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: 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)”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Money Plane

One would think that professional wrestlers are tailormade action stars. They are athletic, charismatic, decent at improv, and willing to do just about anything to put on a good show. Also, one of the most important weapons in a wrestler’s arsenal is the ability to play a character. These men and women spend months or years crafting characters to which roaring crowds respond, either favorably, in the case of faces, or with gleeful jeers, in the case of heels. These are people who know how to work crowds, but remove the crowds, leaving nothing but cameras and crew, and the vast majority of wrestlers turned actor seem a bit lost. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Money Plane”

Shitty Movie Sundays: The Defender (2004)

At first glance, this flick doesn’t look like much. It’s just another direct-to-video action flick with a miniscule budget, a small cast led by a Hollywood b-lister, and just a single location where all the fun stuff happens. It’s about as anonymous as these types of flicks get. Then, one looks a little deeper. It stars Dolph Lundgren. No surprise there. He’s starred in dozens of these types of films. This is also the first one he directed. Shitty movie fans rejoice! But, that’s not all.

This is also a very topical film, in a way most b-movies never bother with. It was released in 2004, at the height of The Global War on Terror, as it was dubbed in the political wonkiverse. The United States was engaged in two very bloody wars, and looking with paranoiac diligence for enemies wherever they may be. No one could be trusted, and this film, believe it or not, captures a lot of the prevailing mood of the time. But, there’s still more! Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: The Defender (2004)”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Future Zone

John Tucker (David Carradine), the toughest and deadliest C.O.P. (Civilian Operated Police) is back in action, in Future Zone, the 1990 sequel to Future Force. This movie does away with explaining the lore, so some background from the first film is in order.

In the near future crime has become so rampant that government operated police forces have been disbanded, replaced by a civilian equivalent that has more in common with old west bounty hunters than proper law enforcement. These COPs (this movie drops the ‘S’ from the acronym) carry six shooters and dress like bikers. Tucker is the biggest badass of them all, blithely informing criminals that they have the right to die, just before he shoots them in the chest. He also has a power glove that shoots rays of lightning from its fingers. But, like the first film, it’s such a deus ex machina that writer/director David A. Prior keeps it mostly out of sight. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Future Zone”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Atomic Eden

Fred Williamson is a favorite here at Shitty Movie Sundays. He has taken the idea of one-dimensional acting and spread it out across six decades of b-cinema. I’ve seen a number of his films and he plays the same guy, in the same way, in every single one of them…even the ones that take place in the future. He’s a cigar chomping badass who shoots straight, punches hard, and, runtime willing, always gets the ladies. The last couple of decades have seen him transition into an elder statesman version of the role, but the basics are there. In Atomic Eden, Williamson plays Stoker, a mercenary commander who takes on a tough, and very important, mission in the shadow of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Atomic Eden”