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  • Project X

    Project X

    ★★★★

    Jonathan Kaplan is the most overlooked of the directorial talents who were given their start for Roger Corman. 1979's OVER THE EDGE, his best film, showed the Parisian filmmaker could pace a movie to its best advantage as well as demonstrated his warm touch with actors. And revisiting two of the socially-conscious dramas Kaplan closed the 1980s with, I am stricken with the grief that came from knowing his career waned in the next decade, with BAD GIRLS and BROKEDOWN…

  • The Gumball Rally

    The Gumball Rally

    ★★

    Cannonballs to this PG-friendly cult chase picture which may have preceded Brock Yates' approved depiction of his Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Dash, but plays like a neutered Roger Corman production. Michael Sarrazin does a poor man's Peter Fonda as the hotshot who organizes the race, less Steppenwolf and more Starcastle. Whenever the film catches the automobiles speeding down tunnels, bridges or canals, director Charles Bail keeps things active. But Leon Capetanos' abysmal script stalls the momentum with lots of squabbling, screaming and…

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  • Used Cars

    Used Cars

    ★★★★½

    Definitive early '80s raunch from an unlikely source, Robert Zemeckis' USED CARS deals enough dirty deeds and prattles enough double talk to make it disreputably delicious for nearly two hours. Even without Kurt Russell at the wheel and Jack Warden in dual roles, there's enough comic gas to fuel the proverbial mile of cars, especially whenever Gerrit Graham shows up as the insanely superstitious Jeff. Blurting obscenities on live TV over a dreaded red car, taking a shotgun to his…

  • Pet Sematary II

    Pet Sematary II

    ★★½

    Colder yet campier follow-up to the King-based original at least brings Mary Lambert back. The direction she takes here is to amp up the sadism and the alt-rock soundtrack (more Ramones, but also The Jesus & Mary Chain, Jan King and L7's "Shitlist" pre-NBK) to numbing degrees. Edward Furlong and Anthony Edwards operate on their respectively icy levels as traumatized son and distant dad, which leaves Jared Rushton's town bully and especially a less hulking but amusingly nasty Clancy Brown (a…