Out of the Past (1947)

outofthepast

Directed by Jacques Tourneur

I was made aware of this film after reading Paul Auster’s ‘Ghosts’ from his spellbinding book The New York Trilogy. I was sold to the point that I imagined myself as a Private Detective, wearing one of those long beige coloured pervy Mackintosh jackets that local park flashers usually wear and a matching fedora, tailing an equally suspicious rogue along the cold wet streets of Norwich. Not content to dwell in my mid-afternoon daydreams at work, later that evening I jumped onto YouTube and watched ‘Out of the Past’.

From the opening shot of the film, where the camera is positioned in the back seat of an open top car which pulls up outside Jeff Bailey’s garage, we instantly know that we are watching a classy noir. The dialogue is sharp and punchy, and the film throughout looks marvellous.

Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) is introduced to us as a small-town garage worker who pumps gas, and works alongside a young deaf fellow. The townsfolk aren’t exactly enamoured with him, due to the air of mystery that surrounds him, something ain’t right, but they can’t quite put their fingers on it. Bailey is secretly romancing Ann, and when a face from the past returns, he tells her all about his old life. The film flashes back to Jeff’s days as a Private Detective, when he was hired by the wealthy Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas) to find the movies’ femme fatale Kathie, who took forty grand from Whit.

Bailey ends up tracking down Kathie and soon finds himself as yet another man that has gotten trapped in her wicked web. Jane Greer’s performance as Kathie has a strange darkness, she is willing to kill, but does so with a distressing innocence. Almost as if she has been temporary possessed by a malevolent demon, and then becomes alarmed by the sudden reappearance of her conscience. At the same time Kathie’s actions are completely selfish, and it is quite remarkable for a female character in the forties to be so powerful, controlling and manipulative.

I suppose what the film also tells us is that even an intelligent rational man can get his mind scrambled by love. Bailey makes some terribly naïve decisions, which inevitably lead to his downfall. Mitchum’s boyish facial expressions make this work, and he is a good contrast to Kirk Douglas’ sinister portrayal of Whit Sterling.

Jacques Tourneur is a wizard of wonderful shadow play, and some of the scenes are visually stunning, which seems odd in a black and white film. There’s a scene where Jeff and Kathie arrive home only to find they are tracked by Jeff’s former colleague Fisher. A fight starts between the two men with Kathie seemingly standing startled by the window, with a look of fear in her eyes as the shadow of the two brawling men is cast behind her on the curtains. She then ends the contest in gunfire.

Certain films become timeless classics and ‘Out of the Past’ doesn’t need to be remade or rebooted. I was talking to someone about another classic I’d recently watched, the seventies thriller ‘Three Days of the Condor’ starring Robert Redford. A friend of mine said that it needed to be remade, and I argued vociferously that it should never be touched. You don’t really want to mess with a work that borders on perfection. ‘Out of the Past’ is simply magnificent.

– RJW
9/10

Out of the Past on IMDB
Buy Out Of The Past [DVD]

Dungeons and Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness (2012)

Ah, Dungeons and Dragons. Waster of many hours of my youth, as a player of the paper-and-imagination RPG way back when, and waster of several hours of my adulthood, as this is now the third film in the series. Although series implies some sort of progression, or acknowledgement of the other films’ existence, and this film certainly has neither of them.

The first film was clearly an attempt to start a franchise, with Marlon Wayans, some wisecracking white guy who looks like he should have been in “Boy Meets World” or “The Wonder Years”, Jeremy Irons, looking thoroughly embarrassed throughout, and that bald fella who was also the baddie in “The Mummy”. It was, of course, a load of old rubbish. My viewing partner for all three of these films has been my former housemate, and he mentioned to me his big problem with the first film was it bore no relation to D&D, the game. I personally wouldn’t have given a damn if the film had been okay, but whatever.

The second film I really don’t remember at all. Baldie from the Mummy was…probably…in it again, but past that my mind’s a blank. Thanks, memory! Now, if you could just wipe out those two Transformers films I watched for some reason, too, that’d be grand.

So, we go on to the third film. My good lady wife decided discretion was the better part of valour on this occasion and went upstairs to read, leaving me and my old housemate to battle through this on our own. And you know what? I really rather enjoyed this.

Nhagruul the Foul! He’s a baddie who sold his soul to some demons, and whose body was turned into the Book Of Vile Darkness. His disciples then went a –killin’, and it was only the newly formed and god-blessed Knights of the New Sun who stopped them, and who managed to destroy the ink that made the book (when it was separated to stop the Knights from finding it and destroying it).

The film starts in a becalmed land – the Knights have protected the land for many years, and are about to welcome their first new member for centuries, Grayson (the son of a current Knight). He’s bummed out because it appears that the Sun-God didn’t bless him during the initiation process, and while he’s off having a sulk all the other Knights are slaughtered by Nhagruul’s people, looking to put the Book back together (they need to torture a pure Knight, and extract his liquid pain in order to form the ink). So Grayson is forced to take his sun medallion and go into the revenge business on his own…that is, until he meets a group of adventurers in a tavern and decides to go undercover with them in order to get closer to the target of his revenge.

Here’s where I think the film gets interesting. It’s definitely pitched at fans of the role-playing game – there’s “famous” items from the game littered throughout the film – and I think this group of adventurers is a parody of the way most actual games of D&D go. To the players themselves, they’re having a good time, but most groups of teenagers / gamers are a nasty, unruly lot, and to outsiders (like the villagers they meet during the film) they must seem like a group of heavily armed gold-and-sex-obsessed psychopaths. I think it’s too deliberate and over-the-top to be an accident, but this went right over the heads of most people who watched it (all several hundred of us straight-to-DVD RPG fanatics).

The tattooed, super-nasty female member of the group, Accordia, gets saved by Grayson as they’re raiding a red dragon’s lair, and therefore she is his, to do with as he sees fit. They have a very odd conversation (odd for a fantasy film, certainly) and then get down to some sexual activities. Here’s the second reason I like this film – I think the scriptwriter wanted to make a fairly complex psycho-sexual thriller about a cop going undercover with a gang of violent thieves, but a producer went “only way we’re making your script is if you turn it into a Dungeons and Dragons film” which led to some hasty rewrites / mental breakdowns / getting a D&D fan to put the final polish on the script.

Will the gang of adventurers stay together long enough to help Grayson defeat Nhagruul, destroy the book forever and rescue his Dad (oh yes, his Dad was kidnapped by the baddies for the ink-extraction process)? What effect will Grayson’s pure-heartedness have on the evil Accordia? I will leave those questions for you, the viewer, to puzzle out.

I’d definitely recommend this film. Okay, it was made for a budget of 7p, some of the acting is not all it could be and it’s a damn Dungeons and Dragons film, but it knows its fanbase, it’s not too long, and the film itself gives the engaged viewer plenty to chew on. Feel free, too, to completely ignore my attempts to make this film seem like more than it really was – judging by the other reviews I read, the fact it was considered too poor to even show on the SyFy Channel speaks volumes about its quality.

Dungeons and Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness on IMDB

Youtube Film Club: Chinese Super Ninjas (1982)

I accidentally wiped the hard drive that contained all my films the other day (rips of legally owned DVDs, you guys) so I’ve been going through the long and annoying process of getting them all back. Part of that was the long-neglected section of kung-fu films – stuff I’d watched as a teenager and in my early 20s, but had been largely ignored since. Anyway, I realised I’d never seen this, and the reviews seemed to state it was a classic, so here goes.

And another thing – thank you Youtube!

Heck, this copy is better quality than my old old DVD.
I have been trying to write a brief summary of the plot of this film, but the more I think about it, the more I realise it doesn’t make a lick of sense, even for a kung fu film. It starts with a group which seem like they’re good guys but are outlaws, and they’re about to have a scrap with a group of guys dressed in white, who seem to all the world like they’re the baddies. This is to decide something or other – either who’s the best, or if the outlaws can continue to do crimes. The various members of the groups take it in turns to fight, and it seems that the guys in white are winning 8-0 in the best of ten format, until one of their fellas loses and he, in an “honourable” move, guts himself. So I guess I was wrong about which side was which?

The last guy isn’t even part of the gang, he’s a Japanese samurai, brought in as some sort of ringer by the…bad?…guys, and he successfully fights a few of the guys in white until he also misses a strike, and by his own wacky logic, kills himself too. But before he does he poisons the boss of the guys in white, and tells them his friend will be back to kick their asses.

So far, so good. Nice bit of fighting, characters have been sort-of established and the battle lines are drawn. Then, things go a bit odd. There’s usually a moment in films like this where I get the feeling I spaced out for ten minutes, or my cat jumped on my chest and demanded attention, and I missed a crucial bit of plot. But it’s my job as a film reviewer to navigate these deep waters for you, so here goes.

The guys in white, who are the Alliance of Martial Artists, have decided to go and defeat the Five Element Ninjas (this film’s actual, not quite as cool title outside the USA) – gold, fire, water, wood and earth. The reason for this is either so they can get the powers of these ninjas in order to beat the apparently invincible King of the Ninjas, or because he gets his power from them and they want to weaken him. Or possibly so they can learn ninjutsu, the technique that is too powerful for them. I really don’t want to be vague here, I just couldn’t for the life of me figure it out.

They divide into groups of two – two each for each of the elements, and the last two guys to defend the clan boss, who is using his martial arts mind powers to defeat the poison in his body. We then get one of those amazing extended sequences that this genre of film is famous for. Wuxia is the name for fantastic kung fu films, where there’s magic and weirdness and garish coloured fights, and this film is a prime example. We see the groups of Alliance members go to take on the five elements, and to a man they get killed. It’s embarrassing how badly they get whupped, but as I didn’t recognise any of them, while the guy who stayed behind at the camp is a Hong Kong star of yesteryear, I figured out how it was going to go.

It gets worse for the Alliance, as the woman they rescued from being beaten by her father and gave a place to live, turned out to be a spy who let the Ninja king, his ninja followers and the outlaws from the beginning of the film, in to their base to kill the main Alliance master and take over. Ninja King turns on the crime-boss fella, for reasons which remain stubbornly out of reach. And what sort of over-the-top revenge is slaughtering an entire clan because they beat you in a fight, didn’t kill or arrest you and just wanted you to stop doing crimes?

So begins part two of the film. Our hero decides he needs to power up, after literally everyone he knows has been murdered. So, off he pops to a mysterious teacher of Ninjutsu, who he was friendly with from before. He joins up with a bunch of the teacher’s other students, and after a nice training montage to show him learning the new style, they go to take on the Five Elements.

 

Again, because I don’t think this point can be stressed enough, absolutely no reason is given for anyone to want to bother with the five elements. They’re supernaturally tough, and aren’t bothering anyone! Just minding their own business, doing whatever a representation of an element does, and some guys in white come along to kick their ass. If they have any relation to the king of the Ninja, apart from him showing up at the end to defend the last element, then it’s certainly never mentioned.

The first four of the five elements crumble like a Weetabix in a vice, and then it’s on to the last one. The reasoning of it all isn’t important – yes, the good guys win – but the style of the fights is what’s important. There’s some fantastically bonkers choreography, which is the reason this film is so fondly remembered by fans of wuxia and kung-fu films. It’s blindingly fast, magic-powered and although it’s pretty cheaply done (the sets at the end look like a poor theatre production) you’d struggle not to enjoy this film.

 

Chinese Super Ninjas on IMDB
Buy Chinese Super Ninja [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

Directed by Alexander Witt

I caught this film when I went back to the family home for a delicious dinner, as opposed to my usual Uncle Ben’s egg fried rice with chicken and spinach. On a fortnightly basis that I usually have a little time on a Thursday afternoon to watch something on Sky Movies, usually I end up faced with a dire selection of movies. Last time around I sat through Immortals, and though I enjoyed Mickey Rourke’s performance in that movie, it was rather dire in places.

First up, I need to make an admission, I have never played a Resident Evil game, and therefore unfamiliar with the franchise, and I have not seen the first movie in the series. However, I love zombie movies, and I’m always up for good old fashioned suspense filled shoot-em-up.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse opens in a snappy fashion, we are bombarded with information. Raccoon City is struck by a T-virus outbreak, within hours a significant percentage of the city’s population get infected and become zombified, and other menacing creatures emerge from the area where the virus came from. We are also introduced to Alice, survivor from the first movie who wakes up in an empty hospital. The resourceful heroine swiftly arms herself for battle and gets moving.

As the malevolent Umbrella Corporation prepares to lock down the city, the movie follows Alice and a crew of survivors which comprise of Special Ops guys, a feisty police officer called Jill Valentine, a news reporter and a wise cracking jive talking wide boy as they band together to rescue the daughter of a renowned scientist, and then flee Raccoon City before it gets nuked.

The zombies are actually pretty pathetic, to the point that the characters openly mock them. Thankfully the heroic bunch of survivors have to contend with infected blood hungry hounds, these mutated four legged lizard-like creatures called ‘Lickers’ and a destructive killing machine called Nemesis that gets unleashed by the Umbrella Corporation.

It seems the director dropped the ball somewhat with this film, for every goosebump inducing scene, such as when the survivors are in the School and come across a gaggle of zombified School kids who lurk the hallways and baying hounds that prowl the cafeteria; there are also some horribly anti-climactic key moments, including the helicopter crash towards the end of the movie which should be pivotal, but ends up playing out predicatably.

From my point of view, looking at the movie without prior knowledge of the franchise, the film just came across as if it had been put together by a bunch of caffeine addicts that suffer from acute attention deficit disorder. Everything happens quickly, but nothing seems significant. We don’t get to develop a bond with any of the survivors; they are disposable, like computer game characters that die, as opposed to real people falling in an apocalyptic future. Perhaps we aren’t supposed to see the film as based upon any sort of reality. For example Alice is blessed with superhero like strength and agility, spending the majority of the film swanning around like someone has typed in a cheat code and given her unlimited lives. If we know our hero is indestructible, we can’t buy into the idea that she’s ever in any danger.

– RJW
3/10

Resident Evil: Apocalypse on IMDB
Buy Resident Evil: Apocalypse [DVD] [2004]

Street Crimes (1992)

Directed by: Stephen Smoke

It’s difficult what to make of the young Michael Worth. He may in the early nineties have had hopes of utilizing his legitimate Martial Arts skills, and emulating the success of the likes of Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme; he also had the boyish good looks and for all intents and purposes looked like having leading man potential. Yet he makes strange noises when he flicks out a fist, or launches into a high kick, more annoying than a female tennis player mid-orgasm, this grating “aaaaiiiii”. He sounds like he’s in acute pain, like a man who has trodden on a drawing pin. Undoubtedly this prevented him from stardom.

‘Street Crimes’ opens with a view of the big city at night, towering skyscrapers fill the horizon. We begin in a Car Dealership, which reminds me of Ashley Schaeffer’s in Eastbound & Down. Tony (Michael Worth) is an off duty cop looking for a motor. He’s chatting to a salesman, and doesn’t seem convinced by the pitch. As he dallies and dithers, the salesman is distracted by a trio of bad hombres that enter the Dealership. These guys then begin to rob the place, shooting both the salesman and the owner. Tony intervenes after the slayings and quickly takes out two of the three; the sharpest dressed man gets away. At this point I’m thinking ok, the one that got away has got to be one of the main villains in the piece, but no, for once in a cop movie a bad guy actually gets away.

The Dealership incident soon gets back to the Station, and Tony the rookie is ridiculed for allowing the bad guy to escape by the grizzled veterans on the force which include Tony’s partner Brian (Dennis Farina). Like most American cops they like to eat burritos for lunch, fry-ups for breakfast, drink coffee as a pick me up, and their best counsellor is the bottle of Jack at some local dive bar. Tony is part of the new breed, disciplined and clean living; he shuns the old Pig lifestyle and considers himself different to the rest. Yet he’s very naïve, and hasn’t developed street smarts and above all else common sense. This is demonstrated when he offers this comely transvestite a ride home from the bar.

Tony is also a liability on the beat; as he has a reluctant to use his gun, preferring instead to engage with criminals in hand to hand combat. This is a pretty dumb thing to be doing in Los Angeles. On a couple of occasions the wiser Brian bails him out of potentially life threatening situations. Business picks up during a routine gang arrest, when the duo arrest a local street tough called Jimmy. Jimmy jaws at the officers and challenges Tony to a street fight, no weapons allowed.

Surprisingly Tony accepts the challenge and turns up to meet Jimmy at a rundown gymnasium, with Brian in tow. Jimmy and his crew turn up and the fight begins. Tony wins, and grudgingly wins the respect of Jimmy. Word spreads about the contest and soon a number of arresting officers are challenged to fights by the crooks they have just cuffed. Scores get settled, and a strange underground fight club starts where cops fight criminals.

The street fights have an unexpected consequence as crime in the area goes down because all the ruffians are drawn to the street fights, even the dealers have abandoned their corners to watch the spectacle. This irritates a drug lord called Gerardo, who just happens to come from the same neighbourhood as Tony, and sparred with him in the old days. Gerardo used to kick Tony’s ass back then, and inevitably a final showdown between the two occurs with Tony gunning for revenge.

Yes, the film has dated incredibly – Michael Worth wears some incredibly garish trousers that are so very early nineties, and given how fight scene choreography has evolved so dramatically in the last two decades in action movies, the organized street fights are laughably tame, but there is enough here to make the film reasonably enjoyable to watch.

– RJW
6/10

Street Crimes on IMDB
Buy Street Crimes [DVD]

Treasure Chest of Horrors (2012)

Directed by: Doug Waugh (‘Rotten Classmates’, ‘Resident Emo’ and ‘Mama, it’s a Mannequin’) and M. Kelley and Shawn C. Phillips (‘Vampire’s Lust’)

There are times when I wonder if I’m wasting my time on this planet. When I watch movies that are so bad, so amateurish, it really does me consider whether life is worth living. If watching this movie, at this moment in time, is as good as it gets – then why bother going on?

‘Treasure Chest of Horrors’ is a collection of short ‘no budget’ Horror films that are hard to judge critically. I mean what do I expect here? These directors are merely starting out, experimenting, messing around, learning the craft. Yet, this movie is available to buy, therefore someone has to appraise its qualities (or lack of).

After an unnecessarily long opening credit sequence we meet a sorry looking pirate called Percival. Only, he doesn’t seem like a pirate, more some twonk who has taken a vicious knock to the head and now believes he is Captain Jack Sparrow. Percival follows a treasure map left behind by his “Grandpappy” and finds a chest of old VHS tapes. He goes home and plays the tapes.

The first film ‘Rotten Classmates’ is the most bearable; it really does all go downhill from there. The film is about a straight-laced looking High School kid who gets picked on by a gang of goons. They rip up his artistic masterwork, and giggle about their dastardly deed. The straight-laced kid then dresses up in an orange boiler suit and covers his face under a black gas mask. It appears that he’s on his way to a Slipknot gig, but no, he overreacts – This is a revenge movie which is laced with dark humour as each of the goons gets bumped off in increasingly hilarious ways. For example one of them dies after the volume on their IPod gets turned up to the max, bleeding out from their ear holes. One positive aspect of the film is the John Carpenter-lite soundtrack.

‘Vampire’s Lust’ is about a twenty eight year old guy called Tobias who is sent off to run an errand for Mummy. On his way back from the shops a fluffy bat that swings on a fishing line swoops down and bites him on the neck. He then has to come to terms with being a vampire and why his face is covered in sun cream. The premise here is actually quite fun, there is a glimmer of potential here, although this soon dwindles when Shawn C. Phillips arrives on screen as Tobias’ buddy, sucking the life from the film in a way that a liposuction tube might suck might suck the gunk from his gut. Fuck, that was harsh. Sorry Shawn, but watching a bad movie makes my blood boil.

The remaining two films in the collection are pretty charmless. Doug Waugh, who directed ‘Rotten Classmates’ cannot be forgiven for putting together two films, which to be charitable seem like school projects. ‘Resident Emo’ and ‘Mama, it’s a Mannequin’ are messy, juvenile, clichéd and quite frankly all over the place. They are almost beyond criticism, because how can you describe something that is worse than terrible?

I worry a little for the directors, because although it’s good to see aspiring filmmakers having fun with what they are doing, the majority of these films really are sketchy. In time, with a budget bigger than zero, the people behind these shorts may produce something worth watching, however rushing out crap like this doesn’t immediately make the viewer curious about what they might do next.

– RJW
2/10

Treasure Chest of Horrors on IMDB
Buy Treasure Chest of Horrors [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Theatre of the Deranged (2012)

Directed by: M. Kelley and Shawn C. Phillips (Lust for Blood), Liz Gilbert (Bad Dennis), James Cullen Bressack (Speak Easy), Brian Dorton (Doll Parts) and Creep Creepersin (Cannibal Blood Girl)

‘Theatre of the Deranged’ is a collection of low budget horror films, introduced by a jolly sadistic individual called Andy the Arsonist, who is our Crypt-keeper for the evening. Andy is stood on the stage of a small empty looking theatre; it is a seedy looking place and reminds me of somewhere that would house live sex shows as opposed to Shakespeare plays.

Andy is an annoying host, and really he adds nothing to the film, in fact by the end of it you are praying he meets his demise in a gruesome fashion. Cory Jacob is trying to be unhinged, but he’s not got the necessary charisma to pull it off.

The first film is titled ‘Lust for Blood’, it features some of the most appalling acting performances captured on camera, however it is actually the most charming film in the collection. The plot follows a clinically obese teenager who has his fortune read at a County Fair. The fortune teller gives him a mysterious red potion to drink, which inevitably the gluttonous teen drinks, he then develops an insatiable lust for blood and goes on a killing spree. I’m not going to spoil the rest, but it is worth watching just for the random guy who goes out into the woods to dance alone to tunes pumping from his 1980s boombox.

Next up ‘Bad Dennis’, the only UK made short in the collection. ‘Bad Dennis’ has the best story, and is very much a conventional horror tale. Two young couples drive out into the country for a little camping trip in a battered Renault Clio, they’ve been to Stonehenge, and next up is Glastonbury. When they set up camp they find that they aren’t alone as a monster lurks in the nearby woodland. The film is disappointingly let-down by what I will call a ‘Dallas-twist’ ending.

James Cullen Bressack, whose film ‘Hate Crime’ we covered a little while back contributes ‘Speak Easy’, a tense talk between two stoner friends that carries the now familiar Bressack trademark of unrepentant violence. Bressack perhaps over eggs the pudding with the violence in this one, given that all the film really needed after all the dialogue was a blunt hammer hit.

‘Doll Parts’ is certainly the most unsettling film, and is the tale of the evolution of a serial killer called Travis. Set in the dirty south, we see Travis as a young boy who hacks apart dolls with an axe, before brutally making his first kill. We then fast forward fifteen years and see Travis as a psychopathic man rampaging through a small town community, like ‘Bad Dennis’ the film is let down somewhat by its ending.

Drawing proceedings to a close is ‘Cannibal Blood Girl’, campy and crass, and with its own bizarre theme song. The film stars pornographic actress Sophie Dee as a cannibalistic woman who is out for vengeance after being murdered by Dirk, played by Brian Redban from the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. If you’re used to seeing strange liquids emanating from each of Dee’s orifices then this film will be up your alley.

All in all, this collection is very much a mixed bag. I was most impressed particularly by Brian Dorton’s direction in ‘Doll Parts’. Given that each director has worked with a such a shoestring budget, Dorton’s ability to get reasonable performances from his cast, and create an unsettling film rich in violence was quite an achievement. I suppose Travis can be compared to Michael Rooker’s Henry from ‘Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer’.

– RJW
6.5/10

Theatre of the Deranged on IMDB
Buy Theatre of the Deranged [DVD] [2012] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Red Surf (1989)

Directed by H. Gordon Boos

George Clooney was a jobbing actor for a good nine years before he found fame on ER and first received plaudits for his role in ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’. During those hard nine years he took whatever roles he could get, and searched, like many aspiring actors do, for a project that might launch his career and kick down the golden gates and provide him entry into Hollywood’s palatial grounds, where he might one day sit amongst the leading men and the leading ladies of the land. ‘Red Surf’ is one of the early Clooney films, fit for only the diehard film geeks and the menopausal ladies who swoon after Gorgeous George.

Opening on a shady cliff top, the eerie sound of crickets interrupts the silent night. (Remar) Clooney and Doug Savant (Attila) pull up in a clattered American Automobile. Clooney has crazy sideburns and looks like Steven Hyde from ‘That 70s Show’. Savant looks like a beafier version of Murray from ‘Flight of the Conchords’ mixed with a well-fed Layne Staley. Clooney sets up a crazy prank, which is bloomin’ dangerous; he basically drives the stolen car they are both in towards the edge of a cliff and pretends he can’t hit the brakes, forcing him and Savant to bail out at the last moment.

It’s the early nineties and everyone is dressed like they’re attending a Red Hot Chili Peppers gig. The duo, accompanied by more of their bros enters a house party for some boozing and cruising. Clooney gives his blonde girlfriend (played by Michelle Pfeiffer’s sister) a stolen guitar. She’s a little off with him and not thankful for the gift. She’s moody, defensive, something is up.

The guys then head off to meet Doc played by Gene Simmons from KISS; they go to his house to prepare for a job, which involves recovering drugs that had been dropped off in the ocean. Doc is a bit concerned about the job, but Clooney and co press on, they ride bright orange Jet Skis into the night and collect the drugs; narrowly avoiding a Port Police patrol.

After successfully completing the job, the rest of the film involves Clooney and his crew working with a Latino gang lord called Cavalera, and then getting on this firebrand’s wrong side when their friend True Blue provides information to the Police. Also, we find out that Clooney’s girlfriend is pregnant, and she delivers an ultimatum to him to curb his hedonistic lifestyle or she’ll move away to Portland. He responds to this by going on a Tequila binge. Meanwhile Clooney’s long suffering friend Attila has to play peacemaker between the couple.

I was a bit perplexed by the film’s title, given that you only find out that George Clooney was a surfing champion midway through the film, and that most of the action involves our anti-hero’s riding around on Jet Skis. The final few scenes are memorable, not least because Gene Simmons becomes a fearless killing machine (think a tortoise paced version of John Rambo).

‘Red Surf’ is a standard low budget light-Action movie from the nineties, you watch it with low expectations, and rate it depending on how bored you get. It’s watchable, not least because you’re trying to look for early evidence of George Clooney’s acting talent, although in my mind Clooney must’ve been a late bloomer because Savant’s happy-go-lucky performance showed more potential leading man magnetism.

– RJW
6/10

Red Surf on IMDB
Buy Red Surf [1990] [DVD]