Mill Creek Through the Decades: 1990s Collection: I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

EDITOR’S NOTE: The next movie in the Mill Creek Through the Decades: 1990s Collection originally ran on the site on August 30, 2020.

Lois Duncan’s I Know What You Did Last Summer was first published in October 1973. Duncan wrote several books that featured young girls in trouble, including Summer of Fear, which was made into a TV movie directed by Wes Craven.

She got the idea for the book when her daughter Kerry told her that she and her best friend had unknowingly been courted by the same boy. She wondered if the boy had deliberately done this, creating a different personality for both of them, and worked his way into their lives to drive a wedge between them. She later read a story about a hit-and-run and put together the story that became the novel (and the loose inspiration for this film).

Sadly, Duncan’s life became tragic after the unsolved murder of her youngest daughter Kaitlyn. Her last horror novel would be Gallows Hill — which filmed for TV as 1998’s I’ve Been Waiting for You  — after which she’d concentrate on non-fiction works about her daughter’s case, psychic phenomena and books for kids, like Hotel for Dogs (which was also a movie). Before her death in 2016, ten of her best-loved books would be reissued and modernized with new covers and bits added about modern technology.

She would tell Absolute Write that very same year that she was upset with this take on her book: “I was appalled when my book, I Know What You Did Last Summer, was made into a slasher film.  As the mother of a murdered child, I don’t find violent death something to squeal and giggle about.”

Screenwriter Kevin Williamson had already had success with Scream, which made him the go-to writer for teen horror. He took the source novel, added some inspiration from growing up the son of a fisherman and added the urban legend — stay tuned for these movies — of The Hook to create a new trope of kids who try to wish away the past. for what it’s worth, the poster originally said “from the creator of Scream” until Miramax sued Columbia Pictures.

Unlike the aforementioned Scream, this movie is very much an old-fashioned slasher, despite its initial lack of blood. A throat slashing and the crab factory death were added after the initial cut was viewed to add more danger, as was the character in danger all over again post-script, which would become a thematic inclusion for all entries in this series.

For those that argue these things and wonder, “Is it a giallo?” I opine that it is more on the side of slasher. Yes, there are gorgeous people in it, but there’s a marked lack of fashion, music and, to be honest, the strangeness that that genre is imbued with. That said, the hook-carrying bad guy very much does feel like he belongs there.

The story takes place in Southport, North Carolina. Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt),  Helen Shivers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Barry Cox (Ryan Phillippe) and Ray Bronson (Freddie Prinze Jr.) are on their way to the beach late at night on one of their last summers together before college pulls them apart when an event unites them all. They hit a pedestrian and instead of allowing their lives to be ruined, they dump the body in the ocean.

By the way, the mountain road that they are driving along is the exact same highway from Hitchcock’s The Birds.

The issue is that their lives are all changed by that one evening with only Julie able to escape the town and go to college. When she returns, the notes that say, “I know what you did last summer,” and the gaslighting campaign begins.

Jennifer Love Hewitt became a big deal from this film, beyond her fame from Party fo Five, even singing the song “How Do I Deal” on the soundtrack. She’d appeared with Jamie Lee Curtis in House Arrest earlier that year and when Curtis was filming nearby, she came over to wish her luck on her first role as a scream queen and would be a consistent visitor to the set.

While actually written before Scream, when studios wanted nothing to do with slashers, the success of that film allowed for this one, while making it seem like a rip-off. Such is Hollywood.

The success of this film led to I Still Know What You Did Last Summer and I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer.

Mill Creek’s Through the Decades: 1990s Collection has some great movies for a great price like HousesitterWhite PalaceOne True ThingDonnie BrascoThe Devil’s OwnThe MatchmakerAnacondaThe Freshman and The Deep End of the Ocean. You can get it from Deep Discount.

Mill Creek Through the Decades: 1990s Collection: Anaconda (1997)

Directed by Luis Llosa (The Specialist) and written by Hans Bauer and the team of Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr. (who wrote Top Gun, The Flintstones in Viva Rock VegasLegal EaglesTurner & HoochThe Secret of My Success and Dick Tracy together), Anaconda tripled its $45 million dolalr budget at the box office by basically making a slasher with a giant snake as the killer.

It’s an easy set-up: a film crew is shooting a National Graphic documentary about an indigenous Amazonian tribe and sails right into trouble thanks to snake hunter Paul Serone (Jon Voight, chewing scenery to the point that I was worried that he’d have to give his Oscar back).

Soon, director Terri Flores (Jennifer Lopez), her cameraman Danny Rich (Ice Cube), Dr. Steven Cale (Eric Stoltz), production manager Denise Kalberg (Kari Wuhrer), her boyfriend Gary Dixon (Owen Wilson), narrator Warren Westridge (Jonathan Hyde) and Mateo the boat captain (Vincent Castellanos) have found their own heart of scaly darkness and not everyone — quite possibly no one — will make it home alive.

The CGI for the anacondas cost $100,000 per second. You could probably do that level of CGI on your phone now, which may speak more to the quality fo 1997 CGI than 2022 technology. What you won’t have is Frank Welker, the master of animal voices, to do a snake voice for you.

This movie is dangerously dumb and I love it. I can’t even front — I realize that it is in no way a good movie and worse, it’s a multimillion dollar movie that a 70s movie would make for a quarter of the cost and probably be even better.

Mill Creek’s Through the Decades: 1990s Collection has some great movies for a great price like HousesitterWhite PalaceOne True ThingDonnie BrascoThe Devil’s OwnThe MatchmakerI Know What You Did Last SummerThe Freshman and The Deep End of the Ocean. You can get it from Deep Discount.

Mill Creek Through the Decades: 1990s Collection: The Devil’s Own (1997)

Francis “Frankie” McGuire/Rory Devaney (Brad Pitt) is a member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army who comes to the United States undercover to get the black market anti-aircraft missiles the IRA needs to shoot down British helicopters in Northern Ireland. However, he’s conflicted when he comes to think of Sergeant Tom O’Meara (Harrison Ford) as family.

It’s interesting in that neither is a bad guy. They’re both driven men who both believe in their causes. However, that means that the two of them are on a collision course.

This is the last movie of Alan J. Pakula, who made KluteThe Parallax ViewAll the President’s MenPresume Innocent and The Pelican Brief. Sadly, he died soon after making this when a driver hit a steel pipe and it flew into his windshield, hitting him in the head. The story comes from Kevin Jarre, who came up with the idea for Rambo: First Blood Part II and the screenplay had several writers, including Jarre, David Aaron Cohen, Vincent Patrick and Robert Mark Kamen, who created The Karate Kid from his real life.

Mill Creek’s Through the Decades: 1990s Collection has some great movies for a great price like HousesitterWhite PalaceOne True ThingDonnie BrascoThe MatchmakerAnacondaI Know What You Did Last SummerThe Freshman and The Deep End of the Ocean. You can get it from Deep Discount.

Mill Creek Through the Decades: 1990s Collection: Donnie Brasco (1997)

Based on the book Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia by Joseph D. Pistone and Richard Woodley, this movie loosely tells the story of Pistone (Johnny Depp), an FBI undercover agent who infiltrated the Bonanno crime family under the alias Donnie Brasco by gaining the trust of aging hitman Lefty Ruggiero (Al Pacino).

The intriguing thing about the movie is that as Pistone/Donnie disappears into the world of crime, he wonders if he’s even a federal agent any longer. He also realizes that his actions will cause the death of Ruggiero, a man who he has come to consider a friend.

By the end, the Donnie Brasco operation got the law over 200 indictments and 100 convictions. Today, Pistone lives with his wife under an assumed name in an undisclosed location — with a $500,000 open contract for his death — and continues to consult for the government and Hollywood.

While Lefty takes off his jewelry and tells his wife, “If it was going to be anyone, I’m glad it was him,” the real life Lefty was arrested by the FBI on the way to his own murder. He was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, extortion, distribution of a controlled dangerous substance and running an illegal gambling operation. He received early parole in 1992 after he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and died in 1994.

It’s wild that a gangster movie was directed by the same man who made Four Weddings and a Funeral, Mike Newell. The script was written by Paul Attansio, who also wrote SphereDisclosureThe Sum of All FearQuiz Show and The Good German.

Mill Creek’s Through the Decades: 1990s Collection has some great movies for a great price like HousesitterWhite PalaceOne True ThingThe Devil’s OwnThe MatchmakerAnacondaI Know What You Did Last SummerThe Freshman and The Deep End of the Ocean. You can get it from Deep Discount.

Mill Creek Through the Decades: 1990s Collection: The Matchmaker (1997)

Janeane Garofalo had had some success outside of stand-up by starring in The Truth About Cats and Dogs — a movie that she dislikes, calling it anti-feminist — and turned down the Gail Weathers role in Scream to appear in this movie, her first and only lead role.

She plays Marcy Tizard, who has been sent to Ireland by her boss Nick (Denis Leary) to find a relative that can help the Irish-American vote for Boston Senator John McGlory (Jay O. Sanders). Arriving in Ballinagra in time for the annual matchmaking festival, she’s suddenly the object of competition between two rival professional matchmakers, Dermot (Milo O’Shea) and Millie (Rosaleen Linehan) and gains the attention of bartender Sean (David O’Hara).

Romantic third act hijinks ensue, as they always do, but things work out.

This was directed by Australian director Mark Joffe, who made sure it was authentic by working with Father Ted writer Graham Linehan, who wrote the script with Karen Janszen and Louis Nowra.

When asked, Garofolo said this was one of the few movies that she was in that she liked.

Mill Creek’s Through the Decades: 1990s Collection has some great movies for a great price like HousesitterWhite PalaceOne True ThingDonnie BrascoThe Devil’s OwnAnacondaI Know What You Did Last SummerThe Freshman and The Deep End of the Ocean. You can get it from Deep Discount.

Inferno (1997)

Over four decades, Don “The Dragon” Wilson won eleven world titles that included the IKF, WKA, KICK, ISKA, STAR and the PKO titles, defeating some of the most famous names in the sport of kickboxing, including Branko Cikatic, James Warring, Dennis Alexio and Maurice Smith. He turned that fame into a career in the kind of direct to video movies that exist in the lower rungs of the action hero world. This isn’t a knock on Wilson; I just break action heroes up accordingly and in order:

God tier: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone

Challenging for God tier: Chuck Norris, Jean Claude Van Dam

VHS — and coincidentally often Cannon Films — stars: Michael Dudikoff, Sho Kosugi, Dolph Lundgren

Not exclusively action, yet makes great action: Kurt Russell, Bruce Willis, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Patrick Swayze

Asian superstars: Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee and his clones

And, as always, Charles Bronson.

Wilson comes in at the tier of guys trying to break into the upper echelons, like Reb Brown, Brent Huff, Lorenzo Lamas, Ron Marchini, Billy Blanks and…The Dragon.

It’s interesting that this film combines Bollywood locations and actors with Wilson’s kicking style. He plays Interpol agent Kyle Connors, a man who travels the whole way to Istanpol to track down the killer of his partner.

The first American film to be made in India, this was also released as Operation Cobra and in Telugu as Secret Agent 786. R. Madhavan, who played Ravi, has gone on to be a huge star in seven different languages, which his big breakthrough being the romance movie Alaipayuthey.

If you pay attention to the guns in this movie, you’ll notice that most of them are wooden or plastic. That’s because of India’s tight gun control laws. When guns are shot, that effect was made by wiring each gun with miniature explosives.

Rick Hill, who is one of the bad guys in this, was also a direct to video action star, appearing in Class of 1999 II: The SubstituteDune WarriorsThe Devastator and as the Deathstalker in Deathstalker IV: Match of Titans. And wow — Jillian Kesner from two of my favorite weirdo karate movies ever — Raw Force and Firecracker — is in this too!

Don is pretty much James Bond in this — thanks to The Video Vacuum — with “a kingpin with a wild child daughter who falls for the hero (like On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), the hero performing a fake-out assassination (like The Living Daylights), the hero’s best friend faking his own death and becoming the main villain (like GoldenEye), and big fight scenes that take place in Indian marketplaces (like Octopussy).”

Check out that site — I’ve learned a lot from reading it.

If anything, watch this movie to see Ray, his wife and Gary Graver all have minor roles. And if you don’t love this movie after The Dragon finds a snake in his bed, these movies aren’t for you.

You can watch this on Tubi.

The Shooter (1997)

Michael Atherton — look, I watched this not because we’re doing a week of Fred Olen Ray movies, but because Michael Dudikoff is in this — finally stands up to the rich family that runs the town of Kingston. Led by Jerry Krants (William Smith and why would you ever want to mess with this man), they treat his heroic dreams like a joke and beat him into oblivion. I mean, that’s what you get when you kill William Smith’s son for beating up and whipping Wendy (Valerie Wildman). Instead of just killing Atherton, Krants and his gang break his hands and crucify him like he’s Franco Nero in the Italian deserts of the 60s before Wendy pulls him down and nurses him back to health.

Meanwhile, Kyle Tapert (Randy Travis) comes into town and he has a grudge with Atherton, too.

Ray assembled a fun cast here which includes Robert Quarry, Andrew Stevens and Kane Hodder. The sets and locations look really great and you know that Gary Graver is on camera, as always in this era of Ray’s films.

This is the kind of movie my grandfather would get in a twenty pack of VHS westerns and call to tell me about, which is pretty much what you want it to be.

Who knew Randy Travis could pull off a role like this?

You can watch this on Tubi.

ARROW BLU RAY RELEASE: Twisting The Knife: Four Films By Claude Chabrol: The Swindle (1997)

Victor and Betty (Michel Serrault and Isabelle Huppert) have a great angle. They go to business conventions, Berry lures a man to her room and then slips him a knockout cocktail. Victor then appears and they take the cash they need.

Is there honor amongst thieves? Well, Victor lives by the rule that you should never be greedy and just take a small amount from each mark. Betty, however, wants bigger scams, so she joins up with Maurice (François Cluzet) and make a big switch that gets them all 5 million francs. But then Maurice turns up dead and the people who did it have Victor and Betty marked for their next victims.

Director and writer Claude Chabrol’s fiftieth film, The Swindle even pulls a trick on audiences, never revealing if Victor and Betty are relatives, associates or lovers. You can watch the movie multiple times and draw your own conclusion and make your own story within the game that Chabrol has created.

Twisting The Knife: Four Films By Claude Chabrol comes with high definition Blu-ray presentations of all four films, as well as new 4K restorations of The Color of Lies, Nightcap and The Flower of Evil. You also get an 80-page collector’s booklet of new writing by Sean Hogan, Brad Stevens, Catherine Dousteyssier-Khoze, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Pamela Hutchinson, as well as limited edition packaging featuring newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella.

The Swindle extras include new commentary by critic Barry Forshaw and author Sean Hogan, a new visual essay by scholar Catherine Dousteyssier-Khoze, a new interview with Cécile Maistre-Chabrol, behind-the-scenes, an interview with Isabelle Huppert, an introduction by film scholar Joël Magny, a trailer, an image gallery and select scene commentaries by Claude Chabrol.

You can get Twisting The Knife: Four Films By Claude Chabrol from MVD.

JESS FRANCO MONTH: Tender Flesh (1997)

Paula (Amber Newman, who just showed up in The Last of the Grads and is in everything from Night Calls: The Movie, Part 2 to several of the Sex Files movies) snorts coke and dances on stage in a private club before she’s noticed by Mr. and Mrs. Radeck (Alain Petit and, of course, Lina Romay), who ask her to come to their island palace and to bring her lover (who wears a Fangoria shirt) and enjoy a treasure hunt.

Of course, that treasure hunt is really a cosplay of The Most Dangerous Game and seeing Lina with a bow and arrow and short-cropped haircut is the kind of cinema that I am completely a supporter of. I mean, can Paula be surprised that things go this wrong when dinner consists of a kink-filled encounter with the Radeck’s slave Furia (Analia Ivars, who is a Franco veteran with appearances in Bahía blancaVampire BluesDr. Wong’s Virtual Hell and so many more; she also was the makeup department for this film), who urinates on everyone’s Michelin three-star meals, then goes down on both Baroness Irina (Monique Parent, who did this movie for no money and the chance to have a vacation to Spain with her husband; her resume has magical movies like Night Eyes Three, Gregory Dark’s Body of Influence and Secret GamesBlood Scarab and many, many more) and her husband before tasting Lina’s heels. Bon appetit.

To make that even wilder, the rich folks intend to eat the poor, which is about as subtle as a Jess Franco movie.

Sure, it’s like Franco is playing a rib fest, playing just his hits — hey look, parts of Succubus! Do you kids remember Eugenie? The encore — The Perverse Countess followed by a jam-length Macumba Sexual  are you ready to rock? That said, it works.

This was produced by Hugh Gallagher, who made the SOV insanity that is Gorgasm. He also was behind Franco’s movies Mari-Cookie and the Killer TarantulaLust for FrankensteinVampire Blues and Dr. Wong’s Virtual Hell. This is the height — probably — of the last section of Franco’s career. Or if you think he’s a hack, this won’t change your mind.

MILL CREEK DVD RELEASE: Ultraman Dyna (1997-1998)

A direct sequel to Ultraman Tiga, the 13th entry in the Ultraman series finds a new team known as Super GUTS terraforming Mars in the far-future of 2017. Wait a minute…

As the Neo Frontier moves forward and Earth begins colonizing new planets, the Spheres begin to attack and as they land on those planets, they combine with rocks to form new monsters. Luckily, Shin Asuka survives his ship being destroyed by this enemy and joins with a beam of light to form Ultraman Dyna.

This set includes all 51 episodes of the show — including the very dark close — as well as two movies, Ultraman Tiga & Ultraman Dyna: Warriors of the Star of Light and Ultraman Dyna: Return of Henejiro.

Dyna also appears in Ultraman Tiga & Ultraman Dyna & Ultraman Gaia: Battle in HyperspaceMega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy (which resolves the end of this series and shows that Dyna survived) and he’s also the man Ultra in Ultraman Saga. He also makes appearances in Superior Ultraman 8 BrothersUltraman Ginga S: Showdown! Ultra 10 Warriors!! and Ultraman Orb: The Origin Saga.

This series looks gorgeous, as you can tell there was a pretty decent budget behind it. The move to Mars is interesting and while Dyna is mistaken for Tiga several times, that gets resolved before its all over. And the monsters are awesome!

You can get this set from Deep Discount.