Jeez, I have no luck with Frankenstein monster movies.
First off, a nitpick: The version of this movie I’d watched gave the title as Blackenstein, The Black Frankenstein. Except Frankenstein wasn’t the monster, and the doctor in this flick isn’t black, though his name is Doctor Stein. I get that the producer was trying to capitalize on the success of Blacula, which was released the year before, but the title is still wrong.
The movie opens on a shot of what supposed to be a laboratory. I say “supposed to be” because it looks more like a soundstage with tables and lots of various types of Jacob’s ladders all sparking and arcing off as Doctor Stein, played by John Hart, also known as the guy who replaced Clayton Moore as The Lone Ranger on TV for one season, pulls switches and pushes buttons while breakers of colored liquid bubble and steam with dry ice.
Suddenly in another movie, a plane lands at the airport in Los Angeles as Cardella Di Milo, who appears later in the film as herself, a blues singer, at a nightclub, belts out a song about being unable to find love. Off the plane comes Doctor Winifred Walker, played by Ivory Stone. She rents a car and heads off to Doctor Stein’s house, where she’s greeted by Stein’s sinister deep-voiced assistant Malcomb, played by Roosevelt Jackson. When she’s taken to Doctor Stein, we get the most awkward expository dialogue ever.
So Walker wants Stein’s help with her fiance, who’s just returned from Vietnam after stepping on a landmine and getting wounded. By wounded, I mean getting his arms and legs blown off. Think about that a second. He was walking, stepped on a landmine which goes off, and only loses his arms and legs. No other damage to his body. Right. That’s possible, I suppose.
Which brings us to Eddie, the fiance, played by Joe DeSue.
He’s in the VA hospital spending his days being a human burrito while being tormented by an orderly, played with gusto by Bob Brophy, who’s jealous that Eddie got to go to Vietnam to get his limbs blown off while he got 4F’ed while enlisting.
When Eddie asks this guy for ice cream, he goes off on him about his jealousy and starts to torture him. Eddie’s reaction to all this?
Bob Brophy as the orderly only gets this one scene to shine, and he runs with it. He shows more skill and emotion here than any of the principal actors. You see sorrow, regret, rage, disappointment. Sure, his dialogue (really monologue, since Eddie doesn’t say much here) is awkward and too full of exposition, but he gave it his all.
Joe DeSue, however, has two expressions.
Luckily the orderly’s bedside manner is interrupted by Winifred and Doctor Stein (who doesn’t have a first name, but wouldn’t it have been great if his name was Frank N.?), who tell him the good news: he’s to be taken to Stein’s castle to receive DNA treatments to help his condition. The good doctor has been treating others at his house, like a 90-year-old woman who now looks like she’s 50, and a man whose lower legs have been reattached using “laser beam fusion” and a DNA solution created by Doctor Stein. He did, after all, win the Nobel Prize for “solving the DNA genetic code.”
Of course, there are complications. One of the aforementioned reattached legs is striped, caused by, according to Doctor No-First-Name Stein, an “unsolved RNA injection.” Honestly, his explanation made little sense and made the good doctor look like his didn’t know what RNA and DNA were. But this “unsolved RNA injection” becomes the impetus of the film, as Malcomb, having had his romantic gestures rejected by Winifred, taints Eddie’s DNA injections with the problematic RNA, causing Eddie to regress into….
I have to stop here to ask a few questions. First, Winifred Walker is a physicist, and Stein is presumably some sort of geneticist. She studied under him how? In what field? How does a physicist know how and where to give an injection? Also, the man with the striped leg had them both reattached by a combination of “DNA” and “laser beam fusion.” Eddie had no limbs to reattach. They were blown off in Vietnam. So whose limbs are being attached to him? And how is Malcomb able to taint the DNA solution with the RNA? Stein called it an “unsolved RNA injection” and babbles about “sort of part of the primeval theory,” which lays the foundation, albeit nonsensically, for what happens to Eddie later, but implies that he doesn’t know what’s causing it besides something with the RNA. How is Malcomb able to isolate what the “unsolved RNA” problem is and use it to taint Eddie’s DNA solution? Why does Stein have an RNA solution to begin with, if he’s having such success with the DNA solution? Also, why does this movie have so many audio flashbacks with Stein repeating phrases over and over? They’re supposed to sound like echoes, but more sound like John Hart has echolalia.
Also, you would figure from the RNA “explanation” that Eddie would turn into some kind of cave man, like William Hurt did in Altered States. Instead he turns into this:
Now I have to commend Doctor Stein’s DNA formula. Even though tainted by an “unsolved RNA injection,” it not only changed the shape of Eddie’s head, it grew him more hair and a black turtleneck sweater and suit coat to match!
During the day, Eddie lies near catatonic as Stein and Walker try to figure out what’s happening to him. At night, the sweater and suit ensemble comes on and Eddie sneaks out on the town, killing and cannibalizing his former orderly first, then going after has-been strip tease artist and future John Waters actress Liz Renay and her boyfriend. While doing this, you occasionally hear Eddie grunt monstrously, like a Frankenstein monster would, except his mouth isn’t moving, and neither is Joe DeSue’s facial expressions.
Of course it all descends into chaos, murder and madness, in the dullest way possible, leading to what has to be the longest and least exciting chase scene I’ve ever witnessed, as Eddie stalks a woman through an empty industrial warehouse. Believe me when I say you feel every inch of that warehouse during this scene, and will rejoice when it ends anticlimactically, if only because it’s also the end of the movie.
Much like Doctor Stein isn’t black and “Blackenstein,” neither is this film “blacksploitation” like its predecessor Blacula. That film and its sequel had plots that were grounded in black culture. Blackenstein never references black culture at all, except in the occasional blues song by Cardella Di Milo in the soundtrack and a scene in a blues club, also featuring Di Milo singing. The main characters have no racial identities whatsoever, even Doctor Stein and Eddie, outside of physical appearance. Even the orderly in the VA hospital abuses Eddie not because he’s black, but out of jealousy.
The direction by William A. Levey is on the low side of competent, with many scenes shot in very low light. Eddie’s cannibalistic nocturnal excursions are sometimes difficult to discern, but at least everything is in focus, unlike Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare. The acting is subpar, with John Hart, Roosevelt Jackson, and Ivory Stone slightly elevating into mediocrity, while Joe De Sue scrapes the bottom of the acting barrel. Blackenstein never goes beyond bad into exquisitely bad, which could’ve made it more fun to watch.
There’s a guilty pleasure in watching bad movies. Think of the campiest, corniest, crappiest movie you ever saw. It was pretty bad, wasn’t it? And yet you might just sit down to watch it again some day, wouldn’t you? Sure you would. How else do you think the Toxic Avenger series got to be so popular?
I myself have a pretty fair assortment of bad movies: Captain America, The Guyver, Toxic Avenger (of course), at one time, I even owned a VERY bad live action Dragon Ball movie. Trust me, it sucked.
And what is it about these cinematic abominations that people find so entertaining? Beats me. But I do have one theory. As there can be no good without evil, there can also be no masterpieces without bombs.
Why just the other night, I sat down and watched the unreleased Fantastic Four movie. Wow. That’s all I can say, because if I think about it any more, my head might explode from how bad it was. And what about all the new movies that are so full of suck that you wish you paid more to see it so you wouldn’t feel like such an ass asking for your eight bucks back? Does Cloverfield ring any bells? Blair Witch? Sure.
Then on the other side of the coin are the really good movies that got no recognition and were passed off as crappy. I would direct your attention to exhibit…oh I dunno…I guess: Mystery Men, for one. And then of course there’s the shitty movies that a lot of people liked, and you have no idea why, movies like Charlie’s Angels, Blades of Glory, Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
So I ask you now to share the last really, REALLY bad movie you saw and, be honest, how much you actually liked it. It’s okay, there’s no one else here but you and me. The lights are off, here’s the pop corn, I’ll put in Laser Hawk. What’s that? Yes it’s a Mark Hamil movie. It’s terrible, so I think you’ll like it. Press play.
I don’t usually do spoilers, and I think I can pull this off without spoilers. Why do people try aggressively to spoil this movie? I am not sure that it is intentional. This is a movie that is meant to be a shared experience. The culmination of 11 years, and 22 films worth of set up. It is about resolutions, and the water cooler talk of the moment is either Game of Thrones, or Avengers Endgame. To discuss said resolutions would in fact spoil things. At this point at least 3 billion dollars worth of people have seen it, but I refuse to break tradition. A good review CAN be presented without spoilers. To cover virtually any details of the movie’s three-hour run time would in fact spoil the hell out of this movie, so unfortunately this review will have to be shorter than normal.
Avenger’s Endgame picks up 23 days after Avengers Infinity War, where Thanos achieved his goal of getting all of the Infinity Stones, and snapping away half of the population in the universe. A large chunk of this is dedicated to the ones who were NOT snapped out of existence dealing with the aftermath. Character developement has always been a strong point of most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. Most comic book movies, are only as strong as your villain, but somehow the MCU managed to break that curse, but making these super heroes both relatable and believable. By design it has been a fun journey to grow and advance with these characters in their respective movies throughout the last decade. The biggest star of THIS movie is probably Nebula played by Karen Gillan, who was first introduced to us as a villain from Guardians of the Galaxy. We have gradually spent time throughout these movies developing this character, but this time she gets more screen time than before. Of course Rocket Racoon voiced by Bradley Cooper, is still the scene stealer and of all the characters in this universe he bounces off everyone’s lines flawlessly.
I am thankful to say that I rarely felt this movie’s three-hour runtime. It was never boring. I would be lying if I said I was not genuinely entertained. There was a great deal of humor in this movie. Surprisingly not as dour and depressing as the last movie. There were still a couple of minor gripes I would have to address, because while they were not enough to ruin the movie, they were enough for me to remove a couple of points from having a perfect score. One of them involves a character that kind of shows up, and then disappears. There are actually a few scenes where characters show up and disappear that may or may not have been the result of simply having a movie with this many characters that continuity becomes a villain itself. My other gripe, is that there are some not so subtle moments in the movie that tease some possible future instalments of this franchise, that may not sit well with all fans. There is a glaringly forced scene involving multiple female characters that looks cool, but doesn’t make much sense within the scene itself, if for nothing else than to virtue signal that there are women in the MCU, as if anyone actually needed to be reminded. The scene really sends me mixed messages, but still not enough to ruin the experience for me.
As far as the resolutions that I refuse to speak of? I would say that most fans will be satisfied with how the story wraps. The same way that most of us felt when we first saw Return of the Jedi. Had that been the last Star Wars film, we would have been completely satisfied. I feel the same about this movie. I am completely satisfied with the ending. I may even buy a copy of this one at some point. I would recommend seeing it. I am giving this one a 3 out of 5 cheese curds. I will be posting a spoiler review on my YouTube channel on Monday: 5/6/19.
When I say wasted opportunities I can think of a lot of things, like NWA, never getting back together before Easy E died. The Beatles not getting back together before John Lennon died. When it comes to the latest reboot of Hellboy, watching David Harbour in the title role, is a bit like going to a Motley Crue concert with John Corabi as the lead singer. Sure, he can get the job done perfectly fine, but nobody cares.
I was one of those angry folks who were shouting to heavens when Guillermo del Toro’s third movie was dumped for this one. Since I found that the other Hellboy movies were a lot of fun, and that the second trailer actually looked pretty good, I decided to give this a fair shake anyway. I left all of my reservations at the front door. I have to say though, that it IS impossible to not make comparisons. For one, David Harbor’s Hellboy looks like HB has been dancing with Mr. Brownstone on the 6th day, of a 7 day binge. Perlman had the right face that fit the look. David Harbour just looks like he’s really uncomfortable under a ton of makeup and latex. Again, this is a reboot here, for a movie that is not really all that old. It is imposible not to have these expectations. Also, unlike the first one, there is almost no urgency in trying to hide HB from the world. He just kind of walks around on the crime scene, and nobody seems to give less of a fuck? You know who else probably gives less of a fuck? Oscar Winner Gillermo del Toro! Because instead of working on Hellboy 3, he went and made Shape of Water, oscar winner for best picture of 2017. Suck on that Lionsgate!
I have to admit that the first Hellboy trailer was really rough. I was not convinced at all. The second trailer, is what got me to go buy a ticket today and sit through this. Sadly though, all of the best bits were in fact in that trailer, and some of those scenes are about as long as they are in the trailer too. The rest of the budget was spent on those dope movie posters, because it sure wasn’t spent on this script ooo boy…I mean Hellboy. This is an exposition nightmare.
To make this review make more sense, I have to take you back to a time about 15 years ago, when comic book movies were not the norm. Movies had to be sold as movies first. Comics were just a rough outline. Most importantly, you never had to read the comics to understand what was going on in the movie. The original Hellboy had a simple story. Crazy, but simple. The rest of the movie was spent on trying to sell the audience into this strange world that fights monsters with more monsters. Also, it had to make you appreciate the characters, so that when shit happens, you actually care about your characters. This movie could have done that, but the script was so bad, that literally everyone in this movie has to take a back seat to it. I suppose it depends too much on those who have read the Mike Mignola comic books, but nobody reads comic books, and don’t give me any crap about needing to read the comics before I watch this movie. I live in a world where I just watched Hellboy, in a same theater that is showing Captain Marvel, and Shazam, less than two weeks before Avenger’s End Game comes out. I guarantee that every time a bell rings, a comic book store has closed down in your community so nobody else is reading these things either. Get off my lawn with that trash!
The opening sets the tone for the entire movie. Exposition dumb, action, exposition dump, action, over and over to the point where it gets so monotonous that you want to smash your face into your popcorn to make the pain stop. It’s that bad. This happens, and then we go here. This happened, and then we go there. This will happen in London, because TAX BREAKS!!! Seriously. Every character we ever meet in this movie has a convoluted back story to the point to where you almost want to get up and say “WHO FREAKING CARES?!!!”, because the ALL of the characters in this movie except for maybe Professor Broom, and HB are totally forgettable. I don’t even remember the names of them as I am typing this. I could go to IMDB and look, but I would be cheating myself and this review at the same time. And the worst part about that is that there are moments of greatness here. For example, Ian McShae, and David Harbour have a really good chemistry that I would have liked to have seen explored, but it got in the way of the obnoxious flash backs and exposition dumps. It made me sad, and gave me a headache.
The special effects looked pretty good. There were some decent fights between HB and some large monsters, but it would have been nice to have tried to set up these characters better before jumping into the fight. Or maybe tone down that awful script by a few thousand paragraphs or so.
One of the things I was excited about was the appearance of Milla Jovavich, and sadly she is one of the worst villains I have ever seen. Literally every sentence that comes out of her mouth feels like you cut and pasted dialogue from every mustache twirling fucktard villain in every single super hero comic book nonsense movie you have ever seen. Seriously, when you see this, make a drinking game, and take a shot every time Milla says something that you have heard in any other movie.
And the biggest punch in the balls this movie has, would be the ending. The original Hellboy movie had a fake out ending, where you think it’s all over, and then the shit really hits the fan. This movie does quite the opposite. The movie just kind of ends, and then they are doing something else that doesn’t really have anything else to do with the movie at all. Who ever assembled the footage of this movie was either drunk, or was just as lost as I was over this awful script. Of course that doesn’t stop them from trying to eek out two post credit scenes. Yep…setting up future instalments, and I don’t care. I am giving this one 2 out of 5 cheese curds. Probably won’t ever watch this ever again. I am not saying this is the worst movie ever, but it would be better if you just waited for a rental on this one. Seeing what I have seen today, I would have been better off seeing the third and final installment of the Hellboy franchise, but I feel this movie has killed both a chance for a sequel to THIS crap, AND del Toro’s sequel as well. Thanks Lionsgate! Why did you have to go and do my boys dirty like that? Why?
One thing for certain for anyone who has ever spent any certain length of time in bands, is that bands suck. The guitar player is an alcoholic and can’t stand up long enough to practice, but when he’s sober he can play a melody that would open the Heavens, or the gates of Hell…pick one. The singer is pretty cool, but you are pretty sure he has his eye on your woman. The bass player just wants everybody to get along and play a few decent gigs before his back gives out. Oh, and all of them have stories of when they were better… Yeah I was in a band like that, until I wasn’t. I know this routine. Somebody in the band is always an asshole, and the thing about assholes is everybody has one, or maybe ALL of them are assholes? Most of them come and go, or they just kind of gradually fall out of touch, and temporarily bleed into other bands. Very few go the distance, and live to tell stories about it. For the four assholes that formed Motley Crue, they didn’t just go the distance, they did laps around the solar system, lived on their own terms, and lived long enough to tell stories about it.
I grew up around the middle of Motley Crue’s career. Doctor Feelgood was the album I had. Everyone I knew had a copy. For those first few years of high school, Hair Metal WAS the pop scene unless you listened to R&B or hip hop. It was all about the excess. Stories of hotel parties, cocaine filled limo rides, groupies, fast cars, and women. Most of these guys slept on a pile of money, and snorted the rest. It would seem forever until three assholes from Seattle put an end to that almost overnight, and most people were about as eager to burn those Motley Crue records, as fast as the night that disco died.
For those years of the late 80s and early 90s, we had metal magazines, and swapped exaggerated stories of excess, and wild parties. This Netflix biopic nails THAT aspect of the hard rock scene that most of us pondered over. What surprises me about this movie is exactly how funny it really is…until it isn’t.
“What surprises me about this movie is exactly how funny it really is…until it isn’t.”
The Dirt is set up on a four-way narration style level of Nikki Six (Douglass Booth), Vince Neil (Daniel Webber), Mick Mars (Iwan Rheon), and Tommy Lee (Colson Baker AKA Machine Gun Kelly) all telling different parts of the story from different perspectives. Director Jeff Tramaine does a nice job of showing these actors together with chemistry. I would say this movie kind of reminds me of The Wolf of Wall Street, where the director spares no details when showing exactly how far down the rabbit hole of Sodom and Gomorrah these four assholes are willing to go, and it works so well! It is hard to pinpoint the EXACT comic relief, but I would have to give it to Iwan Rheon as Mick Mars, who is the oldest member of the band, and has simply no time for shenanigans, he just wants to be in a band that is going to be the most successful. Most of the time he just comes off as the grumpy bear of the band who scoffs occasionally when the Crue takes turns pissing in the swimming pool. Literally pissing….in the pool, and I refuse to spoil some of the cameos here, so I will just leave you with that mental image. Mick Mars is my spirit animal in this band. Old, and cynical as Fuck. Really though, all of these guys get a chance to shine, but I think the strongest performances were from Baker and Kelly.
It is really damn hard not to laugh at these guys running naked down the hallways of motels and setting each other’s rooms on fire just for the sake of being goofs. This is where the movie hits the strongest. The rest of the movie is your typical by the numbers rags to riches biopic, about how another band went from zeroes to heroes over a span of just a few albums.
The movie kind of takes a much darker tone by that third act, when all of the excess catches up with the Crue, and life becomes reality. Drugs, jail, and domestic disputes end those parties quick. The film gets somewhat confusing about midway through the third act, when things kind happen, and then don’t really happen. I can’t do THAT much fact checking….like I said, we had magazines and MTV back in the day, all we really knew, is what we heard in interviews, and read in the damn metal mags. Pretty sanitary stuff. I was surprised that the band was actually sober when they did Dr. Feelgood. That was the album I had. I had assumed that was when they were all at their worse. See how much I know? I mean at one point, these bands were kind of started to sound alike, but at least Motley Crue was one of the faster bands, and definitely too raw for the mainstream. I am sure the movie took some liberties, but after all this is a biopic about one of America’s wildest bands, and biopics are the flavor of the month at the moment. Although unlike Bohemian Rhapsody, you MIGHT not want to watch this one with your parents. Not even minutes into this movie, a girl is ejaculating on the carpet at a party. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it fits in with this band’s roller coaster lifestyle.
I cannot complain. I found it really damn hard not to enjoy this film for what it is. A biopic about a Crue that partied hard, rocked hard, lived excess, and overcame pretty much every shitty thing that came their way. What I respect about this movie, is that even after all these jerks did to each other, and everyone else, the movie still finds time to drop a message about being friends and staying together. It leaves you with just the right amounts of warm and fuzzy to make you stay for the damn credits where they show the faces of the actors next to the actual Crue. Unfortunately I am old enough to remember the actual Crue. This movie made me go dust off my Motley Crue records…oh what you thought I burned them? 5 out of 5 cheese curds. Go check this one out on Netflix!
In 1977, a film was released that would alter my universe irrevocably. Sorry to disappoint, but it is not the one of which you are thinking, the one involving George Lucas. In the furor that followed the release of that film, another, lesser-known movie was released to be overshadowed by the special effects extravaganza.
Ralph Bakshi, a pioneer in the field of animation, wanted to do a fairy tale, but one with American attitude and sensibilities. His project, ‘Wizards’, is a classic story of good versus evil and brother against brother. As the opening tells us, it is, “An illuminating history bearing on the everlasting struggle for world supremacy fought between the powers of technology and magic.”
I saw it in the AAFES theatre in Landstuhl, Germany in 1978. My mind was blown.
Before I proceed, I want to thank Mr. Ralph Bakshi and his collaborators in this and other films. Mr. Bakshi, you introduced to me a new realm of what could be done with fantasy, with animation, and with film. Over the course of the next 80 minutes, I experienced thousands of years of a new world, with amazing characters, incredible art, and a whole lot of laughs. My universe was widened, and though I was ill-prepared, I embraced that widening and have loved fantasy ever since.
Mike Ploog’s whimsical artwork supports a narration that gives us the setting, and it returns at points in the film. It is both evocative and captivating. Plus, using it saved a fortune on the budget – less to animate. Ian Miller’s rough sketches are used as compelling backgrounds; the images are astounding.
The premise is fairly simple: Nuclear holocaust begets a world of magic and radioactive wastes. Elves and fairies are reborn into our altered world, joining the mutated survivors of the war. Technology is eschewed by the fey as evil, and magic embraced. “The only true technology is magic,” says a wise elf.
Into this world are born the twin sons of the faerie queen. Good and evil, fey and mutant, they are the wizards of the title. Their conflict sets the stage for the movie: technological wonder weapon vs. magic. In the interest of preserving the details, I will leave the rest for you to discover.
Ralph Bakshi was a pioneer in the use of rotoscoping, that is, animating over film of live actors and animals. In ‘Wizards’, he used this technique extensively. I recognized several films, including ‘Zulu’, ‘El Cid’, and ‘Battle of the Bulge’. Additionally, archival footage from the second world war is employed as well. The image of mutants flying Messerschmitt Me-109s and Junkers Ju-87 Stukas has never left me.
From a technical standpoint, it is not a great film. Much of it consists of illustrations with narration. The animation is fair, aided by liberal use of rotoscoping. I thought I had imagined it as a child, but throughout the movie, one can see the shadow of the camera in the centre of the shot. As an adult, I wonder if this was a mistake, or if it was intentional on Bakshi’s part. If you watch the film, you will learn why.
Compared to other animation of the day (Disney’s The Rescuers, Rankin/Bass’ The Hobbit, and Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown all came out that year), Wizards looks clunky. The use of illustrations in many places, rather than animation, might detract from the viewing pleasure for some.
Those other movies might have more animation, possibly better animation, but none are trying to squeeze into 80 minutes, the sheer magnitude of the world being created. None has the pop-culture references, either. Look for the CBS and Coca-Cola logos in the background.
To this day, I love Wizards. It is my favourite Bakshi movie. It remains my favourite fantasy movie (and post-apocalyptic movie), even in this age of Peter Jackson and the 24 hours of Tolkien that are his films. Lavish, spectacular, perhaps, but they lack the rough charm of Wizards, to say nothing of scantily clad faerie maidens, resurrected mutant assassins, and our antagonist, Blackwolf, with the partially exposed skeletal structure (words cannot do justice to the sheer, unrelenting neato-ness!).
For years, I thought I had imagined it all. We moved back to the States, and no one, not one person I spoke with, had ever heard of this film. Then, it appeared on the midnight movie circuit (Thank you, Louisiana 1-2-3!), and I managed to pirate a copy off of HBO, the one time they deigned to show it. I kept that video for two decades, watching it sober and, shall we say, psychedelically enhanced, until the DVD came along.
Wizards is unadulterated brilliance, a brilliant gem lost in the dust of the monster Lucas created, and, speaking for myself, it is epitome of a Lost Flick.
Know ye of days long past, when the writer was young, and the tales of swords and wenches was weaved from the truly lost flick of the mists of Legendry. I remember seeing this joint on HBO back in the 80s. I am revealing a dark secret that I was once a fan of movies such as this. Conan The Barbarian, Excalibur, Beastmaster, and of course this one. I remember the three things that always made me remember this one was the ridiculous sword that fired three blades, though having seen this movie a thousand times, I have yet to figure out how it works. Where is the damn trigger? What makes it work? Gun Powder? Springs? Mists of legendry? There is the 80’s practical effects make up for this movie that makes it border on a midnight horror movie. I mean the Xusia the Sorcerer looks a bit like Freddy Krueger, and E.T. had a love child that nobody ever heard of. And of course, the name of our title character Talon! Such a cool name.
Let’s talk about our hero first before we get into the meat and potatoes of this movie. Talon, is a hero, who has a tragic back story set up, only to reveal that several years later, he becomes a scoundrel that pretty much lives by his own rules. We only view him as a hero because he has his own awesome theme music that plays whenever he enters a room. I can only imagine what it would be like to have my own theme music that plays whenever I enter a room, but all I hear is the Benny Hill theme for some reason. Anyways we hear this theme music play when he enters a room in slow motion while chewing on a leg of beef as he watches and attempted rape in progress. Ladies and gentleman, your hero! Yes the 80s were fucked up. Thar be dangerous plotlines that might not fit into politically correct waters going forward so proceed at ye own risk lads and lassies.
The movie opens up with Cromwell and his army rowing ashore at the entrance of a cave at the end of the world among mists of Legendre. Look, before we go any further, I had this movie only on a shitty tape I copied from HBO once, and then later on a DVD that almost never played. At the time of this review, the only copy I could find, was a Rifftrax version on Amazon prime, and they used that “mysts of legendry” bit so much that it has become part of my daily vernacular, so please deal with it! Titus Cromwell is our bad guy played by the forever ugly Richard Lynch, who was the Dollar General version of Christopher Walken in the 80s. He’s a pretty slimy bastard, with a pointy nose that could cut through the mists of….GOD DAMMIT… Anyways…
We cut to the entrance of a cave, where our not so Grace Jones looking sea witch yells mumbo jumbo bippitty boppitty boo over a crypt decorated with a lot of gooey faces. Xusia who is played by Bull from Night Court comes to life, and pulls his “who woke me up on the Sunday after Superbowl bit”. As Witch Hazel tries to start sexy time by licking the buffalo sauce off of Xusia’s fingers. Cromwell basically promises Xusia a free pony, and tickets to Blue Man Group if he helps Cromwell defeat his goody two shoes opponent and become king of…Adennnnn…..something? er…not Detroit. Of course to prove that Xusia can do anything other than card tricks, he Force throws the Witch Jones against the wall, and pulls her heart out of her chest without moving a single step. This gag was really big in The Temple of Doom!
Anyways in a not so shocking turn of events, Dollar General Walken pulls the old double cross on Xusia and stabs him in the chest, and leaves him for dead. We cut to young Talon getting his sword, watching both of his parents get slaughtered by Cromwell and his band of blue meanies, and not doing much of anything about it except showing us that the sword fires a blade and shoots it at one of the guards before riding off on a horse with a couple of his digits nailed to a tree.
We see him doing his best impression of A Knight in King’s Court with 3 blades back in his sword pointing it at the sky atop a cliff by the sea. No less than a minute later, we cut back from the sea to the exact same cliff, and it’s Lee Horsley as Talon, who is now a pirate, a general, a mercenary, third member in the barbershop quartet, member of the royal order of loyal water buffalos, a hooker, and a member of the volunteer fire department. Lee Horsely went on to do mostly TV shows like Matt Houston, and Love Boat after this, so he never had the same luck as Sylvester Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger after this, so don’t get too excited. After watching this movie you can see why? Remember that awesome theme music I wast telling you about? Yeah that stuff was written and composed by David Whitaker whose previous works mostly involve low rent smut, but trust me the music sounds a lot more awesome than this movie probably deserves. It may sound like I am shitting on this movie, but trust me when I say this review comes from a place of love. See the music IS in fact Lee Horsley’s personality. A lot of Lee Horsely’s performance in this movie involves him looking stupidly into the camera, or looking at somebody with one expression. The expression is basically that of somebody that farted about 23 seconds ago, and is just waiting for the reaction of the first person that notices…WHO CUT THE CHEESE?! WERE YOU BORN IN A BARN? WHAT ARE YOU? SOME KIND OF LEE HORSLEY?
We flash to another revolution happening, lead not so cleverly by Mikah who serves as the master of exposition dumps and yet cannot understand why his plots keep becoming easily overturned by King Cromwell McPointynose. He’s betrayed by one of the members of Spinal Tap, and tossed into a dungeon ran by former WWF rejects who are addicted to baby oil, torture, and bad puns. Mikah’s sister Alana manages to stab a guard and get away, but you will quickly learn that in THIS movie, wounds are only mortal if the plot needs them to be so. This guard tracks down Alana in a matter of seconds and the first rape attempt begins with whimsical music playing until the hero cue music changes and Talon enters the room gnawing a cow leg, wondering if he wants to get involved before or after the guards notice he farted 23 seconds ago. After he finally makes a small weenie joke, and beats the shit out of her attackers, they go to a tent. Alana offers Talon a shit load of monopoly money if he will help break her brother out of Cromwell’s Dungeons. And in a surprising turn of events, Talon wants a one day lay in the hay with Alana in turn for busting her brother out. After being almost raped 10 minutes ago…seems fair right? So our “hero” decides to do this thing. And this is where things get even more bizarre.
I mentioned that Talon is a hero only by the cue of music, and his whimsical fart face right? Wait until you see his stealth skills. After shouting at some guy who has a map to a sewer, they run underground to get into the dungeons. There might be some rats. And Talon heroically saves the day by…kicking over a conveniently placed barrel of oil, and lighting it on fire. No normal man could have pulled off this act of stratagem! Wow, no wonder he is a general!
Once he does bumbleboob his way into the prison though, he finds that one of the prisoners was once the architect that built the castle, above the prison. Deus Ex Machina be damned to HELL! Things get a little fuzzy here, because there are some plot points that I have left out as not to bore the reader, but I just want to focus on the more banal aspects of this mess. Talon does get into the prison, people are freed, and he DOES fight King Nose Job at one point, but does get away, and disguises himself as a guard for a bit. Around this time, we flash to one of Talons’ other mercenaries, and many of his men who are all in a brothel. Word from one of Cromwell’s wenches is that Talon had been captured, and I shit you not, some deadlocked Bob Marly on steroids looking dude announces himself as Captain Morgan…no seriously….this time. They agree to go bail Talon out of prison. Did I mention, that Talon in this movie is a bit like Farris Buehler? Everyone seems to know him. A lot of things happened off-screen, and everyone seems to owe him one for one reason or another. Save Talon you heartless wench!!! 30 seconds later, Captain Morgan, and Talon’s men are yelling at each other from jail cells.
After more bumbling and awesome Indiana Jones like music, Talon does finally get captured, and it is announced via exposition dump that Talon is to be crucified at Cromwell’s wedding. See Cromwell is convinced that Talon is actually Xusia the Sorcerer in disguise. Oh yeah, remember there was a sorcerer in this sword and sorcerer movie!? Yes, King Walkenwannabee is going to marry Alana because we need to rescue a maiden in this movie, and so far, she has served no purpose to this story other than set our “hero” on his journey. So then we flash to crucifixion. Yep. Our bumbling smelt it and dealt it hero is nailed to a cross, with a ball gag in his mouth, while the board of directors of the NFL wine dine, and try not to drool on themselves while getting drunk on wine. And of course we get back to that Ferris Buehler moment again, where two rich white dudes talk to each other, and say “hey isn’t that Talon? We owe him a debt for what he did for us”. Well thanks for sparing us of THAT detail movie, I am sure there was a really good reason to not sit and watch some dude die on cross while you shove grapes into your mouth ya jack ass.
Now Captain Morgan and the rest of his band of merry idiots are freed by Cromwell’s whores. So of course they show up at the wedding just as the reverend is about to marry the two, Talon actually pulls both of his hands off the nails, and yells “KAHHHHHHHHHHHHNNNNNN…..er sorry wrong movie….CROOOOOOOMMMMWELLLL!!!! Then we get the big action pay off, and honestly, as many times as I have seen it. It’s pretty fucking awesome. The music is awesome, I don’t know who is fighting who, but I don’t care, heads are rolling, music is swelling, some of it is in slow motion. I love every minute of it.
Eventually King Needlenose, and Talon do fight, but in another scene, we have Spinal Tap running down Alana as she is trying to escape. Yeah she is REALLY SHITTY at trying to get away. Alana tries to seduce Spinal Tap, and realizes that something is afoot when she thrusts her foot into Spinal Tap’s wedding tackle only to realize that nothing is there. Of course this pissed off Spinal Tap so much, that he just decides to pull of his clothes AND his skin to reveal he is Xusia. True story time. Richard Bull Moll from Night Court was only actually Xusia in the first scene. He had serious problems with the contact lenses so all of the other scenes in the movie was somebody else disguised and Xusia, and Richard Moll dubbed in his lines in post. So the master of disguise is played by several other people. Eat your heart out Zartan from G.I. Joe!
Of course, our bumbling hero now reunited with his triple bladed sword is running down Cromwell when he bumps into Xusia trying to slip Alana the old E.T. phone home gag, and his best response is “I have no quarrel with you! It is Cromwell I am after.” Xusia says: “Cromwell’s flesh shall be mine.” Talon say’s “Well now we have a quarell”. Of course Xusia tries to E.T. phone home Talon as well, but don’t act like you didn’t see THIS one coming, he fires one of the blades at Xusia and he falls back. This is where the fun begins. King Beef Cromwellington smiles at Talon. Talon smiles back, fires the other blade at the stone wall, to indicate this is going to be a “fair fight”, and of course when these two fight again we get more sparks than Yankee Stadium on the 4th of July. At one point, Talon’s sword breaks, and he pulls a tiny sword out of the bottom of the hilt. I fucking love this scene. Next, Cromwellwellwell loses his sword, but he has a baton that he’s been carrying through the entire movie, except now a switch blade comes out of each end of it. At this point, I can’t tell if the movie has been trolling me, or if the props master was just tripping balls and said fuck it. These two fight some more, and suddenly in Talon’s gauntlet he pulls a Robocop, and yet ANOTHER fucking dagger comes out, and that is the one he finally kills King Christopher Walkenose with. Finally he reveals that he is Talon, son of the dude you killed at the end of the movie.
Talon gives the crown back to Mikah, Alana runs off happily to go “settle up” with Talon, as everyone chants his name. Then we cut to Talon back on the sea cliff with his men. All the blades back on his sword fixed. And “now it’s off to Maladon, to save Lambotia’s kingdom”. Some random asshole walks up and tells Talon he want’s to join up. Yes movie let’s introduce a random dude at the end of the movie and show us from his backside looking at General You Smelled it you Dealt it face, as he says “well then….we have a battle to offer, Kingdoms to save and women to love!!!” And they ride off into the sunset!
No post credits sequence, nobody had time for that shit in the 80’s but just at the fade to black we do get “Watch for Talon’s Next Adventure Tales of the Ancient Empire coming soon!” proving that people pulled that shit back in the 80s too. Coming soon was as soon as 2010 with Talon being played by Kevin Sorbo. Another lost flick for another review.
I know it seems like I am ripping this movie to shreds, but believe me I actually love cheese like this. It is why I got into writing these reviews in the first place. It is true lost flick. I mean it. I can’t even find a decent DVD copy for anything short of $66 dollars on Ebay. I mean I love it, but I don’t love it for $66. I would give this one 3 out of 5 cheese curds, just for its effort, cinematography, practical effects, and awesome score. It wasn’t a big budget movie, but back in the 80s nobody knew what a budget on a movie was. We just went and saw stuff if we thought it looked good. This one at least looks like it had a high production value, and it was Albert Pyun’s directorial debut, so I got to give him a pass, even if he jumped the shark of hoping for a sequel right away. I can even get past the fact that the damn Sorceror only pulls like two or three magic tricks in the whole movie. He can push people, make them hold really still, or pull a heart out of a chest, but only once!
Eventually I will track down this on DVD, but for now, I have movies to trash and reviews to write!
Adam will be back with his review of Deathstalker coming soon!
Dune has officially started shooting, and will take place over at least two films according to director Denis Villeneuve as quoted on Imdb.com. Today according to an article written by Scott Snowden on Space.com, Brian Herbert, son of Dune author Frank Herbert posted on twitter that principal filming has started.
For those of us were are old enough to remember what a mess the David Lynch version of Dune in 1984 was, this comes as exciting news. To be fair, the 1984 film could not be blamed on David Lynch, it was originally the passion project of surreal director Alejandro Jodorowsky who was jettisoned from the project due to creative differences with the studio. Lynch was the pinch hitter, who had to make what he could out of it. The harshest problem with the 1984 film is that it tries to tell too much story in one movie. Also, it took creative liberties with technology in order to invent clever special effects. The movie looked amazing, but made absolutely no sense.
For those of us who didn’t read the book, there was Dune (TV Mini-Series) which aired on the Sci-Fi Channel (Not SYFY) back in 2000. It might not have had the production level of the 1984 film, it looked more like the first season of the original Star Trek, but it was more faithful to the book, and had some decent performances. Most importantly, the story was simple to follow.
This new Dune adaptation is showing some exciting promise, with a director that has already demonstrated that he can respect the source material of an exciting property (Blade Runner 2049), and prioritized story over spectacle (Arrival). It also has a cast that we are all super excited about like Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, Zendaya, Dave Bautista, Javier Bardem, and Stellan Skarsgård as the megalomaniac Baron Harkonnen.
The most exciting news is that the movie WILL be split into at least two films according to Denis Villeneuve so that the original story would be “preserved and not cut into a million pieces.” We like that idea!
The original Dune was written in 1965 by Frank Herbert, who wrote six novel in the series. His son Brian Herbert, along with Kevin J. Anderson, co authored another 26. If they finally get it right this time, there could be a long franchise of Dune movies ahead of us. Lets home that none of them suck this time! We have faith that Denis Villeneuve will get it right this time. Let’s hope the audiences are as into it as we are!
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.