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One Man Force (1989)
Does exactly what it says on the tin. Former American footballer John Matuszak is a one man force to reckon with... be it through psychical altercations or ham fisted dialogue delivery. And there isn't a shortage of it, since Matuazak knows no other with his bull in a China shop tenacity. And this go for broke tenacity doesn't cop out when it came to the stunt work either. It won't disappoint.
While you can call this star vehicle clunky, and daft. Namely due to Matuszak. Still it's a highly entertaining action fare of a hot-headed renegade cop seeking vengeance for the death of his detective partner but in the process uncovering something much more bigger, and dangerous. Adding to the fun is a solid support cast to boot; Ronny Cox, Richard Lynch, Charles Napier, Sharon Farrell, Robert Tessier. Also amusingly showing up towards the end is a creative, yet fitting Pepsi product placement.
Lake Nowhere (2014)
Does exactly what it says on the tin.
Oh the days of bootleg horror on VHS. This indie retro horror short makes well of its promise. We get interesting trailers that don't hold back ('Harvest Man' is my pick), and tracking lines streaming through with crackling audio. The concept is authentically well done, if not one of the best ones I've seen in this style.
As for the main feature it's a lean, to-the-point and if sometimes humorous supernatural slasher that doesn't really explain much, other than provide the typical staples of booze, drugs, nudity, sex and violence. The lakeside cabin and its forlorn woodland surroundings is picture perfect for the bloody mayhem with the usual traits of heavy breathing, POV shots, lurking masked killer and fairly brutal deaths. Cast are all game and simply loved the electronic score.
Ambiguous, but intensely fun and unpredictably bizarre.
Ninja Terminator (1986)
Oh, you'll be amazed in one way or another.
So when ninjas are not slicing up watermelons with their blades. They sit at their dinner tables, and eat the remaining melons by the way of knife and fork. Very mannered. Well, I guess... it's no more ridiculous than a ninja talking smack on his Garfield telephone and being harassed by miniature toy robots knocking at doors delivering threatening messages. And lets not forget about the blonde wig. The bad guy sure knew how to flaunt it.
Anyway, 'Ninja Terminator' is a run-of-the-mill, copy and paste job by Godfrey Ho. Splicing two unrelated (and hilariously dubbed) films together. So incomprehensible, yet so absurd... and very repetitive. What can you say, it's signature Ho.
Cry Blood, Apache (1970)
It was an unexpected sight seeing Robert Tessier with flowing locks. It's usually little to no hair from what I remember seeing. Other than that, not much else had my interest in Jack Starrett's dusty, crude and very plodding revenge western of an Apache warrior hunting down a couple of cowboys who killed his tribe, and the only survivor leading them to a gold mine.
Long, dry stretches of idle chat, in-fighting and horse-riding takes up most the time before the Apache catches up. This story is seen through flashbacks, by one of the cowboys (you know, the only one who had morals), now an elderly man deciding to reminisce about the whole ordeal while travelling the same path. Yeah, it's not worth the reminiscing, and I don't know why he would want to?
"It's the kind of movie where you only watch the screen if someone is naked or getting killed".
So after just watching the late 80s slasher 'Iced'. The flat and dull nature of it made made me appreciate the bizzaro style of the previous nights' hokey slasher; 'Open House'.
Virtually a cheaply produced, and straight-to-video drama-fused (consisting of sex, drugs, hijinks and relationship woes) slasher on a snowy remote mountain condo of former college friends getting together provided a few striking, and mercilessly staged murders saved for the backend. Especially the one involving an icicle. It does take a good hour of sluggish melodrama (think of a raunchy version of 'The Big Chill') and goggle POV shots of the stalking killer before this snowbound slasher hits its straps. And even then it's short-lived, in spite a few well shot moments.
The opening set-up of humiliation and something going wrong becomes the catalyst for the murders is very contrived for this sub-genre. But it was hard to take seriously after seeing other movies, and shows mock this certain plot device. As for the unknown killer decked out in ski gear. The reveal is obvious, however their motivation is so out-of-left-field. Like those unexplained visions/or are they fantasies/or maybe wet dreams... which just seem to pop out of nowhere. But I did like the final ridiculous last shot. It's been done to death... but it's one of only a few lively moments.
Open House (1987)
"Don't get worked up Doc. It's just one man's opinion".
Off-kilter 80s slasher with a list ticking quota (...kills, nudity, cynical detective etc) and a ham fisted social commentary to boot. Honestly, I couldn't tell if it was meant to be funny, or not. The tonal shifts are jarring, and at times mind-boggling. Especially after such a downbeat intro. Scenes can linger on shock moments, and are dramatically pitched. And again I'm not too sure if it's meant to be intentional - for a laugh, or just over doing it. Nothing subtle about these murders. Then there's the nasty killer (tagged the open house killer), and bizarre editing around him. His face was kept hidden, as he goes to work. Sometimes creative, other times savage. The actions are so random, and never go beyond those minor details leaving plenty unexplained. This nutter is a brute of a guy who grunts, growls, giggles, eats pet food out of a can(?!), pats kittens and regularly calls a radio station psychologist(Joseph Bottoms) to vent about society by sharing his thoughts on the killings of Beverly Hills female real estate agents. And the doctors girlfriend (the lovely Adrienne Barbeau) just happens to work in the field. A novel concept that's predictably scripted, but had enough quirks and solid performances to keep myself entertained.
Blackwood Evil (2000)
Well it had a promising start.
Found footage horror that plays up the angle of being real footage. This tape (titled 'Blackwood evil') which was supposedly missing since 2000. Mysteriously is delivered to the sunrise Texas TV station. Obviously riding the coattails of "The Blair Witch Project". Only made the following year. Somewhat authentic with its shot-on-video quality and interesting backstory of its haunted house - on the eerie black lands of Texas. Four people; a reporter, cameraman, psychic and asshole land owner all meet up there on December 31st, 1999 for a couple of hours. However the interest begins to waive once the action takes place at the house with an hour worth of languid set-up. Mostly of back and forth bickering and a giggling reporter who constantly likes the sound of her own voice. The last 20 minutes are filled with weak, and limited supernatural occurrences, confusion, hysteria and baffling character decisions. Making it a frustrating, rather then spooky atmospheric viewing.
The Appointment (1982)
Well, this obscure, ultimately strange British chiller left me with more questions than answers. Mainly thanks to its very ambiguous storytelling. It's particularly slow, and very little happens progression wise, but I found it engagingly hypnotic. Loose or untouched story threads (which sometimes don't feel connected) come and go despite the plot feeling very slight. You could say it felt like a short story stretched out, because there was a real focus on filming techniques (lingering camera shots, piercing sound fx, intrusively uneasy music etc) to pad out scenes, but those deliberate moments really added to the disquieting atmosphere brought upon by the constant foreshadowing of ominous warnings to come. The style was giving off arthouse vibes, but those moments are extremely well executed, and eerily moody. Especially the film's opening and climax. I was bowled over by how well the latter was staged.
You know what's coming, but the tension holds strong and the imagery was striking. Hard to truly explain what it's all about, as throughout we get haunting premonitions and symbolic images with very little groundwork, but obviously it had something to do with the spoilt daughter being upset with her father (Edward Woodward), and possibly putting a curse on him. The relationship between the two is odd, even a little uncomfortable, but again it's vague with possible, small hints. It's one of those films, I think would work better on repeat viewings due to its cryptic style, and visual trappings.. somewhat a journey. I would love to see a clean print as it still remains absent from digital.
Behind Enemy Lines (1986)
What did you expect?
"Cooper, everybody goes home is a slogan. It's not a religion".
"Speak for yourself".
David Carradine gets in on the 1980s one-man heroic act of Vietnam. Carradine along with Steve James and Mako headline this cheapie 'Missing in Action' influenced war-action fodder. This one being set towards the end of the Vietnam war. An American gung-ho mission for P. O. W's goes awry, and Carradine's commanding officer finds himself now a P. O. W too. But not for long, as he leads an escape thanks to a shady deal with a Vietnamese officer wanting something in return. Things don't go so smoothly. Rather well-done with enough danger (explosions, acrobatic flailing, automatic gunfire), and high stakes as the soldiers have only a couple days to reach a drop zone for American choppers. Formulaic fluff, but delivers on what you expect from something of this ilk.
The Stalking Moon (1968)
A western that really pulls you in.
A disquieting, and rather gloomy western with a dark, even violent edge that disappointingly unfolds off-screen too often. Well, at least for a good chunk of the film. You mostly hear about, or see the aftermath of what a murderous renegade Indian is leaving behind in his quest to retrieve his son. Who has fled with his white mother, and is now residing with Peck's sympathetic former army scout.
Deliberately slow-paced for three quarters, favouring moody exchanges and minor character beats instead of anything truly suspenseful or visually impactful (in spite of the beautifully projected mountainous backdrops). It really does sneak up on you, as there's constant foreshadowing of what's to come. Probably a little drawn out, and underplayed. Still it gets by on the strong performances of Gregory Peck, Eva Marie Saint and Robert Forster in support. It does pick up in the last quarter when it turns into a rugged siege/cat-and-mouse encounter between Peck and Nathaniel Narcisco's ghost-like Indian. Although I just wish it was a little more consistent in developing on the suspense/thrills throughout, then leaving it all to the well-staged finale.
Lady Dragon (1992)
"Paybacks are a b***h, aren't they sugar".
'Lady Dragon' is a cheap, and grimy Indonesian martial arts action vehicle that can pack a punch. It's a type of story that's been done over and over again, but I'll give it a pass since its headlined by the charismatic Cynthia Rothrock. And we get a true showcase of her bruising skills.
Driven by revenge after the death of her husband during their wedding, she seeks to kill the man who she believes is responsible. No other than Richard Norton. Gleefully in hot headed bad guy persona. In a failed gung-ho attempt to kill him, she finds herself left for dead in the forest. Where she's found by an elderly, mute man and his grandson. She's brought back to health, and begins training to repair her broken spirit before returning to exact her vengeance. But with a little thought behind it.
Predictable story threads aside, it moves quickly and you get what you're looking for with the high energy, and grounded fight stunts accompanied by pounding drums, wailing guitars. It's at it peak during the Rothrock and Norton final showdown. And throw in a destructively chaotic vehicle chase and Rothrock packing a rocket launcher to round it off. Also starring a sleepy looking Robert Ginty and directed by David Worth (which had some similarities to his film 'Kickboxer' starring Van Damme).
All the Kind Strangers (1974)
Great set-up... too bad about the ending though.
With a title like that, it had my attention. In spite of the tame, if lightly handled execution, and implied exposition of its somewhat dark thematic context. I still found a touch of suspense, heavy isolation and hinted creepiness underlining director Burt Kennedy's riveting little TV movie of a group of backwoods' orphans (led by John Savage as the eldest brother) who kidnap adults, and then vote on them to be their parents.
Simple dynamics at play with little to show and repetitive actions (namely Keach trying to escape), yet it's grounded by the strong lead performances of Stacy Keach and Samantha Eggar. Both characters at two extremes; one accepting the situation, while the other doing anything possible to break free in-spite of the consequences. Although after all of this build-up, it comes down a peg thanks to an underwhelming, rushed and sappy climax/ending. Just feels disconnected to what has gone on before it. In my mind a grim, or even ambiguous ending would've felt more fitting.
The Sleeping Car (1990)
"Sorry. Jokes keep me sane".
"The American werewolf is back... and having a 'howl' of a bad time!"
And just in case you missed the first tag-line.
"He's not the werewolf anymore, but he's gonna wish he was!"
I love how they constantly reference to David Naughton's most iconic role on the VHS case. Hoping it's enough to pull you into something much more nightmarish. Though honestly, it couldn't be further from the truth.
The first time I saw 'The Sleeping Car', I thought it was such an odd genre film, and re-watching it was no different. I'm sort on the fence if I like it or not. But you can see why it's kind of forgotten. The daft concept seemed original enough for a midnight ghost film - A haunted couch in a railroad car converted into an living apartment, which is rented out to Naughton's thirty-something year old college student. Familiar ideas are presented in this supernatural piece, but a unique choice of setting gave it a bit of character, atmosphere and creativity. However the story wants to focus on other facets. Some not even having much bearing on the central plot, if anything, simply add to the victim fodder, or establish character relationships. It takes a good hour before delivering on its promise, to when the stakes are eventually raised.
Tonally its all over the shop. I guess a couch haunted by a ghost which uses the springs to kill people is ridiculously stupid... but during those moments it's not going for laughs in spite of the imagery. So when it came to the special effects, they're outlandish and well executed. Though most of it happens in the dark. Still the make-up fx had its gruesome moments. As for the demonic spirit (known as The Mister), he's a vicious entity with a vividly scarred face and a stickler for rules... as the landlady mentions. Her dead husband who was a former train conductor before a terrible accident. If you make a mess in his carriage, or have a good time. You'll find yourself impaled/strangled by couch springs. It's kind of jarring since the creation is dead serious, but everything around the spectre is not.
How they defeat the 'the Mister' will get you raising a eyebrow... and again it's done in sincerity even though it might get you chuckling... and it's not from the choice of dialogue.
None of the main cast seems to be taking it all that seriously, but helping this out was a script which seemed to be fishing for a laugh with every second line of dialogue. Only thing that was missing was the fake audience laughter, as it felt like something you'll get from a sitcom with its forced wisecracks, puns and little jokes. It just felt overkill, by constantly piling it on. Maybe it's meant to be awkward and lame in delivery, but it's just too much within too little space.
Surprisingly the cast had good chemistry, with a definite spark between David Naughton and Judie Aronson. A lot time spent on the banter between the two, along with Jeff Conaway's loutish third wheel university teacher. Sharing the carriage with Naughton is Kevin McCarthy's occultist neighbour. Lucky as they are going to need an exorcism when coming face to face with 'The Mister'. Anyhow McCarthy mostly looks at a lost, but do enjoy the moments he's on screen. Also making a brief appearance during the opening minutes was John Carl Buechler as the mister in human form.
Blue Monkey (1987)
A sum of parts.
Not bad. William Fruet's Blue Monkey aka Insect is a cheap, yet slightly effective throwback to old school 1950s Sci-if horror with a hokey looking big bug terrorising a county hospital. However I thought the story's starting point of a contagious infestation was better handled, and way more fascinating than when it fell into the basic, one-note creature on the loose/search and destroy formula.
A prick from an exotic plant, causes an old man to collapse and while in hospital coughs up a parasitic cocoon. Obviously it mutates, with some help (mischievous kids + growth hormone) and gets loose.
While it won't win any awards for originality from its premise, as it doesn't go anywhere inventive, or overly exciting with its storytelling/or direction. Still this b-movie gets by on its comic spirit, mild gooey effects and the casts' straight-face commitment (not surprising when you have Steven Railsback and John Vernon) to the silly, slapdash material. And there's no shortage of jokey material, especially regarding the daily rounds of the E. R working its way into the creature/feature script. However there was a shortage of gross-out, and carnage, outside of the cocoon (ala Alien) shock and one head ripping jolt. It mainly favoured off-screen attacks, which was little and sneaky POV shots. Disappointing since the ideas brought up, namely involving the growing infestation and larva, could've made for some grisly, and chaotic fun. As demonstrated in the final 20 minutes of the mantis-like creature scurrying through shadowy underground tunnels and moodily blue lit hospital corridors causing an outright panic as the intensity picks up. Maybe limitations to the bug effects, which shows in some frames, meant they had to shoot around, or be selective to get the best results.
Distant Justice (1992)
Basic to the core.
A strong cast (George Kennedy, David Carradine) led by Bunta Sugawara make little headway in this incredibly flat and disconnected dramatic action-thriller directed by Japanese film-maker Toru Murakawa.
A Japanese police inspector (Sugawara) is visiting the states with his wife and daughter. Stopping at Boston to visit an old friend, the Police Chief (Kennedy). While his wife and daughter are out and about, they unknowingly take a photograph of a drug exchange going in the park. And in doing so, the daughter is kidnapped and the wife murdered.
The story delves into the formulaic corruption angle, of going outside of the law to seek justice since it is already bought by criminal bosses and shifty political figures who would do anything to keep their dirty little secrets under wrap. So the investigation goes underground. So think along the lines of 'Death Wish' meets 'Taken'. But on a superficial level.
Some nice camera shots, and on-location work do pop out. Especially the foot chases. Although when it came to the action, despite at times being vicious. The choreography was rather laboured and all the commotion was mostly saved for the climax. The film's tempo was really cheapened by its poor music score. Undercutting the danger, and any real sense of tension it tries to build. If not for the nudity, and bloody shootouts it would come across like a hokey TV movie. At least we do get to see Sugawara get angry, and take out plenty of scummy bad guys along the way.
"It ain't your town. And it never will be. Until you the take it over by force".
I'm so use to seeing Steve James in support or minor roles. Alongside the likes of Chuck Norris, Michael Dudikoff, David Bradley, David Carradine and so on. It's a shame though, since he had the charisma, and the psychical abilities to be an action star. Hell, even the acting chops to be a leading man.
Three black US military prisoners facing court-martial escape while in transport, and find themselves hiding near the town of Riverbend. Which is run by a racist, and power abusive southern sheriff. So they help train the black citizens in military combat, and then take over the town by force demanding justice. This obviously leads to a standoff and causalities.
Director Sam Firstenberg (who also worked with James in three previous films) helms this strange blend of low-grade action exploitation and dramatic social tensions set in a small southern town in the 1960s. Heavy handed on both fronts, sometimes laughable in its depictions (the over-the-top sheriff) and resolutions (like the climatic hug-fest) despite its well-meaning attitude. They sure like the throwaway line; "The times are changing". But other times it's rather brutal in what transpires. Violence takes no prisoners. And it feels rather real in its escalation of violence breeds violence when everything doesn't go so smoothly. So tonally, it can be all over the place. Some story beats feels rushed. Like the romance between James' ex-soldier major and town widower (whose husband had just only died the day before at the hands of the town sheriff). And now she's deeply in love, and telling this to her deceased husband's gravestone. Just feels contrived. Others threads feel jarring like holding hostage all the white towns folks, even those on their side. Threatening to kill them if their demands are not met for fair justice. But you can tell from James' rational character it's all for show in getting them to follow his terms.
In the end it's a competent production, but not particularly memorable probably due to its TV like quality, misguided music and predictable writing that probably doesn't push the buttons hard enough when comes to an end. Although Steve James' level headed performance does a lot of the heavy lifting, and we do get to see him easily beat-town the mouthy sheriff.
"Well it's the same thing here. This is still war. A different of kind of war. But it's still war."
Black Gunn (1972)
By the numbers.
Don't be expecting anything beyond a well-done, and rather straight-forward blaxploitation which ticks all the boxes of its genre, but going about its business in a methodical manner. Well, the stinging violence, when it erupts, had a short-fuse and was always felt (Especially the scrappy Brown v Glover beat down). But a good amount of time is about the set-up, and therefore you get a good hour of bombastic music cues, hangout moments, or shakedown meetings. So it does take some time (and extra motivation) before the effortlessly cool Jim Brown goes to work. The relax facade becomes raging aggression, especially one scene which incorporated ten pin bowling and a drug dealing snitch. But the real big dogs are Martin Landau's calculative mafia boss and Bruce Glover's eccentric right hand man. Very good, and memorable performances. Likewise Brenda Sykes, even though her role was small.
" If they can't get you. They'll get the ones you love".
A real mean streak, and go-for-broke attitude seeps from every pore of Enzo G. Castellari's early 70s poliziotteschi fare. How the film starts, which is at full speed with a foot pursuit turned frenetic car chase, is pretty much how it ends with a ruthless shootout. Outside of Castellari's dramatic directing style, the energy was also held together by a dogged and aggressively driven Franco Nero lead performance. He really takes it to another level. Surprise he isn't steaming from the ears during certain moments... because he really plays up the short tempered vice commissioner obviously frustrated with the legal system. His body language is animated and he constantly shouts to get his point across. A lot of it directed towards a worn out looking James Whitmore. Although one unlucky sod, after smugly questioning for a warrant got a slap happy Nero for his troubles. There's even a running theme throughout the script, where a few characters call out his anger issues. "Take it easy, Belli".
The only time he doesn't seemed flustered are the scenes of him spending time with his young daughter. A rather sweet dynamic between the two. This also gave the story varied emotional weight, and helped defined Nero's character. In doing so it help masked the perfunctory narrative that had obvious 'French Connection' influences. Even Fernando Rey comes along for the ride. So it's the typical knotty structure of reckless criminals moving in on each other, backstabbing one other and eventually taking each other out. And Nero is caught up in the middle of it all. Sometimes I got a little lost on who was playing whom in what crime syndicate, but it started falling into place as the plot thickened. Violence, sacrifice and tragedy on a continuous cycle. Nero's character learns it the hard way. His single minded vendetta comes at a cost.
Misleading... sorta.... kinda.
What I got, was not what I was expecting with the 'Chase'. A sedate made-for-tv dramatic light-weight thriller that doesn't entirely live up to its title. The supposed 'chase' element only takes up the final 15 mins, where the focus is squarely on small town dramas (mainly involving friction with the vagrant workers) and the lead character Sandy Albright (Jennifer O'Neill) returning to her rural home town after the passing of her father. There she also catches up with her mentor, Judge Pettitt (Richard Fransworth). Who helps light a fire in her when he questions if she still enjoys her job, now working for a successful law company in the city. So she decides to stay on for awhile, but finds herself in a heart-aching predicament when she is faced with the agonising task of having to defend her beloved mentor's alleged killer - a migrant worker.
A good cast do a lot of the heavy lifting here. O'Neil and Fransworth provided strong hearty performances, and were very committed to delivering what the character driven script asked. While Michael Parks was effortlessly convincing in the role of the corrupt sheriff deputy. The plot slowly builds upon the characters, especially Sandy's mindset. So expect the usual back and forth banter, between her and the townsfolk which is obviously the groundwork set for when the plot-turning situation unfolds.
Where I think it could've broken out of its vanilla set-up. Was the handling of the accused killer's guilt. But with had gone before it, shouldn't surprise in what direction the story goes when it hits the high-stakes of its final act. The impact is lessened when the reveal of her client's guilt is discovered. We the audience find out before O'Neil's character. Being a TV movie, the script takes the easy option, therefore removing any complexity to the uncomfortable situation of her finding herself risking her 'own' life to get her client a fair trail against a lynching posse. It's a weak, and trite pay-off to what could've been a sticky conundrum.
The Astounding She-Monster (1957)
"The way you keep putting your foot in your kisser, it's a wonder you don't get athlete's mouth".
This two-bit campy sci-fi crime hybrid was mainly a slog to sit through. Even though it was only an hour long. It felt double the length. Since most of the scenes were drawn out to the extreme. The way it started with an (unrelated) narrator setting up the situation at hand. Giving every bit of detail. He really went on and on... and on. Adding to that the guy's monotone voice was hypnotically sleep inducing. Really wasn't a great way to pull you in.
In spite of that, there were moments of amusement when the title character first appeared in a shimmering glow, and wandering the woods in her reflective skin suit costume. Also there were a few choice lines of ridiculous dialogues amongst the dry long winded talky spells stuck in a cabin, the looping strolls/drives through the backwoods which always led back to the cabin, fatal non-suspenseful encounters (for humans & animals) involving the alien's radium-poison hands and all this accompanied by dramatic music cues which are obviously there to keep you awake. And capping it all off with an ominous twist.
All about the adrenaline.
Robert Harmon (director of the 1986 film 'The Hitcher') returns to the cat-and-mouse road thriller sub-genre with 'Highwaymen'. A serial killer (Colm Feore) who randomly murders women using his souped-up '72 El Dorado, is being tracked down by the husband (Jim Caviezel) of one of his hit-and-run victims. Its been three years since the incident, but both men are determined to get revenge on each other. It's a never ending cycle between the two leading to a collision course of escalating violence on the roads.
What starts off rather rather promising with some suspenseful and threatening passages involving staged motor vehicle chases/accidents eventually becomes incredibly daft in its unbelievable plot reveals, yet remaining quite entertaining through to the end. Probably due to its short running time and precise cinematography of the action.
It's a simple thrill-ride, where standard character pathos are skin-deep and there to only serve plot developments. Detached colourless performances from Jim Caviezel and Rhona Mitra sort of make it hard to care, but understandable due to what their characters have been through. However Frankie Fiaison as traffic officer is the foil and Colm Feore goes into cartoonish territory with his villainous turn. His appearance also adds to it, which detailing it would spoil the upcoming plot twists and would explain his larger attachment to Caviezel's character.
Moon 44 (1990)
Visuals can't save the rest.
Roland Emmerich's Sci-fi drama/thriller(-lite) 'Moon 44' impressed me with its special f/x and industrial outer zone set-designs (obviously influenced by the likes of Alien, Blade Runner, Outland etc). Dark, shadowy and grungy, fitting for a mining colony. However other then that... very little else did with this dull and talky film.
Flat and cliched dramatics populate an already less than engaging story (involving competing multinational mining corporations, an undercover corporate agent and missing shuttles), which by the end doesn't eventuate to all that much. When it wants to thrill, the impact is minor and the build-up for this isn't worth the payoff. It's repetitive imagery and actions in a very limited scope. Like constantly watching a helicopter manoeuvre through a canyon in poor visibility or wait around for the tension to erupt between the pilots (a bunch of hardened criminals) and their navigators (technical teen wizards). No real excitement here.
Michael Paré is an adequate lead in his generic role, but across from him Malcolm McDowell is wasted. Too low-key for my liking. The support fair much better with character actors like Brian Thompson, Stephen Geoffreys and Leon Rippy as a ball-busting master sergeant.
Fuk sing go jiu (1985)
Director/Star Sammo Hung's HK action-comedy 'My Lucky Stars' (the first sequel to 'Winners & Sinners') is a real mixed bag. The humour in these type of films are usually silly, and at times crude. Here it doesn't buck the trend. The mid-section is filled with it when the orphans led by Sammo get together, and start harassing Sibelle Hu. Felt unrelated to everything else going on. Sometimes it slightly amused, while other times it was unfunnily cringe. Especially when a few of the comedy routines just go on for too long. And during most this Jackie Chan is M. I. A. However the film's bookends are great. This is when the fight choreography, and stunt work comes to the party blending much better with the humour. Sammo and Chan don't disappoint. While Lam Ching-Ying shows up briefly. The best moments are during a car chase and mostly set in a theme park. Then add ninjas and a haunted house attraction to the mix. And you got yourself a ride.
In the Cold of the Night (1990)
This had me head scratching... a lot.
A weirdly ridiculous, atmospheric late-night erotic thriller aping Brian De Palma (who's even mentioned by name?!), but even more so campy and convoluted (I know, how's that even possible?!). Nico Mastorakis' trashy conspiracy laced plot involves realistic nightmares of recurring themes/images, virtual reality murder visions, laserdiscs and a mysterious dream woman (Adrianne Sachs). It really does take on an outlandish turn in the last half-hour when Marc Singer makes himself known, letting us into the bigger scheme of things after a languidly teasing midsection. Doesn't make much sense, but it does enliven the plot in-spite of its lack of high-stake thrills favouring light weight mystery shades, hallucinogenic befuddlement and plenty of night time mist.
Visually it's lit and well-shot. Very 80s in style. Plastered with vibrant colours, sometimes neon and spacious white/cream decors. Right down to the glowing waterbed mattress. It simply pops. Cue in the sultry, smooth sax. And talking about bold and sexy, there's a minor part for Shannon Tweed. I wish she had been picked for the lead actress role, but I can see why Mastorakis went with the exotic Sachs. However I wasn't entirely feeling her spotty performance. Her delivery felt more forced than sincere compared to everyone else. Then there's the beefy Brian Thompson who shows up every once and awhile to provide some helpful advice, when he's not working out or shoving food into his mouth. Lastly there's the very odd, if rather self-aware cameo by Tippi Hedren.
I know people have their kinks. And no, I'm not talking about the protagonist's love for pineapple pizza. But actually the steamy sex scene involving an orgasm brought upon by marbles being poured onto Sachs' breasts. Oh the ecstasy! Forget about the candle wax, or massage oil fellas, marbles should do the trick.
The comfort of familiarity.
An entertaining little early 90s 'The Karate Kid' knock-off. Way more enjoyable, and competent than I expected. Billy Blanks plays the Mr Miyagi role. Patrick Kilpatrick in the John Kreese role. Christine Taylor in the Alli Mills role. Then you have a scene stealing Brion James wandering the school grounds berating students as the deputy principal and Linda Dona seductively toying around.
The formulaic plot provides the usual cheesy goods. Including a new kid (Kenn Scott) in town who gets beaten up by the school bullies, falls for the girlfriend (Taylor) of the hot-headed leader, and gets help from the school janitor (Blanks) which leads to a couple training montages before the big final clash involving illegal underground fighting. Saving the best for last between Blanks and a psychotic Kilpatrick, which their characters share an unforgettable past. The fight scenes are well-staged, which is no shock with the director's other work (Best of the Best 1&2). However the best moments, which shouldn't surprise, always involved Blanks.