Friday, August 29, 2008


Boy, this is some hiatus! I’ve been on “hiatus” now for two weekends, and with this entry I’ve posted as many times.

Well, I did say I’d “delurk” from time to time if a movie of interest came up.

Wouldn’t you know that this Sunday, Channel 7 is yet again playing a movie that’s of interest to me?

Well, maybe not the movie itself (the movies on this blog rarely are the subject of interest but rather the people who star in them). But I’d be terribly remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to laud a man you’ve seen mega-jillions of times and at this point may even be bloody well sick of or none too impressed with.

I’m speaking of Dabney Coleman. He stars in “Taken,” being shown this Sunday night on Channel 7. This one has all the Landfill hallmarks, but I won’t go into that – you’ll enjoy its heightened, cheesey, over-the-top intensity when you watch the trailer.

But first I want to remind some who may have forgotten of not only how consummate an actor Mr. Coleman is, but that he also appeared in two very significant television series. Like most shows that were ahead of their time, they had cult followings and critical acclaim but not enough ratings to stay on the air.

The first was “Buffalo Bill,” wherein Coleman played the title role. It’s significant as being one of the first, if not the first “edgy” sitcoms with a character who audiences couldn’t really embrace – one who would do and say outrageous things of the “I can’t believe he just…” variety, but without the occasional turns to pathos and sentimentality that predecessors like Archie Bunker, George Jefferson and Maude Findlay often lapsed into. And without the sometimes obvious, broad humor that sometimes infiltrated those shows. “Buffalo Bill” was very sharp, well-written material at a time where such shows were in short supply. It revolved around daytime talk-show host Bill Bittinger, whose name was probably inspired by his biting wit which could be not only caustic, but vitriolic as well. Bill truly was a viper.

And as an extra bonus, it featured a top-notch supporting cast with the likes of Joanna Cassidy, John Fieldler, Max Wright and a young, vivacious Geena Davis. Check out this scene:

The next important show Coleman was involved in was “The Slap Maxwell Story.” If you thought his Bill Bittinger character was hard to like, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The sports writer character Coleman essays in this show gives vultures a bad name. Again, great writing and supporting cast, with Coleman acting his heart out once again. And very significant as one of the first “dramady” programs, also known as “sitdrams,” where the comedy and drama are doled out in equal doses. There have been many such shows since, although the monikers above have faded from view. David E. Kelley in particular seems to have been inspired by the short lived “dramady/sitdram” trend, incorporating similar elements into his signature shows “Ally McBeal” and “Boston Legal.”

Watch Coleman act his heart out in this rather dramatic and uncomfortable scene from “The Slap Maxwell Story,” which leads into the show’s opening credits:

Like most of the other actors we laud here on the Landfill, Coleman has worked continuously through the years, and he hasn’t always turned up in the best projects. But he always turns in a great performance. He is probably best remembered as the nasty boss in “9 to 5.” These days, the roles seem to be more tailored to his age, while the types of roles he used to get seem to be going to the equally brilliant Jeffrey Tambor.

So back to “Taken”: it looks totally like a by-the-numbers Landfill flick about true confessions and betrayals, but even in the trailer you can see that Coleman’s abilities elevate this tired hash higher than it has a right to be elevated.

View the trailer here:

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Sunday, August 31st, 2008... if you dare!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"Angels Don't Sleep Here"

I know, I know – I said I was on hiatus.

But I also said that I’d pop up from time to time when there was something of interest.

How was I to know the very first weekend I’d be on hiatus there’d be a movie of interest?

This Sunday, Channel 7 is running “Angels Don’t Sleep Here.” It stars one of my all-time favorites, Robert Patrick. He’s had a wonderful career as a character actor. He’s mostly been in action-oriented films playing people on either side of the law, but he has managed a few choice roles in romantic comedies and serious dramas, too.

But that’s not what you’ve come to the Landfill for. No, you’ve come to hear yours truly, The Phantom remind you that Robert Patrick is the ultra-cool co-star of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” playing the T-1000 robot determined to incinerate Ahnuld’s original model. If you don’t know Patrick from that (and really, you’d have to be living under a rock not to), then you know him for his lead role of Agent John Doggett in the last two seasons of “X-Files.”

So, Patrick is one of those journeyman actors who likes to work. Nothing wrong with that, as long as you’re okay with the fact that you’ll often be showing up in direct-to-cable or direct-to-video projects alongside the higher profile roles. And if you stick around long enough, those higher profile roles come back around to you (as I recently mentioned, Eric Roberts toiled in a bunch of DTV dreck but can now be seen on the big screen in a great role in the film of the year, “The Dark Knight.”)

Unfortunately, based on the imdb user comments for “Angels Don’t Sleep Here,” it appears to be from the “dreck” category. But Patrick is always fun to watch, even in dreck.

Check Robert Patrick out in this quick clip from “Angels Don’t Sleep Here”:

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Sunday, August 24th, 2008 at 11:35 PM... if you dare!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Landfill on "semi-hiatus"

Okay, in my previous post I used the expression “swampy Landfill.”

Well, it’s more like yours truly, the Phantom of the Landfill is swamped.

I just have a bunch of stuff going on right now. Most of it good; some of it challenging. All of it time-consuming.

Something had to give, and this is it. Starting with this post, the Late Nite Landfill is going on semi-hiatus. What does that mean?

That means until the smoke clears from all that’s going on, I won’t be reporting on Channel 7’s weekend late night movies every week. I may occasionally post if there’s a movie of particular note, but for the most part, this space will gather dust and crickets for a while. Just has to be that way for now.

I can’t just leave you without some entertainment though, so here’s a random selection of trailers and movie scenes I think you’ll appreciate (and as I implored you in my previous post, visit the links at the bottom of my page, too). Enjoy, and Lord willing I’ll see you all again soon!

Goofy mobsters, stalked jurors, awesome links & a swampy Landfill

What in the world does the title of this post even mean?

You’ll have to read the whole post to find out.

So let’s start with the movie Channel 7 has scheduled for Saturday night. It’s called “Crime Spree.”

Out of all the films I’ve covered so far, this is only the second one I can say I would probably enjoy (the other being the Mark Dacasos actioner, “Drive” – click on the triangle next to “February” in the blog archive for my review of that one).

In this one, Gerard Depardieu heads up a gang of French mobsters who rob Harvey Keitel. They soon learn that Harvey is a Chicago mobster under surveillance by the FBI. Needless to say, they are now being pursued by both sides of the law. This one looks like it has a lot of energy and humor to it, and a simple-yet-fun premise (many of the most fun premises are the most simple – Pixar has practically crafted their entire empire on that notion).

I doubt I’ll be awake when it airs though, as so much is happening with me (one of the reasons I’m not providing extra links in this post – but again, you’ll have to read the rest of this post to find out more).

Anyway, you can watch the trailer here:

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Saturday, August 16th, 2008 at 11:35 PM… if you dare!


If you tune in on Sunday night, you’ll see “Fatal Affair” (aka “Stalker).

This of course is one of the bazillion films that came out in the wake of “Fatal Attraction”’s success. What’s funny about these films is that many of them tried to copy the title – the use of two words, the kind of words used, the tones of the words – and some of those copies were so blatant that they come off almost as parody. And within that mix, at least a couple of them actually were parodies. The rest were just unintentionally funny.

You get C. Thomas Howell, Maxim Roy and Jay Underwood in this one. The plot: a juror realizes that the victim of a murder is someone he had an affair with… and apparently someone involved in the murder realizes it, too and stalks the juror.

Yeah, makes perfect sense. Like he wouldn’t just get himself removed from the jury. But what do I know?...

Anyway, this one sounds like it’s definitely in the “must-miss” category. But decide for yourself. You can view the trailer here:

Or watch the entire movie on Sunday, August 17th, 2008 at 11:35 PM… if you dare.

BUT WAIT… there’s more!!!

I want you to do me a favor. I want you to scroll down to the bottom of my page and get yourself lost in the “Other excavations you might dig” list of links. There are many sites there that are just too good to ignore.

My favorite on the list has to be “Trailers from Hell,” where prominent movie directors give audio commentaries to trailers.

The site “New York Monster Movie Memories” is indispensable for anyone who grew up on the east coast in the ‘70s, or for anyone who just loves classic (and not-so-classic) horror flicks from the 1930s through the 1970s.

I’ve also linked to a site where the inimitable (except maybe by Jerry Lewis) Sammy Petrillo is interviewed by the interminable Dave the Spaz. A keeper!

And you can learn a lot from two of the greatest perpetrators of popcorn cinema, screenwriters William C. Martell and Mark Verheiden, so be sure to check them out.

And check out every other link, too!

Okay, so by now you’re wondering why this rather schizoid post is all over the place. And why the Landfill is swampy.

Well, you’re about to find out, when you read the next post entitled “Landfill on semi-hiatus.”

Friday, August 8, 2008

It's a "Women on a Rampage" weekend! (“Sweet Evil” and “The Perfect Marriage”)

This weekend, you get two posts in one from the Late Nite Landfill. The reasons are simple:

• This has been a crazier week than usual for yours truly, The Phantom. Time is in short supply for me.
• The themes of this weekend’s movies both involve women behaving badly, making it easy to pair them together.

So let’s start with Saturday night’s movie, “Sweet Evil,” a 1996 release also known as “Final Vendetta.” As one TV listing described it, this direct-to-video jaunt features “a psychotic surrogate mother” causing trouble for the couple she’s moved in with.

Since this one comes from the “relative or houseguest secretly plans to rip apart the family and do us harm” genre which I covered in depth before, it affords me the opportunity of simply providing the link to my post on “The Stranger Game” which you can read by clicking here.

Since I’m on a time-crunch, I’ll only mention a few cast members. And just for this week I’m eschewing the usual links to video clips for each (perhaps when the smoke clears and I have more time I’ll add those links at a later date):

• You know Scott Cohen from a bunch of recurring TV roles including Max Medina on “Gilmore Girls,” and his detective characters Chris Ravell on “Law & Order: Trial by Jury” and Harry Denby on “NYPD Blue.”
• The late Peter Boyle – do you really need me to tell you? Tip-of-the-iceberg highlights include the monster in “Young Frankenstein,” patriarch Frank Barone in “Everybody Loves Raymond” and as the brutal Wizard in “Taxi Driver.” Oh, and John Lennon was his best man at his wedding.
• Oh yeah, there’s a lead actress in this – Bridgette Wilson. She was Adam Sandler’s love interest in “Billy Madison,” a horror victim scream queen in “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and the remake of “House on Haunted Hill,” and she’s the real-life wife of 7-time Wimbledon champ Pete Sampras.

View the trailer to “Sweet Evil” here:

Or watch the entire movie on Saturday, August 9, 2008 at 11:35 PM... if you dare!

NOW... onto Sunday night’s movie, “The Perfect Marriage.”

In this one, an adulterous woman schemes with her lover to murder her husband and collect a huge inheritance.

This plot is older than Hollywood, has been done to death, and quite frankly no one’s really improved upon the classics like “Double Indemnity” or “The Postman Always Rings Twice.” But that doesn’t stop these movies from getting made by the dumpster-ful.

Again, I’ll single just a few folks out:

• The femme fatale is played by Jamie Luner, who like Scott Cohen from the previous night’s movie has tons of recurring TV roles including one of the clan in “Just the 10 of Us,” a pair of seductress sirens in the prime-time soaps “Savannah” and “Melrose Place,” and as the title investigator in the 4th season of “Profiler.”
• William R. Moses played major recurring roles in two series of made-for-TV mystery movies, the “Jane Doe” series and the 1990’s “Perry Mason” series.

The rest of the cast features the usual quotient of TV actors, mostly from Canada, who have had guest-roles on TV series and in TV movies.

The trailer I found for this one is not of the embeddable kind, so you'll have to click here to view it.

Or watch the entire movie on Sunday, August 10th, 2008 at 11:35 PM... if you dare!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

"Family in Hiding"

Family in Hiding
I knew this day would one day come… it was inevitable!

For months, yours truly, The Phantom has been grousing about how Channel 7’s Late Movie show seems to broadcast an inordinate amount of mob movies and Lifetime/CTV movies.

Well, this Sunday, Channel 7 presents a movie that was originally a Lifetime/CTV movie AND is a mob movie at the same time!!!

I know, it’s hard to believe, isn’t it? I’ll pause to let you pick up the remote you just dropped.

This is a good time to point you to two previous posts of mine: one that will lead you to my reviews of all the other mob movies that have shown up in the Landfill; and the other that links to most of my Lifetime/CTV reviews.

So now that you’ve had ample time to pick up your clicker, let’s get back to “Family in Hiding”: there’s this single Mom who’s in the wrong place at the wrong time and sees a DA get rubbed out by the mob. She’s put into the witness protection program so she can live long enough to testify, but everyone who’s ever seen one of these movies knows that there’s a distinct lack of protection for the threatened until at least the final five minutes when the bad guys are finally disposed of.

There’s really only one notable cast member here.

Well, really three. I’ll get to the film’s main star in a moment.

First, I have to mention Christopher Jacot simply because he was in several episodes of a series the Phantomess enjoys greatly, ”Degrassi: the Next Generation.” A cooler credit for me is his turn as the voice of Johnny “The Human Torch” Storm in the 2006-2007 ”Fantastic Four” animated series.

And I have to mention Ben Cotton because he was in another of The Phantomess’ favorite shows, ”DaVinci’s Inquest.”

Per usual with these Lifetime/CTV movies, it’s a cast filled primarily with Canadian TV actors (who, if you peruse their credits, also appear in a lot of sci-fi and fantasy shows aimed at the San Diego Comic Con set… of which the Phantom proudly includes himself).

So, I said I’d tell you about the film’s star.

I lied. I’d rather show you. Primarily because I have neither a trailer nor a clip for “Family in Hiding.” So…

The star of this movie is “Brenda Strong,” who you’re bound to know from one of her two most famous roles:

Sue Ellen Mishkie, the O’Henry candy bar heiress and braless wonder from “Seinfeld”:

…or as Mary Alice, the suicide on the block whose voice-over narrates every episode of “Desperate Housewives”:

You can watch “Family in Hiding” on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Sunday, August 3rd, 2008 at 11:35 PM... if you dare!

"The Simian Line"

I actually have a vague memory of this film’s existence. Can’t remember if I saw a trailer, or a TV commercial, read about it somewhere or saw some kind of promotion – I just remember hearing this film’s title and the fact that it starred a former-supermodel and a Cajun crooner in rare movie roles. I probably also remember it because it was released shortly after 9/11.

I’ve come to learn it was actually filmed in 1999 and sat on the shelf for two years. Never a good sign.

Another not-so-good sign: most of the reviews compared it unfavorably to ”Ghost.” And let’s face it, while a successful crowd-pleaser, technically, if you stop to think about the script and analyze the acting and production values, “Ghost” really wasn’t any great shakes itself.

Most of all, this film features a rare acting turn by Cindy Crawford. It’s no accident the words “rare” and “acting” are in such close proximity in the previous sentence. If you need any proof, simply watch the trailer for Crawford’s ”Fair Game.”

If anything, this movie can be considered a curio simply due to it having one of those wacky ensemble casts of people you never expect to see working together. Kind of like ”Love Actually,” which is another movie it resembles (that is, if that romantic comedy had psychics and ghosts in it).

Harry Connick Jr. is of course most well-known for being a pianist and singer of jazz standards and originals. He limits his roles so he can manage both his music and acting careers, and as a result has been a solid presence in movies. Acting seems to come easy to him. Of course, with all his nice roles it’s the one where he simply did the voice that I enjoy the most, as the scrapyard beatnik in Brad Bird’s masterful ”The Iron Giant.”

Eric Stoltz – where to start? Too many great roles to mention – go check out his imdb listing. I’ll cite my favorite – as the angel Simon in ”The Prophecy.”

William Hurt is another one that would take too much time to delve into, so I’m directing you to his imdb listing. I’ll just highlight my fave Hurt role, as Inspector Bumstead in ”Dark City.”

Lynn Redgrave… well, this is just getting ridiculous. I’d need to write a blog a day for days just to cover the first quarter of her career… so you’re going to visit her imdb listing, too.

Samantha Mathis has worked steady in both high and low profile projects. She never took off big as I think some thought she would, but at least she works. Maybe best known as the love interest in the John Travolta/Christian Slater actioner, ”Broken Arrow.”

…and Tyne Daly as Whoopi. But she’ll be forever known as Mary Beth Lacey in the long-running female-buddy police drama ”Cagney & Lacey.”

Now, do I really need to tell you anything about Cindy Crawford?

I didn’t think so.

View the trailer here:

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Saturday, August 2nd, 2008 at 11:35 PM... if you dare!

Friday, July 25, 2008

"The Obsession"

Its movies like this one that really justify my use of the word “Landfill” in this blog’s name. We’ve been down this dark alley of sexual irresponsibility and perversion before with such films as ”Sol Goode” and ”The Real Cancun” and especially ”Cheaters Club.” All displayed an “anything goes, who cares about morals” attitude.

Up until now, the worst of all, the most morally wrong (and illegal) behavior on display was served up in the movie ”These Girls.” Now comes an even more insidious tale of a man going after a teenage girl. A ballet teacher who becomes infatuated with one of his students and dates his mother so he can get closer to her.

I’ll never understand what makes men do this. I mean clearly, the mother here is a woman, and a darn fine attractive one at that. It would be normal to want to date her. The daughter is a KID. Young enough to be the creep’s own kid. It’s just not normal to be obsessed with her. It’s just sick. And I have to wonder whether making movies about people with such sickness in their brains has any point. I can’t see it doing any good. We all know there are creeps out there like this (and in the interest of fairness, just as disturbing, there’s also the flipside of the coin with all the female teachers getting involved with their teen and pre-teen students). We don’t need cheap, exploitive movies to tell us this. And if someone already has a problem with their wiring in this area (being obsessed with an underage person or persons), I firmly believe seeing something like this may make them consider following suit even more.

Now, in all fairness, longtime readers of this blog know that I don’t actually watch the films I feature. I merely comment on the trailers or clips I find before the films air. I’m confident the film doesn’t condone the actions of the ballet teacher and most likely even condemns those actions. Again, I just question why, when we live in a real world where such abuse is happening constantly, we need to show it in a fictional story, even if it is one that condemns the abuse.

On the lighter side, let’s take a look at the cast.

Of course, we have to start with Daphne Zuniga. If you’re a guy, you know her from the Mel Brooks “Star Wars” spoof ”Spaceballs.” If you’re a gal, you know her from such prime-time soaps as ”Melrose Place.” Those aren’t generalizations; just demographics.

Sebastian Spence is a TV actor from Canada. Recurring roles for Spence include Lt. Noel 'Narcho' Allison from ”Battlestar Galactica” and Professor Matt Freeman on ”Dawson’s Creek.”

Elise Gatien plays Zuniga’s daughter. Her career is still young – this was her first film. The rest of the cast is filled with Canadian TV stalwarts.

I couldn’t find trailer for this one, but did find a clip that someone posted online. Strangely, the actor who plays the perverted ballet teacher carries himself more like Robert Patrick as the T-1000 from “Terminator 2” than a graceful dancer.

View the clip here:

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Sunday, July 27th, 2008 at 11:35 PM... if you dare!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Winter Break" (aka "Snow Job")

I took one look at the trailer for this Saturday’s movie and said, “Yuck! Boy, do I hate this genre!”

I’m speaking of the “teen sex comedy,” sometimes also known as the “college age sex comedy” or the “immature adult sex comedy.” You know the films. I’m not going to dignify them by naming their titles (although there’d be slim chance of that happening even if I did).

That’s the impression you’ll get when you watch the trailer – that it’s yet another sex comedy. Especially when you notice that Eddie Kay Thomas from all those ”American Pie” movies is in it.

While perusing the ”user comments on, however, a common theme emerged: according to those who’ve seen the film, this movie is more of a “romantic comedy” with soft edges instead of a raunchy one with hard edges.

Still, it doesn’t look totally innocent, either.

Either way, I’m not interested in watching the whole flick. Just doesn’t seem to be the Phantom’s cup of tea.

So onto the other stars. Milo Ventimiglia has quite a few TV and movie credits under his belt, most notably his current role as a star of the super-popular super-hero show, ”Heroes,” his past recurring role on ”Gilmore Girls,” and his turn playing the Italian Stallion’s son in the surprisingly good ”Rocky Balboa.”

Anna Faris is another young talent with a batch of credits. She’s most known as a mainstay in the ”Scary Movie” horror spoof franchise, and also counts four episodes of ”Friends” among her roles.

Last but not least… well, actually, “least” would be the operative word, as in ”the least popular James Bond” – yes, good ‘ol Aussie George Lazenby is in this. I bet he secretly wished Q slipped him a cloaking device, so he could hide himself out of embarrassment on the set of this film. But seriously, it seems the one-time Bond actually has had quite a few post-007 roles throughout the years – good for him – it can’t be easy being so dismissed (hey, most of us couldn’t compete with Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan or Daniel Craig either). He’s also done some nice voice-over work in animated series like ”Batman Beyond.”

By the way, the alternate title of this movie was “Snow Job.” I guess that was designed to make boys under the age of 17 snicker (boys who the movie’s original R-rating was meant to keep out, but we all know how that goes).

View the trailer for “Winter Break” (under its alternate title, “Snow Job”) here:

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Saturday, July 26th, 2008 at 11:35 PM... if you dare!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Three Cheers for Eric Roberts!!!

Eric Roberts

If you read this blog with any frequency, you know that yours truly, The Phantom of the Landfill has a soft spot for Eric Roberts. As well as a soft spot in my head, but that’s another story…

I went a little bit into Roberts’ background in my post on “American Strays” which you can read here.

As I mentioned in that post, Roberts had quite an auspicious start (including an Oscar® nomination) but ultimately ended up toiling for many years in low-budget, often DTV (direct-to-video) productions. Some of his films from that period would be right at home on Channel 7’s late night schedule. Click on the titles below to see trailers to some likely Landfill candidates:

“Shadow Men”

“Dead End”


“Restraining Order”

Roberts’ detour into DTV land was most likely due to too much competition for the “big roles” and a harder edge than some of the more “pretty boy” leading men types more than anything else, as his acting has for the most part been uniformly good and sometimes even great over all this time.

But beyond his acting skills, he’s just a nice guy. Here’s how I know:

• He’s appeared in not just one one but two films with a friend of mine, who told me how great Roberts was to work with. This is further backed up by the commentary tracks where the other co-stars mention their fondness for Eric.

• I got to meet Eric myself a year and a quarter ago at an autograph show and I could tell not only from my personal experience with him but from how he treated everyone else there that he was a real class act.

Besides being a nice guy, he’s very cool, too. When I told him I wanted him to autograph a photo that I could give my dad as a Father’s Day gift, I mentioned that one of my dad’s favorite movies is “The Pope of Greenwich Village.” Roberts got very excited and said, “don’t worry, I’ll take care of him – I know just what to do!”

He signed the photo, “Tell Charlie they took my thumbs!” Just great.

Back to his career: Eric’s fortunes began to change when he was cast as a bad guy in the hit TV series “Heroes.” And this weekend that roller coaster ride is poised to get even faster: Roberts is back on the BIG screen, and from all accounts, the screen doesn’t get any bigger this year than with the spectacle that is genius director Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight.” Roberts plays a mob boss in the latest Batman epic, and in just about every review I’ve read that mentions Roberts, he’s getting stellar notices.

This is also a good opportunity to laud Nolan as well. Back in the Hollywood Studio System days, Nolan would probably have been an underpaid contract director working with b-movie casts and b-movie budgets turning out what would later be hailed as film noir classics. I’m convinced of it. His films “Memento” and “Insomnia” are pure noir, and he has gone on record as saying his latest Bat-pic is intended to be noir as well.

So fans of low-budget filmmakers and actors have double reason to feel good this weekend, with both Roberts and Nolan hitting a home run. Get out there and support them (and besides, it’s BATMAN!)!

Here’s Roberts being interviewed about “Heroes” – enjoy!