The First Power

MAY 31, 2007


Like whatever I watched yesterday (I don’t have time to scroll down), The First Power is another killer back from the dead movie. It doesn’t count as a coincidence, because I knew that. BUT, both movies had vague hints at father-daughter incest! Heyo!!

I actually saw this movie when I was 11. But all I remembered was that I considered it a Shocker ripoff. Well, it’s not. Stupid 11 year old me! I’ll kick your ass!

While there are surface similarities (a satanic serial killer comes back from the dead and takes control over other bodies) it’s not really anything like Shocker at all. First of all, Shocker is a comedic horror movie, while this is more of a supernatural action movie. Lou Diamond Phillips spends 90% of the film either waving his gun around (a fact someone actually comments on), driving recklessly, or jumping/diving through the air. So it’s more of a Cobra ripoff, except it takes far too long for the leads to hook up (1:20 into the 1:35 movie!!!).

Strangely, in another similarity to Shocker, they are both filmed in the Silverlake/Echo Park area of LA (Shocker was supposed to take place in Ohio though), which is the same area where previous Horror Movie A Day entries Gacy and Gamebox 1.0 were filmed. I’ve got some friends who live there, and the idea that a satanic serial killer running around stealing the bodies of transients, a child molesting clown, and a bad video game are in the area really isn’t that farfetched.

It’s an OK movie. It could have been a lot better. Part of the problem with the film, much like other films I’ve reviewed recently, is that the supernatural element is totally inconsistent. Sometimes they see the person the killer has possessed, sometimes they see the killer. He can appear wherever he wants, but sometimes he chases the people anyway. And then, halfway through the movie he suddenly develops wire-fu powers and begins flip-kicking and what not.

Luckily, the last half hour of the movie strangely includes some humor. If the whole movie was like that, it would be a lot better. There’s a hilarious bit where Phillips and the love interest (who displays “Wes Craven Presents” levels of blandness) stop to have the “What the hell is going on?” scene, only they are right next to a hot dog vendor, who just looks totally baffled. Then another guy comes out of nowhere and quite rudely orders him to give him a hot dog. It’s so out of place I couldn’t help but laugh. There’s also a nun with a crucifix knife! Oh and Bill Moseley shows up as a bartender who waters down his scotch. Hey Bill!

It’s strange to see a hero smoke. One of those ‘you don’t miss it until it’s gone’ traits of cinema. No one smokes anymore. Even Bruce Willis refused to have McClane smoke in the new alleged* Die Hard movie. But Lou begins nearly every scene with taking a long drag and then tossing his butt to the ground (he needs his hand free to draw his gun). He also wears a trenchcoat at all times, loses his partner, fights with his chief… even though it was released in 1990, it’s the 80s-est movie ever made.

But for whatever faults it has, there are two moments in this film (other than the hot dog vendor) that make it a must-see. In one, the killer rips a ceiling fan down and then turns it on (just go with it), wielding it like the guy with the lawnmower in Dead Alive (it even makes lawnmower sounds) as he chases our heroes (who then run into a room and move a bed, with someone in it, against the door!). The other is a nice bit of clever sound editing. Sticking to car chase tradition, at the moment where the car is somehow launched 50 feet into the air, the soundtrack goes mute. Like always. But hilariously, when one of the hubcaps comes off (another staple), it hits the ground first, and we hear it! So it’s all quiet, and then we hear this little tiny “clink” before the GRRRRRRRRSHHHHHHHHH! sound of the car hitting the ground. I love that!!!

What say you?

*Part of why I don’t have time to scroll down – my part-time job as some sort of movie website writer has scored me a seat at a press conference with Mr. Willis himself tomorrow. But since they apparently haven’t finished neutering the film to ensure an 11 year old who knows Willis only as the voice of a raccoon can go see it, Live Free or Die Hard isn’t finished yet. So instead of the usual media screening of the whole film prior to the press day, we are seeing 20 whole minutes of it later today. Oooh! That’s like, 4x as long as the trailer!! Wheeee!

Oh I see it now: Tamara


  1. I remember seeing this movie in the theater when I was a kid too. Seems like all the movies in the late 80's or early 90's had some sort of satanic cult/killer in them. (But really does that ever go out style?)

    And you forgot to mention if Jeff Kober's performance as the bad guy held up. He was always creepy even when he was playing a regular guy on China Beach. Oh and the bland lead actress was Melanie Griffith's "Half-sister" which explains the "wes craven presents" blandness. (Although I also remember thinking she was pretty hot.)

  2. Hahaha she was kinda cute but like, it wasn't even 12 hrs ago and I've already more or less forgotten what she looks like.

    Kober is pretty one-note. He reminded me of someone but I can't remember who now.

  3. i saw this movie when i was a kid too...a few weeks before or after i saw a kid i also had the impression that they had similar plots...


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