Skip to main content

Friday Night Double Feature: Slam Evil

Spider-Man 3 comes out next week and I've made no attempt at hiding my excitement. There's no doubt that the return of the web-slinger is my most anticipated movie this year, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that I wanted to do something in this column to carry that excitement over to home theaters.

Now it would be easy for me to suggest Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 as a quick preparatory double feature, but the truth is most dedicated fans will already be watching those Thursday night or Friday morning before tearing to the theater to see the new chapter. Besides, the point of this column is to recommend guilty pleasures and frequently overlooked films, either of which really describes the Spider-Man franchise.

While this week's list is in honor of Spider-Man 3's pending release, instead it's inspired by one of the selections of theTop 5 Superhero list we compiled earlier this week. Although I was disappointed one of my favorite picks didn't make the actual list (Unbreakable) one of the films on there reminded me that hero movies have their share of guilty pleasures as well.

Consider this list part one of two. Next week I'll make two more pulpish superhero recommendations. For now, take a look at these adaptations from days gone by:

The Shadow

Before he was the anchor of "30 Rock" or being accosted for verbally abusing his daughter, Alec Baldwin was The Shadow, the one being who knew what evil lurked in the hearts of men and had a worse disguise than Superman (come on - placing a scarf over his mouth changes the shape of his nose?). The Shadow started in radio and serials, but never really became the mainstream hero you'd expect to be the subject of a film adaptation. The disadvantage of that is there was no built in audience for the film. The advantage is that lack of audience also meant nobody to be complaining about alterations (like organic web-shooters or lips on machines). The Shadow is quite a bit of pulpy fun, recreating a 1930s New York where our hero, whose powers are never fully explored, faces off with Shiwan Khan who is developing an Atomic Bomb. Not only is the picture full of cool concepts (an entire skyscraper made invisible by mentally blocking people from seeing it) but the dialogue pops, partially thanks to writer David Koepp - one of the people behind the script for the first Spider-Man picture and a writer already rumored to be attached to the possible fourth chapter.

The Phantom

Unlike other unseen gems I like to discuss in this column, I'm going to promote a movie I know lots of people don't like. To them I say: lighten up! Guilty pleasure flicks don't come much better than Billy Zane decked out in purple facing off with crooked gangsters and ghost pirates. Although you had to question the promotional campaign slogan, the truth is The Phantom was a lot of fun to watch as The Ghost Who Walked "slammed evil" who dared intrude into his jungle. Okay, I'll give in that the film gets quite silly as The Phantom pursues bad guys into New York City, an urban jungle where the character just doesn't fit in, but you can't beat mystical skulls and pirate ships. Treat Williams adds added character as the over the top villain, Xander Drax, rivaled by one of my favorite working actors, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. Like The Shadow, this picture is an enjoyable adaptation of a character from days gone by. While neither picture may have inspired the franchise I'm sure the studios were looking for, both films are a lot of fun and you'd be surprised at how well they go together.

Other super-hero spun tales worth including: Check out Cinema Blend's top five recommended super flicks! and check back next week for two more recommendations that carry on our Superhero celebration!

Enjoy our Double Feature suggestions? and maybe we’ll use them in a future column.