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.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Storm Trooper (1998)

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I first got wind of this when I saw it reviewed over at Mr. Gable's Reality, which is a really great site if you haven't checked it out. Anyway, beyond the cast, that included Zach Galligan (the guy from Gremlins, not The Hangover), the bad guy from Revenge of the Ninja, Ross Hagen, Carol Alt, and Corey Feldman, it had one of the coolest dudes ever, Rick Hill, also known as The Deathstalker. When I found out Netflix had it, I knew I had to make it happen.

Storm Trooper isn't about dudes in white suits with cool white ski helmets who fight the rebels in Star Wars, it's about cyborg soldiers-- or cops, we're not, and I don't the film makers are sure which-- one of whom escapes, and the military wants him back. He avoids death at the hands of Kool Moe Dee and Ross Hagen, only to wind up in the home of the unstable Carol Alt, who has just murdered her husband in cold blood and is now taking a shower with his dead body in the tub with her. Anyway, Zach Galligan, charged by the bad guy from Revenge of the Ninja with bringing in the cyborg, realizes after Hagen and Cool Moe Dee's failures, that he needs to call in the big guns, i.e. Rick Hill. Now it's on.

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Let me use an analogy to explain how this movie works. Just bear with me, it'll be quick. Think of it as a party one your buddies/girlfriends drags you to, that you decide "hey, I ain't got anything else goin' on on a Saturday, why not?", only you get there, and you're thinking maybe you should've stayed in an caught up on your Dickens, because this thing ain't workin'. The chicks/dudes are either not that hot, or have significant others they can't stop talking about, the music sucks, and the company is almost worse. You go to the fridge, because you need a beer quick and fast, and it's as you start getting that bad boy in your system, that someone tells you "hey man, did you know Rick Hill is supposed to be coming?" Rick Hill? Oh man, that guy is awesome. Now this will be a party. And sure enough, he shows up, and kills it. We're talking things like leading the group in singing some Dokken, bowling with an empty half-gallon Bacardi bottle into the party-holder's cheap golfing trophies, prank calls, body shots with the previously unappealing members of the opposite sex-- whatever else you can think of. Then, like any other cool dude, he leaves early, because one should never be the first to get there or the last to leave, and that's it. But you've had a great night, with tons of stories, and you're glad you didn't stay in and catch up on your Dickens.

And that's it in a nutshell (or a rather large, paragraph-long analogy). The moment I see Rick Hill's name in the opening credits, I'm waiting, watching the front door, for him to get there. And when he does, he more than doesn't disappoint, he's pure gold. No one in this film was able to handle this awful DTV movie material like he was. Okay, Ross Hagen was good too, but he's in the movie for like five minutes, so that doesn't count. I realized that, like that life of the party guy I described, I had taken Rick Hill and what he does for granted all this time. Maybe because it's been too long since I've seen Deathstalker-- something I plan to remedy soon!-- but I found in Storm Trooper, as everyone else seemed so out of place, reciting the bad dialog filled with non sequiturs without a clue as to how bad it sounded, here's Rick Hill, completely comfortable and affable, reminding me why I go for movies like this. Here's to you Rick Hill, you're one of the great ones.

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That's Corey Feldman with an eye patch. I wish I could remember off hand the noise he made after Rick Hill kicked him in the stomach, it was like an air compressor or something, but even funnier. Even though his name is all over the cover, he's not in this much, a bit of a Feldman bait-and-switch. I will say, after Rick Hill and Ross Hagen, he was the next most comfortable in working with what this movie was giving, so that was a good thing. I think, even though he's barely in this, seeing him in it with an eye patch like this has to be worth it for Feldman fans. Maybe for Corey Haim fans too.

This is only our second Ross Hagen film, the other being Alienator, and that one had much more Hagen than this one did, because he's only in this one for like five minutes. Have you seen his imdb picture? He looks like Charlton Heston. You probably know him more for his MST3K movies, like Sidehackers and The Hellcats. He's actually still making movies and acting, his most recent work lending his voice for the too sweet video game Red Dead Redemption, as London Ricketts. Another of his more recent ones was in 1999, he played Det. Crank Gabovsky in a Skin-a-max flick directed by this film's director, Jim Wynorski, who's kind of in that Fred Olen Ray category of director who does everything from Skin-a-max to low-budget action. (In fact, Olen Ray did Alienator.) Anyway, I saw that on his imdb filmography, with that character name, Crank Gabovsky, and new I had to mention it.

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Your guess is as good as mine as far as Carol Alt went in this. The character made no sense, and she made it make even less sense the way she played it, maybe because as a not so experienced actress, she didn't know what to do with what they gave her. Anyway, it was fitting then, the way they decided to end it, because it's almost as if they gave up too, and just threw the baby out with the bathwater. In a way, it worked, because, if you go with the party analogy, the life of it, Rick Hill, had already exited, so why not have a reminder that it's probably time for you to call it a night too, before things get any weirder-- that chick/dude you've latched onto, don't ignore the red flags, he/she is that unstable! Cut your losses and be happy with the Rick Hill.

And that's the crux of it. Rick Hill or bust, but it's definitely not bust with Rick Hill this time around. Considering you can get this on Netflix, it's not a bad deal. All the other names range from all right to not that great, but only one name matters, and he delivers. Also, if you haven't already, go check out Mr. Gable's Reality.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0145495/

7 comments:

  1. Nice Review! Big fan of Hagen, Feldman and Hill. Will have to check it out.

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  2. Yeah, I'm a huge Hagen fan too. i tagged him for Alienator way back in July of '07 when I reviewed that, thinking it would be the first of many for him. Now we're like 3 1/2 years later, and this is only number two, and a barely number two at that. I'll have to remedy that soon!

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  3. LOVE IT! Storm Trooper is awesome. I was kinda surprised by it. It's bad but extremely watchable. Rick Hill is the man!

    And I just watched Alienator the other night...Although I put it in and fell asleep cuz I was extremely sick and tired. But what I saw was pure gold so I'm gonna sit down soon and give it another go.

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  4. Yeah, Alienator is a lot of fun, so I think you'll like it.

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  5. She didn't exactly kill her husband in cold blood, the guy was abusive to her, so i'd say he got exactly what was coming to him, anyways I too enjoyed this filma nd liked Carol Alt, it's a shame she dosen't get better roles and it's tragic that Galligan will forever be remembered as "the guy from Gremlins" Another Wynorski film you should check out is "The Assault" it's pretty much a rip-off of "Assault On Precinct 13" only with a mostly female cast.

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  6. The movie certainly wanted us to believe that Alt's character was was the victim of an abusive husband, but they did a very horrible job showing that, making him out to only be a total jerk who only hits her when she puts her hands on him belligerently as she accused him of cheating on her. Now, that was definitely not excusable by any means, but worthy of being shot in the back while he was looking out of his window? He was in no way threatening her life. I'd say that's probably Murder 2, which might have been plead down to Man 1 based on the immediate circumstances, only the film references a nebulous past where her husband rescues her from an unhealthy situation, which to any DA would sound like she was using him, and is something of a Black Widow, evidenced further by her taking a shower in the same tub his dead body was lying in. The best the defense attorney could do is plea insanity based on the trauma from her dead son. Anyway you slice it though, non threatening individual shot in the back equals in cold blood.

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  7. Eh whatever, I didn't really give a damn about his character one way or the other, though it would've been better if he was killed by Galligan or something like that, then we wouldn't have had that ridiculous fight scene between Alt and the cyborg.

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