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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Final Equinox (1995)

Photobucket

Our buddy from down under over at Explosive Action sent us this, so we thank him for that. You can also read his review of it here. Final Equinox features Martin Kove and Vincent Klyn, which on the surface looks sweet, but stars Joe Lara, which definitely throws up red flags. Let's see how it went.

Final Equinox takes place "in the not too distant future" (like next Sunday AD, perhaps?), where double threat David Warner-- astrophysicist and PhD in archaeology-- finds some alien artifact. That's when baddie Martin Kove has it stolen from the government, and now the government wants it back. Somehow Joe Lara is mixed up in all of this, and with his ponytail and leather pants, tries to save the day-- and the planet.

Photobucket

This was a definite pain cave, and believe me, it will bludgeon you. Very little action, and what there is is pretty run-of-the-mill. Not sure why Joe Lara is the star, because he barely uses any martial arts, and is here for his acting prowess [cough cough]. Kove is a great baddie, and Warner is fun as the double threat scientist, but the plot is dull and lifeless, scenes go on longer than they have any right to, and ultimately we're left wondering why this movie was made at all. There were a few interesting ideas this movie could've explored that might have made for a better movie, in particular the idea that life was created by an alien race's Genesis bomb, but it was beyond this film's ken to go deeply into anything, yet the mindless action wasn't there to make the paper thin plot forgivable. As an aside, about ten years ago a buddy and I saw a movie called Deep Cheeks on the shelves at the local gentlemen's cinema outlet, and for years we've been calling this or that "Deep Cheeks". With that in mind, for the rest of this post, I'll be referring to this movie as "Final Deep Cheek-uinox".

Martin Kove was an excellent 90s style baddie in Final Deep Cheek-uinox. Bad clothes, cigar, willing to give the order to waste someone at the drop of a hat. We can at least say this was an improvement on Kiss of the Vampire, which for one reason or another couldn't recognize Kove for the great main baddie he is, but this had so much bad in it that even Kove couldn't save the day. Too bad.

Photobucket

If you're like me, you don't understand the concept of Joe Lara. The hair, the leather pants, the pretty boy eyes, the lack of acting ability, it all adds up to "huh?" But then there's Lara here in a straight jacket with some kind of elaborate harness gag that looks like a watch or something's been shoved in his mouth. This made sense. When I think of Joe Lara, and I wonder why he's cast for this or that part, or wonder why he doesn't cut his hair because it's not doing him any favors, or why he's wearing leather pants because they make him look like a cheeseball, I see now that it all adds up to this. Without all of that, I wouldn't buy him in a straight jacket with an odd looking harness gag in his mouth getting kicked around by a prostitute or thrown out of a moving van. An odd oasis of getting it right in a desert of getting it wrong for Final Deep Cheek-uinox.

As I mentioned above, Final Deep Cheek-uinox broached a really cool idea, that some alien race planted a Genesis bomb here that started life on the planet. I guess the problem is, you'd have to account for eons of time between when an alien race would've dropped the bomb, and then would've come back to marvel at their work; or eons of time that they'd be studying their work. Maybe the better play would be that they forgot about it, or maybe they did it on another planet, and those people came here to see what we were up to. I think from Final Deep Cheek-uinox's standpoint, this is all way too complicated for what they wanted-- but maybe they should've thought of that before they bludgeoned us to death with a boring-ass plot that wasn't any better.

Photobucket

Final Deep Cheek-uinox had some interesting co-stars. There was DTVC favorite Vincent Klyn, who was one of Kove's gang. He's killed by blue electricity to the temples. Then there was a poor man's Sam Jones, which, as you can imagine, is a bad sign for your movie if you can't get the real Sam Jones-- I mean, isn't the poor man's Sam Jones Sam Jones? Finally, there was veteran character actor David Warner. Who knows what he was doing here. Hopefully he thanked his agent after shooting by leaving a flaming paper bag full of dog crap on the guy's front porch.

We've completely spiraled out of control here, talking about flaming bags of dog crap and Final Deep Cheek-unox. I apologize for that, I must have a case of the sillies as I'm writing this review. That's a lot more than I can say for the entertainment value of this movie though. Steer clear of it, I suffer the pain so you don't have to.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113065/

16 comments:

  1. Great review. I seemed to have liked it perhaps a tad more, but only a tad. The best Lara film I've seen so far is easily American Cyborg: Steel Warrior - you need to make that happen, I think you'll really dig it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The title alone sounds amazing, and I skimmed your review (won't read it all until after I see it just so I go in fresh), but based on your recommendation I'll definitely check it out.

    ReplyDelete
  3. So how was Deep Cheeks, anyway?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I never actually saw it, it was one of those things where one of us pointed it out, and then it was a running joke that still hasn't totally died out, over ten years later. I think there's actually like a series of ten of them.

    I remember as a senior in college, I was a TA in Anth 102, and a buddy had this girl he knew come up to me after class and ask about this tribe in New Guinea, and I was all in TA mode, ready to help her, when she says "yeah, I heard they have Deep Cheeks." It was just a gift that kept on giving.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It's always tricky when a film tries for plot over action, in fact the film I saw today "The Immortals" suffered from the same problem, it was still a decent film but I wish they focused less on the plot.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great write-up! Joe Lara was ok in Hologram Man, but really weak in Armstrong and Warhead.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks man, and I'd say Hologram Man was carried by Evan Lurie, so I'm not sure how good Joe Lara even was in that one. He's just one of those things that defies explanation.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I appreciate the love for Martin Kove, I love it when he gets his villain mojo working.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Worth mentioning: This was written and directed by Serge Rodnunsky. I've seen about a dozen of his films and there's something wrong with all of them. They don't look as cheap as, say, Heavener-films (and Heavener rarely has to pay for his leading man...), they're not shot on one location, they don't use a lot of stock footage or music, but there's just this sense that if Rodnunsky is a worker, not an artist. His films are impersonal. As for Joe Lara, I also recommend American Cyborg. Fun stuff, the best Lara-film (I consider Human Timebomb a Genesse-film). And, in case you weren't aware, Lara was cheap. Despite having rather little name recognition, he STILL probably offered some of the best "price/name recognition"-ratio for indie filmmakers. Rodnunsky is still in business, so perhaps he's better with numbers than with films?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh yeah, Kove is a killer baddie, and he was great here, even if the movie wasn't.

    Even if I grant you the fiscal aspect of casting Joe Lara-- and I will-- there is the law of diminishing returns. If Dolph is gourmet cheese, Lara is government cheese, and I think there's gotta be a point where a film maker says "I can't in good conscience serve this."

    ReplyDelete
  11. True. Besides, I was wrong. It was Billy Drago who was cheap. Lara cost over twice as much as Drago! Amazing. I heard from a producer that, for reasons unknown (perhaps his Tarzan show?), Lara was apparently famous in places like India, Russia and South Korea, which are some of the biggest markets for these cheap productions, so hiring him meant getting financing.

    Apparently his face wasn't too known in France, though. I mean, American Cyborg really IS fun stuff, but it's no Cyborg Cop:

    http://www.fanpix.net/0633018/017494188/american-cyborg-steel-warrior-picture.html

    Bradley's fanny pack sadly not visible...

    ReplyDelete
  12. It doesn't get better than Cyborg Cop. The Lara info is both fascinating, and somehow makes sense. I guess if you need that Russian money, Lara is your man-- though it hurts the American bottom line, which may or may not mean that much...

    ReplyDelete
  13. As Ty already said, what would you expect from a movie directed by Serge Rodnunsky? His best movie is "Tripfall" with Eric Roberts and that movie is still so-so. Some interesting stuff to read about this director:
    http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=735

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hey, thanks for the heads up, and I've been meaning to hit Tripfall. I need to get more Eric Roberts on the site soon, no matter what it is.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Tripfall = Eric Roberts with dreads doing an impression of Jim Varney. And John Ritter is in it. As the hero. Even as an action hero of sorts. And he's married to Rachel Hunter. I like(d) Ritter, but action hero? Rachel Hunter? I'm pretty sure you won't like the film, but it's still something you simply have to see once just for those reasons.

    ReplyDelete