25 October 2010

Warlords From Hell

United States - 1985
Director - Clark Henderson
Warner Home Video, 1988, VHS
Run Time - 1 hour, 16 minutes

Two United Statesian dirtbikers are jocking it up tearing ass around Mexico when they are caught by some Mexican heavies and forced at gun, knife and fist-point to work on their marijuana plantation. The plantation is guarded by a number of muscular blonde lawless mercenary types from the U.S., including Robert Patrick, all of whom take great pleasure beating up our heroic duo and abusing the indigenous population. Our heroes manage to get a brief missive out of captivity, and disguised as catholic missionaries, two of their friends back home load up a VW van with surplus military ordnance and head south to start a firefight.

Mindbogglingly made and released only moments before the almost identical but more heavily armed and Linda Blair equipped Night Force, Warlords From Hell is, like its cohort, stacked with all kinds of fun and insightful observations on international relations between the U.S. and Mexico. Even if you don't know anything about the long-standing regional tug-of-war in that area, Warlords From Hell is like a crash course in border politics and will get you up to dirtbike-speed in a breathtaking hour and a quarter.

So, where to start. First, despite what you may have heard, sneaking across the border is a totally rad adventure. Although they talk a big game about national sovereignty and security, in truth, over there they need you in order to feed the economy. Secondly there is virtually zero law enforcement because everyone is so impoverished that they have nothing to lose. After all, that's why you're going over there right, you can do whatever the fuck you want without consequence, and because they know how to respect someone with cash.

It is however important to be careful, once you cross the border it can be a little dangerous, there have been reports of bands of armed vigilantes trying to hunt people down and/or employing them under questionably legal circumstances. Not to fear, though it may sound sketchy, if by chance you find yourself in a sticky situation, exploited, robbed, abused or something like that, someone will track you down, put you in their protective custody and get you home free of charge, just like that.

 Well damn, just, damn. Yeeeeeeehaaaaww! That was fun.

22 October 2010

Dog Day

AKA - Dog Day
France - 1983
Director - Yves Boisset
Lightning Video, 1985, VHS
Run Time - 1 hour, 41 minutes
Starring - Lee Marvin


United States - 1987
Director - Barbet Schroeder
Warner Home Video, 1987, VHS
Runtime - 1 hour, 40 minutes
Starring - Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway

Loosely based on a romanticized version of Charles Bukowski's antiheroic vision of himself, Barfly ended up being the fuel for another book. Bukowski complained that they got it all wrong, that movie was all wrong he said in an interview you can watch in the documentary Born Into This. I wouldn't have said it like "For my frieeeeeends." I would have said, "For my frieeeends."
One of my friends reproached me for liking this movie so much. How could you betray the vision of a genius and like a film that he condemned?
Here is my answer: Sure Bukowski was a great writer, but he was also a whiny abusive, egotistical jerk, so of course he complained, all the way to the bank. Anyway, it's a good movie.

18 October 2010

The Dirtbike Kid

United States - 1985
Director - Hoice C. Caston
Charter Entertainment, 1986, VHS
Run Time - 1 hour, 31 minutes

I did not have high expectations for The Dirtbike Kid, and bought it merely out of morbid curiosity. Peter Billingsley who you may be more familiar with as Ralphie in A Christmas Story plays Jack, a kid who basically rehashes Herbie the Lovebug with a dirtbike. I shall present the argument however that just under the surface, The Dirtbike Kid is a not-so complex analogy for puberty, masturbation and freshly minted Oedipal masculinity.

Jack is at first a typical little kid watching cartoons and eating potato chips. His mother Janet (Anne Bloom), a frazzled woman barely able to keep the house from burning down sends Jack to the store with 50 bucks to buy groceries. On the way Jack stops at a dirtbike rally where he admires the noisy and flamboyant machines of the confident and cocky older boys as they leap into the air and spray mud. At that moment a kid with a bike that doesn’t work well stalls it out right in front of him and frustrated, offers to sell it to Jack for 50 bucks. Suddenly a strange old man appears and tells Jack that the bike has magic powers if it has the right rider…

The problem is, Jack’s single mom is unemployed and that was their last 50 dollars. She sends Jack to bed with a promise to sell the bike and recover their money in the morning. That night Jack sneaks out to the garage and lovingly cleans and polishes his bike, which literally becomes erect, and together they go on a wild midnight ride, only barely escaping detection by mom.

Notice Jack's pose in the top set.

Soon Jack has been transformed into a confident and proactive young man, he and his new Bike do things together, go on adventures and even fly through the air in several wet-dream scenes reminiscent of the finest wrinkly E.T. sequence. Jack and his crotch-rocket’s biggest challenge is yet to come however when local bank mogul Mr. Hodgkins (Stuart Pankin) selects the location for his new branch building. It happens to be the exact site of that community institution, Mike’s Dog House, Jack’s favorite hot-dog stand and sponsor of his little league team. At the very same time, Mom is trying desperately to land a job at Mr. Hodgkin’s bank, an application he would be happy to consider with her at his mansion over a glass of wine…
!!But there’s Jack, blasting in on all 300cc’s of his manhood to save the wiener stand and his first love’s purity from the slimy grasp of one totally unmasculine slob. In fact, Jack goes so far as to publicly humiliate Mr. Hodgkins and make him dress up in a giant hotdog costume. Alas, just at their moment of triumph, the magic suddenly fades from Jack’s Bike.

“No! Don’t go, this is what we’ve worked for!” Jack exclaims, but the bike is suddenly lifeless, the glow gone from its headlights.
“Jack honey, what’s wrong?” says Janet, climbing the sand dune toward her son.
“It’s my bike mom, all the magic’s gone.”
“Well Jack I know this bike is really special to you.”

“It sure is. But y’know mom, I was just thinkin’, maybe the magic is gone because I have my own magic that’s working for me now.”
“Your father used to say, we all have a little magic hidden inside us, sometimes it just takes someone special to bring it out.”
“That’s what my bike did for me right?”
“And that’s what you do for me.”

Bam! Jack has his own magic, reserving his mother and their home for his sole male dominance. Mike's wiener hut is intact and bigger than ever (and his girlfriend is suddenly pregnant!), and finally the obese, cowardly and child-hating Mr. Hodgkins, thoroughly desexualized, is thus defanged and relegated to the status of walking joke. Jack has discovered his penis.
Thank you.
I rest my case.

Moments after Jack abandons the bike, another small child climbs onto it and proclaims his desire to possess such a magnificent machine. Then suddenly that same strange old man from the beginning of the film steps from behind a column and says “This is a very special bike you know…. well, provided it has the right rider…”
That's exactly who you want to teach you about your penis.

15 October 2010


United States - 1987
Director - Ron Howard
RCA Home Video, 1988, VHS
Run Time - 2 hours, 10 minutes

Hey, I know it's a pretty mainstream video that's readily available on DVD, but if you notice the red border on the box there, it may bring back memories of other boxes with a similar motif. RCA/Columbia kept the same design for a long ass time, a vestige of the early days of VHS when the quality of the physical product was judged on the reputation of the studio.

The cover/poster artwork for Willow was created by John Alvin, the man responsible for the promo art of such classics as Bladerunner and Rhinestone among many, many other films.

Rental Store - Umpqua Video

Return of Lunchmeat's Missing Title

11 October 2010


Who could resist that awesome cover?

United States - 1978
Director - Lyman Dayton
Dayton Video, 1981, VHS
Run Time - 1 hour, 36 minutes

Oh, the romantic stoicism of the Western frontier. It was the birthplace of a myth of manhood and intrepid destiny that defined a nation and a culture. It came to symbolize a coming of age, both national and personal which has permeated our self image for over 150 years. It is the idea of individual perseverance and the role of physical labor and tradition which has been seen as the bedrock of traditional American morality, and to which director Dayton has returned time and again in his narratives. In Rivals he drops that legendary trope directly into the swirling materialistic void of disco-age modern urban high-school.

When the patriarch of a Wyoming sheep ranching family dies, his family returns to the mother’s home city. The story from here on is concerned almost exclusively with Adam (co-producer Stewart Peterson) the eldest son and cipher of the idealized American West myth. His arrival in Los Angeles initiates a profound clash of cultural values, and the question of the nature and definition of historical progress as it plays out in the juvenile hijinks of 3rd period science class. Director Dayton knows that every piece of thought provoking cinema should build a tension between possibility and probability, between myth and reality. If it is to be called a “film” rather than just a “flick”, a movie has to develop a dichotomy between what we want, and what we can realistically have. It must mix the viewers own internal conflict with that of the protagonist; a conflict between his desire to be liked and his desire to do good works.

Rivals is precisely one such film. Adam is a cleansing angel, stepped from the pages of a storybook to remind us that we modern slobs lost our way. The faith and honesty of a simpler, more tactile way of life mythologized in the rural West and from which we have strayed, is our only possible salvation. Justifiably singled out by his morally inferior peers as the “new kid” and a hick to boot, Adam must prove himself superior to the vindictive and vain behavior of the local cool guy, Clyde “Clutch” Turner.

Yes, it sounds as if someone accidentally switched the names on these two characters, but it must be recalled that Adam is an emissary of the Eden that is a Wyoming sheep ranch and as such he represents a more “pure”, pre-corrupt state of humanity. He is mythologized ideal (and blonde!) subsumed in the seething cauldron of venality that is the Los Angeles public education system. The question however is, will Adam retain his rugged but gentle stoicism after being locked in an outhouse and bleated at derisively by Clutch and his boneheaded sidekicks Gimper and Sludge?

Despite an overwhelmingly compelling set of characteristics, Adam is at a disadvantage. In addition to his smokin’ custom Dodge Van, Clutch has Brooke (Dana Kimmell, Friday the 13th III), his girlfriend, and Brooke has the barely restrained force of girly-parts and popularity on her side. Can we really expect a person, even a personified myth such as Adam to resist such a deadly combination of temptations. Let’s be realistic here, no matter how much we pine and mutter longingly about the gritty immediacy of morality and “truth” in the murky distance of history, perfection is simply a self-deluding fantasy. Even a myth needs a girlfriend, and disco dancing is just sooooo much fuuun!

Man, you're just way too humble farmer dude, I can't resist! For blowing up my custom van and putting me in my place, I'll let you have my girlfriend.

This alternate VHS box art comes courtesy of my friend Michael at Cinema du Meep. Thanks for sharing!

08 October 2010

Pocket Money

United States - 1972
Director - Stuart Rosenberg
Starring - Paul Newman and Lee Marvin

These top two posters are from IMPAwards


I don't know what Retro Filmprogramm is but issue 49, which I found at rudolfbenda.de features Pocket Money under the title "Two Unlucky Cowboys".

This VHS box comes from 109 Things.

I was hoping for a nice old mass-market paperback with an illustrated cover or something, but the only cover I could find for the novel upon which Pocket Money was based was this contemporary one. The screenplay for the film was written by Terrence Malick who has also directed a few films you might have heard of namely The Thin Red Line which was based on a James Jones memoir.

04 October 2010


Well it hardly seems like it, but it has been a whole month and I'm back in the States and back to watching old VHS tapes. I've got a lot of stuff that's been on hold for a long time before I left, we'll see how it goes. Thanks for sticking with me here at Lost Video Archive.

United States - 1992
Director - Ian Corson
Republic Pictures, 1994, VHS
Run Time - 1 hour, 38 minutes

Malicious is one of those films that is often described as a "guilty pleasure", an elitist bourgeoisie term that doesn't really make much sense. I first saw it on late night TV when I was in my teens and of course was enthralled with the concept of a sexually charged and bare-breasted Molly Ringwald. It was something that contradicted all prior notions I'd had of her. The story is classically sexist in its vilification of the sexually aware and demanding woman. The ostensible protagonist, a college baseball jock named Doug, can't keep his dick in his pants when his girlfriend is out of town and after fooling around with Molly finds that she won't leave him alone. Of course she is embellished with a number of what can only be called "psycho bitch" stereotypes which are meant to paint her as unstable and dangerous; in effect to justify her vilification. But this assertion is hard to swallow considering its historically endemic nature.

What Malicious wants us to believe is that it's okay if a man sleeps with someone (even if he's already in a relationship) as long as it didn't "mean anything", in fact, it's practically expected. If the woman  thinks it means something more than casual sex, that's asking too much, surely it was her fault for tempting him in the first place. It's the same bullshit double standard we've heard since the patriarchs blamed Eve for getting Adam kicked out of the garden.