Used Cars

“You killed my dog, mister!”

Nothing is off limits for the salesmen in this salty comedy, from hijacking the airwaves to run renegade TV ads, to faking out a prospective buyer by making him think he turned the company dog into a pancake.

Director Robert Zemeckis, before he got respectable with an Oscar, gets down ‘n dirty, with Kurt Russell and Gerrit Graham a formidable duo as fast-talking, eyes-ever-on-the-wallet shysters.

If you’re a person who thinks kids falling out of the back of a moving car isn’t funny, this probably isn’t the movie for you.

Which is too bad.

 

Escape From New York

“You’re all I got.”

He’s the best at what he does, but what he does isn’t very nice.

Sporting an eye patch and a Statue of Liberty-sized chip on his shoulder, Kurt Russell gets down ‘n snarly as a convict dropped into the Big Apple hellscape of far-off 1997.

His mission – bring back the President, whose plane has crashed in the bad part of town, by any means necessary.

Director John Carpenter spent the ’70s and ’80s churning out a legendary list of films, many which didn’t get their proper due until years later.

This is one of his best.

 

The Hateful Eight

Not the friendliest bunch.

Just about everyone gets shot, slapped, hit in the face with a gun butt, or otherwise roughed up in a slow-burn mystery set in the snowy backcountry.

Identities change, often in a flash, and allegiances are fluid, as a group of vicious back-stabbers (and front-shooters) warily circle one another.

It’s a gorgeous-looking film with a haunting Ennio Morricone musical score, and almost cries out to be viewed multiple times.

First time, you’re caught by surprise each time the story flips or a cast member dies horribly, while future viewings allow you to marinate in the moment.

The Thing (1982)

Is it real, or is it Memorex?

The aliens are among us — or, more accurately, are us — in John Carpenter’s snowbound creep-fest.

The survivor of a UFO crash bounces from body to body, hiding behind the bushy beards of a group of justifiably-paranoid researchers trapped in a far-flung outpost.

When the guy next to you, or the dog nipping at your toes, could be a bloodthirsty alien waiting to shed its temporary skin, everyone is suspect.

Hated intensely in ’82, this has survived to be rightly revered as a genre classic, a perfect mix of sensational practical effects and nerve-jangling suspense.

 

Breakdown

Don’t mess with Kurt Russell.

He’s a pretty easy-going guy most days, but push him over the edge by, let’s say, kidnapping his wife on a desolate backstretch of the American highway, and the bad Kurt comes out to play.

His polo shirt comfortably tucked into his Dockers, our big city boy would seem to be no match for degenerate truck drivers.

Guess again, fools.

One of the better late ’90s suspense thrillers, this benefits from a quality cast of top-grade supporting actors, including Kathleen Quinlan, M.C. Gainey, and the late, great J.T. Walsh in one of his final go-rounds.