Friday, April 1, 2011

I can't tell you how happy I am to live in a world where this is not an April Fool's Day Prank...PART 2!

Last year on April Fool's I examined some VHS covers that seemed almost too good to be true– heartfelt TV-movie dramas with Jamie Lee Curtis and Bette Davis, a Boglin hurling a pentagram in the direction of Fred Ward's balls, a film where Powers Boothe and Rutger Hauer battle for Kathleen Turner's love and for endangered birds, etc., etc.

So today in tribute to a bygone era, let us peruse these dusty shelves once more in search of that elusive 49¢ rental that could change your life forever... or at least give you an excuse to order up a couple of pizzas and a sixer of Schlitz.

Is Peter O'Toole supposed to be God? Is he pouring himself a drink or conducting an experiment? And what sort of furry critter has died whilst reclining upon Mariel Hemingway's head?

I like you, BLOODY NEW YEAR Ghoul. I salute your Crypt-Keeper-y sense of fun, your wobbly eyes, and your insistence on purchasing alllll the trimmings from the Party-o-rama outlet store. But above all... I salute your eyebrows.

Co-starring Lillian Gish, Candy Clark, and O.J. Simpson. No, REALLY.

How have I not heard of this? Durning... standing alone? "The story of a real American hero?" Is this a Durning auto-biopic?! Co-starring Pam Grier and Stacey Keach's brother? I don't think that I can go another minute without seeing this film. And finally- does Dom DeLuise make an appearance?

The pros:
•Bruce Glover.
•Skeletons with guns.

The cons:
•I kind of don't like how the skeleton is wearing chaps. It makes it look as if it's got shapely legs and child-bearing hips. That makes everyone uncomfortable.
•The $79.95 price tag.

"It all started out as a joke..." It all started out as a joke... IT ALL ...STARTED OUT...AS A JOKE!...

Did Oliver Reed realize that he was in a movie? Hard to say. Look at his glazed over, rum-soaked stare. Chilling. And on the other end of the spectrum, look at what care they've taken with the captive- making sure her hair has that ultra-conditioned sheen and even loosening her gag so that it doesn't interfere with her carefully positioned, backlit tresses.

Certainly in the running for having the most generic title of all time, DELTA HEAT boldly opines that "sometimes the truth can be murder." But what have we here? Anthony Edwards rocking out a peroxided coiffure and Lance Henriksen creeping up behind him, holding a gun at an unusual angle. Does Edwards know that he's there? Let's check out the IMDb synopsis: "An L.A. cop investigates the death of his partner in the swamps of Louisiana. Enlisting the help of an ex-cop who lost his hand to an alligator many years before." Yes...yes...and YES! Is that the disembodied hand that Henriksen lost, floating behind Edwards' shoulder? I need to see this as soon as possible.

Okay- how could they NOT name the movie 'DIRTY HARRIET?'

"We need a title for this flick?"
–"How about SLITHIS?"
"Surely we can come up with something better than that."
–"What, you've got something better?"
"Well not right now– come on, I'm supposed to just think of something off the top of my head? I haven't even had my coffee yet."
–"You can't come up with anything better than SLITHIS either."
"That's not true."
–"Well, okay. But until you do, let's put SLITHIS on the temp artwork."
"Fine. But only until I come up with something better."
–"Yeah, we'll see about that."


"JOE DON BAKER IS LOOKING FOR TROUBLE." Trouble always seems to find Joe Don Baker, from JOYSTICKS to WACKO to the infamous MITCHELL. Well, count me in, JDB. Count me in.

"Okay are you ready...let me lay somthin' on ya: DETECTIVE SCHOOL."
–"Is that all?"
–"Is that all?"
"...A Golan and Globus production."
–"Alright, I'm not gonna lie– you had me at DETECTIVE SCHOOL. But does it have that guy, the guy with the voice...the guy from the POLICE ACADEMYs...what's his name again? I can't get enough of that guy."

–"Alright, that might be a little too much Goldthwait."

It saw...and it burned...a Rutger Hauer-lookalike.

The title and the font are telling me that this is a movie about an inspirational inner-city basketball coach, and yet I'm seeing an image of Peter O'Toole riding around on a tank.

So rule #1 is, predictably, that there are no rules. Fair enough. But is that a stain or the ghost of a buzz saw? And did I mention that this is Chuck Norris' son?

This might be my favorite title since THUNDERGROUND.

So is the GLOVE wanted dead, not alive? How does one kill the glove? Conversely, how does one take the glove alive? Or is the glove worn by the person who is wanted dead, not alive? Or is the glove worn by the person hunting the person who is wanted dead, not alive? Is this somehow related to ROLLERBALL?

"The race that drove Africa wild." I never expected to see Stockard Channing in hot pants bringing an entire continent to its knees. Even the monkey on her back is getting in on the ogling. Grinning David Carradine is still somehow riding the wave of DEATH RACE 2000. And Christopher Lee fits into this somehow as well?

So that wave subsided at some point- Carradine in old lady drag á la THE UNHOLY THREE? Apparently this flick has a devoted cult following and I hope one day to join its ranks.

Gotta love the Barbarian Brothers. Straddling that big truck with masculine intensity, untied shoes, and a slashed-front tee-shirt? And you know the other brother has got cut-offs on (just outside the frame). And who hasn't wanted to see Martin Mull and Richard Moll in the same flick? Plus, more Carradine! That's thinkin' big indeed!

Combine a Xander Berkeley lookalike, a feathered mane, a power drill, and a supporting role by Robert Davi, and what do you get? ...Nothin' but TRAXX!

I'll say no more beyond the fact that...this is a documentary!

I like to think of myself as a well-informed individual, particularly when Harry Dean Stanton movies are concerned. The fact that this one has slipped through the cracks of my awareness leads me to believe I should probably committ HDS seppuku. But maybe forty Hail Marys and a viewing of WISE BLOOD could atone for my sin.

I mean..what can I say? (Besides "I'd like to buy your album.")

Is this the eponymous "return" depicted here on the VHS cover art? Has the big payoff been ruined? Why even rent it now? "Oh, by the way, the finale is just Jan-Michael Vincent embracing a brown-silk-poncho-wearing Cybill Shepherd. THE END."

There have been some pretty enjoyable MAD MAX rip-offs. Everything from THE NEW BARBARIANS to STEEL DAWN to HELL COMES TO FROGTOWN. So was "OSA" really the best title they could come up with? And the best picture was this possible stock photo of desert bikers?

"STRIKE ONE - there's a killer on the loose... STRIKE TWO - you never know where he'll strike next... STRIKE THREE - too late." Look at how mortified Roy Scheider is. The poor guy is one of the finest actors of his generation, and he's starring in NIGHT GAME. My completely uninformed prediction of what the plot is: a psychopathic 'Nam vet baseball player slices n' dices sports commentators, stuffs their remains inside of baseballs and then plays with them. A player smacks a foul ball into the stands which lands on the lap of washed-up private eye Roy Scheider who discovers that...THE BASEBALL IS BLEEDING!

"An insane Hollywood makeup man kidnaps a woman, keeps her prisoner in his warehouse full of props. " Co-starring Keenan Wynn. I must say that I'm a little unnerved by how much psycho-Rooney resembles the elderly Richard Dreyfuss.

I've actually seen this movie. It has nothing to with a shirtless white man punching you in the face and everything to do with a shabby, middle-aged Leo Fong bopping dudes in the Bazzinis. I feel like your average viewer would be more inclined to see this if it were accurately advertised.

"I don't want to see that new movie, INTERFACE. It just looks like 'another fantasy game movie.'"
–"Ohhhh-ho-ho... that's where you're wrong."
"Whaddya mean?"
–"It's not just another fantasy game. These players are serious... dead serious."
–"Did I mention it's also got Lou Diamond Philips playing Punk #1?"
"Alright...fair enough."

"People are funny– and the 'Big Gag' proves it!" In that case, let's hope that space aliens don't get their hands on this looking for proof that human beings possess some kind of innate, uh, humanity, because I'm willing to bet that not only does the 'Big Gag' NOT prove that people are funny, but in fact proves that we are sickening degenerates, possibly beyond all help. (On the other hand, a New World Picture has never let me down yet.)

MASTER CLASS with Sho Kosugi?! But damn– He was gonna be live in person at the IVE Booth at the VSDA show!? I have no idea what that means, but I'm forced to believe that I've already missed the boat on this one.

But I don't feel too bad, because I now know that the disparate worlds of RETURN OF THE NINJA and WOLFEN once did collide...and the Word was called WOLFEN NINJA, and the Word was good.

In the name of all that is holy– John Huston plays God on judgment day, raining hellfire, brimstone, and wing-flapping slo-mo doves onto the populace, flanked by Mel Ferrer, Glenn Ford, Lance Henriksen, Shelley Winters, and Sam Peckinpah... ...WHAT?!!? "HE CAME TO SAVE THE WORLD FROM THE DEMON CHILD!"

This movie is so uninspired that it names its main character The Rider and his enemy The Omega Force. And he's not even The Rider, he's "The Rider." He's already, pre-emptively been put into scare quotes by the marketing team. That's how little respect they have for "The Rider." Oh, and you know Donald Pleasence? No? Not ringing any bells? How about Donald 'Halloween' Pleasence? Oh, you know that guy, right? What about Persis Khambatta? No? Oh, sorry, what about Persis 'Star Trek' Khambatta? Oh, you still don't know who that is? Fair enough.

I don't know where the Brothers Grimm are buried, but I can pretty much guarantee that they were spinning pretty hard in their graves until they heard that Brad Dourif was gonna be in this. It co-stars James Earl Jones and William Atherton, the full title is actually GRIM PRAIRIE TALES: HIT THE TRAIL TO TERROR, and IMDb reviewer Lee Kelly calls Dourif and Jones "a 'buddy' pairing to rival Riggs and Murtaugh. Give them their own series!" Alright, I'm sold.

Anyway, enjoy your April Fool's, everyone–may all your Brads be Dourifs, all your Lances be Henriksens, all your Ollie Reeds be drunk, all your dogs be named Hambone; and whenever there's a Cannon pointed in your direction, pray that it's operated by a couple of whacky cousins named Golan and Globus, and is easily procurable on Betamax, Laserdisc, and VHS! Amen.

–Sean Gill


J.D. said...

These are all cheese-TASTIC cover art. I *really* wanna see that Joe Don Baker flick. I seriously think that Lincoln Center/FILM COMMENT must do a Joe Don retrospective. Before it's too late, dammit!

That Lance Henrikensen/Anthony Edwards film also looked pretty awesome from the cover art alone! Netflix has gotta put all these bad boys up on their streaming section pronto.

Sean Gill said...

I must second the Joe Don retrospective! That would be fantastic. I'm still kicking myself from missing William Lustig's screening of WELCOME HOME, SOLDIER BOYS a few years back.

And as for the handless Henriksen/blonde Edwards buddy cop movie... well, I may have to pick that up on VHS very soon.