What a gloriously stupid movie. If one is going to make a shitty action movie, and one knows they are going to make a shitty action movie, rather than suffering from delusions of grandeur, why not be outrageous? That must have been the conclusion that producer Ashok Amritraj and writer/director Emmett Alston came to when they decided to make Nine Deaths of the Ninja, one of the silliest action flicks Missile Test has seen in at least…a month and a half, if not longer.
Viewers learn what they’re in for during the opening scene, when we see counterterrorist operatives Spike Shinobi (Sho Kosugi), Steve Gordon (Brent Huff), and Jennifer Barnes (Emilia Crow) ply their trade in a training exercise. Spike’s tactical outfit is a true marvel — a camo jumpsuit festooned with explosive crossbow bolts and all sorts of mall ninja blades, and a utility belt ringed with shuriken and lollipops. That’s right, lollipops. At first, I thought they were some kind of small, feathered throwing darts, but nope. Lollipops. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Nine Deaths of the Ninja”
We’re still burning through reviews that were intended for Tom Cruise month. This film is where I began to realize I might not want to watch 31 Tom Cruise movies:
I knew there were going to be some tough watches this month. It’s impossible to run through 31 of a star’s films and not find at least one film made for a completely different type of viewer than myself. In Legend, the 1985 fantasy film from writer William Hjortsberg and director Ridley Scott, that audience was one that likes a fairy tale. That’s what Legend is. It draws stark lines between good and evil, takes place in an enchanted forest, features a damsel in distress, and shares its overall creature aesthetic with Halloween displays at a big box store. Continue reading “Empty Balcony: Legend (1985)”
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 reading “Stallone Month: Rocky IV”
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 reading “Stallone Month: Rambo: First Blood Part II”
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 reading “October Horrorshow: Creature”
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 reading “October Horrorshow: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge”
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 reading “October Horrorshow: Lifeforce”
I 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 reading “October Horrorshow: Fright Night”
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 reading “Schwarzenegger Month: Commando”