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Niki’s Crap DVD Clearout Review Extravaganza! part 18

Many moons ago I bought a DVD player from the Blockbuster in Finchley. It cost me £200. I could have got a much better one for that sort of money but you see this one came with 50 free movies! Bargain!

Well the DVD player is long gone but the movies remain for two reasons, firstly and ironically the cheap double sided discs would not play properly in the cheap DVD player they came free with and secondly, despite starring such luminaries as Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe they are uniformly awful. Seriously, the biggest film of the bunch is The Lawnmower Man!

As the years have rolled by they have sat on my shelf in the ‘I’ll get round to them some day’ pile and what better reason to get stuck into them than to inflict my reviews on you gentle people.

As well as a review I shall be giving them a mark out of five which will not only be an indication of quality but a prediction of their very immediate future:

*****  Might actually keep

**** Attempt to sell on Ebay

*** Straight to the nearest charity shop

** Straight to the nearest bin

* Will give away as a gift to anyone who makes me listen to Coldplay

So here goes…

Alien IAlien_Intruder_VideoCoverntruder

Ricardo Jacques Gale

 (1993)

 Rating **

Sounds a bit rude. Go on, admit you thought it too.

 

 

You just know you’re in for some top quality film making when the opening credits proudly announce that the special guest star is the guy who played Kenickie from Grease.

Although I’m starting to suspect that was just a polite way of saying ‘dies in the first eight minutes’. You see we open with Kenickie shooting up a storm on a spaceship (read: a boiler room). It seems he’s being controlled by a sexy lady although he blows his brains out before we can find out why (including a frankly disturbing shot of the inside of his mouth). I’ve been compelled to do a lot of stupid things in the name of sexy ladies but a gun toting rampage isn’t one of them. Maybe I just haven’t met the right girl yet. The plot thickens…

We cut to Billy Dee ‘Lando Calrissian’ Williams (to give him his full title) who is recruiting a bunch of rough, tough prisoners to go on a salvage mission to bring back the spaceship where Kenickie went loopy. This ragtag group consists of an ex-navigator, played by Maxwell Caulfield (Empire Records, Grease 2, er…Emmerdale), a creepy ex-alcoholic engineer, an incredibly infuriating explosives expert who enunciates every line like a coked up sex pest crossed with Yosemite Sam, and, er, an IT geek.

They are enticed on the mission with promise of the use of a virtual reality machine which can make all their fantasies come true (as long as these fantasies involve boobs and are within the budget). This sadly leads to incredibly awkward scenes of each guy’s fantasy, all of which involve rubbing up against a hot girl in differing time periods (Wild West, a 1950’s biker gang, a Casablanca rip off, and some generic beach house). No matter what the era, all the girls look like they just walked out of a Whitesnake video. But hey, boobs right?!

alien intruder 4

…and for the ladies, an oiled up Rex Manning!

Their fantasies keep getting hijacked by the same broad who sent Kenickie gaga in the opening scenes. This doesn’t seem to bother anybody much except for old Billy Dee who has been monitoring their fantasies, which is in no way creepy at all.

alien intruder 2

“Beats cable!”

It turns out Billy Dee has been searching for the mystery woman and has engineered this whole debacle so he can be with her. You see, this lady (if you hadn’t guessed about three minutes into the film) is some sort of alien siren who lures men to their deaths with her feminine wiles. Anyway, she plays them all off against each other (leading to one of the most ridiculous fist fights this side of They Live) and they all end up shooting, punching, or plain testosteroneing each other to death. Except for Maxwell who manages to escape, or does he? Trust me, you won’t care.

I can only surmise that this film was written by a couple of 11 year old boys. They wrote a list of all the things they loved and decided those things were spaceships, boobs, and punching, and if they could squeeze in some cowboys too then all the better.

The aforementioned fantasy scenes are cringe worthy. Oily convicts pawing at Playboy models in period clothing does not entertainment make. That these scenes are even in the movie at all is on such a flimsy pretense that doesn’t even really make much sense if you think about it too hard (I know, I know, why am I thinking about it too hard?).

But the main issue with Alien Intruder is that there is virtually zero threat throughout the entire movie. The alien herself doesn’t even become a real danger until the final minutes of the film and even then it’s really quite difficult to get that scared when the alien looks like this –

hqdefault

THE HORROR!!!

In all it really feels like an amalgam of several Red Dwarf episodes (Psirens, Better Than Life, and Gunmen Of The Apocalypse particularly) only without the laughs. Actually even Red Dwarf managed to be scarier than this on occasion. Alien this is not.

The film gains a star for some unintentionally funny moments. The fistfight being a highlight and the death of the nerd being way funnier than it was intended to be. It also earned some kudos for having a title that instantly reminded me of this joke from Top Secret.

top_secret_intruder_2

Although, once again, probably not their intention.

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Niki’s Crap DVD Clearout Review Extravaganza! part 16

About ten years ago I bought a DVD player from the Blockbuster in Finchley. It cost me £200. I could have got a much better one for that sort of money but you see this one came with 50 free movies! Bargain!

Well the DVD player is long gone but the movies remain for two reasons, firstly and ironically the cheap double sided discs would not play properly in the cheap DVD player they came free with and secondly, despite starring such luminaries as Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe they are uniformly awful. Seriously, the biggest film of the bunch is The Lawnmower Man!

As the years have rolled by they have sat on my shelf in the ‘I’ll get round to them some day’ pile and what better reason to get stuck into them than to inflict my reviews on you gentle people.

As well as a review I shall be giving them a mark out of five which will not only be an indication of quality but a prediction of their very immediate future:

*****  Might actually keep

**** Attempt to sell on Ebay

*** Straight to the nearest charity shop

** Straight to the nearest bin

* Will give away as a gift to anyone who makes me listen to Coldplay

So here goes…

Bruce cover

  Bruce Lee – The Man The Myth

           See-Yuen Ng

           (1976)

           Rating ****

‘Bruce Lee – The Man The Myth’ is a biopic about Kung Fu legend Bruce Lee, staring renowned Bruce Lee impersonator Bruce Li (real name Ho Chung-Tao). If that sentence hurt your head then I’d back out now if I were you. Go on, I understand.

You see, BLTMTM (as it shall hereon be known) is a biopic with a twist. The film makers decided, in a revolutionary take on the biopic tradition, to brush over such life events as Bruce’s first major role in The Green Hornet, the birth of his children, or his marriage to Linda Lee, and instead decided to focus on mostly fictionalised street fights, Bruce doing weights workouts in the gym, and frankly bizarre scenes of him willfully electrocuting himself or punching strange machines.

bruce-lee-the-man-the-myth

You thought I was joking didn’t you?

Most important life events are brushed over by a narrator or simply ignored altogether. In fact the film seems so desperate to race towards its next fight scene that it may be one of the worst paced films I’ve ever seen. Suddenly he’s played Kato, suddenly he’s in a completely different country, suddenly he has a wife and kids, couple of headaches, dead! They even drive a final nail in the coffin marked ‘fact’ with a surreal coda that suggests that Lee may have faked his death and disappeared. Poised to return in 1983!!

So why the four star rating? Well, despite this being a terrible, terrible, film, it is, without a doubt, the most entertaining movie I have watched so far in this interminable series. Therefore I have decided that the films hereon out shall be ranked by how much I enjoyed them, rather than as an indication of actual quality (I’m pretty sure I’ve been doing this unconsciously anyway).

Yes this film is awful. The transfer is so scratchy that I had pirate videos in the 80’s that looked better, the ADR (the dubbed over voices) is jarring and unsubtle, the acting is truly horrible, the foley (sound effects) is jacked up to 11, every swish of the arm sounds like a jet aircraft going past, and the aforementioned plot is laughable at best. But then isn’t that exactly what you want from a 70’s Kung Fu flick? I know I do.

Bruce Li plays the part of Lee with a smug arrogance that makes him fairly unlikable for the most part. In the opening scenes he moves from China to Washington and instantly becomes the most popular guy in town. He then saves an old guy from two unbelievably 70’s black guys which gets him in trouble with the local Karate teacher (“Karate is superior to Kung Fu!”). Lee sets him straight by beating him up.

0 (1)

You can almost hear the funk guitar.

Then the movie pretty much carries on in that vein. People challenge Lee, Lee beats them up. The absolute pinnacle being a scene where some road workers are assaulted by a bunch of English geezers, out on a run. The whole mob sound like they’ve been voiced by the cast of On The Buses,  throwing insults at Lee like “You horrible little bleeder!”. One guy even yells “CHARGE!” as he runs, fists first, at Lee. It’s a truly wonderful scene.

On a genuinely positive note, the fight scenes work pretty well for the most part. Nothing compared to the hyper-choreographed fights of today’s cinema but they retain an honest realism. It’s also full of wonderful 70’s fashions and cheesy disco synth music. Even Lee gets in on the action!

vie-fantastique-bruce-leebruce-the-man-the-my-L-dXvLFD

He could kill a man with just one of those collars.

So there you have it. I’ve seen in the new year with a film I genuinely enjoyed. Not for many of the right reasons, but still, I’ll take it over Dark Side of the Sun any day. HIIIIYYYAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!

Niki’s Crap DVD Clearout Review Extravaganza! part 15

About ten years ago I bought a DVD player from the Blockbuster in Finchley. It cost me £200. I could have got a much better one for that sort of money but you see this one came with 50 free movies! Bargain!

Well the DVD player is long gone but the movies remain for two reasons, firstly and ironically the cheap double sided discs would not play properly in the cheap DVD player they came free with and secondly, despite starring such luminaries as Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe they are uniformly awful. Seriously, the biggest film of the bunch is The Lawnmower Man!

As the years have rolled by they have sat on my shelf in the ‘I’ll get round to them some day’ pile and what better reason to get stuck into them than to inflict my reviews on you gentle people.

As well as a review I shall be giving them a mark out of five which will not only be an indication of quality but a prediction of their very immediate future:

*****  Might actually keep

**** Attempt to sell on Ebay

*** Straight to the nearest charity shop

** Straight to the nearest bin

* Will give away as a gift to anyone who makes me listen to Coldplay

So here goes…

 

Def By Temptation102612-celebs-movies-def-by-temptation

James Bond III

(1990)

Rating **

 

 

We open on a libidinous bar tender casually telling an unseen conquest at the other end of the phone that he will pay for her abortion. This bastion of chivalry then shifts his attentions to a seductive woman who has entered the bar and within minutes they are back at her place doing the nasty. Karma’s a bitch however as she turns out to be an evil, vampire succubus who eviscerates him and drinks his blood. Women huh? Right guys?

Focus shifts to a young man called Joel who is being haunted by dreams involving his preacher father and a mysterious figure in black. His father is played by Samuel L. Jackson! Yes! Maybe this film is going to be OK after all. It turns out he’s dead, and, aside from a very short scene at the end, this is the only time he appears. DAMN YOU MOVIE!

Def-by-Temptation-1

“And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and…ah forget it!”

Joel is training to follow in his father’s footsteps (to be a preacher, not dead) but is suffering a crisis of conscience so goes to spend some time with his black sheep brother ‘K’  in New York. K takes his brother to the bar from the beginning of the film and wouldn’t ya know it, they run afoul of miss bloodsucker, who slowly tempts Joel away from his brother and his beliefs. Apparently Joel is last in the line of something, I’m afraid this is as much as I can elucidate as it’s never properly explained. All we do know is that the sanguine queen needs him dead. As we’ve seen from her previous handy work, she’s not a gal to mess around when it comes to killing, which makes it all the more odd when she proceeds to take Joel on several coffee dates and even gets him alone on more than one occasion. Perhaps this is vampire foreplay.

K teams up with an undercover cop (Bill Nun of Spiderman fame) and attempts to save his brother from the clutches of this nocturnal harridan. They both do spectacularly badly however, as one is killed and the other turned into a vampire. In a weird, dreamlike ending that makes very little sense, Joel manages to kill the vampire and save his soul with a little help from his dead father and his mother who is about 600 miles away in a different state (I told you it made no sense).

defbytemptation

She was starting to lose her looks anyway.

It may look like I’ve been lazy with the old plot summary but for a 95 minute film there’s actually very little plot. If you remove the weird dream sequences and gratuitous vampire lovin’ then there’s barely a skeleton to hang a story on. Vampire seduces men to their deaths, one of them fights back. End.

It all comes across as an attempt to make a cool, African American version of Fright Night (or perhaps more appropriately Fright Night 2). However unlike those movies, the attempts at comedic moments just jar awkwardly with the horror. Also the clearly minuscule budget makes every scene look very much like it was shot in a studio (which they clearly were), mist and coloured lights are used to disguise the edges of the scene which makes it hard to feel like any of it is grounded in reality.

Dodgy editing also makes the film hard to follow at times. Scenes jar into each other, sometimes at random. The filmmakers must have been aware of this to some extent because on a couple of occasions a cue card would appear stating ‘The Next Day’ or ‘Later That Night’ to show the passing of time.

It is also so unbelievably ‘of its time’. Released in 1990, everything from the fashion, to the music, to the awful pun in the title screams ‘late 80’s’. I was half expecting to see a comedy cameo from The Fat Boys.

That said, the acting is fairly solid. Jackson puts in a good turn in his brief appearance, prefacing his bible spouting turn as Jules in Pulp Fiction, and Bill Nun provides some comedy as the undercover cop pretending to be a hopeless romeo while scoping out the bar.  Cynthia Bond has fun as they evil seductress even if her performance does come close to scenery chewing at times. The worst scenes sadly involve the brothers (one of whom is played by the director himself), not because of the acting but because each scene feels like it was improvised, badly. They mumble half conceived lines at each other in a directionless manner until the scene just peters out. This happens several times.

There are some effective scenes however. Some of the dream sequences are quite spooky and surreal and there’s at least one unique death where a guy is sucked into his own television which then spits out his guts and bones. However Cronenberg or Lynch this is not, and most of the time these scenes are either confusing or hilarious, or both (confarious?).

The director gets the last laugh though with his unintentionally hilarious dedication before the credits roll.

0V8eh

“Suck it forebears!”

 

Niki’s Crap DVD Clearout Review Extravaganza! part 14

About ten years ago I bought a DVD player from the Blockbuster in Finchley. It cost me £200. I could have got a much better one for that sort of money but you see this one came with 50 free movies! Bargain!

Well the DVD player is long gone but the movies remain for two reasons, firstly and ironically the cheap double sided discs would not play properly in the cheap DVD player they came free with and secondly, despite starring such luminaries as Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe they are uniformly awful. Seriously, the biggest film of the bunch is The Lawnmower Man!

As the years have rolled by they have sat on my shelf in the ‘I’ll get round to them some day’ pile and what better reason to get stuck into them than to inflict my reviews on you gentle people.

As well as a review I shall be giving them a mark out of five which will not only be an indication of quality but a prediction of their very immediate future:

*****  Might actually keep

**** Attempt to sell on Ebay

*** Straight to the nearest charity shop

** Straight to the nearest bin

* Will give away as a gift to anyone who makes me listen to Coldplay

So here goes…

split decisions coverSplit Decisions

David Drury

(1988)

Rating ***

For this episode we take another trip into the murky depths of the Drama boxset (I’ve got to start ticking these bastards off!) for a film about a sport I have no interest in. My spirits weren’t exactly high but my fears were somewhat unwarranted as this one turned out OK. Not, you know, great, but OK, which at this stage in proceedings, I consider a win.

Split Decisions stars Gene Hackman and a bunch of actors for whom IMDB was invented. The phrase “What’s he been in?” has never been uttered quite so many times by your humble reviewer, and as such I shall do my best to describe the actors to you in the most familiar way I know how.

So, Gene plays a cop (we know this because briefly dons a policeman’s uniform, although this fails to become an important plot point) who also helps train his two boxer sons played by Cabal from Nightbreed and The Lawnmower Man. Except that Lawmower Man has gone off to the big city to seek his fame and fortune with a bigger boxing promoter, much to the chagrin of his father who is training his more loyal and level headed son for the Olympics.

split laen

“Can’t mow lawns forever Dad!”

When Lawnmower returns home he is approached by a shady boxing promoter (played by Mr. Strickland from Back To The Future) who wants him to take a dive in a fight against his prizefighter in return for a pay off. When he refuses, Mr. Strickland has the slacker beaten up and thrown from a window to his death. Marty McFly got off lightly!

Cabal decides that the best way to avenge his brother’s death is to get into the ring with the prizefighter (and aforementioned defenestrator) even though he’s clearly way out of his league and will almost certainly get pummeled to death. CUE TRAINING MONTAGE!

Well the big fight comes and things go pretty much as expected with poor Cabal getting his ass handed to him on a plate. Then, suddenly, he wins, and the police arrest all of the guilty parties. Cue near carbon copy of the freeze frame from Rocky. Seriously that how it ends! He’s on the ropes when he suddenly launches a volley of blows out of nowhere and defeats the guy. I can only assume the writer was right up his deadline on this one.

Well despite the ridiculously abrupt ending, this one wasn’t all that bad, the story is pretty derivative (seriously how many loved one’s deaths have been avenged in 80’s cinema?), but the cast are pretty strong. Hackman has little to do but not as little as The Girl From Flashdance. Oh did I not mention that The Girl From Flashdance was in this? Well that’s because she does NOTHING! It’s not that she’s in only a few scenes. She’s in lots of scenes, sitting in the background, looking a little worried, kissing the hero. Hers is one of the most underwritten characters I’ve ever seen, and she’s the only bloody woman in it (unless you count ‘Sexy Round Announcer Lady’ as a meaty feminine role)! She does has one scene with some dialogue but the main point of that scene appears to be so she can lean out of a window dressed like this –

split crop top

GIRL POWER!

I’m not even exaggerating. Most of the dialogue revolves around how she probably shouldn’t be leaning out of a window dressed like that. Germaine Greer this is not. Some versions of the DVD even have her on the cover next to Hackman, clearly to capitalise on her Flashdance fame, which is even more insulting.

But all gripes aside, this one was a whole lot better that some of the other dreck I’ve been forced to endure during this series. It rolls along fairly painlessly and for once I didn’t feel entirely like an hour and a half of my life had just hemorrhaged into the ether.

Cheesy Sci-Fi next time I think. I feel like I’ve earned it.

Niki’s Crap DVD Clearout Review Extravaganza! part 13

It’s been a while so here’s a reminder how this works.

About ten years ago I bought a DVD player from the Blockbuster in Finchley. It cost me £200. I could have got a much better one for that sort of money but you see this one came with 50 free movies! Bargain!

Well the DVD player is long gone but the movies remain for two reasons, firstly and ironically the cheap double sided discs would not play properly in the cheap DVD player they came free with and secondly, despite starring such luminaries as Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe they are uniformly awful. Seriously, the biggest film of the bunch is The Lawnmower Man!

As the years have rolled by they have sat on my shelf in the ‘I’ll get round to them some day’ pile and what better reason to get stuck into them than to inflict my reviews on you gentle people.

As well as a review I shall be giving them a mark out of five which will not only be an indication of quality but a prediction of their very immediate future:

*****  Might actually keep

**** Attempt to sell on Ebay

*** Straight to the nearest charity shop

** Straight to the nearest bin

* Will give away as a gift to anyone who makes me listen to Coldplay

So here goes…

Train To Hell

Carlo U. Quinterio

(1996)

Rating *

train-hell-dvd-cover-art

Train To Hell! Look at that title. Train! To! Hell! It’s a film, about a train, that’s going to hell!

I think everything’s going to be alright after all.

Wait, what do you mean the film’s alternative title is ‘Night Train To Venice’? That doesn’t make sense. Is it going to hell or to Venice? Oh, Venice you say? Well that is a disappointment. My Mum and Dad went to Venice and said it was very nice. You still want a review? Fine!

The film opens on a child balancing precariously on the edge of a fourth floor balcony, cut to a tree, back to the girl, the tree, the girl, a leaf falls at a man’s feet. Cut to Hugh Grant in a library. Wait, what? Sadly this is a portent of the ADHD style editing this film will employ throughout its mercifully brief 72 minute running time.

Hugh (merely a year away from making ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ and assuring he never has to star in dreck like this again) is a writer who has just penned a shocking expose on Neo-Nazis, so he’s off on the Orient Express to Venice to visit a publishing house called Inferno (geddit?!) who are interested in his book.

He is joined on this journey by a bunch of colourful misfits including an actress (ironically played by a terrible actress) and her daughter, a bunch of stowaway skinheads who just might be Neo-Nazis (spoiler: they are), and a creepy gentleman known only as The Stranger. Said stranger is played by Malcolm McDowell who, apart from during his brief scenes of dialogue, appears entirely in slow motion. A curious directorial choice, especially considering he is usually standing fairly still in all of these scenes.

1998b

Actual footage. Not a still!

Anyway, Hugh seduces the actress by dropping a winner of a pick up line on her (“I like books actually, I’m an intellectual”) and that’s pretty much the last moment this film makes even the remotest sense.

Hugh and the actress have visions, possibly flashbacks, possibly caused by the stranger, possibly related to something relevant. The Neo-Nazis cause a modicum of trouble, and a terrifying, white faced, chanteuse sings La Vie En Rose, and this is all before we even get to Venice (or hell, I’m still hopeful).

Once in Venice, Hugh finds the publishers building to be empty save for some dusty papers and a Doberman chewing on some meat. He is then chased on motorcycle by the Nazis who crash into a truck and explode while Hugh merely crashes and gets amnesia (you heard me). He wanders the streets of Venice, contemplating who he is, until we come full circle. The girl on the balcony was none other than the actress’s daughter in a cunning flash forward. She falls, Hugh saves her, this cures his amnesia, he and the actress make love over a dreadful song called Night Train To Venice (I’m starting to think there’ll be no hell in this movie at all). The end (dammit!).

"Is that a coherent plot up ahead?" "No I think it's a pigeon"

“Is that a coherent plot up ahead?”
“No I think it’s a pigeon”

Well, I’ve had some hard times trying to describe some of the plots to the movies in this series but man alive! Un Chien Andalou made more sense! People phase in and out of visions that are never fully explained, characters come and go without motive, plot points are hammered into the narrative and then forgotten about (seriously what was the point of the amnesia?).

For a film of such brevity there’s an incredible amount of padding. Extended scenes of people gazing at each other in slow motion and frankly bizarre montages that are supposed to show the passing of time fill up a lot of the space where perhaps a coherent plot might have gone.

Messieurs Grant and McDowell aside, the acting is horrible. The Nazis have weird, American sounding accents that sound like they were dubbed on as an afterthought. The actress playing the actress is amusingly stiff as a board, but nothing compared to her daughter. She reads lines so monosyllabically that I at first wondered if she was supposed to be possessed. Especially when she has been given such dialogue as “When we get back home to Venice I’ll show you all my pretty pigeons. They all have little red shoes and white wings”. Try reading that in a creepy child’s voice. Chilling!

Overall it felt like the film had been written using that game where each person writes down a sentence then folds the paper over and the next person has a go. It tries to be some sort of gothic mystery but remains so resolutely unfocussed that it feels, for the most part, like a particularly odd episode of Poirot. Hugh Grant has publicly stated that this is the worst film he’s ever been in. He was in Love Actually. Just let that sink in.

1998d

Niki’s Crap DVD Clearout Review Extravaganza! part 2

About seven years ago I bought a DVD player from the Blockbuster in Finchley. It cost me £200. I could have got a much better one for that sort of money but you see this one came with 50 free movies! Bargain!

Well the DVD player is long gone but the movies remain for two reasons, firstly and ironically the cheap double sided discs would not play properly in the cheap DVD player they came free with and secondly, despite starring such luminaries as Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe they are uniformly awful. Seriously, the biggest film of the bunch is The Lawn Mower Man!

As the years have rolled by they have sat on my shelf in the ‘I’ll get round to them some day’ pile and what better reason to get stuck into them than to inflict my reviews on you gentle people.

As well as a review I shall be giving them a mark out of five which will not only be an indication of quality but a prediction of their very immediate future:

*****  Might actually keep

**** Attempt to sell on Ebay

*** Straight to the nearest charity shop

** Straight to the nearest bin

* Will give away as a gift to anyone who makes me listen to Coldplay

So here goes…

Primal Species

Jonathan Winfrey

(1996)

Rating *

 

Terror should never be this rubbery!

The movie opens with the proud statement ‘Roger Corman Presents’. Now any horror movie fan will be aware of this man’s influence over the genre, however they will also know that his name is not always a sign of quality. On last count IMDB has him down as having produced 395 movies and most of his recent contributions have been to portmanteau monster movies like Sharktopus, Dinoshark and (I can barely bring myself to type this one) Piranhaconda! I am ashamed to say I have seen Sharktopus, it is awful. But back in the heady days of 1996 he put his name to this little feature which is the first from our Thriller Films box set. It’s called Primal Species, it is worse than Sharktopus. Though I guess ‘Presented by Roger Corman’ sounded slightly better than ‘From the director of Bloodfist VII: Manhunt’.

The movie opens with an army convoy being hijacked by some unconvincing terrorists who think they have some uranium on their hands, instead what they discover is genetically recreated dinosaurs which promptly rip them to pieces. Enter some unconvincing police officers who suffer the same fate. Now it’s down to a bunch of unconvincing army types to take them down, so they enter the warehouse where the dinos are hiding with a little help from a heat sensor device ripped straight out of Aliens. Remember that scene in Jurassic Park where the kids are trapped in the kitchen by the Velociraptors? Well this scene is the complete opposite of that. The dinos push cardboard boxes about and someone we didn’t have time to care about is killed by a rubbery looking fiend.

Enter a slightly Michelle Pfeiffer-esque scientist who gives them and us a brief rundown on the dinosaurs (or Carnosaurs apparently) and insists they are captured alive for further research. So they call on their basic army training to devise a plan to capture the beasts, well, that’s if their basic army training was watching Scooby-Doo as the plan involves getting a big net and dangling a piece of meat from it. Unsurprisingly this doesn’t work and the dinos escape onto a ship, we know this because we are told, though how they got there and managed to get down the thin staircases to the hull is anybody’s guess. More people die and eventually the sergeant and the scientist blow up the ship with just enough time to jump free and doing a little flirtin’ in the water. A natural reaction to nearly getting eaten then blown up my psychiatrist assures me.

Everything about this film is bad. The acting is awful, in the opening scene we see a guy fail to act ‘sitting down in a truck’, he fidgets and smiles awkwardly while trying to work out what to do with his gun. When they start talking it gets worse, though to give the actors credit they had little to work with in the way of dialogue, at one point a cop describes the carnage left by the dinos as like “Some sort of Friday the 13th nightmare” while another describes it as looking like an airplane crashed, funny, I always thought airplane crashes would have more bits of airplane and not just bloody body parts. But hey, I’m no scientist.

Then there are the dinosaurs, and oh boy are they shitty. Remember how awesome the T-Rex looked when it first appeared in Jurassic Park? Well three years later this film was still utilising the old man in a rubber suit technique. The director didn’t even have the good sense to hide them in the shadows, in some scenes they are presented in all their glory waving their rubber arms about, and once trying to shoulder barge a door open.

I know this all sounds jolly fun if you like that sort of thing but despite the odd unintentionally funny moment this movie is really just irritatingly half assed. Even the attack scenes are without any kind of excitement at all.

Apparently this is actually the third in a series of films and also goes by the name Carnosaur 3: Primal Species. I shall not be rushing to Amazon to pick up the first two, even if this was the Godfather 3 of the trilogy it still wouldn’t be worth it.

On the upside, while I was watching this I was missing Transformers 2 on Channel 4. Oh well, ‘every cloud…’ as they say. 

Niki’s Crap DVD Clearout Review Extravaganza!

About seven years ago I bought a DVD player from the Blockbuster in Finchley. It cost me £200. I could have got a much better one for that sort of money but you see this one came with 50 free movies! Bargain!

Well the DVD player is long gone but the movies remain for two reasons, firstly and ironically the cheap double sided discs would not play properly in the cheap DVD player they came free with and secondly, despite starring such luminaries as Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe they are uniformly awful. Seriously, the biggest film of the bunch is The Lawn Mower Man!

As the years have rolled by they have sat on my shelf in the ‘I’ll get round to them some day’ pile and what better reason to get stuck into them than to inflict my reviews on you gentle people.

As well as a review I shall be giving them a mark out of five which will not only be an indication of quality but a prediction of their very immediate future:

*****  Might actually keep

**** Attempt to sell on Ebay

*** Straight to the nearest charity shop

** Straight to the nearest bin

* Will give away as a gift to anyone who makes me listen to Coldplay

So here goes…

Corrupt

Roberto Faenza

(1983)

Rating **

Harvey Keitel is bad lieutenant (no seriously).

I should first mention that these DVDs are, in the main divided up into boxes of four movies all within the same genre, for our first experiment (sorry it does feel a little like I’ve condemned myself to my own personal Mystery Science Theatre) I have chosen something from the Action Films box. I shall try to mix up as much as possible throughout the weeks for sake of interest (and self preservation).

So here we have Corrupt, a 1983 movie which the box describes as ‘a gritty and powerful police thriller’ before completely spoiling the ending. Well, it certainly is gritty, in all my days I have never seen such an appalling DVD transfer, I saw better pirate videos back in the 80’s. The colours bleed terribly into each other, the dialogue is muddy and hard to hear, when the soundtrack (written by Ennio Morricone no less) gets too loud it crackles and pops and at one point a thick static bar actually rolled across the screen, it was like it was shot in VHS Nostalgia-Vision. Probably something to do with the movie being public domain meaning you or I could make a copy and sell it if we wanted to, this might also explain why the picture of Keitel on the cover is from a different movie.

Anyway onto the plot, Harvey Keitel plays a tough NYC cop. He lives in a small apartment by himself all the while sharing a spacious, luxury apartment overlooking Central Park with a fellow police officer. Why this is is never fully explained though it has something to do with police corruption, unfortunately as this becomes quite a major plot point the haziness of it all is rather frustrating, are they stealing money from the police department? Are they lovers or merely rather odd room mates?

While all of this vagary is abounding someone in a ski mask is going round killing cops with a bread knife though judging by the police’s reactions you’d think they were merely swearing at the elderly. It becomes apparent that Harvey is being followed and this eventually leads to a confrontation at his apartment by a creepy young man who claims he is the cop killer. The man is played somewhat patchily by Sex Pistol and butter enthusiast John Lydon. Now Lydon has always come across as somewhat psychotic, it’s kinda his thing, so it is ironic that in a film where he is playing a psycho he comes across as more of a wet blanket.Harveydoesn’t believe old Johnny Boy’s story for a second but through fear that Johnny will expose whatever corruption it is that got him this apartment he ties him up and locks him in the bathroom. Harvey then decides to investigate Johnny’s story and it turns out he is the heir to a small fortune as the only living relative of his elderly Grandmother (played by the wonderful Sylvia Sidney, (Mars Attacks / Beetlejuice)).

Soon his partner, lover, housemate, whatever finds out about his prisoner and turns up demanding he set him free, Harvey accidentally kills him and tries to frame it on Johnny who then runs off after Harvey’s gun fails to go off.Harveythen gets drunk, Johnny turns up on his doorstep and ends up living with him as his sort of guilty conscience / nagging housewife. All this time a reporter is trying to get a story on the killer and corruption within the police force, she might also be the girlfriend ofHarvey’s now deceased friend, again this was never made clear though she is clearly upset when he dies.

Harvey sleeps with the reporter, Johnny convinces him to kill her but he instead gives her his gun, Johnny then ties himself up in the bath so it looks like Harvey is the killer then convinces him to cut his throat while revealing he was really the killer just before the police arrive.

If you thought this review was muddled then you’d be right. While this film has a certain quality it was never easy to decipher anyone’s true motives for doing anything, it was all just a bit of a muddle, the choppy editing did little to help either.

The performances were on the whole OK, even Lydon wasn’t as awful as I expected him to be, sure it was an uneven performance but it was an uneven film so at least they were consistent. When the soundtrack wasn’t popping it grooved along in a nice 70’s exploitation kinda way, all synth bass and horns, but seriously how many soundtracks from that era featured a single note bass line playing in the rhythm of a heartbeat?

Overall this film didn’t have too much to recommend it, for a film in the action box it had little action, the majority of the film was people talking to each other in sparsely decorated rooms. Though if you’re a fan of that era of gritty cop dramas you might get a kick out of it plus the chance to see a rare acting role for Lydon may hold any Sex Pistols fans out there.

So there you have it, the first film in our run of 50 was a decidedly average one, nothing like starting a new feature with a fizzle eh?

Next week rubber dinosaurs attack army men. Dare you miss it?