CATEGORIES Action, Animation, Comedy, Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Thrillers, Noir, Remakes and Sequels, CinematicalSo a few months ago I'm enjoying a stupid cigarette outside of my Park City (Sundance, woo) hotel, and I see my old friend Chris Hyams walking my way. Chris is one of the founders and wizards behind Bside.com, an outfit that does everything from mega-nifty festival schedules to full-bore film distribution. So because I am loud (and also a pathetic movie nerd), I say "Hey Chris! Wouldn't it be cool if your Dad was PETER Hyams?"
Chris smiled and said "It sure would be. And he is my dad!" After about four minutes of Chris trying to convince me he was telling the truth, we quickly got rambling about the awesomeness of Outland, which is a film his dad made way back in 1981, and is still the finest "High Noon in space" movie that Sean Connery ever starred in. During my conversation with Chris, my brain kept screaming "Don't mention The Musketeer! You HATED that movie!" So I didn't.
But then Chris was off to see a movie and I was left thinking "I'm a moron. Been a Hyams fan since I was a kid and Outland is all I could come up with?" So in an effort to rectify my idiocy, I offer this (rather eclectic) list of Peter Hyams flicks that I sorta, really, or very much dig.
Capricorn One (1978) -- Elliot Gould and James Brolin star in this dated-yet-interesting sci-fi tale of a FAKED Mars landing. As he would later do (several times) in his career, Mr. Hyams wrote, directed, AND shot the movie.
Hanover Street (1979) -- Follow a sci-fi film with a wartime romantic drama? With Harrison Ford? Sure, why not?
Outland (1981) -- If you're going to do an unofficial semi-remake, you could at least do it with half the cleverness found here. It really IS High Noon in Space, and it works surprisingly well. Even holds up well today. Solid brawls, a nice percolation of tension, great character ensemble and a great performance by Frances Sternhagen.
The Star Chamber (1983) -- From another space flick to an action thriller about vigilante judges. That's what I call versatile. And if you can't enjoy 109 minutes with Michael Douglas, Hal Holbrook, James Sikking, Yaphet Kotto, and Joe Regalbuto, then I question your sanity. There I said it.
2010 (1984) -- ...and then back to outer space again! This movie had three strikes against it from the word go -- because, really, how does one "follow" the immortal 2001: A Space Odyssey? But I re-viewed this one less than a year ago (thanks, Starz!) and it's actually quite solid. Provided you judge it as its own flick and not as another iteration of 2001. Plus, as awesome as Kubrick's film is, um, this one has Roy Scheider. So there.
Running Scared (1986) -- From outer space to ... a buddy-cop action movie starring Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines? Hey, don't laugh. Everyone who remembers this flick seems to remember it pretty fondly. Plus it works as further proof that Peter Hyams loves good character actors: Dan Hedaya, Joe Pantoliano, Jon Gries, Steven Bauer, etc., etc.
The Presidio (1988) -- Hyams reunites with Sir Connery in this tale of murder at an army base. I haven't actually seen this one since its theatrical run, but any movie with Jack Warden is a movie worth seeing. Plus Meg Ryan was so cute in the late-'80s and I still think Mark Harmon is cool. Take that, irony.
Narrow Margin (1990) -- A remake of the train-bound 1952 noir thriller, and it's actually pretty damn good. I'm biased though: It's literally impossible for me to dislike a movie that offers Gene Hackman, M. Emmet Walsh, and JT Walsh. Simply impossible. This would make for a nifty double feature though, along with the original. Obviously.
Stay Tuned (1992) -- Yep, that HBO mainstay, the amiable little comedy in which John Ritter and Pam Dawber get sucked into their television and run through a bunch of programs. Hyams did this one too. It's been a while, and I remember thinking the Chuck Jones segment was the absolute highlight, but I think I'd like to give this skit-style farce another spin. (And I've just now noticed that the illustrious Don Calfa is apparently Mr. Hyams' good-luck charm of an actor. He's in practically all of the director's movies!)
Timecop (1994) and Sudden Death (1995) -- So if Peter Hyams had never been born, Jean-Claude Van Damme would never have appeared in a half-decent movie. Be proud, Pete!
The Relic (1997) -- No irony, no sarcasm ... I really LIKE this museum-bound monster movie. It's a slick, creepy, slightly tongue-in-cheek creature feature with (again) a bunch of colorful actors who know exactly the tone of the piece. (Plus the goopy FX work from Stan Winston's crew is quite nicely nasty.) Full disclpsure: I have a big crush on Penelope Ann Miller and I don't care who knows it. (OK, I might not want her lawyer to know it. Or her husband.)
End of Days (1999), The Musketeer (2001), and A Sound of Thunder (2005) -- OK. Nobody's perfect.
Up next for Peter Hyams: The remake Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, starring Michael Douglas, and after that ... get this: For the first time in his career, Mr. Hyams is going "DP only" on Universal Soldiers: The Next Generation -- because his son John is in the director's chair. Aww, see, now that's what dads are for. Yep, Universal Soldiers will reunite John-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren. And call me a geek, but that sounds like action-nostalgia fun big-time. (Or it could suck eggs. Who knows? Sony should have it ready for us by the end of the year, I'd assume.)
Lastly, I'd like the Directors We Like to be a semi-regular piece here at Cinematical. (It's my hope that readers will think "Hey, I like a lot of these movies, and I had no idea they came from the same director. Plus Scott is so brilliant!") I've already staked out Michael Ritchie, Jonathan Lynn, and (of course) Joe Dante for a little fan-love -- but we want to know some lesser-known / unheralded / underrated directors that you like. Uwe Boll fans need not apply.