This week, let’s be thankful for Asian cinema and some sleeper films that spawned monster hit TV series. If it wasn’t for the risks taken by Asian filmmakers like Takashi Miike, Johnnie To and Park Chan-wook, where would western directors like Quentin Tarantino and RZA get their inspiration? And if it wasn’t for films like STARGATE and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, we probably would never have had… well, Stargate or Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the TV shows, that is). But even if you believe a life without Stargate or Buffy on TV wouldn’t be such a bad thing (or maybe even especially if you do), you’ll want to check out the original films – they are very different from the series they spawned.

Before teens became so inexplicably earnest about vampires, and before the TV series launched as what may as well have been called Beverly Hills 90210: Vampire Edition, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER was an intentionally ironic stab at cult filmdom – a riff on the (then) all-too-serious vampire horror genre. Less a film for teens and more a comic play on them for adults, BUFFY stars Kristy Swanson as an over-the-top valley girl tapped by Donald Sutherland to rid the world of vampires. Sutherland, playing the straight man, is possibly the only semi-serious player in the cast, which also stars Paul Reubens (yes, in his original Pee-Wee’s Playhouse days), Luke Perry (riffing on his 90210 character) and a young Hilary Swank.


James Spader spent the 1990′s doing some interesting things. Car crash fetishist in CRASH. Alcoholic ice cream salesman in Seinfeld. And this role: an Egyptologist who decrypts the secrets to an ancient teleportation machine. After stepping through the stargate, Spader and his cohorts (Kurt Russell, especially, representing the military interest) land on a planet where they discover the true history of Egypt: that Ra, the Egyptian sun God, was actually an alien who enslaved humanity both on Earth and his home planet. And now they’ve gone and pissed him off again.

STARGATE, Thursday at 8P

High on style and energy, this dramatic and intense crime thriller from Korean filmmaker Dong-Hoon Choi is one part OCEAN’S ELEVEN, one part LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN and one part KILL BILL (ok, we admit the borrowing can go both ways). When a small-time gambler gets mixed up with organized crime, he bets his life savings and loses. But when he finds out his rival may have cheated, he tries to turn the tables and exact revenge. Can a small-town pretender take on the Korean mob and win?

TAZZA: THE HIGH ROLLERS, Sunday at Midnight