Alpha City (1985)

Everyone in Alpha City wants Raphaela but no one more than Frank, a karate kicking dude with something to prove. There’s also a guy called The American, a handsome gangster that she’s also into. All three of them only exist in the neon night of West Berlin, in the shadows of the Metro nightclub, which was the location for Demons.

Written and directed by Eckhart Schmidt, who also made Der Fan, this is less an end of the world story — although much like Tenebre, it certainly seems like not all that many people are left alive — and more one about sex complicating relationships or maybe even humans complicating relationships. I don’t think that Schmidt could make a normal movie if he tried and we’re all the better for that.

Avenging Angel (1985)

Betsy Russell stepped into the role of Molly “Angel” Stewart for the second movie in this series as  the producers could not meet Donna Wilkes’ salary demands. This would start the trend of a new Angel in each movie.

This time, our little girl has grown up and is in law school. She learns that Lieutenant Andrews (no longer played by Cliff Gorman, now it’s Robert F. Lyons), the cop who got her off the streets, has been killed. Luckily, her old street family are all around and played by the same great performers as the original, with Steven M. Porter as Yo-Yo Charlie, Rory Calhoun as Kit Carson and Susan Tyrrell as Solly.

Only one person knows who killed Andrews and that’s another street performer named Johnny Glitter (Barry Pearl, Grease). It turns out there’s a scheme to buy up Hollywood Boulevard and Andrews got caught in the middle. Solly also has a baby that she found and that infant gets caught up in the craziness, nearly getting killed in a shootout and then almost thrown off a building. Avenging Angel has no qualms about being a neon-soaked nightmare world of street people with hearts of gold shooting, killing and playing Weekend at Bernie’s with dead mobsters, much less babies being constantly in death’s grasp.

There’s also product placement — in an exploitation movie! — for Adidas.

Avenging Angel was written and directed by Robert Vincent O’Neil, who in addition to writing the first movie, also wrote Vice Squad, which is a thematically similar and perhaps better movie, as well as Wonder WomenDeadly Force and the third film in this series. He also directed the first film in this series and Blood Mania.

You can watch this on Tubi.

KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Pulgasari (1985)

In 1978, director Shin Sang-ok was kidnapped* and taken to North Korea by Kim Jong-il, then the son of the country’s leader. Shin resisted being in North Korea and after two escape attempts, he was re-educated and learned why he was in the country: He was to make several films for the movie-loving soon-to-be despot of the nation.

The last of these films was this giant monster epic in which there’s a hidden message: the monster is really Kim Il-sung, who has betrayed the people’s revolution for his own gain.

In the past of Korea, life is tough. An old and imprisoned blacksmith makes a small doll and in his last moments, demands that the gods create someone to help the oppressed. When his daughter’s blood gets on the doll, it comes to life and begins eating iron and steel, growing in strength with every meal.

Despite aiding the people against a governor, the king sends so many men and kills so many people that Pulgasari voluntarily chooses to die to save everyone. He is reborn when the blacksmith’s daughter — who has lost her father and fiancee to the king — bleeds over the grave, bringing the monster back to life.

The problem is that even after he kills the king, Pulgasari’s hunger will never end. The villagers willingly give him the tools they need to thrive and he always wants more, so our heroine hides inside a metal bell and allows the creature to devour it. Their psychic connection causes him great pain and his stomach explodes.

The crazy thing is this movie has Toho effects. When they were hired, they thought they were going to China, not North Korea. They were well taken care of, as when special effects artist Teruyoshi Nakano said he missed Japanese beer, his entire hotel fridge was fully stocked the next day.

Even crazier, if that’s possible with the whole origin of this movie, Pulgasar was sold in Pakistan as Zombi 34: The Communist Bull-Monster, which affirms to me that a movie can have any story and work within the Zombi numbering system.

*They also took actress Choi Eun-hee, who was his ex-wife and forced them to remarry. They stayed married afterward, even after coming to the United States. After two years of hiding in Reston, VA, Shin and Choi moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as Simon Sheen, directing 3 Ninjas Knuckle Up. I did not make that up.

Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues (1985)

You know, right off the bat this movie is telling you tall tales. That’s because it’s not the second Boggy Creek movie, it’s the third, following 1977’s Return to Boggy Creek (and followed by two direct-to-video movies, Boggy Creek: The Legend Is True and The Legacy of Boggy Creek).

Charles B. Pierce, who made the original regional classic — as well as one of the greatest regional movies ever, The Town That Dreaded Sundown — wrote, directed and starred in this American-International Picture movie. They had been bugging him for years to make a sequel and he kept turning them down. Then, well, he made this.

“I really didn’t want to do Boggy Creek II. I think it’s probably my worst picture. This time, I spent almost as much on the creature suit as I did on the film itself. I played too big a role in the picture, and I had too many of my friends in it. It’s all right, but it’s not one of my favorites,” said Pierce.

Pierce is University of Arkansas anthropology professor Dr. Brian Lockhart, who brings two of his students, Tim (Pierce’s son Chuck) and Tanya (Serene Hedin, who was in two other Pierce films, Hawken’s Breed and Sacred Ground), as well as her friend Leslie (Cindy Butler, who, you guessed it, only acted in Pierce movies like this, Grey Eagle and The Town That Dreaded Sundown, because, well, she was his wife).

This movie has stories of the Fouke monster, such as a rancher who lost his cattle to the monster, someone who was beaten by the beast, an attorney who soiled himself when it attacked the outhouse he was relieving himself in and the sheriff who lost his fish to the creature and its son.

Then, an old man has kidnapped the younger creature and Lockhart and his students have to try to fight it off before they take the baby skunk ape out to leave with its parent. That darn Old Man Crenshaw, caging bigfoot babies!

Yeah, you should probably just watch the original The Legend of Boggy Creek.

Tenement (1985)

One of the few movies to be rated X for just plain violence, Tenement reminds me of exactly why I love Roberta Findlay. I’m not expecting high art. I’m expecting sheer spectacle and entertainment, which this movie overdelivers.

Also known as Game of Survival and Slaughter in the South Bronx, this movie is another that didn’t need a budget, just a Bronx high rise and a cast willing to do whatever it takes to make the movie, which involves rampant, bloody and over the top destruction of human beings.

A gang starts making their way from floor to floor of the building, acting like they’re the bad guys in a John Carpenter-style defend our home turf film. Imagine of the sad sacks in Death Wish 3 didn’t have Paul Kersey on their side to shoot people for stealing his camera.

Writers Joel Bender (Gas Pump Girls) and Rick Marx (Wanda Whips Wall StreetWarrior QueenGorDoom Asylum) bring the sleaze, Findlay brings the sleaze, the actors bring the sleaze, man, everyone is on their highest volume and it just works.

The poster for this is by John Fasano, who was all over the place when it came to talent. In addition to art directing the magazines Muscle and Beauty, Race Car & Driver, Wrestling Power and OUI, he rewrote and appeared in Findlay’s Nightmare Sisters, directed Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare and Black Roses, and wrote  and script doctored movies like Another 48 Hrs.TombstoneColor of Night and the Brian Trenchard-Smith directed Megiddo: The Omega Code 2.

Findlay has referred to this movie as a revisualization of her childhood, which is beyond wild. Man, Findlay is something else, doing everything from working in adult as a cinematographer under the name Robert Norman (she worked on CJ Laing’s ‘Sweet Punkin’ I Love You…. which she also wrote), photographed Shriek of the Mutilated and Invasion of the Blood Farmers (using the name Frederick Douglass), acted in several films as Anna Riva, provided Claudia Jennings’ voice in The Touch of Her Flesh and even composed music as Harold Hindgrind and the Cosmic Seven and Robin Aden. She rivals Aristide Massaccesi for alternate names!

You can watch this on YouTube courtesy of the great people at Blechbuster Video.

THE EXCELLENT EIGHTIES: Tomboy (1985)

Editor’s Note: No sooner did we finish our review of Tomboy for Mill Creek’s B-Movie Blast 50-film pack, we discovered it’s also on their Excellent Eighties 50-film set. It’s a fun film that bears recycling and repeating. So here we go with a new, second fresh take on the film.

Tomasina “Tommy” Boyd isn’t like the other girls. No, she’s not sneaking into school and switching her gender like Terri/Terry Griffith. But unlike all her friends, she’s more into fixing and racing cars than boys. This is presented as something completely out of the sphere of reality, as if she were some mutant.

Herb Freed, who directed Tomboy, has a pretty fun resume, with movies like Beyond EvilHaunts and Graduation Day to his credit.

For some reason, this confident woman has a crush on a total jerk, racecar driver and male chauvinist Randy Starr (Gerard Christopher, Superboy), who doesn’t take her seriously because, you know, she’s a girl.

Certainly, the main reason to see this is because Betsy Russell has the lead. Modern folks may know her from the Saw movies, but for my generation, she was much better known for starring as Molly “Angel” Stewart in Avenging Angel, as well as appearances in Private SchoolCheerleader Camp and Camp Fear, which steals its poster art from Body Count.

I love that someone once asked about Russell how the trailer for this movie positions Tomasina as a strong woman and then cuts to her in the shower. Teh actress replied, “I’ve never really paid attention to that. I guess strong females still have to take showers. They still like to feel sexy, so I don’t think there’s one thing that should stop someone from feeling sexy and showing their body if that’s what they choose to do. I don’t think it makes any difference in the world.”

Kristi Summers from Savage Streets and Hell Comes to Frogtown plays our heroine’s friends, who cares more about boys than cars and she’s normal, of course. Plus, Cynthia Thompson — Cavegirl! — and scream queen Michelle Bauer also show up.

If this movie came out in 2020, it would be decimated on social media and rightly so. I mean, can you imagine a movie that purports to being female empowerment coming out today where the main character only proves herself by repeatedly showing off her breasts?

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.

THE EXCELLENT EIGHTIES: Scandal Sheet (1985)

If you’re a fan of made for TV movies, the Mill Creek The Excellent Eighties is a must buy, as it has plenty of telefilms for one low price. One example is this 1985 David Lowell Rich directed effort.

Rich directed 113 titles in his IMDB resume. The majority of his career was spent in television, working on shows such as Naked CityRoute 66The Twilight ZoneMannix and Cannon, as well as theatrical films such as Eye of the Cat and The Concorde… Airport ’79. But he’s more known for his TV movies, which include Horror At 37,000 FeetSST: Death FlightSatan’s School for GirlsThe Defiant Ones (he worked with Robert Urich often), TelethonThe Sex Symbol and Runaway!

First airing on ABC on January 21, 1985, Rich has a great cast here, led by Burt Lancaster as the publisher of the titular scandal sheet, which is obviously the National Enquirer. His role as Harold Fallen is complex, as he’s kind to many of his employees, but driven by selling paper. When he senses a story, such as causing recovering alcoholic actor Ben Rowan (Urich) to get back on the sauce, he does everything he can to destroy that person.

One scheme is by hiring Helen Grant (Pamela Reed, who was great on Parks and Recreation) as one of his writers. She’s a real journalist who sees herself above his supermarket tabloid, but he promises her a way out of her financial struggle and an opportunity for people to actually read her work. However, he’s hiring her because her best friend Meg North (Lauren Hutton) is married to Rowan, which Fallen rightly assumes will give him inside access to the man he wants to fall down into the gutter again.

Look for appearances by Peter Jurasik (Sid the Snitch from Hill Street Blues), Bobby Di Ciccio (I Wanna Hold Your Hand), character actor Trey Wilson, Douglas Rowe (Critters 2), Rance Howard (father of Ron and Clint), Jeff Goldblum’s ex-wife Patricia Gaul (who shows up in several John Hughes movies), ALF star Max Wright, another fun character actor in Frederick Coffin, Hanna Landy (Grace Cardiff from Rosemary’s Baby), Robert Jayne (who you may know better as his other stage name, Bobby Jacoby) and a small role for a young Frances McDormand.

While you can see where this film is going — it has nothing to do with the 1952 movie Scandal Sheet — it’s surprisingly dark and ends on a total down note, with destroyed friendship, death and face spitting at a funeral. Therefore, this is exactly the kind of movie I love, one that decries sleaze while absolutely swimming in it.

You can watch this on YouTube.

THE EXCELLENT EIGHTIES: Lamb (1985)

I mean, who wants to watch Liam Neeson fight wolves or show off his very special set of skills when we can watch him as a conflicted priest trying to save the life of a small boy with epilepsy?

Based on the novel by Bernard MacLaverty, Neeson plays Brother Sebastian, who is part of a Roman Catholic institution for troubled boys in Ireland. The boys are taught to conform to society and to fear God, things that Sebastian finds in conflict with his faith.

When his father dies, Sebastian takes his inheritance and leaves with one of the boys, a ten-year-old named Owen (Hugh O’Conor, Rawhead Rex). But he soon discovers that he’s ill-prepared to take care of the boy and he sees both epilepsy and the home as death sentences.

The end of this movie is certifiably insane. There’s also a Van Morrison score. I would have never watched this if it wasn’t for Mill Creek and I’m not certain that’s a good thing.