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USED CARS
1980, Sony Repertory, 113 min, USA, Dir: Robert Zemeckis

Screenwriters Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis simultaneously satirize and celebrate what it means to be successful in America in this hilarious tale of a used-car salesman (Kurt Russell) who will do anything to hold onto his lot and make a sale. Jack Warden gives one of the best performances of his career as twin brothers who own rival dealerships where the gimmicks become increasingly outrageous as the competition escalates; Russell is at his most charming as a cynical variation on the Capra-esque hero.


THE THING
1982, Universal, 109 min, USA, Dir: John Carpenter

Director John Carpenter took the 1951 sci-fi classic THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD, produced by Howard Hawks, and turned it into something darker, fiercer and altogether more disturbing, pitting sombrero-wearing helicopter pilot Kurt Russell and a crew of Arctic scientists (Wilford Brimley, Donald Moffat, Richard Dysart) against a ravenous, shape-shifting alien being. From the haunting opening shots of a sled dog fleeing across the snow to the apocalyptic, fire-and-ice ending, this ranks with Ridley Scott’s ALIEN as one of the finest (and most beautifully crafted) sci-fi films of the past 30 years. The film was terribly underrated by critics on its initial release but its stock has constantly risen in the ensuing decades as one of the most intelligent, scary and uncompromising horror films of the 1980s. Also starring Keith David and David Clennon.


BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA
1986, 20th Century Fox, 99 min, USA, Dir: John Carpenter

Ultra-colorful adventure in the grand tradition of 1930s serials, starring Kurt Russell as a cocky truck driver who finds himself battling ancient Chinese warlords and hideous demons to save feisty Kim Cattrall ("Sex and the City"). A great guilty pleasure, and one of Carpenter’s most purely entertaining genre films.


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