gun, and just like that, the poster is a flawless evocation of how much of a clusterfuck Cobra is.
Born from Sly’s serious-minded gutting of the screenplay for Beverly Hills Cop and the long out-of-print novel Fair Game by Paula Gosling, good ol’ Golan and Globus teamed with Warner Bros. to ensure Marion Cobretti would be the next great American hero from Sly. He was envisioned as a Dirty Harry for the 80’s, a noble black knight destined to defend the American bourgeois from the scum of the earth by any means necessary, and on principle, with the exception of Rocky and Rambo, Cobra boasted a potential breakout of a good guy and renegade
Perhaps the best way to sum up the general consensus of Cobra is the blisteringly hilarious sketch from Stallone’s 1997 Saturday Night Live hosting gig (by the way, one of the absolute best episodes of that era that I’d gladly highlight in this column) where Norm Macdonald and Ana Gasteyer play car crash victims helped out by the man himself, only to continually eviscerate the blights of his career. When MacDonald questions Stallone if he’s even seen Cobra, he defends the film by saying that it “actually got screwed up in the, uh…editing.” As the sketch progresses, the star of Dirty Work continually escalates his grudge against Sly’s filmography, so much so that he reacts in an unmitigated rage after endearing a long-winded lambasting of Over the Top, which fervently but playfully toys with the inferences of Stallone’s 80’s output, that the films were so self-serious devoid of genuine humor or irony that they demanded to be laughed at.
No matter how awful the sex scene in The Specialist is or how much I really, really have a deep-seated hatred of Lock Up, I will be an ardent defender of Sly until the day I die. The man is a legend, and if you’ve read his Ain’t It Cool News Q&A sessions (among which one of my questions was one of the first ten to be fielded to him), you will see that he is a true professional, one of the most humble, articulate people working in the business whose experiences in film (and protein-infused pudding), no matter how good or bad, have produced a seasoned individualist a cut above the rest.
At the beginning, when Cobretti growls at the ugly, shotgun-blasting thug who is terrorizing a supermarket during the Christmas season, “I don’t shop here,” and then, upon encountering him face to face, paraphrases the poster’s tagline, most actors would be unable to keep a convincing poker face uttering knee-slappers like that. However, the magic of Stallone is that he never lowers his dignity in the face of ridiculous dialogue and situations, and he comes off as a man who is legitimately pissed off at the world. I mean, how can you explain a guy who spends his free time brooding, tossing his newspaper into his grill, cleaning his gun, and chowing down on leftover pizza that he left in the freezer and snips it with a pair of scissors?
Why, the answer is clearly doing just that, and then flipping on the TV news to hear about the latest hatchet job (heh heh, pun intended!) by the Night Slasher (played, in true Cannon fashion, with infinite grime and nonstop evil sneering and cackling, by Brian Thompson). The Night Slasher is a creep of the tallest, creepiest order. His ugly face and obsession with stabbing things is so utterly grotesque and full of venom (ironic, considering how he’s not the one nicknamed after a poisonous snake) that, when you throw in his innumerous goons and his lover who looks like a transvestite’s desperate last stand in trying to look just like Stockard Channing1, he makes the punks in Death Wish 3 and Class of 1984 look like the cast of Sesame Street in comparison.
In setting up the Night Slasher, Cobra turns from thrilling action to a sleazy, relentless slasher film. Honestly, this is a ludicrous component of the film, in spite of how well Cosmatos handled himself with horror in Of Unknown Origin. When he menaces a scared waitress to death, it’s an apt setup of the character, considering the exposition we get from the earlier news report. However, once the Slasher closes in on fetish model2 Ingrid (Brigitte Nielsen, who’s never looked hotter3), she survives but loses her photographer/boyfriend (David Rasche, just a few months shy of the premiere of Sledge Hammer!).
Then, as if Cosmatos and Stallone haven’t made us deplore Mr. Slasher too much, a businessman who looks strikingly like Ed Begley Jr. wanders into the madness and gets killed like a hapless bystander getting inadvertently assaulted by one of the Three Stooges, only it’s a lot more tragic because this is not a comedy.
On top of all of that, a kindly security guard tries to save Ingrid from the wrath of the Slasher, only to fall victim himself to the power of the Slasher Van (not its official name), which hilariously looks like the Mystery Machine as refurbished by a serial killer. Not long after, the film switches into a redux of Halloween II as the Slasher goes on a bender trying to further eliminate the former Mrs. Stallone.
Once that’s done, the film finally lays the horror elements to rest. While this stretch of the film does maintain itself within the spirit of the film—a few years earlier, Vice Squad similarly walked the action-horror line with care, but whereas Wings Hauser’s psychotic rapist felt realistic enough, the way Thompson continually bounces around verbally and physically terrorizing anyone in his path only renders him as a sort of real-world Jason Voorhees, but it feels very out of place to see in something aspiring to be the next Dirty Harry, especially compared to the rogues’ gallery from those films.
These criticisms having been put forth, they do not in any way reflect against the film’s merit. Upon revisiting Cobra while constructing this piece—I’ve probably seen this film a good seven or eight times over the past several years—it struck me how brilliant this film is as a cultural artifact, a masterpiece of heavy-handed substance and pure stylistic excess in every right of the way. Make no mistake, it is a truly ham-fisted work of pop art that functions as an exclusive product of its time. As Cobretti closes in to save the day in the opening sequence, the film’s rampage of product placement begins, working firmly hand in hand with the giant shadow of consumerism that grew throughout the Reagan era.
In particular, Pepsi gets as much face time in this film as it did with Michael J. Fox and Michael Jackson hawking it. There’s a display of Pepsi products (including Pepsi Free, a miniscule detail that’s stuck with me since I first saw it) in the supermarket, and just when you thought that wasn’t enough, Cobretti’s apartment resides on the same premises as a massive neon Pepsi light mural, which could lead the uninitiated to believe that the friendly neighborhood renegade cop lived at the local Pepsi bottler. This sign also gets a supporting role when our hero fights off a group of Slasher associates, and the prominence of it feels like a prototype to the company’s much funnier feces spreading as seen in Torque as well as Bad Boys II and both Transformers films.
The stranglehold of Miami Vice and MTV has a wide-reaching sprawl throughout the film’s aesthetic genetics. Cosmatos’ direction and the cinematography by Ric Waite is caked in fluorescent colors and moody ambience. If there is any scene that drives home its existence in a by-gone era, look no further than twenty minutes into the film, when we’re treated to a montage of Cobretti and his partner, Gonzales (Dirty Harry vet Reni Santoni!), investigating the murders, the seductive photo session with Ingrid, and the Night Slasher going about his nightly rounds of killing and bullying. Robert Tepper’s “Angel of the City” pulsates throughout this moment, a scene that could easily be seen as overly excessive but conveys the atmosphere of the film beautifully without much dialogue and employing the moodiness of the aforementioned pop culture phenomenon. Yes, it is ridiculous on a base level, but in terms of style and the surreal images that flash before our eyes, I’m sure Eisenstein and all the people who breathed the ideology of montage down film scholars’ necks would shit bricks of gold if they saw this montage.
The soundtrack booms with synthesizers and wailing guitars, not only in Sylvester Levay’s score but in the surprisingly robust selection of songs from the soundtrack. Given how the previous two Rocky sequels had found a ton of success with pop artists, Cobra boasts a love theme by Gladys Knight and Bill Medley, “Love on Borrowed Time,” and its main theme, “Voice of America’s Sons,” is performed by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band.
“Voice of America’s Sons” feels very out of place as the theme song to such a violent, neo-fascist action film that has no problem crossing over into more splattery territory. It’s an incredibly optimistic song, where the vocalist (Cafferty) seems to preach to his son about the factories “built with blood, sweat, and steel,” but in the face of the dystopian state of industrial employment, this “blood, sweat and steel [is] coming down fast under the weight of the wheel.” The song implies something that the film does not touch on in the slightest, which is industrial decay, and the need to hear “the voice of America’s sons.” This lyric really drives home a rather interesting connection, once again, to Reagan, whose picture is seen all over the precinct.
Naturally, Cobra arrived midway through Reagan’s second term as President, and while Reagan, during his reelection campaign, had an ad famously proclaiming that “it’s morning in America again,” that even in the face of grave, sociopolitical crises, we must do what’s right to preserve this. Coupled with the walking personification of neo-fascism that Cobretti displays himself as throughout the film, it is, indeed, a return to the Malcolm X philosophy of “by any means necessary”—that no matter how close to “the book” of “the law,” Cobretti gravitates towards, allegorically, the maintenance of keeping America safe, and his goal as a hero to make sure that morning in America is never threatened, and when the monsters come out to play or scare or attack people, by the strong arm of the law and his laser-sighted submachine gun, tricked-out 30’s Mercury (license plate: AWSOM 50), nine-millimeter M1911 pistol, and his undying code and dedication, the scum of the Earth will be scared away, and nationalism prevails, encoding Marion Cobretti as a more noble, moral version of the Comedian.
Ever so brilliantly, the climax—pitting Cobretti, a one-man army, against the Night Slasher and all his followers, brings everything full circle. For one, the presence of a steel mill calls back brilliantly to the theme song of the film, and the danger of these axe-smashing psychos is accentuated by the presence of plenty of sharp and dangerously hot objects, which makes all of the comeuppances for the bad guys subsequently more and more satisfying and violent, before the Night Slasher himself falls prey to being impaled on a hook and dragged into the molten steel.
Then, as soon as his job is done, the angry captain who always yells at Cobra (Andrew Robinson, in another Dirty Harry connection) comes to his senses and considers his work excessive, condoning his actions but also respecting what he does. In what could be one of the most perfect ways of conveying this film’s message, Cobretti violently clocks the asshole Monte in the face and rides off into the sunset with Brigitte Nielsen.
America, fuck yeah, indeed.
1 – A missed opportunity this film had not casting Meg Foster in this role.
2 – I don’t care how fashionable it’s supposed to be or how she’s a “model.” I don’t care if she isn’t completely nude. The way she gyrates against those fuckbots straight out of Hardcore, she’s definitely into freaky shit, and the film’s sleaze factor only implies that her shoot with the more anatomically realistic versions of Robby the Robot, Rosie from The Jetsons, and Conky from Pee-wee’s Playhouse was far from the most risqué work on her résumé.
3 – Not that this is a hotly debated issue.
Cobra, like many of the amazing action films that I saw in my childhood was viewed through a recorded vhs tape that my brother had made for us. I was already a huge fan of Stallone from Tango & Cash, as well as from seeing Cliffhanger and First Blood. This was an opportunity to see something that is not a Rambo or Rocky film.
Marion Cobretti should definitely have been a franchise character for Stallone. He was the 80’s version of Dirty Harry. Right down to the fact that Stallone had Reni Santoni cast as his partner, named Gonzales no less. Andy Robinson doesn’t play a sociopath with one of the most bizarre screams ever committed to film. Here he plays a straight edged asshole cop who doesn’t believe that violence is the only way to combat violence.
There was so much potential here. Right out of the gate we get a speech from Cobra about all the violent acts committed in the United States, which is disturbing enough, then we go to a scene in a supermarket where Marco Rodriguez starts terrorizing the customers much in the way the killer does in Intruder to the staff. He starts shooting people and declares himself a hero of the new world. The new world being populated by a cult of axe murderers whose leader is Brian Thompson, and second in command is comedienne Lee Garlington. She of The Seinfeld Chronicles.
Seems Brian Thompson and co. have been killing lots of people ritualistically as we find from a news report that Cobra hears at his small apartment while eating pizza that he cut with a pair of scissor(!) as the media has dubbed Thompson “The Night Slasher” and think that all the murders are the work of 1 man. Cobra of course knows better. More than once he is vocal in his theory that all the murders are the work of an army of murderers. He starts this theory after he takes out Marco Rodriguez after saying a witty one liner “Go ahead, I don’t shop here.”
Cobra and Gonzales start to work the streets to find out more about the cult, and this leads to the infamous “Angel Of The City” montage, where Robert Tepper croons while we see the seedy underbelly of LA intercut with Brigitte Nielsen getting photographed amongst a bunch of robots that could very well be Johnny 5’s cousins moonlighting as models.
Cobra is certainly a product of the right wing 80’s. Even though the character dresses like he’s from the 50’s, (Gonzales even refers to him as a fugitive from the 50’s) he is a take no prisoners type of cop. He hates that the scum he puts away are always let back out of prison. Just like Harry Callahan. He wants to exterminate the scum, and the higher ups just keep holding him back.
One of the things in the film that I really wish the film (which Stallone also wrote) talks about him being a part of “The Zombie Squad” which is the group that gets all the shit work. It would have been great to hear more about The Zombie Squad and getting a detailed background on why it was created and how Cobra ended up there. I’d want to know if it was created to specifically target and get rid of the filth by any means necessary. You don’t give it a cool name like that without having some other agenda up it’s sleeve. Also, I’d want to know if it was only Cobra and Gonzales on the squad, or if there were other guys in on it too.
I’ve neglected to mention thus far Cobra’s awesome car. He tools around in a classic hot rod that I’d like to believe is the progenitor to his awesome customized truck from The Expendables. They’re the same color, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were from the same year either. I’ve been thinking that him having the truck is a nod to his car from Cobra. It’s involved in a highspeed chase where Cobra goes after The Night Slasher and his other accomplice who is unnamed, but for the purpose of this take, I’ll refer to him as The Sniper, since he’s always touting around a high powered rifle. The one thing that really makes me laugh during that chase is that even using his nitrous fuel, Cobra can’t catch up to the shitty little car that The Sniper is driving which has no modifications whatsoever.
The entire end section of the movie is basically an extended chase where Cobra tries to stay one step ahead of The Night Slasher and his cult. If there’s another movie I could compare it to, it would be the chase sequences in Race With the Devil. After finally seeing that film recently, the 2 spectacular chases in that film are quite similar to the ones in Cobra. Complete with a cult being the ones after the main characters.
Right before the final chase, we get another montage, this time set to the awesome Jean Beauvoir tune “Feel The Heat” this song is a classic 80’s song, and it’s become one of my favorites. I especially love the one part where they show The Night Slasher and The Sniper loading up their weapons. The song, plus that scene sends exciting chills up me as I know that some great action will soon be taking place.
Then a while later, we see Cobra arming up with his small machine gun and it’s laser sight, which at this point was still quite the futuristic accessory to put on a gun, as well as an assortment of hand grenades.
Throughout most of the film, we’ve only heard Brian Thompson utter a few words. His face does all the acting for the most part, but fear not, as he gets to do quite the spiel during the climax when he battles Cobra. The Night Slasher is quite the horror film villain. In fact, the middle section of the film was the closest Stallone got to making a flat out horror film before he starred in one with Eye See You aka D-Tox (I will forever say that that movie is a slasher film. There’s just no way that it can be classified as just an action film.) The whole part in the hospital complete with the slow motion death of the nurse and the grunts is disquieting, and seems like something out of Halloween II or the Canadian slasher Visiting Hours. I remember actually being frightened by a lot of the stuff in Cobra as a kid, but being happy when Cobra virtually takes out the entire cult by himself.
It has been widely circulated that during Rambo: First Blood Part II, Stallone really directed it while George P. Cosmatos was only a ghost director. After the brilliance that was Of Unknown Origin, I have a hard time believing that at least those horror scenes in the film were the work of Stallone without Cosmatos. I think that stuff was done by Cosmatos, because the man can direct horror. (Also, Leviathan. Another classic example of top notch sci-fi/horror) Although I still await the day that Stallone makes an outright horror movie. (I was one of the few people who got excited over that purported Rambo vs. genetically altered creature movie.)
Cobra is an essential film in the Stallone oeuvre as well as in the George Pan Cosmatos filmography. It was the movie he chose to do instead of Beverly Hills Cop (Apparently Cobra was what Beverly Hills Cop was originally supposed to be. Imagine Eddie Murphy and his laugh vs. The Night Slasher cult. “Stir it up” indeed.) Plenty here for any type of fan. If you love horror, action, Stallone, or are now going to the George P. Cosmatos filmography because of this retrospective, you will get a kick out of The Cure to the disease that is crime. You’ll wish that it had become a franchise and we got the further adventures of Marion Cobretti.
Once again… Not much I can add after that mouthful. My colleagues really have this movie’s number.
Is it a Dirty Harry clone? Most certainly… Consider that the pre-title sequence is essentially a remake of the opening sequence for Magnum Force.
It is also Stallone’s giallo. Both Mike and Rene have spoken of the film’s “horror” elements. Yes… They’re essentially giallo stylistics applied to a typical 80s Stallone movie and it is that sense of style that makes the movie unique in Sly’s filmography.
The movie didn’t get the best reviews. I think the blurb on the DVD – attributed to Lou Lumenick of THE NEW YORK POST – pretty much indicates this. Something about “Non-stop action” that could have easily been pulled from a negative review. Let’s face it, most of our heroes’ ouvre was not well liked by the critical establishment, so that’s nothing new. But Cobra was particularly singled out.
I think the picture has aged well. But, looking at it, it’s easy to see why it was disliked. Consider that the entire movie consists of Brigitte Nielsen being chased by some assholes and Stallone kicking their ass. That’s it. That’s the whole movie. And if you look at it coldly, the level of violence and sheer repulsiveness of the villains is actually kind of repellent. Since the movie is not actually focusing on any real subtext, are you supposed to care for any of these people?
David Rasche gets axed to death a couple of minutes after we saw him take pictures of Brigitte Nielsen and then ask her to fuck him in order to advance her career, while walking her to the parking lot. So, I guess it’s okay to laugh when he dies because, well, he’s a douchebag.
But what about that Ed Begley Jr. guy Mike was talking about? Is it okay to laugh when he gets axed in the stomach for no reason? Is it okay to laugh at the nurses being killed in slow motion? At the shootouts where all these people are killed?
I don’t know. But the lack of substance makes everything feel weightless. So I laughed a hell of a lot while viewing this film. And, I suspect, you will too.
But, on the surface, that weightlessness actually allows for a very streamlined thriller. The thing doesn’t stop moving for any of its 82 minutes. That it isn’t actually about anything is irrelevant. Shit blows up, but good. And that really is all you should be worrying about. On a visceral level, the movie delivers in spades. Lou Limerick, or whatever, is right – this is non-stop action. And most of it very inventive and exciting – of a very high quality and much slicker than most Cannon productions. Although you’ve seen this kind of thing may times before and since, the movie still manages to find creative ways of making people get shot and crash through windows and fall after being shot and all that shit. At least three people get graphically burned alive.
All that good stuff.
Oh… One more thing. Brigitte Nielsen has always pretty much been an eyesore for me. And I really can’t stand her in any of her movies. But Mike is right. She is very tolerable here. And, at one point, I considered having sexual intercourse with her, if she would have me of course.
Hmm… I just watched that Flava Flav roast again.
I think I’ll pass.
ANATOMY OF A SCENE – THE ANGEL OF THE CITY MONTAGE
Mike Flynn is kind of obsessed with this scene. In preparing his review of Cobra he took a whopping 34 screen shots of this scene alone. But this allows for a close look at one of the film’s most unusual elements. How this standard “cops on the move” stuff is intercut with a bizarre photo shoot involving Brigitte Nielsen and a bunch of robots. By observing this particular element of the montage, I think we can get to the heart of the matter regarding the film, but also the superficial excess of The 80s in general.
I’ll let Mike take it from here…
One more interesting detail…
Aaaand, we’re done. See you next week!