Spring, like puberty, is an awkward time. The studios don't want to open a potentially big movie in April or May for fear of squandering the millions they might make by waiting until school is out. On the other hand, there is the chance that a big-audience movie will catch on in spring and thunder right on into summer--last year, such lightning struck both "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "The Hunt for Red October."
"Turtle" fans will not be disappointed. As soon as the producers recovered from the shock of having one of the year's biggest blockbusters on their hands, they rushed a sequel into production, and it will show up almost a year to the day after the original.
There are plenty of other sequels set for spring--from the promising "The Neverending Story II" to the hold-your-nose-and-hope "Class of Nuke 'Em High Part II: Subhuman Meltdown"--and a Mel Brooks feature ("Life Stinks") to satisfy all those fans of bad puns and gastrointestinal gags.
But there are also promising prospects at the high end. Among them: Bruce Beresford's "Mr. Johnson," a return, they say, to the style of Beresford's classic "Breaker Morant"; Oliver Stone's Jim Morrison biographical film, "The Doors"; Gillian Armstrong's "Fires Within," with Jimmy Smits and Greta Scacchi, and "Guilty by Suspicion," with Robert De Niro and Annette Bening in a love story set against the era of the Hollywood Blacklist.
"All Shook Up"--John Travolta stars as a music teacher who brings rock 'n' roll to a Texas classroom in the 1950s. Jeffrey Hornaday (choreographer of "Flashdance" and Richard Attenborough's "A Chorus Line") directs this dance musical, which also stars Heather Graham ("Drugstore Cowboy"), Linda Fiorentino ("After Hours") and newcomer Jamie Walters. (Universal)
"Angels in Red"--A crime drama directed by Lisa Hunt in which a teen-age prostitute must live by her wits after betraying her violent pimp. Leslie Bega and Jeffrey Dean Morgan star. (Concorde)
"Bed and Breakfast"--Roger Moore, a charming con man escaping from the mob, takes refuge in a Maine inn run by three generations of women--Colleen Dewhurst, Talia Shire and Nina Siemaszko. "Reuben, Reuben's" Robert Ellis Miller directs this comedy. (Four Seasons Ent.)
"The Big Man"--Liam Neeson stars as a Scottish coal miner who can't support his wife (Joanne Whalley-Kilmer) and family during a strike. He's offered a chance to settle a grudge for a Glasgow gangster in the boxing ring--and to restore his self-esteem. With Ian Bannen and Billy Connelly. (Miramax)
"Blood and Concrete"--Jennifer Beals and Billy Zane search for an addictive sex drug called Libido in this film noir set in L.A.'s rock 'n' roll underbelly. Jeffrey Reiner directs from his and Richard LaBrie's script. Darren McGavin, Harry Shearer and James Le Gros co-star. (I.R.S. Media)
"Bloodmatch"--A martial-arts kick-fest from the director of "Kickboxer II," Albert Pyun. The thriller features a group of champion kickboxers doing their stuff for fight choreographers Benny "The Jet" Urquidez and James Nickerson. (21st Century)
"Blue Sky"--Jessica Lange, Tommy Lee Jones and Powers Boothe star in a drama set on a Southern military base in 1962 involving a romantic triangle and a nuclear testing cover-up. Tony Richardson directs. (Orion)
"Born to Ride"--TV's John Stamos is a rebellious motorcycle racer who is tricked into the Army against his will to lead a military motorcycle unit's dangerous mission. Graham Baker directs; John Stockwell and Teri Polo co-star. (Warners)
"Bright Angel"--Drawn from the stories of Richard Ford, this intimate drama focuses on the romance between a female drifter (Lili Taylor) and a young man (Dermot Mulroney) in a small Montana town. Valerie Perrine, Bill Pullman, Mary Kay Place, Kevin Tighe, Burt Young and Sam Shepard co-star for director Michael Fields. (Hemdale)
"Career Opportunities"--Another comedy from the prolific word processor of John Hughes. Frank Whaley plays a department store custodian who finds himself locked up with Jennifer Connelly, the most beautiful girl in town--on his first night on the job. Bryan Gordon directs. (Universal)
"Class Action"--Gene Hackman and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio are father and daughter lawyers battling each other in a heated class-action lawsuit. "Coal Miner's Daughter" director Michael Apted shapes this courtroom drama for producers Ted Fields, Scott Kroopf and Robert W. Cort. (Fox)
"Class of Nuke 'Em High Part II: Subhumanoid Meltdown"--More sci-fi/horror mayhem as students and mutants join forces to battle a corrupt corporation behind a school's gene-splicing experiments. Eric Louzil directs Leesa Rowland and Lisa Gaye. (Troma)
"Closet Land"--In a nameless country, an interrogator (Alan Rickman) questions a female prisoner (Madeleine Stowe), whose children's books have been deemed subversive. The battle of wills explores themes of artistic freedom and abuse of political prisoners. A feature debut by writer-director Radha Bharadwaj. (Universal)