Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Haunting Of Orly Manor

The Haunting of Orly Manor
March 18, 1980
Story: G.J. Young
Teleplay: Mark Jones & Robert E. Feinberg & Howard Liebling
Director: Daniel Haller

I wonder who G.J. Young was. Young is credited with the story of the MISADVENTURES OF SHERIFF LOBO episode “The Haunting of Orly Manor,” and it is his or her only television or film credit. It was rewritten by three different LOBO staff writers into a haunted house episode that aired several months too late for Halloween.

Lobo (Claude Akins), Perkins (Mills Watson), and some sexy parapsychologists (including a hot young Delta Burke) are trapped during a thunderstorm in a spooky old house where a young woman named Rachel Stone was poisoned to death a hundred years earlier. Lobo’s plan to auction the house to Mr. Avery (Stu Gilliam) for a fee seem to be foiled when Birdie’s (Brian Kerwin) girlfriend Sarah (Leann Hunley) shows up to make a bid. To scare Sarah off, Lobo convinces Perkins to pretend to be a ghost. Yes, Hollywood was still using this hoary plot in 1980.

Noises in the attic, secret passages, séances, and dusty corpses dot this episode that plays a lot like a Bowery Boys programmer from Monogram with Akins and Watson doing Slip and Sach. Most of it takes place indoors, except for some establishing shots of the PSYCHO house on the Universal lot. Filmed late in the 1979-80 season, “The Haunting of Orly Manor” was helmed efficiently by Daniel Haller, who was probably under orders to shoot as cheaply as possible. Not even a shred of the series’ trademark vehicular mayhem is on display in this hackneyed but fun episode.

The Roomies

What would happen if you edited scenes from Tommy Wiseau's stunningly inept film THE ROOM to fit the opening titles and theme song of the 1960s sitcom THE MONKEES?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sometimes Diamonds Are Not A Girl's Best Friend

WHITE FIRE is a Turkish production that hooked me right from its in media res opening and a fire stunt that rivals FRAMED’s train collision and half of Grant Page’s repertoire in its brazen disregard for personal safety. Director Jean-Marie Pallardy, whose cinematic triumphs include softcore numbers like EROTIC DIARY OF A LUMBERJACK and EMMANUELLE 3, keeps the action coming in steady and sometimes bloody doses in this crazily plotted number he also wrote and produced.

Siblings Bo (Robert Ginty, who returned to America to star in the HAWAIIAN HEAT TV series the year this was released) and Ingrid (Belinda Mayne) plan to steal the legendary White Fire, a radioactive 2000-carat diamond found buried beneath the super-duper high-tech diamond mining facility where Ingrid works. After Ingrid is killed, Bo convinces a blonde named Olga (Diana Goodman) to have plastic surgery to look like his sister, so she can take Ingrid’s place at the mine and help pull off the White Fire heist.

Not only is the surgery crucial to the plan, it also allows Bo to have sex with his sister, a desire hinted at in WHITE FIRE’s weirdest scene (which is saying a lot), where Bo playfully yanks a towel off a nude Ingrid and leers at her.

Adding to the oddness is second-billed Fred Williamson, who had just been in WARRIORS OF THE LOST WORLD with Ginty. The Hammer finally shows up an hour into the picture as Noah, an enforcer looking for his boss’ missing call girl, Olga. That great face Gordon Mitchell (FURY OF ACHILLES) plays Ingrid’s corrupt boss, and the beautiful Mirella Banti (TENEBRE) is an astonishing sight as Sophia, an Italian villain who teams up with Mitchell to swipe the White Fire ahead of Bo.

There are also a lot of mustaches, gore, some natty Fred Fu, the fetching Miss Mayne frequently unclothed, a weird makeout scene during which Ginty flashes back to his childhood, oily men wrestling, more reckless fire gags, a goofy ‘80s power ballad theme, and a Bondian climax with guys in brightly colored jumpsuits getting blown up. WHITE FIRE has its dead spots, but is packed with enough WTF moments to make it a must-see.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

One Kiss Never Hurt Anyone

A neat Jerry Goldsmith score, anchored by a jaunty whistling theme, anchors 1968's BANDOLERO!, a lively 20th Century Fox western featuring a terrific cast. Director Andrew V. McLaglen probably made as many theatrical and television westerns as almost any filmmaker who ever lived, so it’s not surprising that he landed such a great array of familiar character actors who fit their parts like a cowboy’s rear to a battered old saddle.

Bank robber Dee Bishop (Dean Martin) and his gang are sentenced to hang after being captured in Valverde, Texas by straight-shooting sheriff July Johnson (George Kennedy) and his deputy Roscoe Bookbinder (Andrew Prine). Dee’s brother Mace (James Stewart), posing as the hangman, springs the Bishop gang, and the whole lot of ‘em head to Mexico with beautiful Maria Stoner (Raquel Welch) along as a hostage. Johnson has more than one reason to pursue the Bishops besides justice. He has also been nursing an unrequited crush on Maria, who is fond of the mild-mannered lawman, but is far out of his league.

Stewart and Martin are not very believable as brothers, but they do have a warm rapport, and both are adept at performing the script’s action, dramatic, and humorous sequences. McLaglan, with Goldsmith’s help, pulls off several terrific scenes, most of them involving the wry Stewart. One is a friendly conversation between Mace and Bishop’s executioner, the friendly Ossie Grimes (Guy Raymond), in which Mace elicits useful information about the man’s job that pays off in the escape. Another happens just after the break, and amusingly juxtaposes Johnson and his posse’s frantic pursuit of the gang against Mace’s ambling holdup of the bank in an empty town.

Westerns had, of course, matured by 1968 with the release of Sergio Leone’s dustbusters with Clint Eastwood (THE WILD BUNCH came a year later), but McLaglan, who worked a lot with John Wayne (and, perhaps ironically, even more with Eastwood on RAWHIDE), was strictly meat-and-potatoes. Majestic Utah vistas lack the otherworldliness of Spain, where most Italian westerns were made, but are crisply photographed by old-timer William Clothier (THE ALAMO), who hardly ever shot anything but westerns.

One must admire the steady stream of craggy faces that wander past Clothier’s camera, faces that leave no mistake you’re watching a western: Will Geer, Dub Taylor, Perry Lopez, John Mitchum, Donald “Red” Barry, Roy Barcroft, Pat Cranshaw, Denver Pyle, Sean McClory, Harry Carey Jr. Hal Needham’s stunt team handles the rigorous falls from horses, cliffs, and roofs. IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT’s James Lee Barrett’s straightforward plot is punctuated with intriguing dialogue, although the screenplay also hammers home the point that Johnson’s obsession with capturing the Bishops hinges more on Maria than the bad guys. Kennedy’s fine performance makes his emotions clear without so many words being needed. He’s the standout here, a year after his Oscar-winning role in COOL HAND LUKE, and belies his hulking physicality with his touching father-and-son relationship with his young deputy.

BANDOLERO! is not an important western nor the best any of its participants made, but it’s an exciting one with good pacing and performances and plenty of rousing action.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Blackout

From the director of DEATH WISH V, 1996's MIDNIGHT HEAT is something of a change of pace for ex-footballer Brian Bosworth (STONE COLE), as it’s played more for mystery and mood than for action.

The Boz is a buttoned-down banker named John Gray, who loses his memory after a hit-and-run accident. His beautiful and affluent wife Sharon (Marta DuBois) brings him home and patiently tries to reassimilate him, but he becomes haunted by weird dreams and flashes that hint at a previous life he has suppressed—one that may involve prison and a talent for hand-to-hand combat.

Composer Terry Plumeri is really into it, laying down an old-fashioned score that helps director Allan A. Goldstein establish the mood. For the director’s part, some of Bosworth’s nightmares are shown as black-and-white flashbacks in a style that’s actually integral to the storyline. I like the way the story slowly peels apart like an onion, doling out just enough information to keep the audience guessing, but rarely any more than Bosworth has.

Bosworth’s performance isn’t bad at all, playing both the button-down and the badass equally well. Brad Dourif (CHILD'S PLAY) as the straw-hatted heavy has some terrific moments, and I was really charmed by Claire Yarlett (THE COLBYS) as the cute Jenny, who befriends the confused Bosworth and helps him uncover his true identity. She and the star bounce off each other well too. The only false note in MIDNIGHT HEAT’s casting is the sexy DuBois (TALES OF THE GOLD MONKEY) as Bosworth’s wife. Her acting is fine (and she looks great in lingerie), but she’s clearly much older than Bosworth, and their pairing seems off.

Action scenes are adequate, and the story contains welcome humor (after getting roughed up, Bosworth says he feels like “Bo Jackson just ran him over”). Considering its direct-to-video origins as a Brian Bosworth vehicle, MIDNIGHT HEAT (its alternate title of BLACKOUT is more apt) is a real sleeper worth a watch.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Space Adventure For All Time

STARCRASH is a very difficult film to criticize. Not because it doesn’t have more than its fair share of faults, strictly speaking, but because it’s so lighthearted and spirited and bright and fun, you’d have to be a real crab to toss brickbats at it. It has swashbuckling robots, exploding spaceships, monstrous golems, Marjoe Gortner’s towering perm, the great Christopher Plummer (THE SOUND OF MUSIC) as the “Emperor of the Universe,” and, last but certainly not least, the fetching Caroline Munro in all her pulchritudinous splendor. I daresay that, warts and all, STARCRASH is as close to perfect science fiction entertainment as you can find.

The barely comprehensible storyline begins with space smuggler Stella Star (Munro) and her superpowered sidekick Akton (Gortner) fleeing through “hyperspace” (really cheap, animated squiggly lines) from lawmen Thor (a bald, blue-faced Robert Tessier) and Galactic Police Robot Elle (played by Judd Hamilton, Munro’s real-life husband), who speaks with a Texan (!) accent, courtesy of voice actor Hamilton Camp.

Although Stella and Akton are hailed as worthy adversaries, they’re startlingly easy to capture, and are sentenced by a silly-looking stop-motion-animated head (based on INVADERS FROM MARS) to long prison terms. Stella is forced into hard labor “feeding radium to the furnace,” which is actually dropping beach balls from a medical stretcher into a large hole in the ground.

Easily escaping and destroying the facility, Stella dashes through a grassy field, and is again captured by Thor and Elle. This time, though, it’s OK, since Thor and Elle have engineered her escape (although they couldn’t have judging from what we saw) on behalf of the Emperor of the Universe (a what-is-he-doing-here Plummer, who worked a day and a half at $10,000 per day).

Reunited with Akton, Stella is assigned by the Emperor to rescue his son Simon (David Hasselhoff—no kidding—who was on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS at the time), whose ship crashlanded on one of three planets. To extend the running time to feature length, the search party doesn’t find him until they reach the third planet, which also is the home of the diabolical Count Zarth Arn (MANIAC’s Joe Spinell), whose dialogue sounds like Stan Lee’s Dr. Doom and wardrobe suspiciously resembles Darth Vader’s.

Cozzi (ALIEN CONTAMINATION) and co-screenwriter Nat Wachsberger (also the film’s producer) write themselves out of corners by giving the characters previously unmentioned superpowers and into others through an alarming lack of logic, characterization, and elementary school-level science. See Stella survive a night on the surface of a planet with a temperature of “thousands of degrees” below zero! See the Emperor’s warriors invade the Count’s spaceship (which is shaped like a giant hand, complete with flexing fingers!) by firing themselves inside torpedoes (!) through glass windows (!) onto the bridge! See Marjoe battle animated creatures using a lightsaber (!) that the Count’s crack security staff conveniently neglected to confiscate! Best of all, watch in amazement as the Emperor rescues our heroes with the ultimate deus ex machina, a green ray that “halts the flow of time!”

The visual effects are technically pretty lousy all around, although there are lots of them—chintzy plastic spaceship models (complete with hanging wires), cheap animation, blurry rear-screen projection, jiggery stop-motion. The outer space backgrounds resemble Christmas trees with their bright red, yellow, and blue “stars,” the “dogfights” are brisky and clumsy, and as for the makeup, Gortner and Hasselhoff wear as much mascara as Munro does.

It’s difficult to judge the performances, due to the crude dubbing and cringe-inducing dialogue, but I can’t imagine any other actors who could make STARCRASH better. You can’t really take your eyes off Munro, one of the sexiest women ever to appear in genre movies, anyway, thanks to a steady array of cleavage-baring leather bikinis. Gortner (BOBBIE JO AND THE OUTLAW) delivers another performance with the same goofy grin he always uses, a crazed Spinell flares his nostrils and spins his cape, and Hasselhoff just plain looks lonely and lost.

Don’t think I’m ripping STARCRASH, however. Nuh-uh, not at all. What’s glorious about STARCRASH is that, when viewed with the proper state of mind, it’s quite fun. The story becomes such a mess so early in the picture that you may as well give up trying to follow it, and go along with the goofy flow instead. Every few minutes, a new threat—an army of sexy Amazon warriors, a 50-foot robot with boobs, kung-fu-kicking cavemen, sword-wielding golems—is introduced that’s even funnier than the one that came before it. And every time Cozzi pulls another headscratching “plothole eraser” (for instance, at just the right time, it’s revealed that one character can see into the future, which, of course, explains why he lets himself be hit on the head and captured over and over again) out of his rear end, it’s so in-your-face audacious and shameful that you just gotta laugh.

Somehow, Cozzi or the Wachsberger brothers who produced STARCRASH convinced Bond-film veteran John Barry to do the score, which is very good and probably better than a film at this budget level deserves. After a successful international release, Roger Corman bought the rights, cut a few minutes out, hired AMERICAN GRAFFITI actress Candy Clark (!) to dub Caroline Munro’s voice, and released it through his New World Pictures.

Soon after its U.S. theatrical run, STARCRASH got onto television and VHS, but for more than twenty years, it was very difficult for American fans to see. Amazingly, Shout Factory bestowed upon audiences a sparkling 2-disc DVD and Blu-ray release in 2010. All the better to ogle the gorgeous Caroline Munro, as well as Roberto Piazzoli’s colorful cinematography and Armando Valcauda’s unconvincing but creative special effects.

Author Stephen Romano (SHOCK FESTIVAL), a big STARCRASH fan, really spearheaded the project and provides not one, but two audio commentary tracks. I listened to just one, the so-called scene-specific track, and Romano’s knowledge and enthusiasm shine through. Both Cozzi and Munro sit before Shout Factory’s cameras for lengthy interviews that cover the breadth of their careers. I wish Gortner and particularly Hasselhoff had participated, but I have no quibble with the job Shout Factory did.

The set also includes exclusive behind-the-scenes footage narrated by Romano, several STARCRASH trailers (one with commentary by Joe Dante, who edited New World’s original spot), deleted scenes, photo galleries, promotional art, deleted scenes, and even features dedicated to the film’s score and special effects. No doubt STARCRASH, as well as the rest of Shout Factory’s Roger Corman Cult Classics line, will reign as one of 2010’s best DVD releases.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Where We Dump Our Human Garbage

Seven years before MAGNUM, P.I. premiered on CBS, Tom Selleck and his co-star Roger E. Mosley (T.C.) appeared together in TERMINAL ISLAND. The director was Stephanie Rothman, who made this highly entertaining drive-in picture for Dimension Pictures, the studio she helped found with her husband, producer Charles S. Swartz, and former Roger Corman colleague Lawrence Woolner.

Selleck, who plays a doper doctor convicted of a mercy killing, has poked fun at TERMINAL ISLAND on talk shows, but he appears to be a good sport about it, and, really, he has no reason to be ashamed of it. It bears an outrageous premise, and dishes out steady portions of nudity and violence, but with an offbeat feminist twist. It’s close, but not exactly a women-in-prison picture, and since Rothman is the director, the misogyny and meanspiritedness often found in the genre are absent.

In addition to Selleck and Mosley, the cast is packed with familiar faces, many from television shows future and past, that provide the loony premise with credibility. After the death penalty is rescinded in California, convicted murderers are sent to an island to serve their life sentences. There are no guards or walls, and the prisoners (male and female) are free to set up camp, grow their own food, and fend for themselves.

The prisoners have split into two camps: one sadistic, led by the vicious Monk (Mosley) and Bobby (Sean Kenney), in which the women are used as sex slaves, and one peaceful, led by A.J. (LAND OF THE GIANTS’ Don Marshall). Phyllis Davis (VEGA$), Marta Kristen (LOST IN SPACE), Barbara Leigh (THE STUDENT NURSES), and Ena Hartman (DAN AUGUST) are the women who escape to A.J.’s side, which spurs guerrilla warfare between the two sides.

Rothman’s direction is not clever, but it’s colorful, sharply paced, and delivers the action with tongue slightly in cheek. Shot (almost?) entirely on location in Malibu and on the Paramount Ranch, TERMINAL ISLAND is silly, lively fun, despite its faults.

The script by Rothman, Swartz, and James Barnett (DEATH AT LOVE HOUSE) is oddly structured, as it starts out from the point of view of the Hartman character, but switches its focus to Kenney and Marshall, and then finally makes Selleck the hero at the end of the movie. The schizophrenic music score, credited to Michael Andres, rarely fits the action, though it admittedly matches Rothman’s comic-book tone. The bizarre country song performed under the opening titles does neither.

Rothman directed only one more film after TERMINAL ISLAND, the sex comedy THE WORKING GIRLS, though she did write the screenplay for another comedy, STARHOPS, which was directed by Barbara Peeters (SUMMER SCHOOL TEACHERS). It’s interesting that the two filmmakers would be drawn together, as Rothman and Peeters were among the few woman directors working in exploitation movies during the 1970s and almost certainly the best. By the time STARHOPS was made, Rothman and Swartz had left their executive positions with Dimension.

Code Red’s DVD of TERMINAL ISLAND is the best the picture has ever looked on home video. In fact, the source print is a 35mm master belonging to Stephanie Rothman. The chief extra is a scene-specific audio commentary reuniting Marshall and Kenney and moderated (moderately) by William Olsen and filmmaker Scott Spiegel (INTRUDER). Unfortunately, the four spend the first five minutes trying to identify character actor Richard Stahl, even to the point of wondering if he’s Albert Cole. If you’re moderating a commentary track of a picture like TERMINAL ISLAND, you need to be able to know who Richard Stahl, who isn’t exactly an obscure performer, is.

Marshall and Kenney also sit for lengthy on-camera interviews in which they talk about other projects, in addition to TERMINAL ISLAND. Phyllis Davis appears via telephone only for a brief chat. Code Red has also included a full-frame TERMINAL ISLAND trailer, as well as previews of several other ‘70s drive-in flicks that may or may not receive Code Red releases. Also, props to Code Red for dressing the DVD box with the film’s original arresting poster art.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

But It's Always After Midnight

A college professor (Ramy Zada) teaching a course on fear invites some students over to his pad to share scary stories. Jim and Ken Wheat, who wrote drafts of THE FLY II and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4, wrote and shared directing duties on this United Artists horror anthology with three short vignettes. Shot in Los Angeles for $3 million in 38 days, AFTER MIDNIGHT is an amiable enough shocker, but riddled with a clichéd screenplay without a surprise in sight. UA gave it a token theatrical release in November 1989.

The first story, “The Old Dark House,” finds married couple Kevin (Marc McClure, SUPERMAN’s Jimmy Olsen) and Joanie (CRITTERS’ Nadine van der Velde) stranded at night in the boonies and forced to seek help at a creepy old house. The hokey story is well-played by the earnest actors, but sunk by a poorly directed climax.

The sexy Judie Aronson (FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER) plays one of four teenage girls whose convertible breaks down in a strangely empty urban area and are chased by a pack of killer Dobermans. “A Night on the Town” is not especially scary, but the Wheats milk the suspense and stuntwork for all they can.

Marg Helgenberger, then on CHINA BEACH, but a star of CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION for the past decade, stars in “All Night Operator” as, what else, an operator at an answering service who is menaced by the psycho stalker (Alan Rosenberg, Helgenberger’s real-life husband) of a soap actress. Like the previous story, the Wheats are competent at creating suspense, but the problem with all three vignettes is their derivative premises.

The Zada wraparound, which co-stars Jillian McWhirter (of BLOODFIST VII and VIII) as a college student who has premonitions of doom, allows the Wheats to show off some impressive fire and stop-motion effects, but is ultimately ridiculous and pointless, leaving the patient viewer with a somewhat sour taste in his mouth. Anthologies were the rage in the 1980s on television and in films, but Jeff Burr’s FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM, for one, is a much better example of the genre.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Selling The American Dream

It’s difficult to discuss the debut feature by 41-year-old Derrick Borte without getting into the plot twist that drives it. Surprisingly, several reviewers revealed the twist (which occurs early in the film) during THE JONESES’ brief theatrical release.

The satire works just as well if you know the twist in advance (or if you guess it), I’m happy to say, thanks to Borte’s wicked scripting and his game cast. Steve (David Duchovny) and Kate Jones (Demi Moore) and teens Mick (Ben Hollingsworth) and Jen (Amber Heard) sure seem like the perfect American upper-middle-class family with the house and the looks and the golf clubs and the mani-pedis, but it won’t take you long to guess there’s also something a little wonky about them.

THE JONESES is a smart comedy that takes shots at consumerism and the insidiousness of contemporary marketing that only falters when it falls to mush and tries to make its leading characters likable. Everyone knows from THE X-FILES and THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW (and CALIFORNICATION? Dunno, never seen it) that Duchovny possesses a wry sense of humor, but Moore, a performer I’ve never cottoned to, is a surprisingly good match for him, both physically and dramatically. Lending real heart are the always awesome Gary Cole and Glenne Headly as the Joneses’ not-so-upscale neighbors whose attempts to keep up make them tragic figures.

I’m not wild about the ending or the late-in-the-game wussification of its hard-selling characters, but the premise and cast are solid, and when Borte is brave enough to stick the knife into the material, THE JONESES works quite well.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em

RIPTIDE was an action show co-created by Stephen J. Cannell that premiered on NBC in January 1984. Starring Perry King (CAPTAINS AND THE KINGS) and Joe Penny (JAKE AND THE FATMAN) as Cody Allen and Nick Ryder, respectively, handsome private detectives operating off a Los Angeles pier, and Thom Bray (DEEPSTAR SIX) as Boz, their nerdy computer-expert sidekick, RIPTIDE was a big hit its first two seasons.

Unfortunately, when RIPTIDE returned for Season 3 in the fall of 1985, it ran in the same Tuesday night timeslot as ABC's new juggernaut, MOONLIGHTING, which was not only a ratings sensation, but also the hippest water-cooler drama on television.

NBC finally moved RIPTIDE away from MOONLIGHTING to Friday nights, but it was too late. The Cannell show never picked up the viewers it lost, and RIPTIDE was cancelled after its third season.

However, thanks to writers Babs Greyhosky and Tom Blomquist, it went out with a bang. Its next-to-last episode, airing April 18, 1986, was "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em." It guest-starred Richard Greene (not the ROBIN HOOD actor) and Annette McCarthy as the stars of a familiar-looking TV series who team up with the newly hired technical advisers Nick and Cody to solve a crime.

The good-natured parody was the subject of an article in the Los Angeles Times that focused on the episode's genesis and how the writers managed to appease ABC lawyers. What's really interesting, as you'll see in the clip below, is how spot-on Greene and McCarthy were with their impressions of Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd. Neither went on to great fame, though Greene still works steadily as a guest star in TV dramas (like BONES).

Here is the teaser and the opening titles to RIPTIDE's "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em" with a cool surfer-dude theme composed by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter:

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Who Loves You And Who Do You Love?

Stephen King’s bizarre novella THE RUNNING MAN became a silly TriStar motion picture in 1987 with Arnold Schwarzenegger at the height of his fame. Of all people, Paul Michael Glaser, the curly-haired star of STARSKY AND HUTCH, replaced Andrew Davis (THE FUGITIVE) behind the camera during principal photography, but was miscast for a movie demanding a director with a taste for wit. THE RUNNING MAN is slick, boisterous, occasionally funny, violent, but never as clever or wild as the material would suggest.

The film’s most brilliant concept is the casting of smarmy game show host Richard Dawson (FAMILY FEUD) as Damon Killian, the vicious host of the inhumane yet enormously popular television series THE RUNNING MAN, which pits convicts in a run for their lives on city streets against colorfully clothed killers like Fireball (Jim Brown), Dynamo (Erland van Lidth), and Captain Freedom (Jesse Ventura). Yep, it’s THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME, but with a lot more neon.

It’s a little tough to reconcile a totalitarian 2017 with small tube TVs and cassette tapes, not to mention a worldwide television sensation among a general public that appears to live in squalor on the streets. I suppose it doesn’t matter much when Arnold is tossing off quips and heads are exploding. Schwarzenegger has nothing in common with King’s Ben Richards, but he’s a game enough lead as a wrongfully accused cop blackmailed by Killian into competing in his vulgar spectacle.

Impressively filling her Spandex costume is a tasty Maria Conchita Alonso at the height of her hotness, and Yaphet Kotto (ALIEN) classes up the joint as Schwarzenegger's prison buddy. Also in the oddball cast are Marvin J. McIntyre, Mick Fleetwood, Dweezil Zappa, Kurt Fuller, Dey Young, Lin Shaye, Sven-Ole Thorsen, Karen Leigh Hopkins, and Professor Toru Tanaka with dance choreography by Paula Abdul!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Zombie Rabbit Award

Sorry that my postings have been infrequently lately, but I've been using the waning weeks of summer to chill out a little and take a bit of a blogging break. Don't worry--I don't intend this to be a permanent schedule, and fully plan to get back into a more regular posting habit very soon.

In the meantime, let me humbly thank my online colleague Don Guarisco over at Schlockmania for graciously presenting me with a Zombie Rabbit! I'm not entirely sure of its origin, but I appreciate Don's gesture as the compliment it is intended to be.

The occasion is also a good excuse to link to some other blogs worthy (or more worthy) of a Zombie Rabbit. Please see Don's Schlockmania post for a good number of blogs you should be reading if you're interested in the kinds of entertainment we celebrate here at the Crane Shot. I won't repeat any of the blogs Don has already awarded Zombie Rabbits too, though I do recommend them.

Bruce Holecheck really needs to post more often at Cinema Arcana, but you should have fun playing his weekly game of Name That Movie every Monday.

Congratulations to father-to-be Neil Sarver at The Bleeding Tree, who waxes eloquently on trashy movies and comics and sometimes trashy movies about comics.

Chris Stangl at The Exploding Kinetoscope also needs to post more often, but he makes up for it with long, detailed, intricate articles of interest.

My Twitter pal Emily at The Deadly Doll's House of Horror Nonsense is always good for two or three smart film reviews--with screen caps!--each week.

My longtime colleague at Mobius Home Video Forum and good friend Richard Harland Smith is one of several Movie Morlocks at the Turner Classic Movies website. He recently wrote a great piece on the fine actor and even finer physical specimen Woody Strode in the manliest of man movies, THE PROFESSIONALS.

I don't know who he is or what he does by day, but by night, Outlaw Vern is my favorite film critic on the planet. He's unquestionably the funniest, but underneath the gags and distinct writing style is a real love of film and knowledge to match.

Finally, Wrong Side of the Art is an amazing collection of high-definition movie posters from years past. I love to see what this blog lays on me day after day. Some of them are definitely not safe for work, however, so wait to experience these cool one-sheets until you get home.

There are dozens more that I could share that would be as deserving of a Zombie Rabbit as the blogs I've mentioned above, and if I have neglected you, I apologize. Thanks again, Don!