Friday, March 22, 2013

4 Action-Packed Movie Marathon

Shout! Factory has just unleashed a low-priced 2-disc Action-Packed Movie Marathon set featuring 4 Crapsterpieces released between 1983 and 1990. Disc 1 offers up a pair of schlocky films directed by Fred Olen Ray and written by Paul Garson - both of which feature Robert Quarry comically getting shot to death. Cyclone, a 1987 kick-ass-deathcycle film with Jeffrey Combs and Heather Thomas, and the 1990 film Alienator, about a intergalactic bounty hunter tracking down a space fugitive who has crash landed on Earth.

Shit gets real on Disc 2 which features films with a grittier, darker tone. Eye of the Tiger is a 1986 film directed by Richard C. Sarafian (Vanishing Point), starring Gary Busey as a man trying to stop evil bikers from destroying his town. Exterminator 2 is Mark Buntzman's 1983 followup to James Glickenhaus' original, further following the misdaventures of John Eastland and his trusty flamethrower.

Director: Fred Olen Ray
Writer: Paul Garson
Starring: Heather Thomas, Jeffrey Combs, Martin Landau

"When her inventor boyfriend (Jeffrey Combs, Re-Animator) is murdered, Teri Marshall (Heather Thomas, The Fall Guy) must keep his high-tech futuristic motorcycle called Cyclone from falling into the wrong hands. Martin Landau (Ed Wood), Troy Donahue (Hawaiian Eye) and Martine Beswick (Thunderball) costar in this explosive and thrilling adventure!"

This was the movie I was least interested in of the set, but it ended up being my favorite. Fred Olen Ray's Cyclone is an absolute blast. I really only know Fred Olen Ray's horror films like Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers and Evil Toons, which are great fun, but also very cheap looking. So I was surprised to see something actually pretty professional looking here with some exciting car chases and a couple of badass car crash stunts. I even stopped to rewind one of them. And the remote wasn't even near me. I had to get up and find the thing to rewind to see this crash again.

Don't get too excited seeing Jeffrey Combs' name in the credits, he's only here for about the first 15 minutes before getting an icepick in the brain, the rest of the film follows his girlfriend Teri (Heather Thomas) who he's posthumously trained to operate the Cyclone. Heather Thomas isn't gonna win any acting awards but she actually does pretty well playing a smartass tough chick. The fact that she looks like a slightly less hot Heather Locklear certainly doesn't hurt.

There are some entertaining villains here as well. Especially Stuntman Dar Robinson as Rolf. He looks like German New Wave Tobin Bell and his scenes with Dawn Wildsmith are truly entertaining. I laughed during the "punk night club" scene. I applauded during the station wagon convertiblization scene. I wept during his eventual immolation. Okay, I didn't do that last thing, I did really enjoy that guy though. I was sad to learn Dar died the year following Cyclone's release.

There's not much in the way of character development here but Cyclone moves at a lightning quick pace. There's also loads of amusing little bits to be found here - I nearly spit up my drink when the Hammer/Bond girl Martine Beswick shows up near the end of the film, kicking in a door while decked out in a green jumpsuit with an uzi in either hand. There are tons of funny little scenes like this here, this is a film brimming with absurdity and I loved every minute of it. 10 Thumbs Up.
Things to watch for
Vehicluar Thermometry
"Hey, you guys seem pretty rapey, wanna join my gym?"
Lava lamps - how punk!
Haunted Garage sighting!
Most unpunk punk night club ever. 
Detective Chesthair


This shot of Dukey Flyswatter is my new favorite accidentally hilarious screenshot:

Director: Fred Olen Ray
Writer: Paul Garson
Jan-Michael Vincent, P.J. Soles, John Phillip Law

"From a remote space-station prison, an iron-willed alien warden sends an indestructible assassin, The Alienator, after an escaped prisoner who’s crash-landed on Earth. Starring Jan-Michael Vincent (The Mechanic), P.J. Soles (Halloween), John Phillip Law (Barbarella) and female bodybuilder Teagan as the Alienator."

This one from F.O. Ray wasn't as fun, though not a total waste of time. The main thing with this one is it's about 90 minutes long and there are really only like two sets in the movie that we cut back and forth to. On Set 1 we get P.J. Soles (in the goofiest "sexy" outfit I've ever seen), Jan-Michael Vincent and Joe Palito on a fake spaceship (which I'm pretty sure is the control room of a brewery). On Set 2 we get a cabin and the woods around it. That's it. The whole film is just The Alienator tracking down this fugitive in the woods while the assholes on Fake Spaceship watch to see that the job gets done. There's just really not a lot going on here.

Speaking of The Alienator, this is a pretty odd character. A giant female body builder with a silver cowl, C.C. DeVille wig and a few blender parts strapped to her tits. It's really quite a site. I'm still not quite sure if this thing was supposed to be intimidating or funny but I know I was laughing my ass off. There are a few fun bits to be found in Alienator, but they are few and far between. In fact, I just watched this about 18 hours ago and the only things I'm remembering are a decapitation, The Alienator petting a deer, and Robert Quarry getting the living shit killed out of him. That's what he gets for looking like Cameron Mitchell.

If you enjoyed MSTed films like Pod People or Space Mutiny, you might get a kick out of this. It reminds me of those films a lot, in fact I wouldn't be surprised to see Rifftrax take a crack at this one at some point

Things to watch for
Orchestra hit nut punch
Joe Palito - For bonus points yell "Choke on em!" when you see him
Out of nowhere light saber attack
Robert Quarry's flaming potato sack head

Drinking game inspired by the film:
Every time Ross Hagen touches his neck brace chug a beer

 Exterminator 2
Director: Mark Buntzman
Mark Buntzman, William Sachs
Starring: Robert Ginty, Mario Van Peebles, Deborah Geffner

"Robert Ginty reprises his role as the torch-wielding outlaw vigilante in this dynamic sequel. Drug lord X (Mario Van Peebles, New Jack City) and his army of thugs have declared war on New York City…but they have yet to meet someone like The Exterminator." 

When will these vigilante guys learn? If you are going to partake in vigilantism you can't have a girlfriend because she's going to die. Horribly. Superheroes seems to have this rule understood for the most part, why can't vigilantes? I mean, how many women have died because they wanted to fuck Paul Kersey, like 8?

Anyway, I actually just saw the first Exterminator about a year ago, and I have to say, I was a bit let down. I think I have to blame the movie poster. It makes it seem like there is going to be a guy running around the whole time flamethrowering scumbags all over the city. True there was a flamethrower, but I don't think he actually killed anybody with it in the first movie. He did scare a guy, but he didn't torch anyone, unless I'm remembering wrong. I liked the movie alright (though I enjoyed Bill Lustig's less popular Vigilante more), but when you're expecting a flamethrower massacre anything short of that is bound to be disappointing.

Exterminator 2 fixes that immediately with 3 flamers right out of the gate, and several more throughout the rest of the running time. But, while it does show a lot more dudes being flamethrown (flamethrew? flamethrowered? I don't think there's an actual way to say that)  it's not quite as good as the first film. The problem for me was the entire plot with the gang. First off, was Mario Van Peebles a gang leader or a cult leader? He kinda seemed to be both at the same time. And he spent half the movie looking like a less manly Grace Jones in some goofy ass Thunderdome spiky shoulder pads. At least Mario brought some charisma to the role and seemed to be having a lot of fun. The rest of his gang were a bunch of lifeless turds, I often found myself pretty bored whenever they were onscreen. One guy did look like Edward Furlong, so I guess that's worth something.

Another thing that hurt the movie for me, with all the seedy stuff going on I actually started to find this movie to be kind of depressing. Murdering old Italian shopkeeps, drugging women, paraplegic rape - come on movie, is this what you really want to do with your life? 

Fans of the original should still enjoy this. Plenty of sleaze, violence and breakdancing throughout to keep everybody happy. There are some great action set pieces to be found among the depravity. I especially enjoyed the scene with John and Be Gee in the garbage truck when they busted up the cult/gang's drug deal with the 40's gangster looking dudes. For gore fans, there's even a very unexpected split second extreme gore shot at the end of the movie. It's so quick you will probably miss it, so if you see Ginty walking down a tunnel with credits running down the screen and you haven't seen a nasty gore shot, rewind, you missed it.

Things to watch for
Flame broiled felons
Rollerskate Breakdance
Holy fuck, apart from the raping 80's gangs were really dorky.
Death Plow

Eye of the Tiger
Director: Richard C. Sarafian
Michael Thomas Montgomery
Starring: Gary Busey, Yaphet Kotto, William Smith

"When former Vietnam veteran and ex-con Buck Matthews (Gary Busey, Lethal Weapon) returns home to find his town is overrun by a sadistic motorcycle gang, he enlists the help of a fellow vet to win the town back. Yaphet Kotto (Alien) and William Smith (Conan The Barbarian) also star in this action-packed epic!"

Like I said before, you can't be a vigilante if you have a woman you love in your life. Save a woman from being raped by a gang of marauding bikers, those marauding bikers you stopped will eventually kill your wife.

I'd never even heard of this one before, but this is surprisingly well done, probably my second favorite of the set. Gary Busey and Yaphet Kotto make for a great team of asskickers. This biker commune they take on appears to have like a hundred plus members so there are tons of people to be beaten and blown up during the finale. The lead evil biker dude Blade is a great villain, a man who looks like he's ready to kill anyone or anything at any given time. He's a pretty menacing looking dude, even with his Harikrishna hairstyle. I haven't seen many 80's films in this genre, was this a popular hairstyle among evil bikers of the era?
The acting from The Buse can come off a bit awkward at times, but insane or not, the man has a great prescence and can brawl with the best of them. The movie takes some time to get going, but once Yaphet is dropping grenades from his Red Baron plane while Busey's sticking dynamite up people's asses and blowing fuckers away with his rocket truck you'll be having such a good time you'll forget all about the few slow parts. Highly recommended for people who enjoy watching Gary Busey kick people's teeth in, or Yaphet Kotto fly a plane.

Things to watch for
Biker housewarming party 
Man, this guy is...wired? 
Black Baron
Surprising choice of end credit song

Potential band names inspired by the film: 
Catatonic Daughter
Dynamite Butt Plug

Shout! Factory has put out a very entertaining set of low rent action films with a combined body count in the hundreds. Apart from an audio commentary on Exterminator 2, there are no other extras to speak of. However, given the low MSRP I don't think we can really bitch about that. This is currently $7.99 at Amazon and Best Buy, at $2 per movie this is a hard set not to recommend. I can pretty much guarantee you'll enjoy at least one of the movies and you'll find plenty of stuff to poke fun at in the ones you don't enjoy. I watched all four of these in a 16 hour period and I never found myself bored. Check it out.

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