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.


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.

APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 25: Ringmaster (1998)

Despite what that VICE Dark Side of the 90s would have you believe, Jerry Springer didn’t invent his show format. Morton Downey Jr., Geraldo Rivera, Phil Donahue (who he was a clone of at first) and Wally George had all been there and done that, but Springer ended up hitting the cultural zeitgeist at the right time and knew early on that he needed to hire pro-wrestling-connected talent bookers to keep bringing in worked storylines to keep the machine moving.

For some reason, Springer isn’t himself but Jerry Farrelly. Was he embarrassed? After all, this is the one-time mayor of Cincinnati who paid for sexual favors with a personal check. Regardless, his show has three different storylines:

You Did WHAT With Your Stepdaddy?: Angel Zorzak (Jaime Pressly, who deserved and got better) is sleeping with her mother Connie’s (Molly Hagan, Code of SilenceThe DentistSometimes They Come Back… Again) husband Rusty (Michael Dudikoff, so deserves so much more, so go watch American Ninja or Avenging Force and think kind thoughts for him) while she’s sleeping with Angel’s boyfriend Willie.

My Traitor Girlfriends: Demond (Michael Jai White, Spawn) is cheating on Starletta (Wendy Raquel Robinson) with her friends Vonda (Tangie Ambrose) and Leshawnette (Nicki Micheaux).

The third is Jerry himself, who much like Chuck Barris in The Gong Show Movie, is afraid of the career and life that he has made.

Director Neil Abramson and writer Jon Bernstein have a major issue to deal with: any sort of fake real episode of Springer’s show is more interesting than what they could invent. Roger Ebert shared that he heard Springer once said, “I know I’m going to go to hell for doing this show.” I don’t think he will for this movie. It’s too boring for eternal damnation.

You can watch this on Tubi.

JESS FRANCO MONTH: Mari-Cookie and the Killer Tarantula In Eight Legs to Love You (1998)

This feels like worlds colliding as Jess Franco not only got Michele Bauer (Beverly Hills HighChickboxer) and Linnea Quigley (do I have to even give you any of her numerous credits?) in this movie, but he pairs them with Analía Ivars, Pamela Sheppard and his muse, Lina Romay. This made me beyond excited, even if the final product is, well, a One Shot Jess Franco movie.

Lina is Tarantula, a woman who seduces other women and traps them in her web so she can show up in her spider form, which is basically a stuffed spider toy with her head superimposed upon it. It’s gleefully one of the worst effects I’ve ever seen.

Sheriff Marga (Bauer) is the kind of cop that only wears a bikini and holster with a leather jacket and I think that perhaps my dislike for the police is misplaced. Maybe not, as she’s convinced that everyone but the real criminal is repsonsible, like Mari-Cookie (also Romay) and mother and daughter team Teri and Amy (Quigley and Amber Newman from Lust for Frankenstein and Pleasurecraft).

There’s a moment in this movie where we see how Tarantula was conceived from the POV of inside a vagina that gets spider eggs laid within it. I’ve never seen that before.

The only bad thing I can say is that somehow, Jess Franco had Linnea in a movie, didn’t get her nude and she then did a naked commentary track for the DVD. That’s really something.

Die Hard Dracula (1998)

Director and writer Peter Horak may have shot this in Prague and California, but it looks like the kind of movies that Cabellero and VCA put out in 1998 without you know, all the ejaculate. It also has a lead who loses his girl in a rowboat accident, which sends him to Europe, and into the orbit of — you knew it — Dracula (played by three actors, Ernest M. Garcia, Chaba Hrotko and Tom McGowan).

Who can battle Dracula? How about Bruce Glover? Yes, Crispin’s dad.

Horak did stunts on Viva Knievel!Throw Mama from the Train and more than twenty other films. I have no idea what made him write, produce and direct a comedy Dracula movie that is beyond brutally unfunny. I mean, I have no limit when it comes to evil — I mean bad movies — and this one really pushed me even worse than any other film has.

Which means I loved the experience and I’d totally force you to watch it while screaming about why they made the choices they did.

But why Die Hard Dracula?

You can watch this on YouTube.

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.