Worth 37.5 cents?: The Enduring Legacy of  a Great and Crazy Studio, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group.

By James Kenney

I have come here to praise, not bury the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, and so should any film lover. Akin to television’s Stephen J. Cannell company, it was one of the last studios run by a colorful leader who answered to no one.

D.E.G. has been defined in history by its failures: excessive budgets, capricious management practices, impulsive choices that led to box-office disaster.  As explained in an August 1989 Spy magazine expose, “no movie company can stay in business if it makes movies so bad nobody will pay to see them.” The author details how the studio squandered hundreds of millions in just a few years making some of the “most dreadful movies imaginable,” movies “other studios wouldn’t touch, with stars no one wanted to see.”  And he provides an impressive list of all-time apparent stinkers: Maximum Overdrive, Tai-Pan, King Kong Lives, Million Dollar Mystery, From the Hip, and Date With an Angel.  An unnamed studio executive discussed how DeLaurentiis “would never really believe in market research.”

Hail, hero! 

The article reports that when a release such as King Kong Lives, flopped, Dino refused to despair. The next picture would be the one to turn it around. “Domani”! Dino would say, as “Dino had an inhuman resilience to bad news and could revive himself quicker than anybody I’ve ever seen.”  As an investor I might have been troubled, sure, but this character trait is a lot more endearing than currently witnessing the Marvel corporation employ bots on Twitter to attack actor Stephen Dorff because he dares to say he doesn’t have any interest in Marvel films. 

Unnamed people in the article complain that his films were invariably miscast, one pointing out the stockbroker-on-the-run-from-the-mob-hiding-in-high-school movie Hiding Out made a mistake employing Jon Cryer off of Pretty in Pink: “in a normal major studio, you waited for Michael J. Fox. But DeLaurentiis never waited for anybody.” 

Really? 

I mean, Cryer didn’t prove a major box-office draw, but by 1987 Fox wasn’t drawing audiences outside of Back to the Future sequels.  Light of Day? For Love or Money? Greedy? Fox is awesome, lovely, and talented but his participation would not have guaranteed Hiding Out big financial returns. 

You wound up making From the Hip with Judd Nelson, who was fifth or sixth down the list, because you needed to start by February 15th,” the same unnamed former employee complains, and while Nelson again proved to not be box office, coming off The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire it seemed a reasonable bet, one that big studio Paramount and producer Walter Hill also made when they made Blue City with Nelson the same year, which indeed also flopped.

In its unsuccessful wake, D.E.G. left us with some genuine masterpieces, some minor masterpieces, some damn good films, some certified cult items that people still talk about, some humpback movies that are messy but still interesting, and very little that is dull or lacking personality.  The worst of D.E.G.’s detritus has personality, and in the rear-view looks much prettier than it did upon arrival. 

I have come here to praise DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group, not bury it...

This is not to say DeLaurentiis had sound taste – but it is hard to not be nostalgic, in this age of faceless cookie-cutters planning out Marvel spinoffs years in advance and dropping huge films on streaming services no one cares about to maximize revenue, towards an old school studio head who said “yes” or “no” on instinct, not on “market research” done by idiots with MBA’s.

If D.E.G. had only pulled out one substantial hit there would have been a different tune sung and D.E.G. might have survived.

But his King Kong movie, his Schwarzenneger action film, his Stephen King production, they all indeed failed miserably.

The guy made movies the old-fashioned way, and while he surely didn’t intend it, he comes off rather progressive, hiring an inexperienced woman to direct a film in the 1980s (who later went on to win an Academy Award), as well as several young directors of repute who he gave final cut to, like David Lynch and Michael Mann.  I find his roster of talent and projects interesting, if not always successful; a pox on “market research” and casting “stars people want to see.”

In fact, auteurists should be in heaven, as during the 80s, when producers like Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson were king, hiring television commercial and music video directors to make their (oh so successful!) films, De Laurentiis hired Mann, Lynch, Peter Bogdanovich, John Irvin, Richard Fleischer, Curtis Hanson, Bruce Beresford, Bob Clark, Sam Raimi, John Hancock, Albert Pyun, John Guillermin, Lewis Teague, Kathryn Bigelow and William Friedkin.  Lots of these director’s films were flops at the time, sure, but what film fan will look askance at that roster?

De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (D.E.G.) misfires are so fabled, namely King Kong Lives and Million Dollar Mystery, that the studio became a running joke, like Cannon Films’ uglier sister or something.  But you had an optimistic, loud, larger-than-life impresario running a big (out of control?) studio, impudently building  physical operations (still in operation today) in North Carolina and Australia, who was undeniably utterly out of touch with the times, hiring actual directors to helm his weird slate of films, none of which made money, sure.

What D.E.G. did do was make three stone-cold masterpieces in its three years of operation, maybe more. 

Sure, none of it made money!  Oops! He somehow managed to make the one Arnold Schwarzenegger film that didn’t make money in the 1980s! Ouch!

Admittedly, I’m the kind of guy who thinks sports should build character; I’m a fan of Charlie Brown’s hapless baseball team and the Bad News Bears, which has led to me showing more interest in expansion teams and rotten Mets teams way more than following the actually successful Yankees. 

So is it with De Laurentiis—he tried to build a movie studio from scratch in the mid-80s, and with no room for failure, failed tremendously.

On August 17, 1988, Andrea Adeleson the New York Times reported that:

De Laurentiis Entertainment Group Inc., the financially troubled film company founded by the Italian-born producer Dino De Laurentiis, filed today for protection from its creditors under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code.

The move comes a week after the film company dropped a $65 million debt restructuring plan, which it had said was crucial to its survival…

The voluntary filing, which allows a company to put its debts on hold while its reorganizes, listed $199.7 million in liabilities and $163 million in assets, said a company spokeswoman, Susan Feldon. The liabilities include $23.9 million in secured debt and $70.4 million in unsecured notes, she said.

One analyst gave De Laurentiis Entertainment little chance of emerging from court protection, as the film company has sold most of its assets, including its 300-title film library for $54 million, to pay loans….

De Laurentiis Entertainment, which is based in Beverly Hills, Calif., fell victim to making ”too many high-priced films, which had minimal commercial value,” said Jeffrey Logsdon, an analyst at Crowell, Weedon & Company, a Los Angeles brokerage.

As reported by Al Delugach in the same day’s Los Angeles Times, “The company’s stock, which reached a high of $19.25 a share shortly after the firm went public in May, 1986, last traded at 37.5 cents a share Tuesday on the American Stock Exchange.”

You tell me if the following body of work is worth 37.5 cents to you!

De Laurentiss Group’s Film Output:

  • Raw Deal (released June 6, 1986)

A stylish, quirky, violent movie, way underappreciated. Raw Deal is directed by John Irvin, who made Christopher Walken’s The Dogs of War and Alec Guiness’ Tinker, Tailor Soldier Spy and who here good-humoredly pokes fun at the outsized Schwarzenegger personality and physique (with Schwarzenegger cheerfully in on the joke), self-aware of the silliness of dropping this charismatic Austrian block of granite into any situation. 

Surrounding him with a superlative cast of supporting actors including Robert Davi, Sam Wanamaker, Arthur Hill, Darren McGavin, Ed Lauter, and the luminous and funny Kathryn Harrold, Raw Deal is my favorite Schwarzenegger film – yes, the James Cameron films are brilliantly realized, but a bit too “clinical” for my tastes. Raw Deal is messy, especially with its pleasing and (undernoticed) romantic throughline that Schwarzenegger is faking his death and tearing apart a crime family from the inside to make the miserable alcoholic wife that he loves happy by getting back in good with the FBI, which had unceremoniously dumped him.  As the film’s ends, despite the luscious Kathryn Harrold falling for him (they have groovy chemistry too, I find this film has his most convincing romantic performance, forget True Lies), Schwarzenegger steadfastly never falls into her inviting arms and leaves her, Casablanca style, to go back to his lonely, miserable wife who thinks he’s dead. A sublime masterpiece of lunkhead filmmaking. 10 out of 10 bullets!

  • My Little Pony:The Movie (June 6, 1986)

I have little to say about My Little Pony: The Movie, except D.E.G., like my beloved Charlie Brown, always found a way to lose, as this film, yes, didn’t make any money. Some interesting names in the cast list, though.

  • Maximum Overdrive (July 25, 1986)

Who can blame Dino, our protagonist? Get Stephen King, the hottest name in entertainment to write a film based on one of his gory short stories, and also direct it?  I would have made that bet, especially with a serviceable cast featuring Emilio Estevez, one of the many brat-packers De Laurentiis (wrongly) turned to to bring in young butts, but it worked on me.  I saw all his post-expiration-date-brat-packer films in the theater, except the one that went unreleased, but I caught up with that on VHS too.  And Maximum Overdrive, apparently made while King was crazed on coke (gee, thanks a lot Stephen) is rather awful…and endlessly watchable. 

It stirs the imagination much more than many better and justifiably forgotten horror films from the period, including some written by King.  From the awesome AC/DC score (those guys showed up with their A-game), to Estevez and Pat Hingle playing it straight, to its big dumb truck stunts, to the gore effects obviously pared down to receive an R rating, to its complete lack of logic (Why do trucks turn evil, but not cars? Why do lawn sprinklers turn evil? Why do bicycles suddenly flip some kids but not others?), this a movie that NEVER GROWS OLD. I’m not grading these things as a stockholder, I’m grading these as entertainments. 10 out of 10 guys killed by soda cans shot out of a diabolic vending machine!

  • The Transformers:The Movie (August 8, 1986)

Didn’t see this either, but noteworthy for using the voice of Judd Nelson, who later starred in the essential DEG release From the Hip and is unfairly badmouthed in the Spy magazine article, but obviously it’s a cult film, with Orson Welles also supplying a voice in his last performance ever.

Of course, De Laurentiis would be the only guy who couldn’t figure out a way to make money off of the damn Transformers.

  • Manhunter (August 15, 1986)

STONE COLD MASTERPIECE. I don’t care how hot Miami Vice was, this was a risky project; Mann’s last theatrical release was the disastrous The Keep, and unnamed executives bitching about how De Laurentiis wouldn’t followed “market research” or hire “stars” can go to hell! William Peterson, Joan Allen, Brian Cox and Tom Noonan weren’t stars, but are note perfect, Mann’s unique, intense filmmaking style, the soundtrack, all of it, beyond brilliant.  Better than any other Hannibal Lechter film and I’m not fashionable saying this, I’ve been a fan since August 1986.  10 out of 10 blind victims!

  • Blue Velvet (September 19, 1986)

CASE CLOSED!  What other studio put out two films in a row like Manhunter and Blue Velvet, EVER? De Laurentiis was nuts, beautifully so; even after David Lynch’s Dune, which he produced, flopped for Universal, he nevertheless bankrolled Lynch’s dream project and left him alone to make it how he saw fit.  And, NO, it didn’t make any money when it came out, and no, he didn’t test market and hire Michael J. Fox for the lead, he okayed Kyle McLachlan, who had already starred in and been less-than-great in Dune, the previous Lynch fiasco.  And he’s great in this! The bet paid off, if not financially! Dennis Hopper! Laura Dern! Isabella Rossellini! STONE COLD MASTERPIECE. 10 out of 10 Chris Isaak songs!

  • Radioactive Dreams (September 19, 1986)

CASE CLOSED part 2!  What studio puts out two auteurist masterpieces like Manhunter and Blue Velvet in a row, and then puts out a nutty post-apocalyptic Albert Pyun film???  Which also makes no money, of course! De Laurentiis was burning money to make his stable of crazy auteurs happy!  Radioactive Dreams is like a lot of Pyun films; cinematic, weird, sometimes terrible, and equally fascinating, plus John Stockwell, an 80 favorite from Christine and Losin’ it, stars alongside the American Ninja, Michael Dudikoff.  8 out of 10 Pyuns!

  • Trick or Treat (October 24, 1986)

OK, this is more of a bunt single than a home run, but it stars Skippy from Family Ties, Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne, and is directed by Charles Martin Smith, the accountant guy from The Untouchables!  6.5 out of 10 Screams!

  • Tai-Pan (November 7, 1986)

Yes, it was a flop!  I don’t care if James Clavell’s epic novel wasn’t developed to his liking!  Sure, I love To Sir, With Love and The Last Valley but I never saw Shogun or any of that stuff; Tai-Pan has Bryan Brown, who sells no tickets but is a perfectly fine actor, and a young Joan Chen and Kyra Sedgwick also show up.  This is old school, and it indeed should have been made in the 60s with Charlton Heston after 55 Days in Peking and before The Hawaiians. I’m all about the old school, as who needs the Goonies and Flashdance? I can’t deny this expensive flop was probably not market researched and De Laurentiis hoped Brown’s Thorn Birds stardom would translate to big-screen success. Nope!  But Brown was good in F/X, a personal favorite of the time, so I and my dad went to see this in widescreen splendor in November ’86 (I don’t think it was playing by December ’86). And aueterists, director Daryl Duke is the guy who made Payday with Rip Torn and The Silent Partner with Elliot Gould! Great hire! 8 out of 10 long ships!

  • Body Slam (November 21, 1986)

Hal Needham!  Who makes a Hal Needham movie when Burt Reynolds isn’t around? Dino De Laurentiis does! In a comedy about wrestling featuring Rowdy Roddy Piper and the A-Team’s Dirk Benedict, who wasn’t gonna sell any tickets by 1986, especially if Mr. T. couldn’t sell tickets to D.C. Cab in 83 when The A-Team was still actually a hit!

I think by 86 Robert Vaughn had shown up on the A-Team, a desperation move kind of like Cousin Oliver being inserted into the final season of Brady Bunch, if Cousin Oliver came with a gun and terrorized the family.  But anyway, the film also has Sheena’s Tanya Roberts as the female lead, so 7 out of 10 Tanyas!

  • Crimes of the Heart (December 12, 1986)

Solid! Bruce Beresford directing Jessica Lange, Sissy Spacek and Diane Keaton in a film based on a Beth Henley play!  This is a diverse cinematic lineup, folks!  I only saw this on VHS, but Beresford only started making turkeys with alarming regularity in the 21st century, at this point he was still good and consistent and Tender Mercies  and Breaker Morant-identified. His swing for the award fences didn’t result in a score, but it’s a good movie and a great showcase for its stars. 8 out of 10 Oscars!

  • King Kong Lives (December 19, 1986)

I have no problem with dumb King Kong sequels.  John Guillermin was a solid-pus director and he makes a silly, enjoyable, dopey film with one of the many young actresses I had a crush on at the time, Linda Hamilton, and John Ashton from Beverly Hills Cop and Midnight Run as the military villain guy who just can’t let Kong be. 

Is it good? I guess not, but I enjoy what turned out to be Guillermin’s last theatrical film.  I’m gonna expend too much energy defending Guillermin’s Sheena, Queen of the Jungle soon enough, so I can’t burn it up defending this thing, but I find it kind of cute and pleasant with all sorts of elements I like, although here’s one where maybe market research might have indeed helped out, Dino! 

On the other hand, if Paramount can greenlight The Golden Child, De Laurentiis can be forgiven for his terrible project. I mean Paramount had money to burn, removing John Barry’s score from Golden Child (!!!).  Who dumps a Barry score? A studio that can afford to make dumb decisions.  D.E.G. couldn’t, and Kong’s flop did put a major-league hurt on D.E.G..  But it’s hilarious and bizarre and ripe to be a genuine cult item (it’s out of circulation currently and hard to see).  5 out of 10 John Ashtons!

  • The Bedroom Window (January 30, 1987)

Not just Michael Mann, not just David Lynch, but Curtis L.A. Confidential Hansen got an early directing gig for De Laurentiis, shooting this Hitchcockian thriller with a nifty premise. Solidly executed, even if Steve Guttenberg was too closely identified with his Police Academy goofball persona to really score in this – but with distance, he’s a competent actor and perfectly convincing as a thickheaded everyman who intrepidly pretends to be a witness to a crime to “protect” his married lover. Plus enigmatic, alluring, and narcissistic Isabelle Huppert is in it alongside Elizabeth Perkins.  Didn’t make money! Still an awesome film! 9 out of 10 MaGuffins!

  • From The Hip (February 6, 1987)

The legendary Bob Clark!  De Laurentiis hired all our favorite directors!  The thing with Clark is you never know if you’re getting the brilliant guy who made Death Dream and Black Christmas and Murder By Decree and A Christmas Story and Porky’s or the bewilderingly bad director who made Loose Cannons and Rhinestone and Porky’s 2!  Here you get both! The first half is a dimwitted comedy about an obnoxious lawyer we’re supposed to root for, but the second half is amazing, as obnoxious lawyer Judd Nelson is forced to defend sociopathic millionaire John Hurt, and the film gets real interesting real fast.  Written by David Kelly, who later did all that television lawyer stuff like Boston Legal and the Practice; De Laurentiis continually hiring all sorts of young talent! It just didn’t pay off financially!  As a Brat Pack fan, I went to see From the Hip opening night on a double date!  We apparently accounted for 24% of the total box-office!  7.5 gavels out of 10!

  • Evil Dead II (March 13, 1987)

D.E.G. bankrolled Evil Dead II, releasing it under a shell company so it could go out unrated! What can I say? Bruce Campbell became Bruce Campbell in this film — Who doesn’t like Evil Dead II?  11 out of 10 grinning skulls!

  • Million Dollar Mystery (June 12, 1987)

What an energetic, misbegotten goof!  Who unofficially remakes It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World in 1987 with no stars?  But in my house, 1941 and I Wanna Hold Your Hand’s Eddie Deezen IS a star, recent troubles with the law notwithstanding!  And c’mon, the studio gambled on new talent like David Lynch and Michael Mann, but also hired aging veterans like Guillermin and in this case Richard Fleischer, who directs with more vitality than you might expect.  Another genuinely weird project that is more memorable than a lot of 80s crap that doesn’t get anywhere near as maligned!  Six out of 10 Glad trash bags!

  • Near Dark (October 2, 1987)

Another STONE COLD CLASSIC!  Kathyrn Bigelow’s vampire movie is bloody, violent, romantic, funny, harrowing! He hired a woman, namely Kathryn Bigelow, in 1987 to make a vampire film!  Did Don Simpson do that?  Nope! Great film! Jenny Wright! Bill Paxton!  Lance Henriksen! 10 out of 10 vampires bursting into flame in the morning sun! Of course, it made no money!  We let Dino down, folks, if we JUST WENT TO SEE Manhunter, Blue Velvet and this in the theater, Dino would’ve been fine! I went!  8 out of the 15 films listed above I saw theatrically! Did you?

DID YOU?

  • Weeds (October 16, 1987)

This is a NEAR-MASTERPIECE! Bang the Drum Slowly’s John Hancock’s story of prisoners who regain humanity by becoming actors is disturbing, unpredictable, and funny! The one and only Nick Nolte is incredible in this and it’s way underseen, it’s in fact never had a DVD release, and Hancock thinks the negative is lost.  Someone find this negative! I tracked down the lost director’s cut of the last Bogdanovich film, it’s somebody else’s turn! 

This film is very cool and very underseen. People keep saying D.E.G. is like Cannon films, but actual masterpieces were made under D.E.G.’s failed watch!  10 out of 10 thespians!

  • Hiding Out (November 6, 1987)

Likeable enough past-its-expiration-date Brat Pack comedy about a stockbroker hiding out from mafia killers in a high school; Pretty in Pink’s Jon Cryer is perfectly good in this, but he admittedly wasn’t a movie star.  I’ll give it a friendly rating because I appreciate De Laurentiis’ persistently giving roles to my Brat Pack heroes in the false belief that anyone other than me cared.  7.5 out of 10 school lunches!

  • Date with an Angel (November 20, 1987)

This one is odd, it’s about an angel who falls to earth and the guy who loves her. It apparently was developed before Splash was released and does play kind of like a belated Splash ripoff as it came out years alter.  Here the casting is odd as the filmmakers picked a soap opera star, Michael E. Knight, to be the lead, which doesn’t make much sense because it’s a youth comedy and I assume grandmas watched soaps.  Phoebe Cates is also in it and the gorgeous Emanuelle Beart does her ethereal best in her U.S. debut as the angel in a film that takes a dark turn towards the end I found kind of interesting.  7 out of 10 broken wings.

  • Shakedown (May 6, 1988) (released by Universal Pictures in U.S.)

DEG developed Shakedown back when it was called Blue Jean Cop! A crazy James Glickenhaus over-the-top New York City based action film, with shootouts in both Coney Island and Times Square, Shakedown bet on Peter Weller’s star rising with Robocop and Sam Elliot just being Sam Elliot, I guess.  D.E.G. had to sell it off to Universal as its money woes mounted, but it’s a good, dopey action film, belatedly much beloved, with genuine stunts in impressive locations. 8 out of 10 Times Square marquees!

  • Illegally Yours (May 13, 1988) (released by United Artists in U.S.)

I wrote about this extensively already; De Laurentiis bought a truly puerile script that Peter Bogdanovich unsuccessfully then attempted to bring in for a safe landing.  Still, I wholly appreciate Dino hiring Peter when Peter was on the outs for righteously if wrong-headedly suing Universal for cutting Mask despite his holding final cut, and Bogdanovich gets a hugely appealing performance from Rob Lowe doing the clumsy-bespectacled-hero bit while keeping the whole thing going rather brightly for about half the running time.  But this is a flop, yeah.  5 out of 10 pairs of Harold Lloyd glasses!

  • Traxx (August 17, 1988) (direct-to-video in U.S.)

Huh? I have never seen this, but apparently irrepressible Dino thought L.A. DJ Shadoe Stevens was movie star material and made this, which I hear is a spoof, not a straight-forward action flic. I’d rather see this at this point than catch up with any recent Marvel Captain America film I didn’t see, I can tell you that. 

  • Pumpkinhead (October 14, 1988) (released by United Artists in U.S.)

Another good horror film that D.E.G. sold off to United Artists. It didn’t make money for them either, so it wouldn’t have saved him, but it’s the second time Dino employed Lance Henriksen and it’s a cool movie, so 9 pumpkins out of 10! Sure he made Maximum Overdrive, but Dino bankrolled both Pumpkinhead and Near Dark.  His stable is full of minor (and a couple of major) classics!

  • Tapeheads (October 21, 1988) (released by Avenue Pictures in U.S.)

John Cusack and Tim Robbins in a self-consciously weird indie comedy!  It’s not great, but it’s interesting! By this time, D.E.G. was toast and most of the titles that had any potential were being sold off to other distributors. 7 out of 10 Cusacks!

  • Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (February 17, 1989) (released by Orion Pictures in U.S.)

Dino gave Keanu Reeves his big comedy break!  It’s actually not so very good but strangely endearing, and the closest thing to a  cinematic tentpole Dino ever got near! 8 out of 10 time-machine-phone-booths!

  • Earth Girls Are Easy (May 12, 1989) (released by Vestron Pictures in U.S)

The dude produced a colorful kind-of musical from Julian Temple, the director of Absolute Beginners, featuring Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, a young Jim Carrey, and a young Damon Wayans!  Strange but endearing, and thank God for the lack of market research because, yeah, who the hell would go see this stuff? 8 out of 10 surfboards!

  • Collision Course (April, 1992) (direct-to-video in U.S.)

The fabled buddy-cop film featuring Pat Morita and Jay Leno that went straight to video in the U.S.  Well, he did hire Alligator and Cujo director Lewis Teague to helm it, so again, D.E.G. is an auteurist’s happy place. But I heard this was pretty bad, indeed — I never saw it.

  • Rampage (October 30, 1992) (released by Miramax Films in U.S.)

William Friedkin’s long-unreleased Rampage was ALSO produced by D.E.G., and many love this movie! I found it a little risible when I saw it but it’s been about 25 years,so I remember little of it, and I’ll take the word of those smarter than me who say it’s a terrific Friedkin film, because it SUPPORTS MY THESIS.

9 out of 10 serial killers!

That’s an eccentric but enviable pile-up of cinematic train wrecks, some of which are unquestionably among the greatest films made in the last forty years!

Man, I get giddy when the short-lived 1980s DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group (D.E.G.) appears before a movie. Sure, it’s considered a folly, the erratic if prolific Italian producer setting up camp in North Carolina to avoid union regulations, trying to squeeze life out of aging properties he still owned like King Kong

Yes, it was a flop, but we are all happy that Stephen King’s absurd Maximum Overdrive, where Emilio Estevez and Pat Hingle fight killer trucks off with bazookas at a truckstop while AC/DC blares, exists, yes?  I mean it’s nuts, but it’s so watchable. 

No, Steve Guttenberg didn’t prove a reliable box-office leading man, but who has an issue with Curtis Hanson’s Hitchcockian The Bedroom Window? It might have been a big mistake to assume Bryan Brown would bring in audiences in Tai-Pan, but I like Bryan Brown! I don’t care if he’s not Mel Gibson, that’s proven partially a plus, yes? But there’s no need to apologize for Blue Velvet, Manhunter, Near Dark, The Bedroom Window, Raw Deal, Weeds, Crimes of the Heart. Good, nay, great work was done there in its short two years of existence.

I’d rather have the D.E.G. library on a desert island than the Simpson/Bruckheimer library.

Hopefully this quick run-through does crystalize your vision, seeing that while it may have been an aging entrepaneur’s folly, D.E.G. actually came up with a pretty weird and interesting slate of films in its short existence from 1986-1988. I’m not sure many other studios made films as great as Manhunter, Blue Velvet and Near Dark in that period, and a lot of the other stuff that flopped looks better with distance.

D.E.G. is dead! Long Live D.E.G.!

3 thoughts on “Worth 37.5 cents?: The Enduring Legacy of  a Great and Crazy Studio, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group.

  1. My favourite defunct studio THE BEDROOM WINDOW, BLUE VELVET, EVIL DEAD II, MANHUNTER, MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, NEAR DARK, PUMPKINHEAD, RAMPAGE, RAW DEAL, TAI-PAN, TRICK OR TREAT all classics. BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, CRIMES OF THE HEART, DATE WITH AN ANGEL, FROM THE HIP, HIDING OUT, ILLEGALLY YOURS, MILLION DOLLAR MYSTERY all watchable and nothing to be ashamed of, COLLISION COURSE, KING KONG LIVES and TRAXX are dreadful. The rest I have never seen, the one I would really like to view is WEEDS.

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