The Killers (1964)

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Charlie Storm (Lee Marvin) and Lee (Clu Gulager) arrive at a school for the blind to kill Johnny North (John Cassavetes). Johnny is warned that the men are on there way up to kill him. Yet when Charlie and Lee enter Johnny’s room, Johnny just stands there and takes what’s coming to him. Later when Charlie and Lee are talking on a train, Charlie ponders on why Johnny didn’t run, saying “I gotta find out what makes a man decide not to run. Why all of a sudden he’d rather die.”

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Charlie and Lee catch up with an old friend of Johnny’s called Earl, who tells them about a woman that caught Johnny’s eye some years ago. The woman is called Sheila Farr (Angie Dickinson). Sheila got her hooks into Johnny and turned his head around. But all the time Sheila belonged to a man called Jack Browning (Ronald Regan, yes that one). The ploy was to eventually get Johnny to help Sheila and Jack on a heist to steal $1million dollars. Needing a professional driver to help in stealing the money, Sheila and Jack chose Johnny.

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As Charlie and Lee catch up with other people who knew Johnny, they begin to find out why Johnny decided not to run, and instead take the bullet. For me Lee Marvin is always watchable, in any film I’ve seen him in. The problem here however is he’s not in this enough. That’s mainly down to the flashback style of storytelling. Majority of the film consists of Angie Dickinson and John Cassavetes, who aren’t terrible, but I just didn’t find the movie was strongest when they occupied the screen. Ronald Regan is passable as Jack Browning, in his final screen role before entering politics. Clu Gulager is great as the over eager Lee, and Lee Marvin is solid as Charlie Storm. The film is not terrible by any means, however I just felt it lacked a little punch.

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Also I don’t get why it’s an 18’s. I can understand that for a movie made in the 60’s it may have been a tad strong, but the BBFC are always fond of reclassifying movies, and to be honest I’ve seen 15 rated movies with more violence than this. The transfer from Arrow Films is, as always, impeccable. I can’t comment on what it looks like on DVD, but the Blu Ray is stunning. Every frame is crisp and the colours just pop. The sound is also second to none. Arrow never let me down in terms of picture and sound, irrespective of the movie. The extras consist of interviews about Lee Marvin and Ronald Regan, and one with director Don Siegel which was filmed in 1984. Again as always they are informative and are a pleasure to watch. This copy of The Killers was provided by the fantastic folks over at http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk. The film is due to be released on February 24th and you can head over to Arrow’s site to pre-order your copy now.

3/5

JM

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The Initiation (1984)

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The Initiation was released in the later half of 1984. It was released when video stores were stuffed to the gills with cheap slasher movies and various knock-offs. The plot revolves around a young girl called Kelly, who keeps having a reoccurring nightmare about her father being stabbed and a mysterious burning man. She speaks to her teacher about it who tries to help her decipher it’s meaning.

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Also at this time Kelly is due to undergo an initiation ceremony to become a member of her fraternity. The ceremony involves breaking into her father’s department store and stealing a uniform. Needless to say it doesn’t go smoothly, leaving Kelly and her friends at the mercy of a mysterious killer.

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The plot concerns other titbits including the above, but to say any more would spoil it. In terms of slasher movies it actually has a better plot than most. There are some neat little twists, and not everything is as it first appears. The ending is handled a little cackhandedly, and I found the acting of some to be a tad cringeworthy, but overall it’s perfect friday night entertainment.

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The only extras on the DVD are a theatrical trailer. The copy of The Initiation was graciously provided by the kind folks over at www.facebook.com/ArrowVid. You can order your copy from www.arrowfilms.co.uk right now.

3/5

JM

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