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Savage Sam (1963)
Sequel? Not really
Savage Sam, except for it's association with Ol' Yeller, would be a completely innocuous but more or less forgotten addition to the Disney film library. The problem with Savage Sam is twofold.
First, it was (and is) marketed as a sequel to Ol' Yeller. How could any film stand up to that kind of comparison? Yes, the book was by the same author and meant to be a tale of a son of Ol' Yeller. But trying to sell that movie as a sequel never had a chance - Fess Parker was doing a TV show and unavailable, the book itself is weak, and the scripting is sluggish.
Secondly, and this true of all movies from that time - the portrayal of the Indians was so biased that it's painful to watch as those Irish stunt men in red paint whoop it up.
Is it watchable? Yes, but view it a a separate entity, not a sequel.
Lost in Space Forever (1998)
A long overdue tribute
Lost in Space Forever is a long overdue tribute to a TV program that rarely gets a fair shake. Let us not forget that LIS was canceled with higher ratings than Star Trek ever got in prime time. This is a fan's tribute to the cast and phenomena that was Lost in Space - papier mache´ caves, saran wrap forcefields, talking dragons and all.
While Trek embraced technology and used it to overcome obstacles, the Space Family Robinson was a contemporary family, overcoming threats with family bonds, trust, affection and a pet robot.
With Jonathan Harris and Bill Mumy back in costume, and Bob May back in the robot, it is a loving remembrance of the idealized American family that every child wanted, and by association, had via the program.
Lost in Space (1998)
Danger Will Robin- eh, never mind, go back to sleep.
I liked the movie, but I fear it suffered from the same disease that Star Trek The Motion Picture suffered from - too grandiose a concept, too grand an undertaking, too big an effects budget and enough plot for several movies. Lets see, we have the dysfunctional family becomes functional plot, we have the evil traitor in the med lab plot, the time travel plot, the metallic spider plot, the sexual tension between Dr. Judy and Major Don plot. This puppy had more subplots than a season of X-Files.
It was great to see Mark Goddard in a role with some meat on it. However Angela Cartwright and Marta Kristen were given extremely short shrift. And Bill Mumy and Jonathan Harris should have been involved. I know Jonathan Harris doesn't do cameos, but dammit, find him a role! And as for not getting Bill Mumy to play future Will Robinson - as far as I'm concerned, that singlehandedly reduced this flick from a great movie merely a good one. If they had enough money for the hideous yellow excuse for merchandising (how blatant can you get?), they sure had enough to hire the full original cast.
Harvest of Fire (1996)
You call the Fire Department - I'll explain why we don't have a phone.
Let me put this delicately - this ain't exactly an ensemble piece. If you take away the meaningful dialogue between Lolita Davidovich and Patty Duke, you end up with about 15 minute of film left, including footage of 4 barns burning down.
And, perhaps it's due to my proximity to the Pennsylvania Amish area, but I really thought it was a tad condescending to the audience to have the Sheriff explain and pontificate on the Amish customs every time he and the FBI agent head out to investigate.
Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)
Seven Samurai meet Star Wars via Roger Corman
There was a time, long ago, when conventions were exclusively run by the fans, for the fans. In this time, there were movies and TV episodes into the wee hours. And there were certain things that were cult favorites, such as Bambi Meets Godzilla, Hardware Wars, and of course, Battle Beyond the Stars.
When the Evil Overlord Sador and his hideous mutant army threaten the peaceful planet of Akira, it is up to Shad to go in search of mercenaries to defend the planet. And what a group he gathers. Cowboy - an interplanetary trucker with a cargo hold of laser pistols, Gelt - a notorious outlaw with a price on his head, Cayman of the Lambda Zone - last of a reptilean race destroyed by Sador. Together with amazonian Saint-Exmin, a pair of Kelvins (who communicate by heat), love interest and/or computer whiz Nanelia and the mysterious collective known as the Nestor, a defense of the planet Akira is planned.
Terminal Island (1973)
Marta Kristen + Molotov Cocktails = good times!
Remember Escape From New York? Eight years previously, in 1973, Terminal Island did the exact same idea. Not nearly as well, but hey - being first count for something, too! TI is an exploitation film when being an exploitation film was cool. As such, it has certain shortcoming inherent to the genre, such as street talking tough black guy, the psychotic white chauvinist pig, and the heroic woman, overcoming oppression with sagacity and perserverence. I can live with those stereotypes, but I can't bear the background music leftover from a 1970's porn movie!
Marta Kristen finally gets to play the part of an action hero - quite a leap from the laid back Judy Robinson role she is best known for. She fights and blows things up and knows how to create gunpowder from nature. Very cool.