How many movie spoofs can you name which poke fun at World War II espionage dramas AND rock ‘n’ roll musicals? There’s only one and it’s also notable as Val Kilmer’s screen debut – Top Secret! (1984). The follow-up film to Airplane! (1980), their enormously successful parody of disaster flicks, Top Secret! was the third collaboration between Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and his brother Jerry and employs the same anything goes style of that previous hit and their first film, The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977), which the trio co-wrote but John Landis directed. In other words, outrageous sight gags, terrible puns, anachronisms, broad slapstick, politically incorrect humor and silly pop culture parodies.Continue reading
Tag Archives: Val Kilmer
Richard Stanley and H.P. Lovecraft
In 1990 South African filmmaker Richard Stanley made his feature film debut with Hardware, a post-apocalyptic tale about a killer cyborg on the rampage. Most critics who bothered to see it at the time dismissed it as a grungy rip-off of The Terminator and other genre favorites but it clearly had style to burn and sci-fi geeks embraced it despite the excessive violence (some of it was edited out in the original theatrical release). Next came Dust Devil (1992), an arty, mystical story of a demonic hitchhiker in pursuit of a runaway married woman in the African desert. It was distributed by Miramax and released in a re-edited version which added a narration and deleted 20 minutes. It was poorly distributed but Stanley’s dynamic visual aesthetic and offbeat narrative flourishes attracted the attention of Hollywood. Then New Line Cinema offered Stanley a dream project, a remake of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau.
It quickly became a nightmare project. A hurricane destroyed the sets just prior to shooting and Val Kilmer, coming off the mega-success of Batman Forever, undermined and intimidated Stanley and had him fired just days into production. His replacement was John Frankenheimer but even he couldn’t save the film from the damage inflicted by the self-destructive egos of Kilmer and Marlon Brando. The 1996 release was a cinematic train wreck and Stanley, depressed and dejected, appeared to abandon film making forever. Now, 23 years later, he returns from the wilderness with Color Out of Space, an effectively creepy and atmospheric sci-fi/horror thriller that might be one of the best film adaptations yet of H.P. Lovecraft’s famous short story. Continue reading