April 14th is the 8th and final season of Game Of Thrones airing on HBO. I am excited. Not because I love Game of Thrones, but because I am sick of hearing about it. I am a nerd. I have many nerd friends, and for most of my nerd friends, this show is more than a show, it is religion. I first started hearing about this damn show back in 2011. The problem with this show, is that you can just have somebody say “hey check out Game of Thrones”, and then just casually watch it. No. That is not enough. They want to strap you to a chair, make you chug a case of Red Bull, and then shove toothpicks into your eyelids, and force you to marathon about 4 seasons of this show until you jump up and scream to the heavens, “YES JESUS H TAP DANCING CHRIST, I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT! GAME OF THRONES IS THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO MY MEANINGLESS EXISTENCE. I WILL CONVERT EVERYONE I KNOW TO LOVE AS MUCH AS I NOW DO!!!” Most of you that know me however, will know that I walk a different path…
Honestly, I wanted to like it. I gave it about four episodes and was bored out of my skull. I may have even nodded out a few times. I am not going to say it isn’t necessarily good, it just doesn’t hold my interest. Kind of like the way the Lord of the Rings series didn’t necessarily hold my interest either. See, I am just not into what we used to call in the 80s “Sword & sorcerer Movies”. It is a subgenre of the fantasy genre, and was spawned by the “sword & sandals” movies of the 1950s. Some of which were biblical, but many of them involved some muscled dude playing Hercules going on an adventure. In the 80s however, Conan The Barbarian made a huge splash, and schlockmeisters of all sorts wanted to cash in on the popular trend. Now bear with me, because I had to do some deep diving to get some of this info streight, but to the best of my knowledge, Conan was the big one that started it all. After 1982, these movies were showing up in theaters every other weekend. We didn’t know which ones were big, and which ones were schlock. It was not like we could Google which producers were making the big movies, all we had were posters, tv spots, trailers, and maybe an occasional review in a newspaper or magazine. Most of the posters were really great though! So you would see these at the drive in, and maybe forget about them after a day or two. Only a handful of them can be found on Blu-ray now, and even less than that, have withstood the test of time. Luckily for me, I have YouTube, and Amazon Prime!
Sword & sorcerer movies were a dream come true to movie producers, because they were easy to make. I mean…what was the price of the average loin cloth in the 1980s, right? You could film them at your local park, secluded mountain range, or desert. Basically anyplace that didn’t have any technology. And then the following week, you could add some leather and rivets to the loin cloth, make up a few go carts, film the entire thing in a junk yard and call it a “post apocalypse adventure”, that will be next month’s featured genre. Most sword & Sorcerer movies have the same basic plots. A hero goes on a journey, usually to rescue a damsel, or kill some asshole. A long the way, he meets some more damsels, a wizard, slays a few monsters, and does it all without having to stop to rub more baby oil on. Most of the time, a magic sword, is involved. The basic Dungeon’s & Dragons RPG game was coming up around this time, and sold well on tv as well as The He-Man cartoon, and Masters of the Universe toy line. Kind of like the super hero genre, none of these movies were ever taken seriously. They usually had actors that bordered on soft core porn grade level of line delivery. Sometimes special effects were decent, sometimes they were insanely bad. Sometimes shots were reused from original to sequel like DeathStalker II. You know you have hit absolute fuck it, when you are re-using actual shots from the original movie. It’s not to say it’s all bad, in fact some of these are so bad, that they can be either downright charming, or embarrassing train wrecks. One thing for certain, is that most of these movies objectified women as either damsels to be rescued, or trophies to be awarded.
It wasn’t until the later 80s when several attempts were made to make movies about stronger female warriors, but like with early super hero movies like Elektra, some of these attempts fell short, and were lost to obscurity. Red Sonja didn’t exactly shatter the glass ceiling on the sword & sorceror genre, but you have to at least give it credit for trying, and some people have a soft spot for it.
Eventually these movies faded away into the night, but they are back now for the most part. Lord of the Rings was taken seriously, Oscars were awarded. Game of Thrones is a HUGE success, whether I like it or not, and most of the actors and actresses on this show, even though they show as much skin as the worst of the 80s schlock, they are taken seriously, and they show up in pretty much every other movie that comes out now.
Like I said though, I lived this already. I know this music. It doesn’t matter that these properties are taken seriously now, all I see are the same movies that I grew up with, just with a little bit better acting. I mean the stories are all the same, except now, it takes 8 seasons to tell the same story that might show up in two or three of these sword & sorcerer movies. I know, I know…but Adam…the acting…the drama. Yes, I can get all of that from just as many seasons of Breaking Bad, but without all the magic and dragon stuff. I know that it seems like I am dogging on this pretty hard, but I remember a great deal of these movies from the 80s, and they are super fun to talk about. Some of them I have a soft spot for, even if they are not good at all, and they are probably not the ones you THINK I am going to talk about. My staff will be joining in on the fun as well. I hope you enjoy reading about these movies as much as we love talking about them!
The 90s were a golden age for small-time film production. Video recording equipment was more accessible than ever before, so anyone with a bit of disposable income could give it a try. Consequently, the 90s were also a golden age of shit. I mean that in the most affectionate terms, of course.
There were so many movies
being hastily churned out which I describe as “Ego-Massage Productions” and Road to Revenge (1993) is a perfect
What do I mean by this? Well, John De Hart presumably had a story he wanted to tell, so he sat down to write it (although he couldn’t decide whether to give it the title Road to Revenge or Geteven, so ended up using both). When it came to committing the story to film, De Hart decided he would also direct it. And star in it. And write the music. And sing the damn songs. It’s not simply a matter of taking on all the jobs which makes this an Ego-massage production, however; there’s a chance that could simply have been for budgetary reasons; it’s that our hero, ex-cop Rick Bode, strides through the movie as an avatar of brilliance. You name it, Rick Bode is the best at it – singing, fighting, romancing the ladies – he is the standard by which all others are judged. However strained the singing, however clumsy the fighting, however many neck muscles you pull from cringing at the romance; Rick Bode is adored by his friends and feared by his enemies.
There is so much worth talking about in this movie that I feel a simple review is not enough, so here is my analysis of Geteven/Road to Revenge:
The film starts with the untimely end of Rick’s career as a cop. He’s part of a 3-man team, along with his Lieutenant, Normad and partner, Huck Finney. Normad… sounds like he was born to be a villain. They’re creeping up on an old, rotten trailer which some drug dealers are using as their base of operations. Rick laments that they don’t have a warrant to carry out any arrests but Normad wants to attack anyway – he has ears on the streets, so he claims, so that’s why they’ll kill the dealers first and get a warrant later. This sets up Rick as a righteous man who does things by the book. There are some maverick cops out there who may be unafraid to bend the rules to get results, thereby cutting through all that troublesome red tape, but not our Rick Bode; he knows that there are rules to being a cop and following them is the good, Christian thing to do.
The trio promptly get into a firefight with the drug dealers, in which Huck is injured. Thankfully, this was filmed before the proliferation of CGI effects so they used blanks or maybe even live bullets, shooting at distant targets. The actors wince with almost every shot, so you know this is serious business. In the course of the firefight, Rick’s gun jams – a cartridge can be seen stuck in the ejection port but this doesn’t stop him; the sound of gunfire continues and the drug dealers drop dead, regardless.
Rick is now very angry with Lt. Normad, telling him they should have waited for backup and then, maybe, Huck wouldn’t have been shot. In fact, he’s so angry that he ends up slamming his knee into Normad’s gut. “Wow!” you might think, “That’s a fancy move for a cop!” Don’t worry – this shall all be explained. You see, Rick Bode has a black belt in Kung Fu San Soo! Immediately after his act of violent insubordination we’re treated to a training (?) scene, with Rick demonstrating his skills in said art. He back-fists, back-kicks, front-kicks and otherwise feebly slaps a punch bag, possibly hurting himself in the process, with a level of skill which can only be obtained by attending a full hour’s free introductory lesson at any shopping mall karate school!
Of course, a superior officer being assaulted leads to a court case in which Lt. Normad denounces Rick and Huck as junkies and drug dealers, themselves. He testifies that, among other things, he spotted them with small plastic bags containing a “leafy substance”. De Hart certainly knows his pot-heads – no doubt this “leafy substance” is the marijuana leaves which junkies use to roll their drugs joints! Their joints of drugs!
This does not sit well with Huck, at all. We have no idea how much time has passed since the incident at the trailer, but by the looks of it Huck immediately took to alcohol to recover from the stress and hasn’t stopped drinking since. He responds to Normad’s accusations by shouting at the Judge, challenging Normad to a fight and attacking 2 other police officers, all in the middle of the court. Maybe it’s the drink talking, but Huck takes no shit from anyone.
Time passes, and what do ex-cops do? Go to bars and get drunk, of course. Huck is way ahead of Rick in that regard; by the looks of it he still hasn’t stopped drinking. Which is convenient, as it looks like the actor himself was paid in beer and managed to negotiate an 80% advance on his payment. Ironically, this leads to what I would say is the best, most natural acting in the entire movie. Huck represents us, the audience, and he is showing us that the best way to endure Geteven is to be half-cut at the very least. He ad-libs, ribs the rest of the cast for the stupid dialogue and generally approaches life in a much more believable manner. Here is a great example of his jibing the script at the bar scene:
Huck: “What’re you drinkin’, bud?” Rick: “I’ll have a beer, buddy!” Huck: “A beer-buddy?” Rick: “A beer, buddy…”
The flow was far too natural, compared to the rest of the stilted conversation, for that to have been scripted and with Huck already out of shot when he said it. We’re not even 15 minutes into the film at this point but already I think Huck should be the star, rather than Rick.
The point of this scene, however, is not to reinforce the camaraderie between our two former LEOs, but to set up the rather obvious love interest in the form of Cindy – a fairly typical, big-titted blonde who ran away from home (we know this is what happened because Rick tells us that her parents haven’t seen her in months) and also to demonstrate another of Rick’s incredible skills: singing!
The bar seems to specialize in country music so when the resident band strike up a familiar tune, all the folks at the bar urge Rick to get up and sing. What results is the scene for which this movie is most well known – The Shimmy Slide. Rick gets up on stage and gives it his full 60% with a performance reminiscent of a high-school talent show and with a look on his face like he wants to punish you with his singing.
While Rick is up, entertaining the clientele whether they like it or not, the bad guys make an appearance. You can tell they’re the bad guys ‘cause they frown. They surround Cindy at the bar, saying she looks familiar. “Yeah, you’re the coven bitch, alright!” says one. I wonder what he could be talking about… Oh well, Rick doesn’t jump to her rescue like other actions heroes might. We’ve already established that he has a strong sense of duty and obedience to the rules from his time as a LEO and that certainly hasn’t left him – he stays up to finish his song.
Another hallmark of Ego-Massage Productions is their deviation from the usual writing rule of show; don’t tell. The star usually isn’t good enough to be able to show their talents, so they tell us instead. As such, Cindy tells Rick she forgot how great a singer he is.
At this point the tone of the scene takes a rather abrupt, 90⁰ turn in that the band quickly abandon the stage so the topless dancer can perform. Bit of a surprise, but ok… She’s wearing a cowboy hat and dancing to Rick’s Shimmy Slide tune, so at least she’s keeping in with the theme. Now, I’m not sure what the hell writer/director/star/singer/songwriter John De Hart was trying to say when he wrote this scene but he does have some odd attitudes towards women. This is exemplified by a couple of girls sitting at a table watching the performance; one of them thinks the show is disgusting and they should call the cops, and the other counters this by reminding her friend that a bit of topless dancing is like Sunday School compared to the parties she has at her apartment, and that she should get over it. Meanwhile, back at the bar, the bad guys heckle a barmaid, asking why she isn’t up on the stage. “Because,” she says, “I have a brain.”
So there you go, ladies – topless dancing is just a bit of fun for consenting adults, so you shouldn’t take it too seriously. And the dancers are all brainless idiots anyway, so it’s all good! Swish…
While the dancer is up dancing, one of the bad guys tries to confront Cindy again but thankfully Rick stands in their way. After he gives the standard warning of “She’s with me!” we finally get a fight. Completely forgetting his kung fu, Rick swings at his opponent with a couple of hooks. You’ve heard of the quick one-two? Well, Rick employs that lesser known technique, the slow one-two. Typically, the bad guy just stands there and takes it, dutifully raising no defence so we can see how tough our hero is.
Contrast that with Huck when
he intercepts another goon rushing to attack, punches him in the gut, picks him
up and slams his face into a pinball machine – Huck Finney fucks him up!
We cut back to Rick with some more awkward flapping of his arms which somehow connect with his opponents’ faces, and back once again to Huck who’s now dragging a goon to the floor for a good ol’ ground-and-pound. As if that’s not enough, Huck then pours a beer over his downed opponent and kicks him in the face. It’s only the police arriving which likely saved that goon from having a bottle jammed straight up his ass. In fact, Huck seems angry the cops dared to stop him and looked ready to give them a taste of his fury as he shouts “Aw, fuck you!”
Now that the cops have turned up, everyone gets arrested for fighting. Except Rick, of course, who’s too brilliant and perfect to be arrested, so it’s up to him to bail out Huck who apparently managed to sneak a bottle of whiskey into the cells, as he is still drunk. The bad guys are also released and give Rick an evil glare as they depart.
After this we’re granted an insight into Rick’s frankly bizarre methods of wooing a woman half his age, as he takes Cindy out for dinner at a fancy restaurant. We’re treated to some particularly loud and intrusive Spanish guitar music (the reason for which we’ll find out soon enough), a loud, bubbling water feature and some loud crunching from Rick as he gnashes on a cracker. All of this drowns out the conversation between our love birds until the waiter, Benny arrives. Benny isn’t just here to take their order – he wants to hear Rick’s latest dirty jokes, which he is more than happy to share. Oh, Rick you are such a card!
Cut to the next day and Cindy now explains who the goons were at the bar and where she’s been these past few months. Turns out she was feeling a bit down and hung out with a bunch of guys who started doing drugs and, next thing you know, they’re all worshipping Satan. Happens all the time, right? I mean, it’s a perfectly logical progression, isn’t it…?
We get a flashback of when she decided to quit the coven. Doing drugs and worshipping Satan was all good fun, sure, but when they started sacrificing babies, (you know, as Satan worshippers do) enough was enough. She kicked up a real fuss with lots of screaming, so she had to be tied up by the bar goons. “Bitch isn’t good enough to follow Satan!” declares one of the cultists. These junkies have high standards, I suppose. Sarcasm aside, I would be truly amazed if he said that line on the first take. I’m sure it must have sounded much more menacing and evil in De Hart’s head when he was writing it but when it’s actually being spoken, that cultist has all the gravitas of a 10-year old declaring that the Sega Genesis is only for cool kids! Oh, and guess who the high priest of this coven turns out to be…That’s right – Normad!
This whole scene makes me wonder if there was some sort of, “escalation of evil” in De Hart’s head when he was writing the story. Crooked cops are a pretty stale feature of action movies in 1993, so what could be worse than that? A crooked cop… who worships Satan!
Cindy now fears that the cultists are out to kill her because she knows too much. Rick consoles her, promising they’ll “get through this.” Get through this…? It’s not a slightly difficult financial situation. It’s not an unplanned pregnancy – it’s a bunch of lunatics out for blood! You don’t, “get through” it, Rick – you call on those (pretty much forgotten) kung fu skills and kick some ass! Not that his choice of words particularly matters, anyway; he’s Rick and, therefore, the best at everything so Cindy’s fears are cast aside and she’s more than eager for some kinky sex.
This is the first of two sex scenes in the movie with accompanying love songs performed by John De Hart, of course. The intrusive Spanish guitar we heard at the restaurant was, I’m sure, the intro to this hot, passionate song about rekindled relationships and forbidden love. The music at this point is almost as awkward as the scene itself, with De Hart massively over-emphasising the words in some approximation of passion: Yeah you feel the PAYNE You walk through the RAYNE And now you feel And now you feel the thunder DHYINNNNNNNNG
Whether this makes the scene better or worse, I’m actually not sure. What I am sure about is that I’m supposed to be tantalized by the sight of Rick awkwardly undressing Cindy and rubbing ice cubes on her nipples.
The sex scenes in this film seem so contrived and awkward that I can’t help but suspect that they’re the very reason De Hart decided to make a movie – easy access to girls who will do almost anything if it’s in a script.
With life apparently reaching whole new highs for our “hero” Rick, everything seems to be turning to shit for Huck. At this point in the film it looks like Huck hasn’t drank anything that wasn’t at least 10% abv for the past few months as he’s back at the bar, amusing himself by stabbing darts into the bullseye on the nearby dartboard. I believe the point of this scene was to mark the descent of Huck and how he’s losing control of his life but more than that I’d say it firmly established Rick as an incredibly selfish and self-obsessed asshole, and terrible friend. Rick asks Huck to feel happy for him since he’s getting back together with Cindy and soon they’ll have a new house together (how long ago their relationship actually started is unknown but it’s starting to look like Rick must have been counting down the seconds until she hit 18), all the while seemingly oblivious to the fact that his close friend and former LEO partner can barely remain upright. Huck almost gets into a fight with some other patrons over a Hamlet recital and orders another drink, while Rick just stands there and lets him do it.
He could so easily have stopped Huck from drinking himself stupid. Any other hero would see the problem and immediately seek to solve it. Not Rick Bode. Huck eventually makes his way home somehow, and his life is basically at an end. He can’t pay his bills, can’t pay his ex-wife/landlord to keep her in shoes and dresses, and has apparently forgotten how to treat his ex-wife’s tits, which she, herself, declares as she points them at him. To make matters worse, turns out Huck’s ex has been seeing Normad, who is also a judge, now.
De Hart really upped the stakes in this story, as he decided the only thing worse than a crooked cop who worships Satan, is a crooked cop turned crooked judge who worships Satan! Normad has Huck locked up on an assault charge against his ex, which unfortunately leads to a suicide attempt. Again, this just makes me angry at Rick – he could have let Huck crash on his couch and helped him through the day. Apparently our hero is only heroic with people he wants to have sex with.
Speaking of which, because of the suicide attempt Huck is now in hospital. He’s also still drunk, by the looks of it. He’s visited by a nun, who I was absolutely sure would turn out to be a strip-o-gram. Her lines about spiritual succour were so poorly delivered it was as if they’d been written on her hand. Although, I admit that would quickly have been forgiven if her habit came flying off and she got into bed with Huck.
Huck himself even remarks, “You’re really pretty for a nun.” This could possibly be another ad-lib as once again he’s saying what we, the audience, are thinking.
Now that Rick plans to get a new house with Cindy (Rick’s a dishonourably discharged cop turned part-time chauffeur and she’s a runaway. How the hell can they afford a house?), they have to retrieve some of Cindy’s clothes from her parents. It’s one thing to describe this scene, but it really has to be seen to be believed. I suspect this could be the very first scene they shot for the movie, as absolutely no-one can act, here. Every line is delivered so poorly they come with a free bag of prawn crackers; it’s like they’ve had 5 minutes to skim-read the script and with no rehearsal. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if Cindy’s father was played by the guy who delivers Huck’s beer. Rick appears with Cindy at her parents’ door dressed like the director of a small-time porn film and the father regards him like he’s one of the Satanists. Everything is Satan’s fault according to the father. Rick’s an ex-cop? Must have been Satan Worshipping! Drives a limousine? Must be Satan! Cindy shouting back at her father? That’s Satan, alright! Satan, Satan, Satan! This is the only scene where Rick’s brilliance fails him, as his advice for the family to calm down and talk about their problems falls on deaf ears; the father has his Satan-vision on, so that’s all he can see.
There’s a short scene after this, with Rick reminiscing about his time on the Force with Huck while he leans against his jeep in the orange glow of the setting sun. As Rick recants his LEO tales and mentions their jerk of a superior officer, Normad, Cindy finds that name very familiar. Rick keeps talking while Cindy racks her brains trying to think of where she could have heard that name. How could anyone possibly forget a satanic high priest, who had her tied up for refusing to sacrifice a baby, named Normad?
Now we get another sex scene
where Rick gets to paw at a naked Cindy, this time in a bath. Of course, we also get another love song
badly performed by John De Hart. Cindy
is giving a fairly convincing performance of someone in the throes of sexual
ecstasy, while Rick gives a convincing performance of a man who can’t believe
this is happening simply because he wrote that it should.
After all this sex, Rick decides to marry Cindy. Rick is an ex-cop, with a baby-killing, Satan-worshipping, drug-dealing crooked cop turned crooked judge as a nemesis. We are currently two thirds of the way through the movie, and Rick is marrying the damsel. The movie is also called Road to Revenge/Geteven and thus far there’s nothing really worth getting revenge for or, indeed, getting even about. We all know there is only one way this can possibly end…
Oh, and it looks like Huck has made a full recovery from his attempted suicide and has hit the sauce with a vengeance, as he’s wearing an obnoxiously bright, orange suit to the wedding and starts creeping into the shot of Rick and Cindy exchanging vows, looking straight at the camera. Rick actually deserves the interruption, as he’s getting married in a fucking tracksuit. Huck truly is the hero we deserve.
There is a vague hint of a honeymoon of some kind on a boat, but what really matters is that Cindy performs a strip tease for Rick. They probably should have given us the strip tease earlier in the film, as after two full sex scenes it feels kinda tame. Not that this matters, of course; I’m pretty sure this scene was purely for De Hart’s own enjoyment.
The minions of Satan find out about the wedding and, for some reason, this prompts them to up their game in attempting to kill Cindy. It just so happens that the goons arrive at the newlyweds’ house just in time for Mr and Mrs Bode to hop on a Harley and tear off down a dirt track, so we get a chase scene. Tragedy strikes as Rick loses control all of a sudden, and suffers a horrific crash. Off scene, of course – they likely couldn’t stretch the budget to cover a motorbike crash or DeHart was unwilling to perform the stunt. The end result is that Rick is basically perfectly fine but Cindy has been killed.
We now have a rather sombre
scene with Cindy’s funeral, and her father once again talking about sin and
generally blaming his daughter for being a nasty sinner. Huck has also turned up drunk, once again,
and clearly really doesn’t care as he sways from foot to foot, looking at the
trees. Again, Huck ironically displays
the best acting on the scene as, after everyone else has walked away and Rick frowns
at the grave, he mutters some excuses about “(having) something on,” yet
promises to visit Rick later. Huck
barely makes eye contact with his old partner as he can tell he’s seething with
rage; now is a good time to just leave Rick be and let him gather his thoughts,
as no words can soothe him.
Dammit, Huck, you should have been given a bigger part! De Hart should have paid him more – give him an open tab at the bar of his choice for the rest of his life, even – just get Huck on the screen! Anyway, finally the title of the movie makes sense! There’s barely 15 minutes of run time left, and only now are we given a reason for revenge and, indeed, a reason to Geteven. ”I’ll get even for you, Cindy!” says Rick, “I promise I’ll get even!”
Rick finally takes his first steps on that Road to Revenge we’ve been waiting over an hour for – a road which leads straight to Normad’s house and happens just in time to interrupt a cocaine deal with some Colombians. Rick’s weapon of choice at this point is a compound bow, presumably because Rambo used one so De Hart thought it’s the weapon of true tough-guys. The problem here is that when Rick spots a guard to shoot, he barely pulls the string halfway down his arm before loosing an arrow. With that kind of pull he’d be lucky to penetrate a sports jacket, never mind his target’s chest. At a guess, I’d say the reason for this is that this raid scene is filmed at night, so if Rick made the shot properly they’d never find the arrow. Rick makes his way inside the building and his compound bow has morphed into a crossbow. The crossbow is forgotten as quickly as Rick’s martial arts skills, and it’s down to the pistols for a hallway shootout. They must have been using some pretty loud blanks as, once again, Rick winces in pain as he trades shots with a set of random, satanic goons in a gun battle reminiscent of an arcade shooter.
Rick hides in a doorway and
kills a few goons and… that’s it. Fight over.
Rick catches Normad in his hidden temple trying to snort his way through a briefcase full of cocaine and gloats, saying this “high and mighty judge” will do 30 years. A couple of satanic goons from the bar suddenly appear (in vests, of course) and Rick is taken outside to be shot. The goons aren’t very good at their job, as it looks like Rick has to put his own hand up his back to be led out.
Now, normally at a scene
like this, the bad guys would give a short speech outlining their plan or
otherwise explain just how much the hero has failed and that his situation is
entirely hopeless. Hell, they may even
have explained how they’d use Rick’s corpse for a satanic ritual. This is what could have happened if it were
the hero they had captured, but we
know Rick is not a real hero.
There is no time for words,
however, as our true hero, Huck, suddenly springs from the bushes and clobbers
one of the satanists! Unfortunately,
Huck is once again shot but he caused enough of a distraction for Rick to turn
around and wrestle with his would-be executioner. There are some gunshot sounds and the goon
lies dead. Presumably the gun was
wrestled away by Rick but the sound effects are so oddly placed, much of the
action quickly disappears off scene and no-one’s actually holding a gun when the
shots are fired – the whole film is a rushed mess at this point.
Rick re-enters the satanic temple and Normad is standing right where he left him, only now in his robes. We get the lamest ever line from a hero escaped from near-death and back for revenge from Rick: “It’s me, again!” Not exactly memorable but, as I said, no-one in the movie cares at this point.
Rick has an awkward
fist-fight with Normad, which came as particularly annoying since Normad is
played by William Smith; a film veteran who could be seen knocking fuck out of
Clint Eastwood for 10 minutes in the film Any
Which Way You Can, so it was difficult to watch him land only a single
punch on Rick (to which he didn’t even react) before being slowly thumped and, finally,
stabbed in the gut. When you see an
actor who you know can deliver a decent fight scene and their skills in this
regard are completely neglected, it hurts a lot more than the hero’s feeble
Rick burns down Normad’s house, and that’s that.
His lust for revenge now satisfied, Rick sits at Cindy’s grave to give her the good news. Sister Strip-o-Gram appears once again to urge Rick to give her a ride to the hospital and we’re given the happy ending: It turns out Cindy isn’t dead, after all – she was only pretending! Oh, hooray…
Geteven/Road to Revenge really has to be seen to be believed. It has so many flaws, so many mistakes that could easily have been cut from the finished movie and such poor characterisation that we’re given a complete asshole for a hero and a brilliant, yet completely neglected, sidekick with a much more interesting journey. All of these issues are the hallmarks of a low-budget, Ego Massage Production; we are simply told that the hero is great and heroic, so we just have to accept it despite everything that happens in the movie. However, this is also the saving grace of films such as this – the ego means the story is told straight-faced and with the utmost sincerity, which in turn makes the flaws and problems unintentionally hilarious. If Geteven/Road to Revenge were made with a greater budget or with even an ounce more professionalism, it wouldn’t be half as entertaining.
Weird, Italian made hybrid of The Terminator and Over The Top. A cyborg is programmed to assassinate a blind environmentalist, but at the last moment his programming breaks and he pulls his death punch, only wounding the old man. He goes on the run to Arizona, where he originally came from, and hides out at a no-tell motel owned by a young woman. The place turns out to be a mecca for arm wrestlers, with the pictures of the past and present champions hanging on the walls. Paco the Terminator runs afoul of the second place arm wrestler (George Eastman! He came from the east to…wait, that’s a different movie), and ends up a major contender for the championship! Meanwhile, he’s being pursued by the FBI and the evil industrialist (John Saxon!) who had programmed and sent him on the mission in the first place. Think that was weird to write? Just imagine watching it. So much cheesy craziness. I loved it. Catch it on Amazon Prime if you dare.
In the 1995 film Mallrats, Ethan Suplee plays a character named William, an overweight person who spends most of his day at the mall staring at magic eye poster trying to see the image. The joke is that everyone in the film can see that there is a sailboat in the image, but William never sees it. The aggravation of it all drives him slowly insane. That is essentially The Blair Witch Project phenomenon for me. There are several of my good friends that maintains that this movie is piss your pant’s scary, however I never bought it. Not even once. Essentially I am William in Mallrats.
When I tell people that I hate The Blair Witch Project, I mean it. To this day I use it as a litmus test to judge how bad a movie is. See The Blair Witch Project is not a so bad its fun to watch movie. It is just bad. It is downright painful. In spite of the movie tripping on it’s own established facts, its single biggest sin, is that it showed so much potential, but instead is a proving ground about generating enough hype surrounding your film can make it actually seem good in the eyes a general audience. In 1999, it was all the talk as to just how real this horror film was supposed to be. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist. For two filmmakers in 1999 they pulled that off like gangbusters. The legendary viral marketing, and old fashioned word of mouth, is a significant land mark in pop culture. The film itself however, is divisive as to how good it really is. I decided to do some further research on this movie, because now I have unlimited access to internet, which was not readily available to me in 1999. I discovered that this year marks the 20th anniversary so I decided to watch the movie again, and give it the fairest review I can, that you are more than welcome to read on this website. I spent a great deal of time arguing with friends of mine last week about the points that didn’t work for me in the original film. One of the things that kept coming up outside of Wikipedia or any of the outside resources was this 2016 film that allegedly explains some of the ambiguity of the original source material. Out of respect for those people and they’re passion about this movie, I reluctantly decided to give this a go.
I actually enjoy some of the films in this genre that we now called “found footage”; I think it can be clever when done properly. My favorites would probably be some of the Paranormal Activity movies, Cloverfield, Troll Hunter, and the V/H/S series. It’s just another form of storytelling now. Back in 1999, it was not a genre, and The Blair Witch Project influenced enough film makers to pursue this genre to the point where it has become a rather saturated market that is now showing signs of stagnation among film goers. The point of the original Blair Witch Project was to present itself as a historic event, rather than just a simple movie. Twenty years later, unless you have been in a coma, everyone knows that it was mostly a publicity stunt designed for entertainment. So it seems rather curious to me now that we would do a sequel or soft reboot of the original now. It is kind of like trying to open a hamburger stand between a Burger King, and a McDonald’s. Sure there is a market there, but you better make sure you bring something extremely new to separate your brand from the others right?
Set in modern 2016, we are given the same opening credits where we are told this footage has been found, and all of these people went missing. So we know shenanigans will inevitably occur. We open up with James looking at YouTube footage that appears to be taken in the same house as found in the original movie. He pauses on an image that appears to be his sister, Heather who went missing from the original documentary. So this takes place in the universe where the assumption is that the movie was real, and that none of those people were ever found. And I am ok with this. James is a paramedic, so I guess he has a pretty disposable income, because now he enlists the aid of his friends Peter, Ashley, and Lisa who all have high tech cameras that are attached to a Blu-Tooth headphone. They also have a surveillance drone which appears to be a plot point, but we will get into that later. His contact is the YouTuber Darkwebb666 who happens to live just outside Burkettsville MD, the location of the woods where the original 3 people went missing. Once they meet, the film gets somewhat interesting, and the Darkweb aka Lane, and his girlfriend Talia insist on going into the woods with them to show where they found the film they used in the YouTube video.
As you can see, despite the twist of having some strangers join the crew at the last minute the set up here is pretty much identical to the first movie. Where it goes completely different though, is that THIS particular movie wastes no time telling you that there is a definite supernatural element. The original film left most of this ambiguous and open to interpretation. Where this one falls apart however is very early on. James is watching the ending of The Original Blair Witch project which SPOILERS reveals Mike standing in a corner just before the camera hits the ground. In THIS movie, even though he is supposed to be watching the same video, a loud supernatural howl is added, which you have to admit, feels kind of cheap. And that brings me to my next point. Every time the movie is trying to build tension, there is a loud audible hum that signals that something supernatural is about to occur. It’s almost an assault on my intelligence. The best scares are when you least expect it. This film goes a bit too out of its way to set them up. The other problem I have is that overuse of jump scares ruin this movie right off the opening credits. There are so many jump scares even in scenes where jump scares are not even necessary, and they are so frequent, that by the time they matter, you can see them coming a mile away. My third problem is that this movie is using conventional special affects to show you that there IS something supernatural going on, and that is where this movie goes way off the rails. In this universe the Blair Witch can manipulate time. Some of our gang wakes up late in the afternoon, thinking it is morning. Some wake up in the morning and there is no sunlight. At one point the two YouTubers separate from the group, and when we see them again, Lane has a beard and says it’s been weeks since he saw them the last time. I liked this idea actually. In fact this might be the only aspect I liked. However, there is another factor that is briefly introduced, but seems to go absolutely nowhere. Early in the film, these kids foolishly cross a stream BAREFOOT, and Ashley apparently scrapes her ankle. It slowly gets more infected and starts moving by it self. Eventually some creature is pulled out of her ankle. Thought they were going to pick up that part of the plot and go somewhere with it. Never happens. A lot of things never happen. The drone goes up enough just to show us, that the highway cannot be seen, and conveniently crashes. The drone is found later in a tree. When Ashley tries to climb the tree with an infected ankle, she falls out of the tree, and is apparently dragged away.
As you might expect, things go from bad to worse for these kids, until they finally wind up the mysterious house from the first film that literally appears out of nowhere. Once they get into the house there is an interesting sequence that takes place, but like many of the events in the film, not all of them pay off. They even show us The Blair Witch herself/itself, who may or may not be a witch at all. The house might even be a spaceship. Yes I typed that. Also, the movie tries to be clever by telling you that if you look at the witch or whatever it is, it will get you, so they use the view screen of Lane’s original camera to watch for the witch. Ultimately though, it ends pretty much the way you think it would.
This movie had a couple of good ideas that work, but when framed around the Blair Witch lore, it kind of just doesn’t work at all. The over use of sound cues, jump scares, and visuals diffuses the tension and removes the believability of it being found footage. I think the director tried here. He was obviously a fan of the original, and wanted to present his version of that movie, but it just comes off as a cynical reboot of a movie style that has long been lost in a sea of white noise. Ultimately I found that if you are fan of the original, you will most likely love this one too…I think it respects those fans. If you were not a film of the original, unfortunately this one will not win you over, or convince you the original was better than it is. Unfortunately I am biased, so take my score with a grain of salt. I give it 1 out of 5 cheese curds, 1 cheese curd for the awesome chase sequence at the end.
Deadbeat At Dawn (1988), directed by Jim Van Bebber, reviewed by Dionisio “Don” Traverso Jr.
While everyone’s talking a cat named Goose in Captain Marvel, I’m going to talk about another Goose. He is the main character of Deadbeat At Dawn, played by the writer/director Jim Van Bebber. Goose is the leader of The Ravens, a gang on the mean streets of Dayton, Ohio. The Ravens are in a street war with The Spiders, led by a misogynist psycho named Danny, played with scenery chewing intensity by Paul Harper. Goose revels at being a badass, something his witchy, somewhat pagan girlfriend Christie, played by Megan Murphy, is unhappy with, wanting him to leave the gang before all her rituals stop keeping him safe.
After a rumble at a cemetery where he messed up Danny and a few of his Spiders, Goose has an argument with Christie, who threatens to leave him. Goose, deciding he loves her more than being a Kung Fu fighting, nunchuck twirling, knife throwing badass, quits The Ravens, leaving the gang under the leadership of Keith, his second-in-command, who promptly forms a partnership with The Spiders.
Goose then goes on one last drug deal to get some money to start his new life with his girl. Too bad Danny and his two Spider henchmen Stubby and Bonecrusher are having none of that. Stubby and Bonecrusher go out on Danny’s orders to find and kill Goose. Unfortunately, they find Christie instead.
An underground low-budget classic, this film is as grimy as it gets. Goose is only marginally more likable than his gang counterparts, and they are fucking awful, evil people. You feel sorry for him because Christie was his path to being a better person and having a better life, even though it’s apparent that he’s in too deep to ever take it. When he discovers Christie’s body, instead of calling the cops or taking her to a hospital or even just leaving her corpse in their apartment, he drops it in a trash compactor and pushes the button. We follow him down his drug and alcohol fueled spiral, as he reunites with his Vietnam vet junkie dad (played hilariously by Charlie Goetz), leaves him when Dad has a heroin-driven PTSD freakout, gets drunk and high, beats up homeless people for booze, and contemplates suicide. Then Keith reappears with a proposition: Goose helps the united Ravens and Spiders in an armored car robbery. Of course, you know, there must be bloody vengeance.
Meanwhile, Danny manhandles his pregnant girlfriend and Bonecrusher (portrayed manically by Marc Pittman), while in a drug haze, reminisces about how Christie’s intestines looked like snakes that he had to help out of her belly. Yep, Dayton, Ohio was a sick, ugly town in the late ‘80s. At least, that’s how Van Bebber envisioned it for this twisted feature.
For a movie that was reportedly made for $10,000 and took four years to finish, it looks pretty good. The acting is all over the place, but not distractingly so, and the straightforward plot holds the interest through the bloody denouement, with Van Bebber displaying martial arts chops as good as David Carradine (maybe better).
Seems like every day I wake up now, there are some new phoney rumors about Batman. After the recent departure of Ben Affleck as Batman, every day it is who is Batman? What will be the new Batman? Who will direct the new Batman? Batman Batman Batman. The real question is who freaking cares?
Affleck’s departure was somber, and I don’t want to kick a guy when he was down. He had problems, and needed to take care of those, but to be honest, I was never too crazy about Batfleck to begin with. I mean the internet roasted his announcement as the caped crusader, and rather than give him his own movie, the ding bats at Warner Bros decided to make one superhero film into a franchise. It is the cinematic equivalent of trying to mail an elephant in one business envelope. It is also the most boring thing I have ever seen. I mean boring. Batman fighting Superman should have NEVER been even associated with the word boring. Yet I swear, it took me 3 attempts to watch, because I literally kept passing out half way through the damn thing. It is an absolute slog to get through. A lot was riding on this movie, and Warner Brothers were just certain that there was no way this movie could fail. So they also decided to set up a high school year book’s worth of characters that we are supposed to somehow care about, even if they show up as a .gif file on Wonder Woman’s computer.
Ben probably should have got his own movie, but many comic bookians will still white knight the dark knight anyways. Some even think he was the best Batman ever. I disagree. For one, I hated his costume. Seriously HATED that costume. It looked like somebody stole Adam West’s TV costume and sprayed it with about 300 lbs of magic shell ice cream topping. The voice, made sense, the Batcave was kind of cool, but yeah Batfleck just didn’t impress me much. I DID however like Alfred played by Jeremy Irons, but he was probably wondering what happened to his career by winding up in a boring comic book movie, where the best we will get from Irons is feeding exposition to Batfleck. But enough of about that farse of a movie. Let’s talk about how we got to this point.
Batman was a famous Detective Comics strip written by Bob Kane. I don’t collect a lot of comics, but I did have sort of a Best of Batman book, and those earlier comics were pretty great to say the least. There was a black and white set of serials. There was the famous, or infamous TV series from the 60s starting Adam West, and Burt Ward, depending how you look at it. Then there was Tim Burton. When Tim Burton was still making cool edgy movies, he took on a famous franchise and made it in his dark and sinister style with just a dash of tongue in cheek humor that worked well enough. Michael Keaton proved us all idiots by showing us that Mr. Mom could look cool wearing a cape and cowl. Then you had Jack Nicholson being Jack Nicholson, while doing one of the best cosplay performances you will ever see. Then there was Batman Returns, which while I liked it at the time…well let’s just say it’s pretty fucking weird.
After they through Tim Burton out of the lot for not selling enough toys, Joel Schumacher literally turned the Batman franchise into the ice capades, and super hero movies were doomed to rot in hell for what seemed like an eternity. For nerds, just a few years shy of ten may as well be a millenia. Then Christopher Nolan showed up, and took a stab at the franchise, by rebooting it as a cerebral thriller that could realize all of the characters as gritty and realistic as possible. Say what you want, dude saved the franchise, and Christian Bale has been the only Batman that managed to star in more than two movies. (Batfleck in Suicide Squad doesn’t count, GTFO with that trash.
Then Zack Snyder, who most of us thought would be amazing, because deep down everyone loves The Watchman even if you publicly shit on it, because it WAS pretty faithful to the comics. What could go wrong? Man of Steel? Hey it had it’s moments, even if the third act gives me a headache. And then Batman V Superman. Warner Bros chose that title because it was cheaper than writing VERSUS or VS on a damn movie poster. Then they gave Snyder the unthinkable task of setting up an entire universe worth of shit in one two and a half hour movie. Oh and Batfleck? He somehow has to have another origin story….again. If you don’t know the origin story of Batman by now, please close this window, and leave this site.
Now, I have not been able to force myself to watch the director’s cut, because I just don’t hate myself enough. There are not enough drugs on the planet that could make me sit through that travisty again. Warner Bros tinkering and dickering would continue with Justice League, which SHOULD have had the same impact as The Avengers, but it was another hack job. Different directors due to the sad departure of Zack Snyder, and something about a CG mouth that makes Henry Cavil look more like an episode of Clutch Cargo, than the man of steel. Seriously, why didn’t they just let him keep the damn mustache? Would anyone have complained that much?
I get into these arguments among the nerd circles I frequent quite often. My complaint, is that they make Batman silly, then make him Dark, then silly again, then gritty and realistic. Why would you try to steer away from the Nolan classics, by having Batfleck fight winged demons, and trollish abominations? Every fight seen looks like a Megadeth video. It hurts my eyes, and it kills my spirits. So what do we want to do? Reboot this again? Seriously? Yes Matt Miller, who I genuinely like, because he did an incredible job making three wonderful Planet of the Apes movies that don’t suck. But just please don’t give me another Batman origin again? Please?
So that brings us to where we are today. Who will play the damn Batman. Every site I read, every day. I see a name, a face, and a cowl lined up next to it. I know this is the shill media fishing for a face. None of them excite me. Seriously, they just don’t! Batman has been played by more people than the entire James Bond Franchise in less movie. My Batman is Bale, because that was the one damn Batman that I believed in! Oh and yes, I believed in Harvey Dent Too! Dammit!
You want to know MY BATMAN MOVIE? Simple. It is a comedy. Written by me, and directed by famous Shillionaire, Kevin Smith. And even though Smith is the Lord of the Shills, especially with DC, I still respect the guy, and he’s about my age, and get’s humor from the 90s. My Batman movie is a comedy that takes place in a convention center. It is a big Batman celebration where anyone who has ever played Batman in a TV show, or a movie that is still alive has been paid tons of money to show up at this convention. The thing is, all these actors have played different versions of the damn Batman in different times, and different eras. Some are gritty and dark, some are dark humor, some are campy and cartoonish. All of these dudes hate each other, and throw shade at each other constantly because each one of these idiots thinks they are THE BATMAN, and anyone before or after their performance is inferior. Then something bad happens, and the convention is taken over by terrorists. All of these idiots trapped in the waiting room have to decide if they want to continue arguing about costumes and motivations, or somehow work together and use they’re not so bat skills to get out of this situation alive. Sounds kind of like Galaxy Quest, but honestly, I feel what Batman needs right now, is a long break, or at the very least a joke about how ridiculous this franchise has become at this point. Mat Miller wants to call his movie THE Batman, but I am naming my bat comedy:
“The popcorn your eating has been pissed in. Film at 11.”
When you open up with a line like that, you can sit back in your seat stare at your popcorn funny, and KNOW you are in for a treat!
Do you want to laugh? Hard? I mean REALLY laugh?! If so you might want to take your shoes off and get ready to roll around in the mud for a while because this movie is as dirty as junior’s socks at 4pm on summer’s day. You might want to close your blinds, and check your inhibitions at the door. Do race jokes offend you? Does nudity offend you? Does racist sex jokes about nudity offend you? Might want to check all that stuff at the door too. Kentucky Fried Movie has not aged well at all, and that is in fact part of it’s charm. It has a strange title, but I assure you that Colonel Sanders, and KFC have zero to do with this movie.
It is hard to believe that there was a time where if anything was funny enough, it went in the script. The most recent thing that comes to mind is Family Guy which is always in hot water over something. Kentucky Fried movie is a series of sketches. The way it shows on the screen is basically the equivalent of being stoned, sick, or just too freaking lazy to change the channel on a Sunday afternoon. The sketches make fun of TV, News, Movies, Commercials, anything. Think of a more American version of Monty Python’s And Now For Something Completely Different. In other words, it is a comedy anthology film. There is not really any overall plot or narrative, or really anything that links any of these sketches together. Just a very cynical, and hilariously insane parody of having your TV stuck on one channel all day.
And that is what makes comedy work. When you take something, and exaggerate the hell out of it. This lost classic was written by David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, and Jim Abrahams, the same comedic geniuses behind Airplane! (IMO the funniest movie ever made), The Naked Gun, Police Squad, and Top Secret!, and directed by Jon Landis, the famous director of The Blues Brothers, Animal House, and An American Werewolf In London. This movie is filmed on the budget of one high school field trip. Various cameras were used. Many different actors. There are some surprise actor cameos in the mix, but I don’t want to spoil all of the fun. Just know that this movie makes fun of anyone and anything you might have heard of. Nothing is sacred here, and nothing is hidden. You want boobs? There are more boobs here than most slasher horror movies. All played for laughs, but totally worth it.
At one point as we go from movie ads, to commercials, to gameshows, the movie takes a huge left turn, and shows a large chunk of an impressive parody of Bruce Lee’s: Enter The Dragon. I think this might be where most of the budget of this movie went, but it shows. Evan C. Kim is fantastic! What makes the Zucker brothers’ movies work so well, is that real actors play these goofy parts as if they were in a real movie, and that is what makes it so damn funny. I mean funny where you laugh every time you think about it. There is just not enough good comedy like this now days. Most of the time, you are going to see Kevin Hart, Adam Sandler, or Will Farrell do the same bits over and over, mostly droll adlib humor with product placement, and then pause silently and look awkward so that the audience knows to laugh. Movies like this, are paced very quickly, jokes are hidden within jokes, and even the products featured in the movie are jokes within jokes themselves. They don’t even care, if the jokes land or not. You are either there, or you showed up to the wrong movie.
This movie does not make any apologies for being an adult comedy. This is Kentucky Fried Movie! Full of nudity. Full of racist, sexist dirty jokes. Full of puns. It may not have aged well, but it exists. It is a reminder that in less hypersensitive times, comedy movies used to be made for one reason, just to make people laugh. And sometimes the more extreme the material, the bigger the laugh. If you stay until the credits roll, and you check your sensitivity at the door, I can at least guarantee a good time. I give this lost comic gem a 4 out of 5 cheese curds. Some of this material might be dated. I mean if it was that offensive you would have changed the channel by now, but you are probably too stoned to even bother switching it off you lazy degenerates!