Movie Review: Unforgettable
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It’s Christmas time and you bet your sweet ass that the criminally underrated and under seen “The Long Kiss Goodnight” (get it here!) has already been screened for the Holidays. I love that movie to pieces and its history is almost as entertaining as the film itself. In the 80’s and early 90’s, his script for LETHAL WEAPON sent screenwriter SHANE BLACK at the top of the food chain! He went on to have a successful stint with Lethal Weapon 2, The Last Boy Scout and finally The Long Kiss Goodnight. He managed to sell the latter to New Line Cinema in 1994 for a whopping $4 million, a record in terms of price tag for a spec script sale at the time. Alas, it bombed at the box office, hurting Black’s career with him bouncing back in 2005 with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. So what the f*ck happened? I am not sure; I do have a theory though (will share at the end of this drivel). On that, watching THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT today, it still held up like the butt-whooping celluloid champ that it is and here are ten reasons why:
-Look this is a brutal action movie, not Shakespeare and I was very glad to see that the pace here was lightning fast. There was no time for BS or padding. The amount of “dramatic bits” versus “action get downs” were perfectly balanced! Thank you!
-The Dialogue! One of Shane Black’s main strengths as a screenwriter is his clever, often vulgar, politically incorrect (thank you) and funny as f*ck dialogue. The Long Kiss Goodnight was no exception. I laughed out loud many times at the lines here with Samuel Jackson’s “Stop having kittens" bit and Brian Cox’s mini monologue about a dog going to town on its own butthole being my favs among many!
-The cast! Geena Davis put out a mix of sexy, vulnerable and stone cold that warmed my deadbeat heart! Samuel L. Jackson was at his funniest here handling the vulgarity laced dialogue like only he could, Craig Bierko (Where did he go?) was solid as the baby faced villain while Brian Cox and David Morse owned it in smaller roles. It should also be stabbed that kid actress (back then anyways) Yvonne Zima shined as the daughter in peril. Endearing, convincing and non-annoying! I love that in a child performer! Kind of rare…
-The action! By this point Renny Harlin already had Cliffhanger (1993) The Adventures of Ford Fairlane (1990) and Die Hard 2 (1990) under his pow-wow belt. The man knew how to deliver the wam-bam and he did it again here! The action scenes were inventive, harsh, stylistically shot and body count heavy i.e. mucho entertaining! Bummer that the film tanked. That made two flops in a row for Harlin after Cutthroat Island (1995). At least Renny came back with a vengeance with Deep Blue Sea (1999)!
-The Christmas spirit! Look man, Gremlins and Scrooge movies aside, I’m not big on “for kids” Christmas movies. Black hit pay dirt when he set Lethal Weapon during Christmas (which Die Hard then went on to copy) and I’m in a tizzy that he set this one during the Holidays as well. The snow, the colorful lights, Santa, the constant Christmas tunes belting out… all made for a stark and groovy contrast when taking into account the violent going-ons at hand.
-The violence! One thing that I always loved about Harlin’s action films is that he always went for the jugular (icicle scene in Die Hard 2 = genius). People get hurt and graphically which is good news for this genre fan! Scroll down to the GORE section to see what the film has in store for ya!
-The horror-ish imagery! The Long Kiss Goodnight has a handful of trippy scenes having to do with Samantha's initial personality (Charley), coming back to the surface in the mind of this homey “housewife” to take over. Renny used his Prison and Nightmare on Elm Street 4 horror training to good use here! Freaky shite!
So there you have it, I can’t really say that I have any serious qualms with this one, I mean for what it is, it pretty much excelled at everything it set out to do! If I had to nit-pick, I guess I wished the final confrontation was a bit more brutal, but that’s me being an a-hole cause I have to. And you want to know why I think the film tanked at the time? I don’t think folks were ready for a full on, hard ass, female action chick with a potty mouth and "kill" on the fritz! That’s the only thing I can think of, because at the end of the evisceration, this movie OWNS!