Rockie's Vulcan Video Staff Picks #11
Rockie has been working at one of the last video stores standing, Vulcan Video in Austin, TX, for nearly a decade. The best part about working there is being able to share a recommendation with a customer. Sure, some of his recommendations have been shot down in flames, but the ones that hit always make it well worthwhile. For his Staff Picks, he has a few selections mined from the mighty Vulcan Video.
Vice Squad (1982)
A contender for the gnarliest film to come out of 1982, Vice Squad concerns a lady of the night who is asked by police to help catch a killer pimp. Please whomever may read this do not let that description fool you, because the solid characters amongst the urban insanity make it shine. Wings Hauser plays that killer pimp, Rimrod, and he also sings the track Neon Slime heard in the beginning, which totally adds to the sleazy but pitch perfect nature of the film. Vice Squad is one of Scorsese’s favorites too so don’t sweep it under the rug because it looks crazy on the surface. A great film is in there, gang.
The Hitcher (1986)
Jim Halsey (C. Thomas Howell) just wants to get away and live the dream so he takes to the open road to find that life. His luck turns to shit however once he picks up a drifter out of sheer loneliness and boredom. You see, this hitcher, played by Rutger Hauer, has been killing people along the highway for a while now and is looking for another victim to add to his tally. Both a horror and a chase film, The Hitcher proves to be one of the greatest examples of never pick up strangers off the side of the road, unless of course you like to eat ‘finger fries’ and run with a cold sweat for days.
White Dog (1982)
Director Samuel Fuller cares about all races even if he has to show you painful messages to prove it. By that I mean (I’m cheating here with an extra recommendation) see Steel Helmet then go straight into White Dog because both films tackle racism in a fascinating way. In White Dog, an actress accidentally hits a dog with her car and decides to look after it only to find out the hard way that it’s been raised to kill black people. She then takes it to a trainer who has unique methods to reach wild dogs - the catch being that he himself is a black man. Powerful and sad, White Dog is strong cinema that hurts but educates.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays the perfect sociopath in Nightcrawler. He seriously could care less about people and his actions show it. He’s a thief and constantly screws people over left and right and guess what, it’s an amazing thing to witness. Gyllenhaal plays Louis Bloom whom after getting a video camera he decides to film horrific crime scenes such as auto accidents and murders only to turn the footage over to the local news for a coin. Causing tons of damage in his wake, Bloom is a monster you cannot take your eyes off of. A solid script with every co-star bringing their A-game, Nightcrawler is terrifying because you can sense it’s already happening or has happened before.
How To Train Your Dragon (2010)
A boy and his dog story told with vikings and dragons. Vikings are born to slay dragons, but after the scrawny village idiot, Hiccup, unwittingly befriends a rare dragon he tries to get his people to change their ways. Dreamworks has a few winners in their filmography but this one might be their finest hour. The score is absolutely perfect, especially during a key flight sequence where Hiccup and his dragon, Toothless, learn to become one. One of the all time great kid films, How to Train Your Dragon is a wonder to look at but it has a heart way larger than its body to back up its gorgeous visuals.