The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Neon City (1991)
Continuing our Super Bowl XLVI week, we look at Neon City, which has Lyle Alzado of the Super Bowl XVIII champion LA Raiders. I had been meaning to do this one anyway, for the Michael Ironside factor, so it was good to have that additional reason to bump it up in the queue. Also, our buddy Ty at Comeuppance Reviews hit this one way back in May of 2010.
Neon City takes place in 2053. The planet is messed up, due to factories pumping crap into the Ozone layer, meaning we have ourselves a post-apocalyptic scenario on our hands, and a scenario like that calls for a real hero versed in outlaw justice. Ironside is that man, and when he pops into the messed up outpost of Jericho to drop off a fugitive he picked up (Vanity), he's duped into taking her on a bus to the great Neon City, which is an issue for a lot of reasons, the biggest being that the bus is driven by Lyle Alzado, who has Ironside to blame for his 5 years in the clink; and also his ex-wife is on board. The reason why he's been duped into this job? There's a rich girl on board, and a lot of dangerous gangs between them and Neon City, and they want that rich girl to make it out alive.
This was kind of a fun mix of sci-fi and Western elements, but ultimately, it overstays its welcome by about 20 minutes. 103 is too long. You can only repeat so much driving on the road, ambushed by gangs; find a place to stop, ambushed by gangs. It's fun the first couple times, but then it's like "dude, just get to Neon City already!" Ironside as the hero was great though, as were Vanity and Lyle Alzado, so that helped. This isn't necessarily a horrible one, it's just another case of hubris in trying to break the old 88 minute rule. Few DTV flicks ever overcome that, and this was no exception.
Usually I'd look at Ironside in this paragraph, but since this is Super Bowl week, I thought we'd start with the late Lyle Alzado. I remember his attempt at a come back, followed by the admission that he used steroids. It was right around the time this would've been made. Then a year later he died of his brain tumor. The film role I think Alzado would've been best known for would've been as the enforcer for the evil developer in Ernest Goes to Camp. Based on how big and in shape he looked here, this must've been filmed before he started chemo; imdb does list it as his last film though. Because I was too young to really see him play, I only remember images of him from NFL films, where he looked like a machine. Here's to you Lyle Alzado on this Super Bowl Week, may you rest in peace.
It's good to see Michael Ironside as a hero, even though he's something of an anti-hero for much of this, a real Western renegade type. He's so good at it though, from the moment he first popped up on-screen, I was hooked. He may have been channeling Clint Eastwood, but he was all Ironside in his demeanor and kickassness. I like that when an actor can be thoroughly what we think of him as while playing a variety of parts. He's always Michael Ironside no matter who he plays, yet he still makes each character unique. The fact that the guy has the massive CV that he has, and this is only his 7th tag, is something we plan to rectify soon-- I got a couple on tap already.
Funny that this is the second time this week that we've seen Vanity, the other being in South Beach. Here she has a much bigger part as a fugitive/love interest for Ironside. She hasn't done anything since she became born again in the mid-90s-- 1997's Kiss of Death was filmed in 1993. I remember MTV did a where are they now type show on 80s pop stars in the late 90s, and they showed her in church praying. She had a great line from that special, that I might be screwing up, but I believe it went "I never believed I could be delivered from cocaine." Based on some of the things I heard Steven Bauer say about the availability of cocaine on movie sets in the 80s, I can see why she gave up doing movies if she was addicted.
I'm not sure there is a fan base rooting harder against my Patriots this weekend than the Raiders. If you're not aware, the Patriots and Raiders met in the '01 playoffs, where, in the closing minutes, the Raiders sacked Tom Brady, knocked the ball loose, and recovered the fumble, essentially ending the game. But then the play was reviewed with replay, and it was determined that a seldom known rule, the "tuck rule", stated that the fact that Brady was moving the ball forward toward his body as he was hit, meant it was technically an incomplete pass, so the Patriots kept the ball. With new life, the Pats drove on, Adam Vinatieri kicked a game tying field goal, and then a game winning field goal in overtime. As far as the Raiders were concerned, they were robbed, while my Patriots went on to win 3 Super Bowls in 4 years (though the Raiders did make it to the big game the next year and get smoked by Tampa Bay). Anyway, the Raiders and Patriots will be forever linked by that game, and if you ask Raiders fans, the Patriots can't lose enough.
All right, enough of that (and if the Raiders think reliving the "Tuck Rule" game is tough, imagine what it's like for me to have to relive Super Bowl XLII all week!). This isn't horrible, but it does go on a bit long, and by the time I got to the end, I had lost a lot of interest. Still, you had some fantastic Ironside, and Alzado and Vanity were great too, so I can't say it's a total waste. I wouldn't go too far out of my way for this one, but if you see it cheap or see it on TV sometime, you may want to check it out.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104981/