Computer Beach Party (1987)

“Toss around the floppy disc, open a bag of micro chips, and interface with a sexy comedy that will light up your terminal.”

I discovered this movie thanks to the guys from Found Footage Festival and man, this movie is one that does not understand parties or computers and even beaches. Andy and Dennis, our heroes, also play a sport that no other human before or since has ever tried called skurfing, which is what happens when you put together a surfboard, a soapbox derby car and a sail. If it seems dumb reading it, imagine how completely inane it will be in practice.

I have also learned that if you want to plan a computer beach party, all you have to do is type it into your computer. If I did not hate beaches and parties, guess what I would be doing right now?

There’s also a band called Panther in this. Their songs “Angel In Disguise,” “Breakout,” “Can’t Get Enough,” “Do You Wanna Dance,” “Drag-A-Racing,” “Loverboy’s Request,” “Love Theme,” Midnight Blue,” “Hot Rockin’ Beach Party,” “Left Me Blue,” “Roger’s Reggae,” “Smokin’,” “Stranger to Danger,” “Spikes of Love” and “Volaria” are in the movie and they also do a few of them live.

This is the kind of movie that will make you despise love, happiness, hair metal, breaking the fourth wall, beach parties, MS DOS and so much more. If you are dealing with any depression, I would avoid this movie, as well as being around any pills or sharp implements while you watch it. Much like how “Gloomy Sunday” leads to people committing suicide, I fear Computer Beach Party could have the same infernal ability.

Junesploitation 2021: Specters (1987)

June 9: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie — is Italian horror.

Marcello Avallone made three movies in Italy — the mondo The Queer…The EroticUn gioco per Eveline and Cugine mie before moving to the United States. Nearly ten years later, Avallone began this film through the help of producer Maurizio Tedesco, the brother of actress Paola Tedesco.

He wrote the script along with Andrea Purgatori, a newspaper reporter turned movie scribe, and Tedesco. While Dardano Sacchetti’s name is in the credits, it’s because the film’s financial people were not confident in the script and hired him to doctor it up. He discussed the film with the writers but otherwise didn’t add much, by his own admission.

During excavations for the Rome Metro, a collapsed wall reveals a necropolis known as the Tomb of Domitian, a place that Professor Lasky (Donald Pleasence) claims was built for Roman Emperor Domitian, the third and last emperor of the Flavian dynasty. In real life, he was not sacrificed by a death cult, but was assassinated and given the worst sentence possible, as his memory was condemned to oblivion by the Roman Senate and his name was erased from anywhere that it appeared on official documents and buildings.

Lasky’s three students, Barbara, Marcus (John Pepper, who was an assistant director on Ghostbusters and cast for his ability to speak English) and Andrea (Trine Michielsen, Delirium), must explore the tomb and attempt to escape with their lives.

There’s a scene where the students all watch a movie-within-a-movie version of Creature from the Black Lagoon and a bed kill that completely is taken from A Nightmare on Elm Street. This also feels like the Italian version of Quatermass and the Pit with Dr. Loomis screaming dialogue at Italian youngsters. Actually, that’s totally what this movie is, but that sentence makes Specters sound like a much more interesting movie.

Avallone would go on to make Maya, which by all accounts is a much better — if somewhat similar — film to this.

Can’t Buy Me Love (1987)

I cut grass from 15 to 25 years old and that’s how I put myself through college and even made extra money once I started my advertising career. I certainly would not have used the money I made to save for a telescope or to date the popular girl in school like Ronald Miller (Patrick Dempsey).

The girl next door of his dreams, cheerleader Cindy Mancini (Amanda Peterson, whose career and life didn’t go as brightly as this movie would seem to make me think that it would), has wrecked her mother’s new suede dress, so she agrees to be his girlfriend for a month for the sum of $1,000.

This is the kind of movie that makes me hate the second act of the three-act structure. Ronald gets popular, gets rid of his old friends and even turns on Cindy. She thought they were in love and he probably did as well, but no one knows how to connect. He’s already hanging out with her friends instead of Malachi and Seth Green, but isn’t that the way these things always go.

Director Steve Rash started his career making movies like The Buddy Holly Story and Under the Rainbow and now makes direct-to-video sequels to the American PieRoad Trip and Bring It On films.

So yeah. In the 80s, a tender romantic comedy about making young women into prostitutes was the kind of thing we saw as romance. Weird, huh?

The Allnighter (1987)

Growing up in the 80s, this movie seemed like it was going to be a hot property. Susanna Hoffs was the it girl of the time, the lead singer of The Bangles, and seeing as how The Allnighter seemed like a teen sex comedy — it’s a bit more of a coming of age film, but that wasn’t how it was sold — everyone was beyond excited at the potential of seeing, well, a bit more of Ms. Hoffs. Look, we were in the throes of puberty and that type of behavior was still seen as healthy.

What we did not know was that her mother, Tamar Simon Hoffs, was directing the movie, which meant that there was no way we were getting a movie like Mischief.

Our heroines — Molly (Hoffs), Val (Deedee Pfeiffer) and Gina (Joan Cusack) are graduating college and starting their real lives, but for one last night, they explore where they are before they get where they are going. Molly wants true love. Val has it, but isn’t sure if she wants it. Gina just wants to video tape everything.

Actually, if you think about it, Hoffs’ character — trapped between an older man who is wrong for her and a young man who is wrong but a bit more right — is a lot like Lelaina Pierce in Reality Bites, while Cusack’s non-stop filming and commenting on the lives of everyone else takes a bit of that character and Vickie Miner as well.

C.J., one of the boys in this movie, is of course John Terlesky from Chopping MallDeathstalker II and Appointment with Death. Michael Ontkean — Sherriff Harry S. Truman — is also on hand, as are Pam Grier and Meshach Taylor in quick cameos. And Edge of the Axe fans — well, that’d be me — Christina Marie Lane is in this in an extra role.

Oh yeah — Killer’s date at the party, listed as Debi Lester — is adult film queen Debi Diamond. I don’t know what it says about me that I instantly recognized her.

Predator (1987)

As Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally” blares, helicopters carrying Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Poncho (Richard Chaves), Billy (Sonny Landham), Mac (Bill Duke), Hawkins (Shane Black), Blain (Jesse Ventura) and Dillon (Carl Weathers) lands in Central America to free a foreign cabinet minister and his aide.

On their way to the target, Dutch discovers a destroyed helicopter and three skinned bodies of a failed rescue attempt. After Dutch’s team decimates the enemy, including some Soviet officers, they learn that it was all a set-up by Dillon to get information from the enemy. Only one is left alive — Anna (Elpidia Carrillo) — so the team takes her to the extraction zone.

And this is where Predator flips the script.

Written by Jim and John Thomas (Mission to MarsExecutive Decision) and directed by John McTiernan (Die Hard, Last Action Hero), this film starts as a testosterone-laced ode to American firepower and then becomes a slasher, as the team is followed by an invisible, nearly-unstoppable alien hunter (Kevin Peter Hall) who has come from space just for the sport of hunting these soldiers.

The inspiration for the film came from a joke that after Rocky IV, Stallone had run out of opponents on Earth. If they made another film, he’d have to fight an alien. Jim and John Thomas were inspired by that and wrote Hunter, which became Predator. One could argue that they had seen Without Warning, which is nearly the same idea, with an alien — armed with futuristic weaponry and also played by Kevin Peter Hall — on Earth to hunt humans.

There are so many stories about how JCVD was once the Predator. Why that ended is up for debate. Maybe it’s because Van Damme was ony 5’9″. Or it could have been because all Jean Claude did was complain about the suit being so hot that he kept passing out. Or maybe the original design just didn’t work. The Stan Winston redesign? It’s as iconic as the xenoomorphs of Alien, which the Predator would get to battling soon enough.

Predator just works. I’m a fan of Predator 2 as well, but the first film is absolutely perfect. The ultimate hunter against the ultimate soldier? Yeah, this is what an action movie should be.

The art for this article comes from Killian Eng.

Zombie Nightmare (1987)

Straight out of the suburbs of Montreal, Canada*, Zombie Nightmare was originally written to start black actors but the money people wanted white character names and actors. Yes, that really happened.

After baseball practice, William Washington saves Molly Mekembe from two thugs who kill him. A few years later, a similar fate befalls his son Tony (Jon Mikl Thor!) when he stops a robbery and is then hit by a car driven by Bob, Amy (Tia Carrere), Jim (Shawn Levy, who would goon to direct Big Fat LiarCheaper by the Dozen and the Night at the Museum movies), Peter and Susie.

Tony’s mother — wearing the same sweater as Pamela Vorhees — brings in Molly, who is now a voodoo priestess, and then uses her son’s zombie form to get revenge on the teenagers. As the murders begin, crooked cop Tom Churchman (Adam West) is on the case and man, he likes to shoot things. I guess that corruption and a love of guns are a few of the prerequisites of being a police officer.

Man, the casting for this movie makes me overjoyed. Tony was originally played by bodybuilder Peewee Piemonte, who I assure you is a real person and has been in Barb WireMy Demon LoverUnder SiegeWeekend at Bernie’s II and over three hundred credits for stuntwork. Well, the story is that Piemonte was fired for eating all the craft services and the meals of crew members. Superstar Billy Graham was originally going to play Tony’s father, but no one picked hi, up at the airport. Yes, that really happened.

Beyond Thor contributing music from his band and doing the soundtrack under the name Thorestra, Motörhead, Virgin Steele, Girlschool, Fist and Death Mask songs are in this movie. There’s also a song by Thor’s then-wife and backup singer Rusty “Pantera” Hamilton (note that the cover of the DVD says Pantera, which isn’t a lie but isn’t the truth).

As for the director and producer of this movie, Jack Bravman, the majority of his film career was in the adult industry, using names like Wizard Glick, J. Angel Martini and Looney Bear.

You can watch this on Tubi.

*Writer John Fasano, who acted in Blood Sisters and painted the poster for Tenement, wanted to set this in his hometown of Port Washington, New York, but they could not get permits.

BRUNO MATTEI WEEK: Double Target (1987)

You know, if John Rambo hadn’t gone back to Vietnam and gotten the chance to win that time, we wouldn’t be blessed with an entire video store section of films from around the world. Rambosploitation?

My mother told me that after he came home from working late in the mill, my grandfather would watch war movies at ear-shattering volumes, loudly laughing and enjoying himself while the entire family would be awakened by the cinematic combat echoing through the paper-thin walls.

Forty or so years later, I realize that I have inherited his vice.

After several American and British military personnel are killed in suicide attacks throughout southeast Asia, the U.S. government starts thinking that perhaps — just perhaps — the Vietnamese government isn’t the ally they thought they were.

There’s only one man to call when you need the truth.

Bob Ross.

No, not that Bob Ross. I’m talking Miles O’Keefe, the very same man who was Ator, now transplanted to the ninth circle of Southeast Asia, seeking the son he has never known, going up against the most sinister of all Russians and backed up by exactly no one.

Seeing as how this is a Bruno Mattei film, you just know that all manner of absolute celluloid cutting and pasting is going to happen. Well, it goes both ways, because Mr. Mattei was an early adopter of recycling, doing his part to keep his scummy cinema carbon footprint small. That shark that shows up? Yep, it’s taken directly from The Last Shark. And since he went to the trouble to lens all this jungle footage, it also shows up in Cop GameRobowar and Shocking Dark, while the musical score ends up coming back in Interzone.

This movie unites so many of my film favorites, like Donald Pleasence as the incredibly named Senator Blaster, a man who is either coughing or screaming at everyone around him. And look! There’s Bo Svenson as the nasty Russian Colonel Galckin, a man so evil that he puts a gun into Ross’ son’s hands and explains to him exactly how to blow his dad’s brains out.

Kristine Erlandson kind of made a name for herself — well, with video store weirdos — by being in movies like this, Trident ForceSaigon CommandosVengeance SquadWarriors of the Apocalypse and American Commando. She’s joined by Ottaviano Dell’Acqua*, the rotting zombie from the infamous “We are going to eat you!” Zombi poster, Massimo Vanni** from Zombi 3 and Luciano Pigozzi*** (Pag from Yor Hunter from the Future).

Man, this movie tugs at the heartstrings. Ross had a kid over in ‘Nam and never knew his wife, who was taken into a re-education camp, where she died and his kid ended up hating him. Or course, this was filmed in the Philippines, but let’s not argue.

Mattei used his Vincent Dawn name on this one and co-conspirator and potential co-director Claudio Fragasso went as Clyde Anderson in the credits. Speaking of American names for Italians, let’s answer those little footnotes:

*Richard Raymond

** Alex McBride

***Alan Collins

You know, this movie entertained me beyond belief, but I’m beyond a Mattei apologist. If he was still alive and needed a place to live, I would move him into my basement and cook every meal for him.

You can watch this on YouTube.

 

BRUNO MATTEI WEEK: Scalps (1987)

EDITOR’S NOTE: We covered Scalps back on October 24, 2020. Seeing as how we’re celebrating all things Bruno Mattei this week, let’s discuss it all over again.

Well, since we covered the other movie named Scalps this month, I feel like I wouldn’t be doing my job on this site if I skipped a movie by the same title, but directed by the titanic twosome that is Werner Knox and Vincent Dawn.

You know who I mean. Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragrasso. Yes, the men who gifted us with magic like Shocking DarkNight Killer and Troll 2. They’re the literal bread and butter that makes this site churn, baby.

The Civil War may be over, but try telling that to Colonel Connor (Alberto Farnese), who has taken over a Texan fort and is brazen enough to try and buy Yari (Mapi Galan, Phantom of Death) from her tribe. When they refuse, they kill everyone but her.

She escapes and meets up with one of Connor’s ex-soldiers named Matt (Vassili Karis, The Arena). While he hates Native Americans, he despises Connor even more and nurses her to help. Together, they get the revenge they both need, which mostly consists of Yari scalping everyone she can.

Made with the same crew and much of the same cast as White Apache, the amazing thing is that this movie feels more like a late 60’s Italian Western than a 1987 exploitation movie. This is way better than you’d believe, especially from the men who made Robowar. It also has way more scalping than the other version of Scalps, if you’re looking for a scalping movie.

Timestalkers (1987)

Somehow, CBS aired a movie starring Klaus Kinski and William Devane — together at least — on March 10, 1987. Even more amazing, the movie was written by Brian Clemens — yes, the man who created Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter — and directed by Michael Schultz, the man who made Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but also has Car WashCooley HighKrush GrooveThe Last Dragon and Disorderlies on his resume.

Dude, I love movies.

Based on Ray Brown’s The Tintype, it has Devane’s character losing his wife and son (Danny Pintauro from Who’s the Boss) to a drunk driver. Later, he attends an auction with his friend General Joe Brodsky (John Ratzenberger, yes Cliff Claven was in a movie with Kinski, wrap your brains around that nugget) where they buy some of Joseph Cole’s (yes, Kinski) trunks from a century ago. Devane believes that Cole was a time traveler, a fact backed up by the appearance of Georgia Crawford (Lauren Hutton!), who travels with him to Crossfire, CA to get to the bottom of everything.

At this point, a plot to kill President Grover Cleveland — yes, really — emerges and Forest Tucker, James Avery, Tracy “Bob the Goon” Walter, Tim Russ (Tuvok!) and Terry Funk — again, what is going on with this movie — all appear.

I really think that the real time travel in this movie is me going back in time and making it happen before my bedroom is crushed Donnie Darko-style.

Beyond the Rising Moon (1987)

It all began in the mid-’80s when independent Virginia filmmaker Philip Cook produced his first feature film — for a reported $8,000. Known as Pentan, after the film’s title character, his low-budgeted effort saw a limited, regional theatrical distribution as Beyond the Rising Moon in 1987. By the mid-’90s, before the Sci-Fi Channel added the double-Ys, the film played under the cable title — with a little CGI revamping — as Star Quest: Beyond the Rising Moon in 1995. Then, with the advent of the DVD age and digital streaming, Cook, who was never satisfied with the end product, re-edited the film — with a second batch of then, more-current CGI effects — and reissued the film as Outerworld in 2007 for Amazon Prime and Netflix streaming. The subsequent DVD-release includes the 1995 cut of Star Quest: Beyond the Rising Moon, along with a 15-minute “making of” featurette, a 10-minute deleted scenes reel, and art galleries tracing the film’s production.

If you read our recent reviews for Ares 11, Space Trucker Bruce, and Monty Light’s recent offering, Space, you know we love our inventive, up-against-the-budget “in space” flicks. And, as with those films, considering Cook completed the first version on a limited budget, the models and miniatures he designed, and the costumes and the “worlds” he created are a lot of fun to watch. The acting, while everyone is certainly giving the best to their abilities (they’re “underplaying” too much), is not a lot of fun to watch. It’s not awful, but we’re not exactly getting Sigourney Weaver and Harrison Ford with our leads.

In a world where Aliens meets Star Wars — with pinches of Blade Runner (and foretells Roland Emmerich’s later Moon 44), we meet Pentan (Tracy Davis, in her acting debut; vanished from the biz shortly after), an Earth-made, genetically-engineered female cyborg used by a Weyland-styled corporation to clean up their galactic messes. Designed without emotions, she finally comes to develop a conscious and wants out. The “out” comes in form of her newest assignment: track down the location of a crashed alien ship. Since the technology is worth millions, Pentan decides to double cross her employer and sell the technology on the open market. So, in order for our faux-Replicant Ripley to pull off this space caper, she needs a “Han Solo” as a partner: he comes in the form of Brickman (Hans Bachmann, in his acting debut, vanished from the biz shortly after), a desperate space rogue with a price on his head and a ship-for-hire.

The mid-’90s VHS. Thanks, Paul!

In the end: The practical effects, matte paintings, blue screens and plate shots (there were no large sets; actors were “processed” into miniatures), and spaceship miniatures produced in 1987 as Beyond the Rising Moon, is the best version of the film. While more money was spent — just over $120,000 — on the subsequent 1995 and 2007 reissues, the CGI didn’t make the galactic proceedings any better. And while the CGI is weak, it doesn’t mesh well with the practical effects and makes those ’80s-era effects look ever more dated than they are. This was the same problem many of us has with George Lucas’s constant re-tweaking of his initial Star Wars trilogy, in his attempt to have his first trilogy meshed with the new trilogy. The once acceptable, late ’80s miniatures from the Gerry Anderson Space: 1999-verse of Cook’s vision simply do not mesh with 21st century CGI. So, in our opinion, it’s ’87 theatrical over the ’95 Sci-Fi Channel version — and both of those version over the 2007 streaming version.

If you’ve exposed yourself to a lot of ’80s VHS-era sci-fi movies (such as moi), the production levels of Beyond the Rising Moon may evoke memories of New World Pictures’ better-known, 1986 direct-to-video feature, Star Crystal*. While that weak Alien-cum-E.T hybrid may have had the touch-of-Corman to its credit (but a still-strained cast of first-time-and-soon-gone actors), it makes Philip Cook’s efforts even more impressive. A little bit more money and more-established actors at his disposal, Cook’s debut could have risen to the level of William Malone’s Creature, which goes down as one of the best Alien-clones.

Yeah, I dig this movie. As an actor myself, I’d would have enjoyed working on this film.

While you can watch the later versions on streaming platforms, stick with this superior 1987 version — and be impressed by its creativity and ingenuity — that we found on You Tube. You can learn more about the film’s production and check out stills on Philip Cook’s official website for Eagle Films. While there, you can learn more about his other sci-fi films, Invader (1992) and Despiser (2003).

* We’ve never gotten around to giving Star Crystal a full review proper, but we do discuss it in passing as part of our “A Whole Bunch of Alien Rip-Offs” and “Ten Movies that Ripped-Off Alien” featurettes.

Update: Never say never . . . when a film gets stuck in your head, argh! We finally gave Star Crystal a review proper, it’s coming up at 6 PM this evening.

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