(US - 1984)
Directed by Amos Poe. Written by Gregory K. Heller, Amos Poe and Robert Seidman. Cast: Vincent Spano, Michael Winslow, Kate Vernon, Jami Gertz, Zohra Lampert, Ray Serra, Kenny Marino, Daniel Jordano, Tom Mardirosian, Tom Wright, Clifton Powell, Martine Malle, Harry Madsen, Alex Stevens, Christina Marie Denihan. (R, 85 mins)
One of the more mainstream offerings in the short-lived "No Wave Cinema" movement that began in the Lower East Side and the East Village in the late '70s, ALPHABET CITY didn't really make a dent outside of NYC when Atlantic released it in theaters over the spring and summer of 1984, but its location shooting in parts of the city that no longer exist make it a vital snapshot of a bygone era. That's the primary reason for its current rebirth as a cult movie, and its standing as the inaugural Blu-ray release of the new Vinegar Syndrome offshoot Fun City Editions, because physical media is dead. Having first received attention in the scene with the 1976 punk chronicle THE BLANK GENERATION, ALPHABET CITY director/co-writer Amos Poe was one of the key figures in No Wave, along with Beth B (VORTEX), Susan Seidelman (SMITHEREENS), Lizzie Borden (BORN IN FLAMES), Eric Mitchell (UNDERGROUND U.S.A.), and Kathryn Bigelow (THE LOVELESS). Seidelman and Bigelow went on to successful mainstream careers, while filmmakers like Jim Jarmusch and Tom DiCillo and actors such as Willem Dafoe, Viggo Mortensen, Steve Buscemi, and Vincent Gallo also had connections to No Wave in their early days.
soundtrack by Nile Rodgers, some guys breakdancing outside of a nightclub, or even a Menudo bumper sticker plastered on a wall (Paul Morrissey's 1985 film MIXED BLOOD, another crime thriller set and shot in and around Alphabet City, would prominently feature a bloody shootout in Menuditis, the official Menudo store).
"Obsession," Run-D.M.C.'s "You Talk Too Much," and Anthrax's "Madhouse." An odd outlier in his filmography came when he scripted the 1988 family drama ROCKET GIBRALTAR, starring Burt Lancaster in one of his last films and Macaulay Culkin in his first. Poe also gave Philip Seymour Hoffman his first movie role in his 1992 indie TRIPLE BOGEY ON A PAR FIVE HOLE. Other mainstream efforts include the 1995 Showtime sci-fi thriller DEAD WEEKEND and 1998's FROGS FOR SNAKES, but the now-71-year-old Poe's post-No Wave work has largely concentrated on documentaries and short films.
ALPHABET CITY opening in Toledo, OH on a busy 6/22/1984