The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Supergirl (1984)

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As we continue Superman week on our DTVC Wild Card look at comic book movies, our second stop is the 1984 classic Supergirl. I believe the first time I saw this was on TV, but who knows. I just remembered it wasn't very good, but Helen Slater was very hot.

Supergirl I think is about a group of Kryptonians that fled when the planet exploded, led by a be-Cosby Sweatered Peter O'Toole, and now live in some enclosed town where their very existence hinges on a tiny spinning ball. Slater accidentally loses the ball, and now has to go to Earth to get it. Lucky for her, the ball is safe. Unlucky for her, the evil sorceress Selina, played by Faye Dunaway, has it. Now she not only has to get the ball back for her people, but she has to get it away from Dunaway before she subjugates the entire human race.

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I could easily say I felt like I was shoved into a flying parallelogram and banished to the Phantom Zone while watching this film. I mean, the plot was ridiculous, and when it wasn't dragging along and making us suffer through inane scenes of Slater trying to understand our foreign Earth Culture, it would jump from one thing to another without even bothering to try and explain how we got there. I felt like I was reading a book with pages missing. One moment she's in a space ship in a robe, the next she's soaring through the air as Supergirl, with the complete costume. This felt every bit like the rushed cash grab it was.

Still, this had some very redeeming qualities. It wasn't just how hot Helen Slater looked as Supergirl, but it was the kind of female hero she was-- which we never see anymore. She was sweet and feminine, not as a way to trap or manipulate men, but naturally; yet when push came to shove, when she had to kick ass, she got shit done. Today's heroines are all these tough chicks in black leather who have no time for guys because falling in love is a sign of weakness. If anything, this film was able to have its cake and eat it too. Also, they used a pretty guy in the damsel in distress role, flipping the script perfectly, all the way down to the villain trying to coerce the damsel to be her lover instead of the heroine's. The reality is, I'm not sure if a movie like this could be made anymore, which is kind of too bad, because I'm not sure another superheroine movie has done a better job of making it's female lead a complete person.

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There's one scene where the hunky guy is trapped in the bumper cars, while Dunaway has them racing around him. The bumper cars are designed like football players charging someone, and they all had NFL helmets, which was great for the nostalgia factor. It just so happened that the one Slater used to fly her boy-toy to safety was the one that had the old logo to my Patriots on it, along with the LA Rams. It's one of those things that doesn't make the film great at the time, but really adds to it's charm 25+ years later. Even better was the "What is Love" by Howard Jones that Dunaway played at a party she threw. I wonder if in 2030 I'll think it's as cool to hear the bad rock in films like Daredevil and Punisher. I doubt it: Seether and Evanescence are no Howard Jones.

Matt Frewer of Max Headroom fame has a cameo, dressed in a too sweet A&W root beer T-shirt. There's actually some other A&W product placement, along with a great Schlitz Malt Liquor and Popeye's chicken, but I only grabbed an image of Frewer in the shirt. Also, as I was capturing the image, I was listening to the commentary, and they pronounced his name FROY-er, as opposed to FROO-er, which is the way I've always said it. Have I always been wrong? I can't even remember when I first heard it as FROO-er, because it may have just been a friend who didn't know any better.

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We've had some great actors featured here at the DTVC, but Peter O'Toole might take the cake. In Supergirl he plays a kind of misunderstood genius in a Bill Cosby Sweater. I'm thinking, though, 1984 might have pre-dated the concept, because the show didn't debut until that same year, and the film had to have been made before that. Does that mean, even if it is essentially a Bill Cosby Sweater, I can't refer to it as one because he wore it before the show?

Okay, maybe the story left a lot to be desired, but there's something to be said for a female heroine in something other than black leather who likes people, wants to co-exist peacefully with men, and can still kick ass. Don't get me wrong, I love the black leather, but a Supergirl or Wonder Woman outfit is just as hot, and really, isn't much sillier than something like Halle Berry's Catwoman outfit. I think whoever tries to make the next superheroine movie would be foolish to write this film off completely.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088206/

8 comments:

  1. I just went ahead and ordered the DVD, I'm gonna go and review it myself, and I must admit this was pretty fun back in the day.

    Although let it be said I still hope you one day review Superman III cause that one is hands down the DTViest comic book ever. I mean you can't describe the awesomeness of Superman fighting Clark Kent.

    It's weird...I liked Superman III (as well as the first two and most likely Supergirl) much more than Superman Returns...go figure.

    Also speaking of Supergirl, whatever happened to Helen Slater? She just disappeared. I mean completely MIA.

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  2. Helen Slater has done a ton of TV stuff, mostly guest spots on TV dramas. According to imdb, she reprised her role as Lara-El (aka Supergirl) for Smallville, but I've never actually seen any episodes of that to be able to say one way or the other how she was.

    I haven't seen Superman III in forever, so I'll probably give it a look soon. Did you know there's a new version of II out, The Richard Donner Cut. That's actually technically a DTV movie, so maybe I'll do both in the same week sometime in the future.

    I haven't seen all of the new one, but what I've seen wasn't great to me. In general, I've never liked Superman as a character, which I think is testimony to just how good the films with Christopher Reeve were because I enjoyed them.

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  3. I've actually had this on DVD since last year, just haven't gotten around ot watching it yet, though your review definitely makes me want to see it, Superman III would've been much better if it was made as a "serious" film rather then a complete farce like Reeve said, and Smallville is one of those shows that I think has LONG overstayed it's welcome and I keep wishing will get cnacelled to no avail. Superman Returns just left me cold in a way that no other superhero film ever did, though Brandon Routh did make a pretty good Superman, and I didn't hate Bosworth NEARLY as much as most people did, she's no Margot Kidder but she stills does well enough, too bad I can't say the same for anybody else in the film, espeically Spacey, he's just plain awful as Lex. I'll freely admit I actually got more enjoyment out of Steel then I did out of Superman Returns. I'm glad Superman is getting the reboot treatment, cause boy does he ever need it. P.S. in case you're interested, there's another Gary Daniels film you might to check Netflix for-Fatal Blade

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  4. I really should see Superman Returns in its entirety. I think those first two films with Reeve really just caught lightning in a bottle, and made something special out of material, at least for me, that's really unremarkable. Superman on his own just isn't that compelling to me, not the way Batman and Spiderman always were.

    Fatal Blade is another of many relegated to the Saved section of my Netflix queue, no longer available to rent. I do have my next two Daniels films lined up, though: Hawk's Vengeance, per your request, and Epicenter, based on Kenner's review on his site, Movies in the Attic.

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  5. I really enjoyed the overall tone and atmosphere of SUPERMAN RETURNS and how it was a blatant love letter to the first two SUPERMAN films. A lot of people pooped all over Singer's reboot but I enjoyed it for what it was and I'm not even much of Supes fan. At least we were spared Tim Burton's "vision" which apparently involved Nicolas Cage donning the blue spandex. Yikes.

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  6. I really have to see it before I can comment on it. It was on FX a little while ago, but I never trust seeing a film on TV like that that was in the theater before I get a chance to see it uncut first.

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  7. Haha, this film was so awful! Hows about that invicible monster walking about the highschool grounds?

    Or why was Slater playing with that little ball if it was so freaking important to the existense of her people?

    And who exactly made that suit for her? Suddenly she appears in it, practicing her flying skills, but we never know how the suit came to be.

    The evil Faye Dunaway bit was so dumb, a sorceress...jeezz...theres many more things I remember hating about this movie, but Helen Slater was not one of them thats for sure!

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  8. You make great points all around, though I think no matter what, this film needed a female villain to make the use of a male damsel in distress work.

    That's what's so crazy about this: the script and story were so rushed, yet the basic paradigm of their heroine worked really well for me. It's a shame that film makers today, when depicting female superhero leads, completely ignore Supergirl because the story was so ill conceived.

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