About Double Feature

Double Feature is the title of a column that I write for the newsletter of Lehigh Pocono Mensa, the local group to which I belong. It gets published monthly in "Magniloquence." I used to belong to Central PA Mensa, so I offer the column to the editor of "Penn Central" and it shows up there pretty regularly.

As the title implies, each Double Feature column features brief reviews of two movies that I have seen. I try to find a connection between the two films - subject matter, stars, awards, etc. - but, since it's my column, I reserve the right to occasionally choose two films that have no connection to each other at all.

The reviews found in the Movies section of this Web site serve as the basis for Double Feature. I try to keep each column somewhere around 500 words (which fills about one page in the newsletter), so I usually have to edit the original reviews to fit into the space allotted.

If you'd like to read the individual reviews for the films mentioned in Double Feature, you can do so here.

The rating scales are a little different. The conversion chart is as follows:

  • **** = Loved it
  • *** = Liked it
  • ** = Ehhh, it was OK
  • * = Hated it

Current Column

July 2018 - At the TV station where I work, we like to joke that the area we cover (northeast and central Pennsylvania) is the center of the news universe. Remember Noah Ritter, the Apparently Kid? He's ours. Centralia? Ours. The military blimp that broke free from Maryland a couple years ago? It eventually landed near Danville. Because where else would it land?

Occasionally, one of those crazy news stories gets the Hollywood treatment. Instead of two movies this month, here's a deep dive into King Cobra, an unrated film from 2016.

The film is based on the true story of a gay porn producer who is violently murdered by his competitors. Christian Slater plays the unlucky producer, James Franco is one of the suspects, and Garrett Clayton is the young stud caught in the middle. Molly Ringwald and Alicia Silverstone appear briefly as clueless relatives. The movie was not widely released in theaters, but you can find it on Netflix.

The real-life story played out in Dallas, Pennsylvania, a community about a half-hour outside Wilkes-Barre. In the movie, Stephen (Slater) lives somewhere in New York state. His neighbors can't help but notice the young men who come and go from his house on a regular basis. Those men star in the gay porn videos that Stephen produces, directs, and markets through his company called King Cobra.

Business gets really good when Sean Lockhart (Clayton) shows up. He uses "Brent Corrigan" as his screen name, and his movies make lots of money for King Cobra. The relationship, though, goes bad when Sean learns that Stephen is paying him peanuts compared to what the films bring in.

Sean eventually goes back home to California. A pair named Harlow and Joe (Franco) would love to hire him, but Stephen has trademarked the name "Brent Corrigan" and Brent is who they want. Joe and Harlow decide to eliminate the problem and clear the way for Brent to get back in the game.

Overall review: Ehhh, it was OK. The real-life story has all the salacious elements you could ask for, yet, somehow, this not rated movie is a snoozer. It's bogged down by bad dialogue and by bad sex. The movie picks up a little bit about 30 minutes in, around the time the relationship between Sean and Stephen starts to disintegrate. But, the ending felt rushed and the court proceedings for Harlow and Joe (both sentenced to life in prison without parole) were not addressed at all.

I wanted to see this movie for a couple of reasons: I worked with the writer/director, Justin Kelly, to license some of the news footage that appears in the film; and I wanted to see how the movie compared to my own recollections of the case, which involved the 2007 murder of Bryan Kocis (Stephen in the movie) and everything after. I don't recall too much about Sean Lockhart from our coverage, but he is the focal point of the movie. So, even though King Cobra is not a great movie, I still found the film enlightening because it filled in a lot of the background that I hadn't really been aware of.

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"No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough." »» Roger Ebert