28 June 2009

The Abomination

Cover image from Amazon. Since I never saw the cover I assume this is what you'd find on the market if you could get this video at a reasonable price.

United States - 1986
Director – Bret McCormick (as Max Raven)
Donna Michelle, 1988, VHS
Run time – 1 hour, 40 min.

There are sadly a great number of philistines out there who like to cast aspersion on this film, fortunately you and I are smarter and more attractive than all of those throwbacks, and we know better. Our friends at Metal Thai (Thailand’s first and greatest webzine for Metalheads!”) captured this movie in one sentence; “When the carnivorous creature grew inside the Cody's body, he became to the brutal guy who killed the people to feed the monster!” I doubt I can improve much on that description, but I’ll try and flesh out the details a bit here…
Opening with a ten-minute montage recap of every good splatter scene in the whole movie The Abomination wears its eviscerated heart on its sleeve. (Plus that means you get to watch them twice!)

Cody is an average 20-something Texan boy, working as a car mechanic and living at home with his chain smoking evangelical mother. TV evangelist Brother Fogg has convinced her that the tumor in her lung is an infestation of evil. One night she hacks and spits up a big pulsing bloody lump that she tosses in the trash, but it slithers into Cody’s room and into his mouth while he’s sleeping. Soon Cody is also hacking up bloody throbbing nuggets, all of which compel him telepathically to provide meat food in large and expanding quantities.

Bye, bye Mommy, say hi to Jesus for me.

Grown huge feasting on the devil’s work, The Abomination quickly infests Cody’s house filling any enclosure suited for the awesome practical puppet effects used to create the flesh hungry gore-beast. Wet leathery tentacles bursting from every drawer it feeds on anything that comes too close, dragging it into a gullet big enough for an entire human body to be sucked up and go slipping down its toothy throat screaming and thrashing the whole way. The cozy split-level soon becomes a charnel house where Cody grins sardonically as his mother and girlfriend are each dismembered and eaten. He pitchforks buckets of viscera into the snapping meat holes that strain the joints of every blood caked cabinet. This is truly become the demon seed of evangelism, the flesh eating offspring of idiot faith.

The Abomination is a gut-churning experience in homemade extreme gorror at its finest. Even though it suffers from the usual super-indie problem of generally lousy production, every minute of The Abomination is worth watching simply for the unsettling audacity of meat eating god monsters. Think Bad Taste meets a gospel Deadly Spawn in Texas and you have some idea of what this baby is like.

Sadly, The Abomination is an impossible to find VHS only gem. Thankfully I live quite close to Scarecrow Video, and although I refuse to enter the place because I don’t think I could control myself, my friend Daniel is kind enough to bring these things over to my screening room now and again…

I found the Metal Thai website thanks to an image search that turned up the gorgeous UK VHS cover above, and a bunch of other great images from The Abomination.

27 June 2009


1988 – United States
Director – Orestes Matacena
Southgate Entertainment, 1989, VHS
Run time – 1 hour, 30 min.

In this one Shari Shattuck (of Naked Cage) plays a grade school teacher with a perm. A terrible teacher with a terrible perm. I was too young to remember well, but I cannot fathom what the fuck people were thinking when the crispy tinsel look was considered attractive. It is beyond my ability to understand. This entire setting is bizarre, a sort of vortex of affluent whitetrashy conservatism where the storefronts all look hokey frontier style and the female teachers alternately sport yee-ha mullets and victorian beehives (see below) amongst a hive of palatial mansions.

Shari yuks it up at a fancy party with a bunch of rich assholes (aren’t they all) then later attends a do-see-do school dance event at her school. At the latter her husband becomes jealous of her flirtatious behavior towards another young teacher and complains about it later that night. The next day the school principal also warns her, but this potentially interesting plot thread is quickly forgotten in favor of personal hygene. Taking a bath to ease the stress of accusatory scrutiny, Shari exposes a bit more than intended, but the bum at the window doesn’t mind. In fact he considers it encouragement and walks right in to the unlocked house. He finds Shari in a special toweling off position that he also finds encouraging for some reason, god only knows, so he tries to rape her.

During the subsequent struggle her husband gets home and joins in the scuffle. After stabbing the bum to death with his own switchblade, already jealous husband accuses Shari of soliciting the bum, and then has a heart attack. Wracked with guilt for having done absolutely nothing wrong up to this point she decides not to call the police but dispose of the bodies herself; the husband in a car to be “discovered” by the police and the bum, in the front yard.

Here the film suddenly switches gears from an erotic thriller into a disconnected series of horror-comedy snafu’s. Pretty much a downshift from Single White Confederate Female to Slasher Weekend at Bernie's, only without the slasher, yet.

Telephones ring with condolence calls driving poor Shari insane. But are they real calls or is she really insane, and just practicing her “bereaved” act for the inevitable interrogation? Moments after selling her house in a barely-alluded-to prior tangent, and while she is clearly still living there, the people who bought it decide to dig a pool in the front yard threatening to unearth the decaying bum.

Worst Enemy (Park Overall) left, and Cathy (Shari Shattuck) discussing the finer points of grave robbery.

To prevent the corpse from being disinterred, Shari conspires with her worst enemy to dig it up, but on the way to the family mortuary/crematorium they suddenly find themselves in an inner-city slum and out of gas. They frighten off a band of street punks with the dead body, and re-emerge from the ghetto-wormhole back in Dixieland and at the funeral home.

Remember that guy at the beginning of the movie who was doing it with Shari’s enemy in that one brief scene? Yeah well he’s also the mortuaries loony embalming guy who suddenly plays the key role as a last-minute calculating psychopathic murderer. Whatever, in any case he gives Shari the opportunity she should have taken at the beginning of this madness, namely to duck out of this haphazard film.

23 June 2009

Why I Don't Use a Ratings System

Lots of movie review sites and blogs and books and TV shows use some kind of ratings system to indicate how good they think the movie is. I have nothing against ratings per-se, in some cases I think it is a good idea, and I sometimes rely on ratings (particularly the stars on IMDB) to make decisions.

But, why don't I use a rating system?*
This is a question I have been asked since I started writing shitty reviews of shitty movies in 1996.
The simple answer is that I don't want to, no, I refuse to categorize all the fun, cool, stupid, offensive, disgusting, arousing or thought provoking stuff in any given movie into some kind of objective, sterile series of thumb or star calculations.
My goal is to write a review that conveys some of my fascination and entertainment, some of my thought process while I watch a movie. To me, films are above all descriptive and I want my account of a given film to be the same, to give some idea of the feeling a movie gives me, the grimyness, the saccharine the self-hate. Often this is something that the director or scriptwriter never intended, and by giving a rating I would be avoiding the descriptive process. Not the least because I suspect people (myself included) give a rating more weight than a descriptive synopsis.
Subsequently my goal is to encourage people to watch movies, to seek out films that sound interesting, and by rating I'm afraid I will encourage them to rely on someone else's judgment in choosing film.
In essence I want films to speak for themselves, and people to think for themselves.

*I do use a label, "terrible" which might be considered an extremely abridged rating, but I consider some films I've labeled terrible to also be "favorites", so again, this defies the definition of true ratings systems and I feel absolved.

21 June 2009

Forest Warrior

United States – 1996
Director – Aaron Norris
Turner Home Entertainment, 1996, VHS
Run time – 1 hour, 38 min.

This has got to be the most offensive Chuck Norris movie out there, and I don’t mean un-PC offensive (though there is a bellyful of that too). I just mean generally offensive to the senses. This is the last feature film Aaron Norris directed, and by leaps and bounds the most atrocious. Tired and ill-conceived but slick as a spoonful of ipecac, Chuck Norris doesn’t belong in a family movie, and the end results made me ill.

A withered old Loretta Swit (better known as Hot Lips Houlihan in the M.A.S.H. TV show) plays the single mother of an ugly as sin little kid, Logan. He’s the youngest of a group of grade-school friends who live in Oregon and carefully recite lines written by adults who never considered actual children’s grammar. Abused good naturedley by his pals, Logan joins them on his first trip “to the mountain”. Based on Swit’s terrified sobbing, I'd guess this is going to be an epic coming of age tale. At another friend's home, an alcoholic single father is verbally abused and given the full harpy woman guilt trip by his daughter Austene, the 11 year old “hot chick” of the movie. And since she’s the only girl in the group, brace yourself, there’s gonna be some sparkly fairy shit somewhere.

As the children ride away toward the ominous mount Hood moms weep, giving the impression that perhaps their children are going to butcher and eat one of the gang in some kind of savage rite. Wait why the hell is there banjo music? The legend of the mountain, as told by the friendly older token black character, is that the mountain is protected by the spirit of a guy named um, McKenna, a (Scottish?) Indian who takes the form of various disheveled and domesticated “wild” animals. Before ascending the mountain, all children must pray to the spirit of McKenna. (sadly no speaking in tongues) Their destination is a fancy tree-house fort located in a well-used patch of campground. There they meet a pitiful looking bear, obviously fed on twinkies and hotdogs, which they name “Rags”. There are also sounds emanating from the trees, spirits no doubt, of the poor suffering forest.

Soon their playground prancing is disturbed by evil machine music and big hardware chewing up logs. Eager slavering loggers lurk around the machines repeatedly telling each other how much they “Wanna cut down some trees.” In flagrant defiance of the intended message, I actually liked these guys better than the damn kids because they were straightforward, and even danced around playing air guitar with their chainsaws.

There is some heavy and tearful young adult drama here, clearly intended to create tension in a simple absorbent 5th grade mind. Instead I felt like I was watching a propaganda film for the Republican Party geared toward creating young believers in the policy of carefully “regulated exploitation”, a petting zoo image of nature and continued glorification of violence used to solve ones problems.

Although a few awkward and clunky scenes of Norris kicking logger ass are crudely jammed in, Chuck’s been pushed onto the back burner to let the kids tug off the real “heroics”. He looks ragged and tired, like he’s recovering from a full decade of chemotherapy. And that outfit, 100% Grade-A authentic truckstop “Injun”.

20 June 2009

Hearts & Minds

United States - 1974
Director – Peter Davis
Criterion, 2002, DVD
Run time - 1 hour, 52 min.

I don't have an aversion to good movies, but it’s not like me to write a review for something that won an academy award (1975 Best Documentary Film). Particularly not something that has been distributed as part of the Criterion Collection, an esteem which certainly prevents it from becoming a “lost video” per-se. However, as with my review of Winter Soldier and my interest in American culture, in particular the Vietnam era, I think the message that Hearts & Minds conveys may be lost, particularly considering an increasing public ignorance of history in this country.

Hearts & Minds has a deceptively simple premise centered on the concept of “winning hearts and minds”, the essence of which was that we could secure "freedom and democracy" in Vietnam if we could show the Vietnamese how good (kind etc.) we were, and they would reject Communism. The film doesn't question whether hearts and minds were "won", but asks whose they were in the context of the war. Davis urges us to see the degree to which American citizens had detatched themselves from the democratic process and allowed themselves to be led by their government rather than being the engine of policy themselves.

This takes on a rather sinister note considering that the decisions being made will ultimately result in widespread destruction and suffering do matter how you slice it. Decisions that have to be accounted for and justified and for which all Americans will ultimately be held responsible. In interviews with specific individuals who suffered the consequences of their decisions, the issue is raised that we should consider our own values rather than letting someone tell us what we should think and believe (and ultimately do).

The American people are “too busy to get involved deeply,” one interviewee claims, a sentiment that leaves little doubt as to who was doing the leading in Vietnam. But it begs the larger question of why, if the American people were too busy to bother, did we go into Vietnam, and who made that decision? At this point that's a purely academic question, but it further illustrates the implications of this film. How could the American people be convinced, or at the very least led, into Vietnam unless it was marketed and sold to them, and wouldn’t the fact that it had to be sold tell us there is something fundamentally wrong with our much heralded representative democracy?

The simple fact is that the Vietnam War created vast amounts of misery, not the least on the Vietnamese people, but on American GI’s and their families as well. This documentary effectively draws attention to the principle of democratic responsibility and its utter failure in American domestic and foreign policy in the context of Vietnam.
For that reason Hearts & Minds might not be called truly documentarian but it does raise some disturbing questions about American mythmaking and propaganda. Ultimately the film points to the underlying hypocrisy of the phrase uttered by several of its subjects; “My country right or wrong”.

“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.”
– Thomas Paine - Common Sense, Feb. 14, 1776.

17 June 2009

2 Documentaries

To preempt any accusation that this movie blog was all about tits and dismemberment I present you with a brief recap of last nights home grindhouse. I watched these movies after going to see Up with a good friend, so put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Jimmy Carter - Man From Plains
United States - 2007
Director - Jonathan Demme
Sony Pictures, 2008, DVD
Run time - 2 hours, 5 minutes

The first documentary follows former president Jimmy Carter immediately after the release of his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Director Jonathan Demme gets grandfathered into my list of good directors because of his early work doing exploitation under the tutelage of Roger Corman in the 70's, and I'm interested in Jimmy Carter because of his work in social justice. So I figured the combination of these two figures would be good.

All in all, it was decent. A quick biography of Carter leading up to the controversy that surrounded the release of his book in 2006. The subject matter of the book, and the title, in particular use of the word apartheid, were the subject of much controversy which Demme uses to frame Carters unwavering commitment to justice and equality in general and in Palestine specifically. I myself have never understood how people can rationally call someone who supports peace an anti-Semite simply because they're critical of Israeli State politics. It comes across, particularly in this film, as willfully biased and purely reactionary.

Before this film, I had thought of Carter as an unsuccessful president because he hadn't won re-election. But my perception has changed to see the American democratic system as unsuccessful for failing to re-elect a man that embodied so many of the virtues the U.S. claims to stand for (Especially considering his successor). Man From Plains is the story of one man who perhaps wasn't very successful at the top of his field, but went on (and continues) to defy expectations and stand by his word. It heightened my interest in and respect for Carter, and in the problem of creating a lasting, mutually beneficial peace in Palestine and Israel.

Wu: The Story of the Wu Tang Clan
United States - 2007
Director - Gerald Barclay
Paramount Home Video, 2008, DVD
Run time - 1 hour, 19 min.

To be perfectly honest I only watched about two-thirds of it because it became increasingly difficult to watch without laughing or crying. I definitely feel that the Clan's debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (which I'm listening to as I write this) is easily one of the best hip-hop albums of all time. That's just my opinion, though I doubt I'm alone in holding it.
Forgive me if this comes across as cultural imperialism, but this film was pretty lousy. It was interesting to see old footage of the Clan before they blew up, but the rest was a joke. I was only slightly surprised as the film degenerated into a bragging session about the amount of money they ended up making. Particularly on the part of Loud records president Steve Rifkind (a white guy) who came across as a capitalist douchebag of the highest order trying to seem cool and important. Even the members of the group, Raekwon in particular, basically had nothing to say, they babbled about being the best ever, making money etc., typical stuff, but there were moments when they said things that literally had no informational meaning. Industry "experts" churned out senselessly effusive "contextual" gossip, and friends of the group bragged about their connections and play-acted a cheap melodrama.

The worst part was the glorification of O'l Dirty Bastard who came across as a desperately sad and lonely and ultimately dysfunctional person. His behavior was made out to be the highest expression of individualism and artistic genius, towards which the rest of us philistines of the mortal world could only futilely strive. During the entire experience I couldn't help but think of the various character stereotypes in Marlon Riggs' documentary Ethnic Notions, and I was disheartened to see them played up with such eagerness.

The whole movie was basically about how "dope" the Clan is, and completely failed to explain their roots or their significance musically and culturally, instead making them out to be stereotyped cartoons, something that on a personal level, I strongly doubt they are. Wu failed to capture that personal aspect and instead left me with the depressing picture of an incredibly successful group that ultimately failed to break out of expectations.

15 June 2009

To The Limit

United States – 1995
Director – Raymond Martino
PM Entertainment Group, 1995, VHS
Run time - 1 hour, 36 min.

A cackling bald guy in a camo shirt completes a big deal with a mustachioed guy with a Russian, and then suddenly Mexican, accent. Bald guy cackles some more and then blows up the helicopter with the other guy in it. Balding Frank DaVinci (producer Joey Travolta, John's older brother who managed to land himself a discomforting sex scene with Smith) has a bachelor party at a strip club, and then at his wedding his wife is gunned down and he is grievously wounded. At the same time, wedding party guest and ex CIA Agent Colette DuBois (Anna Nicole Smith) is taking a long hot shower, and having sex with her husband (Michael Nouri of Flashdance). As they leave for the wedding, she forgets the present, and goes back in the house inadvertently saving herself from the fiery explosion of her husband and the car.

A bunch of mafia guys show up at the hospital to protect Frank from his 'Nam flashbacks and the cackling bald guy's sexy food coloring assassan. Frank yanks his fake hospital tubes out of his esophagus and splits for the Vegas scene. After drying her frightening and unnaturally large surface area in the second of three(?) shower scenes, Colette finds frank in Vegas and stutters him the information she and her deep-fried husband uncovered on Cackling Guy.

Smith's co stars are fascinated.

Back in ‘Nam, Frank and his buddies were running "Black Ops" in Hanoi and during the assassination of a double agent, a little girl got killed.

So, uh… I guess, Frank feels guilty and Cackling Guy likes to rub it in?

Colette is attacked by some ninja and heaves her considerable bulk around the room dodging gunfire and shooting back. She is out of breath. An asian girl takes off her shirt and kills some people, then there is a car chase, and, an explosion! Colette takes a bath. Suddenly – in dramatic, climactic tones there is, a clue!! A simple handheld snack composed of bread and spreadable condiments, a SANDWICH CLUE!

Cackling Guy's agrees to an exchange for a mystical golden disk of power, a CD with some pictures of Vietnam on it. At another equally exotic location, they meet up and in a fit of rage Colette hurls the CD Ninja style into Cackling Guys forehead with a bloody squish, and he goes tumbling over the side of the Hoover Dam, much like me, shrieking in doomed horror all the way to the sudden blunt stop at the end.

Flesh Eating Mothers

Forbes Video doesn't want you to forget who the tape belongs to.

United States - 1988
Director – James Aviles Martin
Academy Entertainment, 1989, VHS
Run time – 1 hour 30 minutes

Preceded by trailers for One Man Force, and Murder Story, Flesh Eating Mothers benefits from a great name, but the inclusion of action movie trailers makes me think the distributor wasn’t sure what to do with this movie, which usually means the film itself is every bit as confused.

The opening scene is good though. A hunter running through the woods notices some blood dripping into the snow and looks down to find only the ragged stump of an arm. No explanation is given, so I guess that was the expository question that will be answered by the remaining plot.

Several average lookin’ middle-agers breathe heavily and congratulate each other after a particularly sweaty adultery session. The guy, Roddy runs off home to make an appearance but soon leaves his unsuspecting wife at the house for a jog over to another lonely waiting housewife. This guy must have some serious coital trapeze act because he’s ugly as sin but all the married ladies in the neighborhood are tripping over eachother to ride the Rod. Checking up on the health of the ol’ rod, Roddy stops at the wood-paneled VD clinic to ogle the assistant and exchange lurid sex tales with the doctor who posts various amusing VD related signs on the wood paneled wall behind his desk.

In one of the few creepy scenes in the film one of the adulterous moms discusses the production of veal with her son while trying to force him to drink more milk. I turned to my companion and said, “Hey, maybe this is a metaphor for women’s liberation from the domestic prison” or something just as wishful.
“This film is barely a single entendre” my comrade in pain replied.
How right he was.

But honestly there are a few satisfying moments, like when the mom eats her baby, and when the battered wife splits her face open into a giant toothy jaw and eats her alcoholic husbands arm off. It’s badly shot and badly edited, but it’s fulfilling, really it is. They are just housewives (and amateur actresses,) and it loses it’s novelty really quick, particularly with the addition of forehead slappingly tedious “comedic” dialogue. The addition of the mother’s various high-school aged children banding together to fight the epidemic was supposed to add some sympathetic protagonists and action/tension I reckon, but the closest it got was the cryptozoological spectacle of one lovesick hydrocephalic girl and her extremely greasy sleazoid boyfriend.

Fortunately the 3 foot tall mortician adds a little comedic interest. He isn’t convinced by the asshole VD doctor’s dismissal, and after doing an autopsy on one of the mothers, discovers some unusual virus in “the vaginal passageway”. This guys dialogue is moderately funny, and it helps that most of it is delivered alongside the 7 foot tall VD docs hot assistant, but it’s not enough to save the movie. The physical effects had a lot of potential for menace, and if you really pushed it, maybe some humor since the mothers looked like Killer Klowns. The feel good ending, chock full of hugs as it is belies an inability (lack of budget?) to explore the possibilities of the film. It’s like a domesticated cannibal snow globe where most of the real flesh eating occurs off-screen and the wink at the end lets everyone off the hook.

This British VHS box art is hilarious thanks to use of the word "mum" in the synopsis.

I don't remember seeing DVD's available when I bought my tape, but there are at least three variations of the same cover art.

And finally, the defunct Austrian rock band Flesh Eating Mothers.

12 June 2009

Cellar Dweller

United States - 1987
Director- John Carl Beuchler
New World Video, 1988, VHS
Run time – 1 hour, 18 minutes

In the wake of the fairly successful film Creepshow written by Stephen King and directed by George Romero, the 80’s hosted a short revival of interest in the horror comics of the 50’s and 60’s like Tales From the Crypt and Eerie. The idea of horror comics in film cropped up a few more times with varying success, but at the moment all I can think of are the Creepshow sequels, Cellar Dweller and Nightmare on Elm Street 4 (I think, whichever one had a comic artist character who dies right away). Anyway, the long sad death of horror film in the following decade put an end to that, and the reason I picked up this film is because I was flipping through an old issue of Fangoria which features the Cellar demon on the cover.

Jeffery Combs, star of Re-Animator shows up for a few minutes at the beginning of this one, enough time to doodle incomprehensibly over what looks like a Bernie Wrightson drawing and read some lines from a big dusty book. Behind him his own comic book monster materializes. Grabbing the axe which he drew on the wall, he battles the demon he has brought to life, and eventually sets it ablaze, leading to a very Re-animator knockoff title sequence with comic panels spinning across the screen in multi colored attempt to associate this low budget cheapie with respectable predecessors.

30 years later female cartoonist Whitney (Debrah Farentino) arrives at the same building now converted into the “Throckmorton Institute For the Arts”. As a child Whitney collected "Cellar Dweller” comics and idolizes their creator and artist Colin Childress (Combs character.) The covers of Cellar Dweller comic books are an obvious homage to those real horror comics. Unfortunately, the Institute is attended not by artists, but by really shitty fake artist stereotypes. An actor, abstract painter, performance artist and finally, “video” artist Amanda, (Whitney’s nemesis from a pre-film encounter) who all wander about without guidance ostensibly “doing” something off screen when they're not onscreen making fun of comic books. We assume anyway, lord knows there’s enough of Phillips crappy abstracts carefully positioned in each scene, he’s obviously got some free time when he’s not pawing Whitney’s smock. (see his amazing "Mullet Titty Chicken" to the right in the picture above)

Despite the house mothers warning Whitney moves into the basement, Childress’ old studio which after 30 years and the restoration and installation of a full fledged private art college upstairs (admittedly only 5 students), remains entirely untouched, undisturbed and, unlocked. Including Childress’ satanic tomes, which still lie right next to the drawing table. It’s amazing how all that evil toil was poured into making a big heavy book with a nice leather-bound cover and all those crinkly parchment pages when all anyone ever needs is the first two lines of page one to summon a host of demons. Reading that line, Whitney marvels at how interesting her idol was, what with all the Satanism and stuff, and isn’t it just so, I don’t know, interesting?

I suppose it's meant to let us know from the start that Whitney is not to be regarded as the “hot chick” of the movie, but decked out in her stiff grey linen, floor length dress she looks more like an escapee from a Spanish women in prison film. Though the performance artist (Miranda Wilson) does lather up before her pending demise, the first assumption was correct; don’t expect any soapy group fights.
For mocking her preferred media Whitney draws her fellow students (with the exception of Phillip) being eaten by a demon, or does she? Do the comic pages just draw themselves? As before, the fantasies come to life and are played out with minimal, if decent gore. Whitney discovers the mystery pages on her drawing table, and realizing she has caused the problem, splashes a little white-out on the drawings and then decides to draw all the other students back to life, which suddenly ends with a bunch of fire and screaming. So, I guess that didn’t work so well.

One gets the impression there was supposed to be a sequel, but unless you're counting the porn series I unwittingly discovered doing an image search of the title, that pretty much didn't work out well either.

08 June 2009

The Delta Force

Nice cut-n'-paste job on Lee Marvin's head

United States – 1986
Director – Menahem Golan
MGM Home Entertainment, 1998, VHS
Run time – 2 hours, 8 min.

Director Menahem Golan: one-half of the defunct Israeli power production duo Golan-Globus, owners of the belly-up Cannon Pictures Group and purveyors of slash and burn 80’s action cinema. From the meat-cleaver-to-the-face political subtlety in this and some other films directed by Golan, one might go so far as to consider him a gung-ho Arab-villifying Jewsploitation predecessor to Steven Spielberg.

Really, The Delta Force is two movies, who like reluctant lovers, slowly test the waters, coyly wooing each other until finally they mate in a cacophony of exploding grenades and video game music.

The first "movie" is a shock to behold, and really deserves custody of the offspring of this unholy and awkward union. Robert Forster (Vigilante, Alligator) plays Abdul, leader of a cell of Lebanese terrorists who hijack a plane departing Athens (based on the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847). Forster has the role pegged down to a science: he made my skin crawl pistol-whipping whimpering American-Pig-Dog capitalist passengers with the sickening and deeply satisfying wet crack of vindication. (also look for staple B-actors Martin Balsam, George Kennedy and "stone free" Bo Svenson on this flight)

Meanwhile, in doo-poop land, a general, encrusted with so many ribbons he needs to be taken into dry dock and scraped, orders up the magical Delta Force in one of those "Oooooo, WOW!" moments I think you're supposed to get awed and wide-eyed about – if you're 8. Led by the withered husk of Lee Marvin (his last screen appearance before he died a year later), the dopey ass-slapping extras playing Delta Force (including Chuck’s son Eric) wait on board their code named secret aircraft "Delta 1". Just as they’re about to depart, whew, retired DF Captain Scott McCoy (Chuck Norris) shows up to join the boy-scouts, and the sausage fest is airborne for a field trip in Beirut.

The coming conflict is glaringly predictable, and few of the details need to be fleshed out. Forster continues to dominate this picture, and the cuts from hijacking scenes to thinly-veiled patriotic cock-stroking, become less and less jarring, if only because the two forces - evil, brilliant Forster, and righteous, pallid Norris (and crew) - overlap with more and more screen time. Finally, with all the hot flying lead and NES music we’ve been dipping our feet into, it comes crashing down in a deluge of predictable mediocrity, until we slip all the way into the pot to have the flesh boiled from our bones. His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Norris’s piercing “American justice” glare is at head-exploding intensity here, and strikes fear in the hearts of all. Best of all, he gets to ride a dirt-bike with automatically reloading missles and machine guns on the front and grenade launchers on the back. I think the grenades are a metaphor for a deluge of fecal spray; they shoot out of the "exhaust pipe", and in any case I am sure that unlike real grenades, these ones are super grenades that explode instantly on target, all the time.

Now, with a conveniently placed ramp, Norris can dramatically leap and wheelie his way into the sunset, coating everything in his path with a fine spray of human waste; talented supporting actors unlucky enough to be caught in his shadow, and my poor weeping eyes, included.

Poster art from Film Cynic.

Soundtrack cover art from Ruthless Reviews.