Vertical Limit

There’s cheesy gold in them thar hills!

Wildly-implausible, yet undeniably-entertaining, this is one of those late ’90s/early 2000’s disaster films like Dante’s Peak or Deep Impact which have a place in my heart.

This time out, Chris O’Donnell and Robin Tunney are a brother/sister duo, the best mountain climbers in the biz, but unable to reconcile with each other over their father’s death.

Of course, it’s no surprise when one sibling gets trapped in an extremely-dangerous locale, requiring the other to mount a last-gasp rescue effort.

This is a popcorn movie done right, and it hits the spot.


Near Dark

Fangs for the memories.

A down ‘n gritty vampire-fest, full of the kind of gore and gristle ignored by the kind of bloodsuckers who twinkle in moonlight, this horror/western mashup marked Kathryn Bigelow’s solo directorial debut.

Arriving in theaters just two months after The Lost Boys, it was lost a bit in the hubbub of the time, but has grown in stature over the years.

Bigelow has gone on to a stellar career, highlighted by being the only woman to win an Oscar as Best Director.

The seeds of her success were planted here, in a film both nerve-jangling and swoon-inducing.


One mad mama trumps 100 space marines.

When the alien acid really hits the fan, the trained killers start screaming (and dying) like first-time rookies.

Game over, man, indeed.

Instead, it’s the far-tougher-than-she-looks Ellen Ripley who straps on the weapons of war and heads out to kick some ass to protect those she loves.

Ridley Scott’s original built big-time suspense with its cat-and-mouse games on the edge of the galaxy, while James Cameron comes in and ramps up the action the second time around.

Honoring what came before while finding a creative reason to continue the story — a sequel done right.


A Simple Plan

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

Director Sam Raimi does, as he follows a trio who reveal their true, twisted natures when given the chance to make off with ill-gotten money.

A plane crashes deep in the dark, snowy woods, and now it sits as a potential prize, with just a dead pilot and $4.4 million in cash aboard.

But things never go nicely in noir — old school or neo — and the lure of a new life financed by what turns out be ransom money opens the gates of Hell for our heroes.

Everyone will burn.


One False Move

A reckoning is coming.

Four years before Sling Blade, Billy Bob Thornton co-wrote, and played the nastiest bad guy in, this consistently-surprising lil’ slice of neo noir.

Leaving bodies in their wake, a trio of criminals depart the bright lights of the big city and head for small-town Arkansas, where sheriff Dale Dixon (Bill Paxton) waits.

The only law in a small dot on the map, he is condescended to by LAPD detectives, but Dixon’s good ol’ boy exterior masks a first-rate cop, albeit it one with his fair share of secrets.

An early-’90s gem which hasn’t dulled a bit.