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.

Announcement

Announcement

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.

--Matt

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dollman (1991)

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This movie has the triple threat of Charles Band, Tim Thomerson, and DTVC Hall of Famer Albert Pyun. Throw in its availability on Watch Instantly, and it was a must. I mean, how do you not love the idea of Tim Thomerson as a cop from another planet who chases a criminal to Earth, where he only stands 13 inches tall?

Dollman is pretty much what I just said above. Thomerson plays Brick Bardo (classic Pyun name), a renegade, violent cop from a planet 10,000 light years away, who chases after the living severed head of one of his oldest enemies, into a ban of energy that transports them in their space ships to Earth, the South Bronx to be exact, where they're only 13 inches tall. Bardo finds he can help a local woman in her fight against crack dealing gangs that have taken over her neighborhood, but she isn't sure she wants his help because he's so violent-- even at 13 inches!

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This is a lot of fun. Sure, it has a couple too silly for words moments, like when Bardo jumps out of an upper story window to the street below, where he grabs onto a moving car and rides it to where the baddies' hideout is; but for the most part it's just a fun low-budget sci-fi actioner, with a lot of familiar faces and some pretty gory shoot-outs. The film starts with a hostage situation in a laundry mat on Bardo's home planet, and he shows up, everyone there expecting he wants to help. Nicholas Guest, the cop on the scene, asks him what he plans to do. "I'm going to wash my whites in hot water, and my colors in cold water with a warm rinse." "What?" "This is where I do my laundry, and that's what I plan to do." It starts out this awesome, and pretty much keeps it going from there. Throw in appearances from other Pyun mainstays Vincent Klyn and Michael Halsey, and a baddie played by former child actor and current it actor Jackie Earle Haley, and you have a formula for a good time.

We've been on a pretty good string of Albert Pyun films lately, so hopefully we'll keep that up. It's hard to go wrong with a movie about a violent cop played by Tim Thomerson that's only 13 inches tall and likes to blow people apart with his custom made firearm, and with a running time of 75 minutes without the credits, that's usually an even surer bet. Beyond the camp, there were also some really cool sets and shots, especially of Tim Thomerson with a fallen building behind him that looks like an old mushroom box or something. Obviously, this movie is more about fun than anything, but it's always good to see some shots that are more on the artistic side, because it tells us, the viewer, that at least the process is being taken seriously, even if the content isn't meant to be.

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This role by Jackie Earle Haley came a few years before his 13-year hiatus, which saw him come back in 2006 with an Oscar nomination. Not a bad deal if you ask me. I actually really liked him on the few episodes I've seen of Human Target. Here he plays a gang lord who comes across the severed-head bad guy Thomerson was chasing, and while he's trying to carve out supremacy in the South Bronx, he's also after Thomerson because the severed told him he could become a problem. It was a good role. I don't know that we could get him in another Pyun film now though.

"Back off Warchild, seriously." It's time to take inventory of this film's Pyun mainstays, starting with Thomerson. There was also Nicholas Guest, Michael Halsey, and DTVC favorite Vincent Klyn, listed here as "Vince Klyn". None of them get more than a scene or two outside of Thomerson, but it's always good to see them.

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According to imdb, Dollman was filmed both in LA and in the South Bronx, so I'm not sure how much of the South Bronx stuff was filmed on location or back out in LA. I've actually been to the Bronx before-- maybe not the South Bronx, I'm actually not sure where exactly I was, because we were lost. I was with a couple classmates in college going from UMaine to DC for an anthropology conference, and the girl driving had these weird directions that involved getting off of one Interstate in the Bronx, then getting onto another. It was a trip, and when I saw the highway we wanted, the girl was like "we can't go that way, it's a one-way street", and I was like "Jesus, just go, let's get the hell out of here." It's always funny to get rural Maine mixed with the city, because rural Maine never has any idea how to cope with it. I would like to go there again under better circumstances though. The parts we were in didn't look that bad.

You've probably learned more than you wanted to about my brief experience in the Bronx, so I'll wrap this up. Simply put, 75 minutes, Albert Pyun, Tim Thomerson as a 13-inch violent Dirty Harry style cop, and a good amount of gore and fun. What more could you want?

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101751/

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987)

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A couple weeks ago, or friend Mr. Gable at Mr. Gable's Reality threw down the gauntlet, seeing if anyone else wanted to tackle The Garbage Pail Kids Movie with him, and he had two other takers. You can read what all three thought here. Unfortunately, I had some other films on tap, so my look at this one had to wait. I remembered first seeing it when it came out on VHS, and not being very impressed. My buddy bought it on eBay about 8 years ago, but I never got the chance to see it with him. Now, with it on Watch Instantly, I had my chance.

The Garbage Pail Kids Movie is either about some short, gross humanoid aliens, or some homunculi created through the magic of Anthony Newley-- the movie is never exactly clear. What they are clear on is that Newley runs a magical antique shop, where he keeps these kids in a garbage pail in the form of living green slime, and they're released when the kid working for Newley runs afoul of some bully and his crew, which is more like Whitey Bulger and his gang than it is a childhood bully. Anyway, now Newley wants to get them back in the pail, while the small people want to see the world, and they help the kid get the girl-- who is a bit older than him, to the point the cops might need to be involved.

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Before I discuss why I didn't like this when I was younger, I should get into why I don't exactly like it now. It's just kind of weird. I don't mean about the Garbage Pail Kids-- I get the charm in them, because I loved the cards/stickers growing up. It was the other stuff. Like how the gator one (Ali Gator) looked and sounded hilarious, but he liked to bite people's toes off-- which is just weird. Even weirder, is the scene where the kid is taking a bath, and his foot is sticking out of the bathtub, and Ali Gator looks like he's about to do something quasi-sexual with it. What were they thinking? Or when the guy who was a more menacing version of the neighborhood bully, takes the kid underground to the sewage system, ties him to a pipe, then unleashes some raw sewage from another pipe, something the kid would've died from if the Garbage Pail Kids hadn't saved him. That's pretty rough and twisted for a bully. There was a fun message in here about how beauty is only skin deep, plus some great gross-out humor-- and the Garbage Pail Kids themselves were pretty funny, with mechanical puppet heads on midget bodies-- but the bad weirdness diminished the good for me.

Now, as an 8 or 9-year-old watching this, my complaints were much simpler: where the hell was Adam Bomb? He was the face of the Garbage Pail Kids, and you left him out? They must've really been going for a cash-grab here, because a Garbage Pail Kids movie without Adam Bomb is like a Spiderman movie without him climbing up a building, or a Superman movie without him flying. I get that a midget with an exploding head might have been something difficult to pull off, but you just can't make a Garbage Pail Kids movie without it.

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"Tom Servo, if you don't stop doing your Anthony Newley I'm going to throw you through the wall." I want to say that came in the Starforce: Fugitive Alien II episode, when the gang did a montage of songs based on "He Tried to Kill Me with a Forklift". One interesting fact about Newley and this movie: the kid who worked for him was named Dodger, and Newley is probably best known for his role as The Artful Dodger in Oliver Twist. And then he did this...

Windy Winston farts in a biker's face, and the strength of the flatulence is such that it blows the guy's moustache off. See, that's frickin' hilarious. The thing is, five minutes before, Ali Gator bit a biker's toe off. Weird. Why not have the bikers be freaked out that Ali Gator looks like a freakin' half gator half midget mutant, and they attack him for that? Then they could drive their point home that you can't judge a book by its cover-- which, when you consider that the Ali Gator character bit people's toes off, I'd say in that case you'd be perfectly justified in judging a book by its cover, right?

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That's Katie Barberi, who played the part of Tangerine, the girl the kid was after. I'm not saying she's bad looking there, but have you seen her now? Wow, total knockout. It's a fascinating thing with women from the 80s, because the fashions from then were so different from today's, especially with the hair and make-up, that so many look even better in their forties than they did then. She's made a big career for herself doing telenovelas, which I imagine is nice work if you can get it, right?

The fact that this is available on Watch Instantly right now makes it a better deal than usual. I don't know, because while you have great elements like Anthony Newley and a Garbage Pail Kid farting a biker's moustache off, you also have a kid tied to a pipe with raw sewage dumped on him, and that same kid in a quasi-foot fetishism scene that was fully off-putting. I guess maybe you gotta put up with some bad weird to get some good weird, huh?

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093072/

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Strike Commando (1987)

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This was another one of the films our buddy from down under, Sutekh, sent us in a package that also contained Deadly Prey and Robowar. Like Robowar, Strike Commando is a Japanese VHS rip, which comes complete with Japanese subtitles. If you want you can check out his review of both this and the sequel, at his site, Explosive Action.

Strike Commando stars DTVC favorite Reb Brown as Sgt. Michael Ransom, the best guy we got, doing special forces work in Vietnam. He ends up stranded, thought to be dead, after a mission goes wrong-- because evil colonel Christopher Connelly screwed it up. Now Reb is back at the US base, and he has proof that the Russians are involved. Connelly wants more proof, so he sends Brown back in, only for him to get captured and tortured by the evil Russian officer Jakoda. Problem is, all they've done is awoken a sleeping bear, because Reb Brown is pissed, he's armed, and he's beefy, and everyone's gonna pay!

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This is fantastic in every way imaginable. Is this good Reb Brown? No, it's great Reb Brown. Is this great Bruno Mattei? No, it's exceptional Bruno Mattei. Is this a good Vietnam War in the Philippines movie? No, it's pretty much as good as it gets. This is just the perfect get your buddies together and laugh at the screen kind of film. I know my buddy and I watched it while he was house sitting last year, and we loved it. It might be a difficult one to find, but if you can get it, by all means.

What do you think of when you hear the name Reb Brown? Beefiness combined with screaming, right? And this has all of that. I uploaded the end fight scene with the major baddie (you can check it out on the image page), but I easily could've uploaded seven or eight more. There's the torture montage, which shouldn't have been funny, but was. Or the tearful goodbye where Reb Brown tells a kid all these lies about Disneyland as the kid dies in his arms. Come to think of it, any scene with Reb Brown in it in Strike Commando is great. (I don't want to give away the context of that first image above, but it's equally fantastic.)

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This is only the second Bruno Mattei film we've looked at, the first being Robowar-- and both with him credited under the pseudonym "Vincent Dawn". That number will only go up as we swim in more of his circles, but his movies aren't exactly the easiest things to find either. He passed away in 2007, and of his last five or six films, I'm not sure that any were released in the United States. At the very least, we still have Strike Commando II to cover, so we're not done with him yet.

Christopher Connelly plays the bad colonel. If you've watched any TV shows from the 1970s, you'd recognize him. He passed away shortly after this was made, though there were two other films released after his death, Night of the Sharks, co-starring Treat Williams and Antonio Fargas; and Django II, starring Franco Nero and Donald Pleasence-- both films were Italian productions, though neither were directed by Mattei.

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The best judge of an action film is how many end fights they have-- and how great they are. This has two-and-a-half, each one better than the first. I uploaded the first one, with big baddie Jakoda. Then he has one against the American that double-crossed him. Then he has a half of one after that against Jakoda, just to finish things off. This is a very important lesson for people who drag their films on. First, if you cut down on the boring early on, you can get away with multiple endings; but second, and most importantly, each one needs to be better than the first. If you're thinking of drawing your film out more, go to Strike Commando for a clinic on how to do it properly.

This can either be purchased on VHS, or is available on a big Grindhouse collection, which the reviews of on Amazon describe it as varying in quality. Really, anyway you do it, this is very worth it. It's some of the best Reb Brown you can ask for.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094059/

Friday, March 25, 2011

Out for Blood (1992)

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Usually I have a great introductory paragraph, maybe where I tell you how I came across the film, or when I first had a chance to view it. Simply put, this was a Don "The Dragon" Wilson PM Entertainment actioner I hadn't gotten to yet, and now I am. Need I say more? Also of note, our good friend Ty at Comeuppance Reviews covered this as well, so you can check out his post and compare us.

Out for Blood is PM Entertainment and Don "The Dragon" Wilson's answer to Death Wish, with Wilson as a lawyer whose wife and kid are killed after they stumble upon a drug deal, and Wilson is severely wounded. Afterwards, he suffers from amnesia and doesn't exactly remember who did it, only that they were drug dealers, and he's going to kill as many of them as he can until he finds the right ones. Throw in the detective from all the Ring of Fire flicks, Robert Miano, the villain from Chain of Command, and a special appearance from an old friend.

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This one does the trick. It's vintage PM Entertainment/Don "The Dragon" Wilson, from the fight scenes that almost come out of everywhere, to the shootouts that seem to go nowhere until a stuntman falls to his death, to the explosions that really make no sense-- except in our action-loving hearts. "Hey, we paid for the fire experts, and we're gonna use 'em. I want two stuntmen ablaze in the next scene." "Hey, we paid for the pneumatic catapult, and by God, we're going to use it, I don't care if the stuntman looks nothing like Mr. Wilson." This is why we love PM Entertainment, and why it seems like they get the best out of Wilson.

I always talk about how the charm in Wilson is his "awe shucks" demeanor, but he sheds it very effectively to don his Bronson persona. This is the kind of Wilson we want though, kicking ass and taking names-- and when he's not kicking ass, he's making great sarcastic comments about kicking ass. Line up the beefy guys with mullets, and let Wilson have at it. Yes, we want that. Five guys on a rooftop getting beat up? Yes! Cruising around on the hood of a car? Give me more. When it's done right, Wilson DTV action is a thing to behold, and when it's done poorly, it hurts. This certainly didn't hurt.

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This had some major boom-mic-age. And I'm not talking for a second either. It seems like that at first, because right away we see the thing bob up and out of the shot. But then we go back to Wilson, and it's there again, just chillin' over his head. And then we go back, and it's there again, and this time a little lower, if that's possible. It's one thing when it's for a split second, but this was major, and it was awesome.

One of the best mullets ever was sported by Todd Curtis, who you may remember as the main baddie in Chain of Command. He was dressed like a cowboy here too, which I didn't get, but I figured I'd just go with it and not ask any questions. He didn't have a fight with Wilson though, which was unfortunate. They thought a fight with Ken McLeod would be better. Who knows?...

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Recognize that face? Yep, that's DTVC favorite Don Niam, from Undefeatable. That's the only close-up in the film, and it happens in like one second. According to imdb, it's his first ever role, so not bad. Right after that close-up, he's decked by Wilson and knocked out, and then we see him from a distance lying on the ground, or being dragged out of a van. Gotta love Don Niam.

And you gotta love Out for Blood. A vintage PM Entertainment/Don "The Dragon" Wilson collaboration. As far as I know, it's out-of-print on DVD, but can be bought at Amazon, plus they have it on Video-on-Demand; the problem is, when you click on the imdb Amazon link, it's mixed in with a bunch of similarly titled vampire flicks and whatnot. Anyway, if you can spot this cheap, either on VHS or DVD, go for it, because it's worth it.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107762/

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Queen's Messenger (2001)

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A buddy hooked me up with a copy of his Region 2/PAL version of this, otherwise I'm not sure I would've gotten to it now. It's not really an easy get, because it wasn't released here in the States. We do have another reviewer who has done a post on this, Cool Target Action Reviews, which does originate out of the UK. He had an issue with a lot of the cheap, stereotypical Brit catch phrases, which, as an American, was kind of fun to me, but considering this film wasn't released over here, that element wouldn't have mattered so much.

Queen's Messenger has Gary Daniels as an SAS agent who is pressed into service as a Queen's Messenger to take a personal letter from the Prime Minister to the Kazakhstan king, who went to school with the British ambassador in Kazakhstan. The idea is to make an extra special personal envoy in order to get the scoop on the Americans as far as oil contracts go. Of course, things don't go so easily, first with some local Russian mafia thugs, then later, when he and the ambassador are captured by a Muslim rebel group, led by Christoph Waltz (yes, that Christoph Waltz). Thing is, those mafia thugs attacked, and those rebels captured, the wrong guy.

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I was good with this movie up to the 75 minute mark or so. Yes, it had a slow-speed dirt bike/Mercedes chase, followed by an even slower-speed tank chase; but there were some great Daniels fights, some decent explosions, and what I thought was a great ending with a white-cammo clad Daniels invading the rebel camp and taking everyone out. But a funny thing happened. I'm looking at the time display as that ending is wrapping up, and I see that I still have 19 minutes left. What? It doesn't end in the hotel room with champagne and Daniels getting the girl? Nope, it has a superfluous, added "the second in command baddie comes back" shoot-out that made zero sense. It's like, you had me at hello, but you just didn't know when to say goodbye. Padding is never a good thing, but it's even worse at the end.

Daniels was great as the hero here though. He was supposed to be a James Bond style hero, but he was more a Gary Daniels style hero, which is plenty fine with me. He has some great fights, especially one early on where two Russian mob dudes have him pinned against the wall, a third one is about to cut off his hand, and he kicks his way out of it. Some of his better work, even if the film itself was ultimately lacking. I think he was more Gary Daniels here and less James Bond, whereas in Witness to a Kill, this film's sequel, he had more of the James Bond aura.

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How do you not love Christoph Waltz, pre-Oscar? Obviously the material he had to work with here wasn't Tarentino grade, plus he wasn't in it much, but he was still Christoph Waltz playing a Kazakh Muslim terrorist leader, which is a great novelty. I'm trying to think how many Oscar winners we've had on here. More than one would think at first glance...

Supposedly this film featured "Sunny" Muslims. Mispronounced Sunni, but unforgivable considering the same character who says it, also pronounces Almaty with a perfect Kazakh accent earlier on. How do you nail the tough one, but brick the lay-up? On the other hand, this was made before September 11th, and before the US invaded Iraq (with the UK's help), meaning the Sunni/Shi'a split was less understood, so the fact that this movie brought it up at all should be applauded. I'll give a B for effort.

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In the post I did for the sequel to this film, Witness to a Kill (aka Diamond Cut Diamond), I discussed a little of what drew the ire over at Cool Target Action Reviews, when I mentioned that I was a little jealous in that one when Daniels looked at Eva Habermann and said "For Queen and Country", because as an American, I don't get to say cool things like that. It's probably because we have such a varied ethnic past that isn't ours, and geographically we come from such unique places, that we feel the need to take ownership of anything we feel can give us any sense of identity. "Hey, my great-grandparents came from Ireland, so I'm going to drink lots of beer, get into fights, and wear green!", or "Hey, my great-grandparents came from Italy, so I'm going to yell a lot, talk with my hands excessively, and wear gaudy clothing!", while people who live in Ireland or Italy respectively have different ideas about what constitutes their identities, and being obnoxious Americans isn't it-- and being obnoxious Irish or Italian isn't something they'd like to celebrate. So while people from England hear Daniels talk about "tea and crumpets" and cringe, we Americans hear it and go "that's awesome, I want to go to England now!"

It's time my four-eighths French, three-eighths Irish, one-eighth Ukrainian self wrapped this up (though the entire French and two of the three-eighths Irish came by way of Canada, so maybe I'm 3/4 Canadian, one-eighth Irish, one-eighth Ukrainian... or 3/4 British, because Canada wasn't a country then...). It's a very tough get for my American readers, no matter what ethnicity you are, because it's only official releases are in Region 2/PAL format. For people that restriction doesn't apply to, the first 75 minutes aren't so bad, but the tacked on 19 at the end really hurts it for me, so I'm not sure it's worth tracking down unless you're a big Gary Daniels fan.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0244744/

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Metamorphosis (2007)

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This one looked like it had a lot of potential. I mean, if that picture on the cover of Christopher Lambert doesn't sell you, I don't know what will. Plus, it's directed by Jenรถ Hodi, who did one of the all time best here at the DTVC, American Kickboxer 2. I had high hopes.

Metamorphosis is about the Countess of Bathory's daughter, who is a vampire living in modern day Hungary, fighting the descendants of the Thorzo line, which condemned her mother, and of whom Christopher Lambert is the sole surviving member. Along the way, she bumps into an American pretty boy/history author going to Hungary to research a book on the Countess with his two friends. Hilarity ensues, as the pair run into all kinds of trouble, from bad monks to wolves to the friend not being able to drive, all the way down to vampires.

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This was a big ol' muddled pile of asscrack. First off, total Lambert bait-and-switch. If the guy is only in the movie at the very beginning and the very end, tell us it's a special appearance, don't splash his face all over the cover. If this is a bad movie about annoying Saved by the Bell rejects, don't sell us on an awesome Lambert Vampire vehicle. Still, I can forgive some of this if the film is a too sweet vampire flick, but it wasn't that either. It ended up being about Purgatory and multiple dimensions or something. I'm serious. Yes, the girl and Lambert sported fangs and drank blood on occasion, but this wasn't a great vampire flick in the classic mode. What this was was a mess.

Let me get one thing straight though, Lambert was great. The script felt like it was rushed into production without a good proofread, which meant Lambert's trademark accent sounded even funnier as his lines sounded out of place. I wouldn't have been as upset with the bait-and-switch, if they'd just called it a special appearance as opposed to making it out like the film was centered around him. If I go into a movie thinking Lambert is the focal point, and I get three kids who lost out on the try-outs for Supernatural, it's going to make me look less favorably on other aspects of the film, like the rushed script.

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One of the funniest results of the un-proofread script was a gaff in the math. They constantly referred to events that happened in the 17th century as "over 500 years ago." The first time it happened I thought I had just misheard it, but when it kept happening, I knew it wasn't me. Now, the easy thing to do on my end would be to call the people who made the film stupid for this error, but I don't think that's the case, I think it was just an honest mistake. They thought, rightly so, that 17th century means 1600s, but then, when adding to make the 21st century, they stayed with the 1600 number, as opposed to going back to 17th century, hence an erroneous 500 years. It's something that should've been spotted, but when you shoot a movie in a week, and everyone has already scattered after filming, I can see how it wouldn't be noticed until it was too late.

Irena A. Hoffman plays Elizabeth, the Countess' daughter and modern vampire. Obviously she's very attractive, but she also does a pretty solid job, even at the end when the film was making less and less sense, and I needed to put on a pair of safety-goggles to protect my eyes from all the loose ends flying together. She actually had me believing that maybe she knew what she was talking about, especially since I didn't. She falls in love with Canadian boy toy Corey Sevier, who was in the Dolph classic Detention. He may not want to hear this, but I think he was a bit above his pay grade playing the part of a history writer. Tara Reid as an anthropologist in Alone in the Dark thought that was a stretch.

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This movie took place in the Carpathian Mountains, so you know me, the hiker, I had to go to Wikipedia to see what they were all about. According to the article, the highest point is only just above 8,000 feet, which still sounds like a lot considering nothing in New England gets higher than Mt. Washington at 6,288, but compared to the 14ers in Colorado, or the nearby Alps, it's not as high. My experience tells me anything above 12,000 is where the problems with altitude occur. Anyway, I couldn't find anything about how aggressive they are to hike, and it seems like a lot of the adventure tours are more interested in taking me to castles instead of peaks, so I probably won't end up making it over there. Besides, there are plenty of peaks in the States I need to get to too...

If that last paragraph is any indication, this film didn't have much in the way of substance. All I can say is, don't let the too sweet pic of a vampire Christopher Lambert on the cover fool you, he's in it, but not much. It's more about a muddled script that was rushed to production featuring a few kids that didn't make call-backs on the 90210 auditions.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0431265/

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Border Blues (2004)

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I don't really know what I was thinking about with this one. I was blinded by the great names, Gary Busey, Eric Roberts, and Erik Estrada. Those are nice names to be blinded by though, right? But a film made up of a couple episodes of a Russian TV show, that's a warning sign, and in this business, warning signs should always be heeded.

Border Blues follows the story of a Moscow detective who emigrates to LA, only to discover he can't get a job with the LAPD and has to work in the kitchen of a Russian restaurant. When his boss sends him to Tijuana to get some tile with a coyote on it, and his broken English gets him mixed up with an actual coyote (the kind who smuggle people across the border, though the animal would've been great), he finds his chance to be a hero when he's put in contact with Eric Roberts, a man who at the time has been given the task of getting a Russian woman and her child across the border, but is instead holding the pair hostage because he's a nutjob. All of this is happening while Roberts is the main suspect back in the US for a series of letter bombs sent to drug companies, which has him in police lieutenant Gary Busey's sights, and Mexican Federale Erik Estrada's sights.

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This actually could've been really good, but they mismanaged the whole story with Eric Roberts's character. He was a total weirdo, obsessed with the Russian woman's daughter, insinuating himself into her life and acting like some father figure, to the point that he tied the mom to a chair in the basement so she wouldn't take the child with her when he went to run an errand. With all that psycho weirdness, the film tried to do an about face and make the guy redeemable. It muddled the whole thing and made it much messier than it needed to be. There were some other weird things, like how the Russian detective knows these LAPD detectives for like 20 minutes, and suddenly they're offering to watch his dog for him while he goes to Tijuana. I know us Americans come off as really informal and overly friendly, but it's really a superficial thing. When we ask at the check-out line "How are you doing?", we really don't want the truth; and when we seem nice after talking to you for 20 minutes, that doesn't mean we're interested in watching your dog for you. I feel like a lot of these issues came up in making the TV show into a movie, but maybe I'm wrong about that.

One area that this film really excelled though was in Gary Busey. His character was kind of ambiguous. We couldn't tell if he was sarcastically telling people he saw visions of the future, or if he really believed he could, but that ambiguity helped make the character. The rest was Busey simply being Busey, with great lines, great scenes that almost made no sense, and great facial expressions. Because he was a higher up on the police force, it made sense that he wasn't on-screen much, but when he was there, he was vintage.

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Eric Roberts was great too, it was the writing that let him down more than anything. Why they didn't just let him be a weird psycho is beyond me, because that was working; but when they tried to walk him back from the ledge and make him redeemable, it fell apart. Every time he took the child away from her mother, every time he walked in on them and leered at the mom with these creepy eyes, it made my skin crawl. Not only that, but he fired at the Russian detective when the guy tried to rescue the woman and her child. Then the Russian guy is acting like Roberts isn't such a bad guy at the end when Erik Estrada is coming to take him down. Just let him be a nutjob, is that so hard?

I thought this was our first ever Erik Estrada flick at the DTVC, but I am mistaken. He had a special appearance in King Cobra (remember that post back in August of 2007?). Unlike Busey, who had a great supporting part, Estrada doesn't show up until near the end, and his part is so scant that it's disappointing. Making that disappointment stronger, was how good Estrada was as the corrupt Federale. Where was this earlier in the film? I even had trouble finding a nice enough pic of him to screencap, because he doesn't have any good closeups. An interesting side note: according to imdb, he doesn't speak Spanish, which I guess explains why he plays a Spanish speaking character who relapses into English.

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As an anthropology nerd, I did like the mix of Russian, American, and Mexican cultures, especially with a Russian mother and daughter trying to sneak into the US. It seems like it would be easier to go the other way if you're Russian, though, through Canada. It's a border that's not policed as heavily. Of course, you'd have to get into Canada first. I don't know why I'm talking as if I know anything about any of this stuff, considering the only time I've left the US is to fly to England.

This is available on DVD through Netflix, which is a bonus. If you're a Busey or a Roberts fan, this might have some value, but it's rather minute, and I'd only put it in your queue if you've seen the bulk of their better films first. It's not God awful, but it's not great either, and anything that might have worked about it fell apart with the muddled ending.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0461471/

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Warrior of the Lost World (1983)

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I first saw this when it aired on MST3K, and absolutely loved it, especially the Mega-Weapon interview sketch at the end. Recently, the original un-MST3K'd version popped up on Netflix Watch Instantly, and with the MST3K version already up there as well, it gave me the idea to review both versions in one post, which I've done all this week with Space Mutiny, Cave Dwellers, and Soultaker.

Warrior of the Lost World stars Robert Ginty (or The Paper Chase Guy as he's referred to by Joel and The 'Bots) as a post-apocalyptic warrior travelling outside the Omega Zone, which is a dystopian dictatorship run by Donald Pleasence. After a run-in with their guards, and then some dangerous misfits on the outskirts, he crashes through a mountain wall and finds a mystical enclave which is seeking to overthrow Pleasence. They fix Ginty up and send him in with Persis Khambatta to get her dad out before he's executed. In the attempt, Khambatta is captured, and now dad, Ginty Moore Beef Stew, the misfits, and DTVC Hall of Famer Fred Williamson need to rescue her, take down the Omega, and bring The New Way and freedom back to the world.

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I don't want to come off as a contrarian or troller or some other such person looking to pick an argument or just be different for the sake of being different by saying this is good on its own without the MST3K riffs, because that's not what I mean when I say that. What I'm saying is, on its own, it has some great so-good-it's-bad qualities, plus some great early 80s exploitation qualities, that when paired with the cast, make it right up the alleys of myself and many who peruse the DTVC. It's very Cirio H. Santiago or Bruno Mattei, though it's David Worth, which is a name we've come across before too, so it makes sense that it's a lot of fun. The vehicles, the characters, the action-- especially the exploding cars-- it's all a lot of fun, and worth checking out-- no pun intended.

Now, all that being said, I don't want to take anything away from the great job Joel and The 'Bots do on this bad boy, because it's really hilarious. I think that's the key to making a statement like the one I just made above, understanding that the movie isn't better without their riffing, it's just good and different on it's own merits, if that makes sense. Joel and The 'Bots provide a great template for your own riffing adventure as you tackle a gem like this. As far as cuts to the original go, they removed an execution that comes before the one the father is about to have before he's rescued, plus some language issues, and a speech by the father after Ginty takes out the misfits in the battle royale. Nothing too crazy, though they add to the overall enjoyment if you're going at this sans the guys on the SOL. Oh, and in the stand-alone version, the opening back story is given in still text, as opposed to the Star Wars rolling style, making it much easier to read.

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I just checked, and it's been over a year since the last Fred Williamson flick. I know, I suck as a human being. How the hell did that happen? This is only his tenth movie overall as well. Not a good number for a Hall of Famer. It's definitely something I'll need to fix in the future. As far as this movie goes, he's more of a supporting part, but he has some funny scenes. I think if they ever made a sequel, he would've had a bigger role in that. Anyway, you can trust that it won't be over a year until our next Williamson post, I won't let that happen again.

The late Robert Ginty Moore Beef Stew is the main star in this. He sounds like a Kennedy with his accent, which, when combined with his somewhat dopey look and slow delivery, is hilarious. Joel and The 'Bots drive home just how funny in a sketch where they depict his character going for his license. I believe this is only Ginty's second film at the DTVC, the other Lady Dragon-- another David Worth original. That brings up the classic The Exterminator conversation, that it's one I absolutely have to do with a blog like this, and I know, I'll get to it eventually. Right now it's in a weird limbo state where Netflix doesn't offer it, but it's available new on DVD at Amazon, so I'll have to buy it if I want it, which is never a good thing. For right now we'll just have to settle for his too-sweet goodness here in Warrior of the Lost World.

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Persis Khambatta, she of the bald alien in Star Trek: The Motion Picture fame, has a full head of hair here. She passed away in 1998, at only age 49, of a heart attack. Other than a part in Nighthawks, her career really fizzled after Star Trek, perhaps because no one really knew what to do with a woman of Indian descent in the film business in the early 80s. That's too bad, because the market has really turned around, especially post-Slumdog Millionaire, and she probably would've found more work in bigger films today.

As of this posting, both the MST3K and stand-alone versions are available on Netflix Watch Instantly. I'd take advantage of both, watching the non-MST3K version first, then enjoying Joel and The 'Bots after. I think both work really well and are both worth your time-- again, no pun intended. Also, I posted the Mega-Weapon interview from the show on the image page, which you can go to by clicking on any pictures in this post.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088380/

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Soultaker (1990)

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I first saw this on MST3K, but I don't remember exactly when that was-- late college maybe. At that time, Robert Z'Dar wasn't known as Robert Z'Dar, but rather the dude with the big face from Future War... man have times changed.

Soultaker was written by the lead actress so she'd have a film to star in (so the story goes on MST3K). It stars Joe Estevez ("I don't think anything is ever starring Joe Estevez!") as a Soultaker, a dude who collects one's soul after her or she kicks the bucket. His superior is Robert Z'Dar, and Z'Dar gives him the task of taking the souls of five kids who die in a massive auto accident. Somehow, though, the souls are displaced, and Estevez sees a unique opportunity to live with the soul of one of the girls, because she looks like a woman he dated and killed back in the Old West. Now these kids whose souls are displaced need to escape Estevez and make it back to their bodies before the doctors pull the plug.

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According to imdb, this won a Saturn award in 1992. Huh? This was an out-and-out painfest. Beyond being pretty boring, it had all these rules about dying and the afterlife-- that it never followed! When the souls are displaced, Z'Dar tells Estevez that in order to track them he has to "abide by the laws of time and space." Does he? No, he shape-shifts and has shotgun bullets go through him, which in itself was amazing, considering a scene before he was felled by a nine iron blow to the back. It had a few hilarious moments, like one where the mom-- a dissimulated Estevez-- is watching her daughter undress for a bath; or how one of the characters looked like former Chicago Bears QB Jim McMahon (sp?), but those were few and unfortunately far between. Maybe if there were a few more of those, plus more Estevez and Z'Dar and less about the kids, this might have passed for a so-bad-it's-good, but it even failed there.

This was something of a landmark episode for the show, because they brought back TV's Frank and Joel for the host segments. I believe it was also the tenth anniversary. All that did was remind me how much better the host segments were before Joel and Frank left. As far as the actual riffing of the movie went, it was very solid, especially at the end when Servo and Crow went off on a huge rant about how the film should've ended. Nelson always excelled as a straight man in those scenarios, and he was particularly funny in that moment. If anything, the film was very entertaining with their commentary, and very hard to watch without it.

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Mike and The 'Bots described DTVC favorite Robert Z'Dar as "a catcher's mitt with eyes." Ouch. He kind of plays a good guy here, and as you can see, he has a thick, blond mullet to boot. On top of that, he has a major voice distortion effect, I guess because he's middle-management in heaven. He's not in the film much, though, which is kind of too bad, and the voice distortion removed one of my favorite Z'Dar acting instruments: how he sounds like a phone sex operator or obscene caller when he tries to blot out his Chicago accent and replace it with sophisticated sounding discourse. "Hey Joe Estevez, what are you wearing?" "Is this Robert Z'dar again?" "[cough cough] Ah no, ha ha, what makes you say that?"

Speaking of Mr. Estevez, I believe this is only his second film we've done. Is that right? Out of 200+ credits, almost all of which are DTVC worthy, the only other one of his I've done is No Code of Conduct, with his brother Martin and his nephew "Charles"? Wow, how is it that 600+ posts here and 200+ films of his have only crossed paths that one (and now a second) time? That has to be some kind of statistical anomaly. At least he's tagged now, and we'll see about getting his ass up here some more-- Christ, 200+ films, that's Hall of Fame territory. He is in a film called Guns and Lipstick that I've been trying like a trooper to get my hands on, but it's always too expensive. In addition to Estevez, it also has Wings Hauser and Evan Lurie.

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This car shows up at the very end of the film. Had it been in it more, I bet I would've liked the movie more. What is it, a Caddy or something? I don't know much about cars, but I know enough to say that's pretty awesome. The thing I really wanted to discuss in this paragraph is the tagline about how "there's no stairway to heaven." Forget how silly and cheesy it is, it reminded me of a line my buddy I hike with told me, that expert mountaineers call Denali's West Buttress route the "wheelchair ramp to the summit." I know that's really in bad taste, considering hiking mountains is one of the most apparent joys people confined to wheelchairs aren't able to savor, but it's always freaked me out, because I'll probably never hit Denali someday, but the idea that spending a few weeks on a frozen mountain at such a high altitude could be written off by some as a "wheelchair ramp to the summit", just blows my mind, especially when I think about some of the shit I've done that's kicked my ass and isn't even a fraction of what it takes to do Denali.

All right, we're way off track here, so let's reel me back in. You can get the MST3K version as we speak on Netflix Watch Instantly, and it's plenty worth it. The movie itself is way too expensive from Amazon on DVD (like $50!), but the VHS is around $1, which is like $4 with shipping, which isn't too bad, except you're buying Soultaker sans Mike and The 'Bots, which is pretty painful.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0100665/

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ator l'invincibile 2 aka The Blade Master aka Cave Dwellers (1984)

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When I decided to do an MST3K themed week, I knew I had to have Cave Dwellers, but when I started watching it, I was like "wow, this has too many memories to not be a milestone post. maybe I should save it for something like 750." But then I realized that it wouldn't be an MST3K week without this, so I decided to split the difference and make this the size of a milestone post. Hopefully that does it justice.

Cave Dwellers (also known as The Blade Master on the US video market) is the sequel to Ator the Fighting Eagle, and picks up sometime after that one left off. Some wise, dull, sage-like dude has invented a very powerful weapon called the geometric nucleus, and if it falls into the wrong hands-- say, like the Evil Long-Haired John Saxon-Type Guy who just invaded the castle-- it could be very bad for humanity. So the old dude sends his daughter to find Ator, so he can defeat the John Saxon-Type Guy and destroy the nucleus.

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Without Joel and The 'Bots, The Blade Master (I believe Cave Dwellers is the US TV title) takes some chops to handle, but if you think you have the stuff, it can be a lot of fun. According to imdb, the dialog was almost entirely improvised, and in a lot of instances, it shows, which can be very tedious-- especially when the dull old guy is talking. On the other hand, the list of great things is long and fantastic. Ator hang glides. Everyone wears household items or swag they picked up shopping at antique stores for their medieval garb and armor. There's a growling snake puppet, a warrior mime, and a 70s era gigolo as a high priest. There are tons of gaffs, like ATV tire tracks, and a dude rocking Ray-Bans. If you're looking for a bad movie, you've found a doozey here.

The biggest difference between the MST3K version and the one on VHS (and probably DVD), is the opening and closing credits, because The Blade Warrior, which I watched for this review, had a credit sequence that was part of the film, not some footage from a random movie like Joel and The 'Bots had. As far as the actual riff job goes, I'm not sure if this is their best, but for me, this is the best movie/riff combination, if that makes sense. The movie itself is pretty funny, but their jokes on top of that make it hilarious, plus the host segments were great, especially the ones with TV's Frank. Whenever I introduce someone to MST3K, I go with this one. (As an aside, a friend in college, who grew up without cable and had never seen MST3K, rented The Blade Master from his local video store when he was in high school. When I showed him the MST3K version, he was like "Oh my God, I've seen this!" He's the only person I know who's seen the non-MST3K version first.)

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I was trying to think how many lines from this have crossed over into my everyday life with my friends. It's either this one or Mitchell that have the most, but as I was watching it, I think this one might have more. "I like it, make it shorter I'll buy it" is a line I still use all the time, whether the people I'm around get it or not. I'll put on a pair of goggles, just so when someone asks "what are the goggles for?" I can answer "eye protection." Then there's "wait for it, wait for it" from the invention exchange sketch with the Mads, plus "if you had your druthers..." from the opening sketch. And you can't forget "No!" Whenever we watch a Miles O'Keeffe movie, someone always says "how much Keeffe is in this film?" and whenever someone is arrested in a movie, we say "I'll bake you a [rice] cake with a file in it." I know there are more, I just can't think of them off the top of my head.

One great Cave Dwellers line usage that we still talk about among my buddies came about five years ago, when a friend and I were in Harvard Square. He was spending about $300 at the Games Workshop store on Warhammer stuff, and about ten minutes before that we had stopped at Urban Outfitters, and I saw a pair of Diesels for $150. The guy ringing my buddy up at Games Workshop was this big doughy dorky guy with a greasy beard and the "I review Transformers on YouTube" voice, and he's telling my buddy how he spends like $1500 a month on Warhammer stuff, even with his employee discount. Anyway, so my buddy's stuff is rung up, and the total is around $300, and I remark that that's the same cost as two pairs of jeans at Urban Outfitters. The guy behind the counter is like "you spent $300 on two pairs of jeans?" and we explained about the Diesels we'd just saw, and he says "oh, good, I was gonna say, if you spent $300 on two pairs of jeans, I'd have lost all respect for you." Almost on instinct, I say to my buddy "and you know how important... is my esteem." The guy didn't get it, but that's been our joke ever since, whenever anyone says anything similar.

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This is the film where Miles O'Keeffe's legend was born, and though it alone didn't get him his spot as an inaugural Hall of Famer, it was our need to find more of his movies in VHS bargain bins afterwards that did it. Recently I noticed that I have been misspelling his name all this time, calling him "O'Keefe" instead of "O'Keeffe". I should probably go back and fix the tags and the posts, considering it's kind of not fair to him, but I figured I'd take this opportunity here to formerly apologize. Mr. O'Keeffe, I'm sincerely sorry for misspelling your name. I'm sure your too sweet pecs won't mind too much though. ("Too sweet pecs", another line from this one I go to a lot.)

Lisa Foster plays the daughter, and in watching it without Joel and The 'Bots, I noticed how she had a very 1960s/1970s aesthetic, with her hair and her big eyes, that really made this movie feel like it was made back then, and not 1984. There's a whole Barbarella-style vibe with her, that kind of borders on exploitation-flick, and adds another level of camp to the film-- as if it needed it. I should also point out to my shirtless male bondage fans, this might be the motherload. "No!"

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I'm sure if you've been rockin' with the DTVC for some time, you know one of my hobbies is hiking, which is something I've only picked up since the summer of 2008, meaning after I started the blog. Anyway, I hadn't seen this since before I started hiking, and as such, hadn't noticed the great mountains in the scenery. This time around though, I'm like "wow, how awesome it must've been to shoot around here, between the great castle, and these amazing mountains." Except, all the mountains and castle scenes from above were taken from When Eagles Dare-- filmed in anamorphic widescreen, as Tom Servo pointed out. They were still amazing though.

This is not the easiest find, but it is available cheap on both VHS and DVD. Before you see it, I'd go with the MST3K version, because that really is a rite of passage for a bad movie honk, and it's available on Netflix Instant Watch as of me writing this post. It really is the perfect combination of bad movie and great riffing, an out-and-out classic.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086972/

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Space Mutiny (1988)

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I first saw this in college, when my uncle made me a bunch of VHS tapes of MST3K episodes he'd taped off the Sci-Fi (now SyFy) Channel. It was an instant hit among my friends, and it propelled Reb Brown into star status for us, along with greats like Miles O'Keeffe and Wings Hauser. At the time I had no idea what blogging was, let alone that I'd have a blog about DTV movies where I'd come across this again in this capacity, but here we are.

Space Mutiny takes place on board a vast space ship with an enormous basement and boiler room called The Southern Sun. A group of people, led by police chief John Phillip Law, want to mutiny and steer the ship into pirate territory so they can live on an actual planet, and they would've gotten away with it too, if space pilot David Ryder hadn't escaped death when his ship crashed into the Southern Sun's docking bay. But he did survive, and now it's curtains for the mutineers.

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It's funny how, after doing this blog for four years, and the larger knowledge base I have now as opposed to when I was in college in 2002, I'm not exactly more forgiving, but I see things now that I didn't see then that change my opinion. For instance, that this is an Action International Picture, meaning I know better the context that it was coming from. I know who Reb Brown is, and John Phillip Law and Cameron Mitchell. That being said, we're still talking about a bad movie that hits all the so bad it's good notes, from the floor buffing devices that pass for high-speed vehicles, to the dead girl who shows up two scenes later, to Red Brown's screaming and Cameron Mitchell looking like Santa Claus, all the way down to the major factory basement that passes for the inside of a space ship. It's no Deadly Prey in the A.I.P. context, but it's no slouch either.

As far as the MST3K episode goes, for the actual riffing on the film aspect, this is one of the best ever. The sketches, especially the stuff with Pearl Forrester in a Roman dungeon, left quite a bit to be desired, so if you have this on DVD or VHS, you might want to fast forward past those. Another thing to note, there are a few scenes that are cut that you'll see if you watch this sans Mike and the 'Bots, including an action sequence and a few parts that might make the story work better, but it's not really anything that diminished from the high quality of their complete dismantling. It's like a gold standard for you and your buddies to follow when you tackle it yourselves.

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This is the second John Phillip Law film we've done, the first being Alienator. I would say, after the absolute silliness of Reb Brown, Law was what made this film great. You could tell he was totally having fun with it, and I think he relished the opportunity to play a diabolical baddie in such a low-budget sci-fi flick. He past away in 2008 at the age of 70, but his last film was something he did with Lorenzo Lamas, among many others, called Chinaman's Chance, which was supposed to come out in 2008, but as of right now is still in limbo. Law's most known film is probably Barbarella.

Slab Bulkhead. Tank Concrete. Thick McRunfast. Lump Beefbroth. Reb Brown. Yes, we know him affectionately as Reb Brown, and when, in the opening credits the word "starring" pops up and Crow remarks "I doubt this film is 'starring' anyone", we know better. He's a star to us, right? While I freely admit that it was watching Space Mutiny on their episode that introduced me to the awesomeness that is Reb Brown, based on gems like Robowar and Strike Commando (which as of this writing I have yet to review), I would've come across him sooner or later. Here's to you Reb Brown, you're one of the good ones.

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Action International Pictures is that tier or two below Cannon and PM Entertainment, instead of B or C, it's like F or something. They both made their own in-house no-budget productions, like this bad boy, and they distributed similar films from abroad, like low-budget Italian flicks. So far this is only the third AIP flick we've done, the others being the aforementioned Deadly Prey, and the Wings Hauser great Mind, Body, and Soul. It's material we've only begun to mine, but rife with so much potential, I can't wait to do more.

Based on it's popularity through MST3K, you can actually rent this from Netflix. I believe it is for that reason as well that the MST3K version is no longer available from them. I don't know if that's a smart move, if that was the move that was made, because in my mind, MST3K only helps sell these schlockfests. Unless you're a die hard bad movie honk who loves him or herself some Reb Brown, I'd stick with the MST3K version, even if it becomes harder to find. Also of note, on the image page I uploaded a couple videos, the "ooh!" scene when Reb Brown runs down some stairs, and the end credits, which is my personal fave.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096149/

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Trancers (1985)

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This is one I've been meaning to do, probably almost as long as I've been doing the DTVC, and with it available on Netflix Watch Instantly, it's only been a matter of time. Our friend at Mr. Gable's Reality has looked at this one before, and has also looked at some of the other ones, so you can check that all out here. As an aside, I hyperlinked your cover photo for this, so I hope you're not upset.

Trancers has DTVC favorite Tim Thomerson as a police officer in 2247, whose mind is sent back in time to 1985 LA, in order to stop a criminal mastermind who is trying to whack the ancestors of the three oligarchical benevolent leaders of 2247, essentially vaporizing their entire lineage. The criminal has a scary, diabolical technique, where he turns weak-minded people into Trancers, virtual zombies who look like regular people until confronted by Thomerson, then they attack him and look more like zombies. It's a race against time, as Thomerson and Helen Hunt, the girl from 1985 he's befriended, try to protect the ancestors before the baddie can get them.

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76 minutes. That's right all you film makers who feel like you have to add filler to make your movie more substantial, Trancers clocks in at a cool 76 minutes, and it's probably more awesome than your 100 minute painfest. I'm just saying. Also, put the computer away-- or only use it when you have to, as opposed to using it as a crutch-- because this looked really nice, and in 1985, they weren't greenscreening and CGI'ing us to death. This was just a really fun low-budget sci-fi flick that has only gotten better over time.

Tim Thomerson was great, as always, but I think this might be the first one we've done where he was the main star. If anyone is awesome as the Film Noir style detective, especially with the voice for the cool detective narration, it's him. This will be his ninth film we've done, and of the other 8, only two, Gangland and Gale Force weren't Albert Pyun films, so it's usually as a Pyun mainstay that he finds himself on here. The Trancers films are as big a part of his legacy as his work with Pyun, so I'm glad I'm finally getting this first one reviewed.

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This is only the second Charles Band directed film we've done, the other being the Gary Busey flick, The Gingerdead Man. The bigger thing of course that he's known for is creating Full Moon Pictures, which is probably something that should get him a Hall of Fame induction, it's just we haven't even done that many of those films either. It's something I plan to rectify, especially since a lot of the Full Moon catalog is making its way onto Netflix Watch Instantly.

Helen Hunt is very hot in this, as she usually is. I wonder what Tim Thomerson thought when she won her Oscar, or even before that when she was on Mad About You, making $1 mill an episode the final season. Did he think "I had a love scene with her" or "I carried her over my shoulder while she wore a cute Santa's elf costume"? Maybe he didn't, but I thought that as I watched this film. He probably sat back during the Oscars with a glass of good scotch and a cigar, and thought "The kid made it. Good for her." That's why he's Tim Thomerson and I'm not.

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There's a great scene in a nightclub with a punk band singing "Jingle Bells", and it had me thinking. Recently a buddy posted a picture on Tumblr of Johnny Rotten with a crazy look on his face and the caption "Johnny Rotten just found out what kids today consider Punk." This movie really drove that home, because in 1985, punks were scary, and it took badasses like Tim Thomerson to deal with them. They didn't marry Ashley Simpson or Paris Hilton, they didn't have their A&R men get their songs featured on The Hills-- they probably didn't even have A&R men--, and they weren't very nice. Pop Punk should be an oxy moron, not a genre to describe Good Charlotte and Avril Lavigne.

What's 76 minutes and availability on Netflix Watch Instantly, right? Not a big deal, and the return is pure awesomeness. Get after this one if you haven't already, and get after it again if you haven't in awhile-- you won't regret it.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090192/

Huang jia shi jie aka Yes, Madam aka Police Assassins (1985)

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I decided to take another dip into Cynthia Rothrock's Hong Kong career with the Corey Yuen flick Yes, Madam, which also has the distinction of being Michelle Yeoh's breakout movie. This is unofficially the first post we've had that starts with the letter "Y"-- and when I say unofficially, I mean unofficially, because the version I had was entitled Police Assassins.

Yes, Madam has Yeoh as a cop going to meet an old friend at his hotel room, only to find him dead, and a guy dressed like a waiter suspiciously exiting his room. The old friend is a Brit, so Scotland yard or something sends Cynthia Rothrock over as a liaison, and she and Yeoh don't get along. Meanwhile, the man who really killed the old friend is after a microfilm the guy had, but the thieves, who were dressed as waiters and went in after him have it. Now everyone is trying to find out who has what and who's responsible for what, as it's a big old mess.

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A very interesting movie. The fights with Rothrock and Yeoh were excellent, and some of the other action was great too. But then there was this Three Stooges element between the thieves-- there were three of them, including one played by legendary Hong Kong director Tsui Hark-- that took up a lot of the film's time, and got old kind of quick. The movie became more about them than the two cops, which made for tedious viewing at times. But man, those fight scenes were really good, which makes this film worth watching.

According to imdb this is Cynthia Rothrock's first big role, and she kicks ass in it. People had to have seen this and been like "we need to get her in more films!" She has a great fight to start with with a dude credited as Eddie Maher-- though who I feel is Han Soo Ong-- and her final one with the main baddie is amazing. She also worked really well on-screen with Michelle Yeoh. Though I would've liked to have seen more of both women, i.e. not seen the film devolve into something centered more on the Three Stooges, it was a great first major part for Rothrock.

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This is also Yeoh's breakout film, and we know what her career has led to. I believe this is the third film of hers we've done, the other two being Silver Hawk and Tai Chi Master. Like Rothrock, she's totally hot and totally kickass, and I think she was actually supposed to be the star of this film, and in a way she is, but again, the writing runs off the rails, and we lose her for big chunks as we become too involved with the Three Stooges. Another interesting thing to note: she is five years younger than Rothrock.

Famed Hong Kong director Tsui Hark (or Hark Tsui) has a part in this as a forger, and member of the Three Stooges. He does a lot of stunts, so I guess at the very least, anyone who stars in his films can look at this and think "well, it's not like he hasn't done this shit too." Among his many credits are two films with Jean-Claude Van Damme, Knock Off and Double Team.

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Is this Han Soo Ong? He's listed as Eddie Maher, but it looks a lot like him, doesn't it? I can't find anything online to substantiate this theory, and there's a small overlap in Han Soo Ong credits and Eddie Maher credits, so I'm not sure, it just looks a lot like him.

There are a few other things to like in this, like how Sammo Hung is one of the producers, and has a small cameo as an old dude in an old age home. I don't know, for 90 minutes, it's not like it's that long, and the action, when it's there, is excellent, it's just that they spent too much time on the Three Stooges element, and that took away from the great action. I should also say that this can be a bit of a tough one to get, as Amazon has a few different versions, some expensive, some cheaper. I'd keep an eye out for it more than I'd go out of my for it.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093229/