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!

"Long Lost Son"

It’s been a few weeks but Channel 7 has finally scheduled another movie that originally aired on Lifetime in the US and CTV in Canada. This Sunday, the Late Movie presents “Long Lost Son.”

Like the myriad of mafia movies that litter the Landfill, I’ve waxed pathetic time and time again over these (usually) overly-melodramatic TV movie productions. Several times in fact, as these films are almost as ubiquitous on Channel 7’s late night schedule as the mob films are.

Just as I mentioned last week when I posted on
“Mafiosa: the Father, the Son,”
I don’t really want to keep repeating myself. There are specific attributes that make up these Lifetime/CTV movies, and you can read all about them in my previous posts on such movies – just click on the film titles below:

”The Accidental Witness”

”Last Exit”

”Murder in My House”

”Eight Days to Live”

”Cheater’s Club”

”Past Sins”

”Cradle of Lies”

The cast for this one features the real-life romantic couple of Gabrielle Anwar and Craig Sheffer... that is, if they’re still together (the Phantom can never keep these things straight)!

Gabby has appeared in all sorts of films and TV shows. She’s probably best known for her tango with Al Pacino in “Scent of a Woman” as well as her role as Princess Margaret in the series, “The Tudors.” Currently, she has one of the lead roles in the popular USA Network series, “Burn Notice” (and gets to play off of one of the Phantom’s faves, supporting star Bruce Campbell.).

Sheffer also has a laundry list of credits. Most notable to cult film fans is his lead turn in Clive Barker’s quite introspective monsters psycho-drama, “NightBreed.” He also landed a main part in Robert Redford’s “A River Runs Throught It.” His most prolific work was a long-time main role as Keith Scott on the WB drama, “One Tree Hill.”

The other main star here is young Chace Crawford, currently setting teeny bopper girls’ hearts a-thumping as Nate on “Gossip Girl.”

Last week I suggested that Channel 7 just run their mob movies on Saturday nights and change the name from “The Late Movie” to “Midnight Mobsters.” This week I’m suggesting they just run their Lifetimey movies with female leads on Sunday nights and change the name to “Late Nite Ladies.”

On second thought, maybe not... that sounds more like after-hours Cinemax or Showtime fare. Maybe just “Ladies’ Night?”

Unlike this Saturday’s movie, the trailer for Sunday’s “Long Lost Son” does tell you all you need to know about the plot. You can view the trailer here:

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Sunday, July 20th, 2008 at 11:35 PM... if you dare!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"Chicago Boricua"

There’s not much I can say about this film, for two reasons:

1.) It’s the debut film of a first-time director, and as such, most of the cast has few if any other roles to their credit. And those who do have a few roles have a lot of “extra with no character name” type roles.
2.) The only trailer I could find for this is barely a trailer at all. It has the film studio logo and the title of the film, but then goes into a random scene that doesn’t really give you a feel for what the film is about.

Out of the cast, there is one face you may recognize. That would be Aimee Garcia who has a recurring role as Veronica on ”The George Lopez Show.” Everyone else has had a role here, a role there, and probably not enough to be recognizable.

I found some descriptions of the film on Channel 7’s site and on, but they are very general. Basically, they say the same thing about the film – that it is a collection of stories about people in a Latino community (Humbolt) in Chicago. Namely, a realtor, a college student, a drug dealer, and an aspiring beauty pageant contestant. Whether their stories ever converge I can’t say.

In Variety’s review of the film, they likened it to a take on Spike Lee’s ”Do the Right Thing.” I seem to recall that being a bit more cohesive though, a whole piece as opposed to an anthology. Is “Chicago Borica” the whole enchilada, or merely the filling?

View the trailer here:

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Saturday, July 19th, 2008 at 11:35 PM... if you dare!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

"Judgment in Berlin"

Judgment in Berlin

What a difference a day makes. Saturday night, Channel 7 has yet another mafia movie on tap. But Sunday night, they have scheduled a movie that not only is about a serious topic, but appears to actually be a good, well-done movie for a change. I say this not only due to the caliber of the people involved in the movie, but also because I found very few negative comments anywhere on the internet about this movie. The film tackles the court case of an East German man on trial for hijacking a Polish airliner so he can see his kids and take asylum in the West - a true story. Note to my younger readers: to understand the magnitude of this, go google or wiki “The Berlin Wall.”

So “Judgment in Berlin” stars Martin Sheen and Sean Penn, two polarizing personalities. The Phantom doesn’t necessarily agree with all their political views, but both are great performers, especially Penn. But I’m just going to stop here. I mean truthfully, what more do I really need to write about their careers (and their famous offspring/siblings/ex-spouses) that hasn’t already been written a bazillion times over? If you want to learn more, that’s what imdb, google and wikipedia are for. Besides, you know I’d much rather talk about character actors and cult favorites like Lance Henriksen and David Paymer, or the late Brion James.

Speaking of favorites, c’mon channel 7, when are you going to run a Robert Patrick movie?

There are two supporting actors worth mentioning here. Sam Wanamaker was a journeyman actor and often a director as well. The Chicago thesp appeared in countless movies and TV episodes, but his great love was the stage. He spent a lot of time in England in the late ‘50s acting, directing and producing Shakespearean productions at Stratford-upon-Avon, Covent Garden and more. While most of his directorial efforts consisted of TV show episodes, perhaps his coolest directing credit is helming the movie, “Sinbad & the Eye of the Tiger.”

Max Gail will forever be known for his brilliant portrayal of Detective Stan 'Wojo' Wojciehowicz on the seminal ensemble police comedy, “Barney Miller.” But since then, he has continued to turn in one great performance after another, and what comes as a surprise to many, primarily in dramatic roles.

Oh yeah, “Judgment in Berlin” was directed by Sean Penn’s father, Leo. In addition to fathering talented children, the elder Penn left his own mark not only as a writer/director, but also as an 8th Air Force bombardier during World War 2. Before the war, he was a political supporter of communism who advocated U.S. neutrality during the short-lived Nazi-Soviet pact, but once Hitler violated the pact he urged the U.S. to go to war. His past ties to communism and then-present ties to labor unions resulted in him being targeted during the McCarthy blacklists of the 1950s.

You can view a clip from the movie by clicking here...

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Sunday, July 13th, 2008 at 11:35 PM... if you dare!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

"Mafioso: the Father, the Son"

Last week I joked that, given their propensity to show mob movies, Channel 7 should just start running them exclusively in their Late Movie slot. As if in response, this Saturday Channel 7 fires back with yet another mobfest!

At this point, I’ve said all I could possibly say about the mob movie knockoffs that litter the Landfill. I’ve outlined time and again their shared elements and their obvious pilfering of the more famous mafia movies and TV shows. Rather than rehash all that again, I invite you instead to peruse my previous entries on such efforts – just click on any of the titles below.

”Avenging Angelo”

”Blood Vows”

”Under Hellgate Bridge”

”Amongst Friends”

”A Good Night to Die”


”American Strays”

The trailer for this Saturday’s movie is filled with “hey, isn’t that so-and-so from such-and-such?” actors. Folks whose names you rarely know, but you’ve seen them time and time again. If the casting here seems deliberately ”Sopranos”-esque, well, that’s the way the meatball crumbles. You can check out the movie’s imdb listing and from there go to the individual filmogpraphies – you WILL recognize some folks, but again, you probably won’t know their names.

The only one I’ll call out here is Robert Costanzo. You’ve seen him hundreds of times, and the fact that he has a similar look to James “Tony Soprano” Gandolfini could not have been lost on the creators of “Mafioso.” Costanzo is quite an adept character actor who can shift from comedy to drama with ease. And for the comic book fans out there, he’s also the voice of Detective Harvey Bullock on the various animated Batman and DC Superheroes cartoons.

Best moment in the trailer: the statement that the film was the “Winner of the Audience Choice Award at the Portland Festival of World Cinema” (I’ll let you come up with your own response to that).

So how about it, Channel 7? Why not just devote one of the late night slots exclusively to mob movies? You have enough of them to run one every Saturday night, for example. You can change the name from “The Late Show” to “Midnight Mobsters” (who cares if the movies start at 11:35). Or maybe one Sunday afternoon when there’s no sporting events, you can have an all-day mobster marathon. It could be a “hit”… you could score some big ratings… maybe even be “#1 with a bullet!”

View the trailer for “Mafioso: the Father, the Son” here...

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Saturday, July 12th, 2008 at 11:35 PM... if you dare!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

"The Stickup"

Hooray – it’s the return of James Spader! James Spader is one of my favorites – he’s really a terrific actor. In fact, I wrote extensively on Mr. Spader a few weeks ago in my post on “Shadow of Fear.” If you missed that post, or just want to revisit it, you can do so by clicking here.

The only thing I’ll add to that post is that Spader must wake up every day and give thanks for getting the Emmy® winning role of Alan Shore, first on “The Practice” and then on “Boston Legal.” Because apparently he was on a never-ending treadmill of cheapo direct-to-video thrillers, like George Jetson forever running in place in the “Jetsons” end credits. It’s enough to make a fellow scream, “fame, stop this crazy thing!”

Since I’ve already covered Spader, the Phantom will move on to the supporting cast.

Scratch that, I’ll just move on to ONE of the supporting cast members, because frankly, I don’t recognize anyone else in this cast.

David Keith is best remembered for portraying Richard Gere’s ill-fated friend in “An Officer and A Gentleman.” He has had all sorts of roles since, primarily as supporting characters, but sometimes as a lead. His biggest “featured” role would have to be playing Elvis in “Heartbreak Hotel.” Genre fans will know him from a pair of “dad” roles – playing superhero Matt Murdock’s pop in “Daredevil” as well as the father of the intrepid mystery-solving kids in “Hangman’s Curse.” Of note to me is that he actually played a character with the same name as my good friend Tommy Lane, in a movie called “Caged Fear”… aka “Hotel Oklahoma”… aka “Innocent Young Female”… aka “Jail Force” (sounds like film with an identity crisis)!

Okay, make that two supporting cast members. I don’t really know her, but my research shows that last year, Leslie Stefanson played Ted Kennedy’s ex-wife Joan in the TV movie, ”The Women of Camelot.” This year, seven years after appearing in “The Stickup” as Spader’s leading lady in “reel life,” she finds herself his leading lady in “real” life – engaged to become the next Mrs. Spader. That is, of course, if that tidbit I gleaned off of imdb is still accurate.

The film: a series of robberies that Spader is pinned for. He’s a cop who swears he didn’t do it. Was he framed? And is it mandatory that every movie like this a.) have robberies committed by people in clown masks and b.) feature nurses who take their work home with them, continue to nurse patients back to health off-hospital premises AND become their love interest in the process?

View the trailer here:

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Sunday, July 6, 2008 at 11:35 PM... if you dare!



The Phantom feels a bit guilty writing this, but this film is filled with “also-rans.” It’s not that they’re necessarily bad actors; it’s just that in head-to-head competition with others, well they come up short. They are the backups. The actors that are called in when one or two or even three others on the list ahead of them aren’t available. Except for those times when the budget is so small and the project so limited (i.e. planned from the start to be direct-to-video, as opposed to originally intended for theatrical release) that their names jump to the top of the list.

And maybe that’s just fine because you often find such actors being utilized in stories that require more of an “ensemble cast.” Films where there are numerous characters and no one individual role is meant to stand out or outshine the others. Rather the parts working together toward the overall effect of the whole.

So you have Donnie Wahlberg, formerly of ‘90s mega boy band New Kids on the Block to start with. He’s done some good acting work, most notably a brief but pivotal bit in ”The Sixth Sense” (for which he lost a reported 43 pounds) and a major role in the acclaimed television mini-series ”Band of Brothers.” He’s been able to get some steady gigs in a variety of movies and TV shows, including a recurring role in the ”Saw” franchise, but all in all he’s the “ensemble guy” while his brother Mark gets his name above the titles.

Pete Postlethwaite is a great British character actor. Simply take a look at his credits. Too many choice roles to mention, but since the trailer for “Triggermen” suggests more than a mélange of mobsters and conmen, the most appropriate of those roles to mention here would be Kobayashi in “The Usual Suspects.” And he’s got an Oscar® nomination as well for a Best Supporting Actor part in “In the Name of the Father.”

Claire Forlani, like Wahlberg, has been in projects of all stripes for some time now. Also like Wahlberg, she seems well-entrenched in the “ensemble” area. Her career recently got a boost with a recurring role on the ”CSI: New York” TV series that has led to a slate of film roles. Cult film fans will remember her best from Kevin Smith’s “Mallrats.”

I spoke about Michael Rappaport back in my post on “A Good Night to Die,” which I invite you to check out by clicking here. He tends to play tough mugs, so to speak. To reiterate from my earlier post, to me he’s the next guy you go to when Michael Madsen isn’t available. But at least that puts him ahead of Rich Rosovich. The joke is on all three of them, though, because ever since “Sin City” Mickey Rourke is back on top of the tough mug list. And Tom Sizemore may be permanently off (I’ll leave it to you to research why). It’s a delicate balance that must be maintained after all. A game of plus one, minus one.

From the looks of this trailer, it appears Amanda Plummer plays one of her patented oddball characters again. She may be the only reason to tune into this. The Phantom digs her oddness; it makes her cool to me. Consider her amazing portrayal of a limbo-ized cancer patient forced to do evil Gabriel’s bidding in “The Prophecy” before he’ll let her die in peace. In a film already stuffed with scene-stealing performances from Eric Stolz, Viggo Mortensen, Adam Goldberg... and of course Christopher Walken, Plummer held her own and then some.

Last but not least, I have to give special mention to Saul Rubinek. Memories are funny things, and if I watched it today, I might not enjoy ”Soup for One.” But I seem to recall enjoying the Woody Allen-esque film of quirky New Yorkers in and out of love many, many moons ago and that Rubinek was one of the reasons I liked it. Like just about everyone in Saturday night’s movie, Rubinek has an extensive resume, including a recent recurring role on the short-lived ”Blind Justice” TV show.

So the plot of “Triggermen” as best as I can guess is that there’s two hit men and two con men, and either both pairs switch places or one partner each swaps out so one of them can get a better shot at a girl (for a lip lock, not a dead shot). Yep, it’s another one of those convoluted, crazy-mixed-up movies that tries to combine romance, comedy, and mob violence. It’s the mafia meets Tarantino once again on Channel 7’s late night movie. Maybe all they should do is run mob films in this slot as it seems they show one every other week anyway. Instead of the Late Movie they could call it the Late-Because-You-Got-Rubbed-Out Movie.

You can view the trailer by clicking here...

Or watch the entire film on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Saturday, July 6, 2008 at 11:35 PM... if you dare!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

"Blind Horizon"

This movie stars Val Kilmer. In it, Kilmer plays a guy with amnesia who thinks he's somehow involved in a plot to assisinate the president. The Phantomess and I are in disagreement over the value of Val. She doesn’t have much use for him after his second movie, “Real Genius.” While I agree that my favorite Kilmer performances were in his initial two films (the first being the hilarious “Top Secret”), I think he’s shown a capacity for good performances since. Granted, those are very rare. Most often, it’s due to the garbage scripts he finds himself saddled with in low-rent movies like the one Channel 7 is showing this Sunday night, or with muddled scripts in movies with good intentions, like the first Joel Schumacher debasing of the caped crusader, “Batman Forever;” the blind man who falls in love “At First Sight” chick flick; or the hard-to-follow and surprisingly inert adaptation of the classic British spy series, “The Saint.” Other times he’s just been deceived into appearing in incoherent messes masquerading as allegedly prestigious projects like the third go-round of “The Island of Dr. Moreau” (enticed no doubt by the prospect of co-starring with the by-then dilapidated Marlon Brando.).

Despite a plethora of poor script choices and poor eating habits the past 13 years, the Phantom cannot concede to the missus that Val hasn’t scored since playing Nick Rivers and Chris Knight. He was a marvelous Doc Holliday in “Tombstone;” brought the right amount of cool to the ghost of Elvis in “True Romance;” and received great reviews for two films the Phantom didn’t see, “Wonderland” and ”Spartan.” Monetarily, he also managed to appear in major roles in at least three blockbuster hits – along with his Bat-flick he engaged audiences in ”Top Gun” and ”Heat.”

Today, he’s providing the voice of “Kitt” the car in the television reboot of David Hasselhoff’s cult classic hit ”Knight Rider.” Provided the remake is still on the air, that is (the Phantom doesn’t keep track of what TV shows are on, let alone what’s been canceled). He takes over for the obliquely funny Will Arnett, formerly of the brilliant TV series “Arrested Development” as well as two recent features the Phantom hasn’t seen that look well beneath his talents (you tell me – here’s one; here’s the other.).

Here’s a tasty tidbit from Kilmer’s past: he and Kevin Spacey were classmates and members of the drama club at Chatsworth High School in California, and then again at the famous college of performing arts, Juilliard. While there, Spacey borrowed money from Kilmer’s well-off parents… and never paid it back! Lest you think this an urban legend, this was recounted directly by Kilmer in a Cinema Confidential interview and elsewhere.

Kilmer is supported here by some familiar faces. Although she probably doesn’t want to be referred to as such, Neve Campbell is primarily known as “the girl from the ‘Scream’ movies.” In this one, she has the misfortune to be sporting a Selma Blair haircut. But the Phantom is confident that’s where the similarity ends… after all, Campbell can act.

Faye Dunaway of course is the famous Oscar® winning actress with two infamous roles that are probably of most interest to Landfill readers who go in for over-the-top hysterics. Those of course would be her portrayals of actress Joan Crawford in “Mommie Dearest” and the villain in “Supergirl” (someone should sign her up to be in a Lifetime movie, if she hasn’t appeared in one already)! Those scenery-chewing extravaganzas aside, the Phantom gives Dunaway credit for publicly calling out Hollywood’s long-standing practice of pairing ever-aging leading men with ever-younger leading ladies.

Also on board here is Amy Smart. The Phantom knows he’s heard of her, and probably has seen her in something or other, but he couldn’t really pick her out of a line-up. But apparently she has quite the TV and movie career going for herself. “Blind Horizon” must have been a detour.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot that Oscar® nominee Sam Shepard is also in this. But there’s just too much to write about him and the Phantom has already written too much already on this film, so I’m going to direct you to his wiki profile instead.

I had a choice of two trailers to share with you for this one. The home video promo seems to be the most appropriate for the Late Nite Landfill – it is full of the “over-the-top heightened escalation” that is a hallmark of Channel 7’s late nite movie. And it is mighty “base” in its approach – exploitive to the hilt, seeking to appeal to a lowest common denominator (as opposed to the theatrical trailer that tries to pass off the flick as a thought-provoking indie film - which you can watch by clicking here).

View the video promo for this film here:

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Sunday, June 29th at 11:35 PM... if you dare!

"The Circuit 2"

The scariest thing about “The Circuit 2” is the number 2, which implies that there was a first installment. Hard to believe when watching the trailer for this that anyone would be clamoring for a follow-up, but then again, maybe I’m just not the target audience... although I’m not sure who is. I just don’t like prison movies with inmates beating each other up, but they seem to be a popular genre (and sub-genre, if you count the women-in-prison movies also popular with male audiences – whose popularity is even more perplexing to fathom).

I prefer my prison movies intentionally funny – you know, comedies starring the likes of Laurel & Hardy or Wheeler & Woolsey, or to give more modern examples, Gene Wilder & Richard Pryor or Leslie Nielsen.

Anyway, to make matters more unseemly, this film revolves around a corruptly run prison that allows an “underground fight club,” so I guess they’re trying to extend the appeal beyond mere criminals roughing each other up to the notion of a “club” with rules and codes (like “Fight Club”)… except just like that cult hit there really are no rules during the actual fighting. That mindset has somehow creeped from “reel” to “real life” in those “Ultimate Fighting” competitions I find oh so disturbing. Indeed, the rules only apply to everything but the fight in “The Circuit 2,” as the inmates here are fighting to the death.

So you either like this kind of movie or don’t. I don’t. But I do enjoy digging into the backgrounds of the principle stars, surely a more entertaining endeavor than watching this dreck. So here goes:

Olivier Gruner was the first French Kickbox Champion and also became a World Champion Kickboxer before becoming a model and an actor – primarily in martial arts-themed action films. Of special interest to Late Nite Landfill readers is that he starred in “Soft Target,” a film penned by our friend and fellow Landfill reader William C. Martell. Another friend, Matt Porier (aka “The Direct-to-Video Connoisseur”) wrote a nice review of the same film under its alternate title, “Crooked.”

I saw the name “Michael Blanks” in the credits and of course I did what you would do: I asked myself, could he be related to the famous Tae Bo workout guru, Billy Blanks? Of course he could… and is! The Blanks are brothers.

But I’ve saved the best for last. The main star of this film is one Lorenzo Llamas. Where to start? Maybe with the Phantom’s mother – when I was a kid, my Mom thought Lorenzo was hot stuff on the prime time soap “Falcon Crest.” Kind of weird to me, all things considered, as my Mom was otherwise silent on such matters. Llamas’s life after that soap became a soap opera unto itself. It seems he got into the habit of collecting pretty young wives. Of course, the sticky problem there is what to do with the previous wife, especially if you picked the new model up from the showroom before trading the old one in. Usually because both Llamas and his soon-to-be-previous wife were in the middle of shooting a movie and who can afford to recast in the middle of a shoot? Little did the leading lady now that when Lorenzo yelled “cut!,” he wasn’t just talking about finishing the film.

Womanizing dads almost always fall to the curse of having a daughter of their own... one who either attracts boys that are as much dogs as he was, or worse, daddy’s little girl herself is a devil-may-care fatale. Recently, Lorenzo’s daughter Shayne competed on the show “The Bachelor” and won the heart of the title star. Or at least was chosen by him. Now they’re engaged. Will Shayna have a better marriage record than her dad? Only time will tell.

I mentioned upfront that the number “2” was a scary prospect signaling there was more than one of these flicks. During the course of my video clip research (you know, for that bonus content you’ll get by clicking the bold green words), I made a horrifying discovery: there was even a “Circuit 3!”

View the trailer for “The Circuit 2” here:

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Saturday, June 28th at 11:35 PM... if you dare!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Hello, Late Nite Landfill fans. This is your 'ol pal, the Phantom of the Landfill reporting that I'll be on the road for the next 48 hours. I've started the posts for this weekend's late night Channel 7 offerings but I need time to refine them, so look for them sometime Friday or Saturday. Believe me, they will be worth the wait - unless Channel 7 changes the schedule between now and then, you have films featuring Lorenzo Llamas and Val Kilmer to look forward to. In the meantime... enjoy this intermission!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Late Nite Landfill reviews now linked to on!

I’m pleased to announce that the majority of my reviews are now featured on (the Internet Movie Database). My reviews can be found when you click “external reviews” on a movie’s page. For example, say you were on the site and you were looking up Lance Henriksen movies and came across the imdb entry for “Antiobody.” Well, you would click where it says “external reviews” and among the reviews listed you’ll see “The Late Nite Landfill.” Click on those words and it will take you to your’s truly, the Phantom’s review of “Antibody.” As a camper whose campfire blew out hours ago once said, “cool beans!”

LINKS – they’re not just for breakfast anymore!

Hello phans. This is the Phantom of the Landfill here, reminding (and encouraging) you to check out the links that are hidden throughout the posts on this blog. The Phantom has worked hard to bring you the best in bonus content. If you haven’t been clicking on the bold green words, here’s what you’ve been missing:

• Joe Penny at target practice (for real)
• Aidan Quinn reading Kafka's "Metamorphosis" aloud
• Jean-Claude Van Damme “dirty dancing”
• Henry Winkler as The Fonz teaching kids to scream when strangers try to abduct them
• A Sylvester Stallone noodle commercial from Japan

...and tons of other celebrity commercials, music videos and oddball clips from around the world.

BUT… I’m not going to link to them in this post. You’ll have to search through the other posts on this blog to find them. Just like "Easter Egg" surprises on DVDs. Happy hunting!

"Eight Days to Live"

I know, I know. The Phantom is starting to sound like a broken record. But it’s not my fault. Channel 7 insists on running movies that premiered on Lifetime back in 2006. They must have gotten a great deal on these flicks, so they’ve liberally spread them into the mix among the direct-to-DVD dreck. And every time out, I mention how the films are usually shot in Canada, feature Canadian actors, are released on DVD in other countries and let’s not forget the “over the top, zero-to-sixty, heightened escalation” factor. What else can I do? These are the unifying factors of all recent Lifetime “original” movies. As Yogi Berra would say, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

One thing I’ve missed in previous posts: apparently these movies are also shown on CTV – Canadian TV out of Winnipeg, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. And tonight’s entry, “Eight Days to Live” had the distinction of garnering that network’s highest ratings up until that time. I don’t know if anything has surpassed it yet, but when originally aired on CTV, “Eight Days…” was seen by two million people.

The Phantom is willing to bet that’s substantially more than will be watching this Sunday night when WABC-TV Channel 7 in New York airs it on the Late Move.

There is one element in “Eight Days to Live” that shows up in a lot of these Lifetime movies that I haven’t previously mentioned: the family member doggedly pursuing answers to the mystery surrounding another missing and/or murdered family member. This of course is not relegated to just Lifetime movies. Such mainstream fare as “In the Bedroom,” Steven Soderbergh’s “The Limey” and others covered similar ground. Okay, maybe “mainstream” is not the word to use for any of those. “Theatrical releases” is a better word, as none of those films were designed to appeal to the masses (they found more success in the art-houses and theaters catering to independent movies).

In this one, a missing woman’s son disappears after veering off the road, and now she must find him to try to save his life.

It’s got the usual assortment of Canadian actors, most who have done both US and Canadian TV and spotty film work. Overall, based on the ensemble’s credits it’s one of the more well-casted Lifetime films. These all seem like competent actors. Among them are:

Kelly Rowan from “The O.C” heads the cast as the mother. She has many film and TV credits, and for this film, she also served as a producer. She was also an executive producer on another film she made for Lifetime and CTV, 2007’s “In God’s Country,” which has as its subject matter something rather timely at the moment: women trapped in polygamist communities.

Katherine Isabelle as a girlfriend of the son also has a lot of film and TV credits, including a recurring role (the main role) in the “Ginger Snaps” horror film series. The Phantom saw and thoroughly enjoyed the original “Snaps” – it was a refreshing reboot of werewolf movies for the new generation, complete with dark humor and meaningful subtext for its star and core audience.

Shawn Doyle continues the parade of actors with several gigs under his belt. Right now, he has a recurring role on the latest cable-TV “let’s make something out of the norm seem normal” show, “Big Love” (refer back to my comment above re: “In God’s Country”).

While his career is so far less extensive than those mentioned above, Ryan McDonell is a talent bubbling under, and has thrilled audiences as Lt. Gonzo Pike on the Sci-fi Channel’s revamp of “Battlestar Galactica.”

Ryan’s “Battlestar” co-star Ty Olssen (LSO Capt. Aaron Kelly) is also a journeyman with many credits, including a recurring role as Sam the Plow Guy on the short-lived Anne Heche series, “Men in Trees.”

Michael Eklund is a veteran of such Uwe Boll movies as “Black Woods,” the video game adaptation “House of the Dead,” and “Bloodrayne II: Deliverance.” If you haven’t heard of director Boll by now, that’s probably a blessing. He is just about universally reviled by most (see the site “Uwe Boll Must Be Stopped”) although he does have that rare supporter. If you’re intrigued to learn more, click here or here.

Last but not least, there’s Gwyneth Walsh, who played Patricia DaVinci, a coroner and ex-wife of Dominic DaVinci, also a coroner and titular star of the exceptional Canadian police procedural drama, “DaVinci’s Inquest.” By the way, “Inquest” is often run on American TV in the wee hours, and is a much better option than the Late Movie, provided you’re looking for quality and not kitsch.

I don’t have a trailer for this one, but you can view a clip here (NOTE: disregard the date scrolling across the bottom of the frame – that date was the original TV airdate):

Eight Days to Live

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Sunday, June 22, 2008 at 11:35 PM... if you dare!

Another (different) installment of Robocop: Prime Directives (“Crash & Burn”)

A few weeks ago I wrote about “Robocop: Prime Directives.” I erroneously stated that it was one movie comprised of bits and pieces of four separate movies (aka “four movies rolled into one”).

Apparently The Phantom had that wrong. It appears that “Robocop: Prime Directives” is actually the heading for a series of four movies, and that each of those four movies is about 2 hours long. So Channel 7 has actually been running each 2 hour installment, not a compilation of clips.

Whether they are running them in the right order or not I couldn’t tell you. All I know is that they ran one shortly before I started writing this blog (around January), and then ran another in late May. This of course begs another question: if these four movies fit together to make one story, why run them so far apart? But we’d need to answer the first question (are they being run in sequential order?) first.

I wrote everything I had to say about the “Prime Directives” series and Robocop in general in my post of a few weeks ago, so I invite you to revisit it. I also included a trailer in that post that covers all four of the movies in the series.

And that leaves us with this tonight’s specific installment, which according to is subtitled “Crash & Burn.” You can view a brief “behind-the-scenes” featurette here:

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Saturday, June 21st, 2008 at 11:35 PM... if you dare!

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Well Landfill fans, the Phantom has a special treat for you: a guest post from the Phantomess! She agreed to write about Sunday’s movie, “Past Sins.” It’s another of those movies that premier on Lifetime in the US but have a video release in the rest of the world (sometimes under a different title), and are usually filmed in Canada and loaded with Canadian TV actors. Like all Lifetime movies of recent vintage, it as that over-the-top, “zero-to-sixty heightened escalation factor” the Phantom oh-so-loves to poke gentle fun at.

NOTE: Like last weekend, the NBA playoffs
are still going on, so this movie will start at 12:05 AM instead of the usual 11:35 (and that makes it Monday, not Sunday).

Without further ado, here’s the Phantomess:

While preparing this week's entry, my husband the Phantom, master of puns (I call it “pun”-ishment), mentioned that he didn't recognize anyone in the cast. I said I knew who Lauralee Bell was, but that was about it. A longtime fan of fellow CBS soap (daytime drama if you prefer) “As the World Turns,” I've caught bits and pieces of her work as Christine "Cricket" Blair on "The Young and the Restless."

Though Christine/Cricket somehow managed to get kidnapped many times more than the average person over the years, Bell's talent blossomed as teen model Cricket matured into plucky, compassionate and accomplished attorney, Christine.

And Christine was married, at varying times of course, to two of daytime's hottest hunks, Michael “Rock On” Damian (singer Danny Romalotti) and Doug Davidson, who has portrayed private eye Paul Williams for 30 years.

Here she battles with a pre-"Desperate Housewive's" Eva Longoria in 2003.

Bell holds the unfortunate distinction of being known as the ”Tori Spelling” of daytime soap operas. Part of the Bell dynasty--her parents, William and Lee Phillip Bell, co-created Y&R and sister show, ”The Bold & the Beautiful,” she started on the show while still in her teens. She bore the brunt when the late Terry Lester, who played the popular Jack Abbot, left the show in 1989. During interviews he said he felt his role on the show was steadily declining and singled her out, saying the powers that be had a little nepotism issue.

Bell, now a mother of two, focuses her time on an upscale boutique and makes guest appearances.

Of course, none of this says anything about the “Past Sins” film and honestly, I've never heard of it. I much prefer old-time Lifetime fare such as the two Betty Broderick movies starring Meredith Baxter. My ideal time would be a rainy day watching a double bill of "A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story" and "Her Final Fury: Betty Broderick, The Last Chapter" followed by the ultimate true-crime miniseries "Fatal Vision," which originally aired on NBC in 1984 but was a Lifetime staple back in the network's infancy. Now those are great movies.

So there you have it, Landfill phans – the Phantomess has spoken! The Phantom abides.

Now, upfront I mentioned the time change for this Sunday’s movie. Just a reminder – the NBA basketball playoffs are on again this weekend, so the late news will once again start later and make The Late Movie into the late Late movie). “Past Sins” will start at 12:05 instead of the usual 11:35.

View the trailer here:

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Sunday, June 15th (wait, make that MONDAY MORNING, June 16th) at 12:05 AM... if you dare!

Friday, June 13, 2008

"Shaka Zulu: the Citadel"

Sometimes a blog entry is just handed to you like a gift. Sometimes, Channel 7 schedules a movie in its late night slot that, based on the lead actor alone, allows the blog to practically write itself (”Kill Me Later” comes to mind). This Saturday, Channel 7 presents just such a movie. A movie that enables you to read no further than the two words I’m about to type. Ladies and gentlemen... I give you...


That’s right, good ‘ol David Hasselhoff has finally put in an appearance on this blog.

Of course, I’m hoping you’ll continue to read on because amazingly, there are other dubious pleasures to be found in “Shaka Zulu: the Citadel.”

But first, the Hoff. Where to start? Primarily a TV actor, he is best known for interacting with a talking hot rod built for speed on “Knight Rider,” and for interacting with talking hot bods built for spandex and speedos on “Baywatch.”

But that’s not all... the Hoff is also a singer. Don’t believe me? Then watch this music video.

What’s that? You watched the video and still don’t believe me?

That won’t stop millions of people in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland from buying his albums. He is to those countries what Jerry Lewis is to France. He’s not quite as big in Brazil, though.

These days, he splits his time between trouble with ex-wives, trouble with alcohol, trouble convincing the world outside of Europe to take his singing career seriously, and trouble staying on the set of “America’s Got Talent” when confronted by such stellar acts as Boy-Shakira. Ultimately, I have to give him credit for perseverance. He seems rather adept in the “keep on keepin’ on” department, able to keep standing tall (he’s 6’4” ) in the face of everything.

The backdrop of this movie is the historical and controversial Shaka Zulu, the warrior king and the Zulu nation he ruled (the controversy being that certain elements held to as fact by some are deemed fiction by others). The Phantom is inclined to believe a bit more than the basics, and is not bothered by the possibility that other elements may have been embellished (the majority of history books are almost always at least a quarter fiction after all).

There have been several TV and movie projects built around this theme, the most famous being the “Shaka Zulu” television mini-series from 1986. Some of these adaptations have been taken to task for their historical inaccuracies, but from accounts the Phantom has dug up on the web, it appears “Shaka Zulu: the Citadel” has all comers beat in the fiction department.

Amazingly, there are others besides Hoff in this cast. We’ve already spoken about Indy Jones’ gal pal Karen Allen back in this post about “Falling Sky.” And Omar Sharif is someone who’s been around forever who really should need no introduction, but in case you don’t know him, you can always imdb him. Or watch the trailer for “Dr. Zhivago.” Or better yet, watch this scene from one of my all-tme favorite movies, “Top Secret.”

Which leaves us with one other notable cast member... someone who puts this movie as much into the kitsch zone as the Hoff: Grace Jones!

She’s been a model, a singer, and an actress, with her biggest heyday coming in the 1980s. Let’s face it, she’s just one of those unique characters who people either love or are completely baffled by. And by unique I mean completely unique – she has a unique look, unique mannerisms, and unique movements, all of which you can see in the links above. Perhaps the producers felt her exotic presence would provide the perfect balance to Hoff’s ham-fisted heroics.
…and getting back to Hoff, he does have a tenuous tie to some of this summer’s biggest blockbusters: he was the first actor to play the role of Marvel Comics character Nick Fury, a role now savored by the ubiquitous Samuel L. Jackson.

I don’t have a trailer for this one, but I do have a clip with Miss Jones that you can view here:

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Saturday, June 14th, 2008 at 11:35 PM... if you dare!