The Fan (1981)

Douglas Breen, a deranged young New York City record salesman, writes a rambling letter to stage and film star Sally Ross. Sally’s assistant, Belle Goldman, has been intercepting Douglas’s numerous disturbed letters, responding herself and asking him to stop. Douglas feels ignored, and becomes determined to meet with Sally and consummate “his love” for her.

Sally has recently taken a job in a musical stage production, and has been reconnecting with her ex-husband, Jake Berman, who has arrived from California to film a movie. After Belle receives another explicit letter from Douglas, she brings it to Sally’s attention; Sally scolds her for being rude to the fan, and brushes it off, saying she has had to deal with many fans who have had extensive “fantasies” about her. Meanwhile, Douglas begins stalking Sally, sitting outside of her apartment building, and following her to her stage rehearsals. He decides to hand-deliver a letter to her while she is rehearsing for the musical, but watches the man at the studio give the letter to Belle, whom he realizes is the assistant who has been writing the nasty responses to him.

After the rehearsal ends, Douglas follows Belle into the subway, where he slashes her face open with a razor. She survives the attack, but is hospitalized. When police press her for information, Belle cannot recall the return addresses written on the obsessive letters to Sally, and Sally informs them that she does not keep the fan mail she receives. Increasingly enraged by his lack of contact with Sally, Douglas manages to break into her apartment and murders her maid, Elsa, in the bathroom. Sally returns home with a private investigator, and finds Elsa’s body in a pool of blood, and her apartment in shambles. A threatening letter addressed to Sally is left behind, reading: “Dearest bitch, See how accessible you are? How would you liked to be fucked with a meat cleaver?”

Sally, distraught, flees New York and retreats to a secluded house in the country, where she is visited by Jake. Meanwhile, at a bar, Douglas meets a man who cruises him for sex. The two go to the rooftop of Douglas’s building, where the man begins to perform oral sex on him, but Douglas stabs him to death and lights his body on fire. Douglas leaves a suicide letter with the body in an attempt to lead police to believe the body is his own, and that he took his own life.

The opening night of the musical arrives, and Sally reluctantly returns to the city to perform. Douglas sits in the audience, watching her. After the show, Sally sits in her dressing room with the costume designer, Hilda. Douglas kills both Hilda and a nightwatchman while Sally removes her makeup. He confronts Sally in her dressing room, covered in blood, and chases her through the empty theater. She strikes him in the face with a riding crop. Douglas slaps her across the face, throwing her to the floor, and beats her with the crop. As he tries to kiss her, Sally tells him he is pathetic. His rage subsides, and he embraces Sally, begging her to love him. As he holds her, she plunges his knife into his neck. He collapses, landing in one of the theatre’s chairs, the knife still in his neck. Sally leaves the theatre, and a voiceover of Douglas’s first letter to her plays. In it, he says:

Dear Miss Ross, I have finally worked up enough courage to write you. You do not know me, but who I am does not matter. If there is such a thing as a soul, which is the basis of all life…then you are my soul. And your life is my life. This is the first letter of what I hope will be an everlasting correspondence. Your greatest fan, Douglas Breen.

Eyewitness (1981)

New York janitor Daryll Deever (Hurt) is an avid fan of television news reporter Tony Sokolow (Weaver). A wealthy Vietnamese man suspected of criminal connections is murdered in Daryll’s office building and Tony suspects Deever knows something about it.

She keeps after him for information, a pursuit Daryll allows because he is romantically interested in Tony, and a “cat and mouse” game ensues. This convinces the real killers that Daryll does know vital information about the murder, so he and Tony end up with their lives in danger over this false assumption.

Posted in E

Eye of the Needle

A man calling himself Henry Faber (Donald Sutherland) is actually a German spy nicknamed “the Needle” because of his preferred method of assassination, the stiletto. Cold and calculating, he is emotionlessly focused on the task at hand, whether the task is to signal a U-boat or to kill anyone who poses a threat to his mission.

In England, he obtains critical information on the Allies’ plans for the Invasion of Normandy but is unable to transmit the information. After narrowly escaping British intelligence in London, Faber tries to make his way to Nazi Germany, but he is stranded by fierce weather on Storm Island, which is occupied by only a woman, Lucy (Kate Nelligan); her disabled husband, David (Christopher Cazenove); their son; and a shepherd, Tom (Alex McCrindle).

A romance develops between the woman and the spy, largely because of an estrangement between Lucy and her husband, an accident on their honeymoon having rendered him embittered and physically confined to a wheelchair.

David has always been suspicious of Faber and, having discovered the mysterious guest is carrying military information, demands an explanation from him at gunpoint. A struggle ensues, which ends with Faber throwing David off a cliff.

Lucy, chancing upon her husband’s dead body, realizes that Faber has been lying to her, and she hatches a plan to get away from him. However, her flight alerts him that she is suspicious, and he pursues her. Lucy, after discovering Tom’s dead body, radios the mainland. She is told that help will be sent immediately, but in the meantime, it is vital for her to destroy the island’s radio transmitter.

She is confused by the request, but before she can do anything, Faber appears and threatens to kill her son if she does not do as he says. The Needle tries to use the radio to report to his superiors the exact location of the D-Day invasion, but just as he is about to impart the information, Lucy, having heard him speaking in German, blows the house’s fuses, rendering the transmitter useless.

Faber expresses admiration for what Lucy has done and tells her that the war has come down to both of them. Thinking Lucy poses no further threat to him, he heads towards the shore to be picked up by a German U-boat, as previously arranged.

Lucy, now fully aware of the stakes that are involved, chases Faber to the sea and shoots wildly at him with her husband’s pistol as he tries to launch a small rowboat to reach the U-boat that lies just offshore. One of her shots strikes Faber but does not instantly kill him, and as he struggles to launch the boat, he falls forward dead.

Having been unable to transmit his information or reach the U-boat to get away safely, his mission has been thwarted. Soon afterward, the British intelligence agent who was chasing Faber arrives with the police. He encounters a despondent Lucy, Faber’s body, and the fleeing German submarine.

Posted in E

An Eye for an Eye (1981)

Undercover San Francisco narcotics cops Sean Kane (Norris) and Dave Pierce (Terry Kiser) head into a dark alley to meet up with an informant named Tony Montoya (Mel Novak), who promises to break their big investigation wide open, by providing the name of the oriental drug ringleader. Minutes later Pierce is dead, after having been shot, hit by a car, and burned. Kane gets into trouble with his boss, Captain Stevens (Richard Roundtree), for sending one of the killers flying out a third-story window to his death in view of the public. Rather than face discipline, and told to keep his distance by his superiors, Kane decides to quit the force, and sets out to exact vengeance.

Dave’s girlfriend, reporter Linda Chan (Rosalind Chao) is also angry, and vows to bring the drug gang down herself, by way of investigative reporting and public exposure. However, when Linda uncovers the secret that Kane and Pierce never found, she too is killed. Kane sets out for revenge, as does Linda’s grieving father James Chan (Iwamatsu), and Linda’s close friend, news editor Heather Sullivan (Cooper). Kane asked his friend and fellow detective Tom McCoy (Clark) to keep him informed about the case, but Stevens takes charge of the case, and all the larger aspects of the case go through him.

Kane and Chan are attacked by hitmen connected to the drug cartel. With Heather’s help, Kane sees Montoya near a ship in one of Linda’s televised news reports. Linda’s boss and mentor, editor-in-chief Morgan Canfield (Lee), offers Kane’s support to find the killers. Kane finds Chan confronting Nicky LaBelle (Stuart Pankin), Montoya’s boss. LaBelle reluctantly reveals Montoya’s location. After Kane and Chan confront Montoya, he reveals that he was bait, because the drug dealers were on to them. Before he can revealed names, the same hitmen who killed Linda open fire and kill Montoya. Kane suspects a mole is helping the dealers remove any loose ends.

When Heather’s apartment is trashed, Kane suspects the people who killed Linda are looking for a tape that Linda discovered. Heather tells Kane the ship where Linda was doing her interview was a freighter called the Sulu Sea. Kane checks the cargo hold of the Sulu Sea, and finds that the drugs are imported inside fireworks transported from Hong Kong. After being spotted, Kane sets the fireworks on fire, and escapes as Stevens and his fellow officers watch in the distance.

Heather finds Linda’s tape in a locker at the train station, with a key hidden in her shoe. She leaves a message for Kane to meet her at the news station. He meets McCoy there and they go to Canfield’s office. The tape contains the phone conversation between Canfield and the dealers, which reveals Canfield as the ringleader, and McCoy reveals himself to be a traitor. As Canfield and his hitmen take Heather with them, Kane is about to be killed, when Chan arrives and takes down the assailants. Kane confronts McCoy over his involvement with Canfield, who tells him was in it for money, and that he wasn’t the one who drove that car that killed Dave. McCoy chases Kane on the roof, and is killed during a fight with Kane.

Kane and Chan go to Canfield’s estate, where he is meeting with the other drug dealers. When the truck carrying the drugs is spotted by Stevens and the SFPD, Kane and Chan fight Canfield’s men as Stevens and the cops fire at them. Chan confronts the assassin who killed Linda known as The Professor (Professor Toru Tanaka), but is incapacitated by the Professor’s brute strength. Kane then fights the Professor, and after a brutal fight, finally takes down The Professor by kicking him through a glass coffee table.

Canfield then arrives with Heather as a hostage. Kane remembers seeing Canfield’s dog in the car that killed Dave, and realizes that Canfield was driving the car. When Chan distracts Canfield, Kane overpowers him as Stevens and the cops arrive. Stevens reveals that he knew about McCoy and Canfield’s involvement, but couldn’t move in without evidence, and now that they have the drug shipment, they can convict Canfield. With encouragement from Heather and Chan, Kane lets go of his revenge and finds Linda’s tape on Canfield. He gives the tape to Stevens, and Canfield is taken into custody. Kane and Stevens part ways amicably, and he leaves the estate with Heather and Chan.

Posted in A

Moana

On the Polynesian island of Motunui, the inhabitants worship the goddess Te Fiti, who brought life to the ocean using a pounamu stone as her heart and the source of her power. Maui, the shape-shifting demigod of the wind and sea and master of sailing, steals the heart to give humanity the power of creation. However, Te Fiti disintegrates, and Maui is attacked by another who seeks the heart: Te Kā, a volcanic demon. He loses both his magical giant fishhook and the heart to the depths of the sea.

A millennium later, the ocean chooses toddler Moana, daughter of Motunui’s chief Tui, to return the heart to Te Fiti. Tui takes Moana back to shore, causing her to lose the heart. Tui and Sina, Moana’s mother, try to keep her away from the ocean to prepare her to become the island’s chief. Sixteen years later, a blight strikes the island, killing vegetation and shrinking the fish catch. Moana suggests going beyond the island’s reef to find more fish and figure out what is happening, but Tui forbids it. Moana tries conquering the reef but is overpowered by the tides and shipwrecked back to Motunui with Pua the pig.

Moana’s grandmother, Tala, shows her a secret cave of ships, revealing that their people were voyagers until Maui stole Te Fiti’s heart; the ocean was no longer safe without it. Tala explains that Te Kā’s darkness is poisoning the island, but can be cured if Moana finds Maui and makes him restore the heart of Te Fiti, which she gives to Moana after having recovered it and had saved for her. Tala falls fatally ill and, on her deathbed, tells Moana that she must depart to find Maui.

Setting sail on a camakau from the cavern, Moana is caught in a typhoon and shipwrecked on an island where she finds Maui, who boasts about his achievements. She demands that Maui return the heart, but he refuses and traps her in a cave. She escapes and confronts Maui, who reluctantly lets her on the camakau. They are attacked by Kakamora—coconut pirates—who seek the heart, but Moana and Maui outwit them. Moana realizes Maui is no longer a hero since he stole the heart and cursed the world, and convinces him to redeem himself by returning the heart. Maui first needs to retrieve his magical fishhook in Lalotai, the Realm of Monsters, from Tamatoa, a giant coconut crab. While Moana distracts Tamatoa, Maui retrieves his hook but discovers he can no longer control his shape-shifting. He is overpowered by Tamatoa, but Moana’s quick thinking allows them to escape with the hook. Maui reveals that his first tattoo was earned when his mortal parents abandoned him as an infant, and the gods, taking pity on him, granted him his powers. After reassurance from Moana, Maui teaches her the art of sailing, regaining control of his powers, and the two grow closer.

They arrive at Te Fiti’s island, only to be attacked by Te Kā. Moana refuses to turn back, resulting in Maui’s hook being badly damaged. Unwilling to lose his hook in another confrontation with Te Kā, Maui abandons Moana, who tearfully asks the ocean to find someone else to restore the heart and loses hope. The ocean obliges and takes the heart, but Tala’s spirit appears, inspiring Moana to find her true calling. She retrieves the heart and sails back to confront Te Kā. Maui returns, having had a change of heart, and buys Moana time to reach Te Fiti by fighting Te Kā, destroying his hook in the process. Moana discovers Te Fiti is missing, and realizes Te Kā is Te Fiti, corrupted without her heart. Moana tells the ocean to clear a path, allowing her to return Te Fiti’s heart, and the restored goddess heals the ocean and islands of the blight. Maui apologizes to Te Fiti, who restores his hook and gives Moana a new boat before falling into a deep sleep and becoming a mountain.

Moana bids farewell to Te Fiti, returning home where she reunites with her parents. She takes up her role as chief and wayfinder, leading her people as they resume voyaging.

In a post-credits scene, Tamatoa, stuck on his back, addresses the audience, knowing they would help if he was named Sebastian.

Posted in M

Escape to Victory

A team of Allied prisoners of war (POWs), coached and led by English Captain John Colby (Michael Caine), a professional footballer for West Ham United before the war, agree to play an exhibition match against a German team, only to find themselves involved in a German propaganda stunt.

Colby is the captain and essentially the manager of the team and thus chooses his squad of players. Another POW, Robert Hatch (Sylvester Stallone), an American who is serving with the Canadian Army, is not initially chosen, but eventually nags the reluctant Colby into letting him on the team as the team’s trainer, as Hatch needs to be with the team to facilitate his upcoming escape attempt.

Colby’s superior officers repeatedly try to convince Colby to use the match as an opportunity for an escape attempt, but Colby consistently refuses, fearing that such an attempt will only result in getting his players killed. Meanwhile, Hatch has been planning his unrelated escape attempt, and Colby’s superiors agree to help him, if he in return agrees to journey to Paris, make contact with the French Resistance, and try to convince them to help the football team escape.

Hatch succeeds in escaping the prison camp, travelling to Paris, and finding the Resistance; at first, the Resistance decides that the plan to help the football team escape is too risky, but once they realise the game will be at the Colombes Stadium they plan the escape using a tunnel from the Paris sewer system to the showers in the players’ changing room. They convince Hatch to let himself be recaptured, so he can pass information along back to the leading British officers at the prison camp.

Hatch is indeed recaptured, and is put in solitary confinement. Because of this, the prisoners do not know whether the intended escape has actually been planned with the underground, so Colby tells the Germans that he needs Hatch on the team because Hatch is the backup goalkeeper and the starting goalkeeper has broken his arm. Colby actually has to break the existing goalkeeper’s arm because the Germans want proof of his injury before they will agree to let Hatch onto the team.

In the end, the POWs can leave the German camp only to play the match; they are to be imprisoned again following the match. The resistance’s tunnellers break through to the showers in the dressing room at halftime, in an escape Hatch leads. But the rest of the team (led by Russell Osman saying “but we can win this”) persuade him to continue the game, despite being behind 4–1 at halftime.

Despite the match officials being heavily biased towards the Germans, and the German team causing several deliberate injuries to the Allied players, a draw is achieved after great performances from Luis Fernandez (portrayed by Pelé), Carlos Rey (portrayed by Osvaldo Ardiles) and Terry Brady (portrayed by Bobby Moore). Hatch plays goalkeeper, and makes excellent saves including one last save from a penalty kick as time expires to deny the Germans the win, drawing the game 4–4. An Allied goal had been blatantly disallowed earlier in the match, so the POW team should have won 5–4.

The POWs do manage to escape at the end of the game following the original plan, amid the confusion caused by the crowd storming the field (shouting “victoire”) after Hatch preserved the draw.

Posted in E

Escape from New York

In 1988, following a 400% increase in crime, the United States government has turned Manhattan into a giant maximum-security prison. A 50-foot (15 m) wall surrounds the island, bridges have been mined, and all prisoners are sentenced to life terms.

In 1997, while flying the President of the United States to a peace summit in Hartford, Connecticut, Air Force One is hijacked by a terrorist. The president is given a tracking bracelet and is handcuffed to his briefcase before being escorted to an escape pod. The aircraft crashes but the pod survives.

Police are dispatched to rescue the President. Romero, the right-hand man of the Duke of New York, the overall crime boss, warns that the Duke has the President, who will be killed if any further rescue attempts are made. Commissioner Bob Hauk offers a deal to Snake Plissken, a former Special Forces soldier convicted of robbing the Federal Reserve; If Snake retrieves the president, Hauk will arrange a presidential pardon. To ensure his compliance, Hauk has Plissken injected with micro-explosives that will sever his carotid arteries in 22 hours; If Snake is successful, Hauk will neutralize the explosives.

Snake uses a stealth glider to land atop the World Trade Center. He follows the tracking bracelet to a vaudeville theater, only to find it on the wrist of a deluded old man. Convinced the President is dead, Snake radios Hauk but is told that he will be shot down if he comes out without the president.

Snake meets “Cabbie” who drives an armored taxi. Cabbie takes Snake to Harold “Brain” Hellman, an adviser to the Duke and a former associate of Snake. Brain is a brilliant engineer and has established an oil well and a small refinery, fueling the city’s remaining cars. Brain tells Snake that the Duke plans to lead a mass escape across the Queensboro Bridge by using the President as a human shield and following a landmine map that Brain has drawn up. Snake forces Brain and his girlfriend Maggie to lead him to the Duke’s hideout at Grand Central Terminal. Snake finds the president but is captured.

While Snake is forced to fight in a deathmatch against “Slag”, Brain and Maggie kill Romero and flee with the president. Snake kills Slag, and finds Brain, Maggie, and the President at the top of the World Trade Center trying to escape in the glider. After a band of inmates push it off the building, destroying it, the group returns to street level and encounters Cabbie, who offers to take them across the bridge. Cabbie reveals that he bartered with Romero for the contents of the briefcase; a cassette tape which contains information about nuclear fusion, intended to be an international peace offering. The President demands it, but Snake claims it.

The Duke pursues them onto the bridge in his customized Cadillac, setting off mines as he tries to catch up. Brain guides Snake, but they hit a mine, and Cabbie is killed. As they continue on foot, Brain is killed by another mine. Maggie refuses to leave him, shooting at Duke’s car until she is run down. Snake and the president reach the containment wall, and guards hoist the President up. The Duke opens fire, killing the guards before Snake subdues him; he attempts to shoot Snake as he is being lifted up by the rope, but the President opens fire on the Duke with a dead guard’s assault rifle, violently killing him, before the President finishes lifting Snake.

As the President prepares for a televised speech to the leaders at the summit meeting, he thanks Snake and tells him that he can have anything he wants. All Snake wants to know is how the president feels about the people who died saving him. The President offers only half-hearted regret and lip service for their sacrifice; Snake walks away in disgust. Hauk offers him a job as his deputy, but Snake just keeps walking. The President’s live speech commences, and he plays the cassette tape. To his embarrassment, it only plays Cabbie’s song, “Bandstand Boogie”. As Snake walks away, he intentionally tears the magnetic tape, out of the cassette reel, with the actual message that was intended to be delivered by the President.

Posted in E

Enter the Ninja

Cole, a veteran of the Angolan Bush War, completes his ninjutsu training in Japan. Cole goes to visit his war buddy Frank Landers and his newlywed wife Mary Ann Landers, who are the owners of a large piece of farming land in the Philippines. Cole soon finds that the Landers are being repeatedly harassed by Charles Venarius, the wealthy CEO of Venarius Industries, in order to get them to sell their property because, unbeknownst to them, a large oil deposit is located beneath their land. Cole thwarts the local henchmen Venarius has hired to bully and coerce the Landers.

Cole and Frank infiltrate Venarius’ base, and defeat a number of his henchmen. In the aftermath, Frank gets drunk and confesses to Cole that he is impotent. Mary Ann comes to Cole that night and they have an affair. Venarius, learning that Cole is a ninja, hires a ninja of his own to eliminate Frank and Cole – Hasegawa, who is a rival of Cole from their old training days.

Hasegawa strikes the Landers’ estate at night, killing Frank in front of Mary Anne, then abducting her to Venarius’ martial arts arena. Cole enters, and picks off the henchmen one by one before ultimately killing Venarius. Hasegawa releases Mary Ann, and the two ninja engage in a final battle. Cole defeats Hasegawa, who begs to be allowed to die with honor, and Cole beheads him.

Posted in E

Endless Love (1981)

In suburban Chicago, teenagers Jade Butterfield and David Axelrod fall in love after they are introduced by Jade’s brother Keith.

The Butterfields’ bohemian lifestyle, for which they’re well-known in their community, allows Jade and David to develop an all-consuming and passionate relationship, including allowing the two to have sex in Jade’s bedroom. In contrast to the openness of her family, David’s home life is dull; his parents are wealthy liberal political activists who have little interest in their son’s life.

One night, Jade’s mother, Ann sneaks downstairs, and catches Jade and David making love by the fireplace. Ann starts living vicariously through them but her husband, Hugh, watches the couple with increasing unease. Jade’s nightly trysts begin to negatively impact her grades and her ability to sleep. One night, Jade tries to steal one of her father’s prescription sleeping pills but he catches her in the act. As a last straw, Hugh demands that David should stop seeing Jade, until the end of the school term. Although it initially causes a scene, Ann gently coaxes David to agree, telling him not to let Hugh “do something he’ll regret”.

Back at school, one of David’s friends, Billy, tells him that when he was 8 years-old, he tried to burn a pile of newspapers, got scared and put the fire out, and his parents thought he was a hero for saving the house from burning. Inspired by this story, David starts a fire on the Butterfields’ front porch and walks away. But by the time he returns, the flame has spread too far. David rushes to warn the family, but he is too late and the entire house is lost.

Following a trial, David is convicted of second-degree arson, sentenced to five years’ probation, sent to a mental hospital for evaluation and forbidden to go anywhere near Jade or her family again. David continues to write to her daily, but the letters aren’t sent because of the no-contact order. His parents pull strings to have him released early, much to Hugh’s chagrin. Meanwhile, David receives his many letters upon his exit; realizing why Jade never wrote back, he decides to pursue her although he knows it violates his parole.

Following the loss of their home, the Butterfields have moved from Chicago to Manhattan where Ann and Hugh file for a divorce. In Manhattan, Ann tries to seduce David but he refuses, leaving her confused. When she isn’t looking, David thumbs through her address book to find out where Jade is and discovers that she now lives in Burlington and attends the University of Vermont. Intent on catching a bus to Vermont, David sees Hugh on the street. Hugh starts chasing him but is hit by a car and killed. Hugh’s new wife Ingrid catches up to the scene just in time to see David escape. David boards the bus to Vermont, but he is overcome with grief and returns to his apartment.

Later, Jade goes to David’s apartment to say goodbye but he pulls Jade back as she tries to leave, throwing her on the bed and forcefully holding her down until Jade admits she loves him. Keith comes home to find the pair together again and falsely informs Jade that David is at fault for their father’s death. Jade refuses to believe it at first but when David confirms that he was actually at the scene, she becomes horrified and hides behind Keith. David tries to explain it was an accident before he shoves Keith out of the way in a desperate bid to grab her. Keith fights him off until the police arrive and arrest David for brawling and disturbing the peace.

David is sentenced to prison and despairs that he’ll never see Jade again. At Hugh’s lakeside funeral, Jade tells Ann that nobody will ever love her like David does, although Ann speaks to her for understanding and approval. While in prison, David watches Jade walk toward him through his barred cell window.

Posted in E

Dragonslayer

A sixth-century post-Roman kingdom called Urland (named after the River Ur, which runs through it) is being terrorized by a 400-year-old dragon named “Vermithrax Pejorative”. To appease the dragon, King Casiodorus offers it virgin girls selected by lottery twice a year. An expedition led by a young man called Valerian seeks the last sorcerer, Ulrich of Cragganmore, for help.

Tyrian, the brutal and cynical Captain of Casiodorus’ Royal Guard, has followed the expedition. He and his lieutenant Jerbul openly intimidate the wizard, doubtful of his abilities. Ulrich invites Tyrian to stab him to prove his magical powers. Tyrian does so and Ulrich dies instantly, much to the horror of his young apprentice Galen Bradwarden and his elderly servant Hodge, who cremates Ulrich’s body and places the ashes in a leather pouch. Hodge informs Galen that Ulrich wanted his ashes spread over a lake of burning water.

Galen is selected by the wizard’s magical amulet as its next owner; encouraged, he journeys to Urland. On the way, he discovers Valerian is really a young woman, who is disguised to avoid being selected in the lottery. In an effort to discourage the expedition, Tyrian kills Hodge—who, just before dying, hands Galen the pouch of ashes.

Arriving in Urland, Galen inspects the dragon’s lair and magically seals – he thinks – its entrance with a rock slide. Tyrian apprehends Galen and takes him to Castle Morgenthorme, from which King Casiodorus governs Urland. Casiodorus guesses that Galen is not a real wizard and complains that his attack may have angered the dragon instead of killing it, as his own brother and predecessor once did. The king confiscates the amulet and imprisons Galen. His daughter, Princess Elspeth, visits Galen—initially to taunt him. Instead, she is shocked when he informs her of rumors that the lottery is rigged; it excludes her name, and those who are rich enough to bribe the king into disqualifying their children. Her father is unable to lie convincingly when she confronts him over this.

Meanwhile, the dragon frees itself from its prison and causes an earthquake. Galen narrowly escapes from his prison, but without the amulet. The village priest, Brother Jacopus, leads his congregation to confront the dragon, denouncing it as the Devil, but the dragon incinerates him and then heads for the village of Swanscombe, burning all in its path.

When the lottery begins anew, Elspeth rigs the draw so that only her name can be chosen. Consequently, King Casiodorus returns the amulet to Galen so that he might save Elspeth. Galen uses the amulet to enchant a heavy spear that had been forged by Valerian’s father (which he had dubbed Sicarius Dracorum, or “Dragonslayer”) with the ability to pierce the dragon’s armored hide. Valerian gathers some molted dragon scales to create a shield for Galen. Valerian laments now that her gender cover is blown, she’ll be eligible for the lottery since she herself is still a virgin, and that Galen has fallen in love with Princess Elspeth. Galen admits he has fallen in love, but it’s Valerian, not Elspeth, he’s in love with. The couple kiss, thus realizing their romantic feelings for each other.

Attempting to rescue Elspeth, Galen fights Tyrian and kills him emerging victorious. The Princess, however, is determined to make amends for all the girls whose names have been chosen in the past; she descends into the dragon’s cave and to her death. Galen follows her and finds a brood of young dragons feasting on her corpse. He kills them and finds Vermithrax resting by an underground lake of fire. He manages to wound the dragon, but the spear is broken. Only Valerian’s shield saves him from incineration.

After his failure to kill Vermithrax, Valerian convinces Galen to leave Swanscombe with her. As both prepare to depart, the amulet gives Galen a vision which explains his teacher’s final wishes: He used Galen to deliver him to Urland. Ulrich had asked that his ashes be spread over “burning water”, which is in the dragon’s cave. Galen realizes that the wizard had planned his own death and cremation, realizing he was too old and frail to make the journey.

Galen returns to the cave. When he spreads the ashes over the fiery lake, the wizard is resurrected within the flames. Ulrich reveals that his time is short and that Galen must destroy the amulet “when the time is right”. The wizard then transports himself to a mountaintop, where he summons a storm and confronts Vermithrax. After a brief battle, the monster snatches the old man and flies away with him. Cued by Ulrich, Galen crushes the amulet with a rock. The wizard’s body explodes and kills the dragon, whose corpse falls out of the sky.

In the aftermath, villagers inspecting the wreckage credit God with the victory. The king arrives and drives a sword into the dragon’s broken carcass to claim the glory for himself. As Galen and Valerian leave Urland together, he confesses that he misses both Ulrich and the amulet. He says, “I just wish we had a horse.” Suddenly, a white horse appears, and the couple use the horse to ride away.

Posted in D

The Devil and Max Devlin

Max Devlin is the shady landlord of a rundown slum in Los Angeles. While running to escape his angry tenants after one of them blurts out that he owns the building, Max is killed by a bus and descends into hell, which resembles a corporate headquarters. He meets souls manager Barney Satin, the devil’s chief henchman, who tells him that he will set him free if he can get three innocent youngsters to sell their souls in exchange for his own. Max agrees and is returned to life, but Barney retains Max’s soul, and consequently Max cannot see himself in a mirror. Barney even gives him limited magical powers to help achieve his goal; he tells Max that if he succeeds, his soul will be free and the subjects will continue to live until the natural end of their lives. Alive again, Max begins his frantic quest, and Barney, whom only Max can see, appears frequently to check on Max’s progress – and to taunt him.

Max’s three targets are Stella Summers, a high school dropout and aspiring singer; Nerve Nordlinger, a student who dreams of being popular; and Toby Hart, a child who longs for his widowed mother Penny to find happiness again. Max charms his way into each of their lives by landing a recording contract for Stella, training Nerve as a motorbike racer after school, and spending time with Toby while helping Penny operate a day care facility. Max begins to care for all three of his subjects and discovers his innate decency. He even falls in love with Penny, but finds it difficult to get them to sign away their souls. Stella refuses to sign, believing that Max is trying to get more than his 20% fee as her manager, Nerve is too focused on training for an important race, and Toby refuses to sign unless Max marries Penny.

Eventually Max obtains all three signatures, and upon signing, their personalities immediately change for the worse. After Max and Penny wed, Barney appears and reveals that all three of them will die at midnight, and though Max gets to live until the natural end of his own life, he is still damned. Angered at the lie, Max is ready to destroy the contracts, and Barney whisks Max back to hell revealing his true demonic form, threatening Max with even greater torment if he destroys the contracts. Knowing he is already condemned, Max throws the papers into a nearby fire, but he is quickly returned to life.

Believing himself still damned, Max leaves his wedding reception to say goodbye to Nerve and Stella, and finds that their personalities have returned to normal. When he comes back to say goodbye to Toby and Penny, he is overjoyed when he can again see himself in a mirror, surmising that by his self-sacrifice he has been redeemed and Barney is defeated. He looks toward Heaven and gives thanks as he attends one of Stella’s concerts with Penny and Toby.

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