Saturday, July 22, 2006

Do You See This Hole In My Head?

I can't help it. I have a passionate desire to protect washed-up VHS tapes, much the way some people need to bring stray animals in off the street and care for them. Old VHS prerecords are getting difficult to find these days, and many of them are for movies that will very likely never receive a DVD release, much less one that cleans up the image and presents it in its original theatrical aspect ratio. I actually fear a day will come when something like THE FIRST POWER, a dumb cop/horror movie with Lou Diamond Phillips that I saw in a Carbondale theater when it came out, will be considered a "lost" film with no way ever to see it. The fact that hardly anybody cares about seeing THE FIRST POWER is completely beside the point.

So it is that I purchased 60 old used VHS prerecords last week at $1 apiece. I need 60 more tapes cluttering my house like I need the proverbial noggin opening, but I could not resist. I drove past a local Family Video and noted a sign that said "VHS Tapes $1". I've been to this store many times and rented a lot of great old forgotten movies for 50 cents each over the years. So I stopped in, bought 20 tapes, and then drove clear across two cities to the Urbana store and bought 40 more.

I tried to stick to things that were not currently or will most likely never be on DVD (although you never can tell). Almost all of them were action movies with a few horror and SF titles sneaking in. Bo Svenson, Michael Dudikoff, Peter Fonda, Henry Silva, Peter Graves, Robert Culp, Anthony Eisley, Betsy Russell, William Shatner, Jan-Michael Vincent, Adam West and Jeff Fahey are just a few of the familiar genre stars I picked up.

So far, I've had time only to watch RETURN FIRE: JUNGLE WOLF II, which stars the very bad Ron Marchini and the inherently ridiculous Adam West. Despite the "II", RETURN FIRE is actually the third movie to star Marchini as CIA operative Steve Parrish. You're forgiven for not remembering the first two movies--I don't either. Marchini was a martial artist who starred in the wretched DEATH MACHINES, but he strangely doesn't do any kung fu in RETURN FIRE, letting bigass guns do his handiwork. I highly doubt RETURN FIRE will ever be on a DVD, unless it's by one of those fly-by-night companies that transfers old VHS prints to a cheap disc. It isn't a good movie, but it's okay viewing for late at night with some High Life-swilling friends over. It runs 95 minutes, and more than half of it is various action sequences--chases, gunfights, explosions. One stunt sequence showing Marchini running past a lot of fiery explosions looks dangerous. The script and acting are terrible, but I can't say the movie bored me. It's certainly worth a buck, for whatever praise that's worth.


Anonymous said...

Hate to tell you this Mart, but MGM released THE FIRST POWER on DVD back in 2001. I see it all over the place in stores, which figures because I have no desire to ever see it a second time!

John Charles

Marty McKee said...

Well, it doesn't really matter, I just pulled that specific title out of my rear as an example. That's more of a high-profile title anyway and doesn't run the danger of becoming as scarce as, say, MR. INSIDE/MR. OUTSIDE (a TV movie with Hal Linden and Tony LoBianco as cops) or HUSTLER SQUAD (which I understand really is coming out on DVD soon).

I saw THE FIRST POWER when it came out and even had the 1-sheet hanging on the wall of my trailer in Carbondale. I don't remember one single thing about the movie except that I didn't think it was very good.

Anonymous said...

We need a list Marty! I wish my local stores were doing so bad. I hit the place I used to manage and they had VHS for $2 each. I picked up RIOT and RECOIL! They would never be selling those classics if I was still in charge.

Anonymous said...

What was that line they kept reusing in ROBOCOP's crass TV comedy spoof? "I'd buy that for a dollar!"