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on February 24, 2004
If you recognize the name Ellen Aim you know your cult sci-fi rock movies, or, as director Walter Hill called his 1984 film Streets of Fire, your "rock and roll fable[s]."
Ellen Aim and the Attackers are a band that plays in an alternate version of the eighties, or maybe an alternate version of the fifties. It's either the eighties that couldn't let go of Elvis and pre-British Invasion rock and roll, or it's the fifties anticipating an urban underclass where everyone is on the edge of violence. Walter Hill loads the movie with a retro neon look, blending genres, similar to what he did in 1979's The Warriors, where he mixed the post-war social-issue movie with the seventies exploitation film, along with some ancient Greek history. (As Cyrus, the would-be savior of all the warrior gangs, booms at us, "Can you dig it?")
Michael Pare (as Tom Cody) stars in Streets of Fire. Cody's just out of the army in a what-if America that still has the social restraints from fifties Tab Hunter movies, but wallows in the corruption and depravity of Reagan's eighties. On this particular morning in America it's raining and everyone's on the verge of killing someone. Willem Dafoe's first appearance as Raven, the villain in black rubber, fresh from God knows what perversity, to the song "One Bad Stud" performed by the Blasters ("If he likes your baby, you can kiss your baby goodbye"), may be what got him typecast as a psycho in so many movies.
But in a fifties movie there has to be a love story. You can't have a guy without a girl. There has to be a Natalie Wood for James Dean, even if the romance is between James Dean and Sal Mineo. In Streets of Fire, Michael Pare's Natalie Wood is Diane Lane as singer Ellen, who Aims her Attack straight at your heart while she caresses one of those old round microphones that look like a hood ornament. Raven kidnaps Ellen and her old boyfriend Tom Cody (Buffalo Bill to the rescue) is called to save her. Unfortunately, Lane doesn't get to do much more than play the frail here.
Cody's real emotional connection is with McCoy (Amy Madigan), another vet who makes Cody hire her to rescue Ellen. McCoy brushes off Cody's half-hearted passes with "You're not my type." McCoy wears greasy old clothes and fixes cars better than Cody so I think I get the point. Especially when McCoy leers at a female nude dancer at the club where Ellen is being held. It seems like the movie was going to be more explicit about McCoy's sexuality but chickened out.
I won't spoil the story but you know how it ends.

I have a soft spot for movies that are original, even if they're not entirely successful. The music's good, the look of the film pulls you into its unique world, and the story is one of those mythic restatements that move you even when you know they're corny.
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on January 9, 2002
Personally, I really like Streets Of Fire, but strictly speaking, it's terrible. The script is really bad and the dialogue is some of the worst I've ever heard. However, it can be very fun to watch. The cinematography is excellent, and the beginning and ending concert scenes are the reason I bought this dvd in the first place (I'm a huge Jim Steinman fan). It really is fun to grab a few friends and some snacks and just laugh at Rick Moranis and Michael Pare overacting their corny lines. It also has Elizabeth Daily, whom you may know as the voice of Buttercup on The Powerpuff Girls. I love her! She's a joy to watch. I was dissapointed in the lack of special features on the dvd, and somehow I don't think there will be a special edition version. But hey, it's always amusing to watch corny dialogue transform into corny French dialogue, right?
Simply put, if you're a fan of cheesy movies and you don't take things too seriously, you will probably get a kick out of this film.
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on December 26, 2003
"streets of fire",ive gathered was intended to be part of a trilogy by director walter hill[director of 'the warriors'],but poor box office sales,nixed that idea.
i saw the movie at a local cinema in my hometown in 1984 and less than two weeks later it was gone replaced by some'john hughes' schmaltz or someother dreck of that kind of 'teen 80's' ilk.
i thought 'streets of fire' was fantastic,an utterly compelling 'juvinile delinquint film noir western',complete with ravaging biker gangs,sultry rock'n'roll singers,surly hot rod gangs,poutng tuff chicks,glowering bad boys,swithblade knives,black leather jackets,tuff words in tense situations,street brawls with sledge hammers,chopped lowered hotrods,do-wop groups,sexy fishnet wearing strippers,sax honking rock'a'billy bands,burning motorcycles,gun totin' bad ass dames,you name it...this movie has it all.
amid flashing neon,wet city streets,screaming subways,foggy back alleys,menacing bikers,pseudo-tuff punk hotrodders,rough guys with big guns; the story unfolds with a local female rock'n'roll singing legand,ellen aim,played by diane lane,being kidnapped by raven shaddock,played by willem dafoe and his motorcycle gang'the bombers',and of course her ex-boyfriend is none other than tom cody,played by michael pare,local ex-bad boy turned sodier,who comes home thanks to his sister vera,played by deborah van valkenberg,and takes up the task of rescuing ellen aim from 'the bombers' clutches,with the help of a tuff chick mechanic played by amy madigan.
the movie has great sets,has a time period that may be the 50's and it may be the future and it may be another place all together,some of the sets look like chicago,while others look like brooklyn new york,it has a great dirty biker bar named 'torchie's',where 'the blasters' play rousing classics like 'one bad stud',while dancer marin jahin[jennifer beals body double in 'flashdance']shakes her stuff on the stage in front of the band.
the movie was lost in its original run in the theatres,but did well on cable later in the decade and has finally garnered quite a cult following and its rightly deserved; this movie is great fun,as well as a visually stunning masterpiece.
any fan of 'walter hill' or 'the warriors' or stylized 50's like biker hotrod delinquint badboy/bad girl movies or even anyone who just like a little rock'n'roll with there fables,should like this great flick.
so,to all you greasers out there,enjoy this true original ode to a great genre of film making.
plus,the soundtrack is really cool as well,two blasters songs,,two jim stienem songs,a great ry cooder score,diane lane lipsynching in tight dresses to meatloaf sounding songs...its all
pretty cool.
so,i hope you dig it,i know i did,i own 2 copies of the video,2 copies of the soundtrack and i cant wait to get the dvd.
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on February 29, 2004
Ok...when I first saw this movie the first thing out of my mouth was..."Ok...what was that all about?" lol...but after watching it again...and being a really big (self-proclaimed) Michael Pare fan, I gave it another try, and was really suprised that I enjoyed it! It grows on you...it's a "You can't help but love it" kind of film! The more you watch it, it becomes a guilty pleasure! A must see...if you like the kind of movie that you can love, and still think..."WOW...I really like that?!?!?!"
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on August 14, 2002
This film bombed with reviewers and at the box office when it came out -- but I loved it! And its soundtrack remains one of my favorite lps/CDs.
It's a weird tale of a biker gang leader (William DaFoe) who kidnaps a rock singer (Diane Lane). Her nebbish manager (Rick Moranis) hires her ex-soldier/ex-boyfired (Michael Pare) to rescue her. He hires a sidekick, ex-soldier Amy Madigan.
What makes this film so weird is -- you wonder WHEN it's taking place. It's full of anachronisms. The art direction looks 1950s (the malt shop, some of the costumes, the old police squad cars, the teletype). Yet you have female soldiers, and an integrated police force. And the biker gang leader looks like he's dressed for an S&M leather party, in a black leather farmer's overall bid. Very strange.
The dialog is also strange. Very stylized -- to the point of parody. Women are "skirts." Everyone's sarcastic, snarling zingers at each other. Even the bit players. The film feels like everyone in town, from street punks to cops to young girls, is a badass with a bad attitude. And half the zingers seem to end in fights. Very very strange.
The subtitle is: A Rock & Roll Fable -- whatever that means. Don't try to understand this film. Just let it wash over you. You're in a strange netherworld. Accept it, and you'll enjoy the ride. Especially if you like the music...
Some of the music written by Jim Steinman -- if you thrill to the bombastic sounds of Bonnie Tyler and Meat Love, you'll love this soundtrack. There's also a song written by Stevie Nicks, sung by Marylin Martin -- who sounds exactly like Stevie Nicks.
The sort of bizarre film where many will gawk and wonder: What were they thinking? Others will emrace it with the love that cult films attract. I did.
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on January 11, 2003
Back in Oct 2002 i wrote a reveiw about Streets of fire saying it was one of the most influnential movies i had ever seen on VHS. With my copy wearing a little i decided to purchase a copy through Amazon[.com] of the DVD version and it was fantastic! The picture quality was a huge improvment and if your lucky enough to have a home cinema then you`ll know about the quality of the sound track and the way the hairs on your neck stick up when you listen to TIWIMTBY IN SURROUND SOUND! AWESOME! Hopefully it will be released in DTS, if any of you guys out there are wondering whether to buy this film, don`t ponder, do it, you`ll like the film and love the sound track and its also great to see all the stars before they became stars!
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on July 24, 2002
This is one of the best movies ever made - It is a spoof that knows it is a spoof - very good dialogue and absolutely great music! "In the Blue Shadow" is one of the all-time "best-ever" rock and roll songs. Ry Cooter is a genius.
Extremely well done - excellent casting - A movie to see multiple times - I first bought it an a CD just to have it, and later purchased it on VHS, and then DVD. The sound track is also very much worth having.
Somehow or other this movie got lost "in-the-cracks." It makes one wonder about the value of the critics.
Essential for any collection!
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on February 19, 2014
This movie is one of my top 100 favorites. I saw it in the theater when it was released and have re-watched it many times since. I am very happy to have it in my collection now. This copy met all my expectations. The video quality and sound are first rate and it ran on both the computer and my dvd player. I highly recommend this movie for the fabulous visuals and the great music.
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on April 7, 2002
This is an intense film that really draws you in, Walter Hill(48 HRS.) directed this & it shows, the film begins at a concert that is about to get underway, once it does, you actually feel as if your in attendence, Diane Lane absolutely shines as the lead singer, the opening song is fast-paced & powerful as Lane is convincing in her performance, this film is reminicent of the 50's in that a motorcycle gang led by a younger Willem Dafoe, is on the prowl to kidnap Lane & succeeds by crashing her concert, the film then progresses to the opening where we are introduced to Michael Pare' as Lane's former boyfriend who is hired by her manager Billy played by Rick Moranis who looks as geeky as ever, to get her back, Pare' is still smitten with Lane but stubborn about their seperation, he later teams with a two-fisted hellraiser in the form of Amy Madigan who helps him get Lane, they soon head that way, Willem Dafoe who would later go on to superstardom is perfectly cast as Raven who apparently has a crush on Lane, the obvious reason for kidnapping her, Pare' & Madigan soon storm his place & retrieve Lane, Pare' & Dafoe soon meet face to face in which Dafoe declares that Pare' is a dead man, this could easily be a movie about motorcycle gangs, but Hill avoids making it to obvious, there is love overtones with Lane & Pare' who have great chemistry, you almost want them back together, but know it won't likely happen, the showdown between Dafoe & Pare' is neat in itself, the music here is awesome with a 1950's feel & 80's sound, Lane's closing song is powerful in that it catches the attention of Pare', you know he still loves her but can't be with her simply because it is not his style, Dan Hartman's "I can dream about you" is here as her opening act, I finally got this on DVD & it is awesome, it is the best picture of this movie that I have seen, although many cast members went on to bigger things Pare' however never got better films, best known as Eddie in "Eddie in the Cruisers", his last best known role was Sandra Bullock's cheating husband in "Hope Floats" in which he has maybe 10 minutes of screen time, Pare' is really an under rated actor that like many never got a fair chance, hopefully he will make a comeback.
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on April 20, 2001
I first saw "Streets of Fire" at the end of it's run in theaters. A bolt of lightning had knocked out the electricity in my apartment, and there was nothing to do but go to a movie. I guess you could say that my discovery of this film resulted from an act of divine intervention.
If you step back from it and really see it for what it is, "Streets of Fire" is a pretty hokey movie. The leader of a motorcycle gang gets a big, hot thing for a beautiful rock singer and carries her off. Then her old boyfriend returns home and rescues her. Boy rescues girl. Boy gets girl. Boy walks out on girl. Big deal! Nothing new here. So, why have I watched it about 30 or 40 times over the years, enjoying it so much that I recently bought it on DVD. I even own the soundtrack album, and on vinyl to boot.
I really can't explain it. Maybe it's the juxtaposition of styles and eras. It seems to throw characters and props from seemingly different times and places together. Maybe it's the way Amy Madigan, playing a part originally written for a man, steals the movie. Maybe, it's getting to watch Michael Paré play the fearless hero and wondering why he never really made it in Hollywood or seeing a young Willem Dafoe, on the verge of a career that would keep him working right up to the present, as the villainous Raven. (Raven. What a great name for a villain.) Maybe it's really about being able to spend 90 minutes with the exquisite Diane Lane, who a few years earlier reportedly had Francis Ford Coppola suffering from puppy love on the set of "The Outsiders". Maybe, it's Rick Moranis, a good but not great Rock score, the knowledge that the outdoor settings were actually filmed entirely on a sound stage, or the sight of "Flash Dance" body double, Marine Jahan, dancing once again. Maybe it's just everything combined.
If you haven't seen this film, do yourself a favor. Rent, buy, or steal it. (Somehow the last choice seems appropriate.) Throw some Orville in the microwave, and then crank up the volume on your TV or, even better, Surround Sound if you have it. Then say goodbye to reality, and let the movie take you to "Another Time and Another Place". And, if you have seen it, it's probably time to see it again.
Now that I think about it, tonight might be a good time to watch it again.
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