Saturday, August 2, 2014

1984: Guilty Pleasures

Not doing a worst of the year for 1984 as there were only three movies, neither of which I feel are worth more than a sentence or two, which tends to make a for a bad article.  For the record, they were Supergirl, Cannonball Run II (need I say more?) and the repulsive Charles Bronson flick The Evil that Men Do.  Let's move on to the good crap.

The first, and almost the best of the series is your typical slobs vs. snobs comedy with tons of raunchy gags and one-note characters.  In spite of this, I've always dug it to an extent.  It's just trashy fun.

The third in Cannon's loose Ninja Trilogy (Sho Kosugi is the only common factor besides cheese and ninja action), this turns into sort of a hyped up 80's riff on The Exorcist with some Flashdance thrown in (because damn it all, sometimes you just need more insanity) as a telephone repair woman/aerobics instructor is possessed by the spirit of an evil ninja and goes after the cops who killed him in the amazing ten minute opening sequence that sees the little prick kill a ton of people while absorbing more bullets than Jason Voorhees has in his entire series.  Ninja III: The Domination is just incredible in how hilariously bad it is.

Dino De Laurentiis makes his first appearance on this list with the second Conan film.  Departing from the serious tone of the first, the sequel dives headlong into cheesy goodness with Arnold and company going up against an evil queen who wants to awaken an ancient god, a wizard who can change into a ape-lizard and a bunch of cannibals who are quite easy to decapitate.  It's brisk, stupid and while not as good as the first, still a hell of a lot of fun provided you are in the right frame of mind.

More sword and sorcery bad goodness in this Italian flick that is a sequel to an equally bad movie.  Showcased on my favorite Joel-era MST3K episode, this is just chock full of silliness with bad acting, the hero inventing the hang glider and a wonderfully cheap fight with invisible bad guys that boils down to three actors flailing around at nothing for two minutes.  It's enjoyably stupid fun.

The first in Cannon's Missing in Action trilogy, this is a pretty rote "bring the P.O.W.s back" movie that was the rage in the mid-80's with Chuck Norris as our brawny hero for the day and M. Emmett Walsh as his sidekick.  Lots of cheese and action plus a brisk pace make this a marked improvement over the second one which was filmed first.  One can easily see why Cannon chose to put this one out before the second.

1984 was a very good year for cheesy Italian riffs on Mad Max and Escape from New York.

First off is Warriors of the Wasteland which is the Road Warrior cash-in and maybe the only post-apocalyptic action film I have seen where the male character gets raped by the bad guy.  Said bad guy is played by the great George Eastman and the action, along with a fun role for Fred Williamson make this one a cheesy bad classic.

Even better is this one which has a loner hero trying to protect (sort of) the last fertile woman on the planet.  Tons of action, gratuitous George Eastman and cheesiness ensue.  I especially love how odd the film is at points.  The scene that introduces us to our hero features a bizarre robotic clown with a synthesized voice that awards him his prize after he wins a contest.  It's quite odd and very entertaining, much like the rest of the movie.

So help me but I sort of enjoy this fairly routine cop comedy with Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds.  The two make for an acceptable enough comedic duo with Burt doing his usual and Clint having a bit of fun with his persona as usual, getting some relatively good laughs from his over the top "stoic man of action" routine his character lives and breathes.  It's not entirely successful as the story is, as I noted, quite routine.  The villains aren't much to write home about (though I always enjoy seeing Rip Torn) and to be frank, Reynolds sort of goes through the motions to a degree (he was injured during a fight scene so it's understandable that he's not at his best).  Really, the film works best when Clint is doing anything as this is one of his better comedic turns.

The ultimate guilty pleasure of the year. Our second Dino DeLaurentiis production ion the list, this is a condensed to the point of being incoherent adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel about warring families on a desert planet.  David Lynch was an odd choice to direct (though given how hilariously off the film is, I wouldn't trade him for the world) and while the film is quite confusing it is rather hypnotic how bad it is.  It's not a good adaptation of the book and really not good in any conventional sense period but it's certainly bad in an interesting way.

Coming soon: The Best of 1984

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About Me

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