Shitty Movie Sundays: Deadly Reactor

Action International Pictures and producer David Winters have done it again. Of late, whenever I’ve been in the mood for a truly shitty action flick from the 1980s or early ’90s, Action International has been there. It’s not all flicks directed by David A. Prior, or starring William Zipp, either. Today’s movie is 1989’s Deadly Reactor, written, starring, and directed by David Heavener, who has an unimpeachable CV as a b-filmmaker.

It’s the near future. Earth has been rendered a post-apocalyptic wasteland by nuclear war. Society consists of roving gangs of thugs, and small outposts of regular folk who are just trying to get by. Heavener plays Cody, a preacher in the Agopy religious sect, which are portrayed as something akin to the Amish or Mennonites, only without the bonnets or the chin straps. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Deadly Reactor”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Rapid Fire (1989)

Rapid Fire 1989 movie posterProlific b-action auteur David A. Prior graces the pages of Shitty Movie Sundays once again, with 1989’s Rapid Fire, a direct-to-video shoot-em-up that barely makes sense. But, that’s okay. That’s just how we like them.

A daring jailbreak has occurred. The most dangerous terrorist in the world, Mustapha (Del Zamora), has been captured and is being held aboard a battleship (played by the USS Alabama, moored as a museum ship in Mobile). A very bad man, Eddy Williams (Michael Wayne), has boarded the ship disguised as a naval officer. He is toting a rather large and slapdash supergun in a case, which he breaks out and uses to free Mustapha. Check out the poster. That’s a weapon to rival that found in Equalizer 2000.

Agent Hansen (Joe Spinell, in his last film role), from some…agency…has to find Mustapha before he commits another unspeakable atrocity. Since Hansen is not the hero of the movie, he calls in Mike Thompson (Ron Waldron) to track down Mustapha, because Mike has an old beef with Williams.

The two were soldiers together during the Vietnam War, and they did not get along. So much so that Williams left Mike wounded for dead after a battle, and, to add insult to injury, stole the supergun. Mike has been dreaming of revenge ever since. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Rapid Fire (1989)”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Castle Falls

Dolph Lundgren is amongst the most reliable action movie stars to grace the pages of Shitty Movie Sundays. Nary a year has gone by since the 1990s when he hasn’t starred in some low budget b-action fare. Sometimes, he even directs.

Castle Falls, from 2021, sees Lundgren helm a screenplay from Andrew Knauer, whose biggest splash in Hollywood was penning Arnold Schwarzeneggar’s comeback film, The Last Stand.

Lundgren takes the rare second billing in this flick, playing a prison guard named Richard Ericson. Top billing goes to Scott Adkins, playing an MMA fighter named Mike Wade, who has aged out of the sport, and is left dead broke and homeless in Alabama. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Castle Falls”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Death Chase

Death Chase movie posterFilmmaker David A. Prior has become a favorite here at Shitty Movie Sundays. Whenever we see his name pop up in the credits of some cheapie action flick the air shimmers with excitement. Low rent. Joyous and lacking all shame. Gloriously stupid. Prior, sadly lost in 2015, had an innate sense of what made action flicks of the 1980s work. He could never muster the technical skill to push these flicks into a higher tier of objective quality, but he knew that keeping things light and preposterous was the starting point for successful action at the time.

Death Chase, which Prior directed from a screenplay by James Hennessy, Craig L. Hyde, and himself, is a take on battle royale/most dangerous game tropes, wherein a deadly game of tag is being played on the mean streets of Los Angeles. The marker for who is ‘it’ in the game is a silver pistol. Whoever holds it must defend themselves from other players of the game. Whichever player still has the pistol after all the other players are dead, wins the game and a sizable cash prize.

The game is being overseen by a board of rich white dudes, led by The Chairman (C.T. Collins). Running the game on their behalf is Steele (Paul L. Smith), who appears like a deus ex referee whenever the game, and the movie, needs a kick in the pants to start moving again. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Death Chase”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Pound of Flesh

Pound of Flesh, the 2015 Jean-Claude Van Damme action thriller from screenwriter Joshua Todd James and director Ernie Barbarash, may as well have been called Boilerplate. It’s a movie unconcerned with breaking any new ground, or stretching the talents of its star. It’s as interesting and engaging as the music in a doctor’s office waiting room. It captures one’s attention like whatever sports talk show is on the television hanging over the bar on a Tuesday afternoon. It’s a painting of a lighthouse amongst an entire crate of lighthouse paintings at the local flea market. It’s inoffensive, predictable, and reliable. Because of that, no matter how much ass gets kicked, it’s pretty dull. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Pound of Flesh”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Road House (2024)

Road House, the original from 1989, occupies hallowed ground here at Shitty Movie Sundays, in the top spot of the Watchability Index. It’s an unassailable movie, the embodiment of SMS’s informal slogan, “All bad movies are shitty, but not all shitty movies are bad.” From beginning to end, it’s an absurdist romp into the excesses of contemporary Hollywood action, the purest expression of the golden age of the genre that was the 1980s. There was little possibility that the 2024 remake would be better or more engaging, so I’m not going to hold it to the original’s standards.

Released just a couple of weeks ago after a decade of development hell, Road House comes to us from screenwriters Anthony Bagarozzi and Chuck Mondry, and was helmed by Doug Liman. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Road House (2024)”

Shitty Movie Sundays: The Hellcats (1968), or, The Heck Kittens

“You’ve seen the guys. Now here are the psycho mad mamas who ride with them. They’re The Hellcats!”

So says the trailer to The Hellcats, the 1968 film from writer (with Tony Huston) and director Robert F. Slatzer. The trailer promises a biker gang flick along the lines of The Wild Angels, only with ladies in the lead. Well, that’s a lie, invented to trick unsuspecting would-be viewers into seeing this dog. There are women bikers in this movie, sure, but it’s an equitable relationship with the men in the biker gang. That makes it unique in this subgenre, where women are usually relegated to the role of property, but a lie, nevertheless. It’s not the first misleading trailer for a film ever made, and it won’t be the last. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: The Hellcats (1968), or, The Heck Kittens”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Missionary Man

What joy for Missile Test, as today we feature another film that b-movie action hero extraordinaire Dolph Lundgren not only starred in, but also wrote (with Frank Valdez), and directed. The writing couldn’t have been too taxing, though, as Missionary Man is a contemporary retelling of Pale Rider, the 1985 Clint Eastwood western.

Lundgren stars as Ryder, a mysterious biker who has a penchant for tequila and bible verses. He rides into a small town in southern Texas (played to effect by the city of Waxahachie) in time for the funeral of JJ (never seen on screen), a Native American tribal council member who was killed by the dastardly John Reno (Matthew Tompkins). Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Missionary Man”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Bushwick, or, Ridgewood

I can picture an evening, sometime back in 2015 or so, when filmmakers Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott could have been enjoying some drinks at Pearl’s on St. Nicholas in Bushwick, Brooklyn. They’ve been talking politics and batting ideas around for their next feature film and, in a moment of rampant creativity, one says to the other, “What if, like, there was a war…in this neighborhood…and we, like, filmed it right outside.”

I don’t know if that’s how it happened. The genesis of ideas is often random, with no causal event or logical trigger whatsoever. Maybe they weren’t in the neighborhood. Maybe they weren’t even in the city or the state. However the idea for this movie came about, Cary and Jon did indeed come up with a story about a war in Bushwick, and they made a movie about it. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Bushwick, or, Ridgewood”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Wrecker (2022)

Outsider filmmakers with a dream are the best kinds of filmmakers. These are the folks who get it into their heads to make a movie regardless of massive obstacles. All the things that make filmmaking difficult are mere challenges to overcome, annoyances to bypass. What requires a small army to get done in Hollywood, they do themselves. Of course, the final product betrays the humble nature of these movies, even when they are 127 minutes of bombastic insanity.

Bryan Brooks had a very limited career in film before 2022’s Wrecker, appearing in a handful of shorts and doing some work as a grip. If the internet is to be believed, Brooks had an epiphany while he was pinned beneath an 800-pound crab pot on a boat in the Bering Sea. After his shipmates lifted the cage and his lungs took in precious lifegiving air, Brooks took stock of his life and decided that filmmaking was his life’s calling. What followed was a decade of painstaking study of the craft of film before he unleashed his talents on the moviegoing public. It’s almost a superhero origin story. I don’t care if any of it is true. A little mythmaking in the b-movie movie industry never hurt anyone. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Wrecker (2022)”