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.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Black Horizon aka Stranded (2001)

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This was a Michael Dudikoff flick I'd had a little trouble coming across. The way it looked, I was under the impression that there wasn't going to be much Dudikoff in there anyway, so I wasn't too worried; but when I came across it recently, I figured I'd go for it.

Black Horizon is about an orbiting space station manufactured by some rich corporation, and the corporation cut corners-- sounds like a great idea, doesn't it? Now its orbit is disintegrating, and the station is falling into the Earth, requiring NASA to send a rescue vessel. To add a little spice to the affair, the company is manufacturing a fancy death ray, and the NSA wants the plans for it before the crew is evacuated. But hold on cowboy, we aren't done yet, there's an asteroid shower pelting the area, and Dudikoff's (he's our ace astronaut) ship is damaged. How will they get down?

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At least when movies like this were made in the 50s, we could say it was the 50s, and laugh at them, or get a kick out of the technology. When the exact same paradigm is recycled in 2001, it's just a plain old snooze fest. We all grew up watching space shuttle launches in school, so splicing in the stock footage isn't exciting, no matter how much stock excitement music you pump into the background. The only really cool and intriguing stuff was the investigative work Ice-T's character was doing on the ground to figure out what the corrupt businessman was up to-- though even then the second shoot-out he's in is just a lame old people firing on each other out in the open, and no one hitting anything kind of deal. Dudikoff does his best-- he is in it a fair amount, contrary to what I initially thought going in-- but he's working on a tired retread of a plot that's been reused to death. We go through the same crap of the film makers playing God and deciding on a whim who gets to live and who dies by random horrible accidents or tedious twists of fate, stretching out 35 minutes worth of plot over an hour and a half. If I want a movie like this, I'll just watch an old MST3K episode.

After this post we'll have only 6 films left to complete Michael Dudikoff's DTV filmography here at the DTVC. Black Horizon is definitely one we could've done without, though. I mean, don't get me wrong, Dudikoff is fun as an astronaut, but he's at his best when he has bad guys to defeat, and stuntmen to beat the crap out of. It's boring to see him in a space suit simulating a space walk. I'm trying to think, of all the Dudikoff flicks we've done on here, which ones were worse, and I'm not sure there were any-- I mean some were close, but...

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I really liked Ice-T here. He's seldom a good guy in DTV films, which has always struck me as odd, because he made a great good guy in Law and Order: SVU-- I'm not saying he doesn't make a good baddie, just that maybe there should be a more even split. Anyway, he plays an NSA agent, which in this film means he's like a police detective who occasionally throws around secret service lingo about "cleaners" and whatnot. He had one great scene where these guys ambush his hotel room, and he hides out in the bathroom, waits for them to stop shooting, then jumps out and pops them all. I'd like to see more of that Ice-T, and less of the gangster.

Fred Olen Ray directed this. I think that's like five or six he did with Dudikoff (it's hard to go through Ray's filmography on imdb, because for every relevant DTVC film listed, there's like five or six skin flicks), and I think The Shooter is the only one I gave a favorable review to-- a lot of them actually are like this, tons of stock footage mixed with very boring premises, like stranded space ships or submarines or planes. He's definitely one that would be primed for a look at the Hall of Fame, but we'll need to not only review more of his movies, but review more winners.

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I was trying to figure out where I recognized Yvette Nipar from. It was the RoboCop TV show. She also did the two Walking Tall sequels (part 2 and part 3) which starred DTVC favorite Kevin Sorbo, and which are her last two listed credits on imdb. She's that DTV heroine who, though still very attractive, isn't there merely for eye candy and sex scenes and to be rescued. I've noticed that Dudikoff, more than most DTV action stars, works really well with that type of female co-star. It's too bad they were wasted here, because they would've been much better in a Bounty Hunters style actioner-- and it would've been much more fun for us.

I don't know what to say about this one. It's hard to come by, and maybe that's a good thing. It's out of print, but you can get it used on DVD if you're so inclined, but you're probably better off not being so inclined, if you know what I mean. Boring, well-worn material that even Dudikoff couldn't rescue.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0274905/

6 comments:

  1. This movie is horrendous. Ugh, I could write a book about how boring this is, how there is no action, the suspense level is nil and how the cast look bored. This was the worst Dudikoff flick ever made. The type of movie that is akin to watching VHS cleaner video. This movie is piss rotten with a side of AIDs. There just isn'y bad you can say about the movie. It really stinks. Ugh, I just, you want to mutilate yourself after seeing it. It's jot a really awful movie. I really can't think of a worse disaster style movie. The Ice Cream joke at the end only drops your T-Cell count. What a disaster.

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  2. Ergh I knew this would be bad. I haven't watched it myself but it was going in a firesale for a dollar so picked it up. I actually saw two more copies for similar prices when shopping yesterday. Maybe I'll just chuck it.

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  3. Regardless, I must see this as a Duds completist. I was contemplating the vhs on Amazon not too long ago, maybe I'll actually fork over the 2 bucks and get it. Hearing that it's worse than those "Dudikoff on a submarine" movies is disheartening, but I think I'm up to the challenge.

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  4. Well I actually got some moderate enjoyment out of this one, sure it was cheap as hell and it's definitely near the bottom as far as Dudikoff's filmography goes, but i'll gladly watch this over something like say Hard Luck or American Streetfighter ANY day, Sutekh, if you chuck ANY film you own, make it Hard Luck.

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  5. You guys have reviews sites, and for that reason alone, I wouldn't bin this-- it's a Dudikoff flick, so no matter how bad it is, you at least get the benefit of using it as a post.

    It really is a 1950s bad space movie without the 1950s charm and without MST3K giving us their always splendid and hilarious commentary. Also, you'll notice that most 1950s bad space movies that follow this paradigm run about 60 minutes long, which is still too long, but tacking another 30 minutes on really tests one's sensibilities, and in Kenner's case, makes him contemplate cutting himself.

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  6. Black Horizon mutilates my brain.

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