Hell On The Battleground (1988)

I feel like it’s appropriate to do one of those “Brain / Big Brain / Cosmic Brain” memes to describe this movie and its evolution of the work of our old friend David A. Prior.

BRAIN: It’s another Vietnam movie

BIG BRAIN: He’s got Russians in this, at least he’s expanding his palette.

COSMIC BRAIN: He’s using the artificiality of the concept – a Vietnam movie with no Vietnamese people in it, Russians as the villains and a hero who looks and acts exactly like Rambo – to protest the 1980s military-industrial-complex and the Cold War!

UNIVERSE BRAIN: Don’t be an idiot

Ted Prior, after taking a few movies away from the acting side of things, is back in a significant role as the rough-and-ready Lance, and he’s joined by regulars Fritz Matthews (as Casey, the Rambo lookalike) and David Campbell (the evil Colonel from “Deadly Prey”, as a friendly member of their regiment). As the military authority figure, who in a shocking turn of events is not a closet villain, there’s B-movie legend William Smith, and there’s also Alyson Davis and Ingrid Vold as Casey and Lance’s girlfriends, who appeared together in another movie the same year, David Heavener’s “Deadly Reactor”, indicating they had the same agent who booked them as a double-act, or something.

I feel like a digression before we get going – the two ladies are at least a step up from the last few Prior movies, which feature no/few women and virtually no romance of any kind; but they’re absolutely useless, appearing to do no other job than look concerned when their men go off to battle. I feel like both they, and the black actor who gets multiple lines and even a tiny arc (!) are there as a result of criticism from the late 80s equivalent of me.

After a good old fashioned shootout in the “jungle” (actually a paintball park just outside LA), we see what amounts, sort of, to an anti-war message. Casey and Lance don’t enjoy what they have to do, and when they see a group of enthusiastic young recruits being brought to the front line, they’re obviously upset – it’s a quietly powerful moment. There’s a sense of ennui we don’t often get from production company AIP or from the Prior brothers, and I appreciated it.

All this is window-dressing compared to the single greatest moment in any movie we’ve seen all year, one of those moments that’s so far out of left field that all you can do is stare in slack-jawed amazement while it’s going on. That moment, dear reader, is a poem about Casey and Lance, over footage of them on a helicopter trip, performed by the extremely gravelly-voiced William Smith. The question must be asked – is this an in-character thing? Like, is their CO writing dramatic poetry about them? What do they think about this? It’s at 24:30 of the movie, or thereabouts, if you’d like to witness it for yourself.

There is a plot, of sorts – it’s not all people shooting at each other in the woods (although, to be fair, it is mostly that). The guys are sent, along with a bunch of rookies, on a pointless mission to do nothing in the middle of nowhere, and are pinned down by Russian troops. There’s a lot of fist-fighting, a lot of soul-searching, until eventually the mega-generic dialogue breaks down and they decide to fight their way out, and the veterans try and save the youngsters. Factor in a nihilistic ending which perfectly fits what’s gone before, and you’ve got a moderately unusual war movie.

It’s got a terribly dull act 2, and it’s got way too many firefights that don’t so much add to the action as provide a sort of background noise. But it’s got a lot of decent B-movie performances from a main cast that knows how to work together, and it’s evidence that, while Prior was still telling the same sort of story, he was at least trying to do something different. Occasionally. A little.

At least the next one is set somewhere different (South America)? I’ll see you in a few days.

Rating: thumbs in the middle

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Operation Warzone (1988)

I’m beginning to run out of things to say about David A. Prior, dear reader. He served in Vietnam and clearly it had a serious effect on his psyche, as he’s used the same rough set of themes in over half the movies he’s made to date – but I’m not sure he’s…developing? I also appreciate that I’m going a little bit too far down this rabbit hole, but while it would be easy to mock him for being a bit cheap and cheesy (and, to be fair, we’ll do some of that) there’s an honesty and intensity to him that I have to admire.

“Operation Warzone” might as well be called “Double Cross: The Movie”. Pretty much everyone is either a villain and a good guy at one point, then the idea of what a good guy is gets flipped, and…well, it’s certainly never boring. We start off in media res (see, I know some smart-guy things!) with a gun battle between a few US soldiers and some Vietcong. Well, I say Vietcong, I mean everyone who looked vaguely non-white who Prior could afford for the day, and both sides shoot meaninglessly at each other for a few minutes. There’s a problem in that a large building is clearly visible behind the American troops, so you’re left thinking “why don’t they just use that as cover rather than one branch and a few bushes?” This group of Americans features two of Prior’s regulars, William Zipp and Fritz Matthews, and the banter flows freely and easily.

Sorry, we shouldn’t dwell on minutiae. The plot is, there’s a fellow called the General out in the Vietnam wilderness somewhere who has some very crucial information, and the first group rescue another group of soldiers who are trying to find him. So they all decide to team up, but then there’s a solo soldier with a fine moustache who’s dispatched by the obviously shady Colonel to rescue the other guys and find the General himself; and yet another group, this time Australian mercenaries, who are also after the General, or there to capture the second group, or something. The main Aussie mercenary is a casual badass who does a fine job with the rather…er…inconsistently written part he’s given. Oh, there’s a really silly subplot with some high-up Army guy or Senator or something back in the USA that was there because Prior had access to very slightly famous actor (Joe Spinnell, from “Maniac”).

We can’t go any further without mentioning the elephant in the room, the thing that’s so strange it would be the sole thing I’d mention about this movie, were I in some situation where I could only mention one thing – the music. I’m going to share a fight scene, but there’s another scene which isn’t available on Youtube where they’re trekking through the jungle to the strains of some generic bouncy 80s pop which wouldn’t be out of place in a college frat party scene. Here you go, anyway.

There’s even, among the walking and the pathetic gunfights and the double-crosses, some interesting ideas. As they’re talking about the Vietnam war, and wanting to stop it, one of the soldiers mentions, quite casually, that the top brass wants war, that if there were peace they’d get less money. Keep that under your hat, Prior! Powerful people might be listening!

The final fight is actually pretty decent, as the good guys and bad guys are finally resolved, and we get the ass-kicking, squib-exploding fun we’ve come to know and love from this director, plus a healthy amount of grenades, long the director’s favourite weapon. Ted Prior, also credited co-writer, pops up as “goon no.3” in one scene but despite being a much better actor than almost all the cast and obviously being available, is blink-and-you’ll-miss-him. I like the way Prior writes male friendship, honestly, as he has that sort of easy camaraderie down, and a good group of actors to do it with – I just wish he’d tried to do something else with it than yet another movie where a bunch of white guys treks through the jungle and kills a bunch of Asian guys (plus a few evil white guys).

While we’re on the subject of race, there are two black people in “Operation Warzone”, both of whom get killed without uttering a line or having more than thirty seconds of screen time. I have no evidence that Prior was a racist, and he perhaps never even considered it, but it stands out to our 2017 eyes and really shows its age.

What else, what else…there’s a really terrible song over the ending credits called “Is This The Love?”, which is so far out of place in a Vietnam war movie with no love interest in it that I sort of admired the sheer lack of effort which resulted in its placement; and then there’s an extra with the fantastic name of Mace Bacon, which is the name of the hardcore band I intend to form one day. Other than that, it’s very literally nothing you’ve not seen before.

We’ll press on with Prior and “Hell On The Battleground”, which might actually just be this movie under a different title (I joke, but only a little). Stay with us, please?

Rating: thumbs in the middle

Roller Blade (1986)

If you know me, chances are at some point in the past I made you watch “The Roller Blade Seven”, which is in the conversation for worst movie ever, not only because it’s mind-bogglingly terrible but because it seems to have been made that way on purpose. That is some ways in our future, though, as we’re still back in 1986 and director Donald Jackson’s second movie, made almost a decade after his first, “Demon Lover”.

Let’s pause before we get into things, as I think there’s an interesting story behind Mr Jackson. From information in “Demon Lover Diary”, the documentary made about his 1977 debut, there’s a strong possibility that his producing partner in that movie deliberately severed his own fingers to get an insurance payout from the place both he and Jackson worked, which is pretty sleazy, even for people in the sort of business we talk about.

But this leads to other questions. Why wait almost ten years to make another film, and what brought on the fixation with roller skates? He did an intereview with a French magazine which I’ve read in English translation, which he claims is the most indepth interview with him ever, and it explains nothing. He just saw hot women on rollerskates in LA and decided to make them the centerpiece of his life’s work?

He moved to LA after “Demon Lover” and got work at the bottom of the film industry, meeting and working with James Cameron on “Galaxy of Terror” and also befriending Randall Frakes, who co-wrote a bunch of his early scripts (including this one). He claims that Sam Raimi called him an inspiration, and to have shot a few small scenes in “The Terminator” when James Cameron was briefly unavailable, and did uncredited work on the movie apparently – whether you believe that or not is up to you, but I can certainly believe him hassling his old friend for a trip to the set and begging him for a job during shooting. For the record, he hates “Demon Lover Diary” and claims they tried their hardest to make him look bad, were so dirty Jackson’s mother kicked them out of the house, he’s made 50 movies and they’ve hardly made any, so he wins, etc. When I get to the movies he made with Scott Shaw, someone remind of the comments he made about that guy in the French interview, as it’ll give you a laugh.

Anyway, this movie was made for the surprisingly low amount of $5,000, and was picked up by New World Pictures (Roger Corman’s old company) and made them a decent amount of money, which led to his run of relatively big budget pictures for them, including “Hell Comes To Frogtown”. I’ve been sorely tempted to call it incomprehensible, or mock it as so-bad-it’s-good, but it’s neither of those things. It’s just really really bad.

We’re in a post-apocalyptic / dystopian future, in “The City of Lost Angels”, only the millionth time that’s been used as if it’s a brand new idea. The Cosmic Order Of The Roller Blade (by the way, there are no roller-blades in this movie, as they hadn’t been invented yet. Jackson claims his movies gave them the idea for the name) protects a magic gem, or crystal, or whatever the hell it is, that protects the Earth, possibly. What it does is really quite vague, but it’s a vague MacGuffin for the action to circle round. Sharon Cross (Suzanne Solari) kills a cop and delivers something to the evil Doctor Saticoy, a masked fellow with a weird creature attached to his arm – I thought he just chose to talk through a plastic toy he had taped to his fist, but it turns out to be a “real” creature in the world of the movie. She wants payment, but he insists on her doing another job for him – infiltrate the Sisterhood and steal the gem, so he can power his rocket car across a chasm to Mecca Co and get all the old world’s weapons so he can run the new one.

There’s also the friendly Marshall Goodman, who protects the Sisterhood, and their leader Mother Speed, as main characters. Showing up as Goodman’s 8-year old son is Christopher Olen Ray, son of “legendary” director Fred, and who we met before as director of “Mercenaries” and “Three Headed Shark Attack”. He’s about as good an actor as he is a director, in case you were wondering.

But let’s wrap up the “plot”, I suppose. Sharon infiltrates but grows to admire the Sisterhood and what they do; Saticoy kidnaps the son, to stop Goodman from killing all his guys; and everyone goes round on roller-skates for absolutely no reason whatsoever. If I was being chased by a killer on roller-skates, as indeed someone is during the course of this movie, all I’d need to do to get away would be to run on slightly uneven ground, or even grass. But no.

There’s a three-woman bath where they all cleanse each other’s souls (one of the women is scream queen Michelle Bauer, presumably doing a favour for someone), and heal all their injuries (lot of magic injury healing in “Roller Blade”, and half the characters talk in what they imagine Biblical language was like, all thees and thous.

Struggling to find a way to describe it, the best I can manage is that it’s like an enthusiastic but slightly stupid teenager telling you about a role-playing game he played with his friends, in intense detail. Reading about Jackson’s career, he seems to have a view of his own abilities that is definitely, 100%, not borne out by the facts. The thing is…I feel like it’s a whisker away from being a parody of itself, a few tweaks and it could have been bizarre and hilarious – why does everyone wear roller-skates, all the damn time? – but it’s so cloth-eared that it just becomes boring. Technically, it’s sort of okay, as everything’s in focus, the colours match and the busy city of LA is hidden in the choice of shots used, but wow is it boring. Yes, a movie about post-apocalyptic Nuns taking on a weird mutant for control of a magic crystal is nothing more than deathly boring.

Rating: thumbs down

Sharks In Venice (2008)

Our mission to watch and review every single SyFy Channel original movie, long-dormant, returns! I saw a trailer for this, almost by accident, on Youtube one evening and decided to track it down, so delightful was it. Stephen “The Usual Suspects Was So Long Ago” Baldwin! Sharks! Bad Venice effects!

My first thought while watching was “I bet Venice’s waters aren’t that clean”, as we see a diving expedition beneath the city. Running things topside is a fellow who sort of looks like a cross between your typical Eurotrash and a caveman – in fact, let me see if I can find a picture of the fellow:

They’re after treasure left there by Marco Polo, I think? Anyway, everyone gets eaten by sharks, because of course, and if you’re wondering, there is an explanation as to why Venice has sharks. It is, however, so stupid and self-defeating that you’d rather wish there wasn’t; but before you’ve got time to enjoy the rather decent shark effects, we’re in academia and being introduced to Mr Baldwin, aka Professor David Franks. Baldwin wins the non-coveted “Brooke Hogan Award” for unconvincing scientists in movies – he looks vaguely miserable, like he realises this is as good as it’s ever going to get for him. One of the divers was his father, and for absolutely no reason whatsoever, the University offers to pay all his travelling expenses, as well as those of his assistant / fiancee Laura (Vanessa “sister of Scarlett” Johansson), so off we go to Europe!

While meeting the local cops and visiting the corpses in the local morgue (none of which are his father, a dropped plot thread like they were going to bring him back at the end and then just forgot to do so…or I wasn’t paying attention when they did), is when I began to wonder if this was a comedy, perhaps at the expense of its star. The line “then…this was a shark”, delivered with that sort of camera angle like Hercule Poirot fingering a murderer, was hilarious – it’s possible Baldwin was in on it, but I’m really not sure.

This satire continues when there’s a chase through the streets of Venice, and every thirty seconds or so it cuts from the stunt double (who’s taller, slimmer and has different hair to our star) to an extreme closeup of Baldwin’s face, trying to look heroic. He’s either posing like that or wearing diving equipment from the company “Aqua Lung” (who paid a pretty penny for all that product placement) for most of the movie…well, that or getting beaten in fights. He’s pretty pathetic all round, if truth be told, but hating on him is like hating on a lame dog.

So, there’s a cave full of treasure, sort of protected by the hordes of sharks and sub-sub-Indiana Jones traps; the Mafia guy who I mentioned above, who wants to pay Baldwin a big stack of cash in order to find it; the occasional scene where a pitifully dubbed foreign actor gets eaten; lots of awful fight scenes; lots of awful stock footage; and a weird subplot with the obviously suspicious as hell Italian cop. The only way to get much enjoyment out of this one is to pretend it’s making fun of Baldwin, that he’s shown to be a pompous ass with every inappropriate camera angle and fight he loses. It probably isn’t, because I’m not sure anyone involved in it gave enough of a damn.

Thoroughly underwhelming movie from Nu Image (I’m sure there’s a DVD somewhere which says “from the producers of The Expendables”); it seems director Danny Lerner had a thing for sharks, having also directed “Shark Zone” and “Raging Sharks” – great title, and it’s got Corin Nemec and Corbin Bernsen in it, so expect a review soon – and produced parts 2 and 3 of the “Shark Attack” franchise.

I think there’s too much entertaining garbage in the world to ever complete our SyFy mission, but we’ll keep trying to entertain you with our words even if we’re not entertained with the movies, as often as possible.

Rating: thumbs down

Justice Ninja Style (1989)

The ISCFC loves regional genre cinema – those movies that existed in the early days of VHS and video rental stores, when seemingly anything could turn a small profit. We’ve covered many of them and hope to cover many more, so it was with great delight I found the St Louis Video Society and their recent showing of a local movie so obscure it doesn’t even have an IMDB page, the amazing “Justice Ninja Style”.

This gem was filmed in DeSoto, a little drive out of St Louis in what would politely be referred to as rural Missouri, and is the brainchild of one Ron White, an apparent 10th dan black belt in karate. He’s written a few books, including one with the excellent title “So You Want To Be A Private Detective”, and was featured in a local news story as one of the Navy SEALs who took photos of Castro’s missile sites for JFK in the early 60s. Anyone who remembers Frank Dux, the serial fabricator whose story inspired “Bloodsport”, will realise where this is going…some, most or all of his claims are false, and while I have no particular reason to doubt he’s a martial artist, I’m not 100% sure I’d trust him on any of the other stuff. What is it with martial artists who feel the need to make themselves into superheroes?

Anyway, Mr White wrote five movies (although this appears to be the only one that was produced), and made at least one other video called “How To Be A Ninja” which has generated hearty laughs from those fortunate enough to have found a copy. But we must limit our laughter to this one magnificent movie, made with the full help of pretty much the entire town of DeSoto, many of whom are extras. We start off with a couple of ladies off for a drive in beautiful-ish rural-ish Missouri, only they get a flat tire and are forced to stop at the side of the road. Right here is where things go crazy. Carol goes off to find a mechanic, while Shelly decides to sun herself and wait for a friendly local to drive past – sadly, they meet a couple of local deputies, one of whom, George, has long had a thing for her. Well, he immediately tries to rape her and when she rebuffs him he hits her with his nightstick and she dies! Of course, George isn’t prepared to admit his murder, so he gets very lucky when running past is local martial arts instructor Brad, who he gets to hold the murder weapon, then arrests. Lurking in the shadows (well, behind a few trees) is a mysterious black-clad figure, who sees all but is invisible to the untrained eye.

Brad is locked up in jail but escapes thanks to the ninja, whose presence in the woods and interest in Brad’s case is never once made clear; he must try and clear his name with the help of a fellow instructor, Dan, and Carol, who he convinces of his innocence. And that’s about all the plot you need – there’s lots of running round the town and the surrounding wilderness, a few fight scenes and lots and lots of the sort of baffling decisions that only get made in movies like this.

My favourite is, perhaps, the way that Dan and Carol don’t seem to be all that bothered by their predicaments. Carol is laughing and joking with her friends mere hours after seeing Shelly’s corpse; and Dan finds the whole experience amusing, giggling at the exploits of his ninja saviour and giving Carol a friendly slap on the ass when she succumbs to his manly charms. Despite, you know, being on the run with a murder charge hanging over his head. I feel like he was maybe written as a teenager and literally no-one bothered to correct those parts of the script – although this sounds like I’m giving someone way too much credit (I don’t think the script had that much complexity to it).

I’m also a fan of the odd credit, and this one has a couple of doozies. First up is a gentleman by the name of James Flippo, credited as (Willie Nelson “Look a Like”); then you have Ron Pryor as (yells “Ninja”) and Joann Joseph as (Girl says “Fire”). It is my dream to have this sort of credit for myself, one day.

We, of course, shouldn’t expect great, or even good, from a movie that’s so obscure the only references to it online are local ones – whose entire cast and crew never made another movie, even (unless you count White’s ninja instructional). But you can certainly expect entertainment, and “Justice Ninja Style” supplies that in droves. It’s never boring, everyone involved gives it their all (the evil deputy is even a half-decent actor) and the music! Kudos to the person who noodled on a keyboard for a few hours to create the soundtrack to “Justice Ninja Style”, as it’s amazing. Well, not terrible, which is sort of the same thing at this level.

Most of the background information about this movie came from an Inside STL article which you can read here – http://insidestl.com/small-town-shinobi-a-history-of-justice-ninja-style-2/1942940 . Although it would have you believe all White’s stories are true, it did lead me to an interesting discovery which I’d like to share with you – this $20,000 movie was initially released on VHS and barely made it past 70 minutes of run-time; then “the studio” (sleazy backers do occasionally offer to fund reshoots for low budget movies in order to contractually wrest control away from the original creators – ISCFC friend Donald Farmer also suffered this fate with “Vampire Cop”) re-edited, added new scenes and released it as “Ninja, The Ultimate Warrior”, clocking in at 90 glorious minutes. This adds backstory to the deputy, and promotes the ninja to top billing, along with the new name “Liberty King, The Ninja” – a name that is certainly never referenced at any point in the 70 minute original.

Or maybe White needed no prompting, did it himself and lied about it later (the “re-edited by” credit, and the fact he’s now first billed despite hardly being in it, would seem to bear this out)? Anyway, the upshot is you can join me in enjoying one of the strangest and most fun examples of the regional genre movie, as it’s available in its entirety on Youtube.

Watch and enjoy, and if you’re local I hope to see you at the next St Louis Video Society showing on the 30th September.

Rating: thumbs up

Dead End Drive-In (1986)

This isn’t the first time we’ve encountered director Brian Trenchard-Smith – he made the super-ordinary car-chase thriller “Drive Hard”, and two of the “Leprechaun” sequels; but he’s best known for his early career in Australia and the weird exploitation movies he made, such as “Blood Camp Thatcher” (aka “Turkey Shoot”). This little oddity is from the end of his time in Australia, before he moved to the USA and started making…well, Leprechaun sequels.

Dystopia happens before the movie even begins, but it’s not so much environmental as it is explicitly political – banks collapse, extreme authoritarian parties take over government, crime runs rampant, etc. Australia, to compare it to the most famous dystopian movie filmed there, is like “Mad Max” drenched in neon and covered in graffiti, and the man we meet navigating this place is Jimmy, aka Crabs, a naïve “youngster” (the actor who played him, Aussie TV stalwart Ned Manning, told the director he was 24 to get the part, but was actually 36 and looked it), who lives with his mum and older brother Frank, who’s carved out a niche for himself with a tow-truck which he uses to tow wrecks from fatal accidents and keep all the stuff.

There’s quite a lot of world-building here, as “Dead End Drive-In” unfolds at a leisurely pace. Jimmy, after fighting off a gang of near-feral “carboys”, borrows his brother’s beautiful Chevy and takes girlfriend Carmen to the drive-in. Even though he has a job, he makes perhaps the worst decision of his life and buys an extra-cheap “unemployed” ticket from drive-in manager Thompson. During the movie, as he and Carmen are in flagrante, two of the car’s tires are stolen, but it’s cool as he can just stay the night there and get them replaced in the morning.

Only no. It’s here that the movie’s other main inspiration – Trenchard-Smith called it half “Mad Max” and half “The Avenging Angel” – comes into focus. Jimmy and Carmen are trapped there, as are thousands of others, mostly disaffected youths, plus lots of “carboys”, and no matter what Jimmy tries, he can’t escape. It was the cops that stole his tires, and despite Thompson being a pretty friendly fella, it’s made very clear that he’s there to stay. They’re provided with food tokens, free drugs, and cheesy exploitation movies every night (most of which are Trenchard-Smith’s old releases, such as the classic “Blood Camp Thatcher”, and it’s not a coincidence that the name in that title is the same as the former British Prime Minister).

“Dead End Drive-In” is one of the most explicitly political movies I can remember watching. It’s obvious from the beginning that the drive-in represents the modern world, where we’re trained to be happy with our prison, in fact trained to not even see the bars. It’s an extremely clever movie, as the jailer is seen as a friendly figure, but when it comes down to it, he’s on the side of the authorities, no doubt at all.

Its take on capitalism is extremely acute, but when racism is brought into it, in the form of several truckfulls of Asian immigrants, imprisoned alongside them but treated as far worse enemies than the cops by the vast majority of the original members of the camp, is when it feels a little crude. Carmen starts claiming that the Asians might rape her, and when the people who Jimmy has half-befriended form a white defence organisation, Jimmy knows he has to step up his escape plans. He has the best line of the movie when confronted with his girlfriend’s latent bigotry – “they’re not the enemy, they’re prisoners just like us”, a variation of which has been said by every good forward-thinking person when confronting these sort of views among their friends or workmates.

But as every good exploitation filmmaker knows, you have to give us a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down. There’s the briefest nudity, but most of it is action, in the form of a couple of pretty brutal fight scenes and a fantastic car chase at the end, as Jimmy steals a tow-truck and attempts to force his way out.

The acting is pretty awful, if we’re being honest. Peter Whitford as Thompson is the best thing in it, almost making you believe he was a human being after all and not just a lacky of a brutal regime. Manning is fairly weak in the central role, Natalie McCurry is great in a thankless role as Carmen, and there’s an occasional standout from the main cast, but most of them feel like amateurs, which is a disappointment. But the set is great, and when you’ve got such a convincing dystopia it does a lot of the heavy lifting for you.

Trenchard-Smith uses the popularity of new-wave music and dystopias to tell an extremely political story, one which I’ve got no problems whatsoever recommending – it’s also Quentin Tarantino’s favourite of his movies, if you’re interested in his opinion. If I had one more criticism to make of the plot, it would be that Jimmy is the only person who sees through the facade; perhaps I have more faith in humanity than the filmmakers did, or perhaps it would have been a less immediate story to tell. Imagine Jimmy standing in for all the people who fight back against this cruel system on a daily basis, and it becomes a lot more enjoyable.

The intervening 30 years since its release have only made it more prescient, as we’re given useful idiots to rail against on Twitter and the gentlest of centrist parody of the system, all the while our wages and working conditions are being cut, women getting worse and worse treatment, LGBT+ victories are being rolled back, and so on. I imagine if these camps were opened today a sizeable number of people would line up to support them, after a hefty amount of propaganda of course, and that’s both sad and energising. I know this is a weird thing to say about a movie where punks get trapped in a drive-in theater and fed drugs by a genial middle-aged man, but it’s true nontheless.

Recently released on blu-ray, it joins “Society” among other movies that use the trappings of genre cinema to stick the boot into the capitalist system, and ought to enjoyed by many more people.

Rating: thumbs up