We got to perform at Portland’s FanExpo 2023, and we each ran down our Bests and Worsts, as well as gave out very special achievement awards as we look back on the 60+ movies we’ve covered on Portland at the Movies.
This month we return to larger, more mainstream studio movies with our review of “Zero Effect,” about a wacky, quirky, zany private detective (played by the opposite of wacky, quirky, and zany: the human cardboard cutout known as Bill Pullman) and his assistant, Ben Stiller, who dive into a mysterious case of blackmail and murder.
The first “Trainmaster” movie was a surprise and a delight when we reviewed it two years ago. So does the sequel deliver the same great production work, directing, and wholesome wonderfulness the first one did? Find out in this month’s episode.
This month we dissect this fascinating anthology film, featuring 6 different segments centered around, sadly, “spunk.” And yes, the kind of “spunk” you’re thinking of. But is it the straight garbage we anticipated based on the title and premise, or is there some real movie-making happening here? Or, inexplicably, both? Find out on this month’s episode.
This month we look at a truly evil 2014 movie called “Exorcist: The Fallen,” and if you think you’ve seen it all when it comes to exorcist movies…..you have. There is zero new things in this movie except some really wild hand-drawn, rotoscoped animation that makes no sense. It’s free on YouTube, so check it out. For real, the rotoscoping is among the weirdest choices I’ve ever seen in filmmaking.
Despite the best effort of Catherine Hicks, this tepid spy thriller, which centers around a man getting a new face, doesn’t seem to rise above it’s inherent blandness. This month we dive into Spy, as well as the other made-for-TV movies in our history and ask, “Is it the movie, or the genre?” Bonus appearance by Ned Beatty!
After technical difficulties rendered the first 40 minutes of one of our best shows corrupted and lost forever to time, we still managed to salvage the show by having an equally hilarious second half of the show, which was recorded. All in service of the most forgettable and dull movie we’ve watched so far for the show — and that’s saying something. I mean, the title alone was too lazy to even have a question mark, so why take the effort in making the movie?
Always two, there are: a Child of Darkness, and a Child of Light. Or something. Things get kind of convoluted in this 1991 made-for-USA-television thriller starring Sela Ward and a very young Josh Lucas. And for a literal “blink and you’ll miss it” moment, we bring you the very first appearance of Brenden Fraser on film – years before returning to Portland for “Extraordinary Measures.” For literally a second-and-a-half in the background. We’ve all got to start somewhere.
TV’s Patrick Duffy and William Devane star in this made-for-TV movie about a cop in search of a killer who commits serial murders and then starts blackmailing the families of the deceased, threatening to frame them for the murders he committed. Can TV’s Patrick Duffy save the day? Or will his secret past catch up to him? Find out on this month’s episode, with special guest host Michael Gibson from Video Is The Future. You can find more of Michael on Instagra @videoisthefuture, on FB @videofuture, or on the web at videoisthefuture.com
Portland at the Movies is at its best when the movies are at their worst. And nothing is worse than this vile, juvenile, offensive, horrifying, putrid — and, worst of all, pathetically and unrelentingly unfunny — “movie” filmed in Vancouver, Washington. The good news is that our episode discussing “Slapped! The Movie” is one of best, so at least some good came out of watching it.
Marlee Matlin returns Portland in this – her third! – movie filmed in Portland. Murder, scandal, affairs, politics, and lies take the front seat in the made-for-Lifetime movie co-starring Regina King and the guy who played Johnny Cage in the Mortal Kombat movie. Who could ask for anything more? Did we like it? Find out where the truth lies in this month’s episode.
Was this the worst thing to happen in 2001? Probably not, but it’s certainly not good. Aaron Durán from Geek in the City joins us to tell some behind-the-scenes stories from his time working on this film, which stars Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, and Cate Blanchette. Find out what went wrong on this month’s episode.
Join us as we flee for our lives while discussing this 1991 made-for USA-network movie “Deadly Game,” based partially on the classic short story “The Most Dangerous Game,” where a group of people are taken to an island and hunted by a mysterious stranger. Starring Roddy McDowall and Marc Singer of “V” and “Beastmaster” fame.
Who’s ready for all their favorite Christmas characters? We have Santa, Poofer, Dermie, Dusty, Thooner… You know, everyone’s favorites! Join us as we dive into the holiday season with “Best Christmas Ever!,” the holiday entry in one of the most successful media exports Portland has ever had: The Wee Sing children’s video series.
This film, starring Bruce Campbell and Lori Loughlin, tells the true-life crime story of a modern day Bonnie and Clyde. It also features more shots of Portland than any movie we’ve done — but ironically the movie is set in Chicago. Strap on your fake beards!
It’s telling that this supposedly sexy thriller is just bland enough that we kept referring to the star as “William Hurt” instead of the actual star Timothy Hutton. In any case, “The Temp” was released in the wake of the Basic Instinct and several other grabs at the erotic mystery such as Body of Evidence, Sliver, and Disclosure. So will “The Temp” earn a permanent spot in our list of good movies made in Portland, or will it see itself through the door once we’re done with it?
Who would have guessed after all the movies we’ve reviewed that there would not only be a good movie filmed in Portland, but that the good film would star Nicholas Cage? Well here we are. The first 10 or so minutes are spoiler free review of the film, then we give a spoiler warning for those that still want to see the film – which we recommend you do. I don’t know that we’ve ever non-ironically recommended one of our movies before (usually there’s at least a b-movie element to the movies we’ve enjoyed), so we truly are in the weirdest timeline.
Is it a sequel? Is it a remake? Is it a tax shelter? We jump in the river to find out just what is going on with this 2009 movie, which has an opening credit of “Based on the movie ‘Without a Paddle.'” Oregon looks gorgeous, but does it reach the same level of “almost mildly amusing” as its 2004 predecessor, which starred Seth Green, Matthew Lillard, and Dax Shepherd? Find out on this month’s show!
This month we travel to the Ilwaco Lighthouse with Dee Wallace, a playwright haunted by the reflections of her dead fiancee, and pursued by her would-be brother-in-law. Is the movie the psychological thriller it’s trying to be, or will you want to throw yourself off a lighthouse after you watch? Find out on this episode.
Mark surprises Todd and Brian mid-show with a phone call from Sean McGrath, the main star of 2015’s “Deep Dark,” a psychological thriller about an artist who finds his muse in the form of a sentient hole in the wall. He was an amazing guest, and he talks about the filming, the cast and crew, and how a director sells an actor on taking the role of a character who has sex with a wall.
This 1993 made-for-USA TV movie is surprisingly watchable (and available for free on YouTube), although it features only a couple blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Portland locations. A sci-fi/detective thriller, this movie dares to ask the question Wonder Woman 1984 didn’t: what are the ethical ramifications of hijacking someone else’s body?
A post-Brat Pack Mare Winningham meets a pre-“Happy Gilmore” Shooter McGavin in this 1991 made-for-USA-TV-network movie “Fatal Exposure.” Oddly, this is probably the most intriguingly in-depth discussion of a plot of any movie we’ve done so far. If you love clothes made from reams upon reams of billowy, pleated fabrics, this is the movie for you! Does it rise above its generic title, or does it sink under the weight of its own silky blouses?
We ride the rails back to 2008 for this movie filmed around West Linn, Willamette, Canby, and more! It’s a delightful kids movie that’s cornball and low-budget enough to thoroughly enjoy, and well made enough that it goes down surprisingly well. Join us as we hop the train for 2008’s “Train Master.”
Ed Asner and Mary Tyler Moore reunite for the first time since “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” in this made-for-TV thriller about a rogue cop who harasses Moore and her family after she testifies against him in court. So is it a worthy vehicle for the reunion of these two beloved actors? Find out on this month’s episode.
Join us for this Halloween episode as we take a look at the 1981 horror slasher flick “Just Before Dawn,” which is not only shockingly competent, but actually pretty good — and includes a truly insane final kill. Watch the movie on YouTube (or heck – buy the Blu-Ray!), start a campfire, and head down to Silver Falls for this sadly forgotten genre film.
We travel back to 1993 for this movie about real-life events that happened in 1975, which contain some of the most gripping and interesting alien abduction scenes out there. Filmed in Roseburg and Oakland, Oregon, this film takes place in a small logging town of northern Arizona, and follows the story of a man who was (supposedly) abducted by aliens in front of his friends, and who returns 5 days later.
A zany late-90s stoner comedy with an incredible cast including Luke Wilson, Alicia Witt, Jack Black, Jamie Kennedy, and more sounds like a sure-fire hit. Let’s unroll this joint and find out if there’s any solid nuggets, or if it’s all just stems and seeds.
This month we try to escape the real-life deadly virus by diving into a movie about a deadly virus, the remake of the 2004 Eli Roth film “Cabin Fever,” filmed outside of Mollala, Oregon. Come for the gore, stay for the baffling supporting cast performances!
Last year we reviewed the horror movie sequels “Harvest of Fear” and “Path of Evil,” and to say that we weren’t very kind would be an understatement. We pretty relentlessly mocked both movies. Now it’s our chance to see if we can take what we give when we speak with Ted Pfeifer, co-writer of both films, about his experience writing and acting in the films, as well as his experience listening to us trash his movies. Join us on this very special clapback episode of Portland at the Movies.
We finish our look at the trilogy of Steven Miller films (the “Millergy”) with his first movie “Visions,” a mystery/thriller from 1989. After really enjoying Miller’s final film “Backtime,” and only sort of enjoying “Love & Dynamite,” how did we feel about his first stab at movie making? How many knife-wielding arm stumps up do we give it? Tune in to find out.
This month we explore the middle chapter of the Steven Miller’s trilogy (“Millogy”?) with our take on “Love & Dynamite,” starring Grizzly Adams’s Dan Haggerty. Billed as an “action-comedy,” this movie is more an exercise on improv and how to do a disservice to your actors by withholding judicious editing. But just like last month’s “Backtime,” there’s more going on under the surface, which is what makes this movie pretty interesting. This “movie.”
Every once and awhile we find a little gem in the stark landscape of movies filmed in Portland, and what “Backtime” lacks in budget, it more than makes up for in heart, costuming, and passion. Clearly this film wasn’t up for any Oscar noms, but considering the dreck we usually get from writer-producer-editor-director passion projects, this one ticks all the right boxes. The movie is available to watch on YouTube, and it’s worth watching before you listen!
What can we say about “Brain Smasher: A Love Story,” starring Andrew “Dice” Clay and Teri Hatcher? Whatever we’d say, we’d have to say it in an impenetrably thick Brooklyn accent even though we live in Portland, just like the Diceman. Is it a comedy? An action movie? A satire? We dive into this straight-to-video (except for the theatrical release in Brazil) on this month’s episode.
On a very special episode of Portland at the Movies, we speak to the one-and-only David Walker. If you’ve been a listener to our show, you’ve noticed that about 75% of them involve hearing David Walker’s name in some capacity: he’s one of the only carriers of the torch of the 1980s burgeoning indie movie scene in Portland, which led to the breakout careers of filmmakers like Gus Van Sant and Penny Allen. Join us as well talk with David about everything from his prolific current career as a comic book writer, and how he got his start as “Sanchez” in the Portland cult classic “Fatal Revenge.”
It’s a time for Christmas miracles! Sort of. We tackle this not-quite-Hallmark-Holiday TV movie starring Nancy Travis and Portland itself, with more footage of our fair city than any other movie we’ve done. Todd loves this movie, but he’s in the minority, so listen as we hash out what works and what doesn’t in this 2010 made-for-NBC TV movie, which was produced by Walmart and Proctor & Gamble.
Last Halloween, we were spooked by how terrible a little movie called “Harvest of Fear,” made in Estacada, Oregon, was. And now we’re back at it with its sequel, “Path of Evil,” which came out a year later. Will the sequel correct the errors of the first movie, or will it end up on our pile of motion picture corpses that should be put out of their misery? Turn down the lights and get out that Halloween candy, because we’re about ready to find out.
On this special episode of Portland at the Movies, we talk with Dan Fiebiger, Portland film historian and composer for the film “Courier of Death.” He tells us about his dealings with Tom Shaw, the notorious director of “Courier” that was an important hub in Portland film history, who loaned film-making equipment to the likes of Penny Allen and Gus Van Sant. It was a great discussion with a natural storyteller, and a wonderful look into the 80s Portland indie movie scene.
This month we (accidentally) review two remarkably similar movies from the mid-70’s: “Sasquatch: The Legend of Bigfoot,” and “The Legend of Bigfoot.” Join us as we dig into the mysteries of the “skunk ape,” discover the history of Mt. St. Helens’s “Ape Caves,” discuss whether or not wolverines are native to Oregon, and find out the proper plurals of “Sasquatch” and “Bigfoot.” Both movies are available to watch for free on YouTube, and “Sasquatch” features a real-life mountain lion being thrown off a cliff onto some horses below and other negligent 70s animal treatment. O_O.
It’s one of our most Portland movies yet, because of both the plethora of shooting locations and the subject matter. This is a wild ride of a movie, with an intoxicating mix of nonsense, psuedoscience, actual science, and polka rave music. So grab your friends, grab your bong, and take a ride down the rabbit hole with us.
1993 was a busy year for Portland film making, from “Free Willy” to “Body of Evidence” to many more, but none gave us a whirlwind tour of Portland quite like “Hear No Evil,” starring Marlee Matlin, DB Sweeney, Martin Sheen, and John C. McGinley. From amazing housing locations, to parks, to an actual marathon in the streets, to Hood River, to Timberline, this movie makes up for its generic plot by giving us an eyeful of this great city.
This month we take a trip down the Clackamas river for the 1995 mockumentary “Guns on the Clackamas,” directed by legendary animator and Oscar-nominee* Bill Plympton. How was Plympton’s transition from animation royalty to live-action director? Will the Clackamas finally get its time to shine? Find out on this episode!
*There are multiple times where we accidentally refer to him as “Oscar Winner,” which is not the case since he has only been nominated, but it 1000% should be true because Bill Plympton is a genius animator.
The promise of an early-90s movie starring Gary Busey as part of a motorcycle gang investigating the death of his brother in a small Oregon town is a big one. There’s some payoff with a few great Oregon City location shots, but what about the rest of the movie? Is it all crazy hair with no substance, or did we find something special? Find out on this month’s episode.
Don’t forget to visit our map to see the locations used in this film, and all the other films we’ve covered so far!
This month we take a look at acclaimed Portland filmmaker Gus Van Sant’s biopic about Portland’s own famous artist resident, Willamette Week’s cartoonist John Callahan. Join us as we discuss our mixed reactions about this 2018 film starring Joaquin Phoenix and Jonah Hill, and an extended cast full of musician cameos.
This past weekend we were live at the 2019 Wizard World Comic Con, where we took a look back on our favorite Portland movie moments from the past few years of the podcast. From “Deafula” to Tonya to Chuck Norris, we celebrate the good, bad, and worse of the films we’ve covered so far.
*note* – The audio recording quality is pretty rough, but is still listenable. There are a few sections where I have taken out the movie clips we played during the show due to abysmal quality I couldn’t save – Todd *
It’s our first foray into legendary Portland filmmaker Tom Shaw, whose presence looms large over the Portland movie making world. Gus VanSant and Penny Allen, among many others, used Shaw’s equipment to make their first films throughout the 70s and 80s.
So how does Shaw rate as a filmmaker himself? Let’s just say he’s a glorious treasure of breathtaking cinema — but for all the wrong reasons. “Courier of Death” is Shaw’s second attempt at a film, and it’s a bonkers, insane mess that is as incompetently made as it is hilarious and fun to watch.
Join us as we take a deep dive not only into the movie, but into Shaw and his incomparable mark on the Portland cinema scene.
On this special holiday edition of Portland at the Movies, we dive into “How Sarah Got Her Wings” – a 2015, made-for-IonTV-movie starring the store brand versions of Kristin Bell and Chris Pratt. The good news is that this movie features some of the nicest shots of Portland we’ve seen in a movie yet. The bad news is….well, everything else. Including one very sneaky secret. Strap on your sleigh bells for this hilarious episode as we unwrap “How Sarah Got Her Wings.” (Movie available streaming on Netflix.)
Live from the 2018 Portland Podcast Festival, it’s time for “Deafula”! The only movie to ever be made completely in American Sign Language, “Deafula” is an amazing treat. As Brian “The Unipiper” noted: “It’s like ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ meets ‘The Room.'” Made in 1975 and only sold on 16mm film (it was a few years too early for VHS), “Deafula” was almost lost to time, and not even available at Portland’s venerable Movie Madness — until now, because we’ve donated our personal copy to them. It truly is an amazing cult classic, and it was filmed in our very own city of Portland. Special thanks to Jason Lamb, Greg Nibler, and Sarah X. Dylan for putting on another great podcast festival, and thanks to everyone who came out!
If your very specific wish was to see a low-budget horror movie filmed in Estacada, Oregon, then have we got a treat for you this month. Join us as we plow through “Harvest of Fear” to find out if it stands out in the annals of great low-budget horror, or simply needs to be sent out to pasture.
“Homewrecker” was the first World Premier Movie for the then-new “Sci-Fi” cable channel, and a surprisingly decent movie about a “smart home” AI system that goes rogue. While the movie features very little of Portland (one exterior shot, plus a cabin in the woods), it’s actually a competent, well-acted, well-directed movie — quite the difference from the normal Portland at the Movies fare. You can watch it for free on YouTube, so have a watch, and then settle in for our review!
The one glorious shot of Portland in the movie. Way in the background is the 405/Freemont Bridge interchange.
Astoria, Oregon stands in for feudal Japan (really) as well as the NYC sewer system in this third installment of the original Turtles trilogy. Watch as time-traveling, anthropomorphized, martial artist reptiles spout tired catchphrases (although, oddly, they never say “cowabunga!”) and give mouth-to-mouth to a small boy! Thankfully our discussion of the movie is much, much more entertaining than sitting through the movie itself.
The Portland at the Movies summer road trip starts in Vernonia, a picturesque little town just northwest of Portland. In 1989, the community came together to make the low-budget, homegrown movie “The Vernonia Incident” (aka “Redneck Revenge,” aka “Revenge of the Rednecks” aka “Country Justice in Oregon”), featuring all local actors, and a local director/writer/producer/editor/everything else who was the driving force behind this b-movie undertaking. So ride along with us to this small Northwest town, where all the cars are made of explosives and all the dialogue needed to be re-recorded months later in Los Angeles.
Ed Harris stars in this 1987 HBO-made courtroom drama about a hot-shot lawyer who is having an affair with the wife of his accused murderer client. It’s certainly not the *worst* movie we’ve seen on this podcast, but is it actually *good*? Find out on this month’s hilarious episode, starring Brian “The Unipiper” Kidd, Mark Middleton, and Todd Werkhoven.
In 1996, a 21-year-old Angelina Jolie came to Portland to film a movie called “Foxfire.” With many sweeping, beautiful shots from above and below the Broadway Bridge, Portland looks great — but how is the movie? Join Brian “The Unipiper Kidd, Mark Middleton, and Todd Werkhoven as they discuss this beloved and/or forgotten (depending on where you grew up, probably) Grrl Power film. Come for the 90’s fashion, stay for the amazing 3-minute helicopter shot of the bridge and the city during the closing credits! Enjoy!
In 1989, a movie so so abysmal was made in Oregon that writer and film critic David Walked dubbed it “The Curse of ‘Homer and Eddie.'” Essentially he said that “Homer and Eddie” was the point where Portland cinema went from 80’s independent cool to Hollywood tax shelter garbage. So does it deserve that criticism? Join us as we finally sit down to experience this pile of cinematic nonsense, starring Jim (oops…I mean “James”) Belushi as a mentally enfeebled man and Whoopi Goldberg as a mentally ill woman (?) on a cross-country trip to our very own Oregon City. “A chore to watch!” – some Amazon reviewer
Fresh off the heels of the Portland Tonya Harding Film Festival, we invited John-Ryan Griggs (the director of the festival) to talk about the two movies shown: a 1986 documentary about a then 15-year-old Harding working toward her first Nationals, and then a 1996 “action/thriller” called “Breakaway,” which features Tonya in a smaller role. One of these movies was really good; the other was a flaming pile of garbage. Can you guess which is which? Let’s do a triple axle into the cinematic world of Portland’s own Tonya Harding.