Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Film Review: BLACK MOON RISING (1986, Harley Cokliss)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 100 minutes.
Tag-line: "From the mind of John Carpenter comes the towering adventure that thunders across Los Angeles and explodes 30 stories above it!"
Notable Cast or Crew: Tommy Lee Jones, Linda Hamilton, William Sanderson (DEADWOOD, BLADE RUNNER), Don Keith Opper (CRITTERS), Keenan Wynn (ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST), Robert Vaughn (THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN), Bubba Smith (STROKER ACE, POLICE ACADEMY), Richard Jaeckel (DAY OF THE ANIMALS, THE DIRTY DOZEN, and his character's name here is "Earl Windom"– sound familiar, TWIN PEAKS fans?), Nick Cassavetes (FACE/OFF). Music by Lalo Schifrin, written and produced by John Carpenter.
Special note: Despite the video cover saying 'Cannon Films' this was actually a New World Picture, distributed in England on video by Cannon, so it's not actually a Cannon Film.

BLACK MOON RISING is a high-tech thrill ride.

And by that I mean it has lots of lasers, red and black binders, wood paneling, key cards, tinted windows, exclusive parking decks, terminals showing green text on black, and did I mention 'super cars.' The 80's was probably the decade where regular people had the biggest interest in 'super cars.'

And I use the term pretty broadly to reference pretty much everything from KNIGHT RIDER to BACK TO THE FUTURE to BUCKAROO BANZAI to THE WRAITH. I gotta say BLACK MOON RISING's super car, the "Black Moon," kinda comes across as phoning it in. It looks pretty schweet, but I'm not even exactly sure what made it "super." I guess it ran on alternative fuels or something.

Anyway, this film comes courtesy of writer/producer John Carpenter, and frequently has the feel of perhaps a TV pilot based on the Snake Plissken robbery/arrest deleted scene from ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. But, lucky for us, even Carpenter's outtakes and off days are still better than average, so we get a pretty solid flick. We got Lalo Schifrin trying his best to emulate a Carpenter soundtrack (as John was too busy with BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA); Linda Hamilton in some gigantic, crazy wigs;

a perpetually grizzled Tommy Lee Jones as our asshole hero;

the line "I'm gettin' too old for this;" Bubba Smith (POLICE ACADEMY, STROKER ACE) rocking out a mind-blowing 'stache and exuding badassery;

an obligatory spaghetti western style beating of our hero; and awesome bit parts by William Sanderson (BLADE RUNNER), Don Keith Opper (CRITTERS series), douchebag corporate villain Robert Vaughn (THE DELTA FORCE)
and bushy-'stached Keenan Wynn (POINT BLANK).

So it all adds up to yet another enjoyable film from post-Corman New World Pictures (who in the 80's brought us HOUSE, THE STUFF, HEATHERS, HELL COMES TO FROGTOWN, DEAD HEAT, and scads of others). So, in the name of all things high-tech, I must C:\BLACK MOON RISING> assign '4 Stars'... or something like that.

-Sean Gill

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