Future-Kill (1985)

Editor’s Note: As if we don’t have enough movies to review! An anonymous reader confessed their love for this movie and were baffled how we never included it as part of our endless apoc-love at B&S About Movies. You know the drill, ye reader: Strap on the popcorn bucket, let’s apoc this mother, Texas-style!

And it just goes to show you: Reviewing VHS junk like Cybernator — a film not reissued on DVD that’s being promoted by a studio shingle, reviewed for the simple passion of the film itself — pays off. In fact, another reader’s suggestion inspired our review of Robo Warriors, posting later today.

When it comes to the ‘80s video fringe, we not only expect the bizarre—we demand the bizarre. Austin, Texas, filmmaker Ronald W. Moore—in his only feature film writing and directing effort—answered that challenge with a sci-fi black-comedic pastiche of the Italian apocalypse rip-offs of John Carpenter’s Escape from New York and the “snob vs. slobs” rip-offs of Animal House. Only the slobs have been replaced by Reagan-era nuclear punks overlorded by Splatter, a plastic-cum-cardboard Robocop on a Terminator tear.

While it looks ’80s Italian apocalyptic, it’s not. This is a Texas-styled apoc, but not as cool as 2020: Texas Gladiators.

If you’ve watched the nondescript, post-apocalyptic ramblings of City Limits, the punk-rock apoc-drivel of Radioactive Dreams and the rad n’ gnarly post-apoc shenanigans of Night of the Comet, then you’ve traveled these low-budget streets before; streets that—outside of a few techno-trinkets to make the proceedings seem like the future—look just like our present-day streets. And when that “present-day” apocalypse arrives, be it via “The Big One” or by plague or by comet or by whatever nuclear deus ex machina falls from above, the “mutants,” depending on the film’s budget, raid the local S&M leather boutique or Reagan-era Mohawk-and-heavy mascara emporium. And at a reported $250,000 budget, Future-Kill raids the latter retailer to give us gangs of disenfranchised punks—punks who got lost on the set of Enzo G. Castellari’s The Bronx Warriors and Escape from the Bronx while on the way to their background acting gigs for Suburbia and Repo Man. And Lord Cyrus help them if they stumbled onto the set of The Warriors (Future-Kill’s most obvious model), for these MTV video punks won’t stand a chance against the Baseball Furies, the Electric Eliminators, the Gramercy Riffs, and Turnbull AC’s*.

Maybe if Future-Kill were as entertaining as any of those films and not the apoc-swill that is America 3000 and Robot Holocaust (okay, maybe it’s a wee bit better than those two swillers: a wee bit). Maybe if the proceedings were more Wendy O. Williams and the Plasmatics (“Butcher Baby“) and less Dale Bozzio and Missing Persons (“Words“) roamin’ those Austin mean streets and the gangs were more Walter Hill-inspired, Future-Kill could have lived up to its faux H.R Giger packaging. Yeah, at the time, we thought the artwork was a bogus H.R Giger rip-off hawking another R.O.T.O.R artwork-hiding-a-shitty-film scam, so we avoided renting Future-Kill during its VHS heyday.

Then Ronald W. Moore’s apoc-meets-frat comedy boondoggle became connected to Oscar gold.

John Hawkes, one of Future-Kill’s minor support actors, ended up at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards held in 2011 and rubbed elbows with Tom Hanks—who has his own ‘80s VHS debut-acting bone in the closet with He Knows You’re Alone. So, its Texas Chainsaw and H.R Giger faux-connections aside, how can one not want to watch Future-Kill, once learning that one of its actors earned multiple “Best Actor” nominations and awards between 2010 to 2012 for the films Winter’s Bone, Martha Marcy May Marlene, and The Sessions?

However, before the mainstream success of John Hawkes inspiring us to seek out copies of Future-Kill, the truth behind that “bogus” H.R. Giger artwork was finally told in an audio commentary by director/writer Ronald W. Moore and producer/star Edwin Neal—courtesy of a 2006 Subversive Cinema DVD reissue that included reproductions of Giger’s original artwork for the film.

While H.R Giger famously provided production drawings for Alien (as well as 1995’s Species), the Swiss surrealist rebuffed several studio offers to design theatrical one-sheets, including overtures from 20th Century Fox, the studio that brought his work to a mass audience (with an honorable mention to ‘70s prog-rockers Emerson, Lake and Palmer; the band used Giger’s work on their 1973 album Brain Salad Surgery**). So, it’s a shock to discover that the artwork for Future-Kill is, in fact, a real Giger, titled “Future Kill 1,” painted in 1984 specifically for the film.

According to the Alien Explorations, which chronicles the works of Giger, Giger was a fan of Tobe Hooper’s film; since Future-Kill featured two actors from Texas Chainsaw, he agreed to design the poster. At the time, Ronald W. Moore completed filming and was in the editing process when he approached the artist at a Zurich exhibition and begged Giger to design the poster (Giger has stated Moore was in tears at one point)—based on the fact Moore prematurely promised investors a theatrical one-sheet by Giger, so to secure film financing. Now Moore had to pay up, figuratively speaking. Also enticing Giger to design the poster: Giger and Kathy Hogan—the make-up and costume designer who developed Splatter’s bat wing and Mohawk-styled shoulder and helmet armor, which served as the model for Giger’s artwork—came into a sexual relationship.

While Hawkes was only a minor support player, the real “stars” of Future-Kill were Edwin Neal and Marilyn Burns, each who appeared in Texas Chainsaw. However, even with that “star power,” the film still lacked “major stars” and received its limited, regional theatrical release solely based on the fact that “the artist who did Alien” designed the poster (and the film looked nothing like Alien, natch). Also of note: Edwin Neal didn’t “star” in Texas Chainsaw; he had an extended cameo as a self-cutting hitchhiker; meanwhile, Marilyn Burns, who starred in Texas Chainsaw, only has an extended cameo in Future-Kill. The film’s Texas Chainsaw-connection also goes a bit deeper, as Ronald W. Moore got his start in the business as a soundman on Mongrel; the film also served as the lone directing effort by art director Robert A. Burns, who worked in that capacity on The Hills Have Eyes, Don’t Go Near the Park, and The Howling—as well as the The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; Burns was responsible for the “bone furniture” and its related “bone room” scene.

Maybe, if Moore hired Robert A. Burns to work on the set of Future-Kill, we’d have a film that looked as good as those films—and its chief protagonist, Splatter, would have been the Gigeresque biomechanical xenomorph promised and not the low-rent Godfrey Ho wannabe we got; if you’ve seen Ho’s Pacific Rim cyborg romp Robo Vampire (1988), then you understand that analogy to the canons of “Hong Kong’s Ed Wood.” Godfrey Ho, as with ‘60s U.S. drive-in purveyor Al Adamson before him, was infamous for splicing two or three unrelated films into a new product. And, at first watch and without knowing the backstory of Future Kill, it looks as if Ronald W. Moore assembled his own portmanteau poo akin to Night Train to Terror (which is three movies spliced into one) and Evil Town (which is a four-director junkfest rooted in a mid-‘70s horror dumpster-fire called God Bless Dr. Shagetz).

Now, that’s not the case with Future-Kill, but it sure seems like two, unrelated, spliced scripts or unfinished films: one a failed frat-house comedy; the other a failed post-apocalyptic tale. And thanks to the ‘80s frat house hi-jinks and the Philippines-cum-Italian future world we’re watching, we have no idea what the hell is going on or where we are. The “destination,” to paraphrase the lyrics of Missing Persons, is “unknown.”

Oh, Wendy! Are we beyond the valley of 1984? Will extras show up in monkey suits? When does this future-world of Future-Kill take place? What’s the Orwellian masterplan, dag gummit!?

Well, it must be in an alternate universe or timeline or a future stuck in a DeLorean time loop where technology has afforded us the ability to create cyborgs—while everything else looks ‘80s “snobs vs. slobs” comedic. And since we’re on the cheap, our “mutants” aren’t so much nuc-deformed; they’re just a bunch of snotty, Reagan-era punks with an anti-nuclear chip on their shoulders. You know the punk-type: As with my ex, Dawn, she listened to a couple of Black Flag and Dead Kennedy records, went to spoken word concerts by Henry Rollins and Jello Biafra, then raised the flags against Halliburton and rallied about “Blood for Oil” through the puffs of her clove cigarettes, its scented fumes clinging to the fibers of her faded, Hot Topic Clash tee-shirt.

Anyway, in Ronald W. Moore’s future world, those errant punk rock scamps have—in an eerie foreshadow of the sociopolitical upheavals of 2020—formed their own CHOP/CHAZ perimeter in downtown Austin, Texas, as part of an anti-nuclear movement. The most feared of all of the nuc-mutants is Splatter (Texas Chainsaw’s Edwin Neal), the aforementioned Robocop-cum-Terminator, whose radiated mutations have turned him into a metal-and-spiked covered madman.

Okay, so that takes care of the “slobs” portion of the film.

Meanwhile, back on the campus of Faber College in snobby Porkyville, out in the ritzy, unaffected Austin environs, our perpetually partying preppy a-holes live a carefree life of booze, boobs, and pranks where rich parents get them out of their Hunter Bidenesque jams. When one of their pranks risks the shutdown of their frat, our frat-lads are forced to dress “punk” by a rival frat and venture into slobby Punkville to kidnap one of the mutants for an end-all-be-all of all pranks. Of course, they run afoul of the metal-clad n’ spiked Splatter. Oops.

Okay, so begins The Warriors portion of our film.

Once Splatter (our “Luther,” if you will) settles his Alpha-Male dispute (i.e., murder) with Eddie Pain (our “Cyrus,” natch), the anti-nuke movement’s ‘60s-inspired hippie-punk leader (uniting the gangs, natch), our Robonator is off-the-chain with a Termicop chip on his shoulder—and he’s framed our prep-boys (i.e., The Warriors) for Pain’s murder. As our Delta House rejects make their “Escape from Austin,” they save a hot mutant punk chick from pervert cop rape because, well, as usual, when the apocalypse arrives, man’s inner “rape genes” mutate, so as to preserve the species. And preppy boy falls for punky girl. And we hear a few tunes—in the best part of the film—from real life Austin band Max and the Make-Ups (but we wished The Plamastics showed up to do do “Black Leather Monster“) as we (finally) meet Texas Chainsaw’s Marilyn Burns in her under 20-minutes role as Dorothy Grimm, the revenge-seeking girlfriend of Eddie Pain.

Is it a plot-spoiler telling you Splatter dies and the preps Escape from Austin? And it all plays as if Universal ripped this for Judgement Night, their 1993 suburbanites-lost-in-the-underbelly-of-the-mean city starring Emilio Estevez pursued by Denis Leary?

When submitted to the ratings board for its limited, regional theatrical run in and around its native Austin, Future-Kill received an “X” rating for extreme violence. One minor edit was made to secure an “R” rating in the U.S. Meanwhile, across the ocean, while the puritanical purveyors of philth (know your Motorhead) in the U.K. didn’t toss Future-Kill onto their “Video Nasties” list, they forced a title change to Night of the Alien (in other overseas quarters the title Splatter was used) and two-and-half minutes were cut—which eliminated a neck breaking, the killing of Clint (one of the preps), portions of Splatter’s stabbing, a woman’s fondling by Splatter, and Splatter’s sexual encounter with a street girl—all of which were restored on the subsequent DVD released by Subversive Cinema.

You can watch VHS rips of Future-Kill on You Tube HERE and HERE. You can also learn more about the film with this behind the scenes, 30-minute featurette created for the Subversive DVD.

Oh, we almost forgot about the pinball machine!

The infamous Deep Throat pinball machine, custom made by Robert A. Burns, which made its debut in Mongrel, also appears in Future Kill. The history of the game is discussed on the pinside.com message boards, your source for all things pinball. After we posted our October 2020 review of Mongrel, Joe ‘O Donnell, feverishly working on his Rondo Hatton documentary Rondo and Bob, let us know he is no longer in possession of the pinball machine. It was sold to help fund the production of Rondo and Bob and is now with a private collector. The good news is that Rondo and Bob, the story of Robert A. Burns’s fandom of Rondo Hatton, is completed and heading to film festival circuit.

More imagines of the machine are at pinside.com/multiple sites.

* Oh, the mighty QWERTY’in warriors of the Internet, you gotta love ’em. Jennifer M. Wood, over at Mental Floss, took up the challenge to chronicle all of the street gangs in 1978’s The Warriors in her feature “21 Street Gangs Features in The Warriors.” Nice!

** H.R Giger’s work will be incorporated into the currently-in-development film Karn Evil 9 based on the rock-suite of the same name from Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s rock-opera Brain Salad Surgery.

As always, thanks to Paul Z. over at VHS Collector.com, once again, for the artwork assist. Be sure to check out his reviews for the latest DVD and Blu-ray reissues of our favorite VHS classics at his Analog Archivist You Tube portal.

Be sure to check out our Atomic Dustbin blowout tribute to apoc-films of the ’70s and ’80s. Part 1 will get you started.

If you have a favorite film that we’ve missed, you’re welcome to let us know via our contact form. We’re always hearing from our many, ever-growing readers and welcome you to join in the fun. We’re united in film! And thanks for thinking of us to review your favorites. We try our best. Keep those suggestions coming.

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook.

Ron Marchini Week Wrap Up!

Phew. We did it! Twelve Ron Marchini films in two days. You know the drill! Yee-haw, let’s round ’em up!

Born in California and rising through the U.S. Army’s ranks to become a drill sergeant, in his civilian life, Ron Marchini earned the distinction as the best defensive fighter in the U.S.; by 1972, he was ranked the third best fighter in the country. Upon winning several worldwide tournaments, and with Robert Clouse’s directing success igniting a worldwide martial arts film craze with Enter the Dragon (1973), the South Asian film industry beckoned.

After making his debut in 1974’s Murder in the Orient, Marchini began a long friendship with filmmaker Paul Kyriazi, who directed Ron in his next film, the epic Death Machines, then later, in the first of Ron’s two appearances as post-apoc law officer John Travis, in Omega Cop.

Ron also began a long friendship with Leo Fong (Kill Point) after their co-staring in Murder in the Orient; after his retirement from the film industry — after making eleven dramatic-action films and one documentary — Ron concentrated on training and writing martial arts books with Leo, as well as becoming a go-to arts teacher. Today, he’s a successful California almond farmer.

In the annals of martial arts tournaments, Marchini is remembered as Chuck Norris’s first tournament win (The May 1964 Takayuki Kubota’s All-Stars Tournament in Los Angeles, California) by defeating Marchini by a half a point. Another of Chuck’s old opponents, Tony Tullener, who beat Norris in the ring three times, pursued his own acting career with the William Riead-directed Scorpion.

You can learn more about Ron Marchini with his biography at USAdojo.com. An interview at The Action Elite, with Ron’s friend and Death Machines director Paul Kyriazi, also offers deeper insights.

Ron, second from right, with Chuck Norris, shaking hands, 1965. Courtesy of Ken Osbourne/Facebook.
Courtesy of USADojo.com.

The Flicks!

The Reviews!

New Gladiators (1973)
Murder in the Orient (1974)
Death Machines (1976)
Dragon’s Quest (1983)
Ninja Warriors (1985)
Forgotten Warrior (1986)
Jungle Wolf (1986)
Return Fire (1988)
Arctic Warriors (1989)
Omega Cop (1990)
Karate Cop (1991)
Karate Raider (1995)

Black tee-shirt image courtesy of Spreadshirt. Art work/text by B&S About Movies.

We love ya, Ron!

The Review Authors: Sam Pacino is the publisher of B&S About Movies and can be visited on Twitter. R. D Francis is a staff writer and can be visited on Facebook.

Dragon’s Quest (1983) Ninja Warriors (1985)

After making his debut in Murder in the Orient (1974) with Leo Fong (Kill Point) and finding a home in our public domain hearts with Death Machines (1976), Ron Marchini retreated from the film industry to concentrate on training and writing martial arts books with Leo Fong, as well as becoming a go-to arts teacher. He returned to our drive-in screens for his third film, Dragon’s Quest (1983). Sadly, as with Arctic Warriors (1989), Ron’s third film is a Marchini title lost to the analog ages. There’s no VHS tape images on the web and the blogs dedicated to Ron’s career make no mention of the film.

So, in desperation . . . and in the grand tradition of low-budget studios recycling artwork (know your Michael Sopkiw vs. Mark Gregory movies), we made our own (it must be cheesy) Dragon’s Quest VHS sleeve with the Mexican-distributed artwork from Ninja Warriors. Oh, what might have been. . . .

Image courtesy of Todo Coleccion Online books, art, and collectibles/design R.D Francis/text PicFont.

Courtesy of the digital catalogers at the IMDb, all we know about Dragon’s Quest is that the film was shot in the native Filipino and Tagalog languages of the Philippines and that Ron portrayed a character named Dragon. Director Celso Ad. Castillo has 65 directing credits and 50 writing credits (he only directs Dragon’s Quest). His career led to his winning the “Cinema Original Award” at the 6th Cinema One Originals Digital Film Festival 2010 for the horror film 666.

As with much of the East and South Asian films cataloged at the IMDb, most of Castillo’s resume entries, as with Dragon’s Quest and his award-winner 666, are barren, dead pages. While most of Castillo’s films were Philippine-only distributed, several have English-language titles, so, most likely, they received distribution outside of his homeland: Dr. Yes (1965), Zebra (1965), The Tall, Dark, and the Handsome (1968), Dirty Face Max (1968), Inside Job (1970), The Virgin (1971), Isabel of the Islands (1975), Virgin People (1984), Snake Sisters (1984), Isla (1985), Paradise Inn (1985), and Virgin People 2 (1996). Unless your willing to explore the Filipino online marketplace for any possible VHS issues or grey DVDs, we’ll just have to let Castillo’s Dragon’s Quest go and live in the now.

The VHS I remember. It feels like home.

AKA Ninja Commandos and American Ninja
— Distributor hornswoggling to convince us Arnie or Michael Dudikoff will appear as a ninja warrior

That brings us to Ron’s fourth film — and his first of four appearance as Steve Parrish: Ninja Warriors. At the time, Cannon was swimming in cash with their initiating a new wave of martial arts films in the ’80s with the likes of Michael Dudikoff in every derivative of “American” and “Ninja” and “Warrior” in the title — and with Ron’s old tournament mate, Chuck Norris. As with most of the Ninja-cum-Kung fu flicks of the Filipino variety, you’re getting lots of action adrift in the seas of no plot: but who watches these movies for their plots or character development? And the acting stinks, but the fights are great: but who watches these films for their acting; we came for the fights, the acrobatics, and the stunts. Look, let’s be honest: it’s action porn. We watch porn for the porn and ninja movies for ninjas. And President Reagan — via photographs — is all over the place, just so we know that, while this was shot in the Philippines, the action takes place in America — although nothing in this film looks like America.

So . . . this film rolls out the old “secret formula” trope (this time: mind control) that can either save or destroy the world — depending on who possesses said formula. Baddie Ninja Kurado (Ken Watanabe; not that one, the other one) and his evil scientist boss, Dr. Anderson (Mike Cohen), want the formula. So Kurado’s seven-man, cartwheeling gas-masked paramilitary ninja unit storms the government lab (“Top Secret” stenciled on the cover, natch) and dispatches the ubiquitously feeble security guards by fire, throwing stars, grappling hooks, swords, and ball bearings/marbles; attack-by-trees is their forte. The ninjas, led by Kurado’s best warrior (Romano Kristoff), have succeed. But they only secured half of the formula.

Now, for their next mission: storm a country mansion to kidnap the tennis pro daughter of a wealthy scientist (the ‘ol chloroform n’ burlap sack trope; I was going to use the word “gag,” but I like trope, better, for its reader-irritation levels and to display my thesaurus-ignorance in finding non-repetitive words in my writing) as leverage to secure the second half of the formula. And the ground’s guards, as well as the cops, are, once again, dispatched in quick succession, but a policewoman is kidnapped; in a prisoner exchange gone bad with a captured ninja, the ninjas murder their cop hostage. To paraphase Tommy Wiseau: Is plot twist . . . of no consequence.

Well, it’s time to call in Steve Parrish: Ninja Warrior. And, while Steve has no last name here, in interviews over the years, Marchini has stated — as well as MarchiniHeads more fanboy-manic than I — that Ninja Warriors is the first Steve Parrish adventure. Of course, there’s no character development regarding Steve’s past to confirm his Parrishness. For he just is: a lone wolf wrapped in a puzzle sandwiched in an even-fewer-dollars spaghetti, uh, noodles western, enigma. (How’s that for a non-trope laden sentence? R.D has mad skills.)

Anyway, Lt. Kevin Washington (Paul Vance), lost amid this ninja tomfoolery, knows Steve better than anybody; he calls in his old buddy for schoolin’ of his Japan-based martial arts knowledge in the ways the ninja. But Parrish soon realizes “knowing” the ninja ways isn’t enough: to defeat them, he must become . . . a Ninja Warrior.

Romano Kristoff pops up often in our Marchini reviews this week. Amid his 30 films, he worked with Mark “Trash” Gregory in Just a Damned Soldier (1988) and Tan Zan: Ultimate Mission (1988). Ken Watanabe, who also penned Ninja Warriors, also stars in our favorite Brent Huff film of all time (Hey, Sho Kosugi, we love you too.): Nine Deaths of the Ninja (1985).

Paul Vance made his acting debut as Praxis in the batshite-all-over-the-place wonder that is W Is War (1983) and Mad Warrior (1984) for Willy Milan, and Slash Exterminator (1984, with Romano Kristoff) for Jun Gallardo. In addition, Vance wrote Slash Exterminator and SFX Retailator for Gallardo. Romano Kristoff, starring here for director Teddy Chiu/Teddy Page, also worked on two of Page’s best: Black Fire (1985) and Jungle Rats (1988) (that we seriously need to rewatch and review . . . for a “Philippine War Week” blowout).

If you’re a frequent visitor to the Pasta and Philippine Apocalypses and Vietnam war zones, you’ll recognize the support cast of Mike Cohen, Mike Monty, and Nick Nicholas, each who could easily have a month-long B&S About Movies tribute month based on their respective resumes.

So . . . yeah, Ninja Warriors is bad. But it’s awesome bad because it’s better made than most Rambo and Arnie Commando pasta and noodle rips. Director Teddy Page, averaging a Woody Allen-inspired one film a year across 30-plus credits, ranks right up their with Cirio H. Santiago (Equalizer 2000) in terms of quality-against-the-budget and could teach a thing or two, or three, to Godfrey Ho (Devil’s Dynamite) and Jun Gallardo (Desert Warrior).

You can stream the majesty of Ninja Warriors on You Tube. It’s a kick!’

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

Just One of the Guys (1985)

If you had basic cable at any time in the 80s and 90s, there’s a good chance you’ve seen this movie, which strangely enough is based on the Bard’s Twelfth Night. It was written by Dennis Feldman, who went on to write The Golden Child and the first two Species movies, and Jeff Franklin, who wrote Summer SchoolLove Stinks and then created Full House.

Pretty much any kid who grew up in the 80s can tell you the story of Terri Griffith (Joyce Hyser), who becomes Terry Griffith as another school, all to write a story that proves that men get better treatment than women. She takes on Rick Morehouse (Clayton Rohner, April Fools Day and I, Madman) as her project, transforming him from geek into someone girls are interested in before falling for him herself.

She already has a boyfriend — it’s Leigh McCloskey from Inferno! — and gets fixed up with Sherilyn Fenn, which is pretty much the best fix-up of all time, and runs afoul of perennial bad teen Billy Zapka. Seriously, Zapka was the ultimate 80s heel between The Karate KidBack to School and this movie.

I’m not sure that this movie could come out today. The idea of a girl being a guy for comedic value would have to rub someone the wrong way. But maybe people could watch it and think, “My parents sure liked some silly films,” to which point they’d get the reply, “That was on Comedy Central all the time.”

Junespolitation 2021: The Annihilators (1985)

June 11: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie — is vigilantes.

You know, I’ve wanted to watch this movie because the dude on the cover has a facemask on and is carrying a crossbow. That never really happens in the movie, but at least it’s entertaining.

At the end of the Vietnam War, the soldiers known as The Annihilators — Sgt. Bill Ecker (Christopher Stone, The Howling), Garrett Floyd (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs), Ray Track (Gerrit Graham!), Woody (Andy Wood) and Joe (Dennis Redfield) — undertake their final mission, during which Joe is critically injured saving his friends.

Years later, Joe works at his father’s Atlanta convenience store, which is under attack by a street gang led by Roy Boy Jagger (Paul Koslo) and his gang The Rollers, which ends up costing him his life. His father then begs Bill to teach the neighborhood how to fight back, which pretty much consists of the guys ineffectually shooting at the gang members and neither side being really able to hit one another, all while trying to stay away from the cops.

Known as Action Force in Europe, this movie would have been much better if I just watched the poster and got high. Well, I learned my lesson, The Annihilators.

Charles E. Sellier Jr. directed this. Yes — the producer of so many of my favorite Sunn Classics films! It was his last time directing after a career that included Encounter with DisasterSilent Night, Deadly Night and Snowballing. He also created The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams.

This movie was made at the same time as Invasion U.S.A. and shared the same stunt team, who worked on this movie during the day and with Chuck Norris at night.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Sky High (1985)

Man, Nico Mastorakis made some crazy movies. Like this one, in which a bunch of teens on a Greek vacation discover an entirely new kind of drugs: audio cassettes that deliver orgasms via hallucination filmed music videos. No, really. What is this, The Digital Underground’s Sex Packets: The Movie?

It also has a soundtrack filled with songs by Chris de Burgh, the guy who wrote “Lady In Red,” so it has that going for it. Also, Seiko paid big money to get their Data 2000 watch into this movie, as if the people who watch Nico Mastorakis movies are looking to upgrade their digital watches.

This is a movie about an old man inside the cassettes trying to get the three heroes to find the second tape, which will weaponize the music video orgy inside. So basically Porky’s meets Videodrome but Debbie Harry never puts out a cigarette on her breast.

Yes, it’s exactly as odd as it sounds.

You can watch this on YouTube.

O.C. and Stiggs (1985)

The actual date for the release of this movie is under some debate, as director Robert Altman — yes, the same one who did Nashville — shot the film in 1983, it was copyrighted in 1985, then shelved until it got a small theatrical release in 1987 and 1988.

Now, we could debate whether Altman is the right person to shoot a National Lampoon magazine, but then again, I kind of like this movie, which has a ramshackle all over the place feel to it.

Loosely based on stories written by Ted Mann and Tod Carroll. O.C. and Stiggs were recurring characters in the magazine, with the entire October 1982 issue being about “The Utterly Monstrous Mind-Roasting Summer of O.C. and Stiggs.” One of the big differences is that the print version of the characters are destructive while their film versions are a little more socially redeemable.

O.C., which means Oliver Cromwell Oglivie (Daniel H. Jenkins), and Stiggs (Neill Barry) are two Arizona teens whose idea of a great night is driving their car, the Gila Monster, to pick up girls, get booze from Wino Bob (Melvin van Peebles) and pick up some ladies. And oh yeah, drive the Schwab family — Randall (Paul Dooley), Elinore (Jane Curtin), Randall Jr. (Jon Cryer) and Lenore (Laura Urstein) — nuts.

Altman’s argument is that while audiences to see his take on Porky’s, he saw through the fake outrage in those movies and was delivering a satire. But yeah. No one else wanted that. As the director himself said, “It was a satire of teen sex comedies, gosh darn it, not an example of that dubious breed!”

But hey! Ray Walston is great as always as Gramps and it’s kinda inspired to get Dennis Hopper to be in one of these movies. He even flies his helicopter so Mark can woo Cynthia Nixon.

It’s kind of fascinating to me that this movie was even made and that’s pretty much the charm of it.

Mischief (1985)

Mel Damski mainly did TV — episodic and movie — but man, this movie, he hit it out of the park for every teenage male in 1985, who all probably taped it off Cinemax. The number of folks I know that had a copy of this and know about this movie is pretty astounding. It was written by Noel Black, who directed the classic Pretty Poison as well as the not as much of a classic Private School.

The reason for all the attention to this movie was, well, we didn’t have the internet and the love making scene with Jonathan Bellah (Doug McKeon) finally hooks up with his crush Marilyn McCauley (Kelly Preston) was like a bolt from heaven. I’m not proud of it, but porn magazines didn’t always just turn up in the woods in those days. But some days, they totally did.

His friend, Gene Harbrough, is in love with their friend Bunny (Catherine Mary Stewart), who already has a man in Kenny Brubaker (D. W. Brown). Plus, Jami Gertz is in this, as is Terry O’Quinn as Jonathan’s father. We had not yet arrived where the thought of O’Quinn as a father was a terrifying concept.

There’s a great soundtrack as well with so much of the music of the time, like Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent, The Platters, Bill Haley and the Comets, The Skyliners, Elvis Presley, Little Richard and more.

When you watch this movie in 2021, you realize that the hero is pretty much a jerk, not understanding that no means no, that women aren’t just objects to be grabbed, that if a date agrees to sleep with you that you’re responsible for birth control and if you agree on the pull out method, actually pull out. I kind of hate him, to be perfectly frank.

American Drive-In (1985)

Krishna Shah made Hard Rock Zombies, which was supposed to be the movie within this movie, which is a movie all about a drive-in, in case you couldn’t figure that out from the title. The film moves from car to car, with each one telling a different story that all adds up to a very low end version of American Graffiti.

That may not prepare you for the fact that the movie is also about a country girl who continually gets near-assaulted by some greasers and her boyfriend gets put in the hospital but the tonal shifts in this movie are all over the place, so humor intertwines with a female revenge movie and none of it really adds up.

Also, Hard Rock Zombies basically plays in real-time, so since I already saw it, this felt like being forced to watch that movie all over again.

I’m not mad that I bought this movie nor that I’ve endured it. Emily Longstreth, who plays the country girl named Bobbie Ann, was also in Star CrystalHardbodiesGimme an FPretty In PinkPrivate Resort and Wired to Kill, which is a B&S About Movies all-star list if I’ve ever written one. Speaking of great resumes, another actress who was in this, Mike, is also in CandymanHard HuntedGirls Just Want to Have Fun and Sword of Heaven.

Back to the Future (1985)

Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis came up with Back to the Future five years before it got made, but at that time, it wasn’t raunchy enough to get greenlit. After their film Used Cars came out, Gale was looking through his father’s high school yearbook. His mother wondered if he would have been friends with his father. Time travel was the only way they’d get the answer.

The duo wanted to make a time travel film that showed that the past could change the future. And sure, Professor Brown was once a video pirate and the time machine was going to be powered by Coke, but the main story remained the same as the movie was finally sold.

Then the movie went into turnaround and forty different studios turned down the movie. Other time travel films like Time Bandits and The Final Countdown had underpeformed and Disney was put off by the fact that the hero made out with his mom. I mean, well, yeah.

Steven Spielberg believed in them and the script. And that ended up being enough.

That and the fact that Zemeckis had a success with Romancing the Stone and had the clout to make the movie. And a grudge against the studios who turned him down, so he sold the movie to Spielberg’s Amblin, who set the project up at Universal Studios. However, that’s also where Frank Price, the first person to say no, worked. Spielberg didn’t like Price either — he’d passed on E.T. — so Sidney Sheinberg became the chief executive to oversee the studio’s investment.

For his part, Sheinberg wanted to rename the movie Space Man from Pluto because he believed Back to the Future wouldn’t sell. Everyone worried how to deal with the venerable elder man until Spielberg diffused the situation by sending a funny memo that said, “Hi Sid, thanks for your most humorous memo, we all got a big laugh out of it, keep ’em coming.”

Michael J. Fox was the first choice to play Marty McFly, but the producers of his hit show Family Ties didn’t even let him see the script. Eric Stoltz ended up with the role, but he was too intense. The filmmakers realized they hired a great actor for the wrong role. Stoltz also was a method actor and stayed in character the entire time, refusing to answer to any name but Marty, which led to the crew hating him. 34 days of shooting were lost — they kept shooting with the actor despite Fox being hired — and Stoltz was paid his entire salary.

Another perhaps exaggerated story is that Thomas F. Wilson, who played Biff, almost had his collarbone broken in the scene where he fights Marty in the cafeteria. Take after take, despite Wilson asking Stoltz to calm down, the actor kept roughing him up. Wilson planned to get a reciept in the car parking scene outside the dance, but Stoltz was gone before that happened.

Despite the issues behind the movie, audiences loved the story of Marty McFly going back in time thanks to Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) and having to put back together the events that introduced his parents (Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover). What audieces really liked was the DeLorean, a car that was unlike any time machine they’d ever seen in a movie before.

The one thing I never liked about this movie is that it posits that a white man now creates rock and roll. I know it’s a minor part, but even as a kid, it upset me.

Speaking of music, when Marty pretends to be Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan, he plays a tape labelled “Edward Van Halen.” It’s not any existing Van Halen song, but an untitled song that was written for The Wild Life, which also starred Eric Stoltz (and where producers discovered Lea Thompson as they studied Stoltz’s work).

Bonus: You can listen to Becca and me discuss this movie on our podcast.