walkenchronicles

Think of this as a guide through each of Christopher Walken's films, starting with his first and moving forward. Each review will provide analysis, factoids and opinion on the ninety-plus films in his career.

Vee Aitch Esses

Do you still have a VCR?

Here are six reasons why you should:

  1. Shoot the Sun Down (1978) (update: dvd/blu released in 2013)
  2. Last Embrace (1979) (update: dvd/blu released in 2014)
  3. McBain (1991) (update: dvd avail. in PAL format, blu avail. region B)
  4. Day of Atonement (1992) (update: dvd avail. in Region 2 format)
  5. Scam (1993)
  6. The Addiction (1995) (update: avail. as EUR DVD import. All region.)

These six Walken films are floating around on VHS, but have never been released on DVD (region one) or Blu-ray. Why? Who knows. Politics. Timing. Money. Whatever. Excuses.

Each and every one of these movies would make mad money if they released it on blu-ray with the proper fanfare:

  • THE ADDICTION – It’s a black and white vampire/drug movie by the guy that directed KING OF NEW YORK. In addition to Walken (in a small but perfect role) it stars Lili Taylor and Annabella Sciorra. It’s dark, smart, and sexy. And it’s friggin vampires, so what the heck.
  • SCAM is a Miami-to-Jamaica con-man (con-person, please) film with Lorraine Bracco and Walken as the leads. We’re talking vicious crime-lords, twists and turns, and sexy, sexy danger.
  • In DAY OF ATONEMENT Walken is a turbo-crazy kill-em-all crimelord just like Tony Montana in a Scarface/Godfather-ish mafia thriller. Violent crime-family revenge flick. What’s not to like?
  • McBAIN is sorta like the A-Team, but slightly darker. Viet Nam Vet-mercenaries on a mission for the underdogs, with Walken at the head of the pack. Buncha Badasses! Cheesy ’80s Action Greatness.
  • LAST EMBRACE is a paranoid-spy thriller. Walken has a small but feisty role as crazy-spy Roy Scheider’s less-than-supportive boss.
  • And SHOOT THE SUN DOWN is a sweet savage cowboy western, with a really young Walken in the lead as an unstoppable bad-ass cowboy wandering the desert just to get into some trouble. He finds it.

So if you see any of these sitting on a dusty shelf for sale for cheap, buy ’em and watch the hell outta them.

But these aren’t the only reasons to have a VCR. Tapes are cheap! Super cheap. And everyone is always selling them: yardsales, pawnshops, goodwill, media retailers.

But you have to always be looking. You have to make your way through the mountain of crap to find the one or two nuggets of gold.

And know what you’re looking for. Have your list on you at all times. Know which ones are common, and which ones to snatch up when you find them.

Eventually, I broke down and ordered SHOOT, SCAM and McBAIN online, but all the others were found through serendipity and vigilant watchfulness while shopping over the course of 10 years. Actually, most of my collection was found by just knowing the titles, and keeping an eye out for deals.

And let me assure you: I am a cheap bastard. In fact, most of my collection was acquired for less than $5 a title, some far less. Patience and a list, they help.

And really, there are all kinds of awesome movies that are available for pocketchange on VHS, that would cost you mucho deniro on a disc.

So what if you sacrifice a smidgeon of picture and sound quality, it’s worth it to finally watch that film that is otherwise only available on Criterion for $40 bucks, or it’s an independent film that never had a great distributor, or it’s foreign, or whatever. But here on VHS Island it’s only one thin dollar. Or whatever.

Happy Hunting!

(Editor’s Update 2016: One by one the films have been released in modern formats; only ‘Scam’ remains unDVDed. So sad. As time goes on it’s becoming more and more difficult to maintain the opinion that a VHS collection is useful. Difficult, but not impossible.)

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