Friday, November 12, 2010

More Love for Dino De Laurentiis From I Heart Sequels

I'm still astounded by the lack of respect I'm seeing from people online and in the press regarding the passing of Dino. So, I've put together my own little list of some of my favorite sequels Dino had a hand in.

1. Army of Darkness - Any horror fan, movie geek, etc., who is worth his/her salt has to be a fan of all of Raimi's Evil Dead films. Whether they want to admit it now, there was a time when every one of us couldn't get enough of these flicks and for many it started here. 'Nuff said.

2. Hannibal - It was the last good Hannibal Lecter film, period. While all the mainstream press jerks it to Lambs, and the film nerds (myself included) won't shut up about Mann's Red Dragon adaptation Manhunter, I'm shocked by the lack of love for this ridiculous and over-the-top third film in the Lecter trilogy. Ridley Scott had a lot of fun making this film, a pitch-perfect black comedy that takes the Hannibal the Cannibal character as far as it can before reaching a point of exhaustion. Just like Tobe Hooper knew that the best way to sequelize Texas Chainsaw Massacre was to make an extremely comedic film, so too did Scott and co. know there was no other way to make a straight-faced Hannibal. High point = Seeing this movie in the theaters, I was the only person laughing out loud at Lecter feeding Liotta his own brain. The joke was lost on the crowd and on most people.

3. King Kong Lives - Anybody who has been keeping up (anybody?) knows that I love me some Kong and that the love doesn't stop with the original film. While there was certainly no love lost between critics and Dino's '76 remake, that film's reception looks like the second coming of Christ compared to the spite reserved for the '86 sequel. Watching it again recently (I'm trying to get my girlfriend to see all of the Kong and Godzilla pictures) I was surprised by how much I still enjoy it. I thought my fond remembrances were viewed solely through the childish eyes of nostalgia. But really it is a fine sequel, one that pushes the monkey love in a whole new direction thankfully. You never have that unnerving feeling Kong is interested in dorfing Linda Hamilton in this one. The climax is intense, totally brutal and moving if you've been along for the ride all the way.

4. Conan the Destroyer - Another one that I thought I only had retained some appreciation for from my childhood spent watching far too many damn movies. Again, I rewatched this recently for the sake of my girlfriend, who loves Arnie, but I'm sure had grown tired of me watching The Barbarian at least once a month. Knowing that I was in danger of burning her out, I went out and bought the second film, having lost my VHS copy years before. This, coupled with me showing her the old Marvel comics I had and reading her Howard's stories, gave her a better appreciation of the iconography of the character. Hell, I even made her watch "The Whole Wide World". But I digress. What pisses most people off about this sequel is its renunciation of Milius's brutality and warrior's ethos, for a more fantasy-driven tone. Dino brought old-school director Richard Fleischer (Fantastic Voyage, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) onboard and he crafted a film befitting some of the more fantastic elements of Howard's story. The sequences with the Wizard and the mirror creature, as well as Carlo Rimbaldi's Dagoth monster, stand out as some of the most visually striking fantasy still. If the first Conan didn't have the tone it had, people would be all over this sequel.

5. Amityville II: Possession - A wacky, explotitative sequel that is ten times more fun than the drab hit that preceded it. I really don't understand the love for the OG film. It's boring. That's it. Aside from the first Prom Night, I can't think of a film that deserves its infamy any less. But just like the first Prom Night, somebody decided to make as many whacked out sequels as they possibly could to Amityville, and that really begins with De Laurentiis buying the property and spending the money on making this lurid little picture.


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