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 at Missile Test, we like a shitty movie that has ambitions. We appreciate when an auteur has a vision that far outstrips either resources or filmmaking ability. The result can be a film that flies off the rails, one that is a total head scratcher, or one that sits somewhere in between, sloshing back and forth between watchable absurdity, and unwatchable stupidity. Such is the case with The Silencer, the 1992 film from writer Scott Kraft, and writer/director Amy Goldstein.
Normally, if there were a trailer available on YouTube, it would be posted here, but not this time. The trailer for Cop spoils the ending. We can’t have that.
What a gloriously stupid movie. I knew heading in that any movie produced by, and starring, James Woods as a lone-wolf detective hunting a serial killer would be an adventure. Cop is more than that, however. It is an absolute howler. It is amongst the most over-indulgent Hollywood vanity projects I’ve ever seen, from an actor who doesn’t know the first thing about nuance.
Woods, playing Sgt. Lloyd Hopkins, stakes out a suspected armed robber with his supervisor, Lt. Dutch Peltz, played by Charles Durning. The suspect pulls up to the curb with his date, Hopkins and Dutch confront him, and Hopkins blows the suspect away after he pulls a pistol on Dutch. That’s fine. But then, Hopkins takes the date from the car, who is ambivalent about the whole thing, and leaves the scene to drive her home because she has a nice rack. It’s implied he sleeps with her. I guess that means it was a good shoot.
Hopkins tracks down a former actress turned call girl (Randi Brooks), following up a lead on the serial killings, and, wouldn’t you know it? They have sex in the kitchen while bacon is sizzling in a pan nearby. This happens the very scene after Hopkins’ wife leaves him and takes the kid.
Hopkins goes to the residence of feminist poet and bookstore owner Kathleen McCarthy (Lesley Ann Warren) to follow up another lead. He’s as gruff and pigheaded as one would expect any clichéd cop from an ’80s film to be, but McCarthy doesn’t seem to care all that much. You see, she’s a feminist only because the right man has never come along to sweep her off of her feet. Lo and behold, that could be Hopkins. He talks her into a date, and later a trip to the bedroom, because he’s the first man who’s been man enough to do so.
Hopkins follows another lead to the home of an LA County Sheriff’s Deputy (Charles Haid) who happens to be running male prostitutes. Hopkins then kills the deputy after the deputy goes for a shotgun, but he never faces any repercussions for this, despite having broken into the deputy’s home without a warrant, while also being under suspension from the LAPD.
Hellraiser VII: Deader began life as a spec script called Deader, from screenwriter Neal Marshall Stevens, purchased by Miramax when every production company in Hollywood was still looking for the next Seven. Like with the two previous films in the Hellraiser series, the script was reworked into a Hellraiser movie, by adding the iconic puzzle box and Pinhead (Doug Bradley, as always) to scenes here and there. It’s rarely a good sign when it is obvious to viewers that a movie is a rework. Miramax, the company that owns Hellraiser, has been a poor steward for the property, shunting it off to direct-to-video releases utilizing reworked red-headed stepchild screenplays and miniscule budgets. All atmosphere and nuance from the first film have been totally excised, leaving the series anonymous and dull. What a shame. Continue reading “Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Hellraiser VII: Deader”
After a four-year layoff, Bob and Harvey Weinstein wanted another Hellraiser flick. They also didn’t want to pay a lot of money for it, so they optioned a direct-to-video film. That meant no big stars, no big budget, and a script that was clearly written as a different film and reworked to insert iconic Hellraiser bad guy Pinhead (Doug Bradley) into some scenes.
From 2000, Hellraiser V: Inferno was directed by Scott Derrickson, from a screenplay by Derrickson and Paul Harris Boardman. Craig Sheffer stars as police detective Joseph Thorne. He’s the protagonist of this film, but he’s not that good of a guy, which he admits in the film’s narration. He has a wife and kid at home, but rather than spend his off hours with them, he can be found trolling the streets of Denver, shaking down dealers for cocaine and paying for hookers with money stolen from the wallets of murder victims.
All of this catches up with Thorne when he’s assigned to a bizarre murder case wherein the victim was engaging in an occult ritual of some kind. Veterans of the Hellraiser franchise will know where this is going. One of the accoutrements of the ritual was, of course, the Lament Configuration, the puzzle box featured in the film series that summons demons to our plane of existence. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Hellraiser V: Inferno”
Marlene Schmidt was on top of the world after winning the Miss Universe pageant in 1961. She later married TV cowboy Ty Hardin and moved to sunny California. The marriage did not last, but sometime thereafter she got the shitty movie bug, and teamed up with her new husband, Iraqi-born auteur Howard Avedis, to produce some hilarious sleaze. We here at Missile Test salute her and Howard, both. Immigrants living the American dream. Sure, they could never break into the big time, but everyone knows the fringes of the party are the best place to be.
From 1975 comes The Specialist, a neo-noir ersatz thriller adapted from a book by Ralph B. Potts. Potts also has a screenwriting credit alongside Avedis and Schmidt.
This is Potts’s only credit on IMDb. The book the film is adapted from is called Come Now the Lawyers, and, according to Potts’s obit in the Seattle Times, is a non-fiction history of the courts of the state of Washington. Only in the world of cinema could a work of history be twisted and turned into a shitty drive-in flick, with the participation of the author. It’s like Edward Gibbon working on the screenplay for Caligula.Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: The Specialist (1975)”
Just about every A-list Hollywood star sees their career fade, and the quality if projects they are involved in decrease. Just ask Bruce Willis. But, there is slumming it, and then there is SLUMMING IT.
The Job, the 2003 direct-to-video magnum opus from writer/director Kenny Golde, is a very dark, character-driven crime story starring Daryl Hannah as freelance mob assassin CJ March.
CJ is a damaged character. Her mother was a prostitute who seemed unable to hire a babysitter when CJ was a child, and who was then killed in front of CJ. In her adult life, when she’s not whacking people for mobster Vernon Cray (Alex Rocco), she’s downing shots of warm well vodka and banging strangers. She’s a self-destructive alcoholic who is in a deep funk, and she looks it. Hannah is done up in a ragged, disheveled manner that fits the character well, and her hangdog face looks as if it’s never smiled once in her life. I was skeptical at the casting at first. There is no believability when it comes to CJ being a hired killer, but the even more fucked up side of CJ is near-perfect. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: The Job (2003)”
Still burning off those reviews for the aborted Cruise month. Here’s criticism of one of the greatest filmmakers of all time:
Good things come to those who wait. Many times in the film and television business these days, it seems as if a film sequel or further seasons of a television series are greenlit as soon as a project has a whiff of success. Reasonably enough, the people in charge of feeding us content see success as evidence that we viewers would like more of the same. But sometimes it takes a long time for a success to have a follow-up. Such was the case with The Hustler, the 1961 film directed by Robert Rossen, from the novel by Walter Tevis. A full 25 years went by before Tevis penned a sequel. When he finally did, the film adaptation, The Color of Money, bore little resemblance in plot, but it was helmed by Martin Scorcese. That’s a pretty good tradeoff. Continue reading “Empty Balcony: The Color of Money”
Point of Terror is the final film in a career cut short. Actor/producer Peter Carpenter only has four credits on his IMDb page, and this is the last. There are conflicting stories in the tubes, but what they all agree on is that Carpenter is dead. It happened at any time between 1971, not too long after this film was released, and the early 1980s. Either way, Carpenter was poised to have a fantastic career in shitty movies, akin to that of Andrew Stevens, but it wasn’t to be. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Point of Terror”
There is some sleaze to Blood Mania, the 1970 neo-noir drive-in flick from purveyors of shit Crown International Pictures. Tony Crechales and Toby Sacher were responsible for the screenplay, while Robert Vincent O’Neil sat in the director’s chair.
The plot is straight out of an old issue of Crime SuspenStories. A wealthy, aging doctor, Ridgeley Waterman, played by Eric Allison, is on his deathbed. He is being cared for by one of the partners in his practice, Dr. Cooper (Peter Carpenter, who is also credited with this film’s story). Cooper is being blackmailed by some smarmy gangster played by Arell Blanton. The blackmailer has concrete evidence that Cooper performed abortions while he was in medical school. This film being from 1970, abortions were a crime, and Cooper’s life and career would be ruined if the authorities were to find out. All it will cost Cooper to make this threat go away is fifty thousand dollars, which is much more than Cooper can raise. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Blood Mania”