THE EXCELLENT EIGHTIES: Twisted Obsession (1989)

Originally titled El Sueño del Mono Loco (The Dream of the Mad Monkey), this is based on the Christopher Frank book. While it has the 90’s genre of erotic thriller attached to it, this is very much in the world of the giallo.

To wit: Jeff Goldblum’s Dan Gillis is a stranger in a strange land, one of the key tropes of the giallo, a writer in Paris who has been left behind by his wife and suddenly a single father to his son Danny. A writer by trade, he’s brought in by a producer to work with an enfant terrible young director named Malcolm Greene on a script.

Ironically, the actor playing that young director — Dexter Fletcher — would grow up and move on from acting (he was Baby Face in the absurd and wonderful child gangster musical Bugsy Malone) to directing some of today’s biggest films, such as Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman.

What draws us closer to the psychosexual domain of the giallo is that Gillis soon becomes obsessed by Malcolm’s sister Jenny (Liza Walker from Hackers in her first film). While presented as somewhere in her teens, she’s also a lolita who possesses the sexual attention of every man she meets, from our protagonist to her brother.

Miranda Richardson also figures in as Dan’s disabled agent who, like everyone in this movie, just wants to get horizontal with one of West Homestead’s favorite sons.

I’m not saying this is a good movie. I’m just saying that it’s interesting that somehow Goldblum made two movies one after the other — this and Mister Frost  — that are borderline bonkers horror experimentations that no one really talks about. This is after he was a star from The Fly and yet here he is, making really strange movies in foreign lands. Leave it to a Mill Creek box set to bring this to my attention.

Repost: My Chauffeur (1986)

Editor’s Note: We reviewed this back on April 19. 2019, and included it as part of our “Drive-In Friday: Slobs vs. Snobs Comedy Night” because we love Deborah Foreman as much as we love innocuous ’80s comedies. So, for its inclusion on its first Mill Creek set, in this case, their Excellent Eighties set, we’ve brought back Sam’s review.

Deborah Foreman is my favorite 1980’s comedy girl. From Real Genius to Valley GirlApril Fool’s Day and Waxwork, she’s always dependable, always cute and always real. She’s the kind of girl that 80’s dorks like me wish we’d get as girlfriends. And people noticed, with one critic comparing her to a “New Wave Carole Lombard crossed with early Shirley MacLaine.” Sadly, she never really broke through to the mainstream. She has said that My Chauffeur is her favorite of the films in which she’s appeared and the most fun she ever had making a movie.

In My Chaffeur, she plays Casey Meadows, a free spirit who somehow ends up working for the Brentwood Limousine Service, which brings her into conflict with the company’s manager, McBride (Howard Hesseman!). At first, the older drivers all treat her like dirt, but her plucky spirit and hard work soon win them over. Even when they set her up with nightmare client Cat Fight, a goofball drugged out rock star, she succeeds.

Casey soon starts driving around Battle Witherspoon (Sam J. Jones, Flash Gordon, Driving Force, Night Rhythms) the son of limo company owner Mr. Witherspoon (E.G. Marshall, Creepshow). She helps him through a breakup, but he’s a heel, a rich boy unable to be kind to anyone — until Casey breaks through.

However, she soon runs afoul of an oil sheik and a con artist who take her for a ride even more ridiculous than the band at the start of the movie. It turns out they’re wanted men, which gets Casey fired. Penn and Teller play them and this was at the very start of their career.

Battle becomes a better person and he and Casey fall in love. He takes her home to meet her father and when in her house, she was deja vu. That’s because her mother was a former employee and she played in the house. And Battle’s dad is actually her real father. But whew — luckily for those who don’t want a Flowers in the Attic situation — Casey’s real dad was Giles, one of the other limo drivers. That means our young couple can get married and all ends happily.

You can watch this on Tubi and Vudu for free.

The Excellent Eighties: Tuareg: The Desert Warrior (1984)

Okay, ye purveyor of B-Trash, let’s unpack the caveats:

  1. While that looks like a rendering of Michael Sopkiw on the one-sheet, this isn’t a repack of Blastfighter made to look like a First Blood/Rambo sequel — although that film was inspired by the adventures of Rambo.
  2. While it looks like it’s a Mark Gregory War movie — of which he made four, plus three Thunder movies — themselves each inspired by Rambo — this isn’t a repack of any of those movies. (We break those flicks down as part of our “Mark Gregory Week” tribute.
  3. Do not do what I did and confuse this with Jim Goldman, aka John Gale, aka Filipina Jun Gallardo’s Mad Max apoc-poo Desert Warrior starring Lou Ferrigno.
  4. No, this isn’t a Stallone Rambo foreign repack with bad art work.
  5. Yes, as incredible as it may seem, the Mark Harmon in the credits — in lieu of Michael Sopkiw or Mark Gregory (!) that should be starring — is the same Mark Harmon you’re now watching in reruns from CBS-TV’s NCIS.
  6. This is, in fact, a Enzo G. Castellari’s production, aka The Desert Warrior, aka Tuareg: The Desert Warrior, aka Rambo of the Desert Warrior, which makes no sense. Why not Rambo, the Desert Warrior or Rambo: Desert Blood?

Now, when you see the dependable name of Enzo G. Castellari — the man who gave us Inglorious Bastards, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, Escape from the Bronx, and Warriors of the Wasteland, you know you’re getting intriguing action, and a bag o’ chips.

In a desolate section of the Libyan-Algerian Sahara once ruled by the French, Gacel Sayah (Mark Harmon), a Tuareg tribal leader (in tanning make-up and blue contacts), offers refuge to two government fugitives. When soldiers from the newly-installed Arab regime demand the “war criminals” be turned over to them, our desert Rambo refuses, based on the region’s ancient, scared laws. When the soldiers murder one and kidnap the other war criminal, Sayah mounts a bloody campaign to rescue his charge, for so says “the law.”

If you’ve watched any of Enzo’s westerns — A Few Dollars for Django and One Dollar Too Many — then you’ll know that Enzo was into desert-based mayhem long before Stallone came on the scene, so what you get with this much HBO-aired ditty is a war-modernized Spaghetti Western. And be it western, poliziotteschi, or post-apocalypse, Castellari never disappoints, non-A-List Hollywood budgets be damned.

By the time Harmon went all spaghetti-Rambo in the joint, he got his start with guest shots as cops on Adam-12 and its ’70s sister show, Emergency (which I’ve seen these past months as Antenna TV reruns). Harmon also starred in two, failed one-season series with the cop procedural-dramas Sam (1977) and (the one I remember watching first-run) 240-Robert (1979). He was one season deep into his breakthrough role as Dr. Robert Caldwell in the NBC-TV medical drama St. Elsewhere when Tuareg: The Desert Warrior was released. But I have a feeling Harmon probably filmed this Italian romp long before production on the series began — with Enzo holding back the film (due to creative or cash flow issues), then realized he had a “star” in his film. As for Harmon: when it came to crossing over to a theatrical career, he went for comedy instead of action, with the (date night) flops Summer School and Worth Winning (both utter awful) and some military drama with Sean Connery (that I am too lazy to research, but also sucked) and eventually, like David Caruso before him, came back to television.

When you think that Harmon is the guy from TV’s NCIS . . . made-up to look Middle Eastern . . . makes this spaghetti Rambo an even more fascinating watch. And you can watch this Mill Creek box set public domain ditty on You Tube or get your own copy as part of their Excellent Eighties 50-Movie Pack.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

THE EXCELLENT EIGHTIES: Delta Force Commando (1988)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Freese contributes to many different magazines, zines and websites such as Videoscope, Rue Morgue, Drive-in Asylum, Grindhouse Purgatory, Horror and Sons and Lunchmeat VHS. (His most recent piece, about the 80’s video distributor Super Video, can be found here). He also co-hosts the Two Librarians Walk into a Shelf podcast so he has an excuse to expose library patrons to ninja and slasher films. 

An unnamed terrorist leads a team of mercenaries onto a United States military base in Puerto Rico to steal a nuclear weapon. Commando Lt. Tony Turner witnesses the gang’s getaway. His pregnant wife is killed in the crossfire.

Vowing vengeance for his murdered wife and unborn child, Turner immediately commandeers Delta Force pilot Capt. Samuel Beck’s Mercedes and directs him at gun point to follow the goons. From this moment forward, Turner and Beck follow the rebels to Nicaragua and senselessly blow up so much property there is little left for Col. Keitel and the Delta Force calvary to sift through when they finally catch up with the rogue commandos.

For me, Delta Force Commando is perfect Saturday afternoon entertainment. It is an excellent example of the kind of movies I would rent with my brothers on VHS and devour over the weekend. All the thrills we craved to burn through a lazy afternoon are delivered here by the truckload: non-stop action, the obligatory scene where the hero packs his duffle bag with weapons, torture with some wires and a Diehard car battery, multiple shootouts, hand to hand smack-downs, a scar-faced villain, throwing knife mayhem, sling-shot mayhem, crossbow mayhem, macho one-liners, bodies destroyed in meaty bullet hits and copious, glorious explosions. They blow up everything in this movie: cars, buses, jet fighters, helicopters, trucks, bodies, bridges, buildings… I lost count after forty-three explosions, and every last one of them was old school gunpowder and gasoline pyrotechnics, no doubt pulled off by a pyro-effects wizard, probably missing a finger or two.

Fred “The Hammer” Williamson (Black Caesar) as Beck and Bo Svenson (Walking Tall Part 2) as Keitel have their names above the title, but Brett Clark as Turner, is the real star of the film. Like Michael Sopkiw before him, and Richard Anthony Crenna after him, Clark was given the chance of headlining an Italian production made for the international film market in the hopes of becoming a superstar like Clint Eastwood. Clark will be instantly recognizable to you, but you might not know him by name. We’ve been watching him since he first played one of the Camp Mohawk basketball players in Meatballs. He made all kinds of daytime soap and movie appearances. He’s maybe best known for his role of Nick “The Dick” in the Tom Hanks comedy Bachelor Party. (And if you aren’t familiar with “Mr. Dick,” you just need to watch Bachelor Party.)

Mark Gregory essays the role of the unnamed bad guy. Gregory is probably best known for his portrayal of post-apocalyptic hero Trash in 1990: The Bronx Warriors and the sequel, Escape from the Bronx. Here he sports some scabby facial make-up, short hair and a never wavering maniacal smile. Of all his performances I’ve seen, this is the first time Gregory appears to really be having fun with his character.

Director Frank Valenti (a nod to former president of the MPAA Jack Valenti, perhaps?) is really Pierluigi Ciriaci. Long time Italian movie scholars don’t need me to tell them writer David Parker Jr. is really Dardano Sacchetti.

To understand my appreciation for this flick, you really have to understand the era in which it was made. The 80’s were an amazing time of every kind of movie getting made, many receiving a theatrical release and almost all of them eventually showing up on home video or cable. One hit would begat dozens of similar follow-ups, from all over the world. Delta Force Commando was one of the many films that came into creation thanks to the always in demand action movie market and the success of films like Rambo: First Blood Part II, Commando and Missing in Action.

These films would get made, usually on low budgets, have a few recognizable stars, lots of action and sell tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands, of videotapes to the vid stores across the country. When Vista released this film on VHS, it was in every neighborhood video shoppe, in the new release section, right there next to 1988’s Rambo III.

For me, Delta Force Commando is way more entertaining than Rambo III. Of the two, Rambo III has some stunning action sequences, yes, but the characters talk too much, there’s too much plot and story and worst yet, the movie has a “message.” On the other hand, Delta Force Commando doesn’t have a “message” to bog down the action, and we can just munch popcorn and cheer on Lt. Turner as he turns the men responsible for his pregnant wife’s death inside out.

I had the opportunity to ask Dardano Sacchetti about his involvement with this film, as it is a film in which not a lot seems to be known about it. He had this to say, “The Ciriaci brothers had a supermarket and an oven that made bread in a small town near Rome. The oldest was very rich and the youngest wanted to be a director. My agent told me they would pay well for my script. I talked to them and they ended up making films from three of my scripts, but they did not come up roses. I only did it for the money, which turned out not to be very much, in a cloud of cigarette smoke and lots of Vodka.”

As far as the similarity of this title with a Cannon release around the same time, Sacchetti offers, “I believe my Delta Force was written a few months before the American one with Chuck Norris.”

When you’re in the mood for just watching a couple old-school guys blow up a lot of stuff in the name of vengeance, Delta Force Commando is a perfect pick.

THE EXCELLENT EIGHTIES: Act of Love (1980)

In between playing one of America’s most beloved teenagers and directing its favorite movies, Ron Howard took several against type roles. This is one such example, as he plays Leon Cybulkowski, who puts his brother Joseph (Mickey Rourke!) out of his misery as he asks to be killed instead of living out his life as a quadriplegic.

Director Jud Taylor started his career as an actor before becoming an in-demand director of TV movies. Some of his best-remembered films include Revenge!The Disappearance of Flight 412, Search for the Gods (which has Kurt Russell and Stephen McHattie seeking ancient astronauts), Out of the Darkness and The Great Escape II: The Untold Story (he was an actor in the original).

Based on the book Act of Love: The Killing of George Zygmanik by Judith Paige Mitchell, this NBC TV movie originally aired on September 24, 1980. It’s an emotional watch and Howard is pretty decent in it. It also has Robert Foxworth (the voice of Ratchet in the Transformers movies), Jacqueline Brookes (The Good Son), David Spielberg (Christine), Mary Kay Place (Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman), Chris Mulkey (Hank Jennings from Twin Peaks), Pat Gorley (Kiss My Grits) and David Faustino in his first acting role.

You can watch this on YouTube.

The Excellent Eighties: Reborn (1981)

Ah, Sam knows my Bigas Luna fandom*, as I gushed my philosophical wax over the majesty of Luna in our review of Anguish. Gracias, mi amigo: your X-Mas gift of film is enjoyed.

What saddens me: that this, Bigas’s fourth directing effort — and his first English-language film (the second was Anguish) — ends up on a Mill Creek box set. No offense to the executives of Mill Creek, as we devour your box sets like a serial killer with a chest ripped-out heart on a Valentine’s Day murder spree . . . but wow, you’d think, with Dennis Hopper (Easy Rider) and Micheal Moriatry (The Stuff) on the marquee, Reborn would have not fallen into the public domain and received a proper digital reissue. Sadly, a deserved John Carpenter, Sean S. Cunningham, or Wes Craven-like success was not in the cards for Luna. As with Anguish, Reborn bombed at the U.S. box-office (as result of a poorly-received limited release) for which it was intended. What we really need is a double disc restore with Reborn packed with Anguish in honor of Bigas Luna. Now.

Okay. Enough with the ranting. Let me a have nice, warm cup of Ovaltine (Well, Roundtine, because, as Jerry Seinfeld pointed out: the cup is round and the jar is round. . . .) and finish this review. (Sorry, Sam. It can’t be done.)

It’s no mystery that Reborn, like Anguish before it, is beyond the bizarre — even for Satan’s tomfoolery — only this first English-language film for Luna is a bit more low-key than the eye-ball carving and snail fetishisms of Anguish. Luna’s eye for set design is on fire, natch, oozing with style and substance that’s punctuated by his usual taste for the erotic mixed with the spiritual: it’s a religious fantasy piece that questions faith, explores Luna’s Catholicism, and the mysteries of one’s acquiring healing powers. And, if those powers are real (they are, in this case), how does the one blessed (or cursed) used them? And, if that person is with child (she is, here), then will that child inherit the mother’s powers of stigmata and healing?

The story concerns Giacomo (Francesco Rabal, the real “leading man,” here), who discovers his Holy Ghost-hearing girlfriend (Antonella Murgia, the real “leading lady,” here) is a “stigmata”: someone whose hands and feet mysteriously bleed in the same places where Jesus Christ was crucified. (At the risk of getting into a religious debate: It is said Christ was crucified through his achilles (the back of the foot, above the heel) and his wrists; anyone “bleeding” from their palms and insteps are phonies, because, there’s no way nails can be driven through those parts of the body without shattering bones . . . then hang from those wound-points without ripping through the flesh and shattered bones, and falling off the crucifix. So read your Roman history before committing religious fraud, preacher man.) Of course, no surprise, Dennis Hooper is the maniacal Rev. Tom Hartley, an American televangelist-head of a racketeering “revivalist” church** — and he exploits the situation for his own, greedy purposes. Moriarty is Mark, Hopper’s kidnapping sidekick, sent to Italy to “recruit” the girl — they fall in love; he impregnates her — is his usual, off-the-chain self in a role that rises to his work in Q: The Winged Serpent.

The reason why we are here: Mill Creek Entertainment features this Bigas Luna classic on their Excellent Eighties 50-Movie Pack. There’s (awful, with muddy images and distorted audio) steaming copies at Amazon Prime and You Tube, but emptor those caveats, ye streamer: both platforms stream the 92-minute, shorter U.S.-version — when, what we really want, is the extra 13 minutes of the 105-minute original version. And trust me: those lost minutes are why so many detract this Luna masterpiece as “confusing junk.” And these bad prints aren’t helping matters, leaving you think you’re watching a knockoff of Giulio Paradisi’s confusing mess-of-a-mess The Exorcist knockoff that is the The Visitor — and Reborn is not that bad, for it is so, so much better. And it has nothing to do with exorcism.

The Exorcist-inspired theatrical one-sheet that hurt the film more than helped.

MGM currently holds the copyright on Reborn, with Park Circus/Arts Alliance as its TV/Home Video distributor. Again, we need a restore on this one, so help us out MGM and Park Circus!

* You can learn more about Bigas Luna with his 2013 obituary at Variety.
** Beth B’s dark comedy, Salvation!, starring Exene Cervenka, tackles the same material.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

THE EXCELLENT EIGHTIES: Saigon Year of the Cat (1983)

At the end of 1974, as American forces withdraw from Saigon, only a few CIA advisors remain. In this strange end of the war era, one of those advisors named Bob Chesneau (Frederic Forrest, who was in another better known Vietnam movie, Apocalypse Now) is having an affair with a bank analyst, Barbara Dean (Dame Judi Dench).

Written by David Hare (The Hours) and directed by Stephen Frears (Dangerous Liaisons, High Fidelity), this Thames Television film also has a strong cast with E.G. Marshall (Creepshow), Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride), British comedian Chic  Murray, Manning Redwood (The ShiningShock Treatment) and Josef Sommer (Witness).

It’s pretty amazing the places that Hare and Frears went after this movie, which doesn’t show much of the promise that they would later display. But here it is, one of the many British made for TV movies that are all over this giant brick of a Mill Creek collection.

You can watch this on YouTube.

The Excellent Eighties: Hard Knox (1984)

The joy of enjoying Robert Conrad as an actor is a case of you had to be there: if you weren’t, you missed out. Back in the day: we went gold, red and black because Conrad told us so. And we can remember those days thanks to Mill Creek rescuing this lost and forgotten TV Movie adrift in the public domain.

If you’re a younger surfer amid the digital pages of B&S About Movies, Conrad is just that old guy from The Wild Wild West (1965 – 1969) adapted into that utterly awful Will Smith movie Wild Wild West (1999) where Smith portrayed Conrad’s Jim West: no, there was never any giant, Civil War-era mechanical spiders in the series. If you’re a wee-bit older and go back to the pre-cable days of local UHF-TV, you remember coming home from school and watching Conrad as Tom Lopaka on the early ’60s series 77 Sunset Strip, a character which grew into its own four-years series, Hawaiian Eye. And the not-so-old and the not-so-young remember Conrad as Pappy Boyington on Black Sheep Squadron in the ’80s.

Before there was a Tom Selleck, there was Robert Conrad: he was the “he man” of the ’70s, rife with the “sex” for the women and the “brawn” for the men. From Murph the Surf (1975), Sudden Death (1977), and The Lady in Red (1979), he packed the duplexes and the Drive-Ins. From Smash-Up on Interstate 5 (1976), Coach of the Year (1980), and Two Father’s Justice (1994), we turned his TV movies into ratings winners. If Conrad was still active and relevant as an actor in the 21st Century, Sylvester Stallone would have cast him in The Expendables, because, for his fans (moi): Action equals Conrad and vise versa.

However, Conrad, even when playing off his tough guy image, isn’t comedy. And that led to his decision, which he later regretted, in turning down the role of Cmndt. Lassard in the first Police Academy film. Conrad tried to correct that career misstep with a role in Neal Isreal and Pat Profts’s next film, Moving Violations (1985) and this military comedy. With his two comedic bids failing at the box office, he went back to the action genre with the TV movies The Fifth Missile (1986) and Assassin (1986; which we reviewed as part of our last Mill Creek blowout with their Sci-Fi Invasion set).

Image courtesy of terriers4u/eBay.

In a story idea conjured by Conrad, and in an obvious bid to correct the wrong of turning down Police Academy, he’s Joe Knox: a hard-nosed, retired Air Force Colonel who takes over the leadership of a co-ed military academy from his mentor, General Garfield (Bill Erwin; Across 240-plus credits: Plains, Trains & Automobiles, Home Alone . . . and too many TV series to mention, yes, Samuel, even Seinfeld: “My Teeth, My Teeth, you moron!”). Helping Col. Knox whip the Porky’s-cum-Animal House bumbling cadets (including Alan Ruck of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off fame) into shape is Thomas “Top” Tuttle (ex-Elvis body guard Red West of Road House).

Since this is an ’80s TV movie, the shenanigans are innocuous and not as racy as the Police Academy films it apes, and it’s not as funny as No Time for Sergeants (the military comedy gold standard, so what film is), but it doesn’t fail as badly as Mad Magazine‘s (really awful) military school romp Up the Academy (1980). Also keep your eyes open for Reb Brown (TV’s original Captain America, Space Mutiny) and Dennis Farina (in an early role; on his way to TV’s Law & Order as Det. Fontana).

Sam? Notice how I got a plug for both Law & Order and Seinfeld into one review? Sweet!

You can get your own copy of Hard Knox as part of Mill Creek’s Excellent Eighties box set and watch it on You Tube.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

Repost: Shaker Run (1985)

Editor’s Note: This is the first time Shaker Run has been issued on a Mill Creek set, in this case, as part of their B-Movie Blast 50-Film Pack (Amazon) that we’re reviewing this month. But guess what? We were already all over this Smokey dopey Bandit boo-boo on December 7, 2020, as part of our second, month-long tribute to the Fast and the Furious film franchise (you can find all of those review links with our recap). See, Mill Creek? You inspired us to make up our own box sets! So, how’s about a B&S About Movies 50-Film Pack?

Will you look at that one-sheet. That’s not too blatant of a Smokey and the Bandit rip off, is it? (Or is it Smokey and the Judge. Or Smokey and the Good Time Outlaws? Or Smokey Bites the Dust?)

To be honest, this movie is really dumb. Fun. But dumb, in a Lee Majors The Last Chase kinda-way. Take one part Mad Rockatansky and one part Burt Reynolds. Strip away the story and characters — and just focus on the cars. Vroom-vroom: yer git yerselves a movie, Hoss.

So, “The Bandit,” aka Cliff Roberston (yep, Grand-pa Ben Parker from the Spider-Man franchise), is Judd Pierson, a down-and-out stock racer slummin’ on the carnival circuit-for-a-buck as a daredevil driver with his sidekick, The Snowman, aka Casey Lee (yep, ex-teen idol Leif Garrett of Thunder Alley, who’s actually very good here) at his side.

Then they meet their “Frog” in the form of Dr. Christine Ruben: she decides to double-cross the New Zealand government and smuggle a lethal bio-agent out of a military-backed research facility — and she needs The Bandit and The Snowman. And when you’re hard up for cash, and a hot doctor bats her eyelash-sob story, you take the hook. Sucker. Then nice, loooong car chases — and the ensuing crashes — takes us eastbound and down.

Unfortunately, there’s no freebie uploads on any streaming platforms. So, beside the clip above, you can check out these extended 8:00 and 20:00 You Tube clips that distill the film down into what we came for: the car chases. And since this was a New Zealand-shot film, that country’s NZ On Screen website offers up an 10:00 excerpt from the film. If you like what you see, you can stream over on Amazon Prime.

The Excellent Eighties: Cavegirl (1985)

Editor’s Note: Sam took a swat at this best-forgotten ’80s comedy back on February 2, 2021, as part of its inclusion on Mill Creek’s B-Movie Blast 50-film pack. If there’s a film that doesn’t deserve as a second, fresh take, it’s Cavegirl. But here we are, as the film is also part of Mill Creek’s The Excellent Eighties 50-film pack.

I’ve been a fan of Daniel Roebuck ever since his chilling portrayal of Sampson Tollet in the juvenile delinquent classic River’s Edge. But in proof that all actors must start somewhere on their journey to becoming a stock player in Rob Zombie’s retro-celluloid house of horrors or picking up work in cool Don Coscarelli flicks, Roebuck made his feature film debut with this caveman-cum-jungle girl comedy. And at the risk of offending an actor I respect: this movie is as stone cold dumb as it looks. Can we blame this film’s inspiration on Ringo Starr’s Caveman? Eh, probably.

In one of the most-unlikely “high school students” committed to film, Roebuck stars as the way-too-old and oafy-dopey Rex, the type of guy that loves bones — as well as boners for unattainable girls — who gets a shot at the (cave) babe of his dreams. However, unlike Pauly Shore’s Encino Man from 1992, where the hot cave person comes to the present, Rex transports back to The Stone Age.

But how?

Ugh. Don’t you know your innocuous and implausible comedies, such as 1976’s Freaky Friday or 1988’s Vice Versa? A magic trinket does the job. In this case: Rex discoveres a cave wall-encrusted magic crystal. There he meets a cavebabe, Eba (Cynthia Thompson, who made her debut in Tomboy and ended up, in all places, a Ruggero Deodato flick, Body Count). And while Rex tries to get under her skimpy animal skins, he helps her tribe fend off a warring cannibal tribe. The end.

Now, if the character of “Brenda” looks familiar to you — but the actress name Stacey Swain does not — that’s because it’s Stacey Q! Yes, she the ’80s pop queen who made it into the U.S. Top Ten with “Two of Hearts” in 1986. Her song “Synthicide,” which was the debut single by SSQ, which cracked the U.S. Top Fifty back in 1983, appears on the soundtrack. That song, along with “Big Electronic Beat” and “Clockwork,” from SSQ’s lone album on Enigma Records (also home to the very-similar Berlin lead by ’70s actress Terry Nunn), also appears on the soundtrack to 1984’s Hardbodies (that, shockingly, hasn’t been “Mill Creek’d,” at least not yet). If you’re a punker and you love your zombies, you’ve heard Stacey’s soundtrack work before, on, of all places, The Return of the the Living Dead. Remember when Linnea Quigley stripped for Trash in the graveyard? Well, the song “Tonight (We’ll Make Love Until We Die)” blaring over the boombox is Stacey fronting SSQ.

Yeah, when the backstory on the soundtrack is more interesting than the movie, you know you’ve got narrative issues with your film.

This ended up being the only feature film writing and directing debut for rock video director David Oliver Pfeil, in which he also served as his own producer and cinematographer. It’s certain he had higher hopes for his passion project. But when you’re backed by Crown International, boobs rule over one’s artistic passions. But no worries: Pfeil went onto become a prolific opening credits designer for features films and television series. One his many credits was the opening titles for the film and series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century — which is the best part of that decrepit, plastic Star Wars knockoff.

You can watch Cavegirl on YouTube.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.