With so many choices of streaming entertainment, it’s not unusual to spend hours deciding on what to watch.
Here are four films currently available on Amazon Prime that are worth your time.
The Return of Swamp Thing (1989)
Dir: Jim Wynorski
I’m of the unpopular opinion that Wes Craven’s best film is his 1982 adaptation of Swamp Thing. It’s a joyous, pulpy celebration of Len Wein and Bernie Wrightston’s creation that revels in its monster movie roots to the nth degree. Jim Wynorski’s sequel pushes that comic book envelope even further, unleashing a cocked out comic book spectacle of garish colors and outlandish editing. It’s more comedic, but arguably the most accurate adaptation of the strange era of Swamp Thing’s history pre-Alan Moore and post-Wein/Wrightston. If you’re a fellow Marty Pasko Swampy fan, this one’s for you.
Saint Jack (1979)
Dir: Peter Bogdanovich
Peter Boganvoich’s tale of outcasts and hustlers in Singapore is a humorous and melancholy take on what it means to find one’s purpose in life. Bogdanovich was an actor’s director, opting often to let the characters tell the story rather than embellish with flashy, avant grade direction (though ironic considering his obsession with Orson Welles). However, what shines here is star Ben Garazza, best known for his collaborations with John Cassavetes, as the titular Jack. There’s a palpable sense of paradoxical loneliness to the character, the kind one feels one surrounded by a room full of friends yet never fully feeling content. We’ve all been there before and Saint Jack is one of the best film’s to capture that experience.
American Gigolo (1980)
Dir: Paul Schrader
From everyone’s favorite guilt riddled prude comes this slice of late 70s LA that feels do distinctly 80s despite coming out at the start of the decade. Richard Gere stars as the titular character who is caught in a web of murder and lies that’s slowly going to swallow him whole when one of his tricks is found dead. Gere’s often known best for Pretty Woman, but between this and his turn in the remake of Breathless, he’s a damn solid dramatic actor with unlikely range. Schrader shoots the whole affair in shadows and through light streaming through blinds, a reflection of his own fixations regarding the moralism of the sex trade. Also, all the variations on Blondie’s Call Me on the soundtrack totally kick ass.
Dir: Larry Cohen
With this debut, the late Larry Cohen broke onto the scene with one of the most bizarre, blaxploitation adjacent films ever made. Yaphett Koto, in one of his best roles, plays “Bone”, a drifter who inserts himself into a bickering white couple’s life one afternoon. What’s fascinating about the film is that it’s never clear whether Bone is real or rather a personification of the couple’s own personal failings and simmering hatred for one another. It’s part domestic drama, part social commentary as only Cohen could do, peppering in his trademark sizzling dialogue and penchant for out of left turn plot developments. While most people may know Cohen for his later horror work, such as The Stuff or Q, this is easily among his best and well worth seeking out.