Future Zone (1990)

Night and day, my friends. In between 1989’s “Future Force” and this, David Carradine either stopped drinking or found some better drugs, because he actually appears to be enjoying himself, not walking zombie-like through proceedings. In fact, more energy is on display from everyone here, making it moderately enjoyable to watch!

For those of you not present yesterday, “Future Force” is a cop thriller set in a future which looks remarkably like our present, and has two differences with our time – one, the police force has been privatised, and two, David Carradine has a super-glove which can fly through the air and choke people, as well as attaching to Carradine’s arm and firing lasers.

“Future Zone” is quite different. Although Carradine still has the glove, he uses it even less than he did in the first movie (and both my wife and I were shouting at him to save himself the effort by using it more, then); and while there’s still privatised police, it looks much more like a normal police force. Also quite importantly, despite both movies sharing a main character who does the same job, with the same ludicrous prop, this definitely isn’t a sequel. The sets are different, the outfits are different, the whole feel of it is different.

Absolutely no attempt whatsoever is made to set this movie in any sort of future, but the name is approached from a different angle. Early on in proceedings, there’s a beam of light from the sky, and from it emerges…Ted Prior!

Yes, Ted, star of most of his brother David A’s movies, is the co-star here, and he’s Billy, a cop from the future who’s come back to help Tucker (Carradine) solve a dangerous crime, or something. I was trying to hide the big reveal, although it’s painfully obvious from the first time you see them both together; then I noticed that IMDB spoils it in their synopsis so I don’t feel bad now. Billy is Tucker’s son from the future, although both Tucker and his wife look a little too old to be having children, given they’ve not had any yet (Carradine was 54 at the time of filming, Gail Jensen – who played his wife – was 41). You can tell Billy is from the future due to his incredibly sweet mesh shirt, which is never referred to by anyone but is magnificent.

The plot of this is so inconsequential as to barely be worth bothering with – a huge shipment of cocaine is brought into town, the bad guys kill the dealers…

ASIDE: This is classic Bad Guy Economics. Who will ever trust you enough to sell you drugs after you kill your previous dealer?

…and then blow up the ship it came in on. They really blow it up as well, despite it looking like a huge old rusted hulk and not a ship that anyone has used in decades. Kudos to them for finding a city that was going to do some demolition and getting permission to film it, I guess. Anyway! Tucker stops the shipment and confiscates it, then the bad guys want it back, Tucker and his son have a big “They Live” style fight in an alleyway and at the end of it are friends, you know the routine.

David A Prior was not, I suppose, a stupid man. So when he slips certain little lines in, one must assume he knew exactly how odd they were and was doing it for a laugh. When asked about how he came to be from 30 years in the future, Billy just casually says “some friends of mine built a time portal”. Wait, what? Your friends built a time portal but didn’t use it for anything fun like going to the first ever Beatles gig, or sharing a bottle of whisky with Ernest Hemingway? Nothing serious like killing Hitler? Nope, they decided to send their friend back so he could save his Dad’s life! They must really have liked Billy (or really wanted to get rid of him).

As well as a much brighter performance from Carradine, Prior is on good form too, and there’s some decent supporting turns, such as Charles Napier as the corrupt police chief. Well, as they sort of ignore the privatised thing, it’s difficult to say exactly what his job is. Prior’s budgets means he never had to scrimp on his casting, and it’s a plus here as it is in most of his movies of the AIP era.

What I’d like to think is that Carradine went to Prior after the first movie, and a stint of sobriety, and apologised for the cruddy performance in the first one and offered to make another, and this time he’d really try. But there must have been some argument about the glove – imagine Star Wars where, in the final fight, Obi-Wan just decides to fist-fight against Darth because the lightsabre would be too easy? Why even have it as a thing in the movie if you’re not going to use it? Or comment on it? Argh

So, much better than the previous Future movie, and a fitting end to our mini-series of reviews. If you have any other equally silly ideas for sorts of movies for us to cover, please leave a comment!

Rating: thumbs up

Advertisements

Future Force (1989)

Welcome to the end of one review series, and the continuation of another. Picked pretty much at random was “movies whose titles begin with the word Future”, and as I was scanning IMDB to find the ones I wanted to tell you about, I noticed that our old friend David A Prior – see his reviews HERE – made a couple of “Future” movies, and in our on-hiatus series of his stuff, we’re nearly at the right time (there’s two other movies from 1989 of his we’ve not covered yet, but it’s not always easy to track this stuff down). I like a bit of dovetailing!

Okay, that’s quite enough of that. You don’t care about my thought processes, you care about knowing which terrible movies you’ve never heard of are worth watching, if you’re – for some reason – stranded in a VHS shop with a gun to your head, told you have to pick a good one or else you’re dead. I have no other reason why anyone would want to read this site.

Along with David A Prior, we get David Carradine! Even though David Carradine died in 2009, movies he worked on are still being released (most recently, “The American Connection” in 2017). In this movie, he just looks like he wishes he was dead, and plays Tucker, a cop.

Well, he’s sort of a cop. In this heady far off future, which coincidentally looks exactly the same as the ugly parts of LA looked in the late 80s, law enforcement has been privatised. C.O.P.S., which the beginning of the movie says stands for “Civilian Operated Police Incorporated”, but a sign hanging above their dingy office claims the last word is “Systems”, is a force of…about 8 people? All the guys have mullets, all the women have big ol’ perms, and everyone has a denim vest with a “C.O.P.S.” badge on.

Head of the force is Captain Adams (William Zipp, a Prior regular and a surprisingly good actor, although he’s not trying very hard here), who, accompanied by goon Becker (Robert Tessier, who was a goon in pretty much every TV show of the 70s and 80s) wants to take over the streets. Quelle surprise! Who’d have thunk a privatised police force would be susceptible to corruption? Anyway, a TV reporter has footage of them not upholding the law, so Adams places a fake charge of treason on her file and all the cops try and hunt her down. No-one says “seems a bit unlikely that this TV reporter would be guilty of treason, seems more likely the cops are guilty and trying to kill her”, but Tucker figures it out quite quickly and it’s the two of them against the world; even more so when C.O.P.S claims Tucker’s guilty of murder too.

There’s a stupendous amount of padding in “Future Force”. Every car journey is shown in excruciating detail, almost – almost – to the point where you wonder if it’s a joke. Surely just watching this pre-release must have clued him in to how boring those segments are? It’s 84 minutes long and could have comfortably trimmed 15 off that (although I guess there’s a low limit to what can be sold as a movie for TV stations wanting a two-hour block with adverts).

We’ve not discussed something very important in this movie from 1989, set in the impossibly distant 1991. This is no surprise to those of you who’ve bothered to look at the front cover art above.

DAVID CARRADINE HAS A POWER-GLOVE AND BARELY EVER USES IT

Imagine you’re a cop in the lawless lands of the future. You have a weapon so powerful it pretty much guarantees you’ll come out on top in any confrontation, so what do you do?

a. Use it all the time to ensure your victory and survival?

or

b. Leave it in the back of your car and use your crappy old six-shooter all the time?

I presume they mentioned how he came to own such an amazing piece of technology in one of the lines of dialogue I wasn’t listening to (he does have a tech genius assistant, I suppose) but that really ought to have been more central to things. It’s the only remotely futuristic thing in the entire movie! It’s even remote controlled and beats up the last two bad guys for him while he lays down! Why are you so against using it! Okay, I know the actual reason is it was too expensive to do the effects for, for a low-budget organisation like AIP, but even so.

It’s a weird film, this. It’s relentlessly ugly, filming in the parts of LA that most movies don’t use, with good reason. Just endless concrete vistas with squat, broken down industrial buildings – it may well be what the future looks like, but I hope not. Zipp and Tessier relish their opportunity to be OTT bad guys; but Carradine is so comatose that it’s a real surprise he lived for 20 more years after this, and (Tarantino appearances notwithstanding) never really appeared in anything good ever again. He reminds me of Eric Roberts, who also largely stopped appearing in good things, with the difference being Roberts appears to enjoy his life and relishes appearing in dozens of movies a year. Do you think Carradine enjoyed any of the…15 movies he’s credited for in 1989?

Of interest to:

  • Carradine completists (I’m sure there are some)
  • Prior completists (welcome, friends)
  • “Person with a super-powered glove” movie completists (this, Laserblast, and…?)

Rating: thumbs down

EDIT: The chaps at Rifftrax have covered this, so head on over to rifftrax.com for some comedy good times.

Detention (2010)

The most overused poster template ever?

The most overused poster template ever?

Given how fantastic 2011’s “Detention” was, I realised that the 2010’s namesake would be unlikely to be as good. But I wasn’t fully prepared for just how rotten it would be, something that looks vaguely like a movie but doesn’t fulfil any of your normal expectations (coherent plot, believable characters, any sense of pace, fun or enjoyment).

 

Let’s start at the beginning, in 1976. A group of kids that look absolutely nothing like kids from 1976 are breaking into their school at night to steal something, maybe? It turns out they just want to play a “prank” on Gabriel the nerdy student by locking him in a steel cupboard – only a lightning strike from the storm outside rather implausibly sets him on fire. The pranksters run away and poor Gabriel burns to death, really quickly too.

 

Fast forward to the present day, and…bloody hell, if you can’t tell 90% of the plot from those first five minutes, then I’m surprised you’re clever enough to read. A group of students are given detention for all sorts of reasons, and the only tension of any kind is whether they’re there to solve the mystery of what happened in the 70s and free the restless spirit, or whether they’re the kids of the original students who left Gabriel to die, and he’s manipulated the whole thing so he can get revenge (hint: it’s option 2).

Check out the text of this news report

Check out the text of this news report

The headmaster is David Carradine, one of his astonishing 11 post-death IMDB credits. Oh, and there’s a teacher with an English accent called Miss Cipher (seriously) who knows more than she’s letting on. Played by Alexa Jago, her first ever screen appearance was in “Witchcraft 3”, so welcome back to the ISCFC, Alexa! The students feel like the first time they ever met was the first time the cameras rolled, and are a miserable group of stereotypes. Rich haughty girl; her boyfriend, and I didn’t buy them as a couple for a second; goth girl; stoner; angry jock; cute nerdy girl and cute nerdy guy.

 

So, they’re initially trapped in the detention room without their phones, the Coach who’s taking detention disappears (or maybe he dies, it’s all very poorly shot), the Principal dies because the producers could only afford David Carradine for a few days, and a mysterious spirit stalks the halls, possessing people, making them hallucinate, and so on. If you’ve seen any kids-trapped-in-school horror, you’ll know exactly how it works and “Detention” does not try anything original at all. They try a twist, but it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever (it relies on someone we’ve seen get possessed by an evil spirit be actually evil all along, a spirit which has already shown it can jump out of dead bodies deciding to just stay in one), although “making no sense whatsoever” at least fits in with the rest of the movie.

Detention-movie-2010-3

Now, just from reading this short recap, I bet you’ve got some questions. Like, how did all the 70s students have kids at exactly the same time, and stay in the same school area? Did the spirit manipulate reality so they could all get detention on the same day? Why did it kill a bunch of people who had nothing to do with Gabriel’s death, like a couple of middle-aged workmen (one of whom is the great “That Guy” actor John Capodice)? Who moved that one corpse so our hero could helpfully pull a sword from its chest on their way to the showdown? It’s not all unanswered questions, though. Okay, it’s mostly unanswered questions. But there’s rotten effects too – the burning scene is laughably bad, and the ghost doesn’t look much better either. Sprinkle a few of the more tedious teen horror clichés and there you go.

 

I don’t want to blame the kids and their acting – they have no chemistry, but that’s the job of the director. Talking of him, there’s a relationship with the director of our last review, “Hellraiser 3” – the Hickox brothers! James directed this, Anthony directed that. Think of them as like Ridley and Tony Scott, but in the sense that the Scotts are the Beatles and the Hickoxes are a Beatles cover band that get bottled off the stage in your local pub. It feels sloppy, like “will this do?” was the most common words uttered on set.

detention7

We’re reviewing every movie with this title for no reason, so hopefully we’ve got the really rotten one out of the way first. Please avoid at all costs. I’ll leave you with one cheery thought, though – from a budget of around $2 million, its box office return was…$190. So there is justice in the world!

 

Rating: thumbs down

The Warrior And The Sorceress (1984)

waso

ARRGHHHH IT’S ANOTHER “A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS” RIPOFF

Regular readers may cast their minds back to yesterday’s review, where I was less than thrilled that cheap android movie “Omega Doom” used the plot of the Western classic “A Fistful Of Dollars” (or “Yojimbo”, if you like the source). At least, I thought, I wouldn’t have to watch the same plot again for some time. How wrong I was! My friend Dave suggested this for our “Awesome Movie Monday” night, knowing nothing about it other than the name, David Carradine starring in it, and the trailer, which promised much. If he’d known it was the same plot as the rubbish movie I’d watched the previous night, he’d…well, he’d have still made us watch it. He’s that sort of person.

 

This particular gem has something of a lurid title, as you may have noticed, and coming at the time it did, in the middle of the sword-and-sorcery trend (mainly a result of Italian and Spanish locations, crews and backing actor, with just the stars being American), you might have expected it to have some swords and some sorcery in it. Of course, as the construction of this paragraph has already told you, you would be wrong. “The Dark One” (Carradine) has one fight near the beginning, and – OK – one excellent fight near the end. But I wouldn’t call him a warrior in the same way I wouldn’t call Eastwood’s Man With No Name a warrior.

002917a3_medium

I suppose we ought to discuss the sorceress, Naja (a lady by the name of Maria Socas). Now, while the all-time greatest “constantly nude” performance is Mathilda May in “Lifeforce”, Socas runs her a pretty close second. Although…even at times when she both could and should put some clothes on, she’s naked to the point you start to feel a bit sorry for her. Why so naked? Still, she’s had a pretty decent career in her native tongue and doesn’t need my vague pity. There’s one other decent supporting person, and that’s Anthony De Longis, whose cheeky grin lit up many an episode of “Highlander: The Series” and who is a fantastic sword-fighter for real. So, of course, the movie gives him one fight, right at the end. It reminds me of having Jean Claude Van Damme in “Cyborg” and making him fight like an old boxer.

 

Anyway, the plot. Carradine wanders into town, there’s a well with two groups feuding over it. They’re both assholes and treat the villagers like dirt, so Carradine starts playing them against each other until they’re all dead. Or most of them are dead. Honestly, I’d stopped bothering by the end because this movie sucked hard. At least it’s short, I suppose.

snapshot20090609154648

There’s really not a lot to like about “The Warrior And The Sorceress”, and not much of any worth to write about. But I’ll give you a little bit of something, which indicates the contempt the people who made this had for their audience. Below, you will find the trailer. Now, I know it won’t mean anything to you as you’ve not seen it, but the trailer features at least three scenes, all of which look quite exciting, that aren’t in the final movie at all. Now, I may have watched the weirdly edited UK version, or something, but I bet those scenes didn’t get finished and they couldn’t be bothered to take them out of the trailer too.

Aside from De Longis, who looked like he was trying, and the lovely nude lady, this is absolutely worth ignoring. If some friend says “hey, the trailer looks good, let’s watch this!” then immediately stop being friends with them. Actually, I do have one more thing. In 1983, the year before this came out, “National Lampoon’s Vacation” did a parody of the fantasy movie poster – check it out, it’s a great poster. So, how lazy would a movie have to be to use the same old lame clichéd poster, with exactly the same poses?

 

Rating: thumbs down

Youtube Film Club: Karate Cop (1991)

KarateCopCover

While this is an exciting title for a movie, if the first part is meant to describe the thing the “cop” does most often, I would have to suggest an alternate and more accurate title, “Almost Gets Captured Cop”. This is a requested review – friend of ISCFC Len Kabasinski (@killerwolffilms) suggested we do this and “No Retreat, No Surrender 4” – and I’m glad he did. I would watch vanity project post-apocalyptic kung-fu movies every day if I could.

After dipping our toe in the waters of Jalal Merhi’s output, we’ve moved on to Ronald Marchini, who was very narrowly beaten by Chuck Norris in a big martial arts tournament in 1964. From there, Norris has gone on to be a far-right-wing lunatic; while Marchini wrote, directed, produced and starred in a few movies from 1986-1995, after which he disappeared from the movie business completely, hopefully to a career he was more suited for.

Marchini, at least, plays to his strengths. In this movie – the sequel to “Omega Cop”, which is proving trickier to track down – he’s John Travis, a man who really likes his hat, which reads “Special Police”, which he wears even when “undercover”. Every other cop has been killed, due to this being a post-apocalyptic situation, but he’s…actually, we first meet him in a ruined building with his dog, looking like he’s hiding. He rescues the beautiful Rachel from a gang of guys in generic far-future garb (ripped clothes, patches of “armour” all over the place, layer of filth) and gets involved in her plan to rescue a bunch of kids called “Freebies” from the villains of the piece, Lincoln and his “Scavs”.

She has access to a teleportation machine, which was handily built by the Government in the corner of an empty room, but needs a crystal to power it, so John has to go and get one, which involves almost getting captured then fighting his way out *a lot*. The Scavs could use the machines to expand their drug empire, apparently, so they can’t find out. You know the score. The Scavs are fantastic, as you’d expect, wildly overacting to a man. Snaker is the secondary boss and wants to make people pay, for what is never quite elaborated, and Lincoln is amazing, all wild hair and odd mannerisms (his female assistant / lover / erotic dancer is brilliant too).

karate-cop-5

There are all sorts of curious choices made by “Karate Cop”. As well as the lead character being sort of incompetent and really bad at post-death one-liners, weirdest of all is the self-destruct mechanism for the teleporters. It’s represented by one of those marquee text things, along with a vaguely computer-sounding voice, and it’s a bit…sarcastic? I’m not sure I want my imminent death reported on by a computer that’s trying to suppress a snigger.

Far too highly billed for his on-screen time is David Carradine, in the middle of his “I will appear in literally anything” years. Seriously, look at his 1980s and 90s and see how many of the IMDB entries you recognise. He runs a country & western bar, which just goes to show that even the apocalypse isn’t enough to kill the genre. I got excited at one point because one of the Freebies looked like a young Eli Roth (I like spotting those tiny roles), but I was sadly mistaken.

The fighting in this is great, though, with Marchini really being a top-level martial artist. There’s nothing too flashy, just good strong stuff that looks like it hurts. There’s a whole cage-fighting subplot running through the Scav scenes, too, so you’re never given the chance to get too bored; the only weak link is Marchini’s acting. He really tries, bless him, but given how much he’s on screen and how he never seems terribly natural (except when he’s talking to his dog), it can be pretty tough going at times. If you were wondering, he’s nowhere near as bad as recent ISCFC review subject Jalal Merhi, though.

004455_12

I think this is a strong choice for inclusion on your bad movie night playlist. Never too boring, lots of crazy over-acting (the Scavs) and anti-acting (Marchini), and a decent look to it all, given it was apparently the job of the extras to help build the set – the first guy to die in this movie has told his story on IMDB, and it’s pretty interesting.

Rating: thumbs up

Dinocroc vs. Supergator (2011)

Dinocroc-vs-Supergator

Picture the scene – you are Jim Wynorski. You’ve made “Piranhaconda”, and you’re sat in Hawaii swigging a cold beer when your producer calls you and tells you that you’ve got a week’s rental left on a helicopter, a disused factory, and some land with a road on it; also, actor Rib Hillis is still hanging round the hotel and doesn’t look too busy. Do you:

1. think “ah well, such is life, but I’ve got a home to go to”
or
2. “hot-diggity, I can make another film in that time!”

Although I might have got the order of the films confused, I’m pretty sure that’s how it happened, and Wynorski picked option 2. The script for one film was tweaked the absolute barest minimum and became the script for the other, and we get this film.

There are a lot of people in this film, and I couldn’t figure out why initially. Then it came to me – I’d lay good odds on these being the people who funded it, like he had some “pay $100 and be in a movie” deal going on. There’s no other way to explain the presence of people who get built up as if they’re actually going to be important to the film and then almost immediately get eaten. So there’s a playboy actor and his two model friends; a loving couple; a tour bus full of retirees; and several private security teams, all of whom are introduced like a normal film would introduce its second and third bananas, only to be meat for the beast.

What this film needed was Shandi Finnessey, who starred in “Piranhaconda”. She was bubbly, beautiful and more importantly funny, so you believed her as both the romantic lead and the comic relief. Watching this dull mess made me realise how lucky that film was to have her in it (and how bizarre it is that her career seems to be going nowhere – she’d be perfect for a show like “Suburgatory”).

20100319-n9drfdtdpp3w2pbbb43ha6d7d

There’s a secret science base which is working on genetically-engineered food, then evil boss David Carradine (in one of an extraordinary 8 films released after his death) gets them working on animals. Now, the film goes for confusing right away – as well as never naming the two beasts, their introduction is a bit confusing. They look pretty similar, and when Dinocroc comes out second, straight through a wall, a reasonable viewer might just think “is that Super-Gator on his hind legs?” Well, a reasonable viewer wouldn’t be watching this, but you know what I mean.

After the creatures munch their way through scientists and anyone else wandering about the woods of Hawaii, Carradine calls in his heavy hitter, “The Cajun” (Rib Hillis, the star of “Piranhaconda”). He teams up with a government agent and a local Conservation Officer and they come up with the idea to get the two creatures together so they can kill each other. Oh, spoiler I guess? Ah, who cares.

If you were on the internet or watched “The Soup” around the time of this film’s premier on the SyFy Channel, you’ll have seen Jerry the Pool Boy and his now-famous performance. Here it is, enjoy!

In between laughing at that and the other less-than-stellar performances, I was trying to convince myself I was watching a new film and not just the last one with a few tweaks. They literally use exactly the same sets, in mostly the same order, and I guess the only way they hoped to get away with it was through indifference. So here’s my INDIFFERENCE THEORY – SyFy Channel need material cheap enough to allow them to make a profit from selling advertising. They absolutely don’t care what it is or if it’s any good or not, and nor do the advertisers. Wynorski has a set amount of time and money, and knows that if the film’s good, bad or indifferent, it makes no difference to him. People watching it are either like me (hipster scumbag film reviewers) or people who saw the title and thought it would be marginally better than staring at a wall for 2 hours. And thus the Indifference Theory creates another film enjoyed by no-one (not the people who made it, paid for it or watched it) and which will disappear without a trace, save a footnote in a few academic treatises about how stupid film titles got for a while, back then. I will hopefully have forgotten it in a few days, and this review will drift into the ether, to the delight of no-one.

Rating: thumbs down