Our Feature Film Fest: 15

Variations on the thin blue plotline

Published: Sep 04 2015, 01:01:am

Prepared for Chuck Davis and The Greater Vancouver Book — June, 1995
[Published in 1997 by The Linkman Press]


THIS IS YOUR PROGRAM guide to a series of 20 movie retrospectives. Together, they include all of the theatrical feature films made in Vancouver and in release as of June, 1995. (Our current program does not include the made-for-TV pictures.) Though we've tried to be as complete as possible, we've almost certainly missed a few. If you know of any, please let us know. [Readers of this website who wish to get in touch with additions or corrections can reach me by using the Reeling Back Contact Me button.]
     Our notes on each picture include its title (and any alternate titles), its year of release, the director, leading players and a brief description.
     Our show continues with . . .


IN THE MOVIES, THE conflict between good and evil is most often expressed in terms of cops versus killers. Men with badges stand against violent, anti-social forces in these features in which shots and shootings took place in Vacouver:

YEAR OF THE DRAGON (1985; Michael Cimino; based on the 1981 novel by Robert Daley) with Mickey Rourke, John Lone, Ariane. A New York restaurant massacre filmed in Vancouver's Chinatown is a key moment in this story of a relentless police captain (Rourke) and his personal war on an Asian-American kingpin (Lone) who is fighting for control of the international drug trade. Working from a script by Oliver Stone, director Cimino visited Vancouver between stops in Thailand and New York for this MGM/UA production.

THE HITMAN (1991; Aaron Norris) with Chuck Norris, Michael Parks, Al Waxman, Alberta Watson. Vancouver doubles as Seattle, the home of an undercover cop (Norris) who poses as a killer to nab a consortium of Italian-American and French-Canadian mobsters.  A Cannon Pictures feaure written and produced by Montreal-based Don Carmody, this gritty street drama gave good-guy actor Norris a chance to play at being bad in such locations as Gastown and Stanley Park.

JENNIFER 8 (1992; Bruce Robinson) with Andy Garcia, Uma Thurman, Lance Henriksen, Kathy Baker. A small-town homicide detective (Garcia) becomes obsessed with the case of a killer who specializes in pretty blind girls. From his base in Vancouver's North Shore Studios, writer-director Robinson used exteriors in Squamish, Steveston and Coquitlam to stand in for Eureka, California in this Paramount Pictures release.

BEYOND SUSPICION (1993; Paul Ziller) with Jack Scalia, Stepfanie Kramer, Howard Dell. A corrupt cop (Scalia) becomes involved with a photojournalist (Kramer) who develops amnesia after witnessing a police raid that results in the death of an officer. Director Ziller, who later became a prolific creator of made-for-TV science fiction features, began his B.C.-based career with this suspense thriller. Produced by James Shavick, it was the second feature made by his independent Shavick Entertainment's Vancouver studio.

BREAKING POINT (1994; Paul Ziller) with Gary Busey, Kim Cattrall, Darlanne Fluegel, Jeff Griggs. A homicide investigation becomes personal when a police detective (Busey) discovers that a serial killer is stalking his wife (Cattrall) and new partner (Fluegel). Set in Seattle but filmed on Vancouver locations, Ziller's second B.C.-made movie had the advantage of some star power.    

KNIGHT MOVES (1993; Carl Schenkel) with Christopher Lambert, Diane Lane, Tom Skerrit. A police chief (Skerrit) suspects a chess champ (Lambert) when a psycho goes on a killing spree in his seaside community during an international tournament. Scenes shot in Victoria's Empress Hotel and Vancouver's Orpheum Theatre gave grandeur to the fictional Roxbridge, Washington, while Steveston and White Rock provided the small-town exteriors for this independently distributed featue.

EDGE OF DECEPTION (1994; George Mihalka) with Mariel Hemingway, Stephen Shellen, Jennifer Rubin. A tabloid drama unfolds when a potty-mouthed investigative reporter (Hemingway) finds a bad boy police detective (Shellen) for her story about "cops who fall in love with killers." Gastown's Funky Winker Beans Pub is prominently featured in this urban thriller produced by James Shavick for independent release. It's also known as DECEPTIONS II: EDGE OF DECEPTION, emphasizing its tenuous connection to the 1990 cable-TV movie that starred Harry Hamlin as an L.A. cop whose name was the same as that of Shellen's character.

SUSPICIOUS AGENDA (1994; Clay Borris) with Richard Grieco, Nick Mancuso, Jim Byrnes. A pair of intense city cops (Grieco, Mancuso), who are assigned to a homicide task force, become prime suspects in a series of unsolved murders. New Brunswick-born Borris, familiar with B.C. locations after directing eight episodes of the Highlander TV series, signed on with Shavick Entertainment for this independent feature about big-city police corruption.   

CRACKERJACK (1995; Michael Mazo) with Thomas Ian Griffith, Nastassja Kinski, Christopher Plummer. Terrorists led by a neo-Nazi (Plummer) take control of a remote Rocky Mountain hotel, upsetting the vacation plans of a Chicago policeman (Griffith) with a notoriously short temper. Independent producer Lloyd Simandl's Vancouver-based North American Pictures took its international cast on location in Vancouver's North Shore Mountains for this Die Hard-like thriller. It was the first of a loosely connected action film trilogy that included the Vancouver-made Crackerjack 2 (1997; also known as Hostage Train) and Crackerjack 3 (2000), shot in the Czech Republic under Simandl's direction.

DEADLY SINS (1995; Michael Robison) with David Keith, Alyssa Milano, Terry David Mulligan, Corrie Clark. A small town sheriff (Keith) works with a young nun (Milano) to solve a series of brutal murders in a convent school. Vancouver's St. George's, a private boys school, played the sinister Snug Cove convent, while Bowen Island provided exterior locations for this Shavick Entertainment production.

DREAM MAN (1995; Rene Bonniere) with Patsy Kensit, Andrew McCarthy, Bruce Greenwood, Denise Crosby. After breaking up with her homicide detective boyfriend (Greenwood), a Seattle policewoman (Kensit) with psychic abilities dreams of making love to a man (McCarthy), who is later accused of murdering his wealthy wife. Documentarist and TV-episode director Bonniere brought his cast to Vancouver to shoot this independent U.S. mystery-thriller.

MIDNIGHT HEAT (1995; Harvey Frost) with Tim Matheson, Steve Mendel, Mimi Craven. A police detective (Mendel) investigates his old college buddy, a womanizing football player (Matheson), suspected of killing his team's owner. Toronto-based TV director Frost filmed his second big-screen feature on B.C. locations, including Burnaby's Swangard Stadium. The title plays upon the fact that actor Mendel had been a principal player in the four season CTV/CBS cop show Night Heat (1985-1991).

SOMEONE TO DIE FOR (1995; Clay Borris) with Corbin Bernsen, Ally Walker, Robert Stewart. When two cops die violently, police suspect one of their own officers (Bernsen), a grieving dad known to have blamed the murdered men for the death of his daughter. Vancouver substitutes for a Seattle with a rogue police problem in director Borris's second B.C. feature produced by James Shavick.

The above is Part 15 of a 20-part restoration of a Greater Vancouver Book article by Michael Walsh originally published in 1997. For additional information on this archived material, please visit my FAQ.

Afterword: Postings in this Feature Film Festival series include:

Part 1 [Introduction & Vancouver Firsts]
Part 2 [God's Country]
Part 3 [Cybercity]
Part 4 [Documentary]
Part 5 [Youthquakes]
Part 6 [Lovely Couples]
Part 7 [Encore]

Part 8 [Self-Portraits]

Part 9 [Encore II]

Part 10 [Local Heroes]
Part 11 [Directorial Tribute - Jack Darcus]
Part 12 [The B-List]
Part 13 [Things that Go Bump in the Night]
Part 14 [Cabin Fever Dreams]
Part 15 [Law and Order]
Part 16 [Terminal City Comedy Club]
Part 17 [Man's Best Friends]
Part 18 [In Other Words]
Part 19 [Midnight Madness]
Part 20 [On the Road Again]

See also: The seven-part series "Feature Films Made In Vancouver and B.C." from The Vancouver Book published in 1976 —  Part 1 [Introduction; the Silents]; Part 2 [Outside Vancouver, 1932-38]; Part 3 [Outside Vancouver, 1942-75]; Part 4 [Vancouver, 1932-68]; Part 5 [Vancouver, 1969-71]; Part 6 [Vancouver, 1972-75]; Part 7 [Miscellany & Sources].