Whenever I want to talk about this movie, I want to yell, “RAAAAGE!” much like those Surge commercials back in the day. Possibly while skydiving, devouring a bag of Dorito’s and slamming a 24 oz. of Mountain Dew and you know something? That’s not a far off description from the movie. This movie is seriously EXTREEEEEME! Everything gets shot, shatters and explodes or gets a roundhouse kick to the dome… mostly in slow motion.
This plot actually shares something similar with 28 Days Later, believe it or not. This evil corporation (is there ever a good one?), Westech, is experimenting with a rage type virus on monkeys and then on illegal immigrants to create the perfect batch of super soldiers. So, shove off Steve Rogers, you shmuck! You see, this shady cop working with Westech by rounding up illegal immigrants for them to run their experiments. But, one of these round ups goes sour and one of these illegal immigrants who’s been supplying Westech with illegal immigrants (I know, just stay with me) decides to start a firefight and flees the scene. He happens to hijack family man and second grade teacher, Alex Gainer, played by the arse kicking brit, Gary Daniels.
Kelly kidnaps Gainer and says since he’s a limey, he’ll work fine for the experiments and claiming, “He don’t speak no good English.” Since Gainer just happens to be in peak physical condition, they all go along with it. No need to run any other tests to see if he has any health conditions or diseases. They just inject him with some unknown liquid to make him go crazy, so there is no need to train him on survival skills or how to use weapons. But shoot, wouldn’t luck have it, Alex also happens to be a martial arts expert, flips his poop switch after the injection and escapes… but not before beating the pulp out of everyone or filling them full of bullet holes! And what would any good action scenes be if they didn’t have nameless thugs being thrown dozens of feet from an explosion in slow-motion? Did you miss that part? Don’t worry. It happens like a thousand more times.
Alex is an unstoppable killing machine! Until Kelly tazers his nards. That’ll put anything down. However, it doesn’t last long as he manages to flee these villains on foot in dark after they threw him in the trunk of a car. They didn’t even get in the car to chase him. I believe the excuse they had was, “It’s too dark to see.” Hmm, well good thing you didn’t come prepared by bringing flashlights. Then you would have to do some work.
Next comes a long and destructive car chase scene, using a tractor trailer, reminding one of Terminator 2. Alex manages to hijack a semi in order to plow through a barricade. Let the carnage begin! This seriously goes on for at least fifteen minutes. Every police car and another tractor trailer that tries to stop Alex get smashed, exploded, and flipped through the air. He causes so much destruction, that a car literally flies about thirty feet in the air, doing flips, landing and exploding. Only the beefiest of men could do something like that. This scene concludes when Kelly, being the caring soul he is, commandeers a school bus and tries to take down Alex head-on, but Alex, being the nimble, ninja skilled, school teacher he is, surfs on top of the truck and leaps from it as it crashes into the bus and explodes. Don’t worry, he made it out of that situation without a scratch. Kelly on the other hand…
After this comes the film’s greatest fight scene, or maybe one of the best fight scenes in a movie ever. Alex stumbles into a random home like a hopped up hobo and begins rummaging through the refrigerator, ramming day old chicken, milk and tomato juice into his face. While all of this is going on, mind you, the owner of the house is upstairs with his dominatrix. Both of them leather bound… all while Flight of the Valkyries plays on the radio. Not since Apocalypse Now has that song sent chills down man’s spine and instilled images of chaos and violence into our minds. But to answer your burning question, yes the dominatrix does get punched in the face.
By now, you’re starting to sense a pattern: Action beat, exposition, action beat, exposition and so on. There is a journalist and his cameraman (or lady in this case) who aren’t really given much to do except question the antagonists in this flick, as the duo sets out to prove that Alex is innocent. Which I do have to question at this point: When does it stop being self defense after you gunned down countless thugs, beat up a dozen or more cops, crashed more vehicles than The Dukes of Hazzard and caused more property damage than Godzilla? Eh, he’s just a good guy trying to prove he’s innocent!
The film adds another villain, kind of a crooked federal agent, who is trying to bring Alex back to the lab. In the process of trying to accomplish said mission, he punches Alex’s wife in the face. Everyone gets beat up in this movie. I’m surprised nobody took a swing at his daughter. I would have loved to see her do a slow motion roundhouse kick to some dudes stomach. That would have been baller, son. Also, one of the best stunts in the movie takes place on a skyscraper with Gary Daniels dangling from it and falling as he is trying to escape someone from a helicopter shooting at him. But, luckily he lands on his feet without a twisted ankle or scratch and runs off to the next action scene.
To conclude this review that has possibly gone on too long, for a movie that seems like it should have been simple to write about, I found myself having a lot to say. Sure, the script serves as a purpose to get actor Gary Daniels from action beat to the next and he doesn’t deliver any action movie one liners, but holy crap… the action is awesomely over the top! I found myself completely entertained this entire flick and (as much as I hate to use this expression, so I will change it just a bit) I found myself at the edge of my uncomfortable futon.
The film does suffer from questionable editing from time to time (you’ll know it once you see it) and the even though the film had a climatic end movie shoot out, it felt like the final showdown between hero and villain was weak. Trust me; it doesn’t go down at all how you think it would. Also, most of Alex’s dialogue is, “BLEEEH! YAGGHHH! ARGH! UMPH!” You get the idea. But if you love cheesy films that have better action than most movies now, and I know you do, watch this. Heck, even if you don’t you should still watch this.
Check out this trailer from “Rage”
He was born 3 days after the introduction of the IBM PC, the offspring of an alien and a maniac. He runs on DOS. Raised on the isle of Zaxxon on a steady diet of Mail Order Monsters. Has 20 imaginary friends all named Vic, a secret girlfriend called Lisa, and even an imaginary pet platypus he calls “The Commodore”. Nocturnal by nature, must wear prescription eyewear to prevent blindness. Has an eye for Adventure, no stranger to Combat, (even the occasional Joust). Built a teleporter at age 11. Spent most of his teens and twenties watching and collecting movies in order to better assimilate human culture. Lost Highway now proudly brings Experiment 42’s review of Freaked. Time to get your freak on!
So, you are visiting a third world country, happen to be on the back roads and see misspelled signs for a freak show. Of course you would need to go visit it right? Well, that is what 3 dupes do. Upon seeing that it is run by Randy Quaid, they decide, sure, it’s safe to go into the secret warehouse. That’s when it all goes wrong for our … ‘heroes’? With the help of a Commodore 64, and some kind of radioactive fertilizer they are turned into hideous freaks to be displayed for the paying public of “Santa Flan”.
Ricky Coogan (Alex Winter from Bill and Ted) a sleazy, former child actor, and Ernie (Michael Stoyanov of Blossom) his lackey friend, fly Pan Am to Santa Flan [named for the patron saint of creamy desserts] to help promote the use of banned chemical fertilizer Zygrot 24. There they are met by a swarm of protesters let by Julie (Megan Ward of Trancers II/III) who they convince to ride with her to pelt Coogan with Insults and Cow crap.
On their journey Ricky eventually blows his cover and argues with Julie until a string of signs leads them to Elijah C. Skuggs Freek Land, a local freakshow. Skuggs [Randy Quaid] tricks all three into visiting his secret warehouse. After being transformed by something that looks like a green slime akin to Nickelodeon’s Double Dare, Ricky, Ernie and Julie meet all of the freaks created by Skuggs.
A man with a giant nose, a crescent wrench turned into a hammer, a bearded lady (played by Mr. T), a frog man, the Eternal Flame (A Man with constant flaming flatulence), a man whose head has been turned into a sock puppet, a cow cowboy, a human worm, and Ortiz the dog boy (played by the uncredited Keanu Reeves). They come up with a plan to escape Skuggs’s machinations. First dodging Mr. Toad, and two Rastafarian machine gun toting eyball robots. Then the additional transformation of Ricky into a super freak. I was still waiting to hear Skuggs utter “Shi***** full”.
Honestly, you need to watch it to know whether you will enjoy it or not, but it is the quintesscential B-Movie. C-List actors, lots of foam rubber, puns, and cameos.
Check out this trailer for “Freaked”
The question you got to ask yourself in any good zombie movie is how do you kill the zombies? A bullet to the head usually does the trick, but it really lacks any pizzaz. If you have the upper body strength, you could try decapitation but that can get a little messy. Total body dismemberment? Sure, but who has the time? Then a movie like 1989’s “Night Life” comes along and throws the whole kitchen sink at them. They get burned, hit with a train, ran through a wood chipper, air drilled to the face, blown up, and have their noggin split with an axe. It’s a cornucopia of zombie killin’. Plus, you get a couple zombies shagging on a box spring mattress and you sure won’t see that in any Romero flick.
Archie (Scott Grimes) is your typical ginger headed geek. Cursed by his red hair, he’s been forced to work at the mortuary in hopes his uncle Vern (John Astin) will pay for his college. Unfortunately, his Uncle treats him like Chinese Slave labor and when he isn’t working he’s being tormented by a gang of bullies at school. The only hope for a normal life is his wrench monkey pseudo-girlfriend Charlie (Cheryl Pollak) but she just bailed on him to work on a Nascar pit crew down south. It’s really every young girl’s dream. Things are looking up when a prom queen wanna-bee tries to seduce Archie on his way back to the mortuary, but het gets distracted with his tight whities just long enough for her to sneak her trouble making friends in the back door. They play hide the corpse and Archie has to piggy back the body back downstairs where his uncle immediately fires him.
Later that night, Archie gets a frantic phone call from uncle Vern whose been up to his neck in stiffs. As luck would have it, all those trouble making kids were killed in a car accident with a chemical truck and there’s zumbas and leg warmers everywhere. Archie and Vern prep the bodies and store them in a deep freezer for later but a bolt of lightening brings then back as killer zombies. They attack a plumber but it’s not quite clear if they actually want to kill Archie or just stuff him in a locker. Archie heads back to the gas station to call the cops where he runs into Charlie who just got dumped by her pitcrew agent. Turns out the guy didn’t work for NASCAR despite driving a wicked 85 Camaro and drinking heavily.
The zombies show up and give Uncle Vern the full Jiffy Lube special inflating him way past his recommended tire pressure and Charlie and Archie escape to a nearby warehouse where they filet a couple in a easy bake giant oven. Pursued by the zombies in a patrol car, they narrowly escape a train collision and battle the remaining zombies in a graveyard with a woodchopper and a can of gasoline. No lost of irony on that one folks. Heads roll, zombies ‘plode but it’s basically just a teenage love story….and a valuable lesson in the importance of saving for college. Barry Goodall says dig up a copy and remember to always properly foil wrap your fresh corpses to avoid freezer burn.
Check out this trailer for “Night Life”
Remember that kid Ralphie from A Christmas Story? Of course you do. You watch it every freaking holiday season. Anyway before actor Peter Billingsley did that, he was in this thriller/horror film about vacationing in Death Valley called… Death Valley. And remember Andy’s mom from Child’s Play, Catherine Hicks? Yup, she’s in this one too playing a mother. Only connection from Child’s Play to this movie that I can make is Peter Billingsley has this evil doll like stare. Oh and Wilford Brimley even shows up in a few scenes to play sheriff. Just long enough to get a check. That diabeetus medication isn’t cheap, son.
Well the fine ghouls over at Scream! Factory ported over a solid transfer of both video and audio and present this surprisingly suspense film on Blu-ray. Although not crammed with special features, we do get audio commentary from the director Dick Richards and Edwin Samuelson of The Cinephiles for a pretty informative commentary. Outside of that, a few trailers and a TV spot.
So what’s the movie about? Well, this kid wants a Red Ryder BB gun… sorry, wrong film. Death Valley focuses on young Billy (Peter Billingsley) who we see having a rather pleasant day with his father in the Big Apple. That’s New York City or NYC for the laymen. They discuss Billy leaving the city to go to Death Valley with his mother for a small vacation in a rather touching discussion they have and you learn about his parent’s divorce. Billy’s mother, Sally (Catherine Hicks) kinda tosses Billy into her new relationship and wants him to get along with herself and Mike, her new boyfriend. In his defense, he actually does try by talking to Billy and giving him a cap gun pistol as a present, exclaiming it was the same model that Billy the Kid used (Billy has a cowboy fascination), but Billy (the kid Billy, not Billy the Kid. Confused?) schools him on the actual model. Suck it, Mike!
While wandering around COMPLETELY UNSUPERVISED in Death Valley, which by the way, Sally gave him permission to do. I’m not really feeling this mom character. Billy stumbles across an RV, which moments before had served the purpose of a crime scene where three travelers were killed. They don’t find the bodies, but Billy steals a medallion he finds on board. This RV has a beautiful ‘Macaroni and Cheese’ colored shag carpet with wood paneling, proving that the 70’s had no sense of decency. Mike comes and finds him and they go about their day. Billy recognizes the same medallion on a man at a diner they are eating at, instantly feeling a strange suspicion of the man. They also see that the same RV they saw in Death Valley is being pulled from the bottom of a cliff and they tell Sheriff Diabeetus (cause it’s Wilford Brimley. Get it?) that they had seen it earlier and Billy hands over the medallion he found. The Sheriff knows who it belongs to and sets off to ask the person of interest about it, but doesn’t come back from the questioning. Here’s your check, Mr. Brimley! Thanks for passing by the set and playing Sheriff!
Now that the killer has the medallion back in his possession, you learn that there could possibly be two killers. The sheriff, unknowingly that he was talking to the killer(s), revealed who found the pendant and where which hotel they were staying at. Wow, Sheriff. Ever heard of a thing called confidentiality, especially when you are questioning someone you suspect to be involved in the murder? So now, the killer begins tracking and stalking Billy, killing anyone who gets in the way. This is all going on while Mike tries to have a relationship with Billy and reach out to him while Sally just does typical mom stuff.
The film does a great job of drawing out suspense as they play their cat and mouse game and you wonder if there actually are two killers, which is finally revealed in a hair raising ‘lights out’ scene. Peter Billingsley easily steals the show. As a child actor, you completely buy all of his emotions, especially his resistance and then acceptance of Mike. Also, the fear in his eyes when he is alone in a hotel room being hunted down by the killer. His performance is amazing. This kid out acts all these hacks (Channing Tatum, Mark Wahlberg or anyone else I have beef with at the moment.
You can find this movie reasonably priced at any video store or you can order it from Scream! Factory directly and you should. It’s frightening and tense film and the restoration makes this film look real good. Like a cheese cake on one of those spinny plates at the bakery. You know you want it. Not just a slice. The whole thing.
On a final note, this film’s director, Dick Richards, was considered to direct Jaws, but was dropped from the project because he couldn’t distinguish the shark from a whale… if only, Dick. If only. Your career could have been something else.
Check out this trailer from “Arcade”