Friday, November 18, 2011

Cooking With Hellfire

The Dish: The First Power (1990)

What's In It: Lou Diamond Phillips, as a hotshot L.A. cop. Tracy Griffith as a just plain hot psychic with a connection to the killer. Jeff Kober as Phillips' quarry, the Pentagram Killer, executed in the electric chair but causing more mayhem than ever, as his malefic soul leaps from one body to another thanks to his eternal allegiance to Satan.

Tastes Like: The Exorcist (1973), heavily seasoned with the hardboiled police action of The French Connection (1971), with a dash of Wes Craven's Shocker (1989).

Extra Flavor: The Police's former drummer Stewart Copeland composed the score.

Nutritional Value: Although it's never gotten much attention, even on the cult film level, The First Power is top-shelf junk food. Writer/director Robert Resnikoff delivered a fast-paced action/horror film filled with the kind of CG-free stunt work that that used to be the bread and butter of exploitation movies.

Lingering Aftertaste: Resnikoff's only previous directing experience was a self-penned 1988 short film starring Terry O'Quinn (The Stepfather) titled The Jogger. He also wrote 1989's Jay Leno and Pat Morita buddy cop vehicle Collision Course. But after his big feature directing break with The First Power, Resnikoff was never heard from in the film world again - at least if IMDB is to be believed.

Resnikoff's vanishing act is a shame as The First Power showed some promise. Of the spate of late '80s/early '90s tales featuring executed killers returning to life, this was the only one that gelled into a decent movie. If The Horror Show's James Isaac could keep on making movies (including 2001's Jason X), then Resnikoff should've done the same. And for a film that came across as slick and generic in 1990, The First Power now has a pleasing old-school vibe to it but without feeling overly dated, thanks to untrendy wardrobe choices and to the film's action mostly taking place in non-descript locations like back alleys and water treatment plants.

Star Ingredient: What really brings The First Power together is Kober's wicked turn as Patrick Channing, aka The Pentagram Killer. This being 1990, Kober's character was naturally groomed to be a possible franchise star. Too bad that didn't happen as Kober had the chops to be a horror heavyweight and The First Power is a movie I would've liked to have seen a second serving of.


Aidan Cook said...

Been interested in seeing Deadly Eyes because I enjoyed the Rats books, but couldn't imagine how it would work on screen. Apparently it didn't, but I'll have to see. Anyway, cool blog, I enjoy every post.

Jeff Allard said...

Aidan, I've heard that DEADLY EYES doesn't do justice to the James Herbert novel but I have a soft spot for the movie just the same. I actually have the movie tie-in version of the novel but I've never gotten around to reading it. So much to do, so little time...

Craig Edwards said...

I like the new format - and good first choice - I saw The First Power in the theater back in '90, and it was a fine flick - a second movie would have been most welcome!

Jose Cruz said...

I'm ceaselessly experimenting and tweaking with things, so I definitely feel you on that front, Jeff. That being said, I really dig this new format you're trying out here! It's a regular creepy-culty-culinary dish! I'm looking forward to what other films you'll explore... I've always wanted to know what some of them tasted like. ;)

Verification word: presto. No kidding.

Jeff Allard said...

Craig, thanks for the thumbs-up on the new format and I'm glad I'm not the only one who would've wanted to see Patrick Channing return.

Jose, if I'm looking for a new tagline for the blog, "creepy-culty-culinary dish" will find its way in there!

Unknown said...

"And for a film that came across as slick and generic in 1990, The First Power now has a pleasing old-school vibe to it but without feeling overly dated"

So glad you took a look at this one! I have fond memories of seeing this in theater back in the day and I never forgot about it even though it seems like every one else has.

Your above assessment is right on the money! At the time, it did seem kinda generic but the film has aged surprisingly well. Not a huge fan of Lou Diamond Phillips but he was pretty good in this and you could see he was trying to position himself as a leading actor in vehicles built around him but it just never quite happened... at least on a mainstream level.

I always liked Jeff Kober and he plays a nasty bad guy in this one and looks like he's having a blast doing it. Just one of many heavies he'd play over the years. Love to see him cast against type some day.

And I'm glad you noticed just how hot Tracy Griffith was in this film! Wow. She didn't do too much after this but I thought she was pretty good in this film. Easy on the eyes for sure.

Excellent look back on this underrated film!

Jeff Allard said...

Glad you liked the write-up, J.D.! THE FIRST POWER has been a favorite since I saw in the theaters back in '90 but it's kind of a forgotten film, unfortunately.