Five Elements Ninjas (1982)

Main image – my photo of a hand-painted Ghanaian poster for “Five Elements Ninjas.”

Streaming on Amazon Prime and Netflix | imdb | trailer

Now THIS is a Saturday Night movie! Five Elements Ninjas is one of my top five favorite martial arts films of all time. The Shaw Brothers serve up a heaping helping of non-stop, insane, bloody ninja action. The film is often ridiculous, and utterly improbable, but it all works together beautifully somehow. Enjoy with your favorite psychoactive for maximum impact.

Available on Blu-ray from Tokyo Shock.

Becoming Bond (2017)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

This is a very entertaining Hulu original documentary on George Lazenby. It’s a funny look at his becoming James Bond for one film in spite of having zero acting experience. This is NOT a PG rated Bond film, so watch it without the kids around.

FYI – In case you think Lazenby is a one-hit wonder, check out the excellent giallo Who Saw Her Die? It’s available on Blu-ray from Arrow or streaming rental from YouTube or Apple TV.

Not available on Blu-ray.

The Gift (2000)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

Sam Raimi is very hit of miss for me after Evil Dead 2. This one I really enjoyed. Yes, even more than A Simple Plan or Drag Me To Hell. What we have here is a well-made horror mystery with some downright disturbing moments. I think what I like best about The Gift is that is that it is unique among Raimi’s work. It’s also pretty original among horror and suspense films period. While not prefect, it’s a damn good movie for sure.

Not available on Blu-ray.

Season of the Witch (1972)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

I am a big fan of George A. Romero (through Land of the Dead anyway) but missed this one until just now. I think this will be hard for some folks to get into because of the fashion of the time and the average looking actors. Please trust me, it’s worth looking past all that and just enjoying this mild, but very good, nightmarish horror thriller. It’s got a lot of depth to it. Even after a few drinks I noticed multiple possible angles going on. I have to admire Romero for making this film. Watch Season of the Witch with a little patience and I think you’ll enjoy it.

Available on Blu-ray from Arrow.

LA 92 (2017)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

“The most destructive civil disturbance in American history” and this documentary makes that excruciatingly clear. I didn’t watch this for a while because I got it confused with Let It Fall (another very good documentary on this subject). What makes LA 92 exceptional is that the filmmakers just let archival footage and audio tell the story. There is no narration, and thankfully no obnoxious animation. Yes, this is a disturbing experience. It is also perfectly made and essential viewing.

Not available on Blu-ray.

Neruda (2016)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This is a bio-drama about poet Pablo Neruda‘s escape from arrest by the Chilean fascist government. I didn’t know what to expect, but the skillful performances and elegant cinematography really made it an enjoyable experience. Pablo Neruda seems like he was a pain in the ass redeemed by artistic genius. It comes as no surprise that he was friends with Picasso.

Not available on Blu-ray.

Starsky and Hutch – Pilot (1975)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | no trailer available

If you are not interested in ‘70s TV cop shows you will want to skip this recommendation. I don’t normally talk about television series here, but the feature-length pilot of the this gritty old cop drama was too irresistible. Please note the following important features: Dirty old LA, Richard Lynch as an uncredited hitman, a scene in a porno movie theatre, an appearance by a young Gordon Jump from WKRP, music by Lalo Schrifin (Mission Impossible, Enter the Dragon, Dirty Harry) and Hutch / David Soul’s sweet-ass leather jacket. I was impressed by the quality of the film-making too. That probably has a lot to do with the fact that it was helmed by Barry Shear, who also directed Across 110th Street.

I used to watch this show as a kid and had never seen this pilot. Obviously it was a lot of fun for me. I think anyone not into ‘70s TV crime shows would think it was just an old police action movie with all the blood and nudity cut out. I understand but I still can’t believe this was broadcast to every home from coast to coast. Starsky and Hutch seems to have begun with the idea that they would push the limit of what network censors would tolerate as much as possible. It really was a different world back then. Note: this is listed as “Episode 0” on Amazon Prime, and on the tablet app it’s under “bonus” at the bottom of season one.

Not available on Blu-ray.