July 29th, 2012


William Forsythe has always been one of my favorite character actors. From films as diverse as Out for Justice to The Waterdance to Dick Tracy, Forsythe never fails to enliven any movie in which he appears. Because of his versatility and his knack for kicking an untold amount of ass, William Forsythe is a Legend of the Silver Screen.

First up is…

LUCK OF THE DRAW (2001) ***

James Marshall heads an all-star cast as an ex-con trying to go straight. When he witnesses a shootout in the street, he grabs a briefcase he thinks is full with money. As it turns out, the briefcase contains some counterfeiting plates. Marshall turns to his old friend (Michael Madsen) to help him fence the plates to a thug (Ice T). Naturally, the rightful owner (Dennis Hopper), his bumbling goons (Eric Roberts and Sasha Mitchell), and an overzealous Fed (William Forsythe) are also after the plates.

Luck of the Draw doesn’t set out to reinvent the wheel, but it’s nevertheless a solid little DTV crime picture. It definitely benefits from its great once-in-a-lifetime cast. Any time you’ve got Michael Madsen, Dennis Hopper, Eric Roberts, Ice T, and William Forsythe in a movie, you’ve automatically got my attention. Most DTV crime thrillers would’ve been content to just assemble these guys together and let them wallow in a mess of clichés. Thankfully, director Luca (Ghoulies) Bercovici allows each actor sufficient time to have some quirky little character moments. And for the most part, everyone looks like they’re having fun.

Hopper does his usual thing here, yet he’s given some pretty funny stuff to do (like the scene where he shoots a henchman and then gets pissed because the other henchmen don’t immediately drag the body away), so his shtick at least seems fresh. Roberts also has some good moments too and he and Mitchell make for a great team. Forsythe is unfortunately stuck with a rather thankless federal agent role, but he equips himself well enough. And Patrick Kilpatrick and Frank Gorshin breathe life into their all too brief roles.

The movie really belongs to Michael Madsen though. He’s given an unforgettable introduction scene where he wakes up in bed surrounded by a bunch of hot naked women (one of which is porn star Alexandra Nice) and smokes a hookah while wearing a shirt with a giant tiger on it. Later in the flick he gets an equally funny scene where he chills poolside with his honeys while wearing swimming trunks and leather vest without a shirt. It’s almost enough to make you wish they made a prequel spin-off revolving around his character. If they ever make said film, you can definitely deal me in.

Our second Forsythe film is…

LARVA (2005) ** ½

Some high school idiots go out tipping cows. When one of the herd explodes, the new vet in town does some investigating. He learns a big company has been supplying experimental feed to local farmers to make their cows bigger. The side effect to the new feed is that it creates a mutant parasite that grows inside of the cows. Eventually the worms get inside the townsfolk and incubate in their bodies (excellent Stomach Cam effects are used) until bat-like creatures erupt from their chests and wreak havoc.

Larva is for the most part, a fairly decent little SyFy Channel Original Movie. There’s some pretty funny stuff here, like the scene where a guy’s about to get it on with his girlfriend in the backseat of his car and his stomach explodes before he can even get to second base. I also dug the scene where a mom teaches her son not to be afraid of the monster in the closet. And some of the chest-bursting effects were kinda gory too.

Unfortunately, once the worms evolve into the bat monsters, the flick takes a turn for the worse. It’s here where the movie stalls and becomes a series of unending scenes of people walking down dark corridors looking for other people. And the finale is kinda shitty, both figuratively and literally as the flick ends with our heroes leading the monsters into the sewer by using fertilizer.

William Forsythe puts in a solid turn as the ponytailed farmer whose cows are infected by bat monsters. He’s a lot better in the role than he’s required to be and helps sell the unlikely premise. Rachel Hunter also turns up as eye candy as well, which is also a plus.

AKA: Metamorphosis. AKA: Morph Man.

And our final Forsythe flick is…

STILETTO (2009) * ½

Raina (Stana Katic from TV’s Castle) is a Russian dope addict turned hit woman who goes around killing a bunch of underworld thugs using a big ass knife. A Greek mob boss named Virgil (Tom Berenger), who also happens to be Raina’s former lover, survives his assassination attempt and tries to figure out why she tried to kill him. He eventually uncovers a massive cover-up within his organization and sets out to make amends with Raina.

It’s interesting to compare and contrast Stiletto with Luck of the Draw. Both films were directed by actors (this one was helmed by Nick Vallelonga) and feature amazing casts, but whereas Luck of the Draw was a lot of fun, Stiletto is just a mess. You’d think a movie starring Tom Berenger, Michael Biehn, William Forsythe, James Russo, and Tom Sizemore would at least be worth watching just for the sake of testosterone. However, only Berenger is really given anything worthwhile to do. Everyone else is mostly regulated to empty tough guy posturing.

This all might’ve been okay if the script wasn’t so damn amateurish. The plot is convoluted and the big twist reeks of a lame Tarantino wannabe from the 90’s. The dialogue is especially weak and the characters quickly run out of things to say to each other. (Most scenes are resolved with them shouting “FUCK YOU!” to each other.)

Yep, this is yet another tiresome DTV crime thriller filled with assorted lowlifes cursing then killing each other. The ingredients were there for a good film, but Stiletto lacks the rhythm, humor, and style to make it worthwhile. When are filmmakers going to learn that garish violence (in one scene a tire iron is shoved under a guy’s chin and out his cranium) and a top notch cast doesn’t automatically make a good movie?

I was hoping that William Forsythe would’ve been given a meaty role (he plays Berenger’s cousin who may or may not be trying to kill him). Sadly, all he really does is act smug and limp around using a cane. I will say it was nice seeing Diane Venora and Berenger playing a couple again (they were also in The Substitute together). Too bad her character is so thinly written that she might as well been invisible.

I guess if the flick is notable for anything it’s that it features two different Leatherfaces (R.A. Mihailoff and Andrew Bryniarski) playing bikers.

Next week’s Legend: Christopher Lee.