Empty Balcony: Top Gun

Beware films made with the full cooperation of the United States’ military. Without fail, such films are heavy on the heroics and jingoism, and do little to portray the full costs of war, and life in the military. Oftentimes, they are little more than recruiting films, pieces of propaganda aimed at high school-aged males full of testosterone and lacking direction in their lives. Also, these movies tend to be weighted heavily against showing the day-to-day drudgery that typifies the life of the average enlisted man or woman, reducing them to background automatons. Rather, such films are usually focused on glorified versions of officers and non-coms, their duties also scrubbed clean of anything resembling work. Even that most foul bane of soldiers and sailors everywhere — chickenshit — is almost nonexistent. But, who wants to see any of that, anyway? The American military has the coolest toys in the world, and it’s nice to see where our tax dollars are being spent once in a while, even if the resulting film has all the depth of a puddle. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: Top Gun”

October Horrorshow: Extraterrestrial

A few years ago, I was pleasantly surprised by Grave Encounters, the first feature from the writing/directing team of The Vicious Brothers (Colin Minahan and Stuart Ortiz). They were working with a miniscule budget and an overdone idea, but managed to make a very good little ghost flick. Last year saw them release another film that couldn’t make it past the festival circuit, but, thanks to the internet, is reaching viewers in ways that were impossible even ten years ago. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Extraterrestrial”

October Horrorshow: Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II

This movie may have a hell of a title, but a title like Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II also betrays itself as 1980s schlock horror before a viewer sees a single frame. But, so what? The ’80s were a second golden age for horror, when it seemed every week brought something either new or outrageous. Prom Night II, from 1987, is a sequel to the Jamie Lee Curtis flick from 1980, but it owes allegiance in title only. None of the characters from the original appear, and this movie takes place at an entirely different high school. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II”

Schwarzenegger Month: Total Recall

Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t in any movie released in the year following Twins. I would like to think that he had receded into isolation, that he took the time for some introspection, some reflection on just what it meant to be an action star in the 1980s. Explosions. Big guns. Massive body counts. He was a master of everything that made action flicks great, and just about all of it was discarded in Twins. I hope he found new purpose, a new center, in his life. But very probably, he was enjoying the new house all that Twins money bought him. Seriously, that movie was a smash hit. And so was his next film, Total Recall, which was released in 1990. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: Total Recall”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone

Along with the title of ‘Official Filmmaker of Shitty Movie Sundays,’ as mentioned in the review of Soldier, there are a few films vying for the title of King of the Shitty Movies. 1983’s Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, directed by Lamont Johnson, is a strong contender. Riding the post Star Wars wave of 80s sci-fi, Spacehunter really is a sci-fi adventure, as the film’s hero, Peter Strauss’s Wolff, is forced to confront bizarre obstacle after bizarre obstacle in his quest to complete his mission: rescuing three marooned space hotties from the clutches of the evil Overdog (Michael Ironside), a ruthless dictator exercising sadistic control over the desert planet Terra XI somewhere off in the far reaches of space. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone”