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.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Warhead (1996)

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I came across this one on Watch Instantly, and have kept it on my radar until this week, when I finally decided to make it happen. The combination of Frank Zagarino and Joe Lara could be, if anything, at least a fun time-- though they could also be a boring slog too, you never know. Let's see what this spin of the roulette wheel yields. Also, our buddy Kenner at Movies in the Attic hit this one too.

Warhead has Lara as the head of a white supremacist separatist paramilitary organization, and Zagarino as the special forces soldier that leads a unit of elite troops to stop him. He has his work cut out for him though when Lara gets his hands on the codes to launch some nuclear missiles, and it looks like he has intel on the inside that warns him when Zagarino tries to take him down. Now it's do or die, as the fate of the free world hangs in the balance and only Zags can save the day.

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This one is a definite 3AM gem. It's too D-grade and too obscure as far as the lead actors go to make for a good bad movie night flick, and the plot and action, though plenty mindless, aren't solid enough to make this one good. But at 3AM, whether you're procrastinating on a paper, trying to get the room to stop spinning after a heavy duty bender, or battling insomnia, this is the kind of thing that will get you to the church on time. It's something you'd've been lucky to find on EncoreAction, or TNT or USA back in the late 90s, but with it's availability on Watch Instantly, it's at your disposal whenever you need it.

Zagarino is a D-grade mainstay. I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing though. We need that level of action flick, and it's good to have someone to helm it. The acting is a little more wooden, the bad script isn't papered over as well, and watching him, there's almost a sense that we are seeing the scenes as they're shot, as if we can hear the director yell "cut!" after. There's a place in the market for this kind of movie, and Zagarino is the quintessential actor to cast as its hero.

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The best way to describe Joe Lara's performance is to imagine a Lifetime movie where a guy plays a sleazy pimp that seduces a young girl from a small town into running off with him, not knowing he's planning to sell her on the street. A big part of it is his voice. It's this creepy monotone, and it sounded like that predatory Lifetime villain much more than the action hero main baddie. Then you factor in the ponytail too. All he needed were the double-breasted blazers and the fancy cherry apple red sports car, and we could see him pulling up to the girl's cheer-leading practice, telling her how beautiful she is and how he'll give her all the finer things in life that she deserves, and next thing you know they're holed up in a cheap motel and Joanna Kearns is teaming up with disgraced alcoholic former cop Treat Williams to track them down.

Even though this movie was shot in South Africa, an early scene took place in Idaho, making it the first time Idaho popped up on the DTVC. I imagine Idaho and New England-- especially Maine-- are as far as you can get from one another, though Maine has potato farming in common with Idaho. Like every state in the US that I haven't been to, I'd like to get out there and see it some day, if only to hike Borah Peak, maybe see what Boise's got going on too. If anyone reading this is from Idaho and can suggest some other places to check out, that would be cool.

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I recently watched The Super Mario Bros. Movie, and was struck most of all by how little the film captured the essence of what made the Super Mario Bros. games such a great series. Somehow though, Warhead has done that. It just seemed like a fun ride with stuff blowing up around Zagarino, and him swinging on things and sliding down pipes and riding jet skies with bombs into militia men. The best one came when Zags was fighting some guys on an ice skating rink while some kids played a hockey game. He'd grab onto to one of the kids' backs, and instead of stopping and turning around and asking why he did that, they'd just skate away and take him for a ride. Even crazier was how they kept playing while this shootout and brawl was happening around them. It felt like one of those levels in a Super Mario Bros. game where you'd have to ride a bird or something.

This is not so bad it's good or a great bad movie night flick, it's mid-90s South African D-grade action that is a great 3AM time killer. With the advent of Netflix, Hulu, etc. and the ability to stream movies, these 3AM gems are now at your fingertips as opposed to something you stumble upon as you flip through the channels. Not a bad deal.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118119

6 comments:

  1. Haha, yeah I have this in my long, long queue. I got it the same time I got Armstrong, starring the same guys as this one.

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  2. "3 a.m. gem." i'll have to steal that in future reviews.

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  3. Good review! We watched this a little while ago on Instant too....review coming soon.

    We thought it was kind of a tough sit, because it was basically Armstrong II. Haha.

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  4. Thanks for the taking "the hit" on this one. It's safe to say I'm never going to watch this.

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  5. I'm a sucker for Zagarino. And the fact that it's the same guys as Armstrong makes this all the more tempting. Thank you for the review, never knew this existed.

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  6. Can't wait to see what you guys think Explosive Action and Ty. I like Armstrong II, only like in that "sequel that doesn't follow the first", like all the Bloodfists after II.

    By all means Saturday Night Screening. I should start copyrighting all my little terms, like Sauteed in Wrong Sauce (though I got that one from Tommy Lee, so I guess I can't copyright that one).

    I don't know if this is a take the hit kinda one as much as some great 3AM bad action. I think you might have fun with it.

    This one is all you Mr. Gable. Check it out while it's on Watch Instantly.

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