28 June 2010

Alien Terminator

United States – 1995
Director – Dave Payne
New Horizons Home Video, 1995, VHS
Run Time – 1 hour, 35 minutes

The first thing that occurred to me as I began to watch Alien Terminator was its total intellectual poverty. But let’s be honest, the decade that spawned it, the 1990’s, science fiction-wise was little more stimulating cinematically than this, and Alien Terminator gives a beautiful cross-section of the aesthetic wasteland that was capped off with two of its most popular films, Star Wars: Episode 1 and The Matrix. Despite their pretty digital images and absolutely brilliant dialogue though, both are blatantly pro-Christian narratives masquerading behind aliens and black vinyl.

These films were a product of the decade that spawned them, a time of exasperated posturing as the dominant culture was beginning to eat itself for lack of source material, combining totally ad-hoc elements in the hope that somehow they could magically become cool. Consider the phenomena of goatees, page-boy haircuts and single strapped overalls in combination with the flash-in-the-pan awesomeness that was computer hacking and virtual reality. Such awkward and dissonant combinations are surely a symptom of the terrifying possibility that we were culturally bankrupt. But let’s be perfectly honest here, in the thick of all this profound self analysis, who among us could tell that we were all full of shit?

I would argue that environmentalism, the hottest new marketing trend of the 90’s was a perfect example of this because at its root was a deep personal introspection combined with pop marketing techniques. The popularity of toxic waste themes in television, cinema, toys and even music of the time is demonstrative. We could spend a lot of money consuming environmentally progressive products while ignoring the fact that mass-consumerism was the problem. (Still working on that one last time I checked.) Just such a greenwashed publicity stunt serves as the inspiration for Alien Terminator which conjures the still fresh carcass of Biosphere 2 for a “set” and a perfect metaphor for the sublime vanity of self-analysis as conspicuous consumption. To study the effects of human isolation a group of people (don’t ask me how the logic behind that one works) have been locked in the Earthtek BioCom facility. It is here, on the last day of their two year “isolation” that we meet our intrepid protagonists, frozen so to speak like butterflies in a bell jar, dusty specimens from a puzzling premillennial age.

Newton is a Corey Feldman look-alike geneticist who uses some cutting-edgy virtual reality to accidentally invent killer viruses between bong rips. On this particular day, the final one, he accidentally invents a virus which he ceremoniously names the Alien Intruder Virus which “increases strength, decreases moral inhibition and triggers a state of perpetual violence.” It makes perfect sense then to inject it into his pet rat Galileo. For the rest of the film Galileo, violently uninhibited and horribly mutated into something resembling a guy in hairy sweatpants, will menace the actors whose response to lifethreatening peril is repeated arguments about self-identity. It is wonderfully appropriate that Corman stable regulars Maria Ford and Emile Levisetti both appear here (they doubled up again in '96 for Strip for Action). Wearing a totally appropriate science outfit, Ford goes head to head with Billy-Ray Cyrus look alike Taylor who’s trying to get in her pants by repeatedly insulting her. We'll see how that works. Ford’s usual eagerness to reveal her perky acting talents is subdued in Alien Terminator to allow Levisetti to wallow in the unnatural bouancy of his girlfriend Rachel (Lisa Boyle). It’s nice to see Levisetti in action again, the throat-stab inducing smugness and assholery he brings to his performances really endears him as a sympathetic protagonist in Alien Terminator. As if all the snappy pacing of defending ones ego against hirsute suitors or suckling your sutured silicone sweetheart on the last-day in the bunker scenario wasn't enough to keep us entertained, a cataclysmic computer shutdown set-up will surely  keep it entertaining.

Whether or not I’m generalizing my own experience of the decade, you have to admit, all of these people flawlessly capture the bluster and pure snottyness of the time. If the decade and its cinematic output could be thrown in a big pot and boiled for several hours, Alien Terminator would be a healthy portion of the head-cheese that resulted. Even if it does resort to a cheap millennium-bug gag to forward the plot, at least it's not a gazillion dollar Bible story with assault rifles.

This awesome Japanese VHS cover comes courtesy of the excellent Japanese VHS Hell, go there.

25 June 2010

Son of Ingagi

United States - 1940
Director -Richard C. Kahn

From the same director as several of the Black-Cast westerns we brought you here, comes this sequel to the sleazy 1930 film Ingagi which we posted here. While this "sequel" poster is much better rendered, I like the crude simplicity of it's predecessor. Son of Ingagi also stars Spencer Williams, who appeared in Kahn's westerns and as you'll note from this poster, also wrote Son of Ingagi. After this film he went on to direct a number of his own pictures and also played the Andy to Alvin Childress' Amos in Amos n' Andy.
P.S., It looks like you can watch Son of Ingagi for free at IMDB. Just sayin'.

Double Kung Fu Double Feature!

Hong Kong - 1984
Director - Robert Tai

Super Dragons
Taiwan? - ??
Director - Cheung Chu??
Difficult to find anything about this movie, the names on screen are all cut off by the "formatting for my TV," maybe it's this one.

Taiwan - 1980
Director - William Chang

Hong Kong - 1983
Director - Tso Nam Lee

The quality on these transfers is, as you might expect, garbage. With the minor exception of Mafia vs. Ninja, I don't recall any of the films being very entertaining, and thus these tapes are difficult to sit through. The boxes sure are cool though.

21 June 2010

Project: Eliminator

United States - 1989
Director- H. Kaye Dyal
Southgate Entertainment, 1991, VHS
Run Time – 1 hour, 29 minutes

After serving in various dirty wars with the Marine Corps, and then the Army Special Forces, you would think that John “Striker” Slade would be ready to relax those sweaty, tense muscles and live off of his pension check. But coming back from the combat zone is not as easy as it might seem. As a highly trained super warrior, Slade has a hard time relating to and fitting in with all the soft civilian scum with their cocktails, jobs, apartments and relationships. They have no idea how weak and vulnerable they are, growing fat and lazy without the constant threat of hand-to-hand struggle hanging over their heads, and Slade is having none of it. Instead, he’s taken the only other option available to him, a Canadian tuxedo and the life of a nameless drifter on the highways of the US of A.

It is here where we join our friend Slade, portrayed with steely emotion by a well tanned and sparklingly groomed Frank Zagarino (Barbarian Queen's Argan), as he blows into a dusty northern New Mexico town called Rio Puerco like a tumbleweed with abs. Slade himself is too young to be a product of Vietnam, but that war produced a variety of bitter and misanthropic veteran stereotypes to choose from. Oh the tragic torment of the survivors to know the banality of peace; it was the lucky ones that died.

Slade hops off his hitchhiked eighteen-wheeler ride into a dusty parking lot where he takes a job body-guarding Dr. Markson, a scientist who’s developing a top secret AI drone aircraft for the Department of Defense. Why would a guy who already works for the DOD need defending? Because he just grew a conscience and instead of war machines, he’s decided to devote the rest of his life to developing aerodynamic, subsonic AI low income housing. Unfortunately, another maladjusted muscular Special Forces veteran, Elias (Brett Baxter Clark of Deathstalker 4) is not interested in such cute bullshit and is instead bent on extracting the aircraft plans from Markson’s grey-matter and selling them to… well, somebody evil will probably want them.

It also serves as a damn good opportunity for Slade to go on one of those cathartic “Final Raids” with his old army buddy Ron Morell (David Carradine.) Typically, traumatized veterans who return to the States are unable to cope with the slow pace and low tension of civilian life until they meet up with an old war buddy and pull one last mission together for old times sake. It is then, and only then, after employing their unique skills to prove his goodness, that the civilian scumbag will realize that the government-issue killer is really just misunderstood. In fact, as Markson’s vulnerable and succulent daughter Jackie quickly discovers, Slade is misunderstood and H-O-T. Who wouldn’t be instantly seduced by that golden mullet cascading over bronze and supple chest. She’s in his arms quicker than you can say Great American Metaphor.

Packin' a rod.

Within minutes however, Markson and his daughter are kidnapped by Elias’s inept goons and taken to a decrepit dust farm on the edge of the bosque. There Elias’ plan is to maliciously interrogate them while cackling and elaborating his entire evil (lack of) plan. Of course, as soon as the safety of the effeminate intellectual civilian is threatened, Slade’s unique skill-set regains its currency, (oh the irony that they’re the ones who made him learn those skills in the first place!) Shooting off in hot pursuit like well armed denim ejaculate, Slade guns his dirt-bike into the desert to redeem himself in the ultimate archetype showdown. After a brief premature battle climax with the henchmen, he literally gets in a fistfight with the degenerate wacko- vet stereotype captured so eloquently in Baxter-Clark’s Elias. With liberal use of disbelief suspension, I could hear the eagles of freedom screeching victoriously as Slade re-legitimized the masculine hero-warrior myth, putting some muscle firmly back into the USA's collective pants.

That's for all those years of making me look bad!

18 June 2010

American Ninjae (pl.)

United States - 1987
Director - Sam Firstenberg

Excuse me Ma'am, wow.
American Ninja 2 trailer courtesy of CannonFilms.

United States - 1989
Director - Cedrick Sundstrom
Starring - David Bradley, Steve James and Marjoe Gortner

American Ninja 3 trailer courtesy hailtotheking4051.

And I leave you with this awesome AN2 clip from ZolaC

14 June 2010

Boogeyman II

United States - 1983
Director - Ulli Lomell
Gemstone Entertainment, 1992, VHS
Run Time - 1 hour, 19 minutes

Boogeyman II opens with a long static shot of a man and woman driving down a Los Angeles street with the camera placed immediately behind the two in the backseat of the car, giving the impression that the viewer is being “taken for a ride.” In the long run this proves to be the case, but for the moment we don’t know that and with hopeful hearts, have little choice but to unwittingly indulge Lomell’s narcissistic hissy-fit of a film.

The first leg of “the ride” begins when the vehicle delivers our fellow passengers to a backyard pool where low budget movie director Mickey (Lomell) is shooting some extra scenes to pad the running time of his next opus. His producer is on hand to remind him of the sales potential of tits, and informs Mickey that artistic vision and class have no place in exploitation film. Showing up in the middle of Mickey’s humiliation, the opening shot’s passenger, narrator and severe headcase Lacey, stands awkwardly beside the pool as Mickey tells his reluctant actress to take her top off and get it over with. Lying nearby sunbathing without a care as her husband sheepishly commands women to disrobe is Lacey’s old friend Bonnie. Reunited after a long separation, Lacey kindly brings her old friends up to speed, narrating all the necessary plot points over several extended bloody gorror montages lifted directly from the prior film.

Skipping all the boring exposition has mercifully saved everyone the need to watch the first Boogeyman, and gives Mickey and Bonnie a great idea. So moved are they by Lacey’s deep psychological trauma that they immediately begin scheming to make the entire story into an exploitation film with which to resuscitate Mickey’s lackluster directing career. And if Bonnie has anything to say about it, the primary function of Mickey’s film about Lacey’s entire family being gruesomely massacred by shards of a haunted mirror is merely to net enough cash-money to achieve a desirably haute standard of living. “Y’know,” she says, sitting around the   pool the following day with a nearly catatonic Lacey, “I could just lie in the sun forever until I turn into a mummy.”Fortunately, to facilitate bringing this tantalizing vision of dessication to fruition, Lacey had the foresight to save a shard of the mirror and bring it along to inspire a fresh round of profoundly lower budget boogeying. And inspire it does at a party Mickey and Bonnie throw to introduce all their Hollywood friends to their new muse.
This death brought to you courtesy of a previous Boogeyman.

Mickey/Lomell, is clearly cognizant of his own helplessness in all of this, both as director and primary subject fallen overboard into a sea of cheap forgettable film. But as his vapid show-biz friends start dying off at the wrong end of possessed appliances, he remains unsure whether it’s all real, or part of an elaborate setup. Considering that the barrier between artist and art (terms used fast and loose here) was thoroughly ruptured by their merging in this autobiographical fiction picture, I would have expected him to be aware enough to realize that a hoax of this magnitude would have required a far larger budget than this very film.

Alright, I'm pulling out all the stops, I want the toothbrush death scene lit with two flashlights.

Remarkably through the death of all of his friends and eventually his insipid wife (sadly flash fried instead of mummified) Mickey/Lomell remains pensive and distant, disinterested in the entire process, as if he was trying to figure something out. Perhaps he was hearing the first clarion notes of that tempting siren sleaze, having his first flashes of realization; awakening to his purpose and settling in for the long ride into trash cinema.

 Screaming fiery explosion plus wife equals.... meh, whatever.

11 June 2010

Hell In the Pacific

United States - 1968
Director - John Boorman
Starring - Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune

Probably my favorite Lee Marvin, and one of my favorite Mifune movies as well. Both give awesome performances, but it's difficult to judge a film of this calibre on the acting of two  performers who are basically always great. It's not them as individuals, but rather the atmosphere of the film that makes their interactions that much more potent. Really, it's Boorman's directing that makes this such a great film. Consider also that it came out at the height of the Vietnam War carrying a meassage about the futility and waste of military violence. While similar to Robert Altman's  M*A*S*H* in that respect,  it speaks more explicitly to the fundamental absurdity of nationalist rhetoric, extending it's anti-war message beyond the individual.
Sadly, I don't think any of these posters does justice to Hell In the Pacific.
This poster from Moviegoods

This one from Classic War Movies.

This one from Posteritati

This French poster and the one at the top are from Trash Can Dance

10 June 2010

Emperor of the North

Spanish poster from some download site.

United States - 1973
Director - Robert Aldrich

From IMPAwards.

Japanese poster from Movie Poster Posters

Scandinavian poster from Nordicposters

09 June 2010

Monte Walsh

From John Barry.org.uk

Monte Walsh
United States - 1970
Director - William A. Fraker
Starring - Lee Marvin, Jeanne Moreau, and Jack Palance

French poster.

Vertical format poster from Movieposter.com

Japanese poster from Movie Poster Posters.

These are just the best of the images for this film, you can see more at MovieGoods.
Also, in 2003 a sequel was made starring Tom Selleck as Monte Walsh.

08 June 2010

Prime Cut

United States - 1972
Director - Michael Ritchie

This vertical format poster from Movieposter.com

Japanese poster from Cinemaisdope.

Cinema Retro cover from Cinebeats.

Lobby cards from Slashfilm.com

Key Video Box cover from Criticonline

07 June 2010

Point Blank

As I prepare to create another tributary art piece to one of the great American tough guy actors, I've been soaking up a lot of reference material. While I finish writing research papers and studying fossil hominins, it is less stressful to look at nice poster art than to try and express my thoughts on some piece of shit VHS tape.
Watch the progress toward St. Marvin here.
See the last painting, St. Bronson here.

Polish poster, art by Bronislaw Zelek

United States - 1967
Director - John Boorman
Starring Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson and John Vernon

The next three posters are from Posterman

The following posters are all low resolution, sorry, but that's all I could find.

This last one comes from Lightning Bug's Lair.

Point Blank was adapted from a novel by Donald Westlake titled The Hunter. It was retitled Point Blank when the film was released.
This book cover is from Bookgasm.

Go see Point Blank, or the broad gets it!