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]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Guardian Angel (1994)

Photobucket

Cynthia Rothrock was inducted into the imdb Hall of Fame recently, and I've been trying to get as many of her films up as possible. That's proven to be doubly challenging. First, I have so many other films that need to get up as well, it's hard to fit her in; and second, a lot of her films just aren't on DVD, which makes it harder to get at them when I can't get them through Netflix.

Guardian Angel is about Rothrock as a cop whose fiance is killed on the job by a woman set-up by the counterfeiter she works for. Depressed, she turns in her badge and moves into an RV. She's hired as a bodyguard by a man that needs her protection from the same woman that murdered her fiance. It's the chance at revenge she's wanted, but is it worth it?

Photobucket

This wasn't all that bad. Solid action and martial arts. Not as action packed as some of her other work, and the chick playing the bad guy (bad gal, I guess) wasn't very convincing as someone that could challenge her. Brian Thompson was better in Rage and Honor as her bad guy. This is what it is: bad action; but there's nothing very spectacular about it.

This is the fifth Rothrock film I've done, but only the third that she's been the star in. The other two were the Rage and Honors, and this pales in comparison to those. There's also some interesting wardrobe choices. Right away we see her in this tight shirt and it's obvious she's not wearing a bra. Hmm.... It just looked tackier than it did hot. When she and her partner go to a party undercover, they look hot in that Chick from the Color Me Badd Video sort of way, and that worked a little better. What we really want to see is her great martial arts skills, though, and she does display those often enough for this to be a solid performance.

Photobucket

Marshall Teague plays her fiance. You may remember him as the guy in Road House who tells Swayze he used to fuck guys like him in prison, to which Swayze wastes no time in ripping his throat out. In this film he's barely there, so I'm wondering if he had too many TV detective shows booked. He was in everything: Columbo, MacGyver, PS I Love You. And he's still in everything. Okay, maybe not. I don't know why I said that.

Art Camacho sneaks in here with a bit part. I know I keep saying I'll have to go through and tag every film he's had some association with. Right now it's just the ones he's directed. I have a feeling when all is said and done he may be tagged more times than our hero Dolph Lundgren. If that's the case, I may have to avoid tagging him until I get more Lundgren up there so Dolph's still the main man. It'll be like pitchers in the Japanese league walking Kevin Bass so he wouldn't break Sadaharu Oh's home run record.

Photobucket

One final thought, the descrition from netflix is for a totally different movie. I don't know what it is, but it's a better movie than this one, at least it sounds like it. This happens often, and if you're using Netflix to watch the kinds of movies I do, just be aware of it. The movie you're expecting may not be the movie you get.

There are plenty of Rothrock films to watch before this one, and really it's just a poor job on my part to not get my hands on things like China O'Brien and Lady Dragon, and instead inundate you with this kind of pedestrian fare. I'll see what i can do to get her more iconic work up here.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0109950/

AVH: Alien vs. Hunter (2007)

Photobucket

Some people think I'm a glutton for punishment going back to The Asylum like I do, and they're probably right. But Da Vinci Treasure was really good, and I Am Omega wasn't so bad, so I figured I'd give them another crack at it. This picture seemed like a logical next step.

Alien vs. Hunter has William Katt as a writer in a small California town that's been invaded by aliens. A small group of townspeople join up with him to try and escape them or kill them. As the movie goes on, they notice that one alien seems to want to kill the other. Eventually they kill the bad alien, and the seemingly good one disappears back into space.

Photobucket

The thing with this movie that I never considered going into it was: the movies it's ripping-off are silly and campy already. It's like, why am I watching a silly and campy rip-off then? Is William Katt enough? Probably not. Not only that, but a good chunk of this film is just people yelling at each other about what the next course of action should be. Did they not see AVP? The awesomeness was in the Predator fighting the Aliens. But since neither was alien was cool in this, and they didn't really have the two fight each other that often, it was just plain lame.

I haven't seen William Katt in anything in a while. Probably since the House movies. On imdb, I saw a film called Snake Island listed, and one user commented "It should've been called Suck Island". That just sounds too amazing to be true, so it's in my Netflix queue as we speak. In this film, he was classic William Katt, and I was hoping he would find a box with a superhero outfit in it and take out both aliens with his new superpowers, and then fall in the ocean because he wasn't any good at flying. The last scene could've been him on a couch with a blanket around him shivering, with Dedee Pfeiffer taking his temperature. Had the people making this been cool enough to think of that, AVH would've been cooler than AVP. Unfortunately it seems only I think of things like that.

Photobucket

I've always wanted a Batman vs. Predator movie, and I can only assume the recent success of The Dark Knight and the non-success of the second AVP will mean that my dream may never happen. Ugh! I don't want to take anything away from Heath Ledger's amazing performance, but the most amazing thing ever would be an Adam West style Batman fighting a Predator played by a comedic actor. He'd have a hot chick and some random guys in henchmen suits, and he'd rob a bank using some fluorescent green gas that knocks everyone out. Again, why am I the only one who thinks of things like that? Look, it's a call from Commissioner Gordon. "Batman, the Gotham City Bank was robbed yesterday. Eye witness accounts described a man with dreadlocks, like a Jamaican or Manny Ramirez. That can only mean... " I know, the Predator!

That was a major digression, but there really isn't much more to talk about in this one. Dedee Pfeiffer was the other name in the film, and she's in another The Asylum feature ripping off Journey to the Center of the Earth. On imdb I saw a film she did back in 1995 called Deadly Past that also has Mark Dacascos. It's not out on DVD yet, but Dacascos is making a case for Hall of Fame induction, so anything I can get of his will help. I got a couple others lined up anyway.

Photobucket

Next up from The Asylum is Universal Soldiers. Speaking of that, word on the street is Dolph and Van Damme are lined up to do another Universal Soldiers picture soon. I looking forward to that, and you'll know that whenever we here at the DTVC know something, you'll know something too.

Don't bother on this one. Just see the real AVPs instead. They're way more fun, and they actually have the Predator in it. I just want too say, Hollywood, call me and let's talk about getting this Batman vs. Predator off the ground. It'll be great.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1094162/

Hot Boyz (1999)

Photobucket

This film has some first grade talent: Busey, C. Thomas Howell, Snoop, Jeff Speakman, Master P, and Clifton Powell. I figured it couldn't go wrong. The only thing that could derail it would be if it ignored that great talent and focused on someone else, like Silkk The Shocker. They wouldn't do that, would they?

They did. Hot Boyz is about Silkk as a dude in LA whose girlfriend is wrongly accused of killing a cop. Gary Busey and C. Thomas Howell are corrupt cops that want to catch the other corrupt cop that really killed the cop, not Silkk's girl. Anyway, they want him to go undercover and get evidence, but as he does, his girl is killed in jail by that bad cop. Silkk goes over the deep end, and he and the boys he grew up with start their own gang and kill hundreds of people. Then the net finally drops, but for some reason Silkk, after killing hundreds of people, is let out of jail on a technicality.

Photobucket

What? Where do I start? First, I understand Master P wanted to use this film to showcase Silkk the Shocker so he could make more money off him, but when he surrounded him with the talent he did, it left us wondering why they were all playing second fiddle. Snoop Dogg as an underling in Silkk the Shocker's gang? Not a chance. And Master P himself has a great scene where he's being interrogated-- but it's his only scene, and it just left me wanting more. Why weren't Master P and Snoop Dogg just kicking ass and taking names in some kind of new age Fred Williamson-type flick?

The plot was ridiculous. First, killing off the girl was a bad move. Then having him start a gang when he was unbelievable in that role was dumb. Finally, having an epilogue where Silkk gets out of jail leaves the story with a "huh?" kind of bad after taste. Baller Blockin' this definitely wasn't. They knew better than to kill off the girl, they made the cops sufficiently corrupt, and the overall level of charm was higher.

Photobucket

This was all right as far as Busey went. He's first billed, which is slightly misleading. Silkk was supposed to be the star. Obviously I think Busey should be in any movie as much as possible, no matter what it is. I absolutely loved Slumdog Millionaire and The Wrestler, but each would've been that much better with Gary Busey in them. Speaking of which, why doesn't Busey have an Oscar? He should've gotten best supporting actor in 1991 for Point Break over Jack Palance, but that's neither here nor there...

There isn't much C. Thomas Howell. He plays a detective that works under Busey. With the momentum from The Da Vinci Treasure, I was hoping to build on it with another great performance-- and he was good-- but there just wasn't enough here to work with. Like Master P and Snoop Dogg, they all did well, I just wished they could've been in it more. Silkk the Shocker should've been the one with the limited role.

Photobucket

Because this and Baller Blockin' were both made by competing New Orleans rap outfits, I thought it necessary to compare the two in an earlier paragraph. One thing the two have in common is Anthony Johnson, the guy who plays the crackhead in Friday. The only thing is on imdb he's not listed in the credits of Baller Blockin', so you won't find it on his bio. As with everything else in Baller Blockin' they use this comedic actor much better than Hot Boyz did. The crazy cop was funny, while the stuttering, jealous member of the gang didn't work for me. One of his best attributes is his fast speech, so making him a stutterer ruins that.

This movie was sauteed in wrong sauce right from the start, from conception to production. Every good move they made was coupled and trebled by myriad bad moves. I just don't get people who make movies sometimes. Avoid this, and watch Baller Blockin' and then Point Break again instead.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0191191/

Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (1988)

Photobucket

We're just plugging along with the Howling series, trying to make it to part VI, which has the inimitable Bruce Payne. After this one, though, I'm getting worried. I don't know if I can make it to VI. I know, I only have one more, but if V is like IV, I may die on the inside, and no one wants that.

Howling IV is about an author having bad nightmares who goes up to a cabin in a small California town with her husband. Turns out, the town is just a bunch of werewolves. Even the doctor. He made it through med school despite his werewolf-ness. Anyway, she catches on, and she has to trap them in some church tower or something and set them on fire. Even if it's a fierce, murderous werewolf, that's still a pretty rough way to go.

Photobucket

Snooze-fest. Hard to deal with. Lots of nothing going on. It's supposed to be ramping up the suspense aspect, but because we already know the big surprise is werewolves, there's no mystery, hence the whole trying to keep us in suspense thing was annoying. Some of the werewolves looked cool, which actually wasn't a good thing, because it just pissed me off even more that they weren't featured better in the film.

The only one I recognized was the guy from The Pretender. He has a great voice, and he shows off his man-chest some, but do I really care? I tried watching The Pretender once, but it sucked ass hella. The premise sounded hot, but I think you really need great writers to pull something like that off, and they didn't have them. As an aside, he did a movie with Peter Coyote called Written in Blood that I saw on one of the Encore channels a while back, and I could've sworn I posted it when I first started the blog. Apparently I haven't. Weird how that stuff works.

Photobucket

The female lead had that late 80s hotness that kind of sneaks up on you, but when it gets you, it's there. Her hair was a little big, and her skirts and dresses were all cut at weird angles, but there was something about her... I'm not going to pull one of those "women just looked better back then" because they definitely look hot today too. It's more like I didn't know what to make of this woman at the beginning of the film, and by the end she was irresistible. She was one of the bright spots in an otherwise lackluster sack-of-asscrack.

The guy from The Pretender plays the woman's husband, and she also has her agent, who's a hunky Australian. This brings up a common fact of life regarding women in America: no matter how hot you are, you'll never be hotter than an Aussie to them. That goes for Scots, the Irish, the English, and anyone who speaks a romance language as a first language. How do you counter this fellas? Do what I do: learn to imitate accents. It worked like a charm one night when I was out with some friends, and the girls we were with were taken by these travelling British soccer players. My imitating the accent made it silly and less exotic. Unfortunately, that strategy didn't work for the guy from The Pretender, because he turned into a werewolf. That's part two of the advice fellas: don't become a werewolf.

Photobucket

This is the fourth werewolf film we've reviewed here, which is one fewer than snakes, two fewer than zombies, and three fewer than vampires. Considering three of the four werewolf films are Howlings, that means we don't do werewolves much at the DTVC. I think that has to do with the actors more than the films: the big-time hall of famers just prefer vampires and zombies to werewolves. I'm not sure I blame them. Werewolves are hairy, and vampires generally aren't.

Skip this. Let me suffer the inanity so you won't. I'm going to soldier through so I can make it to part six for my ladies at Payne's Angels. If you haven't you should check out their site. There's a link to it on my page here. It's a better use of your time than watching this horrible movie.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0095334/