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Mad Max 2 (aka The Road Warrior) (1981) *****

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Simply one of the most influential action films and one of the best sequels (that also just edges out its predecessor, my review of which is here )—with one of the most thrilling finales—ever made. Mad Max 2 (aka The Road Warrior ) (1981) features some of the most insane stunts, frenetic camerawork, badass chases, wildest vehicles, iconic costumes and baddies, and general mayhem of any film. A pivotal part of (and frequent rewatch during) my teenhood, one of my Top 100 Films , and a movie I’ll love ‘til I die. 

Ran (1985) ****1/2

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Color and ceremony and betrayal and battle. You can find my Akira Kurosawa Films Ranked list here .

Santo In The Treasure Of Dracula (aka El Vampiro Y El Sexo) (1969) **

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The adult version of Santo In The Treasure Of Dracula (1969), known as  El Vampiro Y El Sexo , was not shown to the public until 2011 after being discovered in a vault of the original production company.  El Vampiro Y El Sexo  is a whacky, Z-grade cheapie featuring copious amounts of bare breasts, zero logic, a kitchen sink approach, Santo wrestling (of course), and a MexiDrac doling out tramp stamps with a big ring. It's a really poorly made film in every regard that plays out like a Scooby-Doo episode (which incidentally first aired the year the “family” version of this film was released) and it’s not "sexy" in the slightest but it sure is fun to laugh at.

No Sudden Move (2021) ***1/2

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Steven Soderbergh  taps once again into the realm of  Elmore Leonard  with 2021's No Sudden Move , a twisty-turny, all-star crime caper filled with fun, backstabbing characters, and just the right amounts of humor and politics. The film is filled with typical stylish Soderbergh cool,  David Holmes delivers another customarily groovy score, and Don Cheadle working with Sodie again is a boon. Recommended for fans of Out Of Sight  (1998), Jackie Brown (1997), and Get Shorty   (1995). You can find my  Steven Soderbergh  Feature Films Ranked  list  here .

Legend - Director's Cut (1985) ****

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Revisiting the Director’s Cut of  Legend  (1985), it’s striking how differently the film plays from the US theatrical version (my review here ). The story is largely the same and the edits aren’t always drastically different but  Jerry Goldsmith ’s lush orchestral score dramatically alters the atmosphere and mood of the film.  The longer running time gives Legend more breathing room and in many scenes that proves really effective. The DC has a more timeless quality, and while I am incredibly appreciative that it exists (and likewise love it), I don’t feel that all of the extended/alternate scenes are necessary (nor necessarily better). The extra screen time afforded to the character of Meg Mucklebones, along with some briefly extended moments between (Lord of) Darkness and “Goth Lili” are easily my favorite parts. Having grown up with the US theatrical cut of Legend  though—it’s the version that I am accustomed to, the version that holds a special place in my heart, and the version I

Legend (1985) ****1/2

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I’m not sure how else to say this, but Ridley Scott ’s vision of fantasy is exactly my taste. In his 1985 film  Legend , he played with character archetypes and genre tropes in a way that is wholly satisfying. I don’t need elaborate back stories for this film, nor would I want them. The 1980s were chock-full of fantasy films (many of which I love) of varying degrees of quality and aimed at both kids and adults alike, but Legend remains perhaps the most underrated and underappreciated one (save for those of us of a very specific age that were introduced to it at just the right moment). Legend is a film that I find impossible to be objective about—and anyway, the older I get, the more I think being objective about art is a lot of BS. This movie, along with  The Dark Crystal  (1982) (my review here ) and The NeverEnding Story (1984), were staples of my childhood and inform who I am to this day. I'll take the darkness and danger of Legend  and The Dark Crystal  over a film like  Laby

Demons 2 (1986) *** [Demonic Double Feature Pt. 2]

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While it is undoubtedly not as good as its predecessor (my review here ) and while it definitely retreads a lot of the same ground,  Lamberto Bava ’s 1986 sequel, Demons 2 , is still a lot of fun. It swaps the movie theater setting and hard rock/metal soundtrack of the first film for a high-rise and new wave/goth, respectively. It’s goofier, the f/x aren’t quite as impressive (though the makeup is still quite good), and the characters are even dumber, but returning DOP’s Gianlorenzo Battaglia ’s cinematography is effectively moody and Demons 2 is an enjoyable (often hilarious) little slice of 80s horror that makes a great double feature with the original. 

Demons (1985) **** [Demonic Double Feature Pt. 1]

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Demons  (1985),  Lamberto Bava ’s amped-up riff on 1978's  Dawn Of The Dead  (my review here ) is short on logic, full of gooey gore galore, and endlessly entertaining. For maximum enjoyment: unplug your brain, soak up the sumptuous cinematography, and bang your head to the soundtrack, as  Sergio Stivaletti 's practical f/x melt your eyeballs. 

Duel To The Death (1983) ****1/2

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I used to own Duel To The Death  (1983) on DVD and I remembered it being awesome but it’s honestly even more awesome than I recalled. I am thrilled to own the film on Blu-ray (from a 2K restoration from the original film elements), thanks to Eureka Entertainment . Kickass fights, ninjas (and not just ninjas, but ninjas burrowing in sand, ninjas becoming invisible, ninjas flying through the air horizontally, kamikaze ninjas, multiple ninjas joining together to form a giant ninja, and a naked female ninja!), gravity-defying stunts, bold camerawork, a bombastic synth-heavy score—this contemplative, operatic, at times surreal wuxia  has it all. Even in its most ridiculous, inexplicable moments, it’s almost never goofy and even when it is, it’s still really fun. DTTD  provides a perfect bridge between the Lone Wolf And Cub series and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon  (2000), marrying the exploitation and far out qualities of the former and the grace and polish of the latter. A total blast a

Rigor Mortis (2013) ***

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A cool little tribute to Mr. Vampire (1985) and its sequels (and featuring some of the same cast), Rigor Mortis  (2013) tones down the comedy and amps up the pathos. RM has some evocative imagery, heavy drama, intriguing characters, and solid action, but I still found the storyline to be a touch hard to follow and the film uses a bit too much CGI for my tasters. The  jiangshi  (hopping corpses from Chinese folklore that resemble both vampires and zombies) are very interesting though and it's piqued my interest in checking out  Mr. Vampire .