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 reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Wrecker (2022)”
Jack Webb and Harry Morgan. Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell. Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal (this actually happened). Buddy action duos extraordinaire. Now, get ready for…Tom Everett Scott and Orlando Jones?
Today’s film is proof that actors aren’t the only Hollywood folk that slum it in the latter stages of their careers. Peter Hyams, who had a decent run as a mainstream filmmaker, including that aforementioned Hines and Crystal collab, wrapped up his directorial career with Enemies Closer. He was a hired gun for this flick, and, if information on the internet can be trusted, was intrigued by the prospect of shooting a low-budget action flick with a tight shooting schedule. Whatever the reason was for taking on this project, his skill as a filmmaker is probably what keeps this flick from falling into the nether reaches of the Watchability Index. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Enemies Closer (2013)”
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 reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: The Defender (2004)”
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 reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Atomic Eden”
Yep, it’s another low-budget Die Hard at a… flick, something that Dolph Lundgren has excelled at during his long and prolific career in shitty movies. Some are bad, some are awful, some are passable. I have yet to see a Die Hard at a… flick from Dolph that is excellent. But, the man has a lane, and he stays in it.
Released direct-to-video in 2003, Detention follows Dolph as Sam Decker, a former soldier who got fed up with soldiering after he witnessed American bombs destroy a building full of bad guys and child hostages in Bosnia. Now, ten years on, he’s a teacher at a rough and tumble inner city high school. He’s fed up with that gig, too, and hands in his resignation early one morning. Because he is leaving his principal in the lurch, Decker is assigned to supervise after school detention on his last day. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Detention (2003), or, Die Hard at a High School”
According to the internet, so it must be true, Endgame, from writer (alongside Aldo Florio), director, and producer Joe D’Amato, was the favorite of all the films he made. Endgame was just one of seven productions in 1983 in which he received a director credit, and his IMDb page lists 199, most of those smut. The man was prolific. And when he looked back upon his extensive oeuvre, Endgame, a mashup of post-apocalyptic sci-fi tropes, was the movie that made him smile the widest. Well, okay then.
It’s the future! 2025! Sometime in the ’80s or ’90s, nuclear war devastated the planet. Now, civilization is being rebuilt. A new fascist regime has arisen, ruling the rubble with an iron fist, and exterminating mutants that have been born due to all the radioactive fallout from the nukes. These aren’t ghastly creatures with extra limbs or Marvel-type superpowers. These are just regular folks, whose mutation makes them psychic. They are the next step of human evolution. There is also an unfortunate class of mutants who are devolving into lower forms of life, but the hell with them. The good guys dislike them as much as the fascists do. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Endgame (1983)”
Short of watching a mockbuster from The Asylum or its ilk, one would be hard-pressed to find a film that is more of a ripoff of a big time Hollywood production than Robowar, from Italian auteur Bruno Mattei. The victim in this case is Predator. From characters, to plot, to location, to certain scenes, all the way down to individual lines of dialogue, Mattei squeezed everything he could out of Predator short of being sued into oblivion. The only major change was substituting a rogue bionic soldier for the alien hunter
From 1988, Robowar stars prolific b-movie actor Reb Brown as Major Murphy ‘Kill Zone’ Black, the leader of a squad of commandos called B.A.M., for Big Ass Motherfuckers. For real, that’s the name. Black is the analogue of Dutch from Predator. Others include Max Laurel as Quang, the Billy analogue; Catherine Hickman as Virginia, the Anna analogue; Mel Davidson as Mascher, the Dillon analogue; Jim Gaines as Sonny ‘Blood’ Peel, the Mac analogue; and Massimo Vanni, Romano Puppo, and John P. Dulaney as interchangeable analogues to the remaining main characters in Predator. There’s even a general who gives Black and his men their mission, but he was unlisted in the credits. His only significance is a voice that sounds uncannily like Lee Van Cleef’s. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Robowar”
One Mad Max ripoff wasn’t enough for Filipino filmmaker Cirio H. Santiago. After the sublime experience that was Wheels of Fire, Santiago went back to the well in 1987 for Equalizer 2000. It’s a movie about a man, his leather pants, and a bitchin’ gun.
From a story by Frederick Bailey and Joe Mari Avellana (who played the bad guy in Wheels of Fire), Equalizer 2000 follows Max Rockatansky analogue Slade (Richard Norton). Slade is a member of the Ownership, a militia group that is looking to control all of the gravel quarries in the post-apocalypse. They’re the typical baddies of a Mad Max ripoff. They wear black, drive tricked out muscle cars, and are very into pillaging settlements full of honest folk.
This isn’t the best origin for the hero of the story, but he becomes a good guy right about the time the evil Colonel Lawton (William Steis) decides to make a play for control of the Ownership, leaving Slade out to dry during a battle with rebels, and killing Slade’s dear old dad in the process. Slade survives, and vows revenge against Lawton and the Ownership. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Equalizer 2000, or, Supergun!”
A true mark of quality in a shitty sci-fi flick from Hollywood in the 1980s and ’90s was use of the Kaiser Steel Mill in Fontana, California, as a shooting location. Just check out this list on IMDb. The more ruinous parts of the mill were a perfect location for a post-apocalyptic or dystopian landscape. Those portions have since been paved over for the Auto Club Speedway, but they live on in films like Robocop, The Running Man, and Nemesis, a 1992 cyberpunk, neo-noir action flick that, somehow, spawned a direct-to-video franchise.
Here’s some bottom of the barrel sci-fi, folks — slow-cooked to perfection and braised in poor CGI, limited locations, convoluted backstory, wooden performances, and lots of ridiculous gunfights.
From writer/director Jesse V. Johnson comes post-apocalyptic extravaganza The Last Sentinel. It’s the future! Who knows when? After crime and general nonconformity swept the United States, police officers were replaced with genetically engineered drone soldiers — living men stripped of reason and emotion, useful only as black-clad hammers in search of criminal nails. The drones eventually decided that taking over from the humans would be the best way forward, and destroyed most of human civilization. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: The Last Sentinel (2007)”