October Horrorshow: Black Ops, aka Deadwater

Lance Henriksen is as old as dirt. He’s so old the primordial soup called him ‘daddy.’ He’s so old his grandkids had to teach him how to program the VCR. He’s so old he can tell the difference between Sarsaparilla and root beer. He’s so old…one gets the idea. In reality, he’s old but not that old. As of this writing, he’s 79. Well into old age, but not a doddering eldster, either. I bring this up because today’s horror flick, Black Ops, originally title Deadwater, was released straight to video in 2008, just a few weeks after the film’s star, Lance Henriksen, turned 68. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Black Ops, aka Deadwater”

Empty Balcony: Renegades, aka American Renegades

The Luc Besson action mill has turned out some of the most successful action flicks of this century, and also some of the genre’s most overwrought messes. Renegades (released in the States as American Renegades) lies somewhere in between. It has the grandiosity one would expect from a Besson-produced action flick, but the end product is something anonymous.

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Shitty Movie Sundays: Damnation Alley, or, RVing the Apocalypse

Jan-Michael Vincent is dead. He passed mostly unnoticed on February 10th, his death remaining unknown to the media for almost a month. He was, once upon a time, a middling star. His looks were better than his talent, but that’s just what Hollywood wants. His career was derailed by age and substance abuse, as happens to so many in the entertainment industry. He had many roles in mainstream films, but I will always remember him for his contributions to shitty cinema and television. In remembrance of Jan-Michael Vincent, here’s a review for a Vincent star vehicle, that also happened to be a pretty good shitty movie. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Damnation Alley, or, RVing the Apocalypse”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Strike Commando

Who wants to watch some bottom-feeding trash? I do! And we all should. Films like Strike Commando, the 1987 shitfest from Italian filmmaker Bruno Mattei, make serious film and art house fodder all the better. How would we be able to gauge excellence were it not for films like Strike Commando giving us a baseline of inferiority? Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Strike Commando”

Stallone Month: The Expendables 3

90 million bucks. That’s how much it costs to make a shitshow of a movie. A bad film can be made for far less than that, of course, but an unofficial motto of The Expendables films has been ‘go big or go home.’ Those 90 million dollars are about all that’s big about this film, though. Sure, The Expendables 3 looks like a big Hollywood action flick, but pay close attention and one will realize that just about everything in this movie is ersatz — an imitation. Continue readingStallone Month: The Expendables 3″

Stallone Month: The Expendables 2

I’m not sure that Sylvester Stallone, or anyone else involved with The Expendables, thought that film would spawn a franchise. In many ways, The Expendables felt like a lark — a one-time moment that tapped into a well of nostalgia for 1980s-style action in the moviegoing public. It sold itself on its cast and its cameos, then followed that up with an uneven, but very exciting, film. It made a pile of cash, so of course there were going to be another one made. Continue readingStallone Month: The Expendables 2″

Stallone Month: The Expendables

Despite being a big star, Sylvester Stallone has always seemed to struggle with relevancy. The 2000s had a pair of ‘comeback’ films for Sly, with Rocky Balboa in 2006 and Rambo in 2008. It seemed like every success he had was forgotten. Perhaps that’s because these two films felt like a coda to beloved characters from decades past, whereas The Expendables, from 2010, was new-ish. Or maybe having a comeback film is just part of Sly’s brand in the 21st century. Either way, The Expendables is the throwback to 1980s action that no one knew we needed until it showed up in theaters and made money. Continue readingStallone Month: The Expendables”

Stallone Month: Rambo

2008 was another treat for Sylvester Stallone fans. After the success of Rocky Balboa, it was time to resurrect Sly’s second most popular alter ego. It had been 20 years since the last Rambo movie, and it was a sad end to the series. In the intervening years the Cold War came to a fortuitous close, and Rambo’s Mujahideen buddies from the third flick became America’s enemies. Never mind all that, though. Rambo doesn’t bother with any of America’s bugaboos, past or present. The bad guys in this flick are from Burma. Continue readingStallone Month: Rambo”

Stallone Month: Rambo III

In the review for Rambo: First Blood Part II, I lamented that the film marked the end of a budding First Blood franchise, and the start of the Rambo franchise. Indeed, demoting, and then finally excising, the First Blood string from the title is as much a sign of the creative direction in these films as it was a marketing decision to promote the character of John Rambo, and the man who played him. Continue readingStallone Month: Rambo III”

Stallone Month: Rambo: First Blood Part II

What a gloriously stupid movie. First Blood, the 1982 film about a disturbed Vietnam vet taking on a county sheriff with a bloated sense of self-importance, was a surprisingly impressive film. It was gritty and low-rent, despite having a big star in the lead. It was an action film that had real world reasons for the action. It was ridiculous and believable at the same time. But today’s film is just a blood and guts cartoon. Continue readingStallone Month: Rambo: First Blood Part II”