Sunday, September 9, 2012

John Lithgow & Cynthia Nixon in The Manhattan Project (1986)

Paul (Christopher Collet) is a bright boy. He excells in science and math and his curious mind is accompanied by a somewhat devious nature. John Matthewson (Lithgow) is a scientist working on high grade plutonium and trying to make time with Paul's mother. To that end, John invites Paul to visit his lab. Unfortunately, he's underestimated Paul's knowledge and understanding. In a move that's part protest, part prank, Paul and his friend Jenny (Nixon) steal some plutonium and Paul proceeds to make an atomic bomb with it for a science project. Will he win first prize... or even live to compete?
This film by Woody Allen collaborator Marshall Brickman was undoubtedly green lit because of the success of War Games (1983). It features the same archetypes and asks some of the same questions. The characters differ somewhat and have some compelling flaws. Some of the situations are a bit far fetched, but the whole thing holds together as entertainment. It's fun to see Cynthia Nixon as a teenager and look for Robert Sean Leonard in a small role.

This film is available on DVD, but can be hard to find online. Above is the trailer for it from Video Detective.

Obscurity factor: 9 (on DVD, hard to find otherwise, largely forgotten)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

James Caan & Sally Kellerman in Slither (1973)

Car thief, Dick Kanipsia has just gotten out of prison. With no real plans, he drifts, until the possibility of a fortune drops into his lap. This possibility sends him on a strange and unsettling road trip where he meets kooky and slightly psychotic Kitty Kopetzky (Kellerman) and the Fenakas (Peter Boyle & Louise Lasser), a band leader and his wife, also in pursuit of the loot. They join forces and pile into the Fenaka's Airstream trailer, only to be pursued by an ominous black van, which soon multiplies into two. Will our band of intrepid travelers reach their goal before being overtaken by the unidentified evil lurking behind them?

This is a very strange film. For starters, the title says nothing about it and is much better suited to the 2006 horror film that shares it, and the circumstances are bizzarre and have a random quality to them that can be confusing. That being said, oddly enough the film holds together well. It's really because of the character portraits created by these talented actors. It's very much a black comedy, with some very funny twists to it. Look for character actors Alex Rocco, Richard B. Shull and Allen Garfield in small but pivotal roles.
Slither is available on DVD. Above is the trailer for it from the TCM site. Other scenes from the film can be watched at TCM, but I haven't been able to find the full film available online.

Obscurity factor: 9 (largely forgotten, on DVD, otherwise hard to find)