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.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Space Truckers (1996)

Photobucket

I'd heard a lot about this one for a long time, and I'd just never gotten around to it. With the Dennis Hopper Tribute Week, though, I had a reason, so I went for it. The idea of Stuart Gordon, director of both Re-Animator and Fortress, at the helm for this space adventure, intrigued me-- because the former was awesome, and the latter, well, the less said about the latter the better.

Space Truckers has Dennis Hopper as a blue-collar outer-space truck driver, similar to a truck driver on the roads in our present (and believe me, from the interviews in the making of featurette to the Netflix description, they want to remind you that he's a "blue-collar worker", not an astronaut). He gets into it with George Wendt, cantankerous and unethical manager of a space pig slaughtering and packaging plant, or something. Anyway, Wendt dies in a diner brawl, and Hopper needs a job quick so he can get off the space station, and that job comes in the form of shipping black market sex toys to Earth. Along with him he has Debi Mazar, a girl he knows who needs a ride back to Earth, and who said she'd marry him if he takes her; and Stephen Dorff, and young trucker who loses his Wendt load after the Hopper debacle. Turns out the load isn't sex toys, but 5,000 killer robots that are supposed to be unleashed on Earth for a hostile takeover by the businessman who owns them. After a detour with some pirates, they get to Earth, and have to figure out a way to destroy the things and save the planet.

Photobucket

This thing looked nice, it had some really cool ideas, but in the end, I was bored by it. You can only string something like this out so long before it becomes tedious; and though the film looked nice, without any substance behind it, that's all it is, nice. Hopper was funny and charming, and I think he was excited to play a hero after being a baddie in Waterworld-- which this was better than, but is that saying much? I mean, it had it's moments, but by the time we hit the end, I'm like "can we wrap this up please?", and they're like that guest who won't leave, and stands in the doorway, and you've got to take a leak, and you know they're talking so loud that the neighbors will get pissed, so you try to drop hints, but it's not working, and... anyway, you see what I mean.

What can you say about Hopper, he was great. This might be a fun double feature with either Waterworld or Super Mario Bros., though I'd go with the former if I had to pick between those two. Hopper has an interesting sixth sense when he's in any film, this innate ability to play the part the way it was meant to be played, to get the tone and tenor of a movie, and hit all the right notes at all the right tempos. In some ways, it made him uniquely suited to the B-movie, because it's those kinds of pictures that lack Oscar nominated scripts, direction, etc., and need the actor to pick up more of the slack.

Photobucket

Speaking of the director, one Mr. Stuart Gordon. I loved Re-Animator, it's like one of my all-time faves. You can read what I thought of Fortress-- love isn't a word I'd used to describe it. This one fell somewhere in between, but it was definitely a much bigger production than either of those were. I think he did a great job, I just think the story-- which he co-wrote-- didn't have enough to sustain 90-100 minutes, which is what they were asking it to do. I guess it could've been worse, it could've been Waterworld.

DTVC favorite Vernon Wells has a small part as a space pirate. It just speaks to the genius that was Commando that they didn't give Wells a bit part, they made him Bennett, and Arnold told him to let off some steam. I realize I haven't tagged him yet, and it's time to change that. I think it was one of those things where I kept saying I was going to do it, and I kept forgetting. Well, I'll be forgetting no more. Also, Barbara Crampton, another Gordon mainstay, has a quick scene at the end of this, playing Debi Mazar's mother.

Photobucket

At the beginning of Space Truckers, a scene takes place on the Neptune moon of Triton. According to the Wikipedia article on it, the landscape was pretty accurate-- rocky and icy with big mountains. I've always been fascinated by things like that. For instance, Triton is the only moon that big with a retrograde orbit. The diner that Hopper gets into it with Wendt at is in a space station orbiting Jupiter. That looked kind of cool too, only they didn't quite have the scope of Jupiter's size down-- based on the scale they were using, the space station would have been bigger than the Earth, as would have Hopper's space truck. People who make sci-fi movies don't like to use planets that big for precisely that reason I assume.

I'm totally digressing here (and I digressed even worse on Wikipedia looking at the pages on the planets and their moons while writing this post). You can get this on Netflix, which makes it a pretty decent deal if you were going to have a Hopper double feature and wanted to spotlight two wild adventure films that really missed their marks, but in which Hopper was great as both the baddie and then the hero. Otherwise, I'd skip it.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120199/

3 comments:

  1. You are right! Hopper was really good in this. I had a theory about Hopper a long time ago: If he is sporting a goatee, it is a sign of a poor movie. Here are some examples:

    1. Luck Of The Draw
    2. The Prophet's Game
    3. Ticker
    4. The Crow: Wicked Prayer
    5. The Target

    A couple goatee exceptions: Land Of The Dead and for the most part, Out Of Season.

    He was his usual great self in those movies. I mean no disrespect to the man.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A great theory, but what about films where he sports a moustache? I have a feeling you might have to extend it to cover all manner of facial hair, but we'll see with LAPD: "To Protect and Serve".

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well it's an interesting theory, but I don't really agree with it. I enjoyed Luck Of The Draw and Space Truckers for the most part, Wicked Prayer was Ok-ish, but nowhere near as good as Salvation, Ticker and Target were both godawful films and are easily the worst of Hopper's filmography, never saw Prophets Game, but it does sound rather intriguing so i'll be sure to check it out.

    ReplyDelete