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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Missing No Longer: NEIGHBORS (1981) and BLACK EYE (1974)

DVD finally? No kidding?
This month's edition of Missing No More finds two more long-awaited releases finally making it to DVD, both starring major talents of the 1970's who left us way too soon.

John Belushi's final film, NEIGHBORS (1981) found the erstwhile Senator Blutarsky co-starring for the third time with Dan Aykroyd and the two SNL vets playing against viewer expectations.  This time Belushi was the put-upon conservative suburbian and Aykroyd the wild, crazy rebel outsider who aggravates him.  NEIGHBORS was probably the most anticipated release of the 1981 Christmas season, with Belushi and Aykroyd joined by an impressive list of heavy hitters on the other side of the camera: screenwriter Larry Gelbart, director John G. Avildsen, and producers David Brown and Daryl Zanuck.

The results are a mixed bag, with Avildsen (who once directed CRY UNCLE's edgy humor capably) proving to be a mismatch for the material, clashing with Belushi and ordering a soundtrack (by ROCKY's Bill Conti) that kills too many laughs--I always thought the TWILIGHT ZONE/horror music used in the TV trailer below worked better myself.  It must have seemed like a bad re-run for Gelbart, who a year earlier saw his ROUGH CUT extensively rewritten and hampered by off-screen infighting. 

While a missed opportunity, NEIGHBORS has its moments, and its release means that all three Belushi-Aykroyd features are finally available.  NEIGHBORS was released last week by, who else, Warner Archive and is available for $19.95 through their DVD shop.

It was just last month that The Horn Section trumpeted the arrival of the second of Teresa Graves' three feature films to DVD when VAMPIRA (1974), her last and least, finally received a home video release.  Tuesday, the Graves trifecta was completed when Warner Archive released 1974's BLACK EYE.

The Hammer

Starring Fred "The Hammer" Williamson, BLACK EYE is a routine but still fun action flick.  Williamson plays a perpetually indebted ex-cop turned P.I. who tries to solve a puzzling new case while attempting reconciliation with his bisexual ex Graves.  While The Hammer's other flicks of the era turn up frequently on cable, BLACK EYE has been rarely screened in recent years--I last saw it on TV One in 2008.

Worth checking out if you're a Williamson fan, and a must if you're a fan of Graves, who as mentioned only made 3 features before retiring to a quiet life devoted to her religion.  Interestingly, she co-starred with Williamson twice: her debut was THAT MAN BOLT (1973).

BLACK EYE is also available for $19.95 at the Warner Archive DVD shop.  More reviews to come!

1 comment:

Cinema Du Meep said...

Thanks for this! I'm so surprised it's taken so long for Neighbors to land on DVD. Thank god for Columbia Classics/Warner Archives!