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Love and Marriage Go Together Like a Horse and PLASTIC EXPLOSIVES STRAPPED TO YOUR NECK

Mimi Rogers' garbanzos sold separately

I’ve never been married. I came really close once, several years ago now, and managed to dodge one heck of a bullet. For years afterward I let the bad experience paint my perceptions of marriage as an institution. I remember driving a girl or two away with my insistence that marriage was antiquated, unnecessary, and counter to the way we as humans seemed to be developing. Granted, I had a pile of divorces that I could point to that also proved my point for me (none of those divorces were my own, but my parents’ is at the top of the list), so that didn’t help my outlook. There was also the bitterness I still feel about equal marriage rights in this country (if two men who love each other dearly can’t get married, then nobody should be allowed to).

Since then I have softened significantly on the topic (I still want equal rights for everyone, though; let’s not forget that), even if I don’t think you need to get married to someone just to prove you love them. I know plenty of awesome couples that have been faithful and loving to each other for years, even decades, without tying the knot. But now I think we might end up straying off topic here a little too much, and I’ve got a damned movie to review, so let’s move on.

Wedlock. Now, this ain’t some newfangled discovery for me, but rather a rediscovery of an old flick I vaguely remembered from my childhood. Of course, back then it was called Deadlock, and my aunt (who I ain’t on speaking terms with anymore for reasons neither here nor there) had rented it from her local Blockbuster one day. She hadn’t returned it yet, and I was stuck at her house for the afternoon for some reason or another, so I watched it. I remember Rutger Hauer. I remember Joan Chen, who at that point I knew of from Twin Peaks. But mostly, I remember ‘sploding heads.

If there were a particular genre that this film should be filed under, let it be ‘Sploding Heads. It might be one of my favorite, if not niche, genres of film, albeit one with not that many entries aside from anything related to Scanners or Scannercop or any other movie made in the ‘80s and ‘90s that had “scanner” in the name (and we should not be including movies with beheadings, which are a totally different genre altogether, and yet can provide just as much anti-cranial entertainment for lowly cheesefest fans like you and I).

As far as ‘Sploding Head flicks go, this one is alright. Not one of the best, but not the worst, either. You really only get a couple of good headsplosions, which I find a little underwhelming considering the premise of the flick in question, but perhaps I am too demanding of my films these days.

The premise, of course, is where we find the twin topics of marriage and blowed up noggins coming together in an unholy union. See, Rutger Hauer is an electronics whiz who specializes in diffusing explosives, and he’s engaged to Joan Chen, and his best friend James “Fake Raiden” Remar has concocted a jewel heist for all three of them to pursue. In usual Westlake-ian fashion, once the job is finished, Remar and Chen double-cross Hauer and leave him for dead. But ain’t time for ol’ Roy Batty to die just yet. Nope, the cops save him, take him in, and the next thing he knows he’s on his way to the Power Rangers’ Command Center, which in the future is now a privatized prison run by Ned Ryerson (BING!), who’s traded in selling life insurance to angry weathermen for being a sleazy, money-grubbing, houseplant-pruning warden of a state-of-the-art holding facility.

In the future, a place that once housed a giant floating head will be used to blow up other people's heads

See, ol’ Needlenose Ned has devised a new kind of technology, something so advanced it will blow your mind (oh shit, I didn’t intend that pun! I swear!): every prisoner is outfitted with a futuristic (by 1990s standards) electronic collar loaded with C-4, called Wedlock (haha, now you know why I was talking about marriage! How clever.). Every prisoner is partnered with another prisoner they don’t know the identity of, whose collar is electronically connected by radio signal to their collar, and if the two of them are too far apart, the collars (and their heads) get blowed up good. If one of them attempts to removed or tamper with their collar, their heads both get blowed up good. If one of them attempts to leave the grounds, both their heads get blowed up good. Which is why I complain about how few heads blow up good in this flick.

See, I’m a busy guy. I have no time to sit around waiting for heads to turn into watermelons at a Gallagher show. I’ve got important things to do, dammit. Heck, if Ned had just used live volunteers to demonstrate for the new prisoners instead of mannequins, we’d at least have two more real skulls popping. Heck, the movie could meet me halfway and have Kim Cattrall from Mannequin get her head blowed up and I would consider that enough. But alas.

One of the key themes of this movie, aside from flying brain matter, is just how painfully stupid Rutger Hauer’s character is. This is a man that consistently makes poor decisions, particularly in regards to the women he chooses to sleep with and/or trust, and what makes it worse is that we as viewers can see every swerve coming from several million parsecs away. The only guy that might be dumber in this movie is James “Dexter’s Ghost Dad” Remar, who doesn’t think for a second that Joan Chen, who was more than willing to shoot the man she was going to marry in order to obtain a shitload of diamonds, wouldn’t do the same thing to him. It’s just like when a woman cheats on her boyfriend with you and then every friend of yours keeps telling you, “if she can cheat on him, then she’ll cheat on you, too,” and you don’t listen, because you think “she’s different; I mean more to her than that; you’re just bitter because somebody cheated on you; etc.”

Yeah, it’s like that. And yet, Remar jumps right into it and never thinks, “Oh, she’ll shoot me for those diamonds.” Idiot!

As for Hauer, he keeps getting approached by another prisoner who thinks they’re secret Wedlock partners. Lucky for him (but not for us since there’s no skin in this flick) it’s the ever chesty Mimi “Let’s Forget I Was Married To Tom Cruise” Rogers. She wants to escape. The future Hobo With A Shotgun declines her advances, partially due to his distrust of women and partially due to the fact that one of the other prisoners has threatened to murder the shit out of him if he even looks at Mimi Rogers. Oh, it’s just like high school!

Let’s see… distrust of women… death threats if he gets together with one… yeah, it pretty much sounds like all the reasons I was trying to avoid wedlock when I was young, too.

But, and stop me if this sounds familiar to you, Mimi doesn’t give a shit and keeps throwing herself at him. Typical, right? And then the alpha male prisoner challenges Rutger to a fight in the courtyard the next morning. During the fight, Hauer shows off that he actually is smart by pulling on Alpha Male’s collar until it detonates, giving us our quota of bursted tomatoes. Also, it gives Mimi and Rutger a chance to escape, and then it’s all downhill from there.

Now I know you’re gonna say, “Well, ‘Stached One, Rutger didn’t choose to get involved with Mimi Rogers. And so far things are turning out better than expected, to boot.” Well, finish watching the goddamn movie, goddammit. Now they’re on the run, and they don’t trust each other, and in bad movie fashion they start to trust each other and get closer and then he bangs her a couple of times (which we don’t get to see), and then, as we were all predicting, and that turns out to be a poor decision as well.

Listen, all you need to know is that this movie will show you:

  • Exploding Heads
  • Basil Wallace urinating on Rutger Hauer’s face
  • Stephen Tobolowsky maniacally trimming the leaves and branches on his collection of houseplants
  • The Power Rangers Command Center (or Camp Khitomer from Star Trek VI)
  • Mimi Rogers running around in skintight pants
  • Grand L. Bush as a beer-brewing surfer dude
  • An exploding helicopter
  • An exploding Chinese actress
  • Rutger Hauer in a bad western coat (looking like a Sedona local)
  • The props dept. getting the last name of the female lead character wrong when printing up a newspaper headline

Verdict: See it, but only if you’re a fan of ‘sploding heads and/or James Remar (because let’s be honest, the guy really doesn’t get enough work).

Life, the Universe, and L.A. Streetfighting

L.A. Streetfighters

Corwin's Note: Poster Much More Awesome Than Actual Movie

Now, the Lady and I have been discussing making a big move out of state. We’re both growing tired of humdrum Arizona. Surprisingly, we’ve been thinking a lot about Los Angeles. I know, right? Me in L.A.? But I promise you, this ain’t a hoax or an imaginary tale right here. This is what we’re looking to do (unless we decide we’d rather live boring, normal lives somewhere more vanilla, like Phoenix). Being the big smart guy that I am, I decided that maybe I could do some research on the city of L.A. through one of its chief exports, film. Instead of sitting down with, say, L.A. Story (which a friend of ours swears is a great representation of life in Los Angeleez), I found myself sitting down with a relatively obscure flick called L.A. Streetfighters, from ACTION BROTHERS PRODUCTIONS. Frankly, you could just put ACTION BROTHERS on the cover for any movie and I’ll probably buy it. I like the mental image of a pair of kung-fuing Italian plumbers.

There’s plenty of kung-fuing going on in L.A. Streetfighters, and while the two main dudes aren’t brothers, at least one of them has a mustache. That’s gotta count for something.

If there’s one thing I can take away from this movie, it’s that I might not want to raise my children in the public schools of Los Angeles. Our heroes, Young and Tony, attend a high school where you’d be hard pressed to find a student under the age of 30. You know when kids make their own movies, and you have that funny, cute thing where a 12-year-old is dressed up in an ill-fitting suit, pretending to be some middle-aged detective? L.A. Streetfighters is like the opposite of that.

I’m going to have to start training my kids in kung-fu straight out of the womb if I have any hope of them surviving high school. I suppose I should also expect them to be stuck in high school and living with me well into their adult years. Says a lot about public education in California, I guess.

There are plenty of things I’d love to tell you about the action (both with the chicks and in the titular street fighting), but I spent 90% of the time not sure what was going on. I think there might have been a part where Tony makes out with his girl, but frankly you’d have an easier time following the action in a scrambled porno on cable than you would figuring out what’s what in this movie. Why is that? Because the vast majority of the action takes place in pitch darkness. It’s as though the people responsible for the film didn’t want to run the risk of the audience realizing the movie sucks.

There’s a scene when our heroes (and their friends) are leaving a party (where they’ve been working security) and encounter a gang of thugs (led by a pot-bellied, blonde version of Gallagher in a half-shirt). The thugs bust out their baseball bats and start doing… well, something. I think they were hitting Young’s car with their bats, but for all I know they could’ve been putting on an impromptu breakdancing performance or giving an elephant a prostate exam. Fucked if I know.

At least I can tell you that you’ll know when a fight is starting, because nearly all of the fights start like the beginning of the video for Beat It, and there’s a pretty kickin’ tune that starts up each time.

But this movie isn’t just about 30-year-old teenagers fighting with wooden sticks in the streets of Los Angeles. It’s also about the human condition. See, life isn’t easy for the kids in Young and Tony’s group. Early in the movie we witness a birthday party (in what appears to be an abandoned building) for one of their friends, who breaks down in front of his macho brothers and admits that he’s never had a birthday cake before. Meanwhile, Young has his own problems living with his divorced mother. In a page straight out of the Hasselhoff family handbook, Tony meets Young’s mom when she arrives home intoxicated and accompanied by some random oily bohunk. As Young says to Tony later in his most Wiseau-esque delivery, “Mom’s always drunk. I don’t know what to do with her.”

In the urban jungle of L.A., it’s either kung-fu or be kung-fued. When you’re not getting whacked repeatedly in the face with a wooden sword, your car is getting pissed on by fat, shirtless latino gangbangers. Or you’re being called racial slurs by women that might or might not be actual prostitutes. Or you’re getting pushed around at school by grown men whose shirts are tailored by the same guy Lando Calrissian goes to. Just because you’re still living with your parents and have a mullet or a mustache.

Young wants to be free, man. He wants to live his life, and it’s been tough since he came to America. Tony wants to live the American dream. But it’s hard out there when greasy, stereotypical Italian drug dealers are after you because you stole their briefcase filled with money while they were too busy sexing up small-breasted chicks in bathtubs to notice. And then they hire Karate Champion Bill “Superfoot” Wallace to kick your ass (along with some ninja dude who has a mustache identical to yours and a penchant for only wearing one sleeve).

Clearly, the Action Brothers have brought us the Great American Novel as kung-fu cinema.

In this movie, you will see:

  • 2 Asian dudes with mustaches
  • A gang of thugs featuring a guy with a giant flute
  • A toga party
  • Kung-fu
  • Hookers (and some women that might or might not also be hookers)
  • Poor fashion decisions
  • Stereotypes
  • Drug use
  • Simulated underage drinking
  • Mullets
  • 1 set of naked breasts
  • Lots of bad dancing
  • 1 billboard for Pink Floyd’s The Wall, the only film I can think of right now that’s less coherent than L.A. Streetfighters

As for how this has informed me on the city of Los Angeles, I have to say it has only made me more intent on moving there. I’m already placing a bulk order on woodenfightingstickshop.com.

Final word: See it, but only if your brain has been pumped full of a decent mix of legal and illegal substances.

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