The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at] I'd love to check out what you got.



Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Dune Warriors (1990)

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I rented this movie back as a freshman in high school. I was having a buddy over for the first time, and I knew he was a big sci-fi honk. I really didn't know much past Star Wars and Star Trek and all the bad things I watched on MST3K, but I wanted to look like I did. As such, when I saw this I thought "Oh, Dune, sci-fi guys love Dune. This'll be a sweet film. Well, it was a sweet film, just not the way we planned.

Dune Warriors is a very short remake of Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, so short, in fact, that they cut the roster down from seven to five. The movie takes place in a grim post-apocalyptic future, where some warlord known only as William is terrorizing the local landscape. One town, the water rich Chinle, wants to fight back, but they're a peaceful people, and don't know where to turn. They send a chick out, and she finds David Carradine, who then finds four other cats in the Mos Eisley-esqu Freetown. They fortify Chinle and take down William in a battle royal.

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Looking back, this film had absolutely nothing to do with dunes, so it was probably titled with the sole purpose of duping people who didn't know better, like me, to spend money on it. I fell for it. At 14, my buddy and I didn't really make it much further in the film before we decided to watch some Beavis and Butt-head episodes I taped. The next day, we wanted to see if we could get another friend to tell us the movie was awesome if we talked it up before he watched it. We told him it was better than Star Wars. About fifteen minutes in, he turned to us and said "Hey guys, this is good, but Better than Star Wars?"

At 77 minutes, though, this isn't as harsh as some in its category that run over 100. I'm not sure why bad movies are so long sometimes. 88 minutes, or eleven reels, is the perfect length for a bad film. To all cheap film makers out there: dump enough boring plot exposition to get us in under 88. All we want are the explosions and the fight scenes. Give me five minutes to explain how the bad guy killed the good guy's wife or partner or whatever, then get back to the flying cars flipping thirteen times and landing in a huge ball of fire. Thank you.

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One of our favorite scenes came in the first five minutes, when William is pillaging another village. The editing in this is horrible, and very choppy at parts. Guys get stabbed or punched in three distinct takes spliced together so they look like three distinct takes spliced together. There was one where a guy cut off another guy's head in three shots like that, and after the head fell away, there was a fourth cut of the murderer smiling. It was this great shit-eating grin, and we had to watch it multiple times because we thought it was so funny. I'd done better editing in short movies I made for class projects.

David Carradine is all right in this. It's not quite as much fun as watching him in Kung-Fu: The Legend Continues, where week after week he'd have to save his wussy son in the park from a band of ill-intentioned ninjas. He doesn't really flex his martial arts muscles in this as well as he did in that, which is a slight disappointment. I never understood why his son was such a tool on that show. My friends noticed it too. One time, when a buddy and I were at a bowling alley playing Killer Instinct, he noted: "Hey, look, it's Kane's wussy son hanging out with his kids." The guy looked pretty close, and we were wondering if we shouldn't take any chances and get out of there before the ninjas showed up.

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Seven Samurai isn't the only film this borrows from. Star Wars is in it quite regularly with the Jawa-like midget people in red robes, and the Mos Eisley-eque Freetown. Carradine also wears a robe and has a sensibility that reminds us of Alec Guiness as Obi-Wan. There's also the blantant Mad Max elements, from the cars to the clothes. If you throw in that the title was meant to make us think this was based on a Frank Herbert novel, then nothing about this film is original. It's like the film makers put a bunch of movies on a dart board and took turns figuring out what to take from next.

This might one of the worst films ever. As such, it's fun to heckle with a group of friends, and if you see it at your local video or store or in a bargain bin for like $2, don't hesitate. It's 77 minutes of funny bad movie, and at the very worst, by the time you get bored of it, it's almost over anyway. You may also want to use it if you're a professor at a film school to demonstrate bad editing techniques. Good work, fellas.

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