Sunday, June 30, 2013

My Favorite Era: Orca: The Killer Whale (1977)


I've written about it elsewhere on the blog but I cannot possibly do a series on my favorite era of movie making without one more tribute to the first really bad movie I ever saw.  This famous flop from producer Dino DeLaurentiis was one of many Jaws cash-ins made during this time and actually, it may be one of the better ones.

Richard Harris plays Nolan, a hunter who accidentally kills a killer whale who also happens to be pregnant (We unfortunately have to see the damn thing have a miscarriage on the deck of the boat).  Her mate sees this and the movie turns into not just a cash-in on Jaws, but also a riff on frigging Death Wish only instead of Charles Bronson we get a huge whale!

The Orca sets off on a roaring rampage of revenge against Nolan and all that he cares about.  So basically his life, his boat and whomever the hell was on it at the time the tragedy occurred.  Now as ridiculous as this sounds (And brother, it is!), it does have a certain goofy charm to it.  Let's take a closer look.
  • Not often you revenge film begins with peaceful footage of killer whales frolicking merrily while music from composer Ennio Morricone plays.  And by frolicking, I mean humping.  This is sign number one that the makers of the film had access to the good weed.
  • Richard Harris is quite good as Nolan, the man always brought a rough-edged charm to most of his roles (though here there is a fine layer of idiocy which afflicts all of the characters).  The rest of cast is...Well, I'm sure the whale thought they tasted just fine but as far as acting goes, the highlight is from Bo Derek when she gets her leg bitten off in the second act.  
  •  I love how pretty much the first thing we see the Orca do in the film (after getting some nookie) is killing the crap out of a great white shark.  You gotta love it when in trying to top a movie, the movie you're watching just reminds you of the exact film it's trying to top.  The sequence still works pretty good, though.  The whale t-bones the damn thing so hard it flies out of the water and comes back down spitting blood! 
  • Charlotte Rampling is given some pretty hilarious dialogue as most of her lines are espousing just how damn amazing the killer whale is.  I can only imagine Steven Seagal saw this film and said to himself "One day I will have folks talk about me like that in every movie I ever do!"  Not sure if he also planned on attaining roughly the same body mass as a whale but that's not important right now.
  • And for the record, no, I am not better than that sort of joke.
  • Most of the science on the Orca on display here is fairly wrong.  I'm not going to get too into things, rather I will direct you to the damn fine review Liz Kingsley did on her damn fine website a few years back.
  • The scene where the female whale is killed is pretty damn horrific for a PG rated film.  Probably a little over the top but then again, consider the guy producing it.  Dino and subtlety never really knew each other.
  • Proving this is the first instance where Nolan and the whale lock eyes.  It's...Well, it really has to be seen to be believed.  The film really goes overboard on the idea of killer whales having an instinct for revenge.  We basically get a Charles Bronson movie where Chuck is a gigantic whale who ends up going nuts in search of vengeance.  I could only hope to come up with something that brilliantly daft, and one time in college I wrote a story featuring a giant killer grapefruit that killed people by shooting grapefruit juice into their eyes (because it's acidic and all).  I can bring the crazy, believe me.
  • The Orca leaves his dead mate on the shore of the fishing village Nolan's boat is docked at and after some bizarre mythology stuff (complete with a stereotypical native played by Will Sampson), the roaring rampage of revenge begins as all the boats but Nolan's are disabled by the whale.
  • One of the more amusing things about the film is how every now and then, director Michael Anderson tries to go more "arty" touches like the whale/Nolan stare down which takes place in a huge closeup of the whale's eye with Nolan reflected in it.  They do work, just not in the way they were intended.  I find that sort of thing tiresome in serious films but in a cheesy revenge picture with a whale?  High comedy, folks.
  • Nolan tries to make amends by arranging a funeral and wake (because Richard Harris' bar tab must be fed!) which is one of the goofier bits of anthropomorphizing I've seen.  That's right up there with putting a sweater on your dog so it won't be cold.
  • After some farting about, Orca finally begins to target Nolan, this time blowing up a refinery and taking out his house later.  The refinery explosion a pretty nice set piece, undercut somewhat by the whale frolicking around afterwards.  Though in all honesty, I would love it in a Steven Seagal movie if he broke out into a happy dance after ripping a guy's arm off.
  • In a goofy bit, Nolan expresses a desire to simply apologize to the whale, later adding that he also lost his wife and child.  The fact that Richard Harris plays it so damn sincerely makes it even funnier.
  • Even nuttier is the assertion Rampling makes that the whale wants Nolan to face him on the open sea one on one.  I think I sort of love this movie.
  • The attack on the house is darkly hilarious as Bo Derek ends up having her injured leg (actually it's just the foot but for some reason she has a full leg cast on) bitten off which finally gets Nolan up for drawing the whale out away from people.
  • Charlotte Rampling's character might be the dumbest in the film.  Along with her frankly nutty ideas about killer whales, she ends up going back and forth on whether or not Nolan should face the whale on his own to the point where the aforementioned leg biting takes place because of her, back and forth on whether or not to kill the whale.  It's pretty annoying, really.  And she ends up being the only one left alive at the end, folks.
  • The last half hour or so goes more or less the way one would expect with Nolan and the remaining characters going out and one by one getting eaten until it;s just Nolan and the whale with Rampling watching.  Nolan gets a pretty good death scene as he faces the whale on an ice flow only to be dragged into the water and flipped into an ice wall with one flick from the whale's tail.  Now that's a good death scene!
  • The film ends with a horrid piece of sap masquerading as an end credits theme and we end things.
Orca is a rather odd beast as it's quite well made in some parts but just terminally goofy to the point of hilarity.  It's well worth checking out if you have a good sense of humor.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Hatchet III (2013)


The Hatchet series has been fairly good on the whole with a really good first entry in 2006, a pretty good second entry in 2010 and a few weeks ago, the third and probably final entry was released.

The main thrust of the franchise is that the ghost of Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder), haunts an isolated swamp in New Orleans and whenever intruders enter his realm,. they are gruesomely murdered in the most over the top fashion imaginable.

The first two films were directed by Adam Green and he produces the third which sees the survivor of the first two films, Marybeth (played by Danielle Harris in the second and third films after Tamara Feldman played the part in the first) reluctantly going back to the swamp to put an end to the madness once and for all.

That's pretty much all the plot we get as we cut from a bunch of cops led by the Sheriff played by Zach Galligan (Derk Mears, the most recent Jason Voorhees is also on hand as a jerky SWAT Team guy) and Marybeth and an obsessed reporter (Caroline Williams of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 fame) trying to get hold of something that will kill Victor forever.

Th film moves at a decent clip and the gore is plentiful but apart from the last few minutes and some stuff here and there, it just seems rather ho-hum.  Kane Hodder is awesome as usual as the killer and Danielle Harris is good and Caroline Williams is fun in her role but the whole thing comes off as somewhat perfunctory.  I wasn't expecting sheer genius and it ends up being a pretty good movie but it just barely misses the mark for me.  Still, if you liked the first two you should give this one a look.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My Favorite Era: Action Jackson (1988)

I did this film for The Agony Booth about six years ago but since it fits the series and is hilariously awesome, might as well do a better version!

Action Jackson is, for better or worse, Shaft if it were made by Joel Silver in 1988. It's a pretty amazing anachronism, really.  A film made in the late 80's, deep into the action movie boom, that has the style and sensibility of something from 1974.

Carl Weathers plays Sgt. Jericho "Action" Jackson, the toughest cop in Detroit, a one-man wrecking crew who's been taken off the streets after nearly tearing off a sex offender's arm. When reminded of this, Jackson's excuse is, "He had a spare!"

Jackson is pitted against Craig T. Nelson as the villainous Peter Dellaplane, a car manufacturer who wants to kill a few union leaders in order to... Well, I don't really know why. Even he says doing this won't really help him too much. He simply wants his guy in control of the auto workers' union, and killing just happens to be a hobby of his, so why not? Another of his hobbies seems to be kung fu, because he can actually hold his own against the considerably larger and stronger Jackson.

Jackson also gets involved with the two ladies in Dellaplane's life: his mistress played by Vanity and his wife, played by Sharon Stone.

This film is amazingly over the top, but it's done in such a gleefully entertaining way that you really don't mind. At the start of the film, Jackson is built up as a rampaging animal of a cop by two uniformed officers (one of whom is Thomas Wilson, who was Biff in the Back to the Future films). And they just pile on the crazy from there, with a scene where Jackson actually manages to run and keep pace with a speeding car, and another scene where he shoots a guy with a rocket launcher at a considerably closer range than you'd think would be recommended by the manufacturer.

What really makes this movie is the cast. Weathers is great, and Nelson makes a pretty good villain, but it's the supporting cast—primarily Joel Silver regulars—that make the film so much fun. Bill Duke plays a surprisingly reasonable '80s police captain, Robert Davi turns up as an informant whose death sets off the main plot of the film, and Al Leong is Nelson's limo driver. Several other Joel Silver regulars show up in smaller roles. Trust me, you could make one hell of a drinking game out of it.

With that being said, this isn't a "good" movie at all, at least not in the traditional sense. The story is clich├ęd, you know exactly what's going to happen at all times, and the action is surprisingly standard, considering the lead character's name.

Another problem is Sharon Stone's character. She's hot, damn hot, which is a given, but she's playing the dumbest character in the film. Watch it and you'll see for yourself almost immediately.

Vanity does alright as Weathers' love interest, but all she really needs to do is look good and speak in complete sentences—which is pretty much all she does. Well, there's that, and a couple of scenes where she shoots up with a gold-plated syringe. (Long story.)
 With that out of the way, let's take a closer look at this gem.
  • Like any self-respecting bad action movie, it opens over a downtown city skyline. In this case, Detroit.
  • Joel Silver Regular Sightings #1 & #2: Ed O'Ross and Mary Ellen Trainor in the opening scene, as a union boss and his secretary, respectively. Both appeared in the first Lethal Weapon, with Trainor returning for the sequels. Another interesting note: I never knew you could kill someone simply by punching them in the face and knocking them through a glass window. If the intent was to have the secretary killed by having her nose shoved up into her brain, they fluffed it somewhat. And also, yuck!
  • The killers are entertaining, as well. Is there a more over the top way of killing your enemy than sending a team of goons over to his place to fire bomb him into the afterlife? I can only imagine they went that route because a tactical nuke would have been too expensive.
  • The guy who played Biff in the Back to the Future films is a cop which may be the most amusing sentence I've written since...Well, this morning. As a fan of the trilogy, this makes me a very happy guy. (Let's face it, the guy could play the lead in the most brilliant version of Hamlet ever filmed, and he'd still be Biff from the Back to the Future films.) The dude is hilarious, as is his interaction with his partner. I love the scene where they scare the crap out of a kid they just arrested, by making Action Jackson out to be a maniac who eats wayward youths for breakfast.
  • This leads us to the big reveal of our hero. It's a great way to intro the character, and the payoff to the scene is great, as Carl Weathers finally gets a good Movie Star intro. Albeit, one where a mug of coffee is shattered on his desk. Hey, it's a Joel Silver movie, everything gets blown up real good!
  • This brings us to Bill Duke, yet another Joel Silver Player, and our obligatory hard-ass captain. In a nice touch, he's a bit more reasonable than usual, and actually seems to like the lead. Far too often in action films, there's a boss who not only argues with the hero, but also seems to have a borderline psychotic hatred for the character. This works alright when the boss turns out to be the main villain, but otherwise not so well.  Also a little weird to see the guy with hair.
  • I love how in his first scene, Craig T. Nelson remarks that "Action Jackson" rhymes. Really? I guess it takes a keen mind to become a bigwig in the auto industry. We also get a glimpse of Al Leong, another perennial Silver favorite, though sadly he only has a minor role.
  • The second appearance of Nelson's Goon Squad has some amusing bits. The Sledgehammer of Irony gets a real workout in this scene, as all the dialogue leads up to a union guy's incredibly appropriate death. See, he's a real stickler for security, and he ends up... Well, there's a Goon Squad, and loud opera music, so I think you can safely guess what happens to him.
  • Robert Davi is a jittery informant. This may be my second favorite performance of his, after Licence to Kill. Sure, the character is basically a Miami Vice reject, but it works. The scene where he's killed is funny, though; Do most jittery paranoid informants just accept unexpected UPS packages so blithely? If so, it could explain why they're always killed off at the beginning of action films. Also, aren't silencers supposed to, well, silence the sound of a gunshot? If so, I sure hope the assassin saved his receipt.
  • Vanity's intro scene is her performing at a club, which has only one customer, and it's Dellaplane. We also meet Vanity's bodyguard here, a giant of a man named Ed. And yes, it appears Dellaplane is having an affair with Vanity, which we learn when he takes her home, gets her naked, and then helpfully shoots her up with heroin.
  • You have to love a film that wants you to believe a middle-aged auto tycoon is any sort of physical threat to a cop built like a tank, whose testosterone levels go off the scale whenever he's pissed. You have to love a film even more when the auto tycoon beats the crap out of some random guy with kung-fu, just so you believe he won't get creamed by the hero at the end of the film.
  • Sharon Stone is playing the dumbest character in the film. As proof, I offer this: She finds out her husband is every bit the murderous slime ball that Jackson says he is, so instead of simply running out on him, she decides to talk things over with him. Inspired thinking. Every now and then, the death of the sacrificial lamb in an action flick comes off as an act of mercy.

  • Our first big action sequence is truly a classic of over the top '80s action. It begins with a foot pursuit between Jackson and a cab driven by the guy who killed Robert Davi's character. Yes, Jackson chases down a speeding cab on foot, and manages to leap onto the roof. Granted, there's a mention of him being on the track team in high school, but come on! He hangs on for dear life as tons of property destruction is amassed, along with some civilian injuries and probably a few fatalities. He stops the ride by punching through the windshield (without injuring his hand at all!) and grabbing the wheel. Jackson gets thrown to the pavement, and a standoff ensues with him screaming like a nut. The cab speeds towards him, so Jackson somersaults over the car and the dumbfounded driver crashes impressively into a building. The assassin somehow gets away, and the only damage to Jackson is a tear in the shoulder lining of his coat. Meanwhile, an entire city block gets destroyed. You really have to see this to believe it.
  • I like how they film Dellaplane killing his wife. Sure, her thinking they can just talk over his murderous ways like a financial dispute is about as smart as trying to French kiss a rotating fan. But the setup of his concealed gun is well done, and makes it work. An odd bit comes after he shoots her, because he continues kissing her after she's dead, and then lights up a cigarette afterwards. Weird. Even weirder is that despite shooting her at close range (in fact, he's holding her tightly when the gunshot rings out), he somehow frames Jackson for the murder. I guess forensics weren't good for shit back in the '80s.
  • With Sharon Stone out of the way, Jackson now gets to hook up with Vanity. The confrontation between Jackson and Vanity's bodyguard Ed is fun. The rest of the relationship, however is rather bland, except for a part where Vanity is reluctant to help Jackson, so he drives straight at a wall as fast as he can, and then slams on the brakes at the last second. Somehow, this earns him her full cooperation.
  • The second most brilliant scene in the movie is when Jackson's car has been trashed, so he goes to find an old informant of his named Papa Doc. It quickly turns into one of the most bizarre, hilarious scenes I've seen in a while, because all Jackson finds is Papa Doc's balls which have been cut off and put in a jar of formaldehyde. Jackson is roughed up by two huge guys (one of whom is B-action villain mainstay Branscombe Richmond. Vanity gets Jackson out of this fix by claiming he's her insane brother. Jackson immediately starts screaming stuff about God, which for some reason makes all the goons back away in terror. Jackson beats the crap out of them, but only ends up right back where he started: framed for murder, with a wrecked Chevy Impala. Meaning the whole scene is totally extraneous (as well as disturbing and totally hilarious), and just an excuse to add more action to the film.
  • Sign #1 your script hasn't really been thought through: In lieu of actual police work, your lead character learns key plot points from a totally new character introduced in the third act, who talks for about five minutes straight, and is never heard from again.
  • In a scene that seems to be there just to pad things out a little, Jackson fights with a drug dealer (Silver regular Sonny Landham) and this is pretty hilarious, too. I never knew that some guys can laugh off getting injected with a full syringe of heroin. Also, I never knew it was possible to throw someone out of the window of one building and into another. I guess Steven Seagal saw this while prepping The Glimmer Man.
  • Dellaplane captures Jackson and chains him up in a warehouse. Naturally, Dellaplane chooses this moment to explain his entire evil scheme, and it's fairly retro in its conception. Like I stated earlier, the film seems like something that was made in 1973, not 1988. The action scenes (with the exception of the cab scene and a few others) are geared more towards punch-ups, and the overall plot could easily have been used for a fourth Shaft film or a Pam Grier vehicle. Hell, there's even a cold-hearted, middle-aged white guy as the villain, who throws out a racial epithet here and there. The soundtrack has something of a '70s feel, too. It's pretty neat.
  • I also like Jackson's line to Dellaplane as he's leaving. Somehow, telling a guy that someday he's really going to piss you off doesn't seem all that threatening. But then again, I'm not Action Jackson. If I were, I'd be outrunning cars all the damn time.
  • Dellaplane decides to set Jackson up with a lookalike assassin. And am I the only one seeing the obvious problem with this? Jackson and his impersonator look nothing alike. Dellaplane might want to rethink things a bit, especially since officers from Jackson's own precinct will probably end up investigating. Still, it's supposed to be a bad movie, and if you're with the film up until to this point, it's silly to bail with less than twenty minutes to go.
  • One more thing about this scene. Why is it that Dellaplane felt a pressing need to remove Jackson's shirt after capturing him? Sure, every action hero inevitably ends up with his shirt off, but why would Dellaplane intentionally do this?
  • Ed's rescue of Jackson is hilarious, as is Jackson's line to the head goon before he napalms him: "How do you like your ribs?" Speaking of which, what the hell kind of gun is that, anyway? It looks like a grenade launcher, but I'm fairly certain most grenades don't cause explosions that call to mind industrial accidents on oil platforms.
  • One thing that always amuses me about this film is how everyone who helps out or even associates with Jackson in a positive way turns up in the finale, as basically a private army for the guy. Seriously. The man has more contacts than Bausch & Lomb.
  • Things I never knew: It's absolutely possible to drive a huge sports car through a house, up a flight of stairs, and into a bedroom, even if the stairs are made out of wood, and the car weighs a few tons. Also, some bad guys will take time out from a getaway to kill someone via a forced heroin overdose, even though it's havoc outside, and just shooting the person would be a whole lot quicker and easier.
  • The final fight is about as good as one could expect, considering one of the combatants is Craig T. Nelson. Sorry, but I still think it's stretching it to show him kicking Jackson's ass like this. And it's even more unlikely that Jackson doesn't get a scratch on him, even after his head is put through a car window. (That car being the same one that was just driven up a flight of stairs.) Still, you have to love a hero who avoids getting shot simply by yelling really loud at his opponent.
  • Like I said earlier, the Bill Duke police captain character is oddly reasonable, as evidenced by the fact that Jackson is rewarded at the end, even though he did all the same crazy shit that got him in trouble in the first place.
  • We also learn that all it takes to kick a heroin habit is to refer to yourself as an "ex-junkie" and then ride off into the sunset. No withdrawal symptoms to worry about at all!
  • One last note: the song "Action Jackson" heard during the closing credits samples the theme from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. But hell, that describes the movie perfectly: Good, bad, and ugly. Not to mention big, loud, and insanely fun.
As I think I have shown, this is an awesome gem of an action movie: endlessly stupid but well directed by Craig Baxley who also gave us the gifts of Stone Cold and I Come in Peace.   It's fast paced, funny and a real blast if you've got some pizza, beer and low expectations.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

My Favorite Era: Motel Hell (1980)

Motel Hell is essentially The Texas Chainsaw Massacre only without the grimy atmosphere and scares.  This makes it one of the better horror comedies out there as we learn exactly what goes into the making of Farmer Vincent's (Rory Calhoun) famous meats.  Though to be frank, if you can't guess the secret you really should turn in your film viewer card.

 The plot (what little there is) revolves around Terry (Nina Axelrod), a young woman whose boyfriend has been captured by Farmer Vincent, trying to escape whether it be by way of Sheriff Bruce (Paul Linke), Vincent's brother or other means.

The movie has a nice, creepy atmosphere with the motel and farm surrounding it making for a great horror location.  Performances are quite good with Calhoun putting in a great job as the charming, though rather deranged Farmer Vincent and Nancy Parsons doing good work as Vincent's sister/accomplice.  They make a nicely creepy, oddly charming duo.  Everyone else does good work too as the humor comes from the utter seriousness with which the performers take the material.

 Motel Hell is backwoods horror at its finest with a nice, easygoing pace and some good acting.  I especially like the finale which sees Vincent donning a pig head to do battle with his brother who has fallen for Terry.  It's a bravura bit of filmmaking (as a duel with chainsaws is bound to be) and I think I must have caught a glimpse of this as a little kid as I recall having a recurring nightmare about being chased by a guy with a pig's head.

If the film has a flaw, it might be that it's a little too pacy for its own good.  The film runs just over 100 minutes and to be honest, a few minutes here and there could have been trimmed.  Still, it's a ghoulishly amusing dark horror comedy with a great ending (not to mention a funny joke from Vincent as he dies) and is well worth seeing at least once.

Before we go, here's one of the best Fangoria covers, the very rare issue #9 which features Motel Hell on the cover.  Until next time!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

My Favorite Era: Tombstone (1993)

I'm a bit of a history buff as well of a fan of westerns and Tombstone is a fantastic blending of the two.  Tombstone tells the tale of Wyatt Earp (big shock with the title, I know) in the period before the gunfight at the O.K. Corral and his subsequent roaring rampage of revenge following the fallout from the shootout.  It's got a great cast, great action, and is one hell of a fun (if somewhat historically inaccurate) ride.

Let's take a closer look.
  • George Cosmatos (director of Rambo: First Blood Part II) is the director of record but in actuality, Kurt Russell did the bulk of the job after the first director (screenwriter Kevin Jarre) was fired.  Apparently, Kurt gave Cosmatos notes and the director followed them.
  • The opening with Robert Mitchum narrating is just cool as Mitchum's fantastic voice really outs you in the mood for a great western.
  • Michael Biehn is the standout bad guy, giving Johnny Ringo a real sense of near-psychotic danger.  This is tempered by a rather refined intelligence which we see in the opening scene as he and the other Cowboys (led by Powers Boothe as Curly Bill) shoot up a wedding.
  • Powers Boothe is good too, giving Curly Bill a nice swagger.  Boothe is always good, I sort of see him as Michael Ironside without the Canadian accent.
  • Kurt Russell, Bill Paxton and Sam Elliott are great as the Earps (Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil respectively).  Russell is cool as always (the sheer number of awesome moments he has would require a small book to cover in full); Paxton is his usual funny and reckless self and Elliott brings an earthy charm to his role.  Having that voice doesn't hurt matters much either.
  • Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday is the undisputed highlight of the film.  He's funny, charming, deadly, even a little sympathetic all things considered.  It's a great performance that should have gotten a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars at the very least.  I'm not always a fan of Kilmer but when he's good (as he is here), he's really good.
  • The sheer number of great character actors on display here is nothing short of amazing.  In addition to the actors I already mentioned, Michael Rooker, b-movie vet Billy Zane, Billy Bob Thornton, Stephen Lang (his Ike Clanton is a wonderfully amusing bad guy) and bunch of others have roles.  Hell, even legend Charlton Heston has a small role.
  • The Thornton scene is the first great moment as Russell thoroughly intimidates the man into leaving down with a few slaps while barely having to raise his voice.  Just fantastic.
  • If there is a fault with the movie, and truth be told it's not that much a a fault, it would be the dearth of good female roles.  Wyatt has a bit of a romance with an actress and there are a few other minor roles but for the most part it's a guy flick of the highest order.  The problem is that the romance is rather trivial and undercooked, especially when compared to the rest of the film which is just brawny as hell.
  • I dig the tension between Holliday and Ringo.  Both Kilmer and Biehn play their roles in a relatively low key manner (though still hammy in a way which is fun) and their one-upping of each other with not only knowledge of Latin but also fancy gun/cup twirling is a great moment.
  • The buildup to the big gunfight is well done, as is the fight itself.  Whereas the actual fight took about a minute and a half, we get a little more because dammit sometimes reality is too damned boring.  It's a very good action beat.
  • Interestingly, in real life Wyatt wasn't quite as reluctant to get involved as he is in the film.
  • The attacks on Wyatt's family are pretty good, though the thunderstorm going on is a bit over the top.  Wyatt vowing revenge is awesome though.  Generally it's a good idea to have Kurt Russell quoting the bible while holding a rifle, wild-eyed.
  • The ensuing rampage of revenge is a good one, capped off by the awesome sight of Wyatt stomping across a stream while Bill fires at him and misses completely, finally being shot point blank by Wyatt.  Making it even better is that this apparently is how it really happened.
  • Also good is Doc's showdown with Ringo.  Funnily enough, the real Ringo's death is something of a mystery as he wasn't quite the total sociopath in the film.  Best guess is that it was suicide.
  • While the film is generally great, I do have to admit it sags a bit in the last act.  After Wyatt has his revenge, the film sort of wanders a bit until finally ending but the rest of the film is so good that bit really doesn't hurt it that much.
 Tombstone is nearly perfect, save for some flaws here and there and a third act that sags a little.  Still, it has good performances and some awesome moments and is well worth watching.

Yor, The Hunter From the Future (1983)

Ah, the joy of revisiting childhood favorites.  Well, joy may be too strong a term.  Actually, it's kind of like going to Vegas and playing No Limit Texas Hold 'Em poker even though your only experience with the game is that time you watched Casino Royale at two in the morning.

Today, we explore the world of Yor, The Hunter From the Future.

When I was a kid, I saw this at least a half dozen times at a friend's house, along with repeated viewings of Swamp Thing and Never Say Never Again.  Originally a four part miniseries for Italian television, this was edited down into a 90 minute version and released theatrically.

Reb Brown (the big beefy guy from Space Mutiny and Howling II) stars as Yor, a heroic barbarian type (think Conan only not as cool) who goes on a quest of self-discovery after saving a couple of cave dwellers.  Turns out we're actually in the future after things have really gone to hell, while most post-apocalyptic films go for a neo punk look, it seems here the planet has gone back to primitive times.  It's an enjoyably cheesy twist, especially when the laser battles begin.

Eventually, Yor has to save Kala (former Bond Girl Corrine Clery), a young woman he's fallen for, from the clutches of the evil Overlord (John Steiner).  Much carnage and cheesy goodness ensues including fights with dinosaurs somehow, the radiation from the war that leveled the planet also brought back the dinosaurs), Yor using a bat as a hang-glider and a lot more.

The film was directed by Italian exploitation master Antonio Margheriti (billed as Anthony Dawson) and this is probably his best work in his forty plus year career.  He handles the actors well, the clunky f/x work is fun and he keeps the film moving at a decent clip (save for one or two moments).

Most reviewers seem to regard this as one of the worst movies ever made (they should really see more movies if this is the worst they've seen) but Yor is a cheesy, utterly stupid but also utterly entertaining piece of 80's cheese.  Reb Brown does what he does best (stand around looking good and kicking ass), John Steiner gives a wonderfully hammy performance and the f/x while cheap and obvious, have a cheesy charm to them.  It's just plain old unpretentious fun that is surprisingly ambitious given the budget.  Besides, how can you not like a movie that ends with cavemen shooting laser guns at robots?

About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.