Shitty Movie Sundays: Terror in Beverly Hills

I once did an entire month’s worth of Sylvester Stallone reviews. Dear reader, you cannot imagine how sick I was of that man, that icon, that Hollywood legend, by about the two-thirds mark. It was a struggle. So much so, that at one point I decided to take ‘Stallone Month’ literally, and not limit myself to just one member of the clan. However, I soldiered on, and that alternate plan never came to fruition. Had I done so, I would definitely have featured today’s flick. I haven’t seen all that many movies starring Frank Stallone, but Terror in Beverly Hills has to be his apex as a leading man. At the very least, it’s the silliest piece of shit he’s ever been in.

Terror sprung from the mind of executive producer Simon Bibiyan. Screenwriting and directing duties were then awarded to John Myhers, a 67-year-old man who had spent the vast majority of his career in Hollywood as a television actor. He managed to rack up 101 acting credits against 3 directing credits. He must have been pals with Bibiyan and his brother Moshe, who also has an EP credit, because it’s not like there is a shortage of filmmakers in Hollywood. Drop a good check onto the ground on Santa Monica Blvd., and at least three would-be directors will take a dive for it. They didn’t need to hire someone with such a lopsided CV.

Or, maybe the Bibyan’s had a limited choice in the matter because of their less-than-sterling reputations in the town. It’s been 25 years since they produced anything, but a quick search of the tubes brings up numerous accusations of shadiness in the LA real estate business. If any of this is true, it wouldn’t make them the first hucksters to trawl around Hollywood. What it does do is give this bad movie an extra soupçon of shittiness, and that’s the kind of stuff we like here at Missile Test. Anyway…

Terror in Beverly Hills follows a group of Middle Eastern terrorists, led by Abdul (Behrouz Vossoughi, whose name graces just about every list online of ‘greatest Iranian actors of all time’).

Abdul and his group fly to Los Angeles and kidnap the president’s daughter, Margaret (Lysa Heslov), while she’s in town shopping on Rodeo. The kidnappers demand that Israel release a batch of Palestinian political prisoners, or Margaret will be executed. It’s a bold plan, carried out about as well as the movie.

Frank Stallone, who does not make anyone’s list of ‘greatest American actors of all time’ plays ex-Marine and current martial arts instructor Hack Stone. That’s right. Hack Stone. He’s enlisted by the president himself (a dubbed William Smith), because the Terror in Beverly Hills movie posterlocal cop in charge of the case, Captain Stills (Cameron Mitchell), is a foul-mouthed incompetent, who is only good for going off-script and yelling at airplanes.

That’s something that actually happens in the movie, by the way. Mitchell was in full-on fuckit mode while making this movie. There wasn’t much left to his career by 1989, when Terror was released, and I can’t tell if he was mailing it in, or having an orgasmic moment of talent. Considering the energy he brought to the role, it was probably the latter.

The terrorists botch the getaway, and the cops have them barricaded in some lovely industrial real estate underneath an overpass. All that remains, now, is for Hack Stone to get in there, clean house, rescue the president’s daughter, and send Abdul to his just rewards. Oh, Hack and Abdul know each other, by the way. In a bit of backstory ripped straight from The Guns of Navarone, Hack and Abdul were top secret war buddies overseas, and one of Hack’s decisions led to Abdul’s family being slaughtered. So, before Hack Stone shows up, the kidnapping is not one-hundred percent business for Abdul, but in the final act, it is all personal.

The production quality is dreadful. No equivocation. Most notably, the sound is among the worst I’ve ever heard in a movie. The voice overdubbing, of which there was a lot, was terrible and muddy, and there were countless instances when the sound just cuts out when firearms are used. This could be a sign that the movie hasn’t been cared for since its release, or that it was not cared for in post-production. It’s one of those column A, column B things.

The ingredients for a much better 1980s action flick are all there. Bad guys, a reluctant good guy, some loud cops, etc. Myhers and company tried packing in every single ’80s action cliché into Terror’s 88-minute running time, and never tried fleshing any of it out. It’s almost like the film is a spoof of good action films. The important thing for the filmmakers was to hit the right notes, one after the other, quick as can be. Get the film into the can, get it out to video stores around the nation, and profit. It’s a hackneyed and sloppy way to make a big budget movie. When it comes to low-budget, high-stinking cheese, though, it approaches sublime perfection.

Terror in Beverly Hills is half-assed, and all watchable, slotting into the #95 spot of the Index, displacing Motel Hell. Check it out.

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