Thursday, September 02, 2004

Cable Catch-Up: Innerspace (1987)

I keep waiting for a cult following to spring up around this movie, one of your better comic science fiction love stories. It’s a riff on FANTASTIC VOYAGE in which miniaturized test pilot Dennis Quaid is accidentally injected into hypochondriac Martin Short. Meg Ryan is Quaid’s love interest, which may bring back a few painful memories. But we’re all adults here, and we have to get on with our lives.

Director Joe Dante is one of the few masters of this tone. A product of the Roger Corman factory, he’s best known for 1984’s GREMLINS. The 1990 sequel is actually a much better movie, a straight ahead gonzo comedy packed with in-jokes. Dante began his career with two pitch-perfect comic horror films, PIRANHA and THE HOWLING. His crowning achievement is 1993’s MATINEE, a warm look back at 1960s horrors real (the Cuban missile crisis) and imagined (the creature features cranked out by William Castle). I count myself among the few fans of Dante’s last feature, LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION, which did an admirable job of recreating the anarchic spirit of the Warner Brothers cartoons.

Co-writer Chip Proser also wrote ICEMAN, one of the great lost films of the 1980s. I hereby launch a campaign to have it released on DVD. Who’s with me?

Music: Laura Branigan

The pop singer died last week. She had largely retired from performing in 1996, so she unfairly missed out on the ‘80s revival. I didn’t think much of her songs like ‘Gloria’ and ‘Solitaire,’ but she had a powerful voice.

The video for her song ‘Self Control’ was one of the first to be banned from MTV. I remember it vividly: the suggestion of an orgy, the masked lover, the enormous belt Branigan wore over her cat suit. It was directed by William Friedkin of EXORCIST/FRENCH CONNECTION fame, and in retrospect it seems like a dry run for his 1995 sex thriller JADE. (Who knew? It turns out Friedkin is now directing opera.) Times change; the video is now a staple on VH-1 Classic. You can watch it on the official Laura Branigan website.

Miscellaneous: Huh?

“Saying that Fox News is beating the networks only because Republicans are watching is like saying ‘The Sopranos’ beats the networks only because Italians are watching.”

-Fox spokeswoman Irena Briganti to the New York Times on their coverage of the Republican National Convention