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Empire of Ash III (1989)
Another of the endless post-apocalyptic dramas out there that for a change lays the blame for the end of mankind at a "plague", and not a nuclear war! The film starts with some survivors having a meeting about a band of vicious killers who are targeting them for no reason other than to have complete control over "New Idaho". Half-way through their meeting, these killers (led by William Smith in a cape) show up and sure enough shoot the lot of them, apart from a mother/son combo who manage to get away, and the group's leader (an old guy) and his daughter (a hot blonde), who are captured by Lucas and his posse (which includes an apparent lesbian second-in-command), and taken back to their headquarters (a castle on a bridge) to be held prisoner and interrogated.
The daughter just happens to be the surviving son's girlfriend and he is most distressed about leaving her. He tells his mother that he wants to go back and save her (he "knows" she is alive, even though he didn't see her get captured), but while they are on the run some more of Lucas's band of merry men, all done-up in the usual leather-n-chain outfits of the post-apocalyptic era, appear and kill mom. Luckily for sonny (his name is Harris), a seemingly-random tough-nut woman out on a joyride in her futuristic jeep spots the commotion and saves Harris from the same fate as his mother, by blowing the evil gang away. She (Danielle) befriends Harris and takes him back to her hide-out, which is an open camp run by two Vietnam-vets. They are planning an assault on Lucas's fortress, and Lucas knows all about it. That's why he wants Harris's girlfriend's father, who is knowledgeable in their whereabouts and wants to send out his gang to kill them before they can do the same to him. He puts the daughter in all kind of perilous situations (including what appears to be lesbian rape from the second-in-command!) to make him talk, and once he does, the second-in-command blows his brains out. Then, after she and the gang is sent out to find the vets (or "arms dealers") and Danielle, etc, Lucas reveals his big plan for the daughter - he wants her to carry the baby of his own father to keep their little "tribe" going into the future and honor his father's wishes! Once that bizarre revelation is out of the way, the movie kicks into more high-gear with endless action sequences and mind-boggling scenes.
Watch Harris, Danielle and the vets battle cannibal survivors of the plague, Lucas's army and boredom as they play strip-poker with two blondes (who keep losing and must strip, of course)! They also have a prisoner, who was the arms expert of Lucas's gang, and a computer that talks with a female voice and can fly a helicopter just from sitting on the seat. There are copious amounts of action, which are all horrendously executed, thanks to the films low, low budget. People get shot without squibs (well, some of them), and in most cases the explosions are little more than sparks and smoke cannisters, while the same people are shot over and over again. All of the gunshot sound effects are almost muted, and you can barely hear the damn things go off, while every other sound is loud as day. That was a real bizarre element of the film. The acting of course is pathetic, and the old guy who is supposed to be Lucas's father is clearly middle-aged and wearing excessive make-up and a terrible wig. Check out the bogus abrupt ending, and the "futuristic" cars that are totally trashed on the exterior, but have perfect engines and tires. Oh, and thankfully the hot blonde daughter (Claudia) is spared her "rape" by the old fool in the nick of time. The girls and the wacky action sequences might be enough for you to enjoy this film, but it's certainly an odd-ball!
A poor excuse of a horror movie, made worse by the idiotic, annoying killer, who seems to have some sort of brain damage and goes around murdering young girls for no reason. This guy lives with his mother who controls his life (sound familiar), and won't let him date girls, because they'll take him away from her, she proclaims! Years of this kind of "mothering" has turned him into a pathetic, whiny-voiced madman, who crawls around parking lots in his huge Buick looking for new female victims, to lure back home, rape and kill.
The movie starts off with some blonde nurse being abducted by our killer, and taken back to his house. They seem to know each other (from where?), and while mother is yelling at him the nurse makes her escape. Humiliated, the killer strangles his mother and sets about seeking vengeance on the nurse, who lives with a bunch of scantily-clad female friends. They decide to enact their own revenge on the killer, and funnily enough, run into home quite quickly in the middle of a suburban street! Determination now gone, they flee and manage to call the police while he chases them in his Buick. After being cornered, the killer stabs a cop and speeds off with two units in pursuit, all three cars driving very slowly so as not to crash, because with the lousy budget this film has they wouldn't have been able to pay for any damage! Eventually, they reach the waterfront and the killer jumps into a rowboat to sail away. The cops run up to a pier and open fire with shotguns, eventually causing the WOODEN rowboat to EXPLODE! That's right - the killer is rowing away with oars in a wooden boat and when shot at with guns it blows up into a plume of fire! I laughed so hard at that scene, especially when the cops lower their guns, stare at the fiery wreck and then just walk off, without even attempting to recover a body! Can you believe this shoddy writing? Anyway, with the killer presumed dead, a few months later the nurse and her friends decide to take off to some wilderness cabin for a week. A couple of girls stay behind. But low-and-behold, the killer is still alive, sitting in his old house (what about the bills?) and complaining in his whiny-voice to his mother's headstone (which he put in himself). He decides again to get the nurse and her friends and goes to their house, only to find the two stragglers and their boyfriends, whom he kills. Then he conveniently discovers where the girls are staying via an answering machine message, and takes off to the cabin. There he kills just about everyone else in standard format until only two girls are left. What a good plot! Bah. Apart from the terrible writing which pits characters into the most ridiculous of situations (one girl goes out to photograph trees, for God's sake), the killer will really get on your nerves with his teeth-setting laugh and expressions that are not frightening to the extreme. He also has a habit of sneaking up behind his male victims to kill them so they don't have the chance to defend themselves, because it is clearly obvious they are all much stronger than he is and would easily win in a fair fight! I could only shake my head at such stupidity when we're supposed to be "afraid" of this killer, who dispatches of his victims with red-hot fire pokers, lumps of wood and the hood of a Mustang.
Gore-wise the film barely rates in that department. There is minimal blood in most of the kills except for one where a girl is offed in the shower, which is also a frequent moment of nudity, although that is all very lame in itself. These girls are nothing special. The acting is also ridiculous, the worst being the killer, and the fact that he keeps regaining consciousness after some of the things that are done to him by the survivors defies belief. Watch out for the twist ending! Ha! I'm sure you can guess what it is... I don't even remember which two girls survived (I think one was the nurse), and all they do is hobble off into the woods, not even bothering to check if the killer is dead. The killer also has the habit of being in two places at once or getting between places in rapid time, and there is no sense of continuity or style in this film at all. A very average horror that has its moments, but there aren't really enough of them to give it a decent rating. The only laugh comes from that boat explosion, which is a must-see!
The world's first feminist?
After her all-woman tribe gets wiped out by some nasty men for no reason, Hundra takes off in search of a man to impregnate her (hopefully with a girl) to ensure the tribe does not die out for good. After giving the aforementioned men what-for, Hundra, her horse and her pet dog that follows her around everywhere, travel in search of the perfect man for the job. After a failed attempt with a drunken slob who Hundra ends up thumping, she arrives in a near-by desert village run by a chauvinist pig and his merry men. This "prince" likes to select the most attractive-looking female residents of the village and uses a hot mistress to teach them how to be the perfect woman, so they can then serve the drunken, brutish town aristocrats. Hundra stumbles upon the plot and tries to stop it, but is abducted and forced to undergo the same "training". Meanwhile, she falls for the village doctor and wants him to be the father of her child, but he is not very willing...
Hundra could possibly be the world's earliest feminist. She hates men and is strongly for women's rights, trying to force her beliefs on every woman she comes across later in the film. She is also well-versed in fighting and weaponry, making her no novice when it comes to taking-on these men. After she is forced into "training" by the prince, she discovers that her teacher has an illegitimate son, which the prince would kill her for. In exchange for keeping this secret, the teacher agrees to help Hundra win-over the doctor so they can make a baby. Hundra tries and tries and finally convinces the teacher to fight back against the prince and his merry men, and stand-up for her rights. There are many women's lib speeches from Hundra, almost as much of that as there is sword and sorcery, so you get my drift when I say feminism...
As for the sword and sorcery, it's a grand old fare with much slicing and dicing. There's a fair amount of blood and heads coming off, and even the poor old pet dog gets into a fight with a prince! There also seems to be a few horses who didn't get the good end of the bargain, falling all over the place. Speaking of horses, there's a strange scene where Hundra rides her horse through the ocean naked, presumably to bathe them both? You've also got a tiny bit of slap-and-tickle and the acting is fairly ordinary. No one stands-out much. The ending is what you'd expect, with the oppressed women rising up against those brutal men. None of them just seem to be as good with a sword as our Hundra! She also does it with the doctor and gives birth to a baby, but when she says "Give me my daughter", the doctor and the teacher exchange concerned glances, as if the baby's actually a boy. But Hundra says nothing of it later, so who knows what that scene was about... It must have been a girl, then! Doing her bit for the women of the village, Hundra takes her baby and rides off into the sunset, ready to try and replenish her tribe so that they may thrive again...
With the feminist themes, this film is an interesting twist on the abundant sword and sorcery plot. The locations were very well used and the film was well edited. Can't say much of the music, but there's nothing there that will truly annoy you, except for some of the storyline, of course! Not a bad viewing.
Grosso guaio a Cartagena (1987)
This obscure Italian production is set in Columbia of all places, where it seems the riverbeds here are awash with diamonds, and one man, the evil What's-his-name, is seeking to monopolize this trade and run everyone else (who owns land with diamonds) out of town. Barbara De Rossi plays Vanessa, one of those land-owners, a failed New York actress. She gets a call from some lawyer that her late father (who she hadn't seen for years) has left her his estate, which includes the title to the land with diamonds. If she doesn't hurry up and get down to Columbia soon, the evil man will buy the deed and get them! About this time Franco Nero comes into the picture, playing Franco! He and his annoying friend are cruising around and stop in Columbia, so Franco can send a money order to buy some bar on some beach in Tahiti. Vanessa also arrives and is hounded by the lawyer to pay her taxes on the deed, or she'll lose the land. She has three days to get $10 000, but she doesn't seem too interested. She also has no money, so what can she do? Then she's introduced to her half-brother, a young native lad who seems to know everything. They stay at her parents' old house with the maid, a black woman who continually has this enormous grin on her face, not matter what's going on. That woman is hysterical. Anyway, the half-brother already has a diamond he found and tells Vanessa they can sell it for $10 000 to secure the deed. Again, she doesn't seem too interested, so the boy goes to town to see what he can do on his own. He comes across Franco's friend and offers him the diamond. And what luck - Franco has exactly $10 000! Only problem is he's not interested and doesn't want to buy, but his friend steals the money and makes the trade, before the evil man's henchmen arrive and try to kidnap the boy and his diamond. Once Franco realizes he's lost his money, he chases after the boy to get it back, and eventually joins him and Vanessa in a fight against the evil monopolizer.
It has to be said that Franco never is really on their (Vanessa and the boy's) side. He's just trying to get his money back and keeps refusing the diamond, but every time he has the cash in his grasp Vanessa takes it back again, now determined to get the deed. Seems a little competition was all it took to change her mind! The rest of the movie is just a cat-and-mouse chase through the forests of Columbia as Franco and Vanessa try to outrun the evil man and make it back to the lawyer's on time, thwarting death-attempts as they go. There are many running gags, with Franco constantly stealing the same bus to escape/chase the villains, and the evil man thumping his own silly henchmen and chucking their cigarettes away (his ultimate downfall in the end). They aren't really funny. There is also a blossoming romance between Franco and Vanessa (of course), which shows itself at the local Fiesta. Vanessa is enjoying a dance with some local while Franco watches, his jealousy building until he snatches her away in disgust! He then spends the rest of the movie trying to deny his feelings for her (but not vice-versa!), until everything ties-up in the end. I must also mention that the black maid seems to be some kind of psychic and has numerous visions of Franco and Vanessa in mirrors! This underlying "voodoo" theme is never really explained, and quite hard to swallow. There are numerous action scenes which are entertaining at least, but nothing special. The bus/car chases are probably the best. Later, Franco and Vanessa are caught in a leopard trap in a tree and spend the night there, unable to escape! Looking back to all of the other Italian rip-offs, I was expecting a lot more action and violence, but this film was very subdued. It's more of an adventure than action, with Franco and Vanessa racing around the hills dodging henchmen, and exploring the wonders of Fiesta. As far as acting goes, Franco Nero plods along, almost void of facial expressions (I think he smiles twice), and not looking like he put in much effort. Barbara De Rossi is dubbed. The rest of the cast are average at best, although the evil monopolizer has some good scenes throwing his weight around over everybody. Some funny lines, too. That smiling maid will make you laugh. There's also another black woman named Mother Teresa, if I'm not mistaken! Apparently she's the local matriarch who also knows Vanessa from way back, and helps them escape the bad guys for a while. She turned in a good performance as well.
For what it's worth, this movie isn't too bad. I doubt many people would track it down (or bother, for that matter). It's not something you have to see, and there's certainly nothing special about it. Tomasso directs with some flair and intrigue, and the scenery is lovely. There's also a song that plays throughout the film, some Calypso-sounding thing which is priceless. Other than that, there's really not much else to look out for. The diamond is huge and I would think Franco could have gotten a hell of a lot more than $10 000 for it, so I don't know why he was so worried about losing his money. He could have bought his bar and kept some extra. It's just an excuse to keep the film going. And what a film it turns out to be!
Interesting Post-Apoc. Film...
"The Survivor", as he is known (even though there are other survivors too), wanders around what's left of Spain (mostly desert!) after the apocalypse ten years ago, looking for a hidden paradise supposedly rich with food and water. Seems an old Turkish man confided in "The Survivor" about it a few years back, and, on his last legs, our hero is determined to find it, although not really sure if he can believe the story. Along the way he is attacked by other survivors and left for dead, but a female prisoner he managed to free in the process takes him to her "ship" off the coast of Madrid and lets him sleep it off until he recovers. They strike-up a relationship and she tells him she knows of this so-called "paradise" he is looking for, but warns him not to go there. But he doesn't listen, of course! While preparing to set-off in search of it, his new lady friend is kidnapped by the evil Kragg (who he seems to know from a flashback he keeps having, but later we see that this flashback is something that happens at the end of the movie, in present time!), and hero must try to rescue her.
The end of the movie takes place in a power station buried under the sand, where other survivors are now living with just enough food and water for themselves. This is the paradise everyone was talking about. "The Survivor" finds it and is soon captured. Surprisingly, everyone bar Kragg and a few of his goons wants Kragg dead, and order "The Survivor" to kill him! Kragg is a very nasty and deluded man, full of big ideas for the future of Earth and everything must go his way. He proclaims himself as God and fought and killed other survivors to keep the power station-dwellers a uniform and tight-knit unit, but the others don't like his future plans. "The Survivor" agrees and sets about killing Kragg, leading to a long, drawn-out battle with chains and guns within the power station. Can our hero save his new love and rid the world of the evil Kragg before it becomes even worse than it was before? Watch breathlessly to find out as "The Survivor" hides directly under Kragg on a chain! There is something of a surprise twist-ending, which was more satisfying than what I thought was the end, but doesn't seem to hold too much hope for Earth either way.
The music throughout the film (not the songs) is very good, and suited well to the mood. Acting is what you'd expect (Chip Mayer is laughable), and the production values don't look much. The coastal location with the wrecked ship is excellent, however. As another reviewer mentioned, most of the film jumps back-and-forth between the past and the present, which at best is painfully bearable. Most of the dialog is also done in voice-overs, as character's "thoughts". There isn't much character interplay until the end. There are a couple of stupid moments too, such as when "The Survivor" and an enemy shoot each other at the start. Dig those wounds! That said, the opening scene is fantastic, with NASA voice-overs and the launching of the space shuttle that will carry Chip Mayer to safety before the end of the world (he says in the film that he watched it all from space, but how much could he have seen from up there?). These voice-overs come back later with footage of mushroom clouds as "The Survivor" is looking at a photo of his dead daughter, which is probably one of the best scenes. Other than that, it's your average post-apocalyptic mess!
Twisted Nightmare (1987)
I had reasonably high hopes when first watching this "horror" of a movie, based on other IMDb users' reviews. I was quickly disappointed. After the ridiculous "firefly" opening credit sequence (or flaming ashes or whatever the hell they were supposed to be), we get to see the bulk of the cast preparing to head back to an old summer camp they used to frequent, having all won a free trip. None of them seem very enthusiastic due to events past, but since it's free and they can all catch-up with each other after a year or so they decide to go for it.
Later, when they're all there, tensions start building and people are at each other's throats over the "death" that happened last time they stayed at camp. The main character's boyfriend knows nothing of it, so some girls explain it to him - his girlfriend's mentally-challenged brother was burnt to death in a barn out front. We get a nice flashback that tells the whole story, except what the hell actually caused him to self-combust. The brother wanders into the shed in a sulk and inexplicably looks up to see a flashing red light, which makes him scream. Why? Next thing you know he bursts out of the barn on fire, and his sister appears from nowhere screaming in slow motion. Reeling from the news, the boyfriend is wary of the days ahead...
A few minutes later one of the couples is murdered in the same barn; no one notices. The next morning, more are murdered - no one notices. Each time a character disappears and is killed, no one knows they are gone, and when someone is asked of their whereabouts, they reply with some noncommittal answer. Some friends, eh? The killer is exposed as some half-human, half-beast creature that growls like a drowning zombie. Tracking him (apparently he's been there the whole time the group were last at camp) is the ground's caretaker, an Indian descendant who's ancestors were burned at the stake by Civil War soldiers. He claims one of them put a curse on the campground, and thinks this thing is the result. The film makes great play of hiding his motives... is he actually the killer or is he just out to stop the real one? He spends all of his time screaming and threatening the group and at one point nearly bursts into tears in front of one couple about his kittens - "I NEED 'EM!" he shouts.
Also coming on the scene later is the town sheriff, whom one of the girls manages to call before getting killed. He arrives in his old, '50s-vintage rust bucket that he had to get his granddaughter to help him fix in an earlier scene while a random African-American man sat watching in disbelief! I couldn't help but join him! Didn't the County Sheriff's department see fit for him to have a proper police vehicle? He's also very old and spends nearly a minute examining two victims in the dark before deciding to do something about it. He doesn't do much. At the end the killer is exposed as someone we know and the lead female character has something to do with it. Can her new boyfriend and the miserable old caretaker stop them in time before all are lost? Barely. The film also fails to tie up all loose ends, such as motive and what the hell exactly happened to the brother. Was it the old Indian curse or what that made him self-combust? This kind of writing affects the film badly. It is a shoddy mess, with what looks like a lot of ad-libbing and last-minute ideas. How someone could fund such a screenplay is beyond me. The characters are typical wannabees who think they're all so cool and spend their time doing nothing but drinking and moaning. I did like that older, mustached guy though. Can't remember the name. He drove the silver Ford Thunderbird that had sugar in the gas tank (another lame plot point). A lot of his lines are actually genuinely funny, although the scene where he snaps at the cabin and goes off at everyone, screaming "You're an asshole! F@#% you! And your brother was an asshole too! I'm glad he's dead!", etc is unintentionally hilarious. I was rolling around at that scene. The other actors just stare at him and you can tell one girl is trying not to laugh. Great stuff.
The same unfortunately cannot be said for the technical side of the film. The direction is uninspired and dull. Lighting in a lot of the scenes is poor and I don't know what was going on with the music, I don't even remember it. The gore scenes were fairly effective, though some parts defy belief (the first victim flying up in slow motion in the barn). There was quite a bit of blood and also some nudity, which never hurts. I also have to say that the acting is pathetic, although it looks like some of them really did try. It just didn't make a difference. The script however was the worst, and the fact that the director didn't do anything about it and fix the mistakes ruined the film. Not as bad as some of them, but not the best of the '80s slashers either. You can do much better in terms of sheer entertainment value.
Oh yeah, that ice shed was pathetic, too. Stocked year-round when no one has been there for over a year and ice is still in large, perfect blocks even with a hatch in the roof wide open and no obvious refrigeration source. The girl who is trapped in there also goes into hysterics after ten seconds, even though she thinks her friends did it... See what I mean about the acting?
Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000)
Didn't like it.
I am a big, big fan of the original "Gone in 60 Seconds" which, if you want to see some action, is the film to see, not this one. Too much attention is paid to Nicholas Cage, Angeline Jolie and hot, hot cars that no one in their right mind could steal or get away with stealing. When was the last Jaguar XJ228 theft you heard about? Impossible. The original had believable thefts and believable cars, but this stuff is unbelievable.
Anyway, Nick does a good job in the acting department, I'll give him that, and Delroy Lindo is fantastic. Robert Duvall was good too and there were a few moments during that laughable final chase (again, see the original movie) that were quite exciting. I know today's cinema is all about people like Cage and Jolie, and cars like that (which some mobster as the one in the film wouldn't even know what to do with in reality), but I'm afraid I'm a poor old sap who's living in the past and prefers that classic, believable stuff like the original "Gone in 60 Seconds". This ain't classic. Bruckheimer just wanted to release another huge action flick, I think, and to hell with the story! Sad.
Force Five (1975)
Not what it seems.
The other two reviewers seem to have this TV-movie confused with some kind of Japanese animation show. Surely they would realize from the summary and cast listing that they're on the wrong page. I found an old copy of this on VHS for sale at a video store here in Australia, and it appears to be the pilot for an abandoned TV series called "Final Tactic", in which a police lieutenant reluctantly hires ex-cons who are the best in their fields to help crack-down on organized crime, because the police department's usual methods are failing.
Bradford Dillman makes a surprise appearance as the evil-doer and spends much of the movie-length show outwitting the lieutenant and his cons, until a rather spectacular climax at his hilltop estate in Hollywood. There are a number of exciting action sequences, including a lengthy car chase and a helicopter crash into Dillman's pool! The plot involves the star player of a state basketball team being thumped across the head in a parking lot in an apparent mugging, but the shady financial dealings of team officials proves otherwise. There is a good story here, and the lieutenant investigates and carries it on nicely, with his new recruits doing all of his dirty work along the way.
"Final Tactic" or "Force Five" as it must have been called in the US (which makes sense, as there are five on the team - lieutenant and four cons) also makes excellent use of the various southern California locations made famous in movies of the early seventies. Places long-gone like J.C. Agajanian's Ascot Park Raceway and the original toll booths on the Vincent Thomas Bridge make wonderfully-nostalgic backdrops against the action, and for a TV movie from the seventies it does seem to have quite a modest budget and has all the magic and sparkle of a Hollywood blockbuster. A shame that it never appeared to evolve into a TV series, and even more of a shame that such TV series' and even TV movies aren't as well-written and acted as this one was! A thoroughly recommended viewing if you can track it down somewhere.
Deadline Auto Theft (1983)
"The New 'Gone in 60 Seconds'!"
Or so touts the original trailer for the film. In director H.B. Halicki's previous movie, "The Junkman", Christopher Stone says he was "not excited" by the first three minutes of "Gone in 60 Seconds", and is thus doing reshoots. Here we have the result. "Gone in 60 Seconds" has been ripped apart, a lot of old stuff thrown away and new scenes inserted, including an entire new opening, parts of which can be seen in "The Junkman".
The new opening and additional scenes are actually really good. However, they pretty-much have nothing to do with the rest of the film. Well, they do, but not in a way that if you got rid of them and just kept the old "Gone in 60 Seconds", it would make a difference. Hoyt Axton steals the show, but unfortunately disappears towards the end. His daughter's fiancé's car is stolen at the start, and we get numerous "hell-bent" speeches on how he is determined to catch master thief Maindrian Pace, but come the big pursuit at the end, he is nowhere to be found, apart from a couple of quick scenes in a helicopter, and when he saves the day for the hapless car wash manager who is wrongly accused.
I guess the only thing to really discuss are the new scenes. For those who have seen the original "Gone in 60 Seconds", everything is still there, apart from a lot of shaved footage. The new Queen Mary chase at the start is very entertaining, but unfortunately the detectives in the pursuit are portrayed as goofy and stupid, much to the cliché. In "Gone in 60 Seconds" and "The Junkman", the police certainly crashed during chases, but the crashes were believable and real. In "Deadline Auto Theft", they seem to crash just for the sake of action, and most of the crashes are stupid and corny. Three cars in a row flying over an embankment and into boats to avoid a stationary Kombi? Not to mention the ridiculous "shortcut" taken by two cops in the LA riverbed, where they end up stalled over the drainage channel and have another unmarked car hit them and overturn.
It was wonderful to see Sgt. Hawkins from "Gone in 60 Seconds" back and involved in the new scenes. However, where he was a hard-ass cop in that film, his new scenes here portray him as just as goofy and stupid as the rest. I was unhappy to see him uncredited yet again, and would love to know who played him. A great actor!
"Deadline Auto Theft" is certainly worth a look. Hell, I really enjoyed it. There is one glaring problem, though, and that is that the new scenes were filmed in 1982, while "Gone in 60 Seconds" came out in 1974. So fashions and vehicles are completely different, and one would wonder why the hell Maindrian and pals dress like fools and the Long Beach PD drive 1968 Plymouth Belvederes, when at the start everything is post 1976. Try to ignore that and you'll be fine!
Miracle on Interstate 880 (1993)
Great TV-movie about the collapse of Interstate 880 during the '89 San Francisco quake. There is a wonderful cast of well-known character actors, including Ruben Blades, Scott Hylands and David Morse. The film combines archive footage with its own staged "collapse site", which looks a bit tacky at times, but certainly serves the purpose when we are between the layers, watching as medical teams try and pull survivors from the wreckage of their vehicles. There is a particularly closed-in atmosphere during these scenes, and together with the added effects of blasting horns and blinking turn signals, it seems all-too real at times.
Many of these made-for-TV disaster movies are notoriously poor and have quite a reputation, but I-880, as it is also known, breaks away from this mould to give us a compelling and touching real-life drama, with an especially emotional ending that is a bit of a kick in the face. Certainly worth a look if you can find it.
Lethal Weapon 3 (1992)
The whole team is back and fighting a psycho ex-cop in the series' third installment, providing the usual headache for Riggs and Murtaugh, with the added (initial) hindrance of Lorna Cole (Rene Russo). While lacking in some parts, particularly Riggs' character (he's over the insanity), there's still a lot to enjoy. The action sequences are of the usual high standard, particularly the armoured-car chase and the subway shoot-out. Steve Kahan does a great job in his elevated role of Captain Ed Murphy, and its great to see him bickering with the bad guy and taking out some of his henchmen rather unconventionally. I always liked his character and am glad they used him more in this one.
Danny Glover is a gem as always. He's always been my favourite over Mel Gibson and he has some classic scenes and one-liners. Overall, the film has some very good dramatic and tense moments, and while not as good as the first two, still provides ample entertainment and does well in continuing the Riggs/Murtaugh storyline.
Kindergarten Cop (1990)
I've always loved this film and thought it was one of Arnie's best. As Detective John Kimble, he does a great job trying to fit in as the patient kindergarten teacher, and his early scenes with the children are comedy at its best. Pamela Reed and Linda Hunt steal the show as Kimble's partner and the school principal respectively, with their quirky one-liners and comic expressions. The rest of the cast is excellent also, particularly a lot of the children, who did a good job reading their lines at such a young age.
This film is more about the comedy than the action, and it really shines throughout the film. The whole drug-bust scene and the trip to Astoria are perhaps the most memorable, with Kimble wielding shotgun and Pamela Reed throwing up on the side of the road every five minutes. There are numerous sub-plots woven through the story, including Kimble's romance with Penelope Ann Miller and his fury at a child-beating father. This all builds up to a very memorable climax as the bad guy sets the school ablaze, and who could forget Reed's timeless "saving the day" with a baseball bat and "You're not so tough without your car, are ya?"
Definately recommended for sheer delight.
Thief of Hearts (1984)
I saw this on late-night TV some time ago and didn't think it was too bad. The plot is a bit far-fetched, but the film actually gets better as it goes along, so it's certainly worth a look. People say David Caruso is the only good thing in this film, but I didn't think he was very good. A bit too extreme for my taste. Shooting a cop and then losing his mind didn't do anything for me. I thought the husband and his business friend were great. The music is quite good also, and a lot of the warehouse scenes are quite well done, with lots of tension.
If you want something to kick-back with on a Saturday night, this would be one film to try. Nothing overly-special, but not bad to say the least!
This is clearly a bad film, but I can't help watching it when there's nothing better to do. A lot of bad movies are like that, right? "Nightmares" concerns Jenny Neumann slashing people to death with broken glass for seemingly no reason. She caused her mother's death by accident when she was a kid because she didn't like her cheating with another man, and now goes out to deal her own kind of warped justice on young lovers and her fellow cast in some stage show she is acting in.
The plot doesn't seem to go anywhere other than to make sure the rest of the characters are killed off. The crew also try and put a great deal of effort into disguising who the killer is, but it's blatantly obvious from the start. The nauseating POV shots become completely ridiculous in the end, with the camera just meandering through dark halls for at least two minutes for no reason. At one point, the shot even freezes for five seconds! The lighting is absolutely horrendous, and most of the time it is too dark to see what is going on. The camera seems to like to stay focused on empty corridors and rooms, and then pan slightly to a doorway to show a character entering or exiting. Why not have the camera on the door the whole time? It's very hard to ignore all this shoddy work, and really drags the film down.
There is quite a bit of blood and gore, and the effects are actually quite good. Jenny Neumann certainly adds beauty to the film also, but it isn't enough to save this murky disaster. Pity really. Anyway, not a good film at all, but certainly not the worst horror flick out there.
The Blues Brothers (1980)
A cult classic that will never get old, who could forget the great songs and performances by Jake and Elwood and The Blues Brothers Band? While the movie is pretty-much just an excuse to play some music, it's all put together so well that the simple plot becomes a brilliant one. The cameos are wonderful and very witty; Frank Oz as the sarcastic prison warden and Steven Spielberg as the bewildered county clerk. John Candy and Henry Gibson are excellent in their supporting roles, not to mention the fabulous interludes by Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and James Brown!
This film is probably best-known for its outrageous action sequences, particularly the Nazi car flying off the overpass and the police pile-up in Chicago. The mall chase scene is probably one of my favourite pieces of motion picture ever. The humour associated with Carrie Fisher's assaults is also to die for - "Who IS that girl?", "It's nine o'clock - we gotta go to work" and "There must be at least seven dollars worth of change here" are some of the best lines in the film.
Can't really say much that hasn't already been said, but if you haven't seen the film, make sure you do, and if you have, then watch it again! Classic.
While not my favourite Moore Bond, this is definately a very good film in terms of quality and substance. The plot is excellent and really quite terrifying when you think about it. While Louis Jourdan is great in his role as the main villian, I thought Steven Berkoff stole the show as the mad Russian general. His scenes with a disgusted Walter Gotell were marvellous!
Of course, all the humour is here, and Moore seems to be having a fun time as usual. Great one-liners such as, "I intend to, Kamal Khan", "And that's for 009!" and "Well, thank you, sir, that's a great comfort" give a soft edge to otherwise very dramatic scenes. The rest of the cast is good, particularly a lot of the extras. The action is also of special note, particularly the whole car chase/train fight which is very strong and great entertainment.
It's great to see the film live up to the original Bond standards, with the perfect mix of action, humour and romance. I still prefer most of Moore's earlier Bonds, but "Octopussy" is always fun when you've nothing better to do.
I saw the trailer for this film on an old VHS I was watching, and was intrigued enough to purchase it on eBay. All I can say is it was worth every cent. A marvellous little "unknown", with strong performances from the whole cast and great chemistry between them. The storyline is solid and unique, and is nowhere near a rip-off of earlier films. Of course, the music was another bonus, particularly the quick, sharp cues we get during the most dramatic scenes.
A lot of tension is evident throughout the film, building up as we go along to a most memorable conclusion. The shots of the spaceship in the desert with the stunned Air Force pilots were great! There seems to have been a great deal of effort put into pacing too, and the film flows along very smoothly. Just an excellent movie and very highly recommended!
Both thrilling and absurd.
I happened to see this film (spread out over two nights) by chance and must say it certainly kept me watching. There were excellent moments of tension and so forth, but the overriding stupidity of certain characters and situations actually made me complain out loud to the TV screen. To be fair, the killer is very convincing and excels in his job to frighten. A very good job there. However, I think the lack of motive and his seemingly "super-powers" that allow him to sense people via "vibrations in the air" and so forth let him down a bit. That was a bit far-fetched.
Then there was Chyna Shepard. God, I have never wanted to strangle someone more than I did her. I actually felt like taking the killer's place and doing the job myself. How can someone be so stupid? True, she had some good ideas and executed certain escape plans well, but for goodness sake, get a clue and just get out of there! Here we have a woman who witnesses a friend's murder, and tries to save her by driving off in that damn RV. Unfortunately ol' killer comes along before she can so she ends up riding shotgun and can't escape as he heads back home in it. Eventually, he stops for gas and she takes the opportunity to escape and beg for someone to call the police. Then she overhears the killer talking about a girl he has hostage in his basement and decides to rescue her - by getting back in the RV and hiding so the killer can drive her there himself. Yet minutes earlier, she staggers around the gas station while the killer is inside, even finding a registration form with his address on it, and fails to simply get in the RV and drive off on her own! This happens at least a further three times and it is just mind-bogglingly frustrating. You end up thinking that she actually wants to die, and she certainly deserves to.
It doesn't stop there. She gets a gun, points it at him while his back is turned, but doesn't pull the trigger (there were no bullets anyway)? Just shoot him and drive him to the police. But that would be the smart thing to do. Later, they arrive at the killer's house and she is caught and chained to a dining room table. Here's where things get really stupid. The killer leaves for work and she makes her escape. Her actions are absolutely ridiculous and left me screaming in fury. To "unchain" herself from the chair she is tied to, she smashes it against a fireplace a few times. When that doesn't work (only after four attempts), she decides rolling down a flight of stairs would be better, and succeeds in knocking herself unconscious. Hmm, would you rather just keep smashing the chair against the fireplace and eventually break it, or risk killing yourself by falling down the stairs? Silly question.
She eventually frees the kidnapped girl (who is in the basement) and try to get away. The girl is catatonic and won't do what she asks, but instead of just dragging her out of the house with her, Chyna spends several vital minutes each time delving into story about her own troubled childhood so the girl can walk herself without being dragged. Then she gets the RV up to the house and leads the girl into it via ladder from an upstairs balcony, and is followed by some of the killer's viscious guard dogs (which turn up everywhere). Now, instead of either a. removing the ladder before they follow, or b. simply driving off, she stands inside the RV with a hammer for at least forty seconds in case one of the dogs manage to drop in through a broken skylight. What a joke. They make their escape. But the best of all is yet to come! When they reach the main road, Chyna stops and wastes a minute asking the girl which way to go (of course she doesn't reply - she's catatonic), instead of just getting the hell out of there! The killer is on his way home (remote alarm for the RV, has he), and she mistakes him for a detective who is promptly dispatched by the now police uniform-clad and patrol car-driving killer (where the hell did he get those from?), who then turns the gun on her. Instead of just running him over or even ducking, she sits and watches as he fires at the RV. Naturally, she returns to the house with the girl and they battle it to the death.
Now, I cannot begin to fathom the millions of plot-holes in this film. To begin, apart from the black detective, where the hell are the police? Chyna has a run-in with an old woman who finds bodies at the gas station, yet the police fail to instigate a search for their killer or even listen to the detective when he looks for him himself? Koontz may portray his policemen as "dumb", but this is pathetic. Totally unbelievable and stupid. The police would be all over it. To make matters worse, the killer leaves his "patrol car" AND the body of the poor detective and his own Ford LTD in the middle of the road outside his house and follows Chyna and the girl inside - what happens when someone comes along and calls the cops? Oh, spare me! And then there's the detective and the old woman to begin with. There is absolutely no point to them being in the film whatsoever. They're just completely wasted, which is sad. It is so infuriating to see the detective shot that I yelled at the screen. How typical and cliche. Furthermore, what the hell was the point of the "man" the killer has hostage in his backyard. He's onscreen for a minute and never mentioned again. It seems the film-makers just threw in useless characters to make up time, without any logic whatsoever.
And please don't get me started on the dogs. They attack only when Chyna is trying to escape? What about when she first heads into the house or returns at the end? Bad work there. There are also some wolves which likewise have no point in the story at all. And what about the little girls parents? Chyna is shown at the end trying to adopt her, but the detective pulls out her "missing person" papers earlier in the film, so where are the people who reported her missing? The whole film is just ridiculous and bizarre that I could not enjoy it for its merits. Very thrilling, yes. Probably a good film too. But it's just too stupid to recommend.
Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
I cannot believe how bitter I was leaving this film after it's premiere. I was so disappointed that I could not stop raving about it all night. The acting/plot/music/etc was good and had potential, but it was just carried out in such a way that it ended up flawed and just didn't work. There were so many bad, laughable moments that I wished the film had never been made.
Kudos must be given to Rick Rosenthal for what he did after the film was dumped into his hands, though. But ultimately the film is poor and does little to help the series, as this is just another made for the hip teen audience and not to continue the storyline. Watch out for the duplicate, ridiculous deaths and the stupid, ridiculous one-liners, particularly from Freddie (Busta Rhymes - whose effort was poor). The kung-fu scene is also an absolute joke!
This film gives the series a bad name and does little to restore faith in the "Halloween" movies. Steer clear!
Has it's moments...
While on the whole a poorly-made film that does little to help the "Halloween" series, this installment definitely delivers in regards to action and suspense. Most notably is the finale scene that takes place in the Myers house, with Michael and Jamie working well together to create a tense game of cat-and-mouse. Of course, the film could not have been made without the brilliance of main star Donald Pleasence - his fourth outing as Dr. Loomis is still on par with the original.
The continual focus on the most annoying Tina and her teeny-bopper friends drags the film through the mud more often than not. Most of the characters are annoying, one-dimensional idiots who deserve to get the chop (particularly the boyfriends and those two "clown" cops). The ending was a surprise and worked quite well, and a special mention goes to Beau Starr for another excellent performance as Sheriff Ben Meeker.
All in all, an average effort but nothing to get excited about.
This truly is one of the funniest films I have ever seen. The dialogue, characters, and situations they wind-up in are priceless! "Muggers" is the tale of two aspiring Med. School students who are on the verge of being kicked out. To pay their course fees, they turn to borrowing money from a pimp-turned-loan shark, and wind up having to repay him sooner than expected. To do so, they enter the game of organ donation, or more to the point, mugging anyone whose organs will do and stealing them instead!
To cut to the chase, "Muggers" is best viewed on its entertainment value. The actors are brilliant, of particular note being Marhsall Napier, who plays the Med. School professor, and of course Petra Jared and Nicola Charles. The laugh count is off-the-scale - the scene with the parking meter attendants had me rolling around on the floor, and the climaxing fight scene in Greg and Brad's apartment is classic!
All-in-all, a marvelous insight into the world of dim-witted desperados and their plight. See it!
Lord of the Flies (1990)
Terribly Underrated Film
My first job was to read the book. I couldn't get into it at first - too much labored descriptions of the island, etc, but after I pushed all that aside, I loved it. Everyone is right when they say what a masterpiece William Golding's novel is. But I'm not reviewing that...
My second job was to watch the film version - well, this version. I watched the earlier (1963) version afterwards, and really didn't think it stood up to the book. While I loved the opening credits and a lot of the climax, it just really didn't do it for me. Perhaps it was because the earlier version is in black and white. I don't know...
But it is the 1990 remake that really does it for me. I love it. I don't understand those who put it down. They whinge about the profanity and the boys now being Americans instead of British, etc. - all elements different from the novel and the 1963 version. But who cares? They go on about there not being any depth or feeling in the story... There is. Perhaps they just don't see it after the close-knit relationship of the novel and the 1963 version. But regardless, this is a great movie.
I thought the opening scene was brilliant - the raft bursting out of the water and scaring the hell out of the kids got me straight into the film. The locations are spectacular - the scenery literally took my breath away. I was most impressed by the use of photography in this film - much better than the 1963 version.
Anyway, back to the point. This is a strikingly-made adaption of the novel. The characters, particularly Ralph, aren't always true to the book, but they were developed very well. Jack's transformation from a civilized teen to a savage brute is brilliant - and Ralph's relationship with Piggy is strengthened to a bond which is only broken by Piggy's death at the hands of mayhem. Another element I loved and thought extremely ingenious was having the pilot survive, and ultimately, take the place of the parachutist who "drops in" on the boys in the book and 1963 version. If the boys can survive a plane crash in the middle of the ocean, then why not the pilot? The only thing I found annoying about this change was that he floundered about like a lost puppy after recovering from his fever - then ultimately wound up being murdered by one of Jack's posse (Roger?).
The use of the dream sequences, I thought, was done extremely well. Ralph's hallucination of a helicopter spotting them on the island, only to blow up as it passes them, had me gasping in awe. What brilliant film-making. Simon's dream was also very haunting - the young boy witnesses the pilot, Captain Benson, announcing they are about to be rescued and are "going home", then wakes up to find the pilot still unconscious with sickness.
The music that accompanies the film is a masterpiece on its own. Every piece brilliantly sets the tone and mood of the film and gives a great feel of the emotions the boys are feeling. Particularly amazing is the music heard during the scene where Simon discovers Captain Benson's body, and his own subsequent death.
And of course, the mood during the film is absolutely true to the novel, even if the events taking place aren't. The "dance" Jack's "tribe" performs in front of a disbelieving Ralph and Piggy enforces the utter breakdown of law and order on the island and the dark forces operating within the boys. It is obvious that the notions applied in the novel - that the real monster is inside each and every one of us - is present here.
The ending is superb. The chase scene is executed masterfully, often in slow motion, amongst the raging flames of the fires Ralph has set in hope of being spotted by a passing ship. The emotion displayed by both good (Ralph) and evil (Jack and his tribe) is absolutely real, climaxing with Ralph tripping over a log to land smack-bang in front of a marine officer. What better way to snatch away the breakdown and decay on the island, and of the aforementioned chase, than having a group of marines spotting the fires and landing to investigate, only to discover Jack and his tribe ready to kill Ralph and immediately snap them back to reality. The acting here is top-notch. Jack's reaction to the naval officer is one of complete believability - he suddenly realizes that his dream world on the island has come crashing down and now there is an adult to take charge of things and put an end to his rain of terror. The marine officer (played by the brilliant Bob Peck) is a fitting model to the awful truth that society has its rules and boundaries.
And what better way to finish the film than with a long shot of a second helicopter approaching the island, ready to land and further emphasize the return of the boys to the "real world"?
I predatori di Atlantide (1983)
Brilliant Deodato Fun!
This is probably the best of Ruggerro Deodato's films. Starring Christopher Connelly, Tony King, Ivan Rassimov, and George Hilton, this post-apocalyptic thriller revolves around Mike (Connelly) and Washington (King), two Vietnam vets, who find themselves muddled up in a battle between good and the dark face of Atlantean evil.
When a team of scientists, led by Professor Peter Saunders (Hilton), attempt to raise a sunken Russian submarine off the coast of Miami, an ancient Atlantean tablet is recovered from the ocean floor. They call in Dr. Cathy Rollins, and expert in pre-Columbian dialects, to examine the artifact. During the attempt to bring up the sub, a tidal wave destroys the platform and leaves only a tiny group of survivors, including Saunders, Rollins, and Bill Cook (Ivan Rassimov). They are rescued by Mike and Washington, and after cruising around aimlessly for a day, hit an island off the Florida coastline. On going ashore, they find everything and anything has been destroyed, and a string of bodies have been left amongst the ruins. Coming face-to-face with the culprits, a viscous mob of Atlantean killers, led by their leader "Crystal Skull", Mike and the gang must find a way to escape before they too are added to the growing list of victims.
There is so much that makes this movie the classic that it is. Superb acting, an interesting if not exciting storyline, and brilliant effects combine to create this hard-to-find classic. Wonderful and often hilarious use of action scenes, including the gruesome decapitation of a motorcycle raider, and a hapless woman being shot in the throat with a dart. Also featuring an excellent soundtrack, this movie is a must-see for post-apocalyptic fans and even those who simply enjoy a great action flick.
The Supergrass (1985)
The best British comedy yet!
The funniest movie from Britain I have ever seen, "The Supergrass" is a tale of sex, drugs, cream teas, and murder by the seaside. Dennis Carter (Adrian Edmonson), average moron, is out to impress his so-called girlfriend, Andrea (Dawn French), because she thinks he is too law-abiding. So, to get her to come along with him on a romantic getaway, he comes up with a scheme that perhaps will impress her and entice her to spend some time with him. Trouble is, Dennis' lie is that he's somehow gotten involved in an international drugs ring, and while telling her, a couple of policemen overhear his boasting and nick him. And so begins this witty movie, full of slick comedy and crude jokes. Dennis is banged up in the local nick, and, much to the arresting officers' delight, there seems to be no way out (Andrea's earlier attempts to explain it was all a lie were dismissed by a hilarious melody of "Stand by Your Man" by the two officers'). Then comes along Commander Robertson (Ronald Allen), Chief Intelligence, Scotland Yard. He makes a deal with Dennis, that if he helps him catch the drug smugglers, then he will be set free and allowed whatever he pleases. Dennis agrees, and is teamed up with Harvey Duncan (Peter Richardson), and Lesley Reynolds (Jennifer Saunders). The rest is an unforgettable rib-tickling experience, with Robbie Coltrane as Sergeant Troy adding humourous colour to the film. His walk along the dry-dock against "Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Two Tribes" is superb, and probably the best scene in motion picture history. The two officers' who nick Dennis are wonderfully played by Michael Elphick and Patrick Durkin, and Alexei Sayle as the motorcycle cop is a laugh! If you want something good to watch on a Saturday night, then I suggest you rent this. You won't forget it!