Apocalypse Now

“Charlie don’t surf.”

The famous line, like a lot of things in this movie, has multiple meanings.

Writer John Milius said the implication is “we’ve killed them, and now we’re taking their waves.”

Plunge into a hazy, drug-fueled tale of lives being brutally ended, with each survivor looking for a small slice of personal happiness in the middle of carnage.

Martin Sheen, who suffered a heart attack while filming, enters the unforgiving jungle, intent on murdering a renegade Marlon Brando.

The end result? The viewer is left dazed and drained, forever changed by the voodoo magic of the movies.

 

The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane

Don’t irritate Jodie Foster.

Or at least don’t chafe the quietly-dangerous teen she plays in this largely-unsung thriller, one of five films she made in 1976.

While not as well-known as Taxi Driver, Bugsy Malone, or Freaky Friday, which also hit theaters that year, Foster’s work as Rynn is, as always, impeccable.

The best actress of my lifetime rules her roost in rural Maine.

She has a father, though he’s AWOL, and anyone who questions her too strongly gets a nasty response.

Enter creepy Martin Sheen and ramp up the suspense.

But, whatever you do, stay out the basement. Just sayin’.

The Dead Zone

“The ice … is gonna … BREAK!!”

Christopher Walken brings the heat as John Smith, a schoolteacher who rises from a coma to discover newly-awakened psychic powers.

Touch someone, and he can foresee the future, though, sometimes, those events can be changed.

As the power grows, it eats away at him, however.

Gift or curse, the glimpses into the future enable Smith to stop a serial killer, but also puts him on a collision course with a deranged presidential candidate played by Martin Sheen.

Something is seriously going to break before the end credits, and it’s more than just the ice.

 

When the Bough Breaks (1994)

It was all about the hunt.

In my early video store days, we were sent tons of advance copies of movies, known in the biz as “screeners.”

There were heapin’ stacks of VHS tapes, and I took great delight in finding hidden gems which might have otherwise slipped by unnoticed.

This chiller about a troubled profiler (Ally Walker) chasing a serial killer after a pile of chopped-off hands float up from the sewers during a torrential Texas rain, fit the bill.

Big on atmosphere, with a strong supporting cast (Martin Sheen, Ron Perlman), it has always stuck with me.