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Case Number 24166: Small Claims Court

Buy D.O.A. / Playing God / Color of Night at Amazon

D.O.A. / Playing God / Color of Night

1988 // 97 Minutes // Rated R
Color Of Night
1994 // 139 Minutes // Rated R
Playing God
1997 // 125 Minutes // Rated R
Released by Mill Creek Entertainment
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis (Retired) // July 20th, 2012

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All Rise...

Judge Daryl Loomis never wears matching socks.

The Charge

A triple feature of films that never should have existed.

Opening Statement

Mill Creek is releasing a bunch of these cheap combo packs, each presenting three movies of limited appeal and vague theme. I have almost no interest in any of them, especially since I know that these sets are little more than surplus product that the distributors got at a cut rate and are now trying to make a buck from their meager investment. There was one set, though, that caught my eye. It's nearly six hours of awfulness, big budget abominations that represent a decade of poorly conceived cinema. Let's dig in.

Facts of the Case

D.O.A. (1988): The remake of the 1950 classic features Dennis Quaid (Wyatt Earpp) as Dexter Cornell, an English professor who shows up at the police station to report a murder: his own. Relaying the events of the past two days, he tries to piece together who might have poisoned him.

Playing God: Eugene Sands (David Duchovny, The Joneses), a surgeon who lost his license by shooting up and killing a patient, is scoring in a cruddy bar when a man is shot in the chest. He uses his skills to save the man's life, drawing the attention of Claire (Angelina Jolie, Cyborg 2), the moll of the dastardly Raymond (Timothy Hutton, The Falcon and the Snowman), who wants to give Eugene a new career as his own personal gangster surgeon.

Color of Night: Color blind psychiatrist Bill (Bruce Willis, Surrogates) moves to Los Angeles after a patient takes the plunge in front of him. He hooks up with a buddy shrink (Scott Bakula, Lord of Illusions), who invites him to a therapy session with a bunch of nuts. After the buddy gets stabbed to death, Bill takes over the group, only to meet the enigmatic Ruby (Jane March, Provocateur) and danger from an assassin who is targeting members of the group.

The Evidence

I have no idea what compelled Touchstone pictures to remake the noir classic D.O.A., but the casting of Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan (Sleepless in Seattle) was utterly ridiculous. With the chemistry they display in this horrid thriller, it amazes me that the two had a child together, but I guess that just shows how bad their acting is.

Outside of the framing, though, the movie isn't even really a remake; it's a whole new story involving conniving professors and horny students, where Quaid gets poisoned by some glowing junk that he somehow didn't see in his drink. Decent performers like Jane Kaczmarek (Pleasantville), Daniel Stern (City Slickers), and Charlotte Rampling (The Night Porter) do nothing to help. Ill-conceived and poorly executed, D.O.A. gives bad remakes a bad name.

By all objective measures, Playing God is the best film in the collection, but it's also the silliest. Duchovny looks like he's about to laugh progressively more throughout the film and Angelina Jolie looks like she's only there on a bet to see how absurd they can make her lips look. Timothy Hutton is as obnoxious as ever in this movie that seems ten years too late. Still, it's the most complete story and probably, overall, has the strongest performances, though the direction from Andy Wilson, who doesn't have much beyond this, is pretty clunky and the dialog sounds like it was written from a database of hackneyed noir scripts.

The real treat of this set is Color of Night, an absolutely terrible movie that I still love after all these years. In 1994, it was the trashiest sex movie of the decade, and it remained that way until Showgirls, which rightfully owns the title, I admit, but Color of Night has become unjustly forgotten after it lost its crown. It even features an extremely awkward pool sex scene that Showgirls gets credit for…this deserves more.

The cast is beautiful. Willis and Jane March (in at least three roles, no less) are a nice and creepy couple, while Leslie Ann Warren (Clue), Lance Henriksen (Aliens), and Brad Dourif (Dune) make a dream group of nutjobs. Richard Rush (The Stunt Man), directing his first movie in fourteen years, shows that he still loves the action, but doesn't really have much of a handle on how to construct a movie.

The most perplexing thing to me about Color of Night is the big reveal. I've never been able to figure out whether Richard Rush thought he was fooling everybody by having Jane March, a distinctively beautiful woman, in different outfits and in drag. It seems like he should have known better, and it doesn't seem like a joke, but I can't see any other reason for how patently obvious her identity is. It's really quite amusing to watch it all go down and, as a bonus, Richard Rush did not forget his love for big stunt scenes, so despite its absurd running time, it remains a trash favorite of mine.

The discs are Mill Creek, but the transfers on all three movies are exactly the same as what you might have wasted money on a decade ago. They are repackaged together at a budget price, so if you were somehow hoping to replace your old copies of these movies, then here you go. The images look their age, as does the sound mixes. There are no extras.

Closing Statement

Color of Night has its own dubious merit, but D.O.A. and Playing God are not the shining stars of any of the careers of these stars. The budget price and value are there, I suppose, but there's not a whole lot to recommend about this set.

The Verdict


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Scales of Justice, D.O.A.

Judgment: 73

Perp Profile, D.O.A.

Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 1988
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, D.O.A.

• None

Scales of Justice, Color Of Night

Judgment: 75

Perp Profile, Color Of Night

Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 139 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Color Of Night

• None

Scales of Justice, Playing God

Judgment: 74

Perp Profile, Playing God

Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 125 Minutes
Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Playing God

• None

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