From Gangsters to UFOs: Shottas and Night Skies: Small Budgets, Big Thrills!

SHOTTAS - Box ArtOne of the most bootlegged movies around, the Jamaican gangster flick, Shottas, is finally available in a legitimate DVD release. Night Skies gives us a new look at UFO abductions. What do they have in common? The fictional Shottas gives us an authentic look at the Jamaican gangster world; Night Skies is based on actual events, but seems fictional – also, they were shot on budgets that wouldn't cover the catering on a Spider-Man movie…CLICK THIS LINK TO SUBSCRIBE TO EMTV, OUR iTUNES VIDEO PODCAST!!

SHOTTAS - Box Art

SHOTTAS – 2-Disc Special Collector's Edition

The official DVD release of Shottas [Jamaican for gangster] opens with a new beginning to establish the grit and edge of the world in which it occurs. We see the children of Waterhouse-Kingston at play – soccer, in bare feet, on cracking concrete pavement; then police and thieves [cops and robbers, but with a savage Jamaican twist] – and are thus immediately immersed into the world of Biggs and Wayne, who steal a wad of cash from a soda delivery truck driver and plan to head for America.

Twenty years later, we join Biggs [Ky-mani Marley] as he arrives back in Jamaica after being deported from Miami. He is met at the airport by Wayne [Spragga Benz] and his number one guy, Max [Paul Campbell]. It's like they were never apart, and before long, they're dealing with crooked cops and politicians, leading to the need for a hasty departure for Miami, using new visas.

While Biggs has been gone, Teddy Bruck Shut [Louie Rankin] has stepped into the vacuum he left behind and is the new boss. Biggs and his gang take issue with this, and the result is violence, mayhem, betrayal and – eventually – Biggs' realization that it's time to change vocations.

In Shottas, Cess Silvera has created a cult hit to rival The Harder They Come and Scarface. The major difference is that Shottas is a better film. Considering that much of his cast comes from other professions and arts [Marley is the son of Bob Marley, and a musician; Ranks is also a musician], as well as friends and family [the young Wayne and Biggs are played by the sons of the director and Ranks], the performances are extremely good. Silvera's script is far edgier than either of the other two films, though the budget ensures that the level of violence seems less spectacular [though it is much more casual – and therefore more horrifying].

Features include: and introduction by Cess Silvera and Ky-mani Marley; two commentaries [one by Silvera, filled with anecdotes and good humor, but little technical information; one by Silvera, Ranks and Rankin that is almost indecipherable at times because of the accents]; Shottas For Life – a multi-part documentary that looks at various aspects of making the film and keeping it authentic; Shottas Dictionary – because Silvera's subtitles are not a literal translation, this feature gives us accurate translations of several shottas' terms along with pronunciation guides and film clips to emphasize their meanings; My Brother, My Friend – A Shottas Dedication – Silvera dedicates the film to a recently deceased friend/mentor; In Memoriam – a tribute to the several members of the film's "family" who have died since filming was completed.

Shottas – Grade: A

Features – Grade: A

Final Grade: A

Night Skies - Box Art

Night Skies

"In March of 1997, five friends in a rented RV accidentally hit a stalled truck belonging to an ex-soldier. Now, stranded together on an isolated country road, they are about to witness one of the largest UFO sightings in history." So reads the first part of the blurb on the back cover of Night Skies.

Night Skies is a fast-paced, efficiently performed B-movie of the sort that Roger Corman once turned out by the dozen. It's built around mood, tone and suspense until its audience is on the edge of their seats – and then… Well, let's just say that it's probably a good thing that various lighting tricks and uses of shadow and fog keep the aliens from ever being completely in focus – and that the inside of the UFO is messy enough to prevent it from looking too contrived.

The cast is mostly up to the challenge of taking the relatively average script and performing the hell out of it. Jason Connery is excellent as the former soldier, and a former recurring actor from TV's The Pretender, Ashley Peldon [who played the young Miss Parker], is excellent as the stereotypical beautiful but not bright female. Michael Dorn makes a brief appearance that probably doesn't warrant putting his name on the box [though it's only in the credits on the back]; Gwendoline Yeo does well as the fianc

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