Shitty Movie Sundays: Invasion U.S.A., or, Chuck Norris’s Nightmare, or, Chuck Norris’s Wet Dream

Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus found their cash cow. After Chuck Norris got revenge for the United States losing the Vietnam War in Missing in Action, Golan and Globus wasted no time locking up Chuck to a multi-picture deal at The Cannon Group. Invasion U.S.A. was the first picture under that deal, and it’s just as over the top and stupid as anything else from the Cannon stable. But it also has a mean-spiritedness that will try the viewer. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Invasion U.S.A., or, Chuck Norris’s Nightmare, or, Chuck Norris’s Wet Dream”

Stallone Month: Rocky IV

This film is, without a doubt, peak Rocky. Gone is the working class Joe with the wicked left. In his place is a warrior for not just the American way, but for the Reagan era. It’s a stunning character transition, and also makes for spectacle of the highest order. Just sit back and say “wow” whenever it feels appropriate. But first, viewers must endure Paulie’s birthday party scene. Continue readingStallone Month: Rocky IV”

Stallone Month: Rambo: First Blood Part II

What a gloriously stupid movie. First Blood, the 1982 film about a disturbed Vietnam vet taking on a county sheriff with a bloated sense of self-importance, was a surprisingly impressive film. It was gritty and low-rent, despite having a big star in the lead. It was an action film that had real world reasons for the action. It was ridiculous and believable at the same time. But today’s film is just a blood and guts cartoon. Continue readingStallone Month: Rambo: First Blood Part II”

October Horrorshow: Creature

This piece of shit is going to be on the internet forever. Why? Because it’s in the public domain. That means it belongs to each and every one of us. We are the stewards of this film’s preservation. Oh, lordy. It also means that if any potential viewers out there see it for rent or purchase, stop before hitting the ‘buy’ button and hit the Google machine. A free viewing is just a click away. As for myself, I saw this dog on Netflix, the streaming service proving, yet again, that its profit model dictates that a large percentage of its film content is bottom-dwelling sludge. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Creature”

October Horrorshow: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

I love it when a sequel plays around with its original idea...with caveats, of course. Tweaks are good. Wholesale re-imaginings can be taking things too far. Take The Highlander, for instance. That film lays out some neat ground rules for both protagonist and antagonist. For some supernatural reason, seemingly random people throughout history have been rendered immortal, their purpose in life to track each other down and cut each other’s heads off, all to earn a mysterious prize which will be given to the last man standing. The film spent a substantial amount of time on its hero’s origin story in the Scottish Highlands. The film wrapped up the story so completely that the filmmakers may as well have put a bow on it. But, when it was time to make a sequel, all that backstory was retconned, and the immortals turned into fricking aliens. ALIENS. Audiences hated it. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge”

October Horrorshow: Lifeforce

Sometimes a movie tries to be an epic, but has a hard time shaking off its b-movie stink. Such is the case with Lifeforce, the 1985 sci-fi/horror film from director Tobe Hooper and writers Dan O’Bannon and Don Jakoby. The film opens with a bombastic score composed by Henry Mancini, in quite a departure from the type of music cinema buffs would associate with him. The camera flies over an endless asteroid that looks plucked from the long, dichromatic shots that Stanley Kubrick filmed for 2001. What follows is a quick introductory voiceover that takes care of all the backstory and character development. Viewers are told of the mission of the HMS Churchill, a joint American/British space shuttle mission tasked with exploring Halley’s Comet upon its dodranscentennial approach to the earth. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Lifeforce”

October Horrorshow: Fright Night

Fright NightI have fond memories of this flick. I remember first discovering it with my father in the mid-80s. I’ve written about this before, but I got my love of shitty horror flicks from the old man. We thought we had discovered a real winner with Fright Night. We were expecting something cheesy and low budget. I mean, there was no way this could turn out to be a good movie, right? It stars Roddy MacDowall, for crying out loud. But, Fright Night exceeded both of our expectations. It’s a damn good horror flick, and since it’s now about thirty years old, I think it’s safe to call it a classic.

Written and directed by Tom Holland, Fright Night is both a vampire flick, and an homage to vampire flicks. It features William Ragsdale as Charlie, a high school student in suburban California who believes a vampire and his servant have moved into the vacant house next door. It seems like Charlie is just letting his imagination run wild. After all, Charlie is a lover of vampire films. He never misses a late night broadcast of vampire flicks on a local TV station, hosted by b-movie screen legend Peter Vincent (MacDowall). MacDowall’s character is great. His character is named after, and based loosely on, classic horror film performers Peter Cushing and Vincent Price. In his acting days, Peter Vincent was a Hammer Films-style vampire hunter, with all the Victorian trappings. It’s a shame his career has led to him hosting late-night movies, but once upon a time, it was showcases like these that introduced young viewers to the wonder that is horror cinema. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Fright Night”

Schwarzenegger Month: Commando

What a gloriously stupid movie. When I think about 1980s action, all sorts of flicks bang off the inside of my skull. Cobra, Road House, Die Hard, any of the Rambo flicks, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. It was an amazing genre of film that Hollywood has never been able to fully replicate. That’s not for lack of trying. Last year there were two movies about terrorists taking over the White House, and both could have been Die Hard flicks, circa 1989. Something happened to moviegoing audiences since the ’80s, though. I’m not going to pretend for a second that we’re any more sophisticated as a group, but maybe we grew accustomed to the shenanigans of ’80s action, and that’s why it doesn’t work as well today. But if a viewer happens to be in a nostalgic mood for black and white characters, senseless one-liners, and guns that never run out of bullets, then there is hardly a better movie than Commando. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: Commando”

Schwarzenegger Month: Red Sonja

What a putrid mess. The problem with spending a month watching and reviewing a single movie star’s work is that one inevitably comes across some real dogs. James Dean was never in a bad film, but he had the good fortune to die in a horrible car accident before he could embarrass himself. Poor Arnold Schwarzenegger, he was stuck in a contract with Dino De Laurentiis. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: Red Sonja”

The Empty Balcony: Stick

The 1980s were a tragic decade for people who used to be cool. The ’80s put Eric Clapton in shoulder pads, Miles Davis in sequins, and, in Stick, a vanity project from 1985, Burt Reynolds in a pink jacket. It wasn’t just that pop culture stalwarts such as these men merely looked bad in the ’80s — everything the previous decades’ stars seemed to do was an epitaph to former glory, wrapped up in a decade where the prevailing styles in everything from fashion to music to film was pastel mediocrity. (A fun topic for barroom conversation is trying to picture how those who didn’t survive the ’60s and ’70s would have handled the ’80s. Imagine Jimi Hendrix with Jheri curls or Jim Morrison recording a solo album aided by a drum machine and a salad bowl full of cocaine. Not pretty.) Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Stick”