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Wadrick's Celluloid Dungeon

The Milagro Beanfield War (1988) • The Ninth Configuration (1980) • The Gate (1987)

The Milagro Beanfield War (1988) Poster Art
The Milagro Beanfield War (1988)
Ruben Blades, Richard Bradford, Sonia Braga, Julie Carmen, Melanie Griffith, John Heard, Daniel Stern, Chick Vennera & Christopher Walken.
Written by John Nichols & David Ward.
Directed by Robert Redford.

In the beautiful country surrounding Milagro, New Mexico, developers plan to build a resort that will have disastrous consequences for the locals. When a poor bean farmer (Vennera) decides to use the developments’ water supply to irrigate his beanfield, he stirs up a whirlwind of strife that eventually involves the entire town. This whimsical tale has a cast of many talented performers – from Blades as the humdrum town sheriff, to Walken as the company man who attempts to subvert the efforts of the townspeople trying to put a stop to the capitalist plans of big business. Often fanciful, this morally uplifting film is deftly handled by director Redford and buoyed along by a wonderful score by Dave Grusin. Taken from co-screenwriter John Nichol’s novel, this is one of those movies that somewhat slipped through the 80’s cracks – however it still remains one of the decades’ best films.

The Ninth Configuration (1980) Poster Art
The Ninth Configuration (1980)
Stacy Keach, Scott Wilson, Jason Miller, Ed Flanders, Moses Gunn & Robert Loggia.
Written & Directed by William Peter Blatty.

At an old castle used by the US military as an asylum, the inmates are greeted by the arrival of the new head psychiatrist, Colonel Kane (Keach). He proceeds to indulge their whims and many begin to suspect that he is nuttier than they are. But that’s only the beginning of this ‘metaphysical nightmare’, often referred to as the true sequel to The Exorcist. Rarely seen, this incredible film features some of the most brilliant dialogue ever written – an endless barrage of psychological theories pertaining to the existence of good and evil and their place in humanity. Adapted from Blatty’s own novel Twinkle, Twinkle, Killer Kane (the film’s title at one point – see poster above) this classic film features wild performances from all involved, a crazy barroom brawl and a denouement that will knock your socks off. The Ninth Configuration is a must-see for anyone who loves writing and the art of filmmaking, especially those who think they have seen or heard it all.

Embedded File of a Ninth Configuration scene:

The Gate (1987) Poster Art
The Gate (1987)
Stephen Dorff, Louis Tripp & Christa Denton.
Written by Michael Nankin.
Directed by Tibor Takacs.

Perpetual nobody Stephen Dorff was once close to becoming the next hot thing in Hollywood. Some poor career choices left that option wanting, and he soon disappeared into the B-Grade netherworld. Before all that even happened, he was your typical 80’s teenager opening the gates of hell in his backyard in The Gate, a dodgy addition to the myriad horror films churned out by the studios in the wake of such successes like A Nightmare On Elm Street. According to esteemed critic Leonard Maltin, The Gate came close to topping that Hoffman/Beatty disaster Ishtar in its opening weekend, which gives you an idea of how crap both films were. Cheesy effects and cheesy acting, coupled with a good helping of mozzarella writing made The Gate yet another piece of horror trash that has been relegated to the annuls of film oblivion.


Wadrick Jones' Film Rating Chart.

(Wadrick Jones is a freelance writer for GritFX and will post weekly thirty second film reviews on this blog.)


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  1. Hi, just visiting now… I always want to see the Citizen Kane movie. Unfortunately, I can’t find one in Indonesia. :( Is the Ninth Configuration tell the story of the same Kane?

    Btw, thank you for your opinion and suggestion for SoP 2009, Manz… I really appreciate.

    Posted by Aldhis | December 23, 2008, 2:16 am
  2. Hey Aldhis…
    No, the two films do not tell the same story of the kane character…Citizen kane was based on the life of publishing magnate Randolph Hearst (who tried to stop the production many times)…The Ninth Configuration is totally fictional.

    I know what you mean about some films being unavailable…we’ve had to endure that in Australia as well…Ninth Configuration was never released out here on videotape, and received the bare minimum of a DVD release…it’s now pretty much obsolete in this country.

    Catch ya later.

    Posted by Wadrick Jones | December 23, 2008, 3:54 am
  3. dude the gate was great. i dunno how it got tanked here. dud the FX alone merit two of yer lil thingies!

    i like seeing reviews of older stuff though. ever hear of a flick called big wednesday? take a peak. id love to hear what you think.

    Posted by deryke | December 23, 2008, 5:34 pm
  4. I’m not into movies at all, sorry to say that. I’m bad with names and keeping the stories in my poor brain… LOL… but that’s me!:)

    Thanks for following my blog and thank you for your very nice and constructive comments on my last posts, always nice to see new faces visiting. :)


    Sue’s Daily Photography

    Posted by Susanne49 | December 23, 2008, 7:50 pm
  5. Hey there Deryke,
    heh, heh…well, ya know, film – like all art – is a matter of opinion. And I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that.
    I gotta admit, when I first saw The Gate in the 80’s as a teenager, I didn’t think it was that bad…and for the time, the FX were actually first class for a low budget flick…but man, I watched it recently and I gotta say that I thought it stunk…some films just don’t hold up over time, and, for me, The Gate was one of them.

    Big Wednesday on the other hand was a great film…the first half of that film was always more enjoyable for me, but it definitely had atmosphere…has been a while since I watched it, so better check that out again.

    Thanks for the comment, bud.

    Posted by Wadrick Jones | December 23, 2008, 8:58 pm
  6. The Ninth Configuration is now on my list of movies to watch. That embeded scene was so strange, very interesting and bizarre. There is a book called “The Elegant Universe,” about string theory physics, and it actually says that it is possible to walk to through a wall, the chances are just unbelivably small. It would require the atoms to dance around each other and never touch. I think solid matter in 99.99% empty space, that is a fact from the book too.

    Posted by Bill Donovan | December 31, 2008, 6:13 pm
  7. I think you’ll love the Ninth Configuration, Bill…truly unique…

    Posted by Max Drake | January 5, 2009, 3:08 am

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