Archive for the '80's movies' Category

Apr

Thou Shall Not Kill... Except
1985 – Unrated – Synapse Films
Starring Robert Rickman, Sam Raimi – Directed by Josh Becker

Very few films can take two completely opposing ideas, put them together and make them work. Thou Shalt Not Kill… Except (also called Stryker’s War) is one of those films. It’s one part Vietnam War, one part Manson Family, all bottled up in one great revenge flick left on the shelf to ferment over time and it aged marvelously, fine enough for you to sip on or share with your friends. It’s wild and perhaps a bit unruly, but it never gets completely out of control. This is an interesting concept, to say the least. It’s one that easily could not have worked, but when you have the crew responsible for The Evil Dead behind it, rest assured you’re in capable hands to mix the mad and the macabre with outrageous, zany antics.

Deep in the jungles of Michigan, I mean… Vietnam, Sgt. Stryker leads his mean, the brute Sgt. Walker, the green 2nd Lt. Dave Miller and the wisecracking Lt. Cpt. Tyler and a bunch of other guys without names through hazardous enemy territory. Without warning, the soldiers are ambushed (I guess that’s why it’s called an ambush)! Most of the men are killed, except our aforementioned cast, and Stryker is shot in the leg, forever disabling him with a bum leg. He returns home to make walking with a cane look cool way before Dr. House did and to start his life over again in his secluded creep cabin, where he spends most of his time drinking whiskey with his dog… Whiskey. That is, until his high school sweetie Sally is asking her grandfather, who visits Stryker often, about him. He wants her, she wants him, but he’s too stubborn because of his injury and thinks she’s only taking pity on him. You know the story. Eventually, he gives in and goes out on a date with her and it’s like old times and the two reconnect, like they were never distant. However, Sally cuts the date short because of work (always seems like that’s the case, right fellas?) and they plan a second date. But before she can meet Stryker for that rendezvous, she and grandpa has some uninvited guests over for dinner…

tsnk_2Shortly, his rowdy friends arrive from Vietnam (who are most certainly ready for some football) and visit Stryker at his cabin. The old unit catches up by drinking some beers at a local bar and defending the bar maiden from a biker gang in what looks like a well choreographed fight scene, but not the most graceful, as the actors almost fall over their own kicks and punches that sounds like someone is smacking an empty plastic jug against a side of meat… in a can (if any of that makes sense). Then again, they just finished drinking Nick Nolte levels of alcohol and knowing this crew’s filming methods, it’s very possible that the actors were actually drunk. Once that’s done, they drink some more and pass out, then drink some more and shoot at an old shed with guns. So, basically drinking. They drink. A lot.

Stryker believes Sally is standing him up once it’s evident (unbeknownst to Stryker) that she won’t be showing up, but once his dog Whiskey goes missing, the gang splits up and searches for him and stumbling upon Sally’s uninvited dinner guests… a blood thirsty cult led by Sam Raimi in a Manson wig and carrying a pirate sword! But these folks are no laughing matter, regardless of Sam Raimi’s scenery chewing. Having taken the entire town hostage (or at least a good chunk of them), killed off the police force (the whole one guy), barbecuing poor ol’ Whiskey (insert cooking with whiskey joke here) and having kidnapped and torturing Sally, things are serious or as Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys would say, “S**t just got real!” They rally back at Stryker’s love shack and arm themselves, starting yet another militia in the state of Michigan.

tsnk_3Confronting the cult and freeing the townspeople, Stryker and his old unit go to war with the b-movie equivalent of the Manson family. Battle ensues with guns, knives, sharp sticks… literally. All sorts of things are used for weapons in the final twenty minutes, which serves as one large fight. Luckily, it never feels like it’s dragging out, mostly due to some satisfying, over the top style kills, as the cult is impaled by tree limbs, multiple garden instruments, swords or blown to bits in a satisfying manner as Stryker and his men blast these scumbags down with shotguns. Although never reaching extreme moments in gross out gore, quite a lot of blood is spilled as the unnamed cult leader played by Sam Raimi impales one of his own followers for his motorcycle to flee and quickly becoming lost in the forest maze of trees. But these are Stryker’s woods… he knows them like the back of his hand. Hell, this is his backyard and he’s going to get revenge for Sally and Whiskey!

Finally, we get to the showdown between Stryker (who I have to say that Brian Schulz plays this roll in a charming smug kind of way) and the Charles Manson/Sam Raimi amalgamation after he wrecks his hog. Like all classic hero vs. villain fights, the odds juggle back and forth with the baddie seemingly having the upper hand and tossing out a great stinger, followed by the hero’s retort and execution…

“I am Jesus Christ!”
“No you’re not… you’re dead.”

tsnk_4Several shotgun blasts to the abdomen and an impalement on a busted dirt bike later, Stryker and crew find Sally and they all drive off triumphantly into the sunrise, accompanied by a well deserved and welcoming victory fanfare.

Don’t be fooled by Thou Shalt Not Kill… Except’s low budget. This movie packs quite a fun punch. As I said earlier in the review, this is an interesting concept, a blend of two different ideas that could have easily not worked if it weren’t in the right hands, but luckily this was a brain child of Bruce Campbell and Josh Becker. Speaking of the Big Chin, he originally played Sgt. Stryker in the 40 minutes short (called Stryker’s War, included on the Synapse Blu-ray) and was cast to return to the role for the full length feature, but due to Bruce having recently joined the Screen Actor’s Guild, he was unable to participate in a non SAG movie. He did however provide help as an assistant sound editor, as well as allowed the crew to shoot on his own property. You can see how the role was originally written for Bruce, but Brian Schulz makes this his own without shadowing Bruce Campbell’s portrayal of the character. The man is just as charismatic as he is cocky. Sam Raimi easily steals the show with his cult leader character, chewing the scenery like Big League Chew in such a memorable way. And of course, Ted Raimi makes an appearance as a cult member in a mask and chains, cackling like a mad man in typical Ted-like fashion that you know and love.

Although the film was a low budget 16mm, Synapse has painfully restored it from the original prints, so everything looks crisp and clean. Sure, there are flaws here and there (mostly with the old stock footage), but what do you expect from a nearly thirty year old film shot on 16mm? I know I may be repeating myself here, but this film seriously looks beautiful. It’s amazing how well restored it is, with dirt and scratches cleaned up, lines sharpened, very few grainy scenes… it’s stunning and remarkable. One of the best looking older releases I have ever seen. And of course, the audio, also for being what it was, sounds terrific. Dialogue is well heard (which is a good thing, since there are no subtitles), but some of the sound effects, like the kicks and punches I mentioned earlier, sound a bit muffled, but it’s nothing to turn you off from the movie. In fact, the movie offers multiple viewings with two different, well informed and interesting commentaries. These are my favorite kind of commentaries too; small, low budget films with a cast and crew that reflect on it fondly. Just listening to them, you can tell they love it and had a blast doing it.

Thou Shall Not Kill... Except
So, fall in line, maggot! Grab your rifle and a copy of Thou Shalt Not Kill… Except and be ready, for The Blood Bath is coming!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • War is hell.
  • Dr. Stryker, MD.
  • Drink, fight, repeat.
  • Blood Bath, the cult movie Mansons.
  • Whiskey BBQ!
  • Lawn Dart Cop.
  • Hippie hunting!
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Shotguns rip apart hippie’s stomachs and plenty of ‘em get impaled by various instruments.

4

blood

BREASTS

Sam squeezes Sally’s bazooms, leaving bloody handprints.

8

beast

BEASTS

I would totally join this cult, as long as they had a good 401k and benefits.

6.3 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer for “Though Shalt Not Kill… Except!

trailers

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Mar

Ninja Terminator
1985 – Not Rated – IFD Films and Arts
Starring Richard Harrison, Jang Lee Hwang – Directed by Godfrey Ho

Before we get into the review, let’s talk about what kind of movie Ninja Terminator is. If you’re thinking that it’s some kind of actual ninja terminator like that cyborg from Robocop 3, you’re way off. If you think it’s ninjas fighting a terminator, as awesome of an idea as that would be, it’s also incorrect, so stop guessing. It’s actually a hybrid of two different low budget movies and when I say that, I don’t mean it’s a mixed genre. Allow me to further explain.

There are all kinds of low budget film making techniques, some cheesier than others, but nothing takes the cake when it comes to Martial Arts B-Movie director Godfrey Ho. You see, Godfrey had such a cheap and quick method that it borderlines genius and schlock; To save money, he would film a small amount of new footage and later take another film he had already shot or owned, cut the two together, dub new dialogue so they tell the same story and there you go! A movie! Perhaps the best and cheesiest part about this method is the two films had little or nothing in common, but Godfrey always found a way to connect the two, usually by a telephone scene since the actors from both films obviously never meet on camera. Did it always work? Ehhh, kinda. Sometimes it can be a bit convoluted and confusing, but Ninja Terminator is pretty coherent… for the most part.

nt_2So here we are, somewhere in Asia (I think) as the evil Ninja Master of the infamous ninja empire (and you can tell he is the ninja master, because his GI is red so he blends in with… red things?), which is now evil, assembles the three parts of the Golden Ninja Warrior Statue to control its awesome power. He tells his henchmen to attack him, but their swords are powerless against him, now that he harnesses the wicked power of the Golden Ninja Warrior Statue. He laughs menacingly in that way only a poorly dubbed movie could pull off, “HA-HA-HA!” So you know it’s working effectively, which is fortunate for him.

One thing you may be asking yourself right now is, “Why do all the ninjas wear mascara?” And they wouldn’t answer you. They would suddenly appear behind you and spin kick you. How dare you ask such a stupid question.

However, three of the ninjas, Ninja Master Harry… yes, you heard right… Ninja Master Harry (Godfrey Ho regular Richard Harrison), Towne and Tamashi (these two guys are so obscure that even their character’s names aren’t listed on any Wiki entry or IMDB), each steal a piece of the statue and decide to keep them hidden from the evil ninja master, since he has become evil… EEEVVVIIILLL! As they flee the evil ninja fortress, they are attacked by ninjas doing cartwheels, but are easily defeated by Harry and the other two and they manage to escape.

nt_3Two years pass and Tamashi is immediately killed, which sucks because we knew his character for all of two seconds. Believing Tamashi’s sister may have his piece of the Golden Ninja Warrior Statue, Towne, who is now apparently corrupt and wants the statue all to himself, hires the sinister Tiger Chan to kidnap her. Tiger dresses like Rufus Shinra from Final Fantasy VII, in a white suit and for some odd reason, wears a woman’s blonde wig. Truly he is threatening! Also hearing of Tamashi’s passing, Harry hires the cocky Interpol agent Jaguar Wong, a man so smug that even George Clooney would tell him to tone it down, to protect her. There isn’t one scene where this guy isn’t chewing bubble gum, but dammit! He’s always kicks arse when he does! He’ll even put his hands in his pockets and kick you all over the place! Harry and Jaguar keep in contact via a Garfield telephone since they aren’t in the same movie, but still need help from each other.

Meanwhile, Towne and Harry are visited at their homes by ninjas, but these chumps are easily thwarted after our heroes jump into the air and spin and in a Sailor Moon fashion, instantly appearing in new ninja duds! Harry has a sweet tiger striped camo GI, by the way. They learn they are being targeted by the “Ninja Terminator” for their pieces of the statue. Speaking of, how’s Jaguar doing on protecting that girl?

After a couple dozen scenes of Jaguar chewing gum, smirking and drop kicking everyone (funny how none of these thugs think to bring a gun when they know they can’t beat him), turns out she was kidnapped and will be killed if the statue isn’t returned. Cut to some scenes of Harry fighting some ninjas, who have the power to teleport a couple feet. But later, Jaguar also happened to sort of kidnap Tiger’s right hand man’s girl and have sex with her where she shows off her… hairy armpits. But they once had a thing with and they want to exchange girls and get the statue, I think, but…

nt_4You know, for a plot that should be so simple, there is actually quite a lot going on and most of that is due to trying to make footage from another film fit into a ninja movie. This is where it really starts to get mixed up and can feel confusing, so fast forward past a few more scenes of Jaguar kicking people in the face, as Harry and Towne have it out with the Evil Ninja Master after they are delivered a message from a toy robot. Yes, that actually happens. Harry and Towne put aside their differences and agree to take out this threat in the final battle for total control over the Golden Ninja Warrior Statue!

Okay, so it may not be the best example of a balls to wall martial arts film, but the ninjas fighting in this is pretty cool, with the sharp and quick whip sounds with every punch and those generic ninja costumes are just so damn neat. No wire work here! This is back in the day when you had to hire actual martial artists to do your dirty work and it definitely shows. I don’t want to say that the fight choreography here is stellar, but it is pretty impressive. Richard Harrison and his awesome dad mustache kick some serious tail. This movie has everything you could want out of a ninja flick: Bad dubbing to the point where every character sounds similar, stolen music cues (I noticed the theme from A Clockwork Orange in there), exaggerated sound effects, magical abilities and at the end of it, the hero wins!

Ninja Terminator
Do I recommend the film? Absolutely. It’s not completely incoherent and it’s a lot of fun. This is the kind of movie you can watch with your buddies and have a great time. If you want to see an excellent spoof on the Godfrey Ho martial arts films, check out Ninja: The Mission Force from Ed Glazer (the show also stars The Cinema Snob’s Brad Jones). Their love for these kind of films really shine through here, from cutting in other films, the bad dubbing, even right down to the Garfield phone. Anyway, I think I’ve said too much. I must pass this along to my ninja editor so he can ninja post it. It’s the ninja code.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Richard Harrison and his dad-stache destroying ninjas!
  • Avon Ninja eyeliner.
  • Insta-change costume ninja!
  • Better hope Jaguar isn’t all outta bubble gum…
  • No problem that can’t be solved with ninja fighting.
  • Garfield phone.
totals

4

blood

BLOOD

Swords wiped across people’s legs and stomachs, but no blood.

4

blood

BREASTS

Who needs boobs when you have ninjas? Ah, who am I kidding? Of course you do, but the one pair in this movie is ruined when you see those hairy pits.

8

beast

BEASTS

NINJAS! Everywhere are ninjas! But, what’s up with Tiger’s wig?

5.3 OVERALL
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Watch the entire movie!”

trailers

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Mar

Strike Commando
1987 – Unrated – Flora Film
92 Minutes – Starring Reb Brown, Christopher Connelly, Alex Vitale – Directed by Bruno Mattei

A one man commando team sneaks deep into enemy lines by the orders of his snaky superior to obtain evidence of communist presence in Vietnam and personally liberating any innocent victims… sound familiar? It included scenes like his heroic escape from torture before making a cowardly radio broadcast, waving a belt fed machine gun back and forth, screaming at the top of his lungs like a banshee, all while single handedly wiping out the red threat and doing so shirtless, wearing a bandanna… That’s right, Strike Commando! What, you were thinking of another action packed movie that featured a major action star, made a boatload of money and was seen by a mainstream audience?

In case you couldn’t tell by my poor attempt at sarcasm (oh, I thought I was so good at it), the film I was actually describing is Rambo: First Blood Part II or for the laymen, Rambo II. It’s not uncommon that a popular movie is ripped off, in fact throughout the 70’s and 80’s, there was quite an increase of these “clones,” the best of ‘em brought to you by Italian cult film director, Bruno Mattei. Bruno, sometimes directing under the pseudonym Vincent Dawn, had made quite a name for himself by ripping off other popular films, such as Predator with Robowar, Dawn of the Dead with Hell of the Living Dead, Aliens with Shocking Dark and Salon Kitty with SS Girls. Now, I know the term “ripoff” can automatically turn people off from a movie, especially when it seems like these films are poor, low budget replicas, but you would be misled. Hell of the Living Dead may appear as nothing more than an inferior copy of Romero’s movie, but after the first act, if actually does its own thing. Or SS Girls, filled with disgusting, oddball characters, further exploiting the elements of the original movie it’s mocking, you really see that this is the kind of film that director’s like Quentin Tarantino are trying to make. After that mouthful, let’s look past this minor flaw and give this film a ’shot.’ Pun intended.

sc_2Deep in the jungle of the Philippines, I mean Vietnam, a team of Strike Commandos is infiltrating an enemy base to plant explosives, because… um, because. The team is led by Michael Ransom, played by the notorious blonde beefcake Reb Brown. For those of you unfamiliar with him, Reb Brown was the muscle bound, B-Movie action star of the 80’s (most commonly known to the mainstream audience as Big McLargehuge from the MST3K episode Space Mutiny) that did it better than any of the A-listers. The man would hoist a heavy machine gun in one hand, waving it all around and somehow hitting every target, all while screaming his war cry… the most throat peeling, intense scream so damn frightening that I’m convinced the bullets are not firing from his gun, but they are fleeing from Reb in terror. Anyway, after a sentry (toting an M-60 for whatever reason) spots them and raises an alarm, most of the Strike Commandos are KIA in the attack and the rest are killed in the premature explosions, ordered to be set off by Col. Radek, who has been watching from a vantage point the entire time along with Major Harriman. The Major is angered, but Col. Radek reminds him that the mission is more important than the lives of the Strike Commandos. But if you think Ransom is dead, you’re wrong… dead wrong.

As the opening credits roll, Ransom drifts down a river, somehow holding his breath all night and morning, until he is found by a local village boy who nurses him back to health in time to recreate that scene from Beyond Thunderdome where Mad Max wakes from being unconscious, only to be tied by his ankles and fall out of a hut. After speaking with an elderly Frenchman, Le Due, living with the Vietnamese, Ransom agrees to escort them to some place safe. Along the way, they find a dead soldier with a working radio, so Ransom calls his base for a rendezvous pick up and threatening vengeance simultaneously, which admittedly probably sent mixed signals.

The next day, Ransom and the villagers come across enemy fighters where everyone, including Le Due who looks like he must stink of three week old cheese left in the sun, gets in on the action. Being old and stinky, Le Due stops for a nip only to be ambushed and choked to death by a hulking Russian that in no way bears any similarities with most Dolph Lundgren characters named Jakoda. And trust me, you’ll remember that name… Upon finding Le Due’s corpse, Ransom notices a Russian star insignia that Le Due tore off in a struggle, indicating Russian presence in Vietnam.

sc_3The body count rises as Ransom mows down Commies by the dozen in his escape, but unfortunately there are too many, even for Ransom. He manages to flee the Communist Russia infested Vietnam, leaving all the villagers behind… whoops. Seeking earlier said vengeance, Ransom comes back to the US with his beans completely steamed, but Major Harriman calms him down with in a more elegant, “Yo, bro! CHILL!” But no worries, as Ransom immediately volunteers to go back and take photographic evidence of the Russian presence. I think we all know where this is leading.

Ransom returns to find all of the villagers have been wiped out. He comes across the young boy who helped nurse him at the beginning, dying, making a last request for Ransom to tell him all about Disneyland… where the popcorn grows on trees, mountains of cotton candy flourish, the chocolate malt rivers flow and a magic genie that will grant your most wonderful wish… and Reb delivers this all while crying in the most Oscar worthy clip ever put on celluloid and I mean that in the most sincere way. There is no way any actor could take these lines from this script seriously (which makes me question if Bruno Mattei and screenwriter Claudio Fragasso were aware and making a parody) and deliver it the way Reb does. My hats off to him for being able to say what he says with a straight face and shedding tears. Come to think about it, it also humanizes him more so than Rambo. During his mission, Ransom had befriended several villagers and risked his neck for them. He’s actually quite a compassionate hero when you think about it. This is Ransom’s breaking point. With a vengeful war cry, holding the deceased young boy and screaming, “JAKODA-AAAA!” at the tops of his lungs, he sets out for revenge!

After learning the whereabouts of Jakoda, Ransom shreds up some huts with an M-60, cutting the place to ribbons, but Jakoda reveals himself, unscathed and forcing Ransom to surrender by holding a hostage. That damn big heart of his! In order to force him to make a demoralizing radio broadcast, Ransom is tortured for what we can assume is weeks, maybe months, as he is whipped, electrified, does extreme yard work and locked in a cell with a rotting corpse! This scene is actually pretty dark and not easy to watch as listen to him gag, vomit and plead. In contrast, Rambo had it much easier compared to Ransom! Finally giving in, Ransom agrees to make the broadcast and PSYCHE! You think Ransom would cower and give in to your demands? Think again! Ransom escapes after pretending to make the demoralizing speech, only to make it peppy and uplifting, shouting into the mic at the top of his lungs the way Reb does and takes out the guards. I’m pretty sure it was at this moment that Reb Brown birthed the acronym BAMF.

sc_4While escaping, Ransom takes one of his captors and Jakoda’s partner, Olga, hostage and learns of betrayal and treason… Radek was working with the Russians all along! At first he doesn’t believe it, until Radek flies by in a chopper shooting at him, killing Olga. Some rescue! Making his way through the jungle, killing scumbags by the handful, he literally runs boot first into Jakoda, who wants to go head to head with Ransom. What follows is the most testosterone driven, bare knuckled fist fight of all time. You literally feel the weight and the impact of their punches and cringe in pain as the two large slabs meat smash faces! Ultimately, Ransom gets one over on Jakoda and tosses him over a waterfall to his doom… or so he thinks.

Ransom finds Radek’s base, turning it into Swiss cheese with a machine gun, but Major Harriman appears to inform him that the traitor Radek has fled. Still, it was fun to recreate that scene where Rambo shoots up Murdock’s office. But there is no hiding from Ransom forever. Now sporting a kicking yellow bandanna, Ransom tracks Radek down in his new operation and doing what he does best; crumbling the place top to bottom with a grenade launcher and wasting henchman and office furniture with a belt fed machine gun, howling at the top of his lungs! After satisfyingly blowing Radek into a thousand pieces, Jakoda appears with a new set of metal teeth (I’m guessing it was cool, because Jaws had them in a Bond film and they’re cool). After another balls out fist fight, Ransom stuffs a grenade in Jakoda’s mouth, leaving a ghostly shout of, “AMERICANSKI-III!” as he blows in half!

Holy hell, is this movie… AWESOME! The action is over the top so much so,that every bullet and every explosion feels like an intense kick to your face, forcing you to grind your teeth. Everyone actually puts in a solid performance. You downright despise Radek from the start, which makes his death that more satisfying. Jakoda is a physical and mental threat to Ransom (almost like Bane from The Dark Knight Rises) and Ransom himself is the all American muscle hero with a heart of gold that you want to root for. Reb Brown delivers one of his best performances and creates one of his best and believable characters. Reb is so buff, that even the largest of weapons look like mere peashooters in his arms and you completely buy that this guy could take down Jakoda, someone twice his size, in a fist fight.

Strike Commando
Anyone can rip off a single film and do it shot for shot (look at Carnosaur 2), but it takes a mastermind like Bruno Mattei to ripoff a film, integrate ripped off scenes from other films, add a few interesting character traits and actually throw in a few twists and somehow make it his own. As I mentioned earlier, he’s done this before, but I think Strike Commando (along with Hell of the Living Dead) is a shining example of Bruno Mattei’s work and that a ripoff can actually be somewhat original and downright entertaining and enjoyable on its own. It’s filled with action and great characters that I, like the Strike Commandos, demand justice, that you go out and find a copy of this movie… or no magical journey down the chocolate malt river at Disneyland for you, Amercanski!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Reb. Brown.
  • Ruptured ducks.
  • Rambo or Ransom?
  • Reb’s patented war cry.
  • Praise be thy explosion.
  • Head to head with Jakoda.
  • Office make over Reb style!
  • Russian dentists sure make good dentures
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Reb Brown eliminating all enemy threats with bullets, explosions and his most deadly weapon, his fists!

5

blood

BREASTS

You don’t need boobs when you have Reb Brown.

10

beast

BEASTS

Radek is slimy, Jakoda is menacing, but Ransom is all American, all butt kicking and unstoppable!

7.3 OVERALL
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Watch the entire movie!

trailers

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Mar

My Bloody Valentine
1981 – R/Unrated – Paramount
90 (R)/93 (Unrated) Minutes – Starring Neil Affleck, Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier – Directed by George Mihalka

For every season, there is a holiday and for every holiday, there is a horror film and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Yes, even the patron saint of overpriced flowers and chocolates so you can look like the world’s best boyfriend for a nanosecond has a slasher flick for his special day. Given the easily playable theme of love and romantic getaways, I’m surprised there aren’t more Valentine Day horror themed movies (the only one coming to mind at the moment is that late 90’s Scream knock off, Valentine). However, the “holiday” does have perhaps one of the earliest and better Friday the 13th clones simply known as My Bloody Valentine, one of the finer things to come out of Canada.

I mean, it’s the perfect setting for a horror film; everything is drenched in shades of red, the theme of the roses and love, hearts… it presents itself full of opportunities for some scares, so how does it play out in this film?

mbv_2The movie opens in a coal mine (there you go, that’s your connection right there… right?) as two people in miner suits, masks and overalls, seem to be alone. One of them strips to reveal that they are a blonde bombshell, which is fortunate for us, because I don’t think anyone would have wanted to see a dirty, hairy man strip down to his drawers . She tries to undress him, starting with his mask, which he rejects, but she continues her seduction anyway. Gotta say, she makes teasing a gas mask look sexy. His breathing becomes heavy and erratic, until he lifts her off the ground and slams her on a pick ax he previously stuck in the wall next to them. As she screams, a cool little animated intro drips blood as creepy music box type of melody plays over it, reminding you of the the Silent Night, Deadly Night title card.

After that, we see it’s Thursday, February 12… get it? Because it’s a Paramount film and they own Friday the 13th… Anyway, all of the men are rushing out of work at the mines to the rec center to meet their gals who are setting up for the big Valentine’s Dance. Normally, something like this wouldn’t be such a big deal to you kids with your iPads and hula hoops, but to the small town of Valentine’s Bluff, it’s the main attraction. Especially seeing as how this is the first dance in twenty years since the night Harry Warden’s killing spree.

You see, a couple of eager beaver supervisors decided to split early before checking methane levels and there was an explosion, trapping five miners down below deep in the mines. Only one man, Harry Warden was finally rescued, having eaten the other miners to survive. One year later, Harry took his revenge on the supervisors, carving out their hearts and putting them in heart shaped candy boxes, warning the townspeople for years to come to never have a dance ever again… ever! Looks like high school drama club is finally paying off.

Speaking of drama club, what would a slasher movie about Valentine’s Day be without a love triangle? TJ returns to his hometown, mostly to hang out in the corner of the room sipping a beer and smoking Marbs, after several years of being away on the west coast to find his girlfriend Sarah is now in the arms of Axel, who has the most animated lips of anyone speaking I have ever seen. It’s a classic pissing contest between these two as Sarah sits idly by moping and doing what she is told, because apparently this is the old West as two men battle for the affection of a woman.

mbv_3So you may be able to see why it’s a big deal (hey c’mon, this was before the internet… what else were they supposed to do?) about the dance. With Harry locked up in the loony bin, dear old Mabel and the gals are working around the clock to make the dance look better than it’s ever been. This means hanging up streamers and construction paper hearts and… well, that’s pretty much it. But soon, the Mayor receives a heart shaped box with a human heart inside, along with a warning to cancel the dance. It appears that Harry Warden is back!

That night as Mabel works at her laundromat, she is attacked by someone in miner gear. The next day, Chief Newby stops in to gets his pants pressed or whatever laundry business he has, when he finds Mabel stuffed inside a tumbling dryer, burnt to a crisp. Trying not to cause a panic, Newby and the Mayor announce Mabel had died from a heart attack (well, they are halfway right…). Newby calls the mental institution where Harry Warden was locked up and they just so happen to no longer have any records of him being there. Gee, what are the odds? Finally heeding the warning, the dance is cancelled, but do kids ever listen? Our group of promiscuous teens decide they are going to have a dance after all and have it at the mine, because that sounds totally safe. But soon they will learn their lesson, one by one.

Even the crotchety old bartender doesn’t want the kids having their dance, as he over hears their plans. Wanting to trick the kids using the urban legend of Harry Warden, he brilliantly sets up a scarecrow type of miner, rigged to a door that raises a pick ax upon opening. Wow, between planning this idea and executing it, this man certainly has a lot of spare time. But it’s all taken down in a matter of seconds, as he drunkenly giggles to himself testing out his gag and who should be standing there, but Harry Warden, driving his pick ax through the bottom of the bartender’s jaw, popping out one of his eyeballs in what is probably the goriest effect in the whole movie and is it satisfying. But the killing, and visceral death sequences, don’t stop there.

mbv_4Now it’s the time of the big dance, where TJ and Axel finally have it out over Sarah in a true beer drinking, chest thumping, sports fan kind of way… fist fighting. After the fight, Axel storms off, opening a beer in the most dramatic way possible and chugging it. Now that the happy mood is killed (along with a few of the party goers), a small group, including Sarah decide to go down into the mines to get their minds of that neanderthal way claiming women as property, but Harry Warden follows them down and his cover is blown when the kids come across a few dead bodies. Finding Axel, TJ devises a plan to go down into the mines to rescue Sarah, but as the Newby makes his way to the crime scene, he receives some disturbing and interesting news… there were no records of Harry Warden because he died a few years prior. So if it’s not Harry, then who is assuming his identity and carrying out his vengeance?

After Axel falls into water, seemingly drowning, TJ finds what’s left of the group as he and Sarah are now chased by Harry Warden, only it’s not Harry. After being pinned by rocks after they fall from the ceiling, it is revealed to be none other than Axel! It turns out, Axel’s father was one of the supervisors that was responsible for mine explosion and after witnessing his father being killed when he was a boy, it snapped his fragile little mind. Before being caught, Axel saws his own arm off to free himself from being trapped in the rocks, swearing to return and get his revenge! Hey, if you can saw your own arm off in an escape attempt, you deserve to get away and have revenge.

A sequel was proposed, but unfortunately never made due to poor box office results, which is a bummer seeing as how this is a really decent slasher flick. Although it’s one of the many that are considered to be a Friday the 13th “clone,” I would say it has more than enough substance and story to be considered one of the more original “clones” in Friday’s shadow, enough to stand on its own, even if it does share a lot of similarities, like the prophet of doom character, a masked killer who suffered the loss of a family member, creative and over the top kills… okay, so they are pretty similar.

My Bloody Valentine
Luckily, the most readily available version of the film is the uncut version with the deleted scenes edited back into the film. But since they all came from different sources or Lionsgate didn’t feel like putting the money into it, they aren’t remastered in HD or cleaned up too well, but if you ask me, I think it the aged look gives it a nice touch. So, remember all those graphic and spectacular special effects and kills I’ve been talking about? Yeah, those aren’t in the R rated version. I suppose I could pick on it a bit for being a Canadian film, but I have a new found soft spot for Canada… So cuddle up with the one you love and watch horny teens get murdered, because nothing else says, “I love you.”

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • A true heart breaker.
  • Hot male shower scene, a little something for the ladies.
  • Take a shot every time you notice something Candian-y.
  • Bobbing for boiled hot dogs.
  • I been working in a coal mine, going down, down. Working in a coal mine… Whew, about to slip down!
  • Give this man a hand… he escaped the long arm of the law (rimshot).
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

Face boiling, pick axing, decapitating, eye gouging good time… in the unrated version.

6

blood

BREASTS

More buns that boobs, but that’s the Valentine’s gift for the ladies.

7

beast

BEASTS

Neil Affleck’s line delivery is more terrifying than Harry Warden himself.

7 OVERALL
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“Watch the trailer for “My Bloody Valentine!”

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Feb

posted by Doktor | February 26, 2014 | 80's b-movies, 80's movies, Action, B-movie Reviews, B-movies, Review by Doktor, Sci-Fi

Tagline: Mandroid. Mercenary. Scientist. Ninja. Each one a specialist. Together they are ELIMINATORS!

Year: 1986 Runtime: 96 min

Director: Peter Manoogian

Writer: Paul De Meo, Danny Bilson

Starring: Andrew Prine, Denise Crosby, Patrick Reynolds

Current scientific theory states that the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts. This is a banal axiom by itself. However, it is an interesting thesis when one asks: how does this paradigm work when the constituent parts are comprised of zeros. Ah, ha! Finally, a truly great question, relevant to our lives today. The answer? You get an order of magnitude diddly-squat. Enter the Eliminators:

  • An Eeyore cyborg
  • Tasha Yar
  • An owl robot thingie
  • A scoundrel river bum
  • A Ninja

Take this eclectic crew and mix them all together in an After School Special, spice, to taste, with some Romans, a mad scientist, and some Neanderthals, and you have 90 minutes of hernia rupturing fun. Actually, After School Special doesn’t quite capture the ambiance. Eliminators is more like an episode of G.I. Joe: laser burlets flung every which way, vehicles crashing, explosions, and yet no one dies.

I should probably mention that this is a Charles Band film. Just so we’re clear.

Eliminators is the story of a man, John Doe, who is unwillingly transformed into Mandroid (think Borg + Robocop on a $13 budget) after his plane crashes in an uncharted Mexican jungle. The evil genius behind John’s alteration is Dr. Reeves, a mad scientist with a face like a waffle iron and a penchant for ancient Rome. Oh, and he has a time machine. Mandroid is sent back through time to insure the machine works. Upon completing his mission, despite all the money, time, and accessories built for him, Reeves orders his assistant, Takada, to dismantle Mandroid. Apparently Reeves learned all he knew about life from the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

Takada, having a conscience, helps Mandroid to escape, which, of course, costs him his life. Mandroid snaps on his gratuitous Mobile Unit, worthless tank treads Mandroid plugs his top half into Centaur style, and proceeds to race out of the compound at motorized shopping cart speeds. As no one can shoot, even when armed with rifles with ridiculous scopes, he only takes a burlet  to the head. Falling within the G.I. Joe violence quotient, the head shot merely ruins some of his memory chips, rendering him only slightly more efficacious than an amnesiac. Something which, by this point in the movie, I would have gladly welcomed—either the amnesia or a head shot.

Mandroid seeks out Colonel Hunter (Tasha Yar) to inform her of Reeves’ evil deeds (read: muwhahaha). Hunter is a computer/robotics/science geek who works at a lab funded by Reeves. She wears lab coats and builds things like the Mandroid armor and S.P.O.T. (Search Patrol Operation Tactician), a Rent-a-Center V.I.N.CENT from Blackhole. Seeing her life’s work, i.e. the Mandroid armor as a living/breathing junkyard proof of concept, Hunter volunteers to return with Mandroid to exact revenge.

Hooray, it’s an adventure!

According to their maps, the Mexican jungle is uncharted, and because Mandroid’s memory was literally shot, Hunter has to hire a river guide to get them to the crash site, from which they’ll make their way to Reeves. Here they pick up Harry ‘scoundrel’ Fontana, the Rent-a-Center Han Solo character. There’s a keystone comedy bar fight that’ll send your duodenum into spasms followed by a river chase that’s as riveting as snails nailed in place. All the while our unlikely heroes laugh, love, and finally go their separate ways.

Wha—!

And then they come back together. Yay!

But then Mandroid and S.P.O.T. fall off Fontana’s boat, promptly sinking to the bottom of the river never to be found. Ever. Oh, noes!

And then there were two. Hunter and Fontana press on, only to get captured by Neanderthals.

Wait, what?

Meanwhile Mandroid and S.P.O.T. come sloshing out of the drink, none the worse for wear. They squirt river water from sundry orifices and push on. They promptly run into a Ninja pulling fish from a stream telekinetically.

Sigh.

Really? Neanderthals? Ninja? The Force? If they had a costume or make-up in the storeroom, Charles Band said, “Go for it!”

So… Mandroid learns that Ninja is Takada’s son. With a heavy heart—or diodes, or whatever—Mandroid relates what happened to Ninja’s father. Because he’s a ninja, Ninja vows to get revenge for what Reeves has done. Finally, the team is complete.

Back in the other subplot, Hunter and Fontana have to fight their way out of the clutches of the Neanderthals: smooches are smooched; burlets are thrown in the fire, which is far more effective than shooting them; three or four Neanderthals give chase. Things look bad for Fontana and Hunter…

Duh duh duh!

Thanks to the last minute appearance of Ninja, Mandroid, and S.P.O.T. they escape. Phew. A quick jog, and a jump cut, later the team finds Mandroid’s stashed mobile unit. They bivouac down for the afternoon to assess their supplies, work on a plan, and get a little sun. S.P.O.T. is sent to get a tactical layout of Reeves’ camp.

When S.P.O.T. returns something is amiss. S.P.O.T. is gibbering, which actually is normal but for some reason this gibberish is different. To clear up any confusion, S.P.O.T. starts shooting his sting lasers at everyone. Fearing someone might get hit, and thus suffer the indignity of a slightly uncomfortable pinch, Ninja has to put him down. (One down, four to go!) The smoke from the wreck forms into a hologram of Reeves’ head. Using it’s invisible lungs a vocal cords, Reeves’ disembodied head warns the Eliminators to come no further. Obviously defeated, our heroes resign themselves to life as failures…

But wait! If only Hunter can… cross some wires… a spark of electricity… What’s this?!? The plans for Reeves’ camp on S.P.O.T.’s visor. Good ole S.P.O.T. He came through after all. Hope restored, they spring into action.

The plan calls for Fontana, Hunter, and Ninja penetrate the stronghold via a Rent-a-Center City of Tanis map room. One would think an evil genius’s secret treasure room would be near impossible to get into, much less have it be the weak link in his whole defense, but one only need remember this is a Charles Band film and all worries are quelled. No sooner are they in when they are caught. The Dream Team™ is smooth as grandma’s sandpaper enemas.

Meanwhile, Mandroid sieges the camp at the front gate, calling for Reeves to come out. The gate opens, Mandroid walks in, and is surrounded by Reeves’ goons. “Ha, ha!” Mandroid laughs derisively.  “My friends have already destroyed your computers, your lab, and all your work. It’s over!” (Or something to that effect. I wasn’t paying attention and refuse to watch it again to get the actual quote.)

To which Reeves replies (via a speaker system), “Do you like apples, Mandroid?” Out march the three stooges. “How ‘bout dem apples?” (See previous parenthetical.)

Fail completed!

Uhm, maybe not so much. Well, at least not for the Eliminators. See, Reeves’ minions are nice guys. Rather than killing their prisoners the goons let the Eliminators start kicking butt first. Pew pew pew. Explosion. Pew pew pew. The minions run.

Maniacal laughter. The compound’s front door explodes. Ah, hell. Final Boss Fight!

True to all video games evar, Reeves has transformed. He’s no longer the decrepit,  waffle-faced mad scientist. Now he’s Iron Caesar (i.e. Julius Caesar + Iron Man). Sweet! Naturally his armor and weapons are stronger than Mandroid’s, allowing him to withstand all attacks as he monologues his plan, which is to go back in time to become the ruler of Rome. This raises a couple questions: why is it preferable to be the ruler of ancient Rome than being the ruler of the contemporary world; why did he go back and collect all the treasure? Oh, right, this is a Charles Band movie. No reason other than it’s in the script.

When he finishes his monologue, Iron Caesar blasts Mandroid and captures Fontana, Hunter, and Ninja in a force field. He sets the force field to shrink, cranks the powertronics up to kill, and leaves to get into his time machine. Not quite dead, Mandroid’s last act is to absorb the force field’s energy to release his friends. (Two down, three to go!)

No time for the dust in their eyes, the remaining Eliminators race to stop Iron Caesar. They make it just in time to see his time pod disappear into time. Fontana rakes his hand across a keyboard in frustration at his lack of programming skills. Not that programming skills would have help—sorry, I know, Charles Band movie. Moving on…

Wouldn’t you know it Fontana’s discouraged motion, his anti-programming skills, actually managed to send Iron Caesar back to 400 million B.C. Everyone laughs. The end.

So, returning to the idea of common knowledge, we all know that a thousand monkeys typing will will eventually produce something Shakespearean, right? Well, who knew that one UHM-tard mashing keys can instantly change delicately precise time travel settings? Therefore, coming full circle, I suppose this demonstrates that the whole, arrived from the sum of the parts which themselves are all el zilcho, is 400 million B.C.? Or, to put it in scientific notation: Charles Band Joint.

roadside attractions

  • Wonder what in the hell is going on when the opening credits shows an airplane crash, Romans, and laser burlets!
  • Facepalm when you learn the one Asian character’s son is a Ninja!
  • Marvel at the intense boat chase scene—Harry “scoundrel” Fontana cuts the wheel left and right to loose their pursuers!
  • Delight In Madroid’s mettle as he overcomes his programming with a perfunctory, “No”!
  • Be Amazed by the laser-proof mesh wind screens on the bad guy’s 3 wheelers!
totals

2

blood

BLOOD

White washed Disney fare: a bloody nose, a scraped knee, a nasty hangnail.

1

blood

BREASTS

Denise has a wet tee-shirt moment. You can vaguely make out a nipple.

10

beast

BEASTS

Iron Caesar. I never saw that coming.

4.33 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer for “Eliminators”

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