20 Hidden DVD Gems to Seek Out: Part Four

Over the course of this week, we will uncover twenty titles you need to seek out at your local DVD store. Here is Part 4.

The list is laid out something like this. The title, year it was made, genre, synopsis and finally my rating. I hope to do more of these lists as I uncover some of the treasures hidden at the local videostore.

5. Still Breathing (1998) (Romantic – Drama)

Two lost soul-mates: Rosalyn (Joanna Going) is a cunning con-artist in L.A.and Fletcher (Brendan Fraser) is a secure puppeteer in San Antonio have the same dream linking each with the other.

Fletcher travels to L.A. to find this woman he can’t get out of his mind. “Still Breathing” is the perfect example that man still believes in destiny and true love.

The brilliant use of color, passionate dialogue and soft tones accent Fletcher’s quest for true love. What this film seems to have that a lot of romantic films don’t is a heart and a flawed true love.

Because of those two elements there is a little bit of reality in what the film is saying.

Fall in love with this little movie and always remember the ivy. (4 of 5)

4. Swingers (1996) (Comedy – Drama)

This is Mike’s story. Mike (Jon Favreau) is a left his girl in New York and came to LA to be a star. It’s taken six months longer than Mike would like and he’s not doing so well. Mike’s friends Trent (Vince Vaughn) and Rob (Ron Livingston) take Mike to Vegas to forget about life’s problems.

During that trip Mike is going to find out a little about himself. “Swingers” has a brilliant script, brilliant cast and it’s a lot of fun.

This little cult film made movie stars out of Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau. It’s so laid back and true to the world that you really relate to these guys.

Vaughn is utterly brilliant as the trio’s leader. He is quick-lipped, charismatic and makes the whole film flow. “Swingers” is a great little comedy to sit back and relax with. (4 of 5) .

3. Unholy, The (1988) (Horror)

A priest (Ben Cross) battles a demon that kills sinners in the act of sinning. “The Unholy” is one of those horror films that blur the line between religion and horror.

Imagine if you were faced with your ultimate temptation, would you give up all you are to have it?

The priest in this film is faced with that temptation and he is just a man. He also is protecting an innocent from the greatest evil man has ever known and being faced with his temptation may condemn that innocent for all time. I used to adore a short-lived television series called “Dark Shadows”.

It was a 1990s revival of a 1960s overly clever gothic soap opera of the same name. The star of that show was a cursed vampire named Barnabas Collins, who was played by Ben Cross.

That show and “The Unholy” are the two pieces of work that stand in my mind when I think of Ben Cross. Sure Cross was in “Chariots of Fire” but these two roles in the macabre are the ones that meant the most to me. If you can get into the mind of this priest and see his internal battle this film will challenge your mind like none other in this genre. (4 of 5)

2. Quigley Down Under (1990) (Western)

Sharpshooter Matt Quigley (Tom Selleck) claims to be the best long distance shooter in the world and is hired from America by Elliot Marston, an Australian rancher (Alan Rickman).

When Quigley arrives in Australia and confronts the rancher he finds a devious and cunning man. Marston’s plan for his employment shocks Quigley and he refuses. Marston tries to kill Quigley as he tries to escape Australia. Quigley finds that Marston is doing the unspeakable deed without him and it looks like Quigley may be the only man to stop him.

A western is a perfect setting for star Tom Selleck. He looks so at home as Quigley and his showdowns with Rickman are ripped right out of the classic westerns. The story is simple and that’s the way westerns should be.

Director Simon Wincer uses Quigley’s marksmanship with intensity and suspense that you are blown away when Quigley picks up his rifle. Rickman plays his villain with panache like he did in “Robin Hood” and “Die Hard”. “Quigley Down Under” is a great little western. (4 of 5) .

1. Pumpkinhead (1988) (Horror)

A group of renegade teens take a trip to the country where one of them is involved in a motorcycle accident. The accident kills the son of the local storekeeper (Lance Henriksen).

Filled with rage, the storekeeper pleads to a witch to unleash an unstoppable demon on the renegades. During the killing spree, the storekeeper realizes he may have a closer connection to the beast than previously thought.

“Pumpkinhead” is as close as one can get to the perfect modern monster film. The film was created and directed by “monster-creator” extraordinaire Stan Winston, who delivers one of the most original creatures ever to grace the silver screen.

Winston also gets an incredible performance out of veteran horror actor Lance Henriksen who brings a lot of passion to his lead character. This is one of the greatest monster-creature films of the horror genre. (4 of 5) .

(Possible Spoiler): A little known realization about this film occurs towards the film’s finale. Look ever so closely at the creature as it faces off against Henriksen. If you look close enough you will see the creature’s face echo Henriksen stating that in fact Henriksen’s soul was apart of the voodoo that created the demon. It’s awesome!

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