Giant Monstershow: Q — The Winged Serpent

Larry Cohen has had prolific involvement in cheap horror throughout his career. His credits include the screenplay for Maniac Cop and writing and directing credits for both The Stuff and It’s Alive. He was one of the directors featured in the anthology television series Masters of Horror. He also flew by the seat of his pants when it came to making movies. According to the internet, so it must be true, Cohen was fired from his job directing the Mike Hammer flick, I, the Jury, after one week of shooting because of cost overruns. Instead of sulking about losing the gig, Cohen put together a shooting script and a production for a new movie in six days. That movie, lord help us, was Q — The Winged Serpent. Continue reading “Giant Monstershow: Q — The Winged Serpent”

Giant Monstershow: King Kong (1976)

The 1976 remake of King Kong might be peak Dino De Laurentiis. The legendary Italian producer’s films whipsaw back and forth between the grandiose, the absurd, the exploitative, and the just plain shitty. King Kong is a prime example.

Clocking in at an interminable 134 minutes, this King Kong is meant to be an epic retelling of a cinema classic. Everything about this film, directed by John Guillermin, seems meant to showcase how film has improved and grown in the forty years since the original film was released. The original King Kong was severely limited by what was possible at the time, yes, but it never felt like a failing. Nor is this film an indictment of what came before. But this film does live and die on an implied promise that it will be a better technical film than that which came before. Other than making money, there really isn’t much more reason for this film to exist. Continue reading “Giant Monstershow: King Kong (1976)”

Giant Monstershow: King Kong

And so it begins. The leaves are turning (later and later every year, it seems), the air is grown crisp, the skies are beginning to cloud, and the sounds of the wind at night evoke creatures dastardly and dark. It is October, that sacred month which ends with the day of the dead. That also means it is time for another installment of the October Horrorshow, when Missile Test is devoted to horror film reviews. In the past, that meant ghouls, ghosts, zombies, slashers, vampires, and even the occasional werewolf.

This year the Horrorshow is going in a slightly different direction. There will be plenty of reviews of straight horror films, but the theme for this month is giant monsters.

Welcome to the October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow! Continue reading “Giant Monstershow: King Kong”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Freejack

Freejack is one of those movies that potential viewers might remember. They will vaguely remember a time when Emilio Estevez was a leading man, and they might recall that he was in a movie once called Freejack. They probably won’t remember what the movie was about, but they could remember that Mick Jagger, yes, that Mick Jagger, had a role. But, us shitty movie fans, we happy not-so-few, remember this as an ambitious and silly sci-fi action flick. We also remember that not only did Mick Jagger have a prominent part — his gloriously shitty performance stole the film. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Freejack”

October Horrorshow: Maniac Cop

With a title like Maniac Cop, there’s no way this movie is going to be good, right? The title is simple and to the point, and instantly conveys a large amount of plot to any potential viewer that happens to pass by the marquee. But boy, oh boy, it sounds like a first draft title. If all other films had used their initial titles, we wouldn’t have Alien, 2001: A Space Odyssey, or Unforgiven. Instead we would have Star Beast, Journey Beyond the Stars, and The Cut-Whore Killings (although it would have been ballsy for Clint Eastwood and company to try that last one). Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Maniac Cop”

October Horrorshow: Contamination

The 1980s must have been an interesting time to be an actor in New York City. It was a mythic age, before Law & Order began filling multiple lines in the CVs of innumerable performers in the five boroughs. Instead, the city seemed to be crawling with itinerant Italian filmmakers, drunk on dreams of ripping off the latest American sci-fi hit and making some dollars on the cheap. Fabrizio De Angelis, Enzo G. Castellari, Sergio Martino, Luigi Cozzi, and more, made The Big Apple their home away from home in the ’80s. If it wasn’t possible to make it on Broadway or on TV, there was always bottom-feeding cinema. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Contamination”

Stallone Month: Cop Land

Audiences haven’t gotten a lot of Sylvester Stallone in an ensemble cast. Sure, there was a fairly large gathering of stars in the Expendables flicks, but Sly was the star of those films, full stop. Cop Land came after a string of mild box office successes and a couple of flops. Sly’s stock in Hollywood was on the downswing, and when this movie came out, it was touted as a comeback, of sorts. Continue reading “Stallone Month: Cop Land”

Stallone Month: Daylight

Daylight, the 1996 film from screenwriter Leslie Bohem and director Rob Cohen, should not be this bad of a movie. It’s the perfect vehicle for its star, and does absolutely nothing wrong in following the Irwin Allen disaster movie playbook. It’s swift and action-packed, and there’s enough tension that it should be able to keep a viewer’s attention. But, the characters. My God, the characters. Continue reading “Stallone Month: Daylight”

Stallone Month: Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams are…NIGHTHAWKS!

Nighthawks, the 1981 film from director Bruce Malmuth and screenwriter David Shaber, sets itself up as a gritty New York City crime drama. The opening features blighted locations from the city’s darkest days, there’s a strong and stupidly simple anti-drug message, and there’s even a police lieutenant with a strong temper. I was expecting a cross between Dirty Harry and The French Connection with that setup. But instead of chasing after some drug lords or a typical big city psycho, the heroes of Nighthawks, NYPD Detective Sergeants Deke DaSilva and Matthew Fox (Sly and Williams), are drafted into a new unit that is after terrorists. Continue reading “Stallone Month: Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams are…NIGHTHAWKS!”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Escape from the Bronx

Can lightning strike in the same place twice? Yes, it can! Escape from the Bronx, a.k.a. Bronx Warriors 2, a.k.a. Escape 2000, is the wonderfully shitty sequel to 1990: the Bronx Warriors. Coming back from the previous film are producer Fabrizio de Angelis, director Enzo G. Castellari, and star Mark Gregory as Trash. The gang’s all here! Well, almost. The Bronx Warriors was such a success for de Angelis and company that it appears he reduced the already miniscule budget for this film in order to generate a higher profit margin. At least, that’s what I would do. The Bronx Warriors had a larger entourage for Trash, and more above scale talent than Escape. Gone are Vic Morrow and Fred Williamson, replaced by one of the most recognizable That Guy faces of the 1970s and ’80s — Henry Silva. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Escape from the Bronx”