AUGUST 11 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : ALLIGATOR
There are some films that just could not and would not be made in this day and age. One of them would have to be this one, Alligator. No its not because it is incredibly brutal or any of the usual reasons you would think of. Its probably simply because no studio would back a movie like this unless the words Sci-Fi Original movie were attached. Also any movie made similar to this would definitely be given the CGI treatment, rather going with the mechanical Alligator and a real life 12 inch alligator filmed on a scaled down set. Lucky for us however this film was made in 1980 and now we get to bask in this 1980's cheesefest.
This movie is based on the urban legend we all heard growing up. One day an alligator outgrew its owners and was subsequently flushed down the drain where it grew in the sewers and terrorized the folks in the city. Well this film expands on the legend incorporating a detective David Madison who is currently battling his own personal demons. Madison is given the task of tracking down a killer that is tearing apart its victims and leaving limbs around the sewers. Its not long before the Detective comes face to face with the creature. Knowing that the police department aren't taking the situation seriously he acquires the help of Alligator specialist Marisa Kendall. Together they must find and destroy the creature before the death count gets out of control.
Filling the role of David Madison is Robert Forster who is perfect for this film. He manages to pull off the rugged police detective well while still keeping a slight comedic twist in the film as well. Playing opposite Forster is the uber hottie Robin Riker as Marisa Kendall. I was really floored when I first saw her on the screen. She has this girl next door look with flaming red hair that just knocks you off your feet. Not to mention she has a nice little nude scene in the film as well which I'm sure was done to satisfy all the horror fiends of the 80's.
Director Lewis Teague was pretty new when he directed this film and during the commentary it is interesting that he is quick to pick apart the film. Despite some of the problems he had editing some of the scenes together to maximize the scares he still managed to turn this into a nice B-movie. It should be noted that a lot of what he was able to accomplish in this film was done because he had worked under the great Roger Corman which is very obvious in this film.
Special FX in this film are very shoddy but thats really what makes this movie so enjoyable. A big clunky mechanical alligator, some fake blood and great use of a baby alligator are about all the director had to work with in this piece. I have to say some of the comedy in this film comes from looking at some of the scenes with the alligator and just imagining two guys inside it trying to maneuver it around. Although I must mention there is a scene in which a hunter is called in by the police. As a hunter he is looking around and discovers a huge pile of dung. At that point I almost spit out the nice cold beverage I was downing. How often do you get to see a giant steaming pile of Alligator poo?
The DVD which Lionsgate has put together is actually not bad. Usually with a release like this you would expect just barebones but no this one actually has some special features worth checking out. One being a interview with writer John Sayles conducted by one of the best in the biz Michael Felsher. Its pretty informative and covers just about all the bases about the writing of the film and some other interesting little tidbits as well. They also put together a nice commentary with Lewis Teague and Robert Forster. I was pleased they managed to get both of them together on the commentary and it is actually a pretty entertaining track to listen to.
Overall I gotta say this is some classic B-movie cheese. If you are looking for a really scary animal attacks movie this is not for you. Think of this as CHUD meets Jaws. Good campy fun that doesn't take itself to seriously. So pop some popcorn, grab a beer and lay back for some pure post Jaws animal attacks goodness.
AUGUST 11 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : FUTUREKICK
Every time I start to feel like I'm halfway normal, some dunderhead psychologist comes out with new theories about what's wrong with my Aardvarkus Whingdingus, if you know what I mean and I think you do.
Have you heard this latest one? It's that, when two people get married, it causes 70 per cent of the MALES in the relationship to get so sexually bored after two years that 70 per cent of the FEMALES go around BEGGING to make the sign of the three-pronged flying squirrel, if you know what I mean and of COURSE you do.
"It's the WOMAN who wants it more often," this psychologist guy says.
Now I find this hard to believe, because what have we men been told our ENTIRE lives?
"You're such an ANIMAL! Don't you ever think of ANYTHING ELSE?"
Is this one of those Female Things that we don't understand? Is this some way of manipulating us into buying a thirty-buck dinner at Reynaldo's Le Brasserie Wursthaus? Because I have to admit, if it is, then I've been falling for it my whole dang life.
They have a name for this thing: "Desire Discrepancy." At least this is what they call it when the woman says "Yes yes yes" but the man says "No way, Jose Feliciano."
When it's the other way around, and the man wants nookie but his Significant Other doesn't, they have another name for it: "Date Rape."
Anyhow, the way you deal with "Desire Discrepancy" is you call a meeting and you "talk through the issue in a friendly manner. Try to identify what's wrong. Is there a basic discrepancy in sex drive or has an emotional conflict caused one of you to lose interest?"
Let's see now, how would this go.
"Ravish me," she says.
"Well, now, let's talk about that," he says. "When you say 'ravish,' do you mean SEXUALLY?"
"Now! I need you! I want you!"
"Let me analyze the signals I'm getting from you," he says. "If I didn't know you better, I'd say you were making an indecent proposal."
"Yes! Yes! I'm indecent! I'm VERY VERY indecent!"
"Could it be that you're crying out for help? Could it be that you THINK you what sex, but what you really want is some form of emotional reassurance."
"No! No! I want SEX! PLEASE! Sex! Sex! Sex!"
"I guess we'll just have to seek therapy and counseling," the man says.
Is this really happening? In America?
Or are couples just doing it the way we do it in Texas:
"Do you want me?"
"Have at it."
Now isn't this a lot more civilized?
I can't spend much time worrying about these things, though, when there is Drive-In Art to be reviewed here. In "Future Kick"--the latest "Mad Max" ripoff sci-fi flick about how the 21st century is gonna be full of flaming trash barrels, dry ice, dog collars and leather jackets--drive-in super-producer Roger Corman makes an artistic statement that goes something like this:
"I have seen the future, and it includes Kung Fu."
Don "The Dragon" Wilson is a killer cyborg bounty hunter who knows kung-fu and is Earth's last chance against the evil corporations. Meg Foster is a rich housewife who lives on Mars, along with all the other 21st-century Yuppies, but she has to come down to Earth to find out what happened to her dead husband. (Would you believe he got rolled outside an inter-galactic topless bar and had his heart ripped out by a psycho wielding a giant post-hole digger on the end of his arm?)
Meg, of the liquid ice-blue eyes, and Don, who's worked up to a full thirty words of dialogue in his fourth movie, team up to explode the head of Roto-Rooter Hand, played by the always cranky Eb Lottimer.
It's sort of a cross between "Total Recall," "Enter the Dragon," and "Marty." (But thank God they cut out the sex scene between Meg and the kung fu robot. There are some things too horrible even for me.)
Twenty-seven dead bodies. Fourteen breasts. One motor vehicle chase. Three gunbattles. Two exploding heads. Exploding body. Arm-cracking. Head slicing. Heart gouging. Gratuitous Christopher Penn. Gratuitous topless bar scenes (thank God). Multiple Kung Fu. Laser Fu. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Meg Foster, for nagging her husband by saying "I hate it when you go to Earth"; Jeff Pomerantz, as the sleazeball husband, for saying "The lower I go the more exciting it gets"; Don "The Dragon" Wilson, for saying "The only thing you get from feelings is dead"; and Eb Lottimer, for strapping innocent women to tables and saying "There are only two things I'm gonna take--your body and your soul."
Two and a half stars.
AUGUST 11 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : FUTUREKICK
It's mind-boggling to think that anyone spent any time or effort producing a film like Future Kick. This movie is so unbelievably mediocre that we could hardly be bothered to focus our bleary orbs on the screen. Constantly distracted by more interesting things, like the ice melting in our glasses of soda, it's amazing that we can remember enough of the viewing experience to describe this waste of videotape. But such is our dedication to you.
Future Kick does indeed take place in the future, although it has little to do with kickboxing -- the presence of Don "The Dragon" Wilson, three-time world kickboxing champion, notwithstanding. Released about the same time as Terminator 2 and Total Recall (in fact, the video box said something about this being "the Total Recall of kickboxing"), it steals some music and atmosphere from the first and some concepts from the second without making one bit of sense in the process.
Substituting for a plot are some scenes involving a virtual reality programmer named Howard Morgan. Morgan leaves his wife Nancy (Meg Foster) in their home on the moon to return to the cesspool that is now Earth. His employers want him to come down for a chat, and (unbeknownst to Nancy) he wants to go carouse the nightspots of New Los Angeles. While there, Morgan apparently uncovers some evidence from an entirely different movie, thus drawing Walker (our android hero, played by Wilson) into the plot. A company called New Body is harvesting human organs off the street for a profit, and Morgan decides to hire Walker for "a job" related to this. Exactly what or why isn't made clear (a recurring theme in Future Kick), but that's what happens.
Morgan is killed off before he can rendezvous with Walker, and Nancy (who has been fooling around with Morgan's virtual reality equipment behind his back) wakes from her VR-induced dreams to a phone call informing her that her husband is dead. She then makes the trip to Earth to find Morgan's killer. Along the way she runs afoul of Hynes (Eb Lottimer), the New Body harvester who did her husband in, before stumbling into the arms of Walker, who becomes her hired protector.
None of this is presented in a way that you can easily understand -- the editing is simply atrocious. For example, Walker's history as an outlaw android is outlined three different times, each time more boring and pointless than before. Characters refer to each other by name, apparently without having met previously, making it obvious that scenes have been cut. Conversations that should be compelling (or at least illuminating) are intercut with scenes of women stripping. (Our theory is that Future Kick was born when someone filmed the opening of a new strip club and decided to work a movie in between table dances.) This is hack filmmaking at its worst -- no thought given to telling a concise story, and visuals thrown in at random.
If the people behind the camera are hacks, then the people in front of it are actively trying to do their audience harm. They seem hyper-aware of their own movie badness, and we can easily interpret their performances as punishment visited upon those of us dumb enough to rent the video. Don "The Dragon" Wilson barely registers on the visual radar -- is he on screen? Off? How can we tell? Do we care? Yeah, he is a kickboxer. But his big fight in the film is with a puffy thug played by Chris Penn. How hard is it to beat Chris Penn in a fight? If you don't want to bruise your knuckles hitting him, you could just make him chase after you until he has heart attack.
Meanwhile, Lottimer waves a tiny kernel of entertainment beneath our noses with his enthusiastic performance as the main villain -- probably bucking hard to get noticed for later roles like those in Dead Center and Bloodfist VII. The other minor actors (mostly strippers) are so strung-out and unattractive we feel sure they were pulled from a blood plasma donation queue.
The most notable acting tragedy, however, lies with Meg Foster. We like to think of Foster as the Tim Thomerson of female character acting. She, like Thomerson, has toyed with respectability without ever really hitting it big, but does seem to exhibit some acting skills in her many b-movies. In Future Kick, Foster begins the film by seeming to be too good an actress for it, but quickly slides to the same level of crappy acting all around her. No wonder her future roles lay in such classics as Project: Shadowchaser and Shrunken Heads.
Future Kick was produced by Roger Corman, the master of producing quick, cheap, bad films that capitalize on currently popular films. Heck, he got his Jurassic Park rip-off, Carnosaur, into theaters the week before Jurassic Park. Future Kick is the kind of film that owes its existence to other more popular films, and once the necessary elements have been introduced (in this case the Terminator-esque hero), the movie makers decided their job was done. Plot? Who needs one? Actors? Nah, just get some athlete desperate to break into Hollywood and some porn film rejects. If it's still not enough, throw in strippers every 10 minutes or so. What about viewers? Suffice it to say, there weren't many.