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BLACK MOON RISING (1986)

Black Moon Rising - CoverArrow Video’ have recently released a digitally remastered version of the John Carpenter classic, ‘Black Moon Rising’. It was directed by Harley Cokeliss, it stars Tommy Lee Jones, Linda Hamilton, Robert Vaughn, Richard Jaeckel, and Bubba Smith, and it lasts for 100-minutes. Plus, as an extra added bonus, the Blu-Ray edition comes with a documentary, a great audio commentary by Lee Gambin, a theatrical trailer, an image gallery, as well as a number of featurettes and interviews. Please enjoy.


Black Moon Rising [Blu-Ray]


THE STORY:
Now I know we haven’t known each other for very long, Nina (Linda Hamilton), but I was wondering if you can help me with a problem I’m currently having? Well, do you remember stealing that big black sports car a few nights ago? Yes. That’s the one. That high-tech sleek looking car full of gadgets you stole for your boss, Ryland (Robert Vaughn)! Well, between you and me, would you allow me to steal it as well? After all, I stole a highly confidential cassette and hid it in the car for safekeeping until the coast was clear, without really knowing that you were going to steal it before I could retrieve my ill-gotten gains!

So, what do you say, Nina? Would you allow us two thieves to work together, just this once? Come on, be a pal, because if you do, I promise you that I will stop working for the FEDs and start working for myself. Me: Sam Quint (Tommy Lee Jones). But then again, that’s most probably why what next transpires goes slap, kick, zoom, when a gang of tough guys punches me right in the face. As a mob boss takes things a bit too far - a couple of thieves sit in a red Jaguar - an impenetrable fortress meets a high flying car - and at the end of the day, please remember, cops and robbers always hide under the radar.




THE REVIEW:
Are you nostalgic for the 80s? Are you nostalgic for a time when women permed their hair, technology looked crap, and high-speed car chases were usually accompanied by a soundtrack composed by Lalo Schifrin? If so, then high five, my man, as you’ve just qualified to watch, ‘Black Moon Rising’. A film that’s so, so, 80s, it could easily put a Rubik's Cube to shame.

Black Moon Rising - Tommy Lee Jones and Linda Hamilton
Seriously, folks, at face value this is the type of low budget production that epitomized many of the other projects made during the same era. After all, it has taken a number of different elements that were very popular at the time, and then glued them all together to make a fun, action-packed film that seems fairly disjointed in places. So disjointed, in fact, that certain parts of it came across slightly underdeveloped, superficial even, and inadvertently hindered what could have been a really magnificent movie.

For instance, as soon as it begins, we find out that Tommy Lee Jones’s character is working for the FEDs, but it’s never made quite clear why he’s working for them or what type of hold they seem to have over him! Robert Vaughn’s character, on the other hand, is obviously rich, very rich, yet he still wants to steal cars in spite of owning two huge empty buildings he could easily rent! Also, halfway through, we discover that Robert is infatuated with Linda Hamilton’s character as well, but we never really find out how long this has lasted or how deep his infatuation actually goes.

So, as you can see, from a narrative point of view, this story seems as fragile as an unhatched baby-bird perched on the edge of a very tall cliff. Metaphorically speaking, of course, and this is only exacerbated a bit more when we see how the two principal characters finally get together. Well, without giving too much away, a large portion of the plot hinges on Tommy and Linda’s characters joining forces in order to rebel against the big boss, namely, Robert. But, to get to this stage of the story, do you have any idea what they both have to go through to finally see eye to eye? No. They don’t have to fight an army of henchmen, they don’t get stranded on a desert island, and they don’t overcome a degenerative illness either. What they do instead is look at each other three times -- I repeat, three times -- before jumping into the sack and doing the horizontal shuffle. That’s it. Nothing else. Maybe they exchange a few words on the car ride over. But that’s about it really. Look-Look-Look. Wink-Wink! Jiggy-Jiggy Bang-Bang!


Black Moon Rising - Tommy Lee Jones and Richard Jaeckel


I mean, seriously? Couldn’t the people who adapted this script come up with something else? Something a bit more meaningful than a few sultry looks and a couple of words? Like a scenario perhaps! A scenario which would allow them both to build up a bit of a rapport prior to swapping bodily fluids! Well, I know that this was the eighties, but I didn’t think free love was that easy to come by, especially when you take into consideration that both of these characters are hard, stoic individuals with a chequered and shady history.

Black Moon Rising - Movie Poster
Anyway, that’s enough of that for the time being, because now I think we should all sit back, relax, and check out the following filmic facts: (1) ‘New World Pictures’ first released this production in America on the exact same day the model Abbey Clancy was born. It was on the 10th of January, 1986, and it eventually clawed back six point five million dollars at the Box Office. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled ‘The Fatal Error’ in Brazil, ‘No Exit’ in France, and ‘The Lightning Bolt’ in Greece. (3) The screenplay for this film was originally written by John Carpenter, best known for directing ‘Halloween’ and ‘Escape from New York’, and it was in development for over 10 consecutive years before it was picked up by ‘New World’. John never saw it though, and he continues to avoid watching it, largely due to the amount of changes made to his initial premise. (4) The majority of this movie was shot on location throughout the American state of California: Most notably, Hollywood, Los Angeles, and Lancaster. (5) One of the taglines used to promote this picture, states, ‘There's a darker side to Sam Quint. Steal from him and you'll find out’. (6) Linda Hamilton once said in an interview that she ‘despised’ working with Tommy Lee Jones during the making of this action-adventure, mainly because he was struggling with alcoholism at the time. (7) At different stages of development, Charles Bronson, Jeff Bridges, Don Johnson, Tom Berenger, and Richard Dean Anderson were all considered to play the part of Quint. (8) ‘The Black Moon’ car was a prototype car made in Canada in 1980. It was called the ‘Wingho Concordia II’, and it was hardly used again because of its inept design.

In closing my review for ‘Black Moon Rising’, I would just like to point out a couple of properties established in the 80s that might have shaped this film or was partly inspired by it. This includes, ‘Knight Rider’, a popular TV show that featured a sleek looking high-tech sports car being driven by the permed avenger himself, David Hasselhoff, who also wore a black leather jacket. Then there’s ‘Firefox’, a 1982 thriller that likewise featured a high-tech vehicle, but this time, it was a plane being stolen by a grizzled Clint Eastwood. And last, but not least, there’s ‘Die Hard’, the 1988 action-movie starring Bruce Willis, which showcased a story involving a man breaking into a high-rise building by climbing, abseiling, and swinging his way to his final destination.

Black Moon Rising - Robert Vaughn
Although, having said all that, in slight contrast to these 80s shenanigans, I would just like to stress that on an aesthetic level this movie appeared moderately more nuanced in comparison. Well, not only did it visually conform to the conventions generally perceived throughout the decade -- bold, lyrical, and nicely staged -- but in addition to this, it also had an LA Noire vibe which was offset by neon lighting, a contrasting color palette, a moody environment, and a great sci-fi inspired soundtrack composed by the jazzy, Lalo Schifrin. To see what I mean, just check out those fast-paced, action-packed, driving sequences, particularly that one set inside the tunnel, where flashes of light ricocheted off of the windshield, the driver's face, and the surrounding background. Or alternatively, have a look at those nicely choreographed fight scenes, but only those where proximity was a concern and the setting was amplified with shadow and light.

Come to think of it, while I’m on the topic of those fights, I must mention something about the cast, the wonderful, wonderful cast, who each played very memorable roles due to the amount of gravitas they propelled on to the screen. Richard and Bubba, for instance, were second tier characters at best, yet they still felt memorable thanks to their own personal physiognomy. Whereas Tommy, Linda, and Robert, on the other hand, were equally as good, up to a point, but in their case, less equals more, less flamboyant equals more enigmatic, more attractive, and more interesting to watch. So go on, what are you waiting for? Check this movie out today if you’re a fan of the 80s, fast cars, and even faster characters.

THE RATING: B-

BLACK MOON RISING (1986) BLACK MOON RISING (1986) Reviewed by David Andrews on April 29, 2019 Rating: 5

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