Mill Creek Through the Decades: 1990s Collection: The Deep End of the Ocean (1999)

The Deep End of the Ocean was based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Jacquelyn Mitchard, the first novel selected by Oprah Winfrey for Oprah’s Book Club. It’s all about what happens when Ben, the youngest son of a family, is kidnapped and then found nine years later, living in the same town where his family had just moved. What are the odds?

Beth Cappadora (Michelle Pfeiffer) lost the three-year-old Ben at a class reunion when he was just three. She has a nervous breakdown and neglects her husband Pat (Treat Williams) and other sons Vincent (Jonathan Jackson) and Kerry (Alexa Vega).

A decade and a new town later, all seems well, except when Sam (Ryan Merriman) shows up to cut the grass and she just knows that he has to be Ben, a fact that no one but Detective Candace “Candy” Bliss (Whoopi Goldberg) believes.

Can the family come back together? And is that Tony Musante from The Bird with the Crystal Plumage as a grandfather? Yes to both.

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 MatchmakerAnacondaI Know What You Did Last Summer and The Freshman. You can get it from Deep Discount.

Prophet (1999)

Jarrid Maddox (Don “The Dragon” Wilson) was experimented on as a child and mutated to gain the power to see into the future. He’s been selected to kill five terrorists who end up being five other people just like him who were experimented on by the CIA.

Also known as The Capitol Conspiracy, the main reason I was excited to see this was that Barbara Steele shows up. I mean, Barbara Steel in a Don “The Dragon” movie. Plus Robert Quarry? Come on, Fred Olen Ray. You’re giving me too much.

The best part of this movie for me was Maddox’s partner Vicki Taylor (Alexander Keith, who also used the name Wendy Scumacher in movies like Scorned 2Animal Instincts IIIStar HunterFugitive Rage and The Escort II). She has a very butch ass kicker look going on in this and while her turn on our hero can be figured out without mental powers, you won’t mind. She’s also the recipient of the heavy petting that the Dragon gives out at least once a movie.

Such are the ways of direct to video.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Invisible Mom 2 (1999)

Laura Griffin (Dee Wallace) is back as the invisible (foster) mom but let’s be honest: I watched this movie because it dares to team up Mary Woronov and Mickey Dolenz as brother and sister family killing evildoers and this delighted my brain on so many levels. Also: Robert Quarry.

Barry Livingston is back as the dad, Trenton Knight is back as the son and so is about six or seven minutes of the first movie because why reshoot what you already shot?

Invisible Mom retains the powers she lost at the end of the last movie but then again she rarely uses them in the film. That’s better than the film’s cover art, in which a leotard and headband-wearing mom works up a sweat that we can’t see while a young voyeuristic child watches in astonishment from a window. I want that movie if only because I will watch any child movie that Fred Olen Ray makes. Or softcore porn that he directs. And somehow, they have the exact same aesthetics which is at once pleasing and somewhat distressing.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Sangharsh (1999)

The joy of world cinema is when you learn of a film with an audacious premise. For example: what if there was a Bollywood Silence of the Lambs?

Well, director Tanuja Chandra and writers Mahesh Bhatt and Girish Dhamija claim that this movie is really based on an Indian police case. That’s true — the villain, Lajja Shankar Pandey (Ashutosh Rana) who takes over from Buffalo Bill — was based on a real criminal who believed that for each person he murdered, he would increase his lifespan.

Chandra is an anomaly in the world of Indian film, as female directors are rare and mainly make dramas, not blockbusters. Even though she was supported by her mentor Mahesh Bhatt, she once found herself ignored by male actors and crewmembers.

Her first movie Dushman was a remake of Eye from an Eye but failed as audiences in India need romance and a strong male hero, not a woman gaining revenge.

Pandey is behind the child abductions and murders that have confused the police and led to CBI trainee Reet Oberoi (Preity Zinta) — introduced just like Clarice Starling in a jogging scene — being part of the case. She’s haunted, not by the screams of sheep, but by the fact that her brother was killed for being a terrorist right in front of her eyes. Now, to help solve the case, she turns to the unjustly jailed Professor Aman Verma (Akshay Kumar). His bars may be iron instead of plexiglass, but Verma is definitely Hannibal Lecter. The romance that blooms between the two is similar to the novel Hannibal if not the film.

When a politician’s child is kidnapped for Pandey’s ultimate ritual — to be carried out during a solar eclipse — Oberoi must overcome the ghosts of her past and a male-dominated police force that doesn’t believe in her methods. While this also happens in the movie’s inspiration, it’s also something that Chandra actually experienced.

To learn more about Sangharsh, I recommend Ed Glaser’s How the World Remade Hollywood, which you can order from McFarland Books.

You can watch this on YouTube.

 

APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 30: Grass (1999)

Ron Mann also made Comic Book Confidential, which is one of my favorite documentaries, as well as movies about Big Daddy Roth, Robert Altman, free jazz, the twist and Margaret Atwood. Joined by writer Solomon Vesta and narrator Woody Harrelson — no stranger to the kind bud and who did this movie for free — Grass takes a decade by decade approach to the history of US federal policies and social attitudes toward marijuana.

In the two decades since this film, eighteen states, Washington, D.C. and Guam are all legal United States places to recreationally get baked. and thirteen states have decriminalized marijuana. Yet how much money and how many lives were ruined by the “War On Drugs,” which really got started when Harry Anslinger started the idea that sativa and marijuana would make you insane. That war continued through Richard Nixon creating the DEA, to Nancy Reagan urging us to just say no and Bill Clinton increasing spending to arrest drug dealers and users.

In 2015, the Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates for an end to the war, estimated that the America spends $51 billion each year on anti-drug endeavors and in the fifty years of the War On Drugs spent $1 trillion dollars.

This is something that has been known since 2011, the Global Commission on Drug Policy released a critical report that said, “The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.”

Mann so urgently believed in the message of this movie — which uses archive footage and clips from movies like Reefer Madness — that he released for free.

ARROW BLU RAY RELEASE: Twisting The Knife: Four Films By Claude Chabrol: The Color of Lies (1999)

René Sterne (Jacques Gamblin) was once a famous painter but now lives in a small town and makes the majority of his money as a teacher. His mood is always dark, in contrast to his wife Vivianne (Sandrine Bonnaire), who is an eternally sunny optimist.

He needs that light because he’s now the main suspect in the assault and murder of a ten-year-old, which is being investigated by the new chief of police, Frédérique Lesage (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi).

What does the gossip columnist Germain-Roland Desmot (Antoine de Caunes) know about the case? Is he close to having an affair with Vivianne, who may be withdrawing from the happiness of her life and needing a change?

Director Claude Chabrol, who co-wrote this with Odile Barski, was one of the few French New Wave directors to not only keep directing for his entire life, but to make movies that were embraced by the mainstream. He generally kept to these small-town murders and how they impacted the traditional family lives of his victims in many films, variations on a theme that always remain slightly different and engaging, like a series of paintings from one period or theme.

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 Swindle, 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 Color of Lies extras include new commentary by critic Barry Forshaw and author Sean Hogan, two new visual essays by film critics Scout Tafoya and David Kalat, an introduction by film scholar Joël Magny, behind-the-scenes, 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.

APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 23: Virus (1999)

Jamie Lee Curtis had this to say about Virus: “Rob Reiner, for his 40th birthday, had a bad show business party where everybody brought show business clips. Rob’s was playing a hippie on Gomer Pyle: USMC singing “Blowin’ in the Wind.” Virus is so bad that it’s shocking. That would be the all time piece of shit. It’s just dreadful. That’s the only good reason to be in bad movies. Then when your friends have bad movies you can say “Ahhhh, I’ve got the best one. I’m bringing Virus.””

She also tried to get director John Bruno fired and replaced with Halloween H20 director Steve Miner as she felt that he was horrible. Up until this movie, Bruno had mainly worked in special effects and had only directed the “Soft Landing” opening of Heavy Metal and the Universal Studios ride T2 3-D: Battle Across Time.

Based on the Dark Horse comic Virus by Chuck Pfarrer, who wrote the script along with Jonathan Hensleigh (JumanjiArmageddon, the director of the Thomas Jane Punisher) and Dennis Feldman (Just One of the GuysThe Golden Child, the first two Species movies), Virus is about the crew of the tug boat Sea Star — drunken captain Robert Everton (Donald Sutherland), navigator Kelly Foster (Curtis), engineer Steve Baker (William Baldwin), Squeaky (Julio Oscar Mechoso), deckhand Hiko (Cliff Curtis), crewman Richie Mason (Sherman Augustus) and first mate J.W. Woods, Jr. (Marshall Bell) — who have lost their cargo due to a storm and decide to check out the wreck of Russian research ship Akademik Vladislav Volkov.

So, you know, Alien. That’s because a signal has made its way through space, hit the space station Mir and killed everyone on the Volkov except for Chief Science Officer Nadia Vinogradova (Joanna Pacuła). This energy brings dead people back to life, replacing their body parts with machinery to create zombie robots that look incredible and made me understand why Donald Sutherland demanded that he do all of his scenes in makeup in one day, because that had to take forever.

APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 12: Eye of the Beholder (1999)

Based on Marc Behm’s novel and a remake of Claude Miller’s 1983 French thriller Deadly Circuit, this Stephan Elliot-directed (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) was originally optioned by producer Philip Yordan (yes, I can get a Night Train to Terror mention in for every movie) for Charlton Heston, but it took decades to be made in America.

Stephen Wilson (Ewan McGregor) is known as The Eye, a surveillance expert called in to track down the son of his wealthy boss. However, that man is killed by serial killer Joanna Eris (Ashley Judd) as Stephen watches. Years ago, his daughter disappeared and he sees her as the grown version of her, so he keeps trying to rescue her.

Going rogue, Stephen keeps following Eris, even after she is due to be married to a rich blind man named Alexander Leonard (Patrick Bergin) and gives up killing men. So why does he shoot her tires out and cause his death? Why does he save her from Gary (Jason Priestley), who has beaten Eris into oblivion and is preparing to assault her? Why does he follow her all over the country?

How muchy of what Stephen sees is even real? Does Hildary (k.d. lang) even exist? Is this a cyberpunk movie (yes, it has dystopian tech, British accents and a rock star in it)? And how about the scenes shot in Pittsburgh?

What a mess. I kind of want to watch it a third time to see if I can make any more sense of it.

You can watch this on Tubi.

 

JESS FRANCO MONTH: Vampire Blues (1999)

Rachel (Rachel Sheppard, Mari-Cookie and the Killer Tarantula and nearly every Franco camcorder release from this era) is an American on holiday in Spain who loves horror movies enough to buy a t-shirt with the image of a female vampire, which is all Countess Irina von Murnau (Analía Ivars, also pretty much a Franco stock player) takes over her dreams, much like, well name the Franco female vampire movie of your choice. Can the warnings of Marga the Gipsy (Lina Romay) keep her safe?

Is there a bottom to this very deep barrel of Franco? Does the song repeated over and over and over wear on you? Do the video effects feel like ones done on public access shows? Or do you feel charmed with Franco himself shows up as a merchant?

I mean, who knew a threeway with an enchanted dildo was the right way to kill a vampire? I wonder what Bela Lugosi would have thought about that?

JESS FRANCO MONTH: Red Silk (1999)

Gina (Lina Romay) and Tina (Christie Levin, Broken Dolls) are female private eyes who go from smuggling artwork to a kidnap and murder case, all while just trying to make enough money that they can get out of the business.

Why yes, Jess Franco is making Two Undercover Angels again.

There’s a rich guy who chains his wife up and makes his own snuff films and hey, if he dies, he dies, and the girls get rich off him but then wreck their car and wake up and it’s all a dream, so then they tell you — the viewer — how to hire them.

This was one of the One Shot movies that Franco made and man, there’s a Geocities quality website for when this came out and this makes me like this movie way more than I did before I saw the site.

Some people decry the quality of this movie. As for me, it makes me think of how lucky Jess Franco was. He found not only a way to get his partner to make out with younger women while he watched, he was able to make money — well, never enough — from it.