Thursday, February 27, 2014

Larson 80s Week: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

Howdy doodly doo!!! Back again for more Larson 80s TV Week and  what better way for Larson to be on top of his game I believe given its collection of action figures, vehicle and playsets that this particular marketable show got almost as much love as Battlestar Galactica.  Based on comic strip artist Philip Francis Nowlan’s work which became novellas, radio shows and even serials starring Buster Crabbe; this phenomenon swept the nation is a big rush. So strap your blaster, prep your starfighter and get ready to defend Earth in the future.  This is Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

Thanks to Head and Shoulders I'm not afraid of flakes.

Twiki: Put me down, you big spoiler.

Due to the popularity of Star Wars dominating the big screen and Empire Strikes Back carving itself a slice out of the box office, Larson felt now was the time to hit the Sci-Fi market and hit it hard to squeeze as much material out of it as possible.  Revamping the old serial formula and putting a handsome and built guy in the lead role was a sure fire bet to win over America’s youth and possibly entertain the adults as well.  

Damn you, space vortex!!!

Captain William “Buck” Rogers (Gil Gerard of Man on a Swing, Not Another Affair, Johnny Blue, Sidekicks, The Stepdaughter and Ghost Town) is a 20th century astronaut caught is a freak accident blown out of orbit of the planet and causing his return trip to lapse him 500 years into the future.  By this time the planet has recovered from nuclear fallout but is under constant attack by the Draconian Empire (D&D nerds are giggling).    The Earth Defense Directorate in need of combat pilots and hand to hand combatants (because apparently since we are done blowing each other up, we all forgot how to fight) Buck is drafted in.   Somehow his superior officer Colonel Wilma Deering (Erin Gray of The Fall Guy, Six Pack Born Beautiful, Code of Vengeance, Silver Spoons and Friday the 13th Part 9: Jason Goes to Hell) adheres to most of Rogers’s make it up as you go plans leading them into fire fights, starfighter dog fights and more of Buck trying to outdo Kirk in the making out with aliens category.   Personally, I think Kirk’s record is safe. 

I had a few fun facts about the show.   The production managed to recycled a buttload of props from Battlestar Galactica from scale model effects, costumes, blasters and even more than a few of the cockpits of the Viper starships.   Universal studios were so thrilled to receive a good Neilsen run that it opted to release the Buck Rogers TV movie.

With the rising popularity amongst kids, two sets of action figures were produced by main toy distributor Mego for a 12 inch high line as well as a series of 3 ¾ figures and scaled starships.  Milton Bradley released a board game and several jigsaw puzzles while model kits were created by Monogram.  A few die cast space and land vessels were created by Corgi, Topps has a hand in a series of trading cards and of course a Buck Rogers lunch box to follow.  

Even Gold Key Comics produced comics of the very same stories from the pilot and the second episode but there after followed the old comic strips and novellas.

Colgate: Earth's official toothpaste for 500 years.

80s Larson TV Week: Manimal

Welcome back folk to another slathering heap of Larson 80’s TV Week.  Now we have covered two very successful creations providing entertainment and probably more topless man chest than I ever needed to see.   Now I thought we would take a gander at one of the bombs of the 80s that held promise but not enough interest.  Bear in mind this is also these are the audiences that needed Friday the 13th sequels left and right so this could be part of the problem.  A professor of criminology (thank you Jay for looking that up) who prowls the night in search of criminals and show them the error of their wicked ways all the while being a vigilante?  This is Manimal.

Thought we were gonna watch the game, not Spring clean!

Dr. Jonathan Chase…wealthy, young, handsome.   A man with the brightest of spoilers.  A man with the darkest of pasts.

Dr Chase (Simon MacCorkindale of Hammer House of Horror, Macbeth, The Sword and the Sorcerer, Falcon Crest, Counterstrike, Poltergeist: The Legacy, Casualty and Night Wolf) apparently glob trotted from Cambridge England, to Africa to the far reaches of Tibet…stuff happened??   Okay the skinny is thus, Chase found through an accidental transmogrification he could shape shift into multiple animals.  Why wouldn’t he want to use that new found ability to FIGHT CRIME??!!!   Of course he would.  That is perfectly logical from all the angles I have examined it at.  

Frosted Flakes won't save you, criminal scum.

Other than the audience only two other people knew his secret.  One being a lovely lady cop Detective Brook McKenzie (Melody Anderson of Flash Gordon, Dead & Buried, St. Elsewhere, Policewoman Centerfold, Phillip Marlowe, Private Eye and Firewalker) and his buddy Ty Earl (Michael D. Roberts of Heartbreaker, The Ice Pirates, Earthlings, Double Trouble, Manhunter, Rain Man and Sleepstalker) in the atypical buddy cop/crime fighter story arcs of the day, this series lasted all of 8 episodes due to poor Neilsen ratings.   The audience did not get to delve into Chase’s back story at all and were in fact robbed at a potentially clever series.

I had a few comments about the show now.   The creature transformations were brought to us by Stan Winston’s Creature Shop and while they were amazing manifestations from man to panther.  Most of us had issues with his clothes somehow never tearing or morphing with his flesh into these various creatures.  I guess Simon MacCorkindale in his tighty whiteys might have been a problem but personally as well built as the guy was you would thought it would improve the ratings overall.  For crying out loud, Magnum didn’t have a shirt on half of the time and I heard no complaints from straight women and gay men so who can guess.

Due to the costs of Stan Winston’s SFX team, co-coordinators and various animal wranglers the executives felt the cost was too great for the low ratings and ultimately pulled the plug on a superhero vigilante that could have really gone places.  Located in New York you already got the vibe of the Avengers, Fantastic Four or Spiderman but even great locale, special effects and decent writing cannot always survive the first year as this was rated one of the worst of the 50 TV shows of all time in 2002 by TV Guide.   Somehow nonsense like Jackass and The Jersey Shore got more love.

Special guest star: Michael Corvin of Underworld!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

British Fest in June!

Do you enjoy all things that hail from Great Britain??!!!  Do you marvel at British Television, movies, games and books?  Tea, steamed vegetables, lumpy gravy and possibly Yorkshire pudding??? 

Psst... avoid the pudding.

Well this June in Omaha Nebraska marks the first convention of British Fest!!!   A convention that praises Science Fiction, Scifi-Fantasy, adventure and classical fiction for all to savor.  From Dr. Who, Lord of the Rings to more obscure shows such as: Sapphire and Steel and Blake 7.  Enjoy panels on topics and subject ranging from 007 to Steampunk enthusiasm!

Ticket sales are available at Paypal even as I type this!  The entire weekend per person is only $30 buckaroos.  $15 for Friday, $20 for Saturday and lastly $10 for Sunday.  Bring the kids!

Americans could do with some culture and refinement.

Cosplayers will be gallivanting about in various costumes for your photo taking pleasure.   You may see multiple Doctors, a Dwarfer, Steampunks and heck maybe a hobbit or three.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Larson 80s TV Week: Magnum P.I.

Hiya kiddies and welcome back for another helping of Larson 80’s TV Week.   Boy I make the weeks longer and more confusing than Mapquest directions.  This time around I thought we would find us another tough guy with even better hair, better build and rocking a solid mustache.  He hails from Hawaii though sounds like he is from Chicago.  This is Magnum P.I.

Yeah a delicious shake and a two hour workout.

Mac: Time has little do with spoiler and jelly donuts.

Based in Honolulu Hawaii our shameless shamus stays at the palatial Robin’s Nest Estate owned by world acclaimed novelist Robin Masters…who is never ever at this amazing crib.  Seriously, I have never seen this cat appear in any episode.   It was eluded in the pilot episode that our flatfoot Thomas Magnum (Tom Selleck of Daughters of Satan, 3 Men and a Baby, An Innocent Man, The Closer, Friends, Jesse Stone: Stone Cold and Blue Bloods) had done Masters a serious favor…guess he hid all the dead hookers that one time in Vegas…anyway apparently since Masters is nowhere on the premises he allows Magnum the run of the roost if you will including being about to roll up in a GORGEOUS Ferrari 308 GTS and probably raids the wine cellar for the good stuff.  

Whadda mean I ain't rocking the Bogart?? Jerks.

Between his cases he has to contend with Masters’ groundskeeper, butler and all around handyman John Higgins (John Hillerman of Blazing Saddles, Chinatown. At Long Last Love, Ellery Queen and Valerie) a former British Army Sergeant Major who was the model of a major general who has information, vegetable, animal and mineral…oh wait, no sorry that’s The Pirates of Penzance.   Higgins patrols the grounds with two horrible abominations before the eyes of the Lord, Doberman Pinschers named Zeus and Apollo.   I guess one is faster than lightning and sleeps with anything that moves and the other is very sunny. 

Aside from his daily grind with Higgins, Magnum’s…associates…cohorts???  Ah screw it, his sidekicks.    One is T.C.  Calvin (Roger E. Mosley of Hit Man, Cruise Into Terror, The Jericho Mile, Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, Letters from a Killer and FCU: Fact Checkers Unit), former Marine recon now tourist helicopter pilot for the island and their buddy Rick Right (Larry Manetti of Sudden Death, Black Sheep Squadron, Battlestar Galactica, Swamp Thing and Hawaii Five-0) also former Marine recon that now owns Rick’s Place a nice homage to Casablanca and hey, who doesn’t love Bogart?    To give the show a nice throwback to the 30’s dimestore detective Magnum does a lot of narrative in each case giving it humorous content in the midst of even the most dire of situations.

I had just a few points about the show now.   It has been established that Magnum and his buddies are from the same Vietnam outfit but we never saw any of them using Marine takedowns, martial arts or handle their firearms in that level of training.  However, this show was the first portrayal of Vietnam vets in a positive light and that has to count for something there alone.  It was hinted at that the producers wanted Orson Welles to appear as the enigmatic Robin Masters but sadly he passed away shortly after voice acting in Transformers: The Movie as the planet devouring Unicron.    

With the series lasting 9 years, a bevy of female and male clients and a memorable TV intro theme, Selleck was proud to be a part of TV history but only after the writers laxed his character a bit instead of making him too smooth and lady killer but more of a down to Earth jock type.

What's wrong with my shirt?

Larson 80's TV Week: Knight Rider

Hello all and welcome to Larson 80’s TV Week and I thought I would start us off with a series many of us know of and enjoyed.  Some of us scoffed at its creation while many hold it up to the echelons of Television.  What do you get when you cross a Charlie’s Angels philanthropist with a Lone Ranger theme?   Why, you get a former cop operating as a field agent and a car with a few optional extras such as: being bulletproof and fireproof, a turbo boost, oil slick and an artificial intelligence.   So buckle up, sport a leather jacket and get ready to jet across the road.  This is Knight Rider.

What do you mean turtlenecks don't go with a leather jacket, Tim Gunn?

Michael: I need ya spoiler!
KITT: Right away Michael.

Brought to us by creator/producer Glen A. Larson (B.J. and the Bear, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century, Terror at Alcatraz, Trauma Center and Automan) tells the story of a cop wounded to near death in the line of duty.  Having no personal attachments like friends and family, Michael Long is nursed back to health by an anonymous millionaire benefactor of Knight Industries.  With plastic surgery he has a new face and name: Michael Knight.

By your command...

Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff of Shaka Zulu, Fire and Rain, The Final Alliance, The Bulkin Trail, Avalanche, Nick Fury: Agent of Shield, Baywatch and Layover) was recruited by Knight Industries and his only connection has been through an associate Miles Devon (Edward Mulhare of Signpost to Murder, Our Man Flint, Eye of the Devil, The Ghost & Mrs. Muir and Murder, She Wrote).  Devon explains his part in this organization is to equip and support Michael in his new ventures and assignments. 

The identity Michael Knight is allowing him to operate as a federal agent linked to the justice organization, the Foundation for Law and Government (FLAG) and Michael needs reliable wheels and behold the Knight Industries Two Thousand or KITT if you will.  A armored 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am with an artificial intelligence, with smoke screen, oil slick and even a NOS injected turbo boost to be used sparingly (once per episode).  Coupled with the lovely engineer  and personal assistant Bonnie Barstow (Patricia McPherson of Prime Risk, Knight Rider, Starman, MacGyver, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Warehouse 13) an a decent right cross, Michael and KITT go head to head against organized crime, drug dealers and even terrorist cells.

I had just a few observations of the show at this time.   While this is considered somewhat hokey today the advancements of technology is not that farfetched but the expenses of KITT would be obscene.   KITT loved by many was deemed worthy an adversary named KARR (Knight Automated Roving Robot) KITT predecessor that had only been programmed for self-preservation and had no qualms about human safety.    The auto cruise option actually moved Hasselhoff in the passenger seat while a stunt driver sat in a black outfit.  Several of the kit KITT cars were done with scale models at 1/8th scale Monogram kits model trains for jumps and KITT Pontiac cars.  The life sized scale vehicles were fiberglass units for crashing in the water, and the jumping car was completely hollow to launch off a ramp hidden well away from the cameras but occasionally got caught in frame not unlike the boom mike.

Punch it, KITT!  We gotta get out of Burbank!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Larson 80s TV Week

Howdy kiddies and this week I thought we would tackle shows of yesteryear again.  The 1970s to 1990s series with the development of multiple titles and pilots by Glen A. Larson (writer and producer of It Takes a Thief, Alias Smith and Jones, McCloud, Battlestar Galactica, Switch and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century) in order to bring quality shows…of course he did try to subject us to Automan (an AI creation that created constructs i.e. vehicles and physical presence to fight crime with) and Manimal (a professor able to transform into any kind of animal in order to fight crime alongside a cop and his Vietnam war buddy) so I cannot guarantee you will love every series Larson produced and written but dammit we will take a peek!  

Enjoy the beefcake, ladies.

From such memorial TV shows such as: Magnum P.I. to more obscure shows you may have forgotten like Cover Up and The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo
Ranging series from Westerns, Action and Science Fiction to offer a stimulus to the imagination to what was marketable for children and adults.  

22 TV movies had Larson at the helm producing it with what funds were allotted or what he brought to the table.  He has amazed us as equally baffled us so let us take time to review a smattering of series this week via the 1980s collection. 

I hope as always it informs and entertains.

Friday, February 21, 2014

400th BLOG!!! Blaxploitation Week: Black Mama, White Mama

Howdy boys and girls and welcome back to Blaxploitation Week and boy did I find a winner to some, an abomination to others and folks undecided on it as well.    Our film has prison riots, corrupt, abusive guards, revolutionaries fighting with the existing government and more than a few sultry ladies.  Sadly, it is a less than flattering scenario that seems to have more than 400 incarnations.  Yes kids, this is a women in prison film so brace yourself.  This is Black Mama, White Mama.

Waking me up before the sun....grr...

Lee Daniels: Some jive-ass revolution don't mean spoiler to me!

Straight from the Phillippines our prisoners are brought to the gulag in this tropical country.  Our leads Lee Daniels (Pam Grier of The Big Doll House, Women in Cages, Coffy, Scream Blacula Scream, The Arena, Foxy Brown, Bucktown and Jackie Brown) a former harem girl and Karen Brent (Margaret Markov of Run, Angel, Run!, Pretty Maids All in a Row, The Hot Box, The Arena and There Is No 13)  a wide eyed revolutionary are dragged into crooked system leading to a world of utter disdain.  No sooner have the ladies have been delivered for a 5 minute shower scene.  The warden (Laurie Burton of My Friends Need Killing, My Breakfast with Blassie, Perfect and Our House) slaps Lee around with a leather glove. Yeah that was clearly needed to progress the storyline.  

Vas is "Spin the Bottle"?

Lee and Karen end up getting into a riot fight and literally were back to back wailing on these gals.  Both women are tossed in lock boxes to broil in the merciless sun.  Feeling these two troublemakers will ruffle more feathers they are shackled together and sent to the maximum security which involves a long drive into the jungles when revolutionaries hit the truck and takes off with the girls.

Lee is in hotter water than Karen with her former pimp/boyfriend being the biggest drug dealer lifting 40 large off him and hid it.  With their attempts to find her bearing no fruit and looking foolish, a rival gang lead by Ruben (Sid Haig of The Big Bird Cage, The No Mercy Man, Coffy, Foxy Brown, Jason of Star Command and House of 1000 Corpses) who wants the trades of drugs and human trafficking and gun-running under his thumb and his thumb alone.

I had just a few comments to make with this film.   Once again this film is shot in 35 mm Spherical and its cinematography is glorious to be had, the multiple units offering coverage from tri-pod mounted, vehicle mounted and some decent crane work and up pans.    So if you feel you need scantily clad or nude women running about, cat fights,  love the women in prison or just a big Pam Grier fan you might get some enjoyment out of this.  I will say that the pace and speed of the film does keep steady and means to keep the audience guessing and gripped.  Not a bad script but the content just feels juvenile to watch.

Oh stop arching.  You got the movie deal.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Blaxplotiation Week : Black Caesar

Welcome back to Blaxploitation Week gentle readers.  My apologies for the delay I had some sort of Vertigo from a video game or I had been on the computer too long.  Take your pick.   I am now writing on my new computer which runs awesome!!!   One of the fans is a bit loud but I am working on it.  Today's flick brings a boy of the streets to a man of power.  As a young man, Tommy Gibbs was beaten profusely by a racist cop that makes him crave power anyway he can get it and thus embarks into a career in crime.   Hey, it was the system for a change!   This is Black Caesar.

Tommy's smooth pimpin'.

Tommy Gibbs: I gave spoiler everything she wanted, Rufus, but she still wasn't ever happy.
Reverend Rufus: You know, I almost feel like I could pray for her.

Tommy Gibbs (Fred Williamson of Three the Hard Way, The Inglorious Bastards, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, Warrior of the Wasteland and Vamped) was a tolerated errand boy for the Italian Syndicate when he chose to rise to power creating his own black crime family deep in Harlem.  He soon gets the reputation of a man in charge and goes to war with his old employers the mafia in New York City.   With his ledger book of all the dealings and goings on include his former boss McKinney (Art Lund of The Molly Maguires, The Last American Hero, Bucktown and The Oklahoma City Dolls) he wages bloody retribution and demands to be recognized as the man.

Boomstick, sucka!

No sooner has he commited his forces to this gang war Tommy meets a gorgeous singer Helen (Gloria Hendry of Live and Let Die, Hell Up in Harlem, Black Belt Jones and Man in the Mirror) and they fall in love and in no time are married enjoying the high life.   Gloria soon discovers Tommy is no gentleman, calls him out on it and he violates her.
Hell bent on revenge, Gloria contacts McKinney to do Tommy in which leads to a substantial gun fight. Enemies start outweighing friends as Tommy takes care of business.

I had just a few points of the film at this time.  Shot in Spherical 35 mm, this film brings us a coming of age story that leads a young boy down a dark path and when he feels he has everything ever wanted he finds himself worse off than he was.  Sammy Davis Jr. was offered the role initially but he declined saying he didn't feel the film had merit or offered a positive story.   It is dark, violent and action packed.   Almost a retelling of "Little Caesar" with Edward G Robinson and it works well.

Swear the guy on his left is Issac Hayes.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Blaxploitation Week: Cleopatra Jones

How do my readers?  Greetings to Day 2 of Blaxploitation Week and this time around we are not gonna wait for the man of action to rescue the day.   This time we need a foxy lady of 6’2” butt kicking ferocity to handle the scum of the Earth and we are going to find her employed by the DEA perhaps???  Yeah her link to the government is sketchy at best but by God she is stomping a mud hole into narcotics and crime waves.  This is Cleopatra Jones.

Claim check this!!
Doodlebug:  Hair’s like a spoiler.  You treat it good and it treats you good.  Ain’t that right honey? You hear what I am saying” Yeah, you got to hold it, caress it and love it, And if your hair gets out of line you take a scissor and say, “Hair, I’m gonna cut you.”

From the biker films of the 60’s to TV Movies, actor/director Jack Starrett (Run, Angel, Run, Nam’s Angels, Slaughter, The Gravy Train, Starsky and Hutch and Survival of Dana) takes actor/writer Max Julien (Thomasine & Bushrod and Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold) screenplay and gives it life with the leading lady herself Tamara Dobson (Fuzz, Cleopatra Jones, Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold, Murder at the World Series, Jason of Star Command and Chained Heat) with our opening scene she is commanding a napalm strike on a huge acreage of poppy fields in Turkey thus putting a huge stop gap on heroin flow via the villainess drug lord Mommy (Shelly Winters of A Place in the Sun, The Night of the Hunter, Lolita, Alfie, Touch of a Stranger and Stepping Out).

Now that Mommy is out a little over a hundred million dollars she calls in her markers to her bought police and has Cleo’s boyfriend Reuben Masters (Bernie Casey of Guns of the Magnificent Seven, Black Gunn,  Maurie, Sharky’s Machine, Spies Like Us and On the Edge), who runs B&S House, a half way house for recovering addicts to look the fool when one of his reformed addicts has a big ole baggie of smack in his pocket.  Convenient for a pat down, don’tcha think? 


Cleo flies back after a mission well done (burnt to the ground really) and beats the crap out of the cops that were responsible for the raid.  They flip on Mommy ASAP but that is nowhere near enough payback for Ms. Jones.   She proceeds to raise hell in Mommy’s operations, illegal and legal and driving those sizes 9’s in the behinds of Mommy’s lickspittles.
And this would not be a true 70’s action film without a good car chase and showdown.  Ms. Jones’ ride is a tricked out black and silver 1973 Corvette Stingray with a T-bar panel in the roof so she does not squash her afro.  That and machine gun headlights, some serious suspension and brakes to outdrive Bullit, our lady is hell on wheels and packs a Colt 1911 .45 to distribute justice.

I had just a few points I wanted to make.   I noticed a flub during the chase scene that the Mustang trailing her had no hubcaps one scene and then the next a hubcap goes flying off one wheel but magically there were three caps remaining.   Continuity director was asleep for a few shots here and there I guess.   The role for Cleopatra Jones was initially written up for Vonetta McGee (The Big Bust Out, Blacula, Detroit 9000, Foxbat, Repo Man and L.A. Law) and no offense to the lovely lady I feel Ms. Dobson brought her “A” game.   
The violence level is actually pretty mild with the Kung Fu beatings and some shoot outs it doesn’t look like Reservoir Dogs.  The language will make you cringe given most exploitation film show the racial tensions better than most films and yes my readers that infamous “N-word” is used like a comma so heads up there.   Still, all in all I rather enjoyed seeing the movie.

You sassin' me? Best not.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Blaxploitation Week: Three the Hard Way

Welcome, welcome, welcome boys and girls to Blaxploitation Week and we need to kick this game off right with not one, not two but three action heroes for your movie!   From director Gordon Parks Jr. (Super Fly, Thomasine & Bushrod and Aaron Loves Angela)comes a film that was too big for one lone hero to handle and a soundtrack by the one and only Funk, Soul and R&B Curtis Mayfield still with his band The Impressions bringing the love with “That’s What Love Can Do” and “ Three the Hard Way” giving us some sweet harmonies for a bizarre film.   This is Three the Hard Way.

Dirty Harry's compensating. Dig?

Jagger Daniels: Y’know, spoiler. You come to town I know there’s gonna be trouble.

The credits have barely breezed by before we get right into it as record producer Jimmy Lait (Jim Brown of 100 Rifles,  The Dirty Dozen, El Condor, Black Gunn, Slaughter and I Escaped from Devil’s Island) and his girl Wendy (Sheila Frazier of Super Fly, The Hitter, All About You, The Last Stand and NCIS) find Jimmy’s buddy, House (No, not Hugh Laurie) gut shot and dying.  Wait gets House to the hospital were House explains he just escaped a medical facility and House tells Lait that someone is out there aims to kill us all and they got a way to do it.  Lait gets back to the studio to record the Impressions while Wendy looks in on House.  No sooner is she on the phone with Wait, two hoods sneak in through the window and pop House.  Wendy spots this event, screams and becomes girl hostage.

Slouching ain't sexy m'man.

Wait tries to waste the muthas on his own but finds out they are too well organized and goes looking for some back up.  On the horn with his friends Jagger Daniels, (Fred Williamson of MASH, Black Caesar, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, From Dusk Till Dawn and Vamped) a no nonsense business man with a damn good aim and Mister Keyes (Jim Kelly of Black Samurai, Black Belt Jones, Enter the Dragon and Death Dimension) a martial arts master that is second to none.   Together these men find out from copious gun and fist fights that there is a worldwide conspiracy to commit genocide and it has all be created by the devious Monroe Feather…really?...that’s the villain’s name?   Really doesn’t stand well against say; Doctor Doom, The Red Skull or Even Ernest Blofeld, does it?  

Moving right along, our intrepid trio soon discovers that chemical compounds have been introduced into malt liquor that is completely harmless to white men but will sterilize black men.   Oh yes, thank you for keeping all the trailer park scumbags that knock up women 30 or so times and slap them upside the head when dinner is not hot enough.   Today, Malt liquor…tomorrow KFC!!!   Yeah it is a bit corny but I am sure more than a few chuckles to be had.  Guess if the tables were turned the compound would have been put in Baloney and Wonder Bread.

Filmed in Spherical 35 mm and sadly recorded in mono the film has some amazing aerial shots via helicopter, across the river front for some tight zooms and clearly some steady crane for the street fights.    This film came in three different versions so more than a few folks I spoke to about it were confused.  The TV version comes to us at just a little over 105 minutes, which include an additional song and some re-shoots to clothe some of the ladies, the WB of the 4 Pack collection that I have stops off at 89 minutes with yes fellas, plenty of nudity, language and violence.  Finally, the theatrical version hails at 93 minutes which frankly is four minutes longer than my DVD.  So if you need some chuckles at neo fascism, inside jokes and stereotype urban legends or if you just want to watch Fred Williamson, Jim Brown and Jim Kelly whoop the holy hell out of these Nazi bastards then this is the flick for you. 

You want some, viewer?  Didn't think so.

Blaxploitation Week

Hello again readers!  This week I wanted to focus on some amazing pieces of film that falls under a genre that tends to get the nose turned up to it because of where the term hails from.  Blaxploitation films were created in the 1970s and are predominately a black cast including lead and most secondary characters.  Blaxploitation or Black Cinema was an attempt to reach more urban audiences by developing heroes, anti-heroes and situation that not every white person would get, understand or comprehend.   These films were the first of its kind to introduce soul and funk soundtracks to movies.  Primarily these movies were based around gang violence, cops working the streets and mobsters making their mark in the world.

Snap kick, Sucka!!

What these film did was to bridge the gap and cultural understandings between different ethnic backgrounds and try to tell a good story.  Like with all exploitation films there are some that just stand out from an amazing cast to a terrific story.  Others like Dolemite, tend to be shot in the South were apparently every other white guy is a racist in a position of power trying to bring the brothers down.   Some examples of this black empowerment like Shaft and Coffy gave creditable performances, great story line and a kick ass soundtrack.

Racist vampires??? Say it ain't so!

Many organizations felt this cinema genre would cause race riots, uprises and a surge of crime waves and cast white people as horrendous people hell bent on being slavers, heartless oppressors and in general; scumbags.  For those in that disgruntlement bracket, I suggest you read a little history prior to the Civil War and GET OVER IT.    The irony of this genre is that the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), The SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) and The Urban League that are all African American foundations felt these movies were base, crass and had no moral value which consequently ended this genre for a time.

This movie concept was to break free of the shackles of stereotypical writing for black actors getting foisted into criminal, war mongers and bad guys of the week and show people that hatred had been around a long time and here is another side of it.

So some of these films will blow you away like they did me and some will be like Dolemite, so buckle up kids cause we are going for a ride.

Craigslist romance goes horribly wrong.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine Week: Lovers Lane

Howdy again girls and boys and welcome to the last day of Valentine Week.  Valentine’s Day in fact is graced with a lovely throwback to thriller rather than gorefests of current.   When thieving film ideas of this magnitude it is always important to sample from Halloween, Friday the 13th and a dash of the original Black Christmas.  Stir that in a pot and let it bake for at least an hour and a half and you have the makings of an ambitious attempt at a thriller/horror film.   So grab your coat for it may be chilly, grab a fella for some snuggling and enjoy multiple clich├ęs.   This is Lovers Lane.

Spielberg Presents: Hook: The Lost Tales

Chloe Grefe: We have to go back for Brad!
Michael Lamson: Brad is spoiling dead, alright!

Our story opens with a flashback sequence and I tell ya after 3 of these this week I was shocked that was going to happen.  Thirteen years ago, on Valentine’s Day, a couple getting hot and heavy at lover’s lane Dee Dee(Diedre Kilgore of Good Luck, The Falls, Approaching Union Square and Hawaii Five-0) and boyfriend Jimmy (Carter Roy of White Face, The Elevator and Me + U) get attacked by a nut with a steel hook.  They flee to another car and find another couple deader than disco.  The sheriff arrives on the scene to find out it was his wife and town stud Ward that were murdered.  To make matters worse apparently it was bring your daughter to a double homicide day as young Mandy sees her mom bound up in a sheet that Valentine’s Day.    Ray Hennessy (Ed Baily of Lovers Lane)is locked away in Weston State Institution and treated by Dr. Jack Grefe (Richard Sanders of WKRP in Cincinnati, Berrenger’s, You Can’t Take It with You and Men of Honor) and ladies and gents he is no Doctor Loomis to be certain.

Remember to buckle up before being brutally slain, kids.

End flashback and hello present day as Mandy (Erin J. Dean of Blackbird Hill, Lolita and The Journey of Allen Strange) is the slightly quiet and removed from cliques girl and an uncanny resemblance to her late mother, her dad is still sheriff of the town and teens will be teens planning a big bash for Valentine’s Day.   Geez, didn’t any of these punks see either My Bloody Valentine flicks?   So they prep for a night of drinking and debauchery as Ray has not only kills his guards but reclaimed his hook for more bloody terror.

Now what is to be said about this film?  No stranger to danger in Issaquah Washington since 1990 when Twin Peaks was first introduced to the airwaves, we have a prime small town location that will offer enough eerie to cause the hairs on the back of the neck to RISE…and make it difficult to ignore.   Well the formula is nothing we have not already seen. The cops are worthless, the teenyboppers practically demand to be killed viciously and the killer is a stealth god given the lights simply dim whenever he is around.   The SFX make-up is fair, the actors really do try to offer credibility to a slasher film and while some of the responses are more wooden that the Hundred Acre Woods the technical aspect to the film are bang on.   

Really decent handheld and lighting done for the nighttime exteriors this is the hallmarks of a horror movie, I just feel bad they didn’t get a screen release at all as this was a fair thriller.  They would have easily found an audience.

2...for 1...refill....uahhhh...

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Have a Happy Valentine's Day from Rotten Reelz Reviews!

Miners are heartbreakers!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Valentine Week: Valentine

Day 3 of the madness that is Valentine Week and let me just give you folks a shout out.  I apologize if these blogs are not churning out as quick I normally do but I am devoting most of my attention to my book that I have been working steadily on and hope to get it e-booked soon.   I spare you the details for now but you will recognize its tone and writing rather quickly.  Well our glorious holiday is almost upon us or as most of my single friends like to call it the last of the biggies of the year.  As a single person if you do not throw yourself on your sword or in front of a bus during Christmas, the New Year and Valentine’s Day; you can pretty much handle a zombie apocalypse. 

So instead of that dark note, how about a film that’s trailers made it far too easy for me to figure out who the killer was.   So be a nice girl, don’t pick on the spazzies, gimboids and thickies and be pure of heart…or die horribly.   This is Valentine.

Hummel figurine from Hell!!
Paige Prescott: [sarcastically, to Brian]  You brought me upstairs to show me your spoiler? How sweet!

Our opus opens up with true Slaughter High flashback sequence of a junior high dance in the way back time line of 1988.  I hear those kids actually had to use payphones to call their parents for a ride home.  The dark ages aside, a young bashful lady named Jeremy ask 5 girls to dance separately.  Three just shoot our lad down, one declines politely and another tricks him into dancing with her and then screams sexual assault…because she can.  The boy is humiliated, forced to go to reform school and there will be no Sybil Danning or Wendy O. Williams to show him life’s consequences.  

13 years later, Med student Shelley (Katherine Heigl of Grey’s Anatomy, Knocked Up, The Ugly Truth and Life as We Know It) is practicing on a cadaver when she finds a disturbing Valentine card and is chased about moments later by a tall black clad man in a Cupid mask.  An important safety tip, ladies is to not hide in a body bag.  It is morbid and foreshadow. 

Buffy, I am happier with Bones is all. We can still be friends.

After Shelley’s death her friends of yesteryear all receive an equally disturbing Valentine’s card but no one thinks anything of it because it was never mentioned in the news.   Homicide is funny that way to no give out M.O.s the killer might be hoping the media blabs about.  As the girls’ friend Lily (Jessica Cauffiel of Road Trip, Legally Blonde and White Chicks) gets filled full of arrows by the killer…hey the killer is Oliver Queen!    Pushing ahead the cops are actually treating this murder with a bit more diligence than the last one as it looks like a serial killer may be in the works.   The girls get together and somehow string the theory of a boy they tormented 13 fricking years ago is the culprit.   Folks, to be honest if I could actually tally the amount of people I have irked, annoyed or openly mocked over the years I would be a memory god.

The story is a standard scarred and scared boy that nobody loves vowing revenge on those evil girls and blah blah blah.  The effects are sound, the death scenes though elaborate are convincing more or less but the need for a twist ending became a staple of the beginning of 2001 we have been seeing this duplicated over and over now. 
This is more common for the remake slasher films though to make it more edgy and bloody.  Bloody, yes.  Edgy, nope.   While these films attempt to ratchet up the tension they seem to miss the point which is deliver a film of interest, suspense, thrills and chills. 

Valentine is not by any means a gory film, the level of violence is not over the top and done with a level of discretion.  Still for what was a recycled idea it tried to make people jump out of their seats but relied far too much on jump scares, dramatic pauses in dialogue and conclusions that were on whole, pretty far fetched.   Not a bad film but not exactly wowing me at the same time.

SHOT THROUGH THE HEART!!!!  Must be a Bon Jovi fan.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Valentine Week: My Bloody Valentine

Welcome back my loyal readers to Day 2 of Valentine Week.  Yesterday we had to tackle a less than savory remake of a less than noteworthy 80’s slasher but guess what??  Nothing? Not even gonna try.  Fine, well we are going to endure the original now.  The one of the worst things to hail from Canada this side of Final Sacrifice and Justin Beiber, this film is cheesier than a Quattro formaggio pizza and we get to experience it together.  I know you are counting yourselves lucky in this but hang on.  This is My Bloody Valentine a.k.a. The Secret.

What does cannon fodder mean?

Mayor Hanniger: (reads card out loud) From the spoiler comes a warning, filled with bloody good- cheer, remember what happened as the 14th draws- near!

Yes there is a mighty large shindig, possibly a hootenanny to happen Valentine’s Day in the mining town of Valentine Bluffs, Nova Scotia…you get the feeling that cable modems, coffee shops and stimulating conversation is a long way away from them… Ahem back to the astounding story,  this will be the first Valentine’s Day party in over 20 years as the crappy flashback sequence will tell you an accident occurred and men because security for the mine was partying as well.   Methane built up and no one there to check the levels so one good spark and BABOOM!   The sole surviving miner Harry Warden (Stuntman/actor Peter Cowper of Oh Heavenly Dog and My Bloody Valentine) had to survive on the meat of his former coworkers or you know, eat a Hot Pocket so better to resort to cannibalism at that point.   A whole year later Harry found his two supervisors, killed them both with a pickaxe, tore their hearts out and left them in Valentine candy boxes as a warning to the town that if another Valentine dance occurs, he will go on a bloody rampage.     Warden is caught and shacked up in the wacko basket so the younger generations deem him nothing more than a ghost story. 

So the town tries to rise from the ashes of this insanity and get their Valentine’s dance groove on.   The Mayor (Larry Reynolds of When Michael Calls, PCU and Blown Away) and Sheriff Jake Newby [I swear I did not just make that name up] (Voice actor Don Francks of Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, Monster Force, X-Men, and Journey to the Center of the Earth) look at a box of chocolates sent to the mayor with a note with poor penmanship and a severed human heart as a warning about the impeding dance.

I sense a dirty cavern joke here somewhere.

Desperate to calm the fears of the Mayor and himself, Newby (snicker) calls the asylum to find out they have no records of Warden, his known whereabouts or what’s become of him… A loony man that butchered his bosses is somehow missing and they didn’t think to call the town and warn ANYBODY??!!!!   In this dinky, little town; the local sheriff has no idea of a get together involving booze, sex and drugs??  Oh, c’mon!   You know all these kids by face and name, man.  You rousted them out of kegger nights and confiscated their pot and you have no clue where they are setting up a drinking and debauchery binder?? They can’t afford a hotel and the owner would just narc on them ASAP so of course the mine!!!  Give me your badge, you chucklehead!!

Frankly I recognized only one cast member and that was Helene Udy because she was a main character on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman as frontier town Colorado Springs’ premier prostitute.  Yes when you date, you get to watch more shows and films than you ever considered viewing in the first place.

Moving along to the technical aspect of the movie, I found the gore effects via blood and prosthetics to be well done.  Researching the FX crew I found a family name that sticks out in FX legend.   I speak of the Burmans.  Ellis, the father cut his teeth in the biz doing Lon Chaney Jr.’s transformation to the Wolf Man.   His brother Thomas is known for his makeup works on Die Hard 2, Grey’s Anatomy and Nip/Tuck.   Thomas’s son Barney is one of the leading TV and Movie SFX makeup artists for shows and films like Star Trek III: Search for Spock, Brain Dead, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Galaxy Quest, Planet of the Apes and Men in Black II.   This is literally the wildest family tradition.   In this household you hear a father say, “The hell you are becoming a doctor!  Now go make realistic vomit and gross out your little sister right now, young man!”

 Last note was the MPAA, made Paramount cut 9 minutes out of the film because it was FAR TOO GRAPHIC!!!   Screen tests proved that people pooped their pants on this so Paramount refused to make an unrated version for DVD viewers.  Lion’s Gate having no qualms about blood splatters or obligatory breast shots bought the rights to the film and released an unrated version of My Bloody Valentine around 2009 to co-inside with the release of the remake.   Smart marketing, fellas.

Billy, you're hurting me!  Billy?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentine Week: My Bloody Valentine 3D

Greetings to Valentine Week and I thought I would start the cheese right with the foul taint of a remake. Yes as if the 80’s didn’t produce enough regurgitated slasher nonsense we clearly need to re-imagine that.  So call your incompetent law enforcement, run up the stairs when you should go out the door and lock yourself in a closet.  This is My Bloody Valentine 3D.

Yo Sammy, you down here?!


Oh we could be in a world of excitement or utter hurt.  Director (Patrick Lussier of Dracula 2000, Dracula II: Ascension and White Noise 2: The Light) drives us down nostalgia lane with no seat belts and doing 30 miles over the limit.  With the assistance of writer (Todd Farmer of Jason X, The Messengers, and Drive Angry) I feel as though we are in suspect hands for our movie viewing.  Ten years ago in the mining town of Harmony, a drilling accident caused the mine to collapse and six miners were buried alive.  After 6 days of digging the rescue team found only one man, Harry Warden   (Richard John Walters of Smart People, Neverland and Art Thief Musical) alive but in a coma, and the other miners skewered by his pickax.  The conclusion was that Harry did them in to save the oxygen for himself.  The son of the mine owner Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles of Supernatural, Smallville, Devour and Batman: Under the Red Hood) failed to vent the methane out of the mine and blames himself for the happenings of that accident.  

Luke, join me and rule these mines as father and son...

One year into his coma Harry awakens, starts making a mess with the hospital staff Jason Vorhees style and heads back to the mine.  I guess it is his Crystal Lake.   A gathering of teens are having a party in the mine are attacked by Harry and panic ensues as the teens flee while Tom arrives late.  Injured and looking as though his life is about to end, Tom heads back into the mine to evade Warden only to see Harry shot down by the town sheriff.  For the teens ten years have came and went.  Tom Hanniger returns to lay his father to rest and sell his family’s mine in the hopes to lay some ghost to rest.  His former girlfriend Sarah (Jaime King of Sin City, Pearl Harbor, The Spirit and White Chicks) is married and has a grocery store while her husband Axel (Kerr Smith of The Forsaken,Dawson’s Creek and Final Destination) is the town sheriff and the townies are trying to meek out a life as best as they can.   Okay, off topic this town is white.  I mean Clarinda Iowa white.  Devoid of people of color, coordination and dance moves white. 

We now return you to our scheduled write up.   When last we left off the town of Harmony was a downer and suddenly murders occur within days of Tom’s return.    As Tom and his mine manager Red (Jeff Hochendoner of I Am Number Four and Unstoppable) are jumped by Warden, Tom is forced into a cage and Red meets his fate at the hands of a pickax.  Former friends of Tom show the common denominator and Hanniger is looking guilty.  Will Tom be able to prove his innocence?  Will the town care about justice?  Who is the muffin man?  What is the mystery of the Yeti?

A combination of 35mm Spherical and D-cinema was use to blend this footage together and yes gore fans this is messy.  A lot of gags were thrown in for this that blood is caking the floors and walls.  Lot of torso and limb attacks so yes that is making a mess.  Overall regardless what I thought of the cast, I found the plot to be lacking, the characters underdeveloped and my time wasted.  The original was just as equally campy so don’t feel as though I am hoisting it aloft to the gods as a tribute.

Boy, Debbie sure can shovel it in...*slaps self for bad pun*