MILL CREEK BLU RAY RELEASE: Safe Men (1998)

Directed and written by Josh Hamburg (the writer of Meet the ParentsZoolanderAlong Came PollyNight School and I Love You, Man), Safe Men is about Sam (Sam Rockwell) and Eddie (Steve Zahn), lounge singers who somehow are mistaken for safe crackers and come into the orbit of Jewish mobster Big Fat Bernie Gayle (Michael Lerner) and his assistant Veal Chop (Paul Giamatti), as well as another Jewish gangster named Goodstuff Leo (Harvey Fierstein).

Nearly everyone involved with this movie has gone on to do bigger and better things, including Mark Ruffalo, Michael Showalter (Hamburg’s college roommate) and Peter Dinklage. What emerges is a funny tale of two mob bosses out to destroy one another simply to have a special cup that will improve the quality of their respective son’s bar mitzvah. It’s probably the only organized crime movie that you’ll ever see about Providence, Rhode Island and for that, I am happy that I watched it.

Man, being a musician takes you down dome dark paths, huh?

You can get the Mill Creek release of Safe Men from Deep Discount.

MILL CREEK BLU RAY RELEASE: BASEketball (1998)

EDITOR’S NOTE: BASEketball first was on the site on June 24, 2022. Now that there’s a Mill Creek blu ray release, it’s back! You can get this from Deep Discount.

David Zucker made Airplane!Top Secret and The Naked Gun movies so we should really be forever forgiving everything he does, but he’s a pretty great person by all accounts, serving as a staunch environmentalist and ah, never mind, he made some Republican political ads and a video in which he attacked President Barack Obama for the Iran nuclear deal within a prescription drug ad. At least he wrote 11 updated verses to the song “The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” right?

He also made this, based on a game that he’d been playing forever that makes no sense — the players in the movie are the actual original players of the Zucker-driveway game, asked by the director to be in the movie — and that doesn’t matter because just like any of the Zucker movies, we’re here to see non-stop jokes, as well as Joe “Coop” Cooper and Doug Remer (Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, who agreed to do BASEkeyball thinking that the cartoon would be canceled by the time filming was due to happen) act like idiots.

I think I cast this movie, as it features Ernest Borgnine as league money mark Ted Denslow, Robert Vaughn as the bad guy, Jenny McCarthy as his mistress (and Denslow’s widow) and Bob Costas, Al Michaels, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dale Earnhardt, Reggie Jackson, Tim McCarver, Pat O’Brien, Dan Patrick and Robert Stack — appearing on Unsolved Mysteries — as themselves.

They made t-shirts of this movie! How did that happen?

Confession: Beyond loving this movie no matter how silly or outright dumb it gets, my brother and I grew up with hardly any other kids around us, so we’d invent games just like BASEketball. One was Street Tennis and whenever I watch this, I laugh because I remember just how complicated our rules were and we were the only two people who would ever play this game.

Junesploitation 2022: BASEketball (1998)

June 24: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie— is lethal 90s comedy! We’re excited to tackle a different genre every day, so check back and see what’s next.

David Zucker made Airplane!Top Secret and The Naked Gun movies so we should really be forever forgiving everything he does, but he’s a pretty great person by all accounts, serving as a staunch environmentalist and ah, never mind, he made some Republican political ads and a video in which he attacked President Barack Obama for the Iran nuclear deal within a prescription drug ad. At least he wrote 11 updated verses to the song “The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” right?

He also made this, based on a game that he’d been playing forever that makes no sense — the players in the movie are the actual original players of the Zucker-driveway game, asked by the director to be in the movie — and that doesn’t matter because just like any of the Zucker movies, we’re here to see non-stop jokes, as well as Joe “Coop” Cooper and Doug Remer (Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, who agreed to do BASEkeyball thinking that the cartoon would be canceled by the time filming was due to happen) act like idiots.

I think I cast this movie, as it features Ernest Borgnine as league money mark Ted Denslow, Robert Vaughn as the bad guy, Jenny McCarthy as his mistress (and Denslow’s widow) and Bob Costas, Al Michaels, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dale Earnhardt, Reggie Jackson, Tim McCarver, Pat O’Brien, Dan Patrick and Robert Stack — appearing on Unsolved Mysteries — as themselves.

They made t-shirts of this movie! How did that happen?

Confession: Beyond loving this movie no matter how silly or outright dumb it gets, my brother and I grew up with hardly any other kids around us, so we’d invent games just like BASEketball. One was Street Tennis and whenever I watch this, I laugh because I remember just how complicated our rules were and we were the only two people who would ever play this game.

Repligator (1998)

When I spoke to Bret McCormick (who made The Abomination, one of my favorite movies) about Repligator, he said “I was trying to match Roger Corman’s record of five films in one year: in my case it was Takedown, Time Tracers, Bio-Tech Warrior, Repligator and (finally) Rumble In the Streets.

I had challenged Keith Kjornes to write the script in a week. This is what he came up with. Keith was a very talented guy. A funny actor and solid writer. He did an interesting film years later — The Devil’s Tomb with Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ron Perlman.

I had absolutely nothing to do with the story other than accepting it. At the time I felt it poked fun at the military in the same way my favorite writer, Terry Southern, had done with Dr. Strangelove. The military, by and large, is headed up by guys who like to destroy things — guys who have society’s approval to be thugs. They take themselves very seriously and I think it’s a good idea to poke fun at them once in a while.

It’s a matter of record that I was eager to walk in Roger’s footsteps back then. This was my attempt to make five films in a single year and to shoot one in four days a la Little Shop of Horrors.”

Shot in 3 days on 35mm film at the Remington York Studio in Irving, Texas — with additional footage shot a year later on 16mm with Gunnar Hansen and Brinke Stevens at Aries Productions in Arlington, Texas to increase the run time — Repligator starts with Dr. Goodbody (Stevens) conducting an experiment of the Sexual Hologram Interface Terminal (S.H.I.T.) that allows her to see the fantasies of Private Libo (James Bock). We see a fantasy of his wife and her friend Buffy, as well as him getting to see Goodbody’s, well, good body. 

Pay attention. While you will see this same exact footage again later, this is the only time that Stevens appears in the movie.

After the opening, Colonel Sanders, Colonel Sergeant (Rocky Patterson (Doc in Nail Gun Massacre, R.O.T.O.R.and General Mills who have come to witness Dr. Oliver (Kjornes, the writer, writing himself into some exciting moments and proving that movies are awesome) and Dr. Kildare’s (Hansen) machine firsthand. Dr. Fields (Randy Clower, Fatal Justice, Bio-Tech Warrior, Time Tracerinvites himself along, hoping to witness an epic failure and gain Oliver’s funding.

If those names don’t clue you into the feel of this movie, Dr. Laurel Hardy’s (TJ Myers, a former Miss Lubbock Teen Texas USA) will.

The machine they get to check out is an organic digital replication double helix genetic coding scrambler on a 1680 wave link with the maximum thrust at about 40 gig. Yeah, I memorized that. It basically turns men into women. So Dr. Oliver adds his mind control and creates a weapon for the government that sends mind-controlled women after enemies. But when the women go back into the machine for a return trip, they turn into alligator women.

Did Jess Franco steal this for 2012’s Al Pereira vs. the Alligator Ladies?

Also: anyone killed by an alligator turns into a zombie. Sometimes a gay zombie. This movie is in no way concerned with offending anyone or everybody.

Repligator has some music that may seem familiar to you. Well, to me. After all, I watch way too many Andy Sidaris movies. The soundtrack was created by Ron Di Uulio, who wrote the song “Return To Savage Beach” and did the soundtracks for the Sidaris movies Day of the Warrior, The Dallas Connection and Enemy Gold as well as Mountaintop Motel Massacre and Honeymoon Horror.

A lot of the crew also worked on an industrial movie called Risky Business: Employee Violence in the Workplace that I really want to see, hoping that it captures the energy of this.

Repligator sounds and is ridiculous. But so what? The world is a dark and horrible place filled with apathy and soul crushing failure. This is anything but. It’s a movie dedicated to entertaining you in the short time it had to get made and with the low budget it was given. You’ll remember it long after watching a movie that cost thousands of times what this did.

Mill Creek Through the Decades: 1990s Collection: One True Thing (1998)

Ellen Gulden (Renée Zellweger) is a career woman writing for a magazine who can’t understand her mother (Meryl Streep) while looking up toher father, George (William Hurt), a fellow writer and literature professor. Yet when her mother gets sick with cancer, she must come home and learn to love her.

This will force her to evaluate how she sees her father, as she discovers several long buried secrets from her mother. It also means giving up her life, a fact that she resents.

The film was directed by Carl Franklin and written by Karen Croner, whose script was based on One True Thing by Anna Quindlen, a book based on her real life experiences.

I usually avoid dramas like this, but I can recognize when a movie is well made.

Mill Creek’s Through the Decades: 1990s Collection has some great movies for a great price like HousesitterWhite PalaceDonnie BrascoThe 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.

Invisible Dad (1998)

A spin-off from 1996’s Invisible Mom, Fred Olen Ray’s Invisible Dad gets me to watch his films as his films always do: I say, “Well, Karen Black is in it.”

Or “Gary Graver is in it acting.”

Or that the religious Common Sense Media said that it was a “highly improbable, groan-worthy, low-budget movie,” which sounds like high praise.

Doug Bailey is our hero and he’s very Johnny Quest in that he has no mom and travels all the time, so he really has no friends what with being the new kid in town all the time, which is a very 80s and 90s movie kid thing to be and probably points to the developmental mental trauma of screenwriters more than actual issues.

His dad Andrews (Daran Norris) has a weird machine in the garage — how often do they have to move this thing around? — that allows Doug to wish his dad would disappear, he turns invisible and hijinks ensue.

Now, take a look at that cover art. There’s a manchild at a carnival with what we can assume is an invisible dad at the carnival and he’s mindblown that dad is not visually appearing. If you liked this image and said, “I’d like to see a movie on the boardwalk with an invisible dad and his twentysomething son shouting,” too bad. These aren’t the same actors as in the movie and this scene never appears.

You do, however, get a scene where Invisible Dad wonders why he can no longer see his penis. In a kid’s movie.

Never change Fred Olen Ray.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Little Miss Magic (1998)

Deidre (Vanessa Greyshock) is a teenage sorceress in training who has one test left from her master (Robert Quarry): she must help Richard (Ted Monte) deal with his life, which is mostly living under the naysaying gaze of his wife Kristin (Michele Bauer) who keeps pushing him but is really working with his friend Greg (Steve Scionti) to get the promotion instead of her husband so they can both make money off the mob.

And right now I realize, if this was a Fred Olen Ray softcore movie, this is where Michele Bauer would be naked, but this is a Fred Olen Ray kids’ movie but it’s the same story except we have a supernatural child and cameos from Tommy Kirk and Russ Tamblyn.

At one point, this movie had a talking head of Robert Quarry like an alien intelligence speaking to a young girl about magic and I saw my life from the outside, sitting in a movie-overflowing basement and trying to find meaning and joy in a world that I rapidly see as getting worse and it was all just so funny to me. I laughed like a madman to the point that my wife came down to the basement to check on me and I was trying to explain why I would not only watch this movie but multiple Ray movies all in a few days and she just looked at me with that mix of “Why did I get married?” and “I love that affable moron” and went back to doing something good and needed.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Billy Frankenstein (1998)

Billy Frank (Jordan Lamoureux) is a very distant relative of Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Bloodstone (Peter Spellos) dreams of bringing that mad scientist’s greatest creation back to life. He invites Billy and his family to move into their ancestral castle hoping that he can help him say, “It’s alive!” all over again.

Constable Frogg (John Maynard) has a different ancestry. The Froggs are known for stopping the Frankenstein Monster. He’s been hired by Otto (Vernon Wells!) and Fraulein von Sloane (Griffin Drew) to frighten the Franks into selling, all so he can build a mall.

Directed by Fred Olen Ray and written by his wife at the time Kimberly, this is a family-friendly horror movie for kids who are afraid of monsters. Former Disney and American-International Pictures star Tommy Kirk shows up as a monk, so that’s kind of neat.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Hush (1998)

Helen (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Jackson (Johnathon Schaech) live in New York City, but after a trip to visit his mother Martha (Jessica Lange) a series of events cause them to move back to the family farm.

Did Martha messing with Helen’s contraceptives cause her to get pregnant? And why would Martha’s mother-in-law Alice warned Helen about her? And how did that man break into the house, nearly assault Helen and slice her stomach without killing her unborn child?

Martha soon shows up and says that she wants to sell the farm and Helen decides that they should move back to her husband’s home and help. For his part. Jackson mentions that he has some issues, as he may have pushed his father down the steps to his death and that her dad was having an affair with Robin Hayes.

If your marriage is getting like this, get out.

Also, why did Jackson never investigate his father’s death? Why did he come to his mom’s in the middle of the night on a planned trip and not wake her up when they got there? Why does Lange never not have a glass of wine and a cigarette?

This film sat on the shelf for some time, as it was recut after bad screenings. The original version cut had a climatic fight between the two ladies with one dying. I leave it up to you if all the work to fix this movie was worth it.

Jonathan Darby has only directed one short since this movie. He made the kind of movie that the person you are dating would find at Blockbuster, hold up and say, “I love this movie” and you wonder where your life has gone wrong and why you’re in a relationship with this person.

ARROW VIDEO UHD RELEASE: Wild Things (1998)

Yes, somehow, I’ve never seen Wild Things.

When Kevin Bacon, who acted in it, refers to the script as “the trashiest thing he had ever read” it’s even more amazing that I have never seen this movie.

High school guidance counselor Sam Lombardo (Matt Dillon) is accused of rape by two of his students, the popular and wealthy good girl Kelly Van Ryan (Denise Richards playing a teenager at 27) and poor tomboy Suzie Toller (Neve Campbell playing a teenager at 24).

He hires lawyer Kenneth Bowden (Bill Murray) to defend him from these charges. When the case is tried, the girls confess to lying as Suzie was upset that Sam didn’t bail her out on a drug charge and Kelly was upset that her teacher was having an affair with her mother (Theresa Russell). Sam gets an $8.5 million dollar settlement, but it was all another lie, as the three were working together.

Sergeant Ray Duquette (Bacon) knows something isn’t kosher. But as he follows the triad, he learns that they have an ever twisting relationship and even murderous intent toward one another. I’m not spoiling anything else — I mean, the movie is 24 years old — but for a film that seems mostly discussed for its male nudity and threesome scene, it ends up being a not half bad mystery.

I like Roger Ebert’s take on the movie: “lurid trash, with a plot so twisted they’re still explaining it during the closing titles. It’s like a three-way collision between a softcore sex film, a soap opera and a B-grade noir.”

Director John McNaughton is the director and co-writer of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, which was his first film, and that alone should tell you he knows what he’s doing. The script comes from Stephen Peters, who wrote the novel that The Park Is Mine is taken from.

There are so many twists in that script that Bacon said, “To determine their motivation in each scene, the cast had to gather with the director, writers, and producers to establish the sequence of events. We’d sit in rehearsals trying to piece together what was going on in the script, whom we were lying to about what, and it’d just get so complicated we’d have to stop and rest.”

The Arrow release of Wild Things has new 4K restorations of both the Original Theatrical Version and the Unrated Edition from the original camera negatives by Sony Pictures Entertainment, as well as exclusive new audio commentary by director John McNaughton and producer Steven A. Jones and another commentary by director John McNaughton, cinematographer Jeffrey Kimball, producers Steven A. Jones and Rodney Liber, editor Elena Maganini and score composer George S. Clinton. There are also interviews with McNaughton and Denise Richards, as well as a making of, outtakes, a trailer, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Anne Billson and Sean Hogan, a double-sided fold-out poster, six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproductions and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sam Hadley. You can get it from MVD and Arrow.

You can also get a Limited Edition SteelBook housed in deluxe rigid packaging, both featuring newly commissioned artwork by Sam Gilbey from Arrow.